Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Products That Will Change Your Life

Okay, "life-changing" might be a sliiight exaggeration. But there are numerous items I wish I would have known about earlier in my mommyhood that would have made life easier and me and my baby happier. I give you PRODUCTS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

California Baby Calendula Cream

This is such a great cream for all types of babies' skin, but especially if your baby has eczema. Claire started out with great skin, but soon developed red and dry patches on her back. A few nights of putting the calendula cream on and it was gone! We don't use it all the time, but whenever Baby C's skin acts up, the calendula cream takes care of it instantly.

California Baby Diaper Rash Wash

I would like to toot my own horn for one sec - my baby is almost 11 months old and has had ONE instance of diaper rash (I blame the disposable diapers while we were traveling). This is actually quite a big feat! I most often credit that to the use of cloth diapers, but another saving grace is California Baby's diaper rash spray. I use it as a spray for cleaning Baby C's bottom at changes. And for diaper stuff, it smells really nice. No artificial powdery smell...just clean and a little herbal. You caught me, I'm a hippie. It's also marketed as a boo-boo spray and although we haven't had to use it in that capacity yet, I'm sure it'll come in handy soon.

Kirkland Brand Wipes

No matter what anyone says, do not bother getting another brand of wipes. I did and I sorely paid for it. Other wipes are thin or fall apart (uh, you do not want these when it comes to diaper situations). Honestly, if you don't have a Costco membership, get one just for the wipes. I promise you will not be sorry. Once you have a bad wipe experience, you don't even mess around. And that's all that needs to be said about that.

Nose Frida

When Claire was about 3 months old, she got very sick with RSV, a respiratory virus. This can be especially bad for newborns, particularly if their airways get blocked. My husband and I tried to clear out her nose with a bulb syringe and it was totally ineffective. Enter the NoseFrida, or as it's better known, the Snot Sucker. Yes, it sounds COMPLETELY disgusting. One end of a tube goes in your baby's nose and the other end of the tube goes in your mouth. Don't worry - there are filters so you're never in danger of getting germs (and no snot gets in your mouth). And it works like a charm!

Motherhood Maternity Nursing Tanks

I spent $80 on a nursing bra at Nordstrom. While it's great and pretty, the varying size of my breasts (prefeeding, postfeeding, etc) make it somewhat useless (something I wish I knew when I was picking out nursing gear). Enter the seamless convertible strap nursing cami at Motherhood Maternity. I tried a very different brands, but this one is my favorite! For one thing, there's SPANDEX! Spandex is a gift to postpartum women everywhere. Plus, it's very easy to work (no complicated clasps). My only complaint is the two colors...and really, just one. Don't get the white - the pads show through the material and your boobs look like saucers. For $25, it's a steal.

Hyland's Teething Tablets

I don't wish a teething baby on my worst enemy. It sucks. And it's never ending. Babies can be in the process of teething for months. It takes awhile for all 32 teeth to come in. While Claire has been a pretty good sport about it for the most part, sometimes she is a bear. And it's understandable - it has to be painful! I swear by Hyland's teething tablets. If Claire's slightly irritable, her mood changes instantly. Now that she knows what they are, she actually gets excited when she sees the bottle. They were recently put back on store shelves after a voluntary recall (the bottle was not childproof), but Hyland's is a very reputable brand, and this was its first recall in over 80 years. I'm so glad they came back because I don't know what we'd do without them.


Mama needs a break! RELAX! Wine will save your life. You can drink, even if you're breastfeeding. A tip I learned from my doctor - think about drinking and breastfeeding the same way you do when driving. If you can't drive, you shouldn't breastfeed. For most women, that means about a drink an hour. Just be sure to drink some water in between for hydration. If you don't want to risk it, just "pump and dump".  Also, allegedly some beer can help with milk production - porters and stouts! So cheers!

There you have it - LIFE CHANGING PRODUCTS! :) Of course, I also compiled a list of registry items if you're expecting or know someone who's expecting that I would have found quite helpful.

Do you think I missed something? Any products that have changed your life?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mahvelous Meal Monday!

Hi all! A little late, but better late than never, right? I haven't done a mahvelous meal in awhile, and I thought I'd share one of my recent Pinterest faves (are we Pinterest buddies?! Find me here) - baked chicken fingers!

I pinned this recipe from Sweet Pea's Kitchen (a great food website to discover - again, thanks Pinterest!), and it's super easy! Get the recipe here!

While Baby C took her afternoon nap, I prepped pretty much everything: the flour mixture, the egg white mixture, and toasted the panko breadcrumbs. I also sliced 2 chicken breasts into tenders and made a salad. I waited until dinnertime was near to actually bread the chicken. I used a fantastic Asian peanut dressing from Trader Joe's (my all time favorite grocery store) for the dipping sauce, but it would be just as yummy with whatever you choose (bbq, honey mustard, ketchup, etc).  Prep time (including a salad) was about 15 minutes, and about 10 minutes to bread the chicken.

