December 15, 2009

breathe. focus. live.

i think i've mentioned before that i recently started to acquire oak meadow materials so that i can be fully prepared when i start homeschooling the little ones.

it is suggested that you follow a yoga program with your children as early as preschool and i've been waiting for just the right trade or used set to come along before purchasing the materials. since becoming a barefoot books ambassador i decided to just go ahead and get the yoga planet set they offer, as i've been intrigued by the concept since i saw an ad in mothering magazine, some time ago.

so far pea ( formerly known as my three year old) and i have been having "yoga breaks" throughout the day where i let him pick three cards from the yoga pretzels deck (i'm saving the other deck and the book for christmas) and we work through the poses. he is a natural and has so much fun!

i wondered if yoga cards would be as hokey as a children's yoga DVD i once had for bean (formerly known as the oldest), complete with silly poses and activities. i think that's why i held off on purchasing them until now and while some of the suggested commentary on the cards might be considered "silly," it doesn't sound contrived when spoken out loud. i tend to focus mostly on correctly explaining a pose and the importance of posture without also explaining that we're a strong gorilla or soaring airplane. but that's just me. and even for someone like me that once attended twice-weekly yoga classes almost religiously, the poses and, of course, the time spent with my little one are enjoyable even when sprout (formerly known as the baby) is underfoot or testing out his new tricks (pulling himself to stand and promptly falling backwards because he doesn't quite know how to stand unassisted yet). i don't take it too seriously and know i'm not getting a full-on workout but i still feel refreshed and a little bit more grounded after our yoga breaks.

i wasn't expecting to feel so good but it's been a while since i actually did yoga (or any excercise, for that matter). when pregnant with pea, i attended prenatal yoga classes but he wasn't the kind of baby or toddler that stayed in the gym childcare center without screaming so i can't say i picked up any regular workout after he was born. when pregnant of sprout i suffered from severe SPD and the first time i tried yoga, thinking it would help relieve the pain, i was worse off than when i started and unable to get up off the floor for thirty minutes. so it's been years, to say the least, since i've done anything that resembled yoga practice. needless to say, i was surprised by the rewards of taking such a small yogic step.

i am also amazed at how eager the pea is to do yoga first thing every morning, before bed, and when the mood strikes. by the time sprout is old enough to join us, pea will be my little yogi master!

i am not only promoting this because i am a barefoot ambassador, but because i truly believe in the wonder of this, and all other barefoot titles. now would be a great time to pick up the set and invite yoga into you and your child's life. barefoot books has extended their winter sale until december 23rd so you can receive 30% off and free shipping until next week!

December 10, 2009

Barefoot Books Holiday Sale

if you are not familiar with barefoot books now would be the time to get acquainted with one of the best publishers of children's books around! i am serious, i love these books! not only are they beautifully illustrated, but the storytelling is exquisite and rich and creates a place of calm and quiet in both the reader and the listener.

since receiving my first order of barefoot books i am happily reinstating our strict bedtime routine of two stories and snuggles, and not because i look forward to toddler bedtime but because i'm excited and inspired, once again, to offer my child something solid and structured at the end of our busy days *and* most importantly it no longer feels like a chore. i had been reading several "character" books that were beyond dull and trite. it was difficult for me to trudge through the storyline and my three year old could probably sense my lack of enthusiasm. i think the lack of rich, engaging stories is one reason i so easily abandoned our storytime for scrubs re-runs after i had the baby.

but now i honestly have a set of books that we will share over and over again, that will grow with my children. for the past four nights, i have read from the barefoot book of pirates or storytree and each night my three year old has said, "i just love these books."

i know that as my younger two children grow, the stories won't grow old and boring, but rather more rich and meaningful as if they're hearing them for the first time.

i love that i don't have to "pre-screen" the books to make sure there's nothing inappropriate in the plot. in fact, i was slightly worried about the pirate book at first, but quickly found that each story was actually quite heartwarming with heroics and morals, not just needless pirate violence.

i am currently awaiting a pretty large order and the illustrations in the books i just received are so wonderful i wish i had ordered more hardcovers. the variety of authors and illustrators is a booklovers dream and with their current holiday sale, there's no reason not to get acquainted with barefoot books and introduce them to the children in your life, whether they're already avid readers or you'd like to instill a love of learning and reading. until december 15th, enjoy 30%off and free shipping with no minimum order.

