August 28, 2013

Baby Favorites: 3-6 months

These are my favorite items for my baby when he was 3-6 months old!

1. Neem Cream
We've had to use this cream a lot since Christian started daycare. He had bowel movements OFTEN (I once changed him three times in an hour), and he was constantly getting diaper rash. It got so bad once that regular diaper rash turned to a yeast infection, and then to a staph infection! Ouch! Our doctor recommended using Neem Cream when it started to look like he was getting a rash. It's an anti fungal cream and not terribly expensive, about $12 and it lasts a very long time! I found mine at a local health food store. We applied it sparingly, with every change, and in place of diaper cream. It always amazingly cleared anything up quickly!
2. Sassy Teething Feeder
We loved these feeders for many reasons: they screw and clip into place as opposed to other feeders that just have a hard snap on. They are also BPA free, come with a travel cap, they're easy for baby to hold, and the water filled base acts like a chiller. Plus, it's dishwasher safe. Christian's first solid food at 6 months (frozen breast milk) was given to him in this and he loved it!!
3. Sophie the Giraffe Teether
We realllly didn't want to purchase this item purely because of how outrageously priced this item is (about $20), plus hubby also said it was a glamorized dog toy. I looked for gently used Sophie's for forever at garage sales, and the only one I could find looked old and had a heavy weird rubber smell. So I ended up breaking down and buying a new one from Amazon. They really are a great teether, and there is something magical about them that helps soothe sore gums... maybe the horns or legs that can get into little and far back places? Who knows. I do also like how it's made from natural tree rubber and food paint.
4. Baby Einstein Activity Mat
We did not have one of these until Christian was about 2 months old. He got this as a Christmas gift and it has really worked out great. When he was too young to sit, he loved laying underneath it and looking at the toys. Then he graduated to swiping for the toys and when he could sit pretty well by himself, he liked to bat at the toys since they were then eye level. 
5. Medela's Pump in Style Double Breast Pump
This pump was great for when I was working full time. It worked really well, came with a little discrete cooler and ice pack, among other things. It is not a closed system so sometimes moisture can get into the tubes that lead back to the machine. (Thankfully to help the motor not get moldy, you can leave the machine on and disconnect the bottle once you're finished, so just air is being pumped through the tubes. This will help dry it out.) When I started pumping less often, I'd use these 8 oz. bottles and pump twice into them. I had to purchase them separately. I also loved the hands free pumping bra and the quick clean steam bags. They were very handy.
6. Space Saver High Chair
Another good piece of advice was to buy items that can convert from NB to toddler (like the car seat in the first baby favorites post). This is another great item that came in handy. We like to sit at the table and eat as a family, and Christian uses this chair to do just that! It straps to a regular chair and the back can be adjusted to lay back, for a NB, or sit more upright. Since we didn't want the travel system (again, mentioned in the first baby favorites post) we'd bring this with us to our families homes, restaurants etc. and he could sit with us in this chair.
7. Boba G3 Baby/Toddler Carrier
We LOVE this carrier! It fits both me and my husband very well! I go through great detail in my review. Check it out!

8. Bummis Cloth Diaper
See my review!!

My Christian boy at 5 months. He looks like such a big boy in his church clothes!

August 26, 2013

Tutorial: Customized Photos and Documents using PicMonkey: Part 1 (Text & Effects)

This is a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to use PicMonkey to create your own customized photos and documents such as invitations and cards! (Examples are at the bottom of the post!)

Simple Photo Edits (that look grand, just wait)

1. Open and click 'edit photo.'
2. When prompted, upload your photo. 
3. To add text, click the 'P'. Next, choose your font, then click 'Add Text' at the top of the column.
When editing your text a text box will appear (shown above). This is where you can change your text color, size, flip it, fade it etc.

4. To change the look of your photo, click on the Effects symbol. Scroll through the choices. When you've found the one you like, click 'apply.' This is irreversible unless you cancel out and upload your photo again.

5. You can also have half of your photo with an effect, and other parts, the original color. Once you've clicked on an effect, a Paint box will appear. Click on the original tab and you can color your picture back in with it's original color.

6. You can also layer symbols, effects and text. You can layer many effects onto one photo as well, giving your photo a unique look.

