Month: June 2013

Tried and True: Seven Sling

*”Tried and True” will be an on going thread where I will be reviewing the products we have tried out in our lives as parents!*

IMG_20130630_132228

If you had asked me about this sling just 3 days ago, I would have told you I hated it. Yes, HATED it. And I don’t hate a lot. But it was confusing, sat funny on me and I couldn’t get Liam comfortable in a kangaroo hold. But I decided to give it another try on Friday. Why, you ask? For the most vain reason of all – it went with my cute “beach trip” outfit. No joke. I’d bought this cute dress at Target, had a teal scarf for up in my hair and the Seven Sling was going to be SO much cuter (and cooler) than my Ergo, Balboa Sling or Ring Sling.

The first thing I had to figure out was how to wear it. It’s a loop, but with a slight angle to it. In my opinion, the instructions are useless. I could figure them out, if I wanted to put the time and effort into it. But what new mom has time? Or any energy for effort? So I went to be babywearing best friend … Youtube. That’s where I found this video:

I have no idea who she made the video for, but apparently 40,000+ people have found it useful! I know I did! (By the way, I am creating a babywearing playlist of all my favorite videos, if you are interested! Click here!)

As I mentioned, I wanted to use this cute sling on a beach trip I took this past Friday with my bestie to visit our ear friend and former co-worker. I brought my boyfriend, BOB, along as well. But sometime Liam just gets sick of looking at people’s knees. So, partway through the day I pulled him out and dropped him into the Seven Sling.

Pros:

  • It allows him to sit on my hip, which he likes anyways
  • SO thin, it really is super cool for BOTH of us
  • Adorable!
  • Rolls up super super small
  • Cheap/Free (no joke… keep reading!)

Cons:

  • NO support, which means you can’t wear it for long period of time
  • Even when you know how to wear it, it sits funky on you
  • I still need to offer Liam a bit of support with my arm, but not consistently

Besides being super cute, the BIGGEST perk for me is how tiny it rolls up. I mean, seriously, I could never get even my ring sling or Balboa THIS small…

IMG_20130630_113021

So it is now a STAPLE in my diaper bag. No matter what, I always have a carrier on me. This just takes up WAY less room and works in a pinch!

The other thing I really love is the price. I only paid shipping. Yep, you read that right! And Seven is a part of a couple of companies, so after you purchase your sling, you’ll be given a coupon for either a free car seat canopy or udder cover. Purchase from the next site, a free code for ANOTHER product. It’s a never ending cycle! I don’t have a car seat cover (didn’t car for any of theirs) but I do have 3 of their “udder covers” and then this sling. Here area few of the codes I have rounded up that SHOULD still work (I tested a few..). None include shipping, that’s extra and probably the REAL price per item. But hey a deal is a deal!

  • Seven Slings
    • Free sling: PJBABY – FREE – ONEFREE – ENBABY – FAMIMLY2011
  • Udder Covers
    • Free cover: PJBABY – VALENTINE – FREE
  • Car Seat Canopy
    • Free car sear canopy:  PJBABY – BABYTIPS – FAMILY2012

Overall Rating: ✰✰✰ 3/5 Stars

❤ Tara

Tried and True: Baby Monitors

*”Tried and True” will be an on going thread where I will be reviewing the products we have tried out in our lives as parents!*

Ah, the baby monitor. The new parent doesn’t let it out of sight, yet never gets far enough away from baby that they wouldn’t hear them anyways. The more experienced parent knows EXACTLY how far that monitor’s range is, and then how far they can go beyond that and still hear the monitor. [I talk big, but I am still right outside the bedroom door as I type this!] Do you go with just audio? Video? Night vision? Black and white? Color? Web-streaming? With so many option out there, what is a person to choose?

We personally went with video. It’s nice to look in on your little blessing while they sleep peacefully. It is also REALLY nice to be able to watch them when they make weird noises and know whether you need to go in (a sure fire bet that Liam will wake up!) or if you can hang in the living room (a good change he’ll fall back asleep). We don’t do “Cry-It-Out”, but sometimes he’s just fidgeting to get comfy, or it wasn’t a choke, just a cough.

For in our home we went with a home security camera we can mount in the room (cut us some slack, we waited 3 years for this little guy!). This allows us remote panning, audio, great night vision, etc. We can then watch Liam from any web-enabled device. This means O can see him while at work, and I can watch him on my tablet while working on the patio. But for travelling we needed something that didn’t require internet. My sister and her husband had gone through a few and suggested a Samsung. We checked out the Samsung 3037w on Amazon and it definitely seemed the best. So, right before our Colorado trip, we ordered one. And loved it!

