Baby sign language

My sister rented some baby signing DVDs from a library in Portland when my nephew Alexander as almost a year old.  He seemed to love watching the DVDs and started picking up signs quickly.  

We started signing with Nola when she was just a few months old and have recently come to see the fruits of our labor.  

I felt silly signing to the slobbery bobble-head doe eyed infant that rarely even made eye contact.  I got some eye rolls from skeptics, but I kept at it, unbothered.   

Now my almost 15-month old is picking up a few new signs a week and is consistently using 8 basic signs.  Of course, when prompted she will demonstrate the sign but she is starting to use the signs she has learned to communicate on her own accord.  

We purchased the baby signing time collection and have found it incredibly helpful.  Here is a link to the full Baby Signing Time DVD set.  You can save money by purchasing the digital collection or by purchasing it used.  It is not necessary to buy this set to sign with your baby, obviously, but it really made things easy.  I do refer to you tube for quick references for certain words I can’t remember or want to learn quickly.  I usually search “sign language + (word I’m looking for)”.  

Here are a few tips I have found helpful:

  • It’s never to early to start, like reading 
  •  Be repetitive.  Consistency is key. Every time you your give baby milk, say and sign milk
  • Get all or as many caregivers as you can involved, like potty training. It takes a village
  • You have to be willing to learn it to teach it
  • Every baby and child will learn at a different pace.  Be patient 
  • Have fun!! Make it more like a game and less like boot camp 

I am by no means an expert but I’m happy to answer questions and share what works for us! 

I felt that it made sense to introduce a few signs at a time and gradually add new signs as I learned them.  

I’ll try to remember to get more videos of her signing and post them, but here are a few that I have! 

Organizing kitchen utensils

We’ve had a lot going on lately, packing up and moving to a new home.  I hope I’ll be able to share more as we start settling in.  Today’s post is a result of a small victory in the abyss of kitchen organization.

There was a random towel bar installed under one of the cabinets and I couldn’t figure out how to use it or if I wanted to just get rid of it.

Today I stopped by Lowe’s and picked up some ‘S-hooks’ for $0.30 each.  I was able to declutter my utensil drawer by displaying some of the utensils.  I also freed some space in my kitchen towel drawer, which is where I was awkwardly storing my oven mit and pot holder.  Now my they are conveniently located right next to the stove.

I might use this method in my craft room too!

If anyone’s wondering, the sticky notes are reminders for this ADD momma as we attempt to establish a new routine in the new house

 

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Baby food storage 

One of the things that upset me when I stopped making enough breast milk to store in the freezer was that my nifty organizing trays would no longer be used.  It drove me nuts to have random bags thrown in the freezer and I loved having my precious liquid gold neatly organized and in chronological order.  

I recently pulled my First Years milk storage tray back out of storage to use now that I’m making my own baby food.  Im using the bottom for storing and organizing  frozen baby foods. I also had a ton of Lansinoh breast milk storage bags left over, so   I’m storing cubes of frozen food in them.   (Side note: I think these are the BEST bags) Since I only pump enough for one day supply, I just use bottles now.   

   

I think it’s a good idea to date them as well, because I believe it’s recommended you only store baby food in the freezer for one month. I only have about 2 week supply pictured.  Keep in mind, this is probably not the most cost effective set up, but I do love how organized it is.  I will continue to purchase the milk storage bags for baby food because I personally think it’s worth it.  

But wait, there’s more!  We keep some of those nonperishable organic food pouches on hand to grab and go without having to worry about food spoiling in the diaper bag or car.  The LID to the storage tray is perfect for keeping those organized in the pantry! 

  
See my post on DIY baby food for more food storage tips. 

Our Cloth diapering supplies

I decided during my pregnancy that I wanted to cloth diaper.  I knew that it would be challenging and I promised myself I would give it my best but not sacrifice my own or my family’s sanity trying to do it.  It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to do it all, and lose yourself in the process. There are several reasons why I personally chose to cloth diaper.  This article by The Natural Baby Co pretty much sums it all up.  I didn’t necessarily save money this time around because I got caught up in buying cute and some limited edition designer diapers.  If I can refrain from buying all the cute boy prints for my hypothetical future baby boy, then I will save lots of $$.  

     Keep in mind that there are several types and brands of cloth diapers, and finding the ones that work for you and your baby is about preference and trial & error.  If you want to read up on some of the different brands and types Here and Here and  Here are some links.  

