Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Newborn Essentials: Things we couldn't Live Without in the First Three Months

The first month of Damo's life was spent trying to figure out how to get the kid to sleep. I had the swaddle. The sucking (and he preferred the boob to the pacifier). The swaying (in my poor, tired arms). But I was missing the key element- the shhhing (I could only do it for so long before getting terrible cotton mouth.) The ceiling fan in our room wasn't cutting it. Not with a two-year-old in the house. I thought back to a time when Daniel and I were living in our very first apartment in Hawaii without air conditioning. It was right on the freeway, and jammed next to a bunch of other homes like most places in town. We could hear everything. And I mean everything. Use your imagination and you still couldn't come up with the things we heard. 

But Daniel had this amazing fan that he got before we started dating. At night, we'd turn that sucker on and it would literally (okay, not literally) create a hurricane in our tiny bedroom. We used that fan for at least 6 years after that. At one point I broke the stand off it (I break everything) but we still used it propped up on our dresser. We got rid of it before moving to Tanzania. It was time. But after never getting another one to replace it I sort of got used to sleeping without it again. 

And then one day, when Damian was about four weeks old, I was lost in the Target hole. I spotted the fan aisle and a light went on in my new-mom zombie head. I texted Daniel and asked him what kind of fan we used to have. "The Vornado" he responded. I read the text in a movie-announcer voice. I bought the biggest one they had and that night my son slept for two extra hours. 

Anyway, all of this inspired me to share with you the top ten baby items that saved my life (or at least my sanity) in the first three months. 

1. Lanolin-  My nipples were so cracked and scabbed during my first few weeks of breastfeeding that it kind of looked like chunks were falling off of it (which I'm pretty sure was just scabs, but either way...). Lanolin was sent from heaven. My sister-in-law told me she preferred the Medela brand to other brands because it was less waxy and more lotiony, so I bought it and was happy with it. I never got a chance to try any other brands because one tube was all I needed. I think I only used about half of it (in the span of about six weeks) before my nipples healed and I didn't have to use it anymore.

2. Medela Therashells Breast Shells- Did I mention I was picking chunks off my nipples? Lanolin will soothe your nipples but your nipples won't heal as quickly if they are being irritated by your bra. These little shells create a barrier between your nipple and the bra, allowing your nipples to heal. If you have nipple trouble like I did in the first few weeks, definitely try these!

3. Milk Maid Nursing Pillow- I compared the three nursing pillows I have in this post so I won't go into too much detail here. But like I said in that post, I don't know what I would do without my nursing pillows. The Milk Maid is my favorite.

4. Bravado Nursing Bra- It was really hard for me to find a nursing bra because of the whole small band/large cup size thing. I'm a 34F and most 36DD (the supposed "sister size") just don't work... except for this one. It doesn't have underwire so it can be comfortably worn all day, but it is still supportive enough for larger breasts. Plus, the little clip thingies don't come undone on their own like on some other nursing bras (or am I the only person who has this problem?). Anyway, I have both the black and nude ones and I got them at Buy Buy Baby.

5. Baby Carrier- I'm kind of obsessed with wearing babies so I have all sorts of carriers. If I were to only buy two, I would buy the Moby Wrap for the newborn days/around the house and the Ergobaby Original Collection Sea Skipper Baby Carrier for outings. The Moby isn't that much money and you can even make one on your own if you're crafty, that's why I say two. But... if I were only to buy one, I'd go with the Ergo. The main reason is that the Moby can be a pain in the ass to get on just right when you have a toddler running around the parking lot or whining to get out of the car seat. And, the Ergo you can use forever but the baby grows out the Moby relatively quickly. I really, really love the Moby for the first few weeks. I didn't even want to use my Ergo at first because I was reluctant to buy the newborn insert when I would only need it for three months, but I'm glad I broke down and bought one. The Ergo was great for our long outings around D.C. and Virginia Beach. Plus, it is much easier to nurse from the Ergo, in my opinion.

6. California Baby Calendula Cream- My son got horrible baby acne right when he turned 4 weeks old. Dena suggested California Calendula Cream. I put it on twice a day and bathed him with the California Baby Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash, and the acne was almost completely gone in three days. It was a miracle. The cream is quite pricy but it lasts a lot longer than you think it would (my 11oz bottle lasted about three months).

