Friday, July 29, 2011

Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper

We bought this item after a friend suggested it for portable places to sleep and keep the baby.

Ben slept in it for the first 2 months of his life when we needed to put him to sleep in the living room, or split up to maximize parental sleep and when we traveled. He was super comfy in it because I really believe most infants don't like being flat on their backs. We had a pack and play that had an infant napping station that was shaped to cradle his body and this item mimicked that. So, when we traveled to my parents house, I had a safe comfy place to put him in without having to take down and pack up the pack and play. (Because of the napping station attachment it made the break down and putting back together of the pack and play way more complicated)
We also are short on space in our car as we have 2 kids now - so overnight trips require maximizing trunk space.

Sadly, he never liked to just sit in it when he was awake - but I think that's because he couldn't see over the sides and he was very alert from day one and always liked to be able to see EVERYTHING. In fact, we had to take him out of his infant car seat and put him a rear facing convertible after a month of him SCREAMING every time we put him in the car or used it as a stroller. As soon as we switched it (after a friends suggestion) he was a different kid because he could see out and that made him happy.

I have heard that some people put their babies in it the first few months for sitting while awake and just wish we had been able to do that as well.

As you can see from the picture above - we HAD to rig a mobile to be able to sit him in there awake and that usually only lasted 5 minutes max before he started yelling to get out.
(I think he's 2 weeks old in that picture - 3 at the most)

So, if you are low on space and need to travel or want somewhere to place the baby in a second room during the day - get this. It's the best $40 we spent and gave us VERY sound sleep for the first 2 - 3 months of his life:)

What happened to my marriage?

When we had Katie - Dave and I were ALWAYS able to find time to talk, hang out, play games and have mini dates after she was sleeping. We were even able to go out on REAL dates a lot because I have awesome parents who will watch her for us and who she loves being around. So, we had our fair share of nights away during her first 2 years also.

Our relationship is VERY strong. Stronger than I really thought possible. We are truly teammates in this game of parenting. We were so good at balancing being the parents of 1 and since Katie did so many things early and slept so well at night - we never really missed time with each other because there was always so much!

Then we had Ben. Everything changed. Now, part of it is because he still REFUSES bottles and is literally attached to me at the boob and dependent on my for feeding more often than a bottle fed baby. (although the last few days he's been spreading it out which makes me happy!!) Part of it is because Katie is a daddy's girl and only 2 and a half and needs attention from Dave when he gets home.

Our days go like this - Dave wakes up with the kids.(anywhere between 5 and 6:30) I sleep in until the noise gets unbearable or Ben decides he wants to eat. (between 7 and 8 on good days) Then, Dave has to get ready for work and I'm with the kids. Then Dave leaves for work until 5:15.

He comes home and it's dinner time - so I am either finishing up cooking or getting our dinners on the table and getting Ben's Cereal ready. One of us has to feed Ben his cereal, while the other is Katie's personal cheerleader to eat her dinner. (I'm convinced since eating is one of the only things she can control, she makes it VERY hard and takes her time and fights us - which is annoying but given all the changes in her life with moving and a baby, etc... I won't fault her for it yet)

Dinner conversation is limited to Katie's day as she is very obnoxious when we try to talk to each other because she figures since Dave is home - he should be talking to HER and not ME. I get it, she hasn't seen him all day and she wants some daddy time - so although it annoys me - I try not to get too upset - although yesterday I did have to put her in timeout because she kept yelling at us to stop talking and we REALLY needed to discuss a new muffler for a car - and she refused to stop interrupting - probably not my best parenting moment - but I was desperate.

After we clean up dinner and get the dishes sorted - we have about 45 minutes to an hour or so of playtime/nursing Ben time.

Then it's bath time - and we have to each take one kid and give them their baths. (Ben is too small for the bathtub so he gets his downstairs and she gets hers upstairs)

Then it's reading time for Katie and bedtime for Ben.

By the time there is radio silence on both their monitors - its after 8 - lately - closer to 9.
(Katie is getting bigger and thus staying up later since she still naps most days)

Then it's time for Dave to go run at the gym and me to shower - de-stress and try to get sleepy.
(I have sleeping issues and it's taking me forever to fall asleep and since Ben is still so unpredictable and I'm the only one - or correction, my boobs are the only ones that can comfort him - I usually don't get more than 2 - 4 hours MAX at a time at night.
So I try to get in bed by 9:30 so that I can maximize his first long stretch of sleep at night and not feel quite so zombieish when I wake up and start all over again.

No romance, no catching up - barely even a hello at the door even and our day is over and it's bed time.
I wasn't expecting this however, I realize it's because the kids are so little so I accept it and we are doing the best we can to stay connected as a couple as well as parents. We ROCK the parenting thing - but the couple thing is getting harder and harder. I realized the other day that we got his health insurance changes information over a week ago and haven't even had time to sit and talk about that yet.