This is a great resource for figuring out all the supplies you’ll need to cloth diaper Click here.

  

These are the products that I use and highly recommend: 

1.  Grovia Hybrid diaper. I also have used Bumgenius, Kawaii baby, Fuzzibunz, and Best Bottoms, but Grovias are my favorite 

2. Diaper Dekor.  Can be used for disposeable. We used disposeable until she was 8 wks, then switched to cloth.  It has a locking lid and contains the smell well.  I would only recommend for cloth diapering ONE child, as there is not room for more than 2 days worth of diapers.  I consider this a perk because it helps me keep track of laundry. (Going more than 2 days without washing can cause stains and smells to set in) 

3. Pail liners:  I have 2 Pail liners so that one is always clean.  The bags always go in the wash with each load of diapers that they carry.  I use PlanetWise and Ubbi.  I like them both.  

4.  Wet bags.  I use the large Planet Wise bag for daycare and this Skip Hop bag goes in the diaper bag (not just for diapers, soiled clothes can go in here too!)

5. Detergent:  I LOVE Charlie’s Soap.  It seems pricey but goes a long way!  I expect to have only used 2 to 2.5 containers in a year. (100load container).  This Biokleen Bac-out stain remover keeps my stash stain-free.  

6.  Drying rack.  I usually dry everything on low, but if I notice any stains that need to be treated, I set them aside to dry on the rack because the heat can sometimes set in stains.  

7. Diaper sprayer.  AND Spray Pal will make your life easier when it comes to handling poopie diapers

8. Flushable liners also make it easier.  You can flush the liner with poop and all.  Usually don’t have to rinse after.  

9. Wipes.  I didn’t plan on using cloth wipes, but it actually makes it easier to just throw the wipe in with the diaper, especially when it’s just pee.  We love Honest wipes for cleaning poop. 

10.  Disposeables.  Yes, sometimes shit gets real.  We use them when we have sitters, go on trips and when we just can’t deal (with cloth) Grovia biosoaker is also a great option if you have the hybrids.  

11.  Diaper rash cream.  Fortunately I have not had to deal with a diaper rash in cloth, but Sometimes I put California baby diaper cream on her at night since she sometimes sleeps 10 hours.  This cream wouldn’t be my first choice for treating a moderate to severe rash.  We did have to use Budreaux’s Butt paste for a rash when she was on antibiotics and pooping every hour, but we were using Disposeables at that point.  Make sure you have a cloth-safe diaper cream just in case.  Some barrier creams can ruin the absorbency of the diapers.  

It’s really not as difficult or unsanitary as people think.  

Feel free to ask questions and stay tuned for Blog posts including my wash routine, storage, and cloth wipes tutorial! 

Easy DIY organic baby food 

I’m so excited to use some amazing baby food supplies I reiceved as shower gifts.  I LOVE my Cuisinart Baby Food Maker & bottle warmer! It’s a 3 in 1 machine that allows you to steam and immediately purée your fresh/raw foods including fruits, veggies, and meat! It also functions as a bottle warmer.  


The manual is so easy to follow and provides a food chart that makes the process fool-proof.  

    

 

  I also love this OXO Baby Food Freezer Tray.  I prefer this over a regular ice cube tray because it is 100% BPA free and comes with a lid that keeps the food protected and allows you to control the amount of cubes released.  

With the Cuisinart baby food maker you simply cut the food items to the recommended size and add the specified amount of water using the included measuring cup (all on the food chart).  Set it to steam and simply switch the knob to “chop” once it’s done steaming.  Once it is cooled, I transfer the puréed food to my freezer tray and in to a few of these OXO Baby blocks which I place into the refrigerator (to be eaten within 2 days).   

When the food in the freezer tray is frozen, I transfer it to a labeled freezer bag to make room for the next food.  I pop one or two frozen cubes into the OXO blocks and send them with Nola to daycare.   

I am choosing to introduce only vegetables first since babies will usually favor fruits.  I have found that it helps to add breastmilk when first introducing a food. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid (puréed) foods at 6 months, so talk to your pediatrician about when you should begin feeding your baby solids.  We started at 5 months.  

I can’t remember where I read this so I can’t site it, but it’s a wise tip and makes sense: consider waiting 3-5 days in between introducing new foods.  This will allow you to monitor your baby for food allergies.  

