Category Archives: Baby

Right Now: A Few of Our Favorite Things

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   IMG_9951It’s been an unseasonably cold winter here in Texas (yes, a lot has changed in the past eight months — we moved from California to Texas and I happen to be a weather wimp), so I thought I’d put together a list of all the gear we’ve been loving this winter, keeping my boys warm outdoors and keeping them entertained indoors, when it’s been too cold to leave the house. I’m still a bit in awe that it snowed here last week. I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
1. Herschel Supply Settlement camouflage backpack. We’ve been a little obsessed with camo this winter. It’s timeless, unisex and versatile enough to compliment any style and color scheme. My 8-year-old uses it as his daily school backpack and loves that he looks like an “army guy” in it.
2. Gold knit crown from @blessedstyleblog on Instagram. Last March, I opened up a shop for boys on Instagram and have been completely immersed in the world of shopping via social media ever since. If you haven’t tried it, you must. Warning: it can be a little addictive. I purchased these crowns from @blessedstyleblog’s shop and I think they’re the cutest accessory for any wild thing. I love that they’re a thick knit, making them really warm like a beanie, and completely wearable outdoors when it’s chilly. Stylish and functional. We have them in gray and gold, but there are plenty of other colors to choose from. Oeuf has a similar style too, but at a steeper price point.
3. Roxy Marj custom “Wild Thing” pennant flag. Her artwork is so imaginative and whimsical. I just love everything in her Etsy shop. We have our flag adorning the boys’ teepee in our living room, but it really can look adorable anywhere: on the wall, tied to a bed post, or affixed to a bedroom door. She’ll even customize it with a favorite phrase or name of your choice.
4. Camp Wolf buffalo check flannel toddler infinity scarf. Like camo, we’re kind of obsessed with buffalo check these days too. We love this scarf because it’s the perfect size for babies and toddlers and it fits both my 2-year-old and 4-year-old, so they can share. It’s soft and cozy and really keeps little necks warm. Lots of cuteness going on over in that shop.
5. How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Bradford Angier. We’re nature lovers at heart and although I doubt we’ll find ourselves lost in the woods anytime soon, this is an informative, interesting book for any aspiring survivalist. My 8-year-old hasn’t put it down since Christmas. It really is a great read for all ages.
6. Freshly Picked moccasins in weathered brown. My toddler’s go-to shoes because he can put them on himself. He pretty much lives in these. I’ve been a die-hard fan of Freshly Picked moccasins for awhile now, but I just recently discovered this color and it’s a fast favorite. It’s an earthy gray/brown shade that goes with everything and has that naturally “lived-in” look, which I love. These are durable, exceptionally well-made moccasins that will stay on your little ones’ feet and can be worn on any terrain. My youngest has hiked in his frequently and they’ve always held up beautifully, even in mud.
7. Hunter Original Kids rain boot. We haven’t gotten much rain in our part of Texas, but that doesn’t stop my 2-year-old from loving his Hunter wellies. These days, he even likes to stomp around inside the house in nothing but his diaper and boots for fun. They’re great for puddle jumping and getting messy in mud. And they wash off wonderfully.
8. Crewcuts camo notebook. Camo again. My boys love to doodle in this and the cute design makes it a little more playful and stylish than your average composition notebook.
9. Hand-carved wooden animal slingshots. What boy doesn’t love a good slingshot? These adorable animal versions make it even more fun to launch felt balls or marshmallows indoors on those days it’s been too cold to leave the house. As long as they don’t aim at anyone’s face, I’m okay with it.
What about you? What are some of your kid essentials right now?
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Freshly Picked

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Every now and then, I come across a product I love and I just have to tell people about it.

Usually it involves quality or craftsmanship, great design or aesthetics and sometimes it’s just all of the above mashed together.

I’ve always been a big fan of moccasins.

I’ve owned pairs that have lasted for decades, their dirt-streaked soles boasting where they’ve traveled like pins on a world map. Moccasins are functional, effortlessly stylish, durable — that rare shoe that looks equally cool on everyone — whether you’re a six-month-old baby girl or a sixty-year-old man. Moccasins are hip even when they’re not trying to be. They’re unselfconscious, unassuming and timeless. They look great with a dress. They look great with a pair of shorts. They’re that universal shoe that seems to compliment any attire, any fashion trend, any age group, any decade.