Some features we liked:

  • Decent night vision – just 
  • Great picture during the day – I can see him AND see if his eyes are open or closed.
  • Didn’t interfere at all with my sister’s (we were in the same house)
  • Good range! I could put him to bed and go play games in the dining room (up a floor and on the other side of the house)
  • Great battery life – charge via included cord
  • Remote panning (he’s begun shifting all over his bed)
  • Two-way audio. If it’s going to take me a minute to get to him, I can let him know I am on the way! It was also great for waking Oliver if he was still in bed! haha!

Some things that irritate me:

  • You have to make sure there is nothing between the baby and it (crib rails, etc) or it will refocus constantly in night vision mode
  • Because of the above, you have to stack things near the crib to be able to get it high enough to shoot down into the bed. This almost got dangerous one night when Liam was slamming his legs in his sleep. It cause the port-a-crib to move, bump the stack, and almost sent it tumbling into his bed. BUT, because I had the monitor I saw what was happening and raced down to the room in time! I probably would have left him slamming his legs, not knowing what was about to occur!
  • When you turn on the monitor, it sings a little ditty. Very, very, loudly. So, you wait to turn it on until you are out of the room. BUT, if the camera got moved, you then have to sneak back in again. Ug!
  • It has it’s own charge cord – which means yet ANOTHER cord to pack. (personal pet peeve).
  • TECHNICALLY it can be hacked into and someone can watch your baby sleep. This wasn’t a concern for us, as we live in a house, and could be a bit more of one for those living in a condo/apartment. The range on the monitor is limited and, since it’s not over wifi, the hacker would have to be in my front yard. Some people are concerned, but I’m not …

Overall Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4/5

❤ Tara

A Mom’s Body

*This is a (slightly edited) fb status message I posted late last night regarding THIS article – please read it first!*

I love the comment about surrendering your body to motherhood… that is it EXACTLY! Not only in shape and size. You GROW a child. You are at your body’s beck and call while that blessing develops inside of you. Then you BIRTH a baby. No matter how it happens, that child then comes out of you and that leaves behind its mark. Now you have this beautiful being who needs you at their beck and call for comfort, food, development….

Why can’t we see that this surrender makes our bodies BETTER than ever. We waited for so long for Liam, yet there are some days where I hate my “tiger stripes”. But I am happy to say they are few and far between. More often than naught I can look at myself in the mirror and say “I GREW A FREAKIN’ BABY – THAT’S AWESOME!” But men, listen up. A big reason that I am able to do that is because of my husband. He is constantly telling me (and proving to me) that I am hotter now than ever – because I grew, birthed, feed and care for our beautiful baby with this body.

My body is no longer my own. And I am learning to find joy in that.

❤ Tara

[And mamas in waiting, use this time to prepare. Prepare to let go, prepare your mind and heart. Because, although you will never be fully prepared, your future babies need you to be happy with who you are and how you look. It’s how your daughters will learn to take pride in the body God gave them instead of the one the media tells them they should have. And it’s how your sons learn to value a woman’s heart and see that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And adoptive mamas/aunts/etc … your attitude towards your body is just as important. And those littles need your hugs, laps and kisses just as much!]

Pimp Your Pictures

I have always been "snap happy". I’ve been a picture person since I was young! Having Liam has sent that into overdrive. Like, 50-100 photos on an average day isn’t rare. One of my requirements  for my phone is that it has a GREAT camera. So many friends were getting blurry photos with their iPhones and other smartphones, I knew it would just drive me crazy. And, because my photos are taken on my phone, they are uploaded to Intagram and FB from my phone. Instagram offers a little "fun", but I wanted to do a LOT more with my photos. So I began searching and playing. Since I started doing more with my photos, a TON of people have asked me what apps I use. I figured it would be easier to direct them here than continue to retype my answers again and again.

NOTE: I am an Android user. Some of the apps are available on both Android and iOS, and I’ll try to note when it is. But keep in mind, I have never used the iOS versions of these apps!