**I am in no way affiliated with any of the above mentioned products or companies and do not profit from my personal endorsements.  

DIY uncrustables: PB&J pocket sandwiches

I found guilty pleasure in those addicting pockets of pb&j by Smuckers! They are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives so I decided to make my own!

A 4ct box retails around $2.99, but my goal is to use better quality ingredients and minimal preservatives.  You could certainly save money making these by using low-cost ingredients or finding them on sale.   

I almost bought this little gem on Amazon for around $7 but I found one at my local Publix for under $4. (Augusta Kroger and Target did not have it) Wonder sandwich sealer

Next time I will probably try using Ezekiel bread and freshly pressed peanut butter, but I used what I had on hand.  The only ingredients in the peanut butter include organic peanuts and salt.  The fruit spread contains 4 simple non GMO ingredients and has no added sugar. 



You can use any bread you like, but I would recommend not using a bread With the indentation at the top (as pictured above) because it makes it harder to seal. 

Breast is best….except when it’s not.

Why do perfect strangers feel the need to ask my if i breastfeed my baby and then proceed to congratulate me for doing so? Would I be criticized if I said I feed her formula?

What if I had given it my all and it just didn’t work out? And what if I was still really upset about it. There are so many reasons why moms don’t breastfeed and I totally get it.

Breast is best except when mom can’t take the meds she needs to be well.

Breast is best except when it’s too much pressure and stress for a working mom. Maybe all the stress decreased milk supply and she wasn’t able to recover and build back up to baby’s needs.

Breast is best except when baby simply cannot latch for whatever reason… Inverted nipples, previous breast surgery, premature baby etc. Oh, “just pump” you say!? Just hook yourself up to a machine every 2 hours, properly store the milk and then clean and sterilize the equipment. Now it’s time for a feeding and then get ready to repeat the cycle.

I love breastfeeding, but I can see how it’s not always the best thing for mom and baby. My supply recently decreased and I was fortunate enough to have several days off of work to have a “nursing staycation” and build my supply back up. It’s tough sometimes, especially being a working mom.

This mom thing is really tough, but so rewarding. I want to take a second to say “Good job fellow mommies!” If you’re doing your best, you’re a wonderful mom. I was formula fed and I turned out awesome! I’m breastfeeding because it works for us and that makes me feel awesome.

A few things that have worked for me building up supply:

– Mother’s Milk tea
– pump after and/or in between feedings.
– let baby nurse as often as possible instead of on a schedule
– don’t go more than 2 hrs without nursing or pumping. (4 hrs at night, if possible)
– stay hydrated and well nourished!!
– easier said than done, but try to let go of some of that worry and stress. Relax. Keep calm and lactate on.

DIY stencil onesies

I keep seeing these adorable minimalist onesies with phrases that make me chuckle. I come across them on Pinterest and ETSY and they’re usually sold for $15-20 each. I did a little research and figured out how to make them myself!

Supplies
1. Freezer paper
2. Acrylic paint
3. Fabric medium for acrylic paint. (like this)

*or use fabric paint instead of #2 & 3

4. Die cutting machine (Cricut or Silhouette)

Alternative: print reverse image onto non-shiny side of freezer paper and cut with exacto knife.

Alternative: draw or trace reverse image onto dull side of freezer paper and cut out with exacto knife.

5. Iron/ ironing board

6. Onesie

7. A piece of cardboard to go in between layers of onesie

Here are my finished products! The green one was the first one I tried and it didn’t come out great but I’ll still use it. I was much happier with the second one.

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Here is an instructional link if you don’t have a die cutting machine: http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/how-to-make-a-stencil-and-use-it-to-paint-on-a-baby-onesie/pictures/index.html

** I would recommend keeping your design simple if you are cutting it out by hand

This is where I got info for using my silhouette cameo click here.