Before and Three Days After using Calendula cream:

7. Zipper Swaddles- Before Damian was born I stocked up on Summer Infant velcro swaddles because Eva slept in them until she was almost six months old and they were an absolute staple. Well, the velcro swaddles didn't work out as well for Damian. Unlike Eva, he didn't like to sleep with his arms pinned to his side. He wanted them tucked up by his chest. He would almost always break out of the velcro one. Sooo... we found the zipper swaddles to be much better for him. We had two kinds, the Summer Infant Swaddle Pod and the Woombie. I actually liked the Summer Infant one better (it also happens to be much cheaper), but it only goes up to 13lbs for some reason so I eventually had to switch to the Woombie. Both are really great swaddles, though.

8. First Years Close and Secure Co-Sleeper- We love to bed share, but having a tiny, swaddled newborn right next to me all night without a barrier is a little scary. This co-sleeper was perfect for us because he could sleep right in our bed and I didn't have to worry. Also, unlike the co-sleeper we had for Eva (the Summer Infant one), my arm didn't fall asleep if I left my hand on Damian's chest for comfort.

9. Nap Nanny- This was a lifesaver for Eva and it was even moreso a lifesaver for Damian. Damian hated the swing when he was a newborn. He usually wanted to be carried, but the few times a day he would let me put him down for more than five minutes, it could only be in the Nap Nanny. The Nap Nanny keeps a baby at an incline so they can still kind of see what's going on around them, and it also helps prevent spitting-up. However, the original Nap Nanny that we have is no longer sold because parents were using it incorrectly and a few babies died as a result. There are a few Nap Nanny-like products, though, like this Day Dreamer. I'm not sure if babies like it as much with the high sides, though.

10. Vornado Fan- Remember the fan I was talking about at the intro of this post? It's all about the noise, and most fans try to be "quiet," which is not really what you're looking for when you need a strong white noise. I have looked everywhere online, even the Vornado website, for the exact fan I have but I can't find it anywhere (which is really strange since I just bought it three months ago). This is the closest one to the one I have, but mine only cost $45 at Target, not $99. The one that is currently $45 on the Target website, though, is not the same one I have. I bought a smaller version of the fan for somewhere else in my home that cost $25, but it is not nearly as loud as the $45 one. If you are really interested in the exact fan I have, I'll take a picture and post it later but right now my kids are screaming for me and I need to get off the computer!!!

What baby products saved your life (or at least your sanity) in the first three months?

Monday, August 25, 2014

34/52 {baby/toddler/life updates}

Another quick-style, photo-heavy, lightly worded look into our last week. :)

This week Eva got to see what her dad does at work! She had so much fun.
This week she started the war against the pony tail- for both her and me. She refuses to wear her hair up... it has to be down. Whenever I wear my hair up (which is always), she says, "No ponytail, mommy. Pretty hair." This little girl is too much for me.
At least she loves babywearing like Mommy...
I just love hanging out with these two.
Damian is finally well again, which is a huge relief. He hasn't gone back to sleeping decent stretches at night, but I think a learning leap can be blamed for that. He seems to really be growing and discovering a lot lately, the most impressive of which is sitting. He can sit up on his own for about a minute before he gets too tired and topples over. I posted a video on his four month update yesterday. I still can't believe I'm typing that. Four months. He's getting so big. It won't be long before he's sitting for long periods and even crawling around! I can't wait. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Damian: Four Months

My sweet baby boy,

You have filled out so much in the last month. You've got the fluffiest rolls and chins for days. I love snuggling with your warm, squishy little body. You're the sweetest baby boy and you've definitely gotten easier in the last few weeks. You've finally discovered how awesome naps are and have decided to start taking a couple of long ones every day.

You can't stand lying down, on your belly or your back. You want to be upright so that you can see the world around you. I love watching your eyes light up when something catches your attention. You raise your little eyebrows and the corner of your lips curl up just a little.

This month you started rolling front to back again, and you discovered your feet. You've also started sitting on your own, but you only last a minute or so before you topple. You still love to practice. You also love toys. You love ones that light up and ones that rattle. You especially love ones that will fit in your mouth. Everything goes into your mouth these days.

