Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Quit You

Not too long ago I attempted to switch my family over to the 365 Lavender Blend Shampoo and Conditioner available at Whole Foods. Note: The picture below is actually of their body lotion, but it is the same packaging as the shampoo and conditioner.
Unfortunately, I can't make it work for me. You see, I have crazy amounts of very fine hair. As in, unlike other moms, I rued the day when my hair started to thicken due to pregnancy hormones and actually celebrated when it started to finally fall out at 4 months postpartum. As in, I have never had a hair dresser make it through blow drying my hair without needing to stop for a fact once they know me, they schedule extra time to get through my hair.

Anyway, all that hair needs something a bit stronger to actually clean it. No matter how many times I soap up in the shower with the 365 Lavender blend shampoo, my hair ends up not getting clean and is greasy and matted in the middle. Whereas, one soap up with a 'regular' shampoo (as I was able to try out again when I was using the sample size offerings at the hotel where I stayed in Las Vegas) actually cleans my hair.

So, now I don't really know what to do. I have enough of this stuff to last a lifetime thanks to the crazy large bottle. And I really, really, really want to use a natural product that is better for our environment. But I am finding out through my research (you know, on the internets which never lies) that it isn't necessarily the brand of product (which would great because than I could just find another earth friendly product) but rather the TYPE of product that is my issue. Apparently, there are quite a few people who will tell you that the non-natural products that are in 'normal' shampoos and conditioners really do work better.

So, does anyone else out there have crazy amounts of hair and use a natural shampoo and conditioner that doesn't cost an arm and a leg that they can recommend?


Monday, March 29, 2010

What works: baby food edition

Hi ho there trusty readers. Little G may not be a mover and a shaker just yet, but he is super advanced when it comes to eating. So, I thought I would share with you what has worked and hasn't worked for us in the baby food shrapnel department (keeping in mind, of course, that these are just my opinions so take 'em or leave 'em).

I should also preface this by saying that there are a ton of different ideas on when babies should start eating foods other than breast milk or formula and there are even more ideas on how and what they should be eating. I can honestly say that aside from bringing Little G home from the hospital, feeding him solids was by far the most intimidating, confusing thing we have had to deal with until I had an epiphany one day and realized to just do whatever works for us. Which means we started him on mush at 4 months
  • baby oatmeal made with softened and pureed prunes
  • applesauce
  • pears
  • avocado
  • peas
  • beets
  • carrots
  • spinach
  • squash
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • etc.

And then around 6 months we started giving him stuff from our dinner plate that was bigger than his hand so he could gum it:

  • steak bones
  • chicken wings
  • meat balls
  • raviolis
  • slices of cheese
  • mini-bagels

And now we have replaced the mush with finger food sizes of everything listed before in the mush category and now at 8 months, 3 weeks the only mush he tolerates is his oatmeal, yogurt and applesauce.

But I digress...because this wasn't supposed to be a post on how or what to feed your baby but rather on baby feeding shrapnel. So here we go.

First up is the Beaba Cook Baby Food Maker available at Williams-Sonoma for $149 but I am sure you can find it elsewhere for a more competitive price.

Alright...I am the first person to admit that I love me a kitchen gadget. I mean seriously...If I could live in Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Tab and have a puppy I would be the happiest lady on the planet. So when a friend of mine suggested that getting this was really a waste of time and money I was torn. But I listened to her and I am so glad I did. While I do not question the Beaba Cook being a great option and a wonderful truly makes no sense to spend $149 on a piece of kitchen equipment that doubles what you already have in your kitchen and will only be needed for 4 months anyway!

If you want to steam some thing, use a steamer. If you need to puree it, use a blender, or food processor, or immersion blender...but don't go out and buy this because it won't even save you time. You see, with this machine, in between steaming and blending you still have to take the stuff out of the steamer basket and then put it back in the bowl which completely makes it exactly the same process as steaming it on the stove and then putting it in a bowl to process it. Seriously people, I KNOW we all love a cute counter appliance, but I just don't think it is worth the cost or the counter space especially when for all intents and purposes your kid will only eat mush for about two to four months.

However, the next two products are also from Beaba and I HIGHLY recommend them, especially this first one!! HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY!!