November 22, 2009

Thank Goodness for Ikea! (and Craigslist).

i have a love/hate relationship with Craigslist but it will be on the list of "Irrelevant Things That Make Me Happy" for a while because the other day, while once again getting weepy at the thought that the nearest Ikea is nowhere near me, i found the an Antilop highchair for sale.

see, i just got new dining chairs and my 20 lb. seven month old is rapidly outgrowing his fisher-price space saver highchair so i was looking at ikea's antilop again. i've wanted one since my three year old was an infant but now it seemed something worth pursuing. the classic, seamless style would complement our new chairs perfectly so i was debating whether or not to order it from the Ikea website even though the cost would have been nearly double, after shipping and handling.

before committing to the purchase of a brand new antilop, i checked my local craigslist.

i found a white chair for sale and thanked my lucky stars when the seller responded promptly and let me know that it was still available. i picked it up that day and was pleasantly surprised to find that it came with the tray. best $15 i've spent on used baby gear in a long time!

these chairs assemble in no time, are ultra-lightweight, yet sturdy and stable. the one-piece molded plastic seat is an amazingly simple, yet brilliant concept! there is not another highchair out there that is as easy to clean as the antilop. that single aspect makes it worth more than it's weight in gold, if you ask me.

one other thing: this simple little chair looks deceptively smaller than it is. while i was cleaning it in preparation for it's debut at our table, i wondered if getting my 20 lb. chubster in it would be a chore but he slides in and out easily and there is plenty of wiggle room in the leg openings and seat area. the tray is a bit difficult to take on and off but once on, it's secure, and doesn't at all effect the ease of getting baby in or out.

hint: to remove the antilop tray, push the four "lips" that clip under the front of the highchair first, then the side clips lift right out.

November 10, 2009

muslin swaddling blankets

...because i don't have the time, focus, or energy for an entry of substance and depth, i'm going to review another favorite product around here.

muslin swaddling blankets. wraps. big pieces of gorgeous, soft, fluffy goodness. whatever you want to call them...

i've only tried aden & anais as well as luna lullaby muslin blankets, and i love them both, for different reasons. so here, i suppose is my comparison of the two brands.

i was introduced to the world of great, oversized, fluffy goodness during my last pregnancy when i registered for a few things and pleasantly received a four pack of aden & anais blankets. i used nothing else after my son was born, save for grabbing a regular, ol' flannel receiving blanket during times of sheer emergency (read: they became oversized burp cloths or lap pads but no longer served as blankets around here). there were even times when i was too tired (or lazy) to put a diaper cover over my little guy's cloth bum, and i'd wrap him right up in his muslin blanket without fear of getting soaked. i'm not sure anyone else would recommend this but if you use cloth diapers and often let your babies go coverless these blankets are just absorbant enough to save your clothes or bedding if baby is wrapped up sans cover. of course, once baby is big enough to squirm out, baby is also probably big enough to soak through a diaper without trying but for the first few months, these were a nice easy alternative to our usual wool soaker routine - and just as breathable!

a few months after my love affair with muslin blankets began i wanted more. and to be honest, i still do. it takes a lot for me to walk away from babyearth's ga ga deals when they offer muslin blankets. but that's another story. i wanted more because the size is perfect, as they say, for providing shade over the stroller, providing the perfect amount of nursing coverage, and just being an awesome snuggling blanket here, there, and everywhere. but i'm weird, you see, and i don't like things we use outside of the home to also be used in the home, unless they've been washed. so i justified the purchase of more blankets so that i could reserve them for the car and diaper bag. this time i hit up ebay and found luna lullaby sets with prints that i actually preferred to aden and anais. i scored a set of "gently used" boyish "zoom zoom" printed blankets and just could not resist the adorable vintage cars on one of the blankets. the other two are pretty rockin', too! when they arrived, they looked like they'd maybe been washed once, but hardly used at all. i was so pleased and couldn't decide if they'd become my new favorite.