We try to get movies every once in awhile and will set up the Wii to play when they are sleeping again soon -(who doesn't love Mario right?) and I know that as Ben starts to sleep more and I get to sleep more - I won't be so dependent on sleeping every chance we get so we will be able to talk and watch movies, etc when the kids are sleeping again.

But as someone said in their blog posting which prompted this idea for me - for now, it's like we are roommates living in the same house, who see each other in passing on opposite schedules.

We moved to NJ to be 5 minutes away from Dave's job - I stay home FT - so I would imagine that we have WAY MORE time together than most couples with multiple children do and I feel like I'm drowning cause I miss him even though we are here so much of the time together.
How do you all do it? Do you sacrifice sleep more often than I am able to at the moment? Do you have phone dates like you're in HS during the work day? Especially if you both work - do you EVER see each other?

Tell me, tell me:) I want to know!
I know it will get better and it's already starting to look up as Ben sleeps more at night and I know that we will go back to being as strong and fun as ever - but I'm afraid some people never get there again and that makes me sad:(

Comment away and share your experiences:)
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Teething Bling

I'm not gonna lie - this is another one of those baby products that I thought was dumb when I first heard about it and here is why. I thought,

"Why would you want to encourage your child to chew on your jewelry"

So, with my first kid - I didn't give it so much as a passing thought other than - wow, that's another useless item.

Then I had Ben - Ben likes to pull on my necklace ALL THE TIME. Katie NEVER did cause she was a bottle baby and just never really found my necklaces. I think Breastfeeding puts him in a position to want to hold on to something there. He also likes to chew on things - which Katie didn't do that much of either - so I thought - wait wasn't there a necklace made specially for kids like this that I could buy - so I looked it up and ordered one!

I ordered Teething Bling in their BEAUTIFUL Coral color and it just came in the mail today. Ben is sleeping, but I can't wait for him to wake up because I think he's gonna love it. They also make bangle bracelets which I admit, I thought was useless even after ordering the necklace - but my husband pointed out to me how much Ben grabs and chews on my hand and wrist - so again, clearly these moms are smarter than me and figured it out and are making money off of it. Kudos to them!

YAY Smart Mom jewelery for creating a safe teethable toy/fashion accessory for us both to enjoy! I will post a full review once he has gotten his gummy gum gums all over it!

P.s. something is wrong with blogspot at the moment and I can't flip my pictures - I will remedy that later:)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Starting Solids Early

I am going to be 100% honest here, I always looked down on people who started their babies on solids at 4 months. In my defense - my doctor with Katie was very strict about not starting until 6 months, so of course, I agreed with her.

Fast forward to now - Exclusively breastfeeding for 4.5 months. (this kid has only taken 1 bottle EVER and it was 1/4 of a bottle and he was sleeping)
Anyway - The new standard is to start between 4 and 6 months. The idea being that if your child isn't ready to eat - they will let you know because they won't be good at it. Makes total sense.

So, we went to our 4 month appointment and I already had the rice cereal in the cabinet at home because I was ready for him to start eating. I Figured if nothing else, maybe it would help him sleep a little longer at night if he got a little cereal. That was all I hoped for. I figured he would practice for a month or 2 before he was ready to actually eat.

I was wrong - he took to the spoon from day 1 and ate his cereal like a CHAMP! I'm talking, opening his mouth for more and reaching for the spoon.

Rice cereal, Barley and Oatmeal - Check.

The downside is he prefers it with Breastmilk over water as do I for the nutritional benefit. I tried formula to see if I could get a break - and he rejected it whole heartedly.

So, I try to pump so that at least one of his 2 cereal servings a day can be with formula - makes me feel better about starting him on food so early.

Clearly he likes it and his tummy can handle it and he's super interested in food. Katie was not.

So, I apologize to all the moms I scoffed at in the past for feeding your babies food at 4 months. I now agree, that some babies truly are ready for it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hidden Costs of Staying at Home

Staying at home with your kids does not equal free "childcare."
There are a lot of hidden costs to staying at home with your children that you might not think about before deciding to do so. I don't think they are in any way prohibitive, but they definitely creep up on you when you might not be expecting it.

1) Heating and Cooling

The largest cost that I didn't consider before staying home was Heating and Cooling your house.
Before we had kids, we turned the heat off during the day and had it REALLY low at night using blankets for sleeping. We had it set to automatically turn on to be warm(ish) when we came home for dinner, but that was kind of about it.

When you stay home - you are home ALL DAY - and you have kids - which means it's not necessarily safe to pile on the blankets and have the heat low.