A few tips if using a silhouette (as I learned from trial and error):
Don’t use a brand new cutting mat (it will be too sticky and tear or curl the paper)

Don’t use an overused mat ( the blade will get caught in some of the deeper cuts and snag the paper)

For best results use a new blade

The cut settings that worked for me were: blade setting: 2, speed: 2, thickness: 10

The Baby, the Boobs and the Wardrobe: Your guide to nursing-friendly clothing

So there I was, 2 weeks post partum… Still looking 5 months pregnant and realizing that I hadn’t thought of everything. I had read all the books and articles. I had harassed all my experienced mommy friends with question after question about motherhood. All the stuff on my registry was purchased and I was supposed to have all the tools and resources I needed to do this mommy thing. I thought that the nursing tanks and bras I had purchased were all I needed to comfortably and conveniently breastfeed. I was wrong. Here are some things I learned about dressing for success while nursing. 1. You may shed the baby weight fast, but just because you’re back to your pre-baby size (or near it) doesn’t mean your clothes will fit. For example, I’m only 5 lb away from my pre baby weight but things just don’t fit the same. The only non maternity pants I fit into are my yoga pants and my one pair of “fat” jeans (the ones we put on when we are feeling bloated and blah). I had to go up 2 sizes. Maybe I’ll get back to a size 0 some day. Maybe not, and that’s okay. For now, squeezing into my old clothes is not comfortable or attractive. Give yourself a break, and give yourself some time. Remember that these changes are a result of the miracle of life. 2. Think ahead when shopping for maternity clothes. I wish I had invested more money on maternity clothes that would double as nursing attire. I am thankful that I purchased some wonderful nursing tanks in my 2nd trimester because I wore them through my pregnancy and almost everyday now. My favorite is the Essential Nursing tank by Bravado. Target also has a less expensive line of nursing tanks called Basics by Bravado. I’m also a fan of the seamless nursing tank by Motherhood Maternity. All of these have enough support that I feel comfortable wearing them without a bra. I bought a few nursing tops post pregnancy that were expensive and I wish that I would’ve chosen these instead of some of the maternity ones I bought that are now packed up in a box because they are no good to me now. 3. Go through your existing wardrobe and pull out any wrap or faux-wrap tops, or cowl neck tops that you can simply pull down or pull aside. Also, loose fitting tunics can easily be pulled up if you are wearing a nursing tank underneath. Make a fashion statement while being a functional nursing mommy with your collection of scarves. You’ll want to make sure they are thin and breathable. Those chunky knit scarves will be hot and annoying to your little one. (See pics below) 4. Do it yourself. If you can thread a needle, you can turn a flowy cardigan into a nursing cardigan with some scissors, a needle/thread, a button and some ribbon. (See 1st pic below) 5. Shop smarter. Try searching your favorite stores online and use keywords like “wrap top” “wrap sweater/shirt”, cowl neck, mock wrap. I found some great ones at Banana Republic, The Limited and New York & Co. I’ve attached a couple links below. http://m.bananarepublic.gap.com/product.html?dn=bp970579052&dv=1&shopid=2&pdn=bc5040 http://m.thelimited.com/product/wrap-look-sweater/482585895070805.html?utm_medium=cse&mr%3AreferralID=003a9417-9913-11e4-ac6c-001b2166c2c0&utm_campaign=Google_Shopping&utm_source=Google&cid=SFC-GOOG-0002877&KPID=482585895070805

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2015/01/img_1541.jpg 6. Loosen up your buttons, baby. Button up shirts with a nursing bra or tank underneath also allow for easy access!

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If I give a mouse a cookie in 2015

If I give a mouse a cookie this year, it will be a dozen or more delicious made-from-scratch, with lots of love and anonymously delivered cookies. Then I can just imagine the surprise, happiness and gratitude that ensues. I won’t be subjected to the disgust and disappointment as I watch them take a bite, spit it out and and say “you call this a cookie!?”

I know, I know, who would actually eat a box of anonymously delivered cookies these days. People are crazy. The point is that my giving spirit and my “light” we’re being compromised by people that I thought HAD to be in my life. I didn’t think I had a choice.

It gets exhausting when someone takes and takes and takes and has nothing to offer in return. Not even respect or gratitude. I think a decade of bending over backward to help someone “get back on their feet” is more than generous. And I’m still waiting.

Have I lost hope? Never. I’m letting go of the parasitic relationships because I want to focus more on my symbiotic relationships. I brought a brand new being into this world a few months ago and I want to be the best mommy to her. I have a wonderful husband who deserves my best too. Some of my friends are more like family. Some of my family is like family. They lift me up, inspire and encourage me.

2015 is about letting go, and working on being a better version of myself. Forgiveness… Well maybe that’ll come in 2016 or 2020. Baby steps.

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