Examples of simple customized photos:

Text added and cropped.
Only text added, but different kinds of texts, positioned around Christian.
Only text and a few layered effects added and positioned around the subject.
Only a few effects used.
Only text and an effect used. It was first turned black and white (through Holga I believe) and then painted the ocean back to its original color.
Same idea, painted the flower back to its original color.
 Only different texts added, colors changed or faded and positioned.
Different texts, and an effect.
Text and an effect.
Only text added, but enlarged and faded.
Texts and effects.
Text and effects. 
Can you tell I had a thing for finding quotes to compliment my photos? :o)
Just an effect and border added.
Just an effect.
*All photos are my property and cannot be used without my permission.*

Check out part two!

August 23, 2013

A Review: The Boba G3 (baby to toddler) Carrier

Boba G3 carrier: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5
This is my personal review of the Boba G3 carrier

I was searching for quite awhile for the perfect carrier for C. I had a Moby wrap and liked that but I felt that C was getting too heavy and long for that, so I started my search. 

I attended a free baby wearing class through my local lactation consultant, but didn't really find the one. I searched the web and came across an AMAZING comparison chart from The Portable Baby. It shows many different kinds of carriers and lists tons of features for all the carriers (prices, weight limits, cool things about each item, pros, cons, facts about the different parts of carriers such as the waist band and should straps, what kind of build each carrier is good for etc. Trust me, just check it out!)

After reading through the chart and deciding on what I wanted my carrier to have (mostly a good price, and something that would last me many baby phases), I settled on the Boba G3. 
1. Price. Now I know $120 is kinda pricy, but for what I get it's great, AND it'll last me a loooong time, even with having a chunker of a babe, especially considering it lasts for many phases, leading me to...
2. Weight limits: 7 to 45lbs! I'll be carrying C in this when he's a toddler for hiking, traveling, you name it.
3. The look (for my specific carrier, color: dusk): It's simple and classic. Nothing really frilly or fad about it. Me (and hubby).
4. A comfortable fit for both me AND my husband. The waistband and shoulder straps do not dig, rub wrong, or sit funny. 
5. Easy to fold up and pack with you. It doesn't fold up into a nice neat "package" on it's own, but it's easily packable for trips. (If you should want a bag to keep it in, Boba does make one).
6. Great adjustable bands. Everything is adjustable! Shoulder straps, waist band, hood, side straps, leg straps, where the chest clip sits etc.
7. Comes with a hood that snaps on and off. If a child should fall asleep it's good for a bobble head.
8. 2 little pockets on carrier. One on the waist band that will fit an iPhone and one of the back of the carrier. 
9. Has a snap strap on the should so you can snap a toy, sippy cup, or even a purse onto the carrier.

** None!!
Arms can be in, out underneath the black strap, out and above the black strap, or out and over the top of the carrier (I suggest that for toddlers).
Great How-To videos on how to wear the Boba and your baby or toddler. :o) 

*We haven't had a chance to use the leg straps (which is for older kids so their legs do not dangle), but they look pretty cool.
*I also did not use this carrier when C was a newborn. I just didn't have it yet, so I cannot speak to how well it holds for newborns. However, this carrier does not need an insert for that first stage, and other reviews say it's great!


August 21, 2013

{Simple} Cold Pasta Salad

I love to make this cold pasta salad for summer get-togethers. It's simple and tasty and doesn't take long to makes.

2 boxes of tri-colored rotini
1 container of cherry tomatoes
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 can sweet peas
1 envelope of dry Italian Dressing
olive oil

1. Boil the pasta according to directions on the box. I like to add some olive oil, maybe about a tablespoon, to the water, so they don't stick together. Let the pasta cool in the fridge for a few hours, stirring occassionally. 
2. While pasta is cooling, cut tomatoes in half and add to a large serving bowl.
3. Drain and add the sweet peas to the tomatoes. Mix together.
4. Once the pasta has cooled, add it slowly to the tomatoes and pea mixture.
5. Coat pasta with olive oil to your taste. I like to add just enough oil to my pasta so that it's not sticky, a little less than 1/4 cup. 
6. Add cheese to the mix and stir, breaking up any extra large clumps.
7. Sprinkle dry Italian Dressing over your pasta salad, mixing as you go. 
You can also add other things to this salad to get a different mix such as onion or black beans. The great thing about this salad is that it's not fussy. All you have to do is keep it cold and take it with you when you're ready!