What I love so much about moccasins (if you’re wearing the soft-soled versions I prefer) — they at once protect you from the ground, while at the same time allowing you to feel it. If I could go barefoot my entire life, I would. But I can’t. So moccasins are second best to that feeling. I want to feel the dirt beneath my feet, the curves of rocks, the crunch of leaves, the cool pavement on a chilly afternoon, the dry sand warmed by desert heat.

I want my children to feel these same sensations as they explore the world around them.

We hike often and take walks through wild terrain. I’ve found my youngest son Moon, who has been walking a mere nine months — a newbie in the mobility department — needs a soft, comfortable sole, a snug fit and a shoe that’s easy to slip on and off his quick and always moving toddler feet. For us, Freshly Picked’s moccasins have provided just that. Not to mention, they are handmade to order and come in more colors than a box of crayons.

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They’ve allowed him to discover and explore, both protecting his feet, while also letting him feel the earth below. They’ve carried him through dusty, pebbly paths, led him to bubbling creeks, through freshly fallen wet leaves after a winter’s rain, over crackling twigs covering the grassy floors of cool and shady oak groves.

And he’s felt it all beneath his little moccasin-wearing feet.

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**Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Freshly Picked to write this post. I simply believe in the craftsmanship and quality of their moccasins — and they’re obviously super cute too!

Eighteen Months

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Eighteen months ago, I was uncomfortably waddling around my neighborhood on a warm September evening with my family, attempting to induce labor by walking, my giant, overdue belly leading the way and carrying him safely inside.

We were all bathed in pink moonlight from that night’s Harvest Moon, which glowed brighter than the rows of streetlights illuminating our path. The moon was so bright, I could see the faces of my children distinctly in the dark, making out the detail of their profiles, their fluttering eyelashes, their pouty mouths, while at the same time wondering who this new life might resemble. I remember all of us looking upward, noticing that enormous round lamp hanging in the sky, my husband and the kids pointing out its size and pinkish-orange hue.

Later that evening, I went into labor.

I remember nurses telling me how crowded L&D was that evening and how on full moons, they staff up with extra hands on deck because so many women go into labor. I remember thinking that couldn’t be true, until I heard the almost simultaneous wails of newborns throughout the night, minutes old, a choir of new life.

Of course his middle name had to be Moon. And now, that’s what we call him.

Today my little moon shadow, my little lunar eclipse is 18 months.

He’s undoubtedly a toddler, quickly escaping babyhood, graduating into that stage where he’s fiercely claiming his independence, where “no” is the word of the day, all day, every day. He wants to do everything himself and he wants to do it his way. He wants to eat with a particular fork, drink from his favorite Nemo (“Momo”) cup, read a specific book and wear shoes only he chooses.

Aside from “no,” “mine” is another word we hear a lot from him.

On walks, he refuses to follow the leader and forges his own path, going against the grain and veering away from us, an adorable stray sheep. We are constantly having to herd him back to us and of course, every time, we’re met with a hearty “No.”

Aside from his favorite word, he’s added lots of new words to his vocabulary lately: “poo” and “pee” (he’ll point and tell you when he’s done either)”hey,” “bye-bye,” “night-night,” “oh boy,” “apple,” “cheese,” “coo-coo” (for cookie), “please,” “dog,” “ball,” “up,” “down,” (while pointing in both directions) just to name a few. He’s starting to put two words together like “bye-bye mama,” but he’s still struggling a bit with the concept.

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His personality hasn’t changed much from the day he was born, or from five months, seven months, eight months, nine months, ten months, or a year.

He’s still sweet and gentle and shy at first when meeting new friends. He plays coy and offers a bashful smile, but he’ll warm up quickly. He’s relaxed and mellow and overall just a quiet, easygoing, confident spirit who doesn’t want or need to take center stage like his brothers, or compete for attention. He’s perfectly happy hanging out on the sidelines, watching the show from the front row, doing his own thing on his own time, dancing to his own beat, exploring his surroundings his way.