The result: YUM! So good! There were also quite a few leftover chicken fingers for lunch - bonus! Plus,  baked chicken fingers are a much healthier alternative to fried. Toasting the panko gave it a great crunch, so you don't even miss the fried-ness.

Any yummy recipes you'd like to share? Let me know and they can be featured next Monday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Defense of Working Parents...From a Stay at Home Mom

As you know, when Baby C came into our lives, my husband and I decided that we were in a good position for me to stay at home. For one thing, I felt it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.  This is time I won't be able to get back in Claire's life - and who cares if I have to work an extra year or two to make up for it? Claire will never be a baby again, and I wanted to be around for it - the good, the bad and the ugly. And it made sense financially. After taking a look at my nonprofit paycheck, I would be coming home with less than $300/month after childcare, an extra car payment, and all the other expenses that come with working. I know that $300/month definitely makes a difference in people's lives (hey, I'd like to have that money!), but it made me come to a realization that you really can't put a price on everything, and staying at home for awhile was something I wanted to do.

After 10 months of being a stay at home parent, I have to admit, it's quite challenging. There's the constant entertaining/redirecting of a very curious baby (exhausting), doing several loads of laundry, daily cleaning, cooking, etc. But I can't say I view it as my "job". I mean, I occasionally find time to blog, I Facebook (is that a verb?), I play Words with Friends...

I came across this article that tries to put a "salary" with the job title of being a stay at home parent - and it amounts to $96,000 by combining jobs of private chef, childcare provide, maid, driver, and a few other careers.  I have to tell you, even as a stay at home parent, it really struck a chord with me. I think many stay at home parents feel they are devalued by society. Maybe they had careers before, and the only way they feel they are making a contribution is if they are pulling in a salary. Not true - I think there is tremendous value in staying home with your children. But can we just call it like it is and say it was something that made sense for my family or something I wanted to do instead of trying to put a monetary value on it? PS - I'm a pretty good cook, but I'm not going to pretend my meals rival that of a private chef.  

Besides, working parents have to do ALL that plus work 40+ hours. I commend my husband, who gets up at 4:30 every other morning (regardless of if we've previously been awake with Baby C) to go to the gym, then catches his bus at 7:45 and after working a 9.5 hour day, comes home. But wait! He even gives me a break and plays with our daughter until she goes to bed at 7:30. He still does laundry, he still cleans... in short, he's pretty amazing. And most working parents I know are the same way.

Ultimately, being a parent is hard work, and it's full time. Being a parent is all-consuming, and you especially feel that way when you stay home. Even if you have a job outside your home, you're still an on-call parent. 24/7, 365 for the rest of your life.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mahvelous Meal SUNDAY!

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends and yummy food! We had a great first Christmas with Baby C. Her favorite gifts? Whatever box her presents came in. :) I think Claire got more presents this Christmas than I've opened in the last 10 years!


We all had a great time, and we're still recovering from all the, uh, let's say less than healthy food we've been eating since Thanksgiving. Cookies and homemade fudge and fast food while crossing things off our to do takes a toll, that's for sure.

So let's start the new year off on a healthy note, shall we? While muffins aren't a meal, per se, it's a great snack and a HUGE bonus - it's a good choice for your little ones! These muffins have a cup of zucchini, a half cup of carrots and a quarter cup of applesauce while only having 2/3 cup of sugar! Plus, they're made with some whole-wheat flour for some good whole grain action. Obviously, you'd want to check with your pediatrician before making these (I'm not a doctor nor a child nutritionist), but Baby C eats them up like they're going out of style!

Zucchini Carrot Muffins (adapted from Women and Weight Website)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 ground ginger
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated zucchini (I used one large zucchini)
1/2 cup grated carrot (I used about 9 baby carrots)
1/4 cup applesauce (I used unsweetened applesauce)
1/4 cup oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl and add to dry ingredients. Be sure to moisten batter, but be careful to avoid overmixing.
4. Pour batter into greased muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the middle of muffin and wait for it to come out clean.
5. Makes about 10-12 muffins (it makes 10 for me, but I eat a little batter and I make slightly bigger muffins), or one 9 inch loaf of bread.

Fresh from the oven!

If you can see vegetables in your baked goods, it's a good thing.

Yum! These are so good! Although I'm always worried about substitutions in baking, I think this recipe would be awesome with a handful of raisins added, or adding a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon! Each muffin comes about to be about 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar.

Okay, I hope that 2012 has all kinds of good things in store for you, dear readers! I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, but I will definitely be trying to blog more often, enjoy my baby at every single stage (as frustrating as it may be sometimes) and GET A BABYSITTER! :)