August 19, 2013

Baby Favorites: 0-3 months

Since Christian is now almost 10 months old, I'm already thinking back through the past year... all of the challenges, experiences, smiles, giggles, snuggles and loving moments that my family has been blessed with. In an effort to capture and relive those memories, I'm creating a Baby Favorites mini series that will list our favorite products during our first year with our first baby!
1. Little Beginnings Polka Dotted Blanket (originally purchased at Target)
We just happened to receive this as a gift during a shower and it has been probably THEE number one thing that we have used and love the most. It has come in handy for almost everything. We started out using this blanket from day one because it's very nice and soft and measures about 9.5"x7" which was the perfect size for a newborn to be wrapped in. It's also very light and 100% Polyester. This also became the designated nursing blanket. We still use this today and I'm thinking I should get another one just in case!
2. G Diapers
We really wanted to use a diaper that cut down our footprint drastically. I had always heard about how long it takes disposable diapers to break down (500 years!!) and I knew I wanted something different to help our Earth. So I did some research and I came up with G Diapers. They are cloth on the outside and you can either use cloth inserts on the inside OR, what we mostly use are disposable inserts. The best thing is that the disposable inserts are 100% biodegradable, the only ones on the market! We have been pretty happy with how they have been working out, and we'll definitely use them again with future children. Here are some FAQs about G Diapers.
3. Moby Wrap
I really liked this wrap when Christian was little. I could get stuff done around the house and he'd be snuggled in right there with me. I haven't tried nursing in this wrap so I can't speak to that. It looks intimidating, but after you try it a few times, you get the hang of it quickly! One thing I did not like about it though was all the material. So if you have a little one being born in the summer, I'd maybe go with a different carrier, especially since these are designed for front carrying. I would encourage back carrying for babies when they have good head and neck control and are about 15-20lbs, although this wrap's weight range is 8-35lbs. Every baby is different, I just found that the heavier C got, the easier it was to carry on my back. These are some great instructions on how to wrap, and also a few videos. TIP: try this wrap first with your significant other or a friend. I felt a lot better when I tried it first with someone, especially being a first time mom. I felt I got the wrap correct and the position of C felt good and secure and I knew I was doing it right!
4. Tide Free & Gentle
Ever since Christian has been born, we've been using Tide Free & Gentle. I love it because it's free of dyes and perfumes. C has eczema and this works great with his sensitive skin since we've never had an issue. We use this for all the laundry in our house now!
5. Boppy Pillow and Slip Cover (plus a water resistant under cover)
I liked how I had the option to purchase the pillow and covers separately. This came in handy when I needed to wash the slip cover(s) because of a spill, leak etc. Note: the under cover really is only water resistant, not water proof. I used this pillow constantly when nursing Christian, even up to about 6 months, until he could sit on his own. They now make a traveling Boppy pillow that folds and zips up.... That would have been nice. 
6. Dr. Brown Bottles
Luckily I got some as a hand me down, since I wasn't sure which ones Christian would like best. Even if we had to purchase these, I would have gotten these 8 oz bottles vs the smaller ones. Who wants to re-buy bottles because they've out grown the others? Most complaints about these bottles are that they have a lot of parts. That's not such a big deal when you have one of these dishwasher baskets. Easy peasy! (Dr. Brown also has their own brand of dishwasher baskets). Another accessory for bottles: a cooler like this one. I got one at a garage sale, but it does the same thing, holds 3 bottles standing upright, and zips. Great for transporting bottles to daycare or other locations.
7. Britax Roundabout 55 Convertible Car Seat
One of the best pieces of advice we got was to get a convertible car seat. We didn't want the standard travel system (although easier by a little) because we didn't want to grow used to having a "bucket baby" where they were in their seat all the time, and we didn't want to purchase another car seat after they out grew the travel system seat (which most of those only go to 30lbs and Christian was nearing that around 7 months!). You can purchase a seat that holds more than 55lbs, but they are more expensive, and this one has a pretty standard car seat price of about $140.

My sweet Christian at 3 months

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