He is without a doubt our guiding light, our moonbeam, illuminating the way, lighting up our world, just like that Harvest Moon eighteen months ago.

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Let it Snow!

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I’ll start by saying I’m typically a weather wimp.

When the temperature heads south of sixty degrees, which is rare where I live, except late at night, I start fantasizing about tropical white sand beaches and a fruity drink with a swizzle stick. As a native Californian, the most severe weather I’ve ever experienced (at least in my region) is a heavy downpour. Every so often, you may need an umbrella, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I used one. I’m a warm weather gal to the core, who doesn’t even mind a steamy 110 degrees in the desert, smack in the middle of August, as long as I’m sitting poolside.

But this winter had me seeking out a different kind of “white.” Not the white sands of a balmy beach, but the white, icy variety that’s only found in cold climates. Seeking out snow isn’t usually at the top of my list of winter adventures and even as a child when my family took a few weekend ski trips, you could find me alone in the lodge sipping hot chocolate, warming my hands by the fireplace while the rest of the family zipped up and down on those chilly slopes, freezing their butts off.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Lately, I’ve been craving a real winter – especially for my boys to experience. Maybe it’s seeing all those quaint photos on Instagram this past month, where friends in the Nordic region are posting beautiful photos of their blustery winter wonderlands, blankets of white snow covering wide open spaces and clinging to tall pines like powdered sugar.

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It got me yearning for some snow this time of year, when the holidays in so many other parts of the world are synonymous with sweaters and mittens, frosty white landscapes, hot chocolate and roaring fireplaces. Here in my part of California, you could easily spend Christmas on a beach in a bikini.

What I love most about this state, though, is that in less than a couple hours drive in the middle of winter, you can either be on a beach or on a ski slope.

I wanted the boys to experience snow and go wild in it, so we packed up our car with puffy jackets, ski bibs, scarves, warm socks (we even brought the puppy in his own little sweater) and headed up to our local mountains last weekend to play in the snow. And it was perfect.

It started snowing the minute we made our way up to about 4,000 feet, delicate flurries dotting our windshield, the boys squealing with delight, and it didn’t stop until we inched our way back down the mountain.

“Look! It’s snowing, mama!” screamed the three-year-old, the entire way up.

At about 35 degrees, it was cold enough to need all our layers, but not too cold where we were uncomfortable outside for a few hours. The boys made snowballs and slid down slopes on a bright orange plastic sled, their giggles echoing through rows of pine trees.

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I worried a bit about the baby being out that long in the cold, so I bundled him up to the point where he toppled over when he walked and couldn’t quite stand back up alone, so I carried him snugly on my back in a carrier much of the time, until he fell fast asleep, soft snow flurries melting onto his rosy cheeks. He was easily the warmest of the bunch.

My three-year-old cried when it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain. He wanted more. He begged daddy to let him go up the “mountain” just one more time to slide down on his little sled. And so daddy carried him up the steep incline one more time, only to launch him right back down again.

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It was the perfect finish to 2012. There is something about a fresh snowfall and all that untouched white that can’t help but resemble a clean slate. I’m looking forward to 2013 and all the possibility it brings. It’s a new chance, an unwritten page, an unmarked path open to new plans and new adventures. I’m excited to get started.

I’m wishing you the Happiest of New Years. I hope 2013 brings you love, peace, health, happiness and everything you could possibly wish for.

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Ghosts of Halloweens Past

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Oldest son, circa Halloween 2005, four weeks old.

Middle son, circa Halloween 2010, one year old

The baby, circa Halloween 2011, six weeks old

I know plenty of adults who celebrate Halloween each year with as much fervor as when they were children. I’ve never been one of those adults. It’s been years since I’ve dressed up in a costume, but I do think it’s so much fun now that I’m a mom, to see Halloween through a child’s eyes. We’re not a family who really gets into Halloween each year — we don’t go wild with creepy decorations or carve out rows of  jack-o’-lanterns to line our doorstep. We don’t do the Monster Mash. But we do visit a pumpkin patch every year and pick out a pumpkin or two to carve up.

We dress the kids up in costume and we do some trick-or-treating, but that’s about it. There are families on our block who spend thousands of dollars each year decorating for Halloween night. I’m talking elaborate video displays projected on walls, all set to creepy timed music, with people dressed as wandering ghouls, lurking through dry ice and scaring the children. We take full advantage of this, of course.