Labels

"Labels" are the colored strips with text. They often look like something that has come out of a real label maker or text written on masking tape, washi tape, etc. I am picky with these, I don’t like it to look "junky". Some of my favorite apps are…

Labelbox labelbox

  • 15 different labels
  • Ability to undo – but only to clear EVERYTHING you’ve done, and you have to shake your phone. (which, quite frankly, leaves you looking ridiculous in public)
  • [Available on iOS]

maskingtapemaskingtape

  • I couldn’t even begin to count the number of tapes
  • Divided by colors, then patterns (you scroll for miles)
  • All are semi see-though – meant to look like Japanese Washi Tape
  • [Available on iOS]

Collages

This is the trick to putting a bunch of related photos into one image for sharing via social media. I prefer ones that create square collages. Then I can quickly plug it into Instagram, which then shoots it out to Facebook and Twitter. I’ve tried quite a few, but it really comes down to two for me.

  • photoframePhotoFrame
    • Super clean and quick
    • All the frames are divided by number of images
    • Can change the thickness and color of the frame around the collage
    • You can save to your gallery or send it straight to another app (Instagram, Facebook, editors, etc)

 

  • photogridPhoto Grid
    • Some cool collage options (not all square/rectangle)
    • Funky borders available as well (patterns, etc)
    • Add text right in the app
    • [Available on iOS]

 

Editors

Sometimes you want to do just a bit MORE. Maybe add some clip art, some "chalk drawing-like" text or images. A photo needs "touch-up" or even "blacked out" . Maybe even some silly arrows or talking bubbles? That’s when I go to my editor for the extra "ooph". Now, I have a LOT of editors, and I use them all for different things. But I have one I use more frequently for "common" edits, and one for a really specialized feature …

  • picsartPicsArt
    • A little chalk-like clip art in the library
    • Some great fonts – sometimes I’ll leave my labels plank and add text from this app!
    • You can add stickers, frames, borders, layer photos, masks, draw and other effects
    • [Available on iOS]

 

  • realbokehReal Bokeh
    • This adds a little "magical aura" to your images – it looks like light reflections
    • It also lets you pick shapes, colors and placement!
    • [Available on iOS]

 

  • beautifulmessBeautiful Mess
  • This one is a great one for cutesy borders, fonts, clips art, etc. It’s become my go-to and probably yours friends’ too!
  • It also lets you create images without a picture – use a blank background or one of the many patterns available!

Examples

Here are some examples of these apps in use!

4months 

 

label: labelbox

 

collage: photo frames 

 

heart lights: real brokeh

 

clipart: picsart 

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Happy Editing!

❤ Tara

Flying With Baby: Ears

A big consideration with baby and airplanes is pressure changes. As adults we are able to “pop” our ears by yawning or chewing gum. However, babies don’t have that much control (or understanding) over their bodies. The result can be your poor sweetie screaming in pain for a wwwhhhiillleeeee. Why does this happen? And how can you help?

Why?

OK, excuse me while I geek out for a minute. My undergrad degree is in both Speech-Language Pathology AND Audiology. So here is WHY your baby may be crying..

Image from kids-ent.com
Image from kids-ent.com

The “pressure” we feel when a plane takes off is caused by a few factors. As the pressure changes in the cabin, your Eustachian tube swells. This keeps the pressure in your middle ear from equalizing to the cabin pressure. As the pressure builds in your middle ear, so does the pain. The goal is is to get that Eustachian tube open as quickly as possible, to keep the pain and pressure in your baby’s ear to a minimum. Note: this change in pressure happens on both take-off AND landing .. so you have to be ready to help your little one on BOTH ends of the flight.

How Do I Help?

  • One way we open the Eustachian tubes is by moving our jaw and palate. You and I can do this by chewing gum because it causes us to move our jaw and swallow. If we end up on a plane without gum, we can just continually swallow while opening and closing our mouth. For baby? Drinking! Breast or bottle feeding while take up requires them to be moving their jaw while sucking, and their palate by swallowing! So try to offer that baby a looooong sip while taking off and landing. For us this meant a cranky baby before take-off (he was hhhuuunngggrrryyy), but a happy baby during the flight! Don’t worry, the people next to you will forgive you for the screaming baby when it doesn’t last the whole flight *smile*
  • If take-off happens and the poor baby is in pain, there is something you can do once in the air or after you are on the ground. Do this at your OWN RISK. There is a chance of burns – so you need to be careful and use common sense.
    • Get two Styrofoam coffee cups, one empty and one full of steaming HOT water. You’ll also need a few napkins.
    • Dip the napkins in the hot water and ring them out COMPLETELY. You do NOT want them to drip!
    • Stuff the napkins in the bottom of the empty Styrofoam cup.
    • Place your hand over the top of the cup to make sure the steam isn’t too hot for the baby’s skin. You just want it steamy and warmer than the outside air.
    • Place the cup to the baby’s ear and hold it there, allowing the steam to do it’s magic
    • The change in temperature can cause the ear drum to relax and help with the pressure in the Eustachian tubes.