If you ARE making your own baby food, you will want to freeze it so that you can just pop one out of the freezer and thaw it and have yummy food for your baby. You can totally put it in ice cube trays if you want to, but these Beaba Multiportion Freezer Trays (also available from Williams-Sonoma) each hold 2 oz, are BPA free, and are flexible with a small indentation at the bottom of each cup making it super easy to release whatever you have frozen from tray (which is key and totally the feature that elevates this so far above the simple ice cube tray).

We belong to a CSA and get most of our veggies from them so I had been storing up pureed veggies for Little G for a little short of a year. Once they were frozen, I popped them out and wrapped each one in saran and foil (which seems excessive, but it really prevents against freezer burn and if you are careful you can reuse them) and store them in the freezer for when we needed them.

The other Beaba item are these awesome BPA free Soft Spoons, yet again available at Williams-Sonoma.
We've been feeding Little G since well before he had teeth and these are super soft on his gums. Even now, he has two bottom teeth which make these great because they don't scrape. And my husband and I love that the handles are long and adult sized so we can stir up a yogurt and not have to deal with the entire spoon being dunked. Also, Little G loves to try and feed himself and that usually ends up with him chewing on the wrong end of the spoon which makes me super happy that these aren't part metal. They're dishwasher safe too which is always a plus.

Stepping away from the Beaba line, we move towards the Boon brand. Right now, we are loving our Boon Saucer. It has an edgeless design with a rubber rim that makes it reallllly difficult for Little G to just grab it and dump everything off of it...that doesn't mean he doesn't achieve that goal every once in a while...but it does thwart his efforts enough to help him focus on the food on his plate rather than trying to use the plate for evil.

We also really like the divided sections, but not because we care if his food is separated, but rather because it gives Little G some nooks and crannies to use to get his food in his hand since his pincer grasp is still on the inferior side.

Also from Boon is this super cute, very convenient baby food dispensing spoon called Squirt. It is expensive for a spoon, but awesome for on-the-go feeding.

With one of these, I am able to bring along a baby-sized container of yogurt and not have to deal with the mess of what to do with the empty container and sloppy spoon when I am done. However, I can't completely recommend this product because I do have a couple of issues with it. First, it only comes with one cap...and if you can find me someone who has never lost a cap to a pen, than this is perfect for them, but we lost our cap in the dishwasher before we ever used the spoon and in order to get a new cap, we had to shell out the bucks for another spoon...which my husband did since I had told him not to put the cap in the dishwasher to begin with, but I digress. My other issue is that you can't really use this for anything other than perfectly pureed food which seriously means you'll get about a month's use out of it for anything other than yogurt and for that you might as well schlep around a plastic baggy to keep your sloppy spoon in and save yourself the cash.

Lastly, also from Boon, is this super-cute Snack Container.

I will admit, I put this on my registry because it looked cool, not because I had read any reviews on it. On the one hand, I totally love the design of it...on the other hand, Little G can't just hold onto it and feed himself (yet, I am sure that day is coming). But it doesn't even have a flat end to it so if you get some puffs out and then need to set it down on the table it just rolls away. Also, there isn't any way to attach it to a stroller or high chair so that you don't have to worry about your kid throwing it away from them and you having to retrieve it because it is essentially a ball. Of course, the upside to that is I have forgotten to pack a toy in the diaper bag multiple times and yet been able to use this for some make of it what you will.

I have a couple of other products related to feeding Little G that I will save for another post (namely his bottles and the awesome system we use for doling out his formula and being able to have snacks for mommy too). But for the most part, these are the things we use (or in the case of the Baby Cook, DON'T use) to keep our kid fed and satisfied. Feel free to ask any questions you might have on the various products listed here.

Monday Morning 20in20 Tracking

Starting date: December 1, 2009
Ending date: April 20, 2010
Starting weight: 222 lbs
Goal weight: 202 lbs
Current weight: 213.8 lbs
Weight loss this week: +.8 lbs
Total weight loss: 8.2 lbs
Pounds left until goal: 11.8 lbs
Weeks left in challenge: 3 !!!

I have nothing to say for myself.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Springing into action

When we purchased our home, we lucked into an amazing garden area along the side of our house. It hadn't been tended to in over two years, so it was very overgrown. So much so, that there were weeds taller than our first floor windows! The first spring we lived here, we had a local nursery come in and clear the place out and it was magical to watch everything come up that spring and summer. Turns out we had an herb garden, GORGEOUS peonies along the side of the house, a mini-field of day lilies and a few drop-dead beautiful iris'.