Fall signals birthday season in our house, with all three boys’ birthdays happening in September and October. I think by the time Halloween rolls around, we’re kind of done with celebrating. The past few Halloweens have been very simple for us — especially for my oldest — because there has been either a newborn or a baby in the house, which sort of limits our trick-or-treating abilities.

I’m sure Halloween will start to get more festive when the boys are a little older and can really take advantage of dressing up and trick-or-treating on the big night.

Middle son, Halloween 2010 as a baby skeleton, one year

Young Indiana Jones, Halloween 2011 six years old

The baby, Halloween 2011 as a little pumpkin, six weeks old.

This will be the first year we’ll take all three boys around the block, dressed in costume, and really make the most of Halloween. We’ll recycle a skeleton suit for the baby, the middle guy will go as his recent obsession (Spider-Man) and I need to come up with a Frankenstein costume for my oldest, per his special request. Maybe I need to consult Pinterest? Here’s where I wish I was crafty.

What about you? Do you get into celebrating Halloween in your house?

If you have kids, what will they dress up as this year?

Sleeping Arrangements

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I’ve never been a parent who labels my “style” of parenting into a category or wears it like a badge.

Not that I’m implying there’s anything wrong with labeling, of course.  I’m simply not exclusively any “type” of parent. I think I’ve borrowed a few ideas from different “camps,” ultimately adopting my own individual approach and tactics that mostly work, or don’t. For me. For us. For our kids. Individually.

I definitely don’t subscribe to a one-size-fits all parenting approach to anything because every baby and child is obviously different and unique. Even children who share the same DNA from the same parents are completely different and unique. Boy, how they are unique. For instance, some babies can’t sleep without being snugly swaddled, burrito-style, whereas others feel a sense of claustrophobia akin to be submerged underwater in an air-tight submarine. And these two babies are siblings. Imagine that!

With that said, you’ll never hear me saying I’m a natural-birthing/attachment-parenting/co-sleeping/cloth-diapering/exclusively-breastfeeding/organic-only/fill-in-the-blank-with-another-label type of mom, because there’s no way I could stick to any one of those, in my opinion, rather rigid, limiting categories, wholly and exclusively. I’ve certainly adopted and adapted from each of those, ahem, labels. I’ve loved “wearing” my babies in slings and Moby wraps and Ergo carriers, not really because it’s a “thing,” but more so because it’s convenient and hand-freeing and practical and overall suitable for putting babies to sleep. Some babies, of course. Because obviously, there are babies who absolutely loathe being “worn.”

If there’s some kind of provable psychology as to why baby wearing is “better” for babies or if they’ll somehow turn out to be nicer, more well-adjusted, less sociopathic, psychologically secure adults all because their mama once carried them through the Target in a piece of over-priced fabric on her chest, it doesn’t matter to me. All I know is it sure makes doing things easier and my babies love it, except the middle one, who didn’t.

I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek here. But, seriously, does anyone have significant proof that babies are somehow better off because they were breastfed until six, worn until three and cloth-diapered until potty-trained? I’ve done a few of these “things” with my children solely because they seemed to be more convenient and take less of an effort (well, except cloth diapering, that took lots of effort, but saved money) and were just plain practical for me.

I personally like the idea of adapting and adopting a little from each category to tailor a custom-made style to raising my own, unique children. I’ve cloth-diapered a little here and there with my two youngest, but also have nothing against disposables, because we’ve used them the majority of the time with all three boys. All three of my boys have been breastfed (the baby still is), but the oldest also got formula mixed in, when I went back to work four months after his birth.

My almost three-year-old and the baby have been exclusively (again, a term I’m not even fond of) breastfed simply because I’ve been home with them the longest and frankly, it’s been most convenient for us all. I’ll just chalk it up to being lazy and cheap. No, really, I know all about the health benefits for both mama and baby, La Leche League, thank you. And I also need to clarify: I’m not still breastfeeding my almost three-year-old, I weaned him at fifteen months.