 

Happy flight!

❤ Tara

P.S. We were told giving baby a lollipop like these can help as well – which makes since because they are using a sucking motion and the novelty could keep them munching!

Similar Posts:

Flying With Baby: Baby Wearing
Flying With Baby: Car Seats and Strollers
Flying With Baby: Carry-On

Flying With Baby: Carry-ons

Ahhh – carry-ons. This was hard for me before baby. But now I have to SHARE one of my carry-ons with Pipsqueak – i yi yi… And if what he needs isn’t in his carry-on we don’t have it. We don’t have it for upteen million hours in the air. Ok, more like a few hours. But without that ONE item, it can feel like a million! So, how was I going to pack all my things in one acceptably sized bag, and all of his things in an acceptable sized bag as well? AND haul it all!

My Things

I chose to bring along my rolling briefcase. This can hold all my tech, plus the few other little things I *need* – lotion, lip balm, a jacket. This was also good because it didn’t require me carrying it on my shoulders, which were already hauling a baby.

Baby’s Things

As much as I love the baby’s diaper bag (I stalked eBay to find it because it matches my stroller… and I *HATE* eBay!), it just isn’t big enough anymore. After doing some research I decided to go with a backpack diaper bag. It would give me plenty of room and be conducive to wearing the babe. I shopped around for a while and was REALLY depressed at what I found. Some were around $150 – I’ve never even owned a purse that cost that much! The other end of the spectrum felt soooo cheap. I was sure I would split a seam packing it with all his things. But when I really stopped and thought about it, what did I need

Image fro rei.com
Image fro rei.com

from a backpack specifically made to be a diaper bag? The big “featured” seemed to be an insulated pocked for bottles. Considering Squishy’s milk isn’t provided via bottle, I really didn’t need that feature. So I headed over to R.E.I. to find a backpack – I was sure to babywear so I could make sure it fit on with the carrier. Let me introduce the Flash 22 Pack

  • Super light but sturdy – all the weight can be in the contents!
  • No dividers inside, making it quite roomy for baby things
  • Two mesh pockets on the sides for things you need quick access to
  • Zip pocket on the “hood” for things requiring safe keeping but easy access
  • Loops down the front for hooking items to

So, how did I pack Pipsqueaks bag? I’m all about grouping items. So, everything goes into it’s own smaller bag/container. Some key contents inside..

  • All the diapers went into a diaper pouch – mine was a gift from Lou Bugs Boutique
  • Wipes in the Skip Hop case. I love that the diaper pouch an wipes containers both have loops – I loop them together since I never need one without the other!
  • A diaper changing pad (you never know what germs are on surfaces! Ewwww!)
  • A wet bag – able to hold soaked items in a pinch, but holds all his teething toys in the meantime!

While some key contents for the outside …

  • I put my wallet in the top zipper pocket..
  • My nursing cover, a blanket and burp rags in the mesh pouches
  • My luggage tag and bag dispenser (for soiled clothes and stinky diapers) on the front loops!

It worked AWESOME! So much so, that I haven’t gone back to his diaper bag! I *love* this thing!

❤ Tara

Similar Posts:

Flying With Baby: Baby Wearing
Flying With Baby: Car Seats and Strollers
Flying With Baby: Ears

Flying with Baby: Car Seats and Strollers

I know quite a few supermoms who have flown without their strollers. That is NOT ME. For one thing, I love my stroller. Like, seriously. BOB is my boyfriend and my husband totally accepts this fact *wink*. And for another, there are just some moment when wearing Liam isn’t an option (he’s not in the mood, he fell asleep in his car seat, etc.). But almost no one can get away with flying without a car seat. So below are my tips for flying with these two LARGE objects …

Protect them at ALL COSTS

Car seats aren’t cheap, and many strollers cost a pretty penny themselves. If you’ve ever seen what an airline can do to a piece of checked luggage, do NOT doubt the havoc they can wreak on your beloved car seat and stroller. Our answer to this, was to “bag ’em”.