You're still has smiley and giggly as ever. Nobody makes you smile and giggle like your sister does, though. It's the most amazing thing to watch. It won't be long before you two can really play together. I just know you'll have so much fun.

Things You Love: You love sitting up so that you can see what's going on. You love bath time. You love the pool. You love colorful toys. You love watching Selena, our black cat. You love your big sister. You love facing forward when I'm wearing you.

Things You Hate: You still hate your car seat. You hate lying down, unless you're sleeping. You hate your Daddy's loud coughs and laughs.

We had a rough couple of weeks this month with your first real illness. My heart hurt for you with every little cough and sneeze, even if it was just a cold. I'm so glad you're all better. I'm hoping you steer clear of any sickies for a while!

I'm looking forward to the next few months. Going on your first international trip to Jamaica. Your first Halloween. A trip "home" for Thanksgiving. I love spending time with you, and I'm still just so happy you're here. I love you baby boy. Thank you for being mine.


Here's the latest video of you sitting. Sorry it's so dark, I probably should have turned a light on.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fit Friday: Post-Workout Banana Protein Smoothie

Bodybuilding experts recommend drinking a whey protein shake as soon as possible after finishing a workout. Why? Because protein is the building block of muscle. When you workout, you create tiny tears in your muscles. Protein is what helps repair your muscles, and this process is what causes your muscles to grow. Unlike solid food, protein powder digests very quickly and is able to deliver muscles the protein they need at lightning speed.

I used to simply mix my post-workout protein powder in cool water and drink it just like that, but when I moved to Virginia I bought a blender with a single-serving cup option and now I'm obsessed with making smoothies. It definitely beats having to wash the huge blender pitcher, and you don't even have to pour it into a new glass (the single-serving blender attachment doubles as a drinking cup with a lid). Anyway, enough about my blender (which happens to be the Ninja Mega Kitchen System if you're in the market for one). I wanted to share my post-workout protein routine to show you how easy and mess-free it can be to make a delicious smoothie at home.

My favorite smoothie to make is a plain ol banana one. Sometimes when I'm out and about and I order a banana smoothie somewhere I'm asked, "You mean strawberry banana?" But no... just banana. Seriously, have you tried it? Delicious. I'll admit it's even more fabulous with peanut butter but we don't need all those extra calories now do we?

The protein I normally use is Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey. (This is a safe protein powder to use while pregnant and breastfeeding assuming your baby doesn't have a milk sensitivity.) It's not the one pictured in the ingredients below, although that one is pretty good and safe to drink too... it's even made by the same company. I just prefer the Platinum kind:

The last tip I have before I share the recipe is that it's best to use a ripe banana to really get that banana flavor. No green or plain yellow bananas. Make sure there is some brown on that thing.


1. Break of pieces of a peeled banana and place them at the bottom of the blender.

2. Add a scoop of protein powder and one cup of ice.

3. Add a little bit of water and a pinch of Truvia (optional).

4. Blend!

...and there you have it- a super quick and mess-free delicious post-workout protein smoothie.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Adding some "Pop" to the End of Summer {sponsored by Juicy Fruit}

Juicy Fruit asked me to share how I'll be spending the end of summertime and sent me some gum to try.
I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

I don't know about you, but surrounding myself in nature at least once a week keeps me sane. There's nothing like fresh air and the feeling of being "away from it all" that is just so relaxing. I found this nice little spot near my house to fulfill this need of mine. It may not be as amazing as all the hikes at my fingertips back on Oahu, but there are big beautiful trees and a nice little fishing hole. We went on our first family fishing trip there last weekend. We didn't catch any keepers, but that's not really the point now is it?
I've watched this place transform from the crisp air of spring to the muggy warmth of summer and I'm just now starting to see red and orange leaves appearing here and there. This is the first time in my life I've been able to see seasons change like this. I'm not going to lie, I'm absolutely terrified of the winter. I still try not to think about it. For now, I'll savor the last of these long summer days outdoors with my family.
On our last hike we brought along the new Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum. Eva is obsessed with watching us blow bubbles. We can't even chew gum around her without her asking for one every 30 seconds. But we oblige, because who can resist hearing those girly little giggles? 
When we finished chewing the gum, I looked at the end of my fishing rod and seriously considered using my finished gum as bait, like they do in the cartoons. I mean, we weren't catching anything with the stuff we had. But I resisted the urge, haha.