Same goes for HEAT waves (like the one we're all suffering right now) We have to run the AC ALL day in the living room - then for naptimes and bedtimes. This means we went from running the AC occasionally and usually only at night (cause we were at work during the day) to running anywhere from 1 - 3 for hours and hours at a time.

Don't get me wrong, I prefer fresh air - but there is NO air at all right now, and my migraines have kicked up a notch with the humidity - so there's that. Plus with Ben, we need the room to be cool enough because warm weather is a danger for SIDS - so we will be eating quite the large bill for AC and Heat in the next 2 years.

2) Food
I think that when you stay home, you tend to eat more or at least waste more maybe. I find that when I worked - I would buy stuff for lunch and make and take my lunch and that was that. Now, I find that I buy more options because I think I would like to have lots of choices for food during the day - that's actually kind of false - at least for me.
Well, maybe not entirely false - I do find that I eat healthier both because I'm home and I'm nursing - so good for me, bad for our wallet right - hahaha
I don't think it's a bad place to spend money - I'm just saying I have found that is one place I spend more since staying home.

3) Toys
Obviously you can find ways to save here - especially if you have good friends close by and can take advantage of toy swapping and borrowing - but I really do think that when your kids are home every day - they NEED a larger variety of toys to play with and learn from than a kid who goes to daycare. (they get all the variety there) So, I don't think of it as spoiling so much as making sure my kids have lots of options to swap in and swap out so that our days are not mundane. We don't go crazy with buying toys - but I do find that lately I have been buying toys randomly - whereas when Katie was smaller - it was only for gifts for holidays, etc... the other day we got her Mega Bloks (80 awfully sharp, hard pieces to step on) and some play doh accessories as regular play doh wasn't cutting it anymore. I also feel bad sometimes when I spend money on toys because you probably could run a whole daycare with the stuff we already have - but I am very savvy and I hardly EVER pay full price for anything and I have scoured a lot of GREAT tag sales for awesome deals too!

4) Books
Katie LOVES books - which is great - we read before every nap/bedtime and also throughout the day. She oftentimes picks books to bring with her as toys when we go places. I have found the DOLLAR STORE - to be one of the greatest assets for books. I don't mean cheapy nobody knows bad quality books - check out their section - I have gotten Disney Books, princess books, board books, sticker and coloring books there too - I will never buy a coloring book at a regular store again when I can get the same thing at the dollar store!

5) Day Activities
I find that you eventually have to bite the bullet and start taking your kids to mommy and me type classes and story times, etc... Not all these things are free - so you end up spending money there.

Those are the 5 big ones I could think of - can anyone else think of anything else??
Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining - I do love staying home - I really do and I see all the benefits for the kids - it's just something that I was thinking about when I started freaking out about money. I had to remind myself that AC is just something we can't really save on at the moment!!
It's just a cost of staying home;)

Sunday, July 24, 2011


O.k. this post is mostly for preggos or new parents but I really felt a need to write about our experience with Swaddling because it has changed our life.
Dramatic I know.

I don't think Katie liked being swaddled - although to be honest I didn't believe in it much back then and no one I knew really did it - so we didn't really try it aside from the first few days home with the receiving blankets like they did at the hospital.

Ben was another story. Swaddling is the only way he will sleep well. I am SO Happy that there are SO many products out there for swaddling and I figured I'd review some since we have tried a bunch.

1) Receiving blankets - they only work the first few days home because they are usually not big enough or tight enough and once your little one can move - forget it - they are useless.

2) SwaddleME by Summer -
these were awesome the first few months.
They come in light cotton fabrics AND heavier fleece fabrics for colder weather.
They have Velcro for closing and they are so smart, they actually put extra fabric near the velcro so that when you wash them, you can attach the fabric to the velcro so the velcro doesn't ruin other items in the wash! (I LOVED THIS FEATURE)
They also come in a crazy array of fun colors, prints, etc...
These worked for us until about 3 months and we literally could not leave home without one. We had to stop using them once Ben started trying to roll over in his sleep because he would wiggle himself out of it just enough that the part that wrapped his arms actually ended up by his face - which clearly is not good. So, sadly we had to retire them for awhile until he settled again.
They even have a hole in the back so that you can put them into your car seat or stroller - although I never figured out how to do this because Ben only needed to be swaddled when sleeping flat - I do know people use them in the car - so I'm sure that feature is handy as well.

3) Miracle Blanket -

This item was brought to my attention from some fellow moms, and although I have never used it - I think if I had known about it in the beginning, I would have just bought these because you don't have to replace them for bigger sizes and they eliminate the babies ability to get out of the swaddle and wake themselves up or get suffocated by moving around in the others ones too much. However, they do require a wrapping skill and I think in our situation with Ben, it would have been a little difficult some times to put him in one while he was dosing off...