We also had one, sad little hydrangea bush that was dying. Hydrangea's are my favorite flower; I carried them at our wedding. And New England is the perfect place to raise for Christmas this year, Little G and his daddy gifted me with a hydrangea plant (to be picked out and planted once the weather got a bit warmer).

So, on Sunday we headed to the nursery and picked out a really nice hydrangea and brought it back to the house to plant it.

We decided on this sunny spot for the hydrangea. The slightly raised area is home to those two iris' and to some lemon mint and a little-rose-vine-that-could that actually survived all of the construction from two winter's ago (the large, ceramic planter has since been cleared out and soon it will hold some pansies):

I should also point out that the brick pathway, while not perfect, is oddly sentimental to me as we laid it last spring around this time (yeah, 4.5 months pregnant) to connect where the new deck stairs came down with the mini-brick path that had been in place since we moved in and randomly led to nowhere.

Next to our driveway, right next to the dead hydrangea, there were two additional peony plants that always got damaged by the heat of our car. The space where they were growing gets great sunlight though, so we decided to move our compost bin there and move the peonies up to round out the area where the new hydrangea will go:

Here's a quick picture of our back yard and you can see way up in the corner by the hedge is an area that the nursery cleared out for me when they sodded last July so I could have a vegetable garden this summer. We were keeping our recycling can and compost there, so that's why they had to move to where the peonies were which is why they had to move to where the hydrangea is going. Are you following this? I'm not...sorry these pics are in such a random order and I am failing to explain all of this adequately.

Oh, and a quick look under our deck...if you look really, reaaaaaaally closely you can see our job foreman keeping close watch on us while we do our job:

Oh yeah...remember that veggie garden I was yammering about? Here's some of our materials to make our raised bed for that area thanks to some wonderful advice from Anita over at Pink Thumb. (not sure what the concrete is for, but you can rest assured it isn't for some crazy raised bed building, it just wanted to be in the picture):

Yeah...and here's our foreman. He was pretty dissatisfied with our performance today as is evidenced by his cranky-puss face:

Anyway, we got to work placing our plants with some pavers as stand ins and then dug up some holes for the peonies. Then we added some water to the bottom of the holes and poured in a mixture of peat and compost to make a very wet mud:

Then we dug up the peonies and planted them in the holes and back filled them with more of the peat/compost mixture. Here's my husband placing the second peony in the second hole:

The foreman started to get super whiny, so we brought out a better perch for him to supervise us from:

Then we dug a super big hole for the hydrangea plant and did the same thing with the water and mud and placing the plant in and back filling with peat/compost:

And here it is...our newly planted hydrangea with the two iris' up front and two peonies rounding out the rear:

Of course, then the foreman REALLY got cranky pants so I picked him up and carried him in our Lillebaby (like an Ergo but your kid can face forward too) to get a better view of our work:

But I didn't mind because that left the not-so-pleasant job of moving the compost pile up to my husband...he did a super great job:

So here's a bird's eye view of our newly planted hydrangea:

And a glimpse over to the rest of the garden alongside the house. Our super, crazy-go-nuts awesome peony plants thrive in the area just to the right of the house over on the left of the photo, so I am excited to see them grow in the new planter box as well:

The new compost area on one side of the driveway and my space for vegetable gardening on the other:

By this time the foreman decided he needed a nap, so we banged out another project while he was indisposed...we oiled up our teak table...sadly I only have a before shot, but you should know that it looks much better now:

Next week we're on to vegetable garden raised bed building!!

What were you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

8 Months

Well I am totally late on writing this post, but might as well get it up there for the history books.
A few weeks ago, Little G turned 8 months old and all of the sudden we realized that you were no longer an infant. You aren't really a toddler yet since you don't even go from sitting to laying down and back again, but we can't really call you an infant anymore because you clearly let us know how you are feeling whether it be super-duper happy or totally pissed off. Guess that means you're a baby.

The biggest accomplishment you have mastered this month is rolling over from your back to your front. While your first roll from your front to your back was back on Thanksgiving Day, you rolled over from your back to your front for the first time when you were 7 months and 2 days old! Apparently rolling over isn't a milestone, but none-the-less, we were pretty excited for you. Now you're a rolling machine!! We find you in your crib on your belly and completely flipped around with your head where your toes were when we set you down...and you are very adept at seeing something across your play mat and rolling all the way over to get to it.