Car Seat:

  • We currently have a Chicco Keyfit car seat. We had to fly with both the car seat AND the base. So I did some shopping around and found the Brica
    Image from Amazon.com
    Image from Amazon.com

    bag. We went with this bag for a few reasons…

    • Thick material for protecting the car seat from scrapes and drags
    • Wheels for pulling it behind us through the airport
    • Straps for carrying it in hand or as a backpack
    • LARGE pocket on the front

Ok, how I packed it is very important – so you don’t stand around looking like an idiot as I did. This bag is made for convertibles, but it can work for your infant cart seat too! So…

  • First place your car seat in the bottom of the bag, handle back
  • Set the base inside the car seat. If you have an adapter for your stroller, toss that inside now as well!
  • Zip it up! I tossed all my stroller accessories (bag hook, parent console, etc) in the front pocket.

 

Stroller:

Ahhh, back to my beloved stroller. As much as I would have loved to have the BOB Black Travel Bag, I waited too long to purchase my bags AND am way too much of a cheapskate. Even when it comes to my “boyfriend”. Though I may get it now – you’ll see why later. So, instead we purchased a large Gate Check bag from TRU. It was cheap and had some great features:

Image from buybuybaby.com
Image from buybuybaby.com

 

  • Straps on the side to carry it once bagged
  • Folds up into a tiny pouch
  • Cheap enough that we wouldn’t mind replacing it
  • Roomy, even though our stroller didn’t fit

Yep, you read that right. The wheelbase on the BOB was too wide for the bag. But that is one of the things we love about the BOB. Another thing we love? Quick release wheels! How I packed it …

  • Fold up and lock down the stroller
  • Pop off the two back wheels
  • Slide the stroller into the bag, then set the wheel on top
  • Pull the drawstring and you’re ready to go!

Gate Checking

This is when you check items that you need in the airport up until the moment you board the plane. These items are left right outside of the plane door when taking off, and you’ll find them waiting for you there when you get off at your next destination. This also means these items will not be thrown into the pile of luggage ferried out to the plane before take-off and it will be available for you during layovers (unlike the rest of your luggage!). We gate -checked our BOB Stroller and car seat …

Bag’Em *THEN* Tag’em:

  • When you arrive at your gate, you have to go up to the counter to get a tag for gate checking your items. Do NOT let them put those tags on your items until you have bagged them! You want them to put the tags on the bag, not the item. It may get lost or over looked if they can’t see the tag when you leave it on the jetway. 

Early Arrival = Early Deposit!

  • Sometimes, if you get to your gate with plenty of time before the flight, they will take your items down the jetway ahead of time. This is HUGE. I plopped Liam back into the baby carrier and loaded up the goods. The gate attendant then walked it down to the plane door. Trust me – this is a GODSEND! Try hauling it down yourself, with everyone else walking down the jetway, and your baby, and your carry-ons. Trust me, it ain’t a pretty picture! 

Similar Posts:

Flying With Baby: Baby Wearing
Flying With Baby: Carry-On
Flying With Baby: Ears

Parenting Crazies

The Parenting Crazies – it’s those words and/or actions we do for the good of our child. Ok, sometimes it’s simply for the good of our sanity. But if you think about it, our kids fair MUCH better when we are sane. So all in all, it’s really for them.

I’ve had many of these moments in Liam’s short life. The things I’ve said and done to keep him happy, out of pain, calm… to keep myself sane, calm, persevering … oh there are too many to count. But the other night was a real doosey.

If you’re my “friend” on facebook, you may have noticed a recent post in which I made it publicly known that I’m at a crisis point with Liam and his car seat. He really hates the car seat, to epic proportions. Not just fussing, crying, general crankiness. I mean turning purple, gurgling, screaming till he has no voice, HATES it. And quite frankly, it’s killing my sanity. I dread every time I put him in the car. Thursday, as I left the office to go meet my mom for dinner, he screamed the whole 20 minute car ride. I called my hubby to have him distract me because I seriously was ready to pull over and walk the rest of the way.

Here is where the parenting crazies moment kicks in…

I walked home from dinner. No joke. It took me so long to settle him down in the restaurant that I just couldn’t stomach putting him back in the car seat. Granted, we were only a mile from home, but I totally left my car there. I just could NOT do it, I’d reached my limit.

What’s really hilarious? I took this photo on the way home…

 

All smiles now!

You’d have no idea this child had just been ballistic a half hour earlier. I guess he was just reassuring me that it was a good choice to walk home.*wry smile* This is a clear example of what you see on facebook isn’t always the WHOLE story…

So, tell me about your “parent crazies” moment … 

♥ Tara