4) Halo Sleepsack with swaddle

- someone mentioned this one to me and for the first week I loved it, then I found it to be the most annoying thing on the planet because for some reason it just didn't fit right. Ben was moving around more so it was a bit harder to get on and the sheer amount of velcro to close it makes so much noise, it inevitably woke him up if we had to adjust it - which we always had to do to make sure it was tight enough.

I did like the fact that for 20 something dollars you get a sleep sack AND Swaddle and that once you no longer need the swaddle part, that part is detachable and you can still use the sleep sack.
So, I will use the sleep sack part once he has broken the swaddle dependency.

5) The Woombie -

The people we are renting from left us some hand me downs and in that bag was the woombie. I thought it looked crazy but washed it anyway just in case and let me tell you I'm glad I did! Its a little awkward to put on, but Ben likes it the best!

Yes, it looks kind of like a straight jackety thing - but let me tell you these people are RIGHT on in terms of keeping baby happy. The shape and elasticity of the fabric means he has some wiggle room but he feels safe and secure and cant jerk himself awake. Which means he sleeps great - because he can move around to get comfy but his little arms and legs don't jut out since he's too young to have total control of his limbs. He wore it all last night and slept the best he has in days!!! Hes also napping in it now and is sleeping SO well! I love this thing
I wish I had had these from the beginning:)

The website has all kinds of super cool stuff including this AWESOME looking napping station thingy that would have been perfect the last few days with the heat wave as we could have brought him into our room without having to set up the pack and play or sleep on the couch - which is what I did for 2 days so he could stay in the AC in the pack and play. They also have these woombie with legs and I think we are going to NEED those in a month or so when we start to transition him out of the full swaddle. Genius - I swear.

Just goes to show you that even if you think something won't work or looks funny - TRY IT! All babies are different and there are a ton of products out there - not all of which are worth your money. If you can borrow some of these to try them on your little one before you invest - I suggest you do that. I will save all mine, so if you are interested - just tell me! But, I have to say - Woombie all the way!!!!

Sorry, I gotta run, he woke up and needs some cereal - but I just wanted to share some Swaddling reviews - because like I said, swaddling has saved our lives. I know we don't get that much sleep from him, but the sleep we do, we get thanks to swaddling!!!!

Happy Weekend!

P.s. I will eventually take pics of my actual child in these products - but things are a bit crazy at the moment with 2;)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I know, I know... my postings have been few and far between and it makes me sad because I really enjoy blogging. Life with 2 kids has taken every single spare moment I have. I was also trying to keep my Part Time consulting gig online but have finally decided that it is just entirely too much stress for not enough money so I am going to quit because every spare second was going into trying to work and there really aren't many spare moment when your kids sleep on opposite schedules.

So, in some ways I feel better because that weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but in another I'm sad because I really like working. I like making my own money and using my brain in different ways and love the challenge - but my sanity comes first right? So, I will get back to working when I can and will just work for the rest of my life... so for now - it's time to enjoy being a stay at home mom!

Updates - Katie is still a total rock star with Ben. She doesn't get jealous isn't overly smothering to him but I can trust her alone with him which is GREAT for when I have to run upstairs, etc....

For being 2.5 - she is continuing to surprise us with only being cranky or"bad" if she's overtired. No terrible 2's here - at least not how everyone else describes them. We get some drama and tears every once in awhile but for the most part. her behavior is incredible. She helps me around the house, she cleans up her toys and time outs have ceased to be an issue. (meaning we don't have to do them anymore)

I know this won't last forever, but I am enjoying it while I can.

Ben is the happiest and most social baby ever! We are still nursing because he won't take a bottle but this weekend we will try to break him of that because I need some sleep. So, even if we can just get him a bottle once every week, that will be enough for me. He is having sleep troubles and wakes up a few times a night which is really sucky since before we went away, he was waking up only once.

I think he's teething, and learning to roll over and just having a general developmental growth spurt, so that is affecting his sleep. We have been able to take away the swaddle. (last night was the first full night and he did REALLY well) and next will be nursing to sleep. He hasn't found a way to comfort himself yet - so when he gets really tired, it's still the fastest, quietest way to get him to sleep.

UPDATE - last night I tried to put him down without nursing and we had a 2.5 hour battle with tears, sleeping, waking up screaming and totally inconsolable.... ugh and he needed the swaddle to finally settle.

I feel like I'm going backwards.
I really think if all moms had to breastfeed, there would be a lot less babies around because this is def the hardest thing I've ever had to do and also the most dedicated....

I keep telling myself that tomorrow will get easier.... nighttime is really the problem as they are usually very good during the day.

The busier we are outside the house the better the day we have:)

hopefully i find some time soon as I want to do a Sesame post, a Must have toy post and I have a few others in mind also:)

Hope you are all doing well. What kind of post would you like to see next??