We also started swim lessons this month. At first you were very unfocused and lost all personality in the pool...but now you will kick and splash your arms and squeal with delight...all before even getting in the pool! Below is a picture from that very first were a little nervous but now your a bonefide swim master!

Not long before your 8th month birthday, Mommy headed out of town on a trip to go see some friends and she was away for four nights in a row! It was the first time she was away from you overnight and it was really hard for her because she missed you terribly.

You and daddy had an awesome time while mommy was away, though. You went to a play date with some of mommy's friends and you even visited a train museum with daddy.

You are continuing to grow and grow and grow and you no longer like us to feed you mush; instead you prefer to eat what is on our plates. Your pincer grasp is almost fully realized but sometimes you prefer to just shove your food in your mouth with your fist. This month you have enjoyed eating golden beets, Happy Baby puffs, shredded cheddar cheese, ham, pork chops, steak, egg yolks, whole wheat mini bagels, full carrots, peas and black beans just to name a few.
We love you so much, Little G.
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Morning 20in20 Tracking

Starting date: December 1, 2009
Ending date: April 20, 2010
Starting weight: 222 lbs
Goal weight: 202 lbs
Current weight: 213 lbs
Weight loss this week: .6 lbs
Total weight loss: 9 lbs
Pounds left until goal: 11 lbs
Weeks left in challenge: 4 !!! it is starting to look like I really am not going to meet this challenge, which means I am starting to prepare myself for the reality of losing my iPhone. Realistically speaking, I can't go without a phone because I travel with an 8 month old and I just don't see that as being practical. So the plan is to turn off my data plan until I HAVE lost the 20 lbs. Of course, not reaching the 20 lbs in 20 weeks also means that I will be losing out on the chance for the big prize; for me it was a Garmin.

I also realize it is a bit defeatist of me to be already deciding exactly how I am going to work around my losing this challenge when there are still 4 weeks left. But 10 lbs in 4 weeks isn't really responsible weight loss and I still have every intention of continuing until I do lose the 20 lbs...and who knows, maybe I'll feel inspired to keep going.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ping Pong Puppet Project

This fun little puppet project stems from back when I worked in the entertainment department at Walt Disney World. I was a puppeteer and whenever we would audition for new roles, the first part of the audition would entail us using these ping-pong puppet eyes and 'lip-synching' with our puppet hands to Stayin' Alive in a mirror. I kid you not.

However, it dawned on me that since Little G seemed to be enamored with Sesame Street the one time he watched it that perhaps he would get some amusement from these puppet eyes and believe me, the kid goes ballistic every time I pull these out.

I should start with the warning that clearly this is not a baby/kid friendly project since it involves sharp scissors and a needle...but the outcome is totally kid worthy. Also should mention to not let your kid suck on the pin-pong ball eyes since God only knows what they are made of but I am sure it isn't baby friendly.

Moving along...

Step 1: purchase some white ping pong balls, preferably without any markings on them but those are super hard to find, so minimal markings works well too:

Step 2: since you want as much white area on your eyes as possible, try to match up the markings on the balls so that when they are next to each other they are harder to this case, I matched up the two stars which seemed to block most of the writing from view:

Step 3: take a pair of scissors and GENTLY poke a hole in the ping pong ball where the star is:

Step 4 (sorry no picture): punch another hole in the ping pong ball 90 degrees south from your original hole.

Step 5: Grab some elastic:

Step 6: in order to thread the elastic through the ping pong balls, you will need to attach it to a needle and thread:

Step 7: pay attention want to thread the elastic into the bottom of the first ping pong ball and out the side and then continue into the side of the second ping pong ball and out the bottom:

Step 8: Once the elastic is threaded, tie a knot loose enough to just fit your middle finger through the hole and trim the ends:

Step 9: You can either draw on irises or you can use sticky back foam or glue on some felt...either way, cut out two small circles:

Step 9a: I like to cut small squares and then face them together to trim them so I can make sure the circles I end up with are approximately the same size:

Step 10: Place the black circles on the ping pong balls to make 'eyes':

Now slip the eyes over your middle finger and voila!!! A ping pong puppet!

And...for your viewing horrid puppetry skillz and even more pathetic chewed up fingers...