Last month, Juicy Fruit came out with Juicy Fruit Fruity Chews. They come in little plastic bottles that fit perfectly in the cupholders of strollers. The chews themselves deliver a vibrant burst of sweet, fruity flavor. And, like the new Bubble Gum, they come in two delicious flavors- Original and Sweet Strawberry. Best of all? They're sugar free! ;)
Both the Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum and the Juicy Fruit Fruity Chews are now available nationwide. Pick some up for your next family outing and add a little "pop" to your day. ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Wear a Baby East African Style {and a Kanga giveaway!}

Babywearing is huge is East Africa. Everywhere you go you will see mamas carrying babies, and sometimes even babies wearing babies.
Babies are worn in beautiful, brilliantly colored kangas and kitenges. 
My daughter's nanny and our dear friend Emmy first taught me how to wear her in a kanga. It quickly became my favorite way to babywear. I could get so much done around the house while she was on my back. It was also an instant way to put her down for a nap when she was ready. At almost two-and-a-half years old, we still do it almost every single day. I seriously don't know what I would do without it.
Tandem Babywearing
When Eva was still just a baby, I snapped pictures of Emmy explaining how to tie a kanga so that I could share them with friends I sent kangas to. But since I've received so much interest in how I wear Eva, I thought I'd share it on my blog along with my best explanation AND a how-to video I attempted to create. Maybe between the pictures, the explanation, and the video I posted you can figure it out, haha.
Step One: Carry baby on your hip.
Step Two: Swing baby around to your back.
Step Three: Drape top center of kanga across the baby's shoulders.
Step Four: Make sure bottom part of kitenge is tucked under baby's bottom and hamstrings. The baby should be "sitting" in the fabric.
Step Five: Pull ends of kanga tightly, bringing one end over one shoulder and the opposite end under the armpit. Tie the ends in two knots.

Okay, that may have sounded confusing, so I made a video.
This is the first time I've ever filmed myself in this fashion so bear with me. 

PS- I've learned several things from the making of this video:
1. I should probably plan out what I'm going to say before I start filming.
2. I suck at making how-to videos.
3. I will never be a vlogger.

I also apologize in advance for my two-year-old who was protesting the whole time because she thought I was going to put her down for another nap. Oh, and for my nasally voice... I was in the middle of a cold.

Without further adieu...

It helps if you look in a mirror as you're doing this.

It's okay to feel a little uncomfortable at first. Ask someone to help you out.
But if it absolutely, totally doesn't feel comfortable at all to you, you can always tie the kanga in a knot over your shoulder and use it as a regular ol sling, lowering the baby into it after it is tied on.

Or, if you don't want to wear your baby in it, you can also use it as a saarong or beach blanket:

Need a kanga?
Well, it turns out I have this beautiful one to give away on my blog today...
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. :)
The giveaway is open to anyone with a United States based postal address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 18, 2014

33/52 {baby/toddler/life updates}

This was a very long week. I was a sick mama looking after two sick kids. My anxiety levels were high because I had never had a sick three-month-old before. I don't remember Eva getting a cold until she was around a year old. Damian would get in these coughing fits where he'd gag so much that he'd puke. It was sooo scary. By Saturday we were well enough to go to Eva's first kid birthday party. It was pool party and we all enjoyed being in the sun and water...
Evita loves to explore the great outdoors, as long as she can look like a princess while doing so.

This was a hard week for baby Damian. He had a bad cough, a runny nose, and a double ear infection. We spent a lot of time cuddling, but still had a lot of playtime. This week Damian started rolling over from front to back again. He did it for the very first time when he was a newborn, but when his baby fat came in he couldn't do it for a while. He's been a good boy despite being so sick. He seems to be quickly leaving his newborn days behind.
This is what my Saturday night looked like:
I think the reason we've liked tummy time so much more this week is because I found him this Baby Einstein Rythym of the Reef Pillow. It keeps him upright and has little toys on it that he likes to look at and grab.

Daniel finally put our curtains up and our house is starting to look more like a home. :)
Selfies because if I don't take pictures nobody will.
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