This is all an incredibly lenghthy preface and disclaimer to the original point of this post: co-sleeping. I want to talk about co-sleeping. Sleeping-co. The Family Bed. Whatever you want to call it. Again, I’m not even fond of the term co-sleeping, because, well, it’s another “term” that seems rigid to me, implying that children and parents are some kind of one-size-fits all, one-stop-shopping club you belong to and clearly, they/we aren’t. But, for lack of a better word, I suppose we’ve been a family that’s sort of big on co-sleeping. Not because it’s a “thing” or a theme or some ideology we subscribe to because blah-blah-blah parenting “expert”/guru/pediatrician with a lifestyle brand hawking a line of products says so, but because it has been the easiest set-up for us and our kids. Again, I’m lazy and looking for the path of least resistance.

For me, it’s always been so much easier to have a baby in bed with me during all of those seemingly endless, groggy, bleary-eyed nighttime feedings during the early weeks of infancy and even through early toddlerhood. Until they start developing elbows and kneecaps and learning how to Kung-Fu you out of bed. But before those more uncomfortable nights when you start waking up with a foot in your mouth, quite literally, co-sleeping has been nothing but warm and cozy and snug as four bugs in an oversized IKEA bed can be for us. Until it’s not anymore.

Lately, it’s starting to become less and less comfortable to have children sleeping in our bed (and we have a very large, California King-sized bed). The baby has used his crib all of two times in the past year (and those two times were just for napping). With co-sleeping, we’ve also trapped ourselves into the double-edged sword situation of making sleeping in the bed with us so comfortable for the kids, they don’t want to sleep anywhere else. Enter the challenge of now getting them to sleep in their own beds/cribs.

With my almost three-year-old, we were able transition him into his crib in a separate room (with his older brother who has always been a pretty fabulous sleeper) at about ten months. It was easy and he slept well like that for about a year. At two years old, when his baby brother was born, he turned into a crazy insomniac wild child who refused to sleep in the new toddler bed we bought him, that in turn the family dog took over, because there was no way our boy was going to sleep in it.

And we’re wimps and we weren’t going to let him cry it out for three nights.

So, we discovered the only place he would sleep was the living room sofa, with daddy becoming his own personal sleep valet and accompanying him to sleep each night. Something about his baby brother’s presence turned him into a child who did not feel secure enough to retire to his own bedroom each night, in his own bed — I’m sure out of fear that in the morning he’d discover we sold him to another family and replaced him entirely with his new baby brother, whom he was very unhappy about (I’m only exaggerating slightly here).

All this resulted in a year of him sleeping on the living room sofa.

Last week, after I finally put my foot down and said there was no way our almost three-year-old was going a day longer sleeping on that living room sofa, which was becoming a tangle of blankets and pillows and quite frankly — pee stains — we finally caved and purchased a bunk bed for the two older boys. And lo and behold, our almost three-year-old was actually excited to sleep in it, with his big brother securely overhead (and I’m sure the fact that we further indulged his Spiderman fixation with a brand new set of Spiderman bedding helped).

The next step, although I’m not all the way ready for it, is to move the baby’s virgin crib out of our bedroom and into his brothers’ room so that all three Wild Things can ultimately be in the same bedroom. I know the baby will not be happy with this at first and I’m anticipating some (gulp) tears, but I think it’s time. I think it’s time to end an era of co-sleeping and to finally have our bed back to ourselves.

It’s been a good, warm, cozy, convenient, snuggly run, but I think it’s time to leave off the “co” in sleeping and go back to just plain, old sleeping in this house.

Scenes from the Seashore

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The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. ~ Jacques Cousteau

Summer, we’re not quite done with you yet. When you give us 102 degree heat waves in September, we head to the beach, where it’s a comfortable, breezy 82 degrees.

The truth is, I’m more than ready for Fall weather. But my two youngest are perfectly happy in the sunshine, splashing in the ocean, making mud sandcastles and collecting tiny seashells along the shoreline. If these photos and words had audio, you’d hear squeals of delight coming from these boys, who are happiest when sinking their feet into sand.

There is nothing better than the sound of your children’s laughter and this mama was content just listening to those squeals compete with the cries of gulls, while holding onto the sunshine and the salty air just a little bit longer.