so the differences between the two are as follows:
aden & anais blankets are about 3" wider in all direction (i haven't measured mine but the site says the blankets are 47" x 47", whereas luna lullaby blankets are 44" x 44")

luna lullaby blankets seemed softer at first but i think this difference in softness is really just a difference of thickness. the luna lullaby blankets are lighter and thinner than the aden & anais and don't seem to produce as many little "pills" with repeated washings. the fabric on both of them is quite a wonder to behold, though, and at one time i preferred the feel of the luna lullaby blankets but i have to say that our a & a's are my current favorite, once again. i suspect this has something to do with how often they're washed - i also suspect this will change next time i wash the the ll blankets, since i seem to have a renewed love for them each time i pull them out of the dryer.

the aden & anais blankets are more square shaped with folded edges and mitered corners, while the luna lullaby blankets have rounded edges and are serged all the way around. both have fabric tags that babies will love to find and gnaw on. note: aden & anais also have larger, stiffer (more annoying) tags that you might want to cut off, for safety, if your baby really is into sucking, chewing, and biting tags.

both blankets produce a nice waffling effect on repeated washings, which is the nature of muslin, but because the luna lullaby fabric is lighter/thinner, i find it easier to roll them up and store in the diaper bag.

since my love affair has deepened, with time, we also own aden & anais washcloths, which are also oversized - they're perfect lovey size and we use them regularly around here as teething soothers.

and, i also picked up a two pack of a & a's winter warmth blankets, which are two-layers of muslin, fluffy goodness. i got the plain white ones with hopes of dying them fun, boyish colors one day, but so far i actually enjoy the simple, streamlined look of them. and as i'd hoped, even my almost four year old loves them! he wasn't much of a blanket baby, ever, but as it's started to cool down around here, i've found him snuggled up under a winter warmth blanket several times. i also envision the future of all of these blankets - they are large enough to make magnificent playcloths - from capes, to playstand canopies, to table fort coverings! i can see it!

muslin blankets are a traditional australian product and i have to say, they are the msot ingenious product i've ever had the pleasure of using. at first, i wished that i had discovered them sooner - it would have been awesome to have this experience with each baby! but now that i forsee their useful function for years to come and know they're large enough to keep my 13 year old (who is taller than me) cozy on the couch, i'm just grateful that i discovered them when i did.

if you're thinking about trying some, or have a shower/new baby gift to purchase, i wouldn't think twice! muslin blankets, no matter the brand, are the way to go! they will make all other receiving blankets virtually obsolete, they are large enough to wrap and snuggle all babies, no matter their size or age, and they will truly grow with the child providing more than just comfort as their imaginations take flight!

October 26, 2009

the sweetest perpetual calendar

one of my favorite additions to our seasonal table is this sweet, little perpetual calendar by sukie (from chronicle books).

my three year old takes pleasure in spinning the wheels every day. he's an expert at changing the date since he's been able to recognize his numbers, with ease, for about a year and with a little help, he is learning the abbreviations for the days of the week and months. the cutest part, i think, is that there's a wheel you can turn to display the current weather conditions with pictures - a storm cloud, bright sun, raindrops, etc. and he loves being our little forecaster every morning.

i think everyone needs one of these cheery calendars, even if not to display on their waldorf-inspired nature or seasonal table ;)

anyhow, i'm going to be quite shallow now and stop singing the praises of all things sukie because fedex just rang the bell. my new joovy kooper is here....wheeeeeee!

but here's a hint: there are a couple of chronicle ads on my blog - click through to use a coupon for 30% off and free shipping on your entire order!

October 10, 2009

it's been a while...

i have neglected many of my online stomping grounds lately, as life is happening all around me and i am trying - sometimes better than other times - to let it unfold but also harness the power of routine and schedules. it is beneficial and for the past several weeks, our home preschooling has sputtered and stalled, sputtered and stalled.

i am taking a relaxed approach to it all because it dawned on me that my middle son is not a year away from starting kindergarten, but two years away, and i totally deserve to relax. although some people still tease that they can't understand the way he pronounces everything, his vocabulary is so advanced that i find it hard to believe that he's not even four years old. just tonight, while allowing him to watch some scrubs (we just got seasons 4, 5, and 6 on DVD), he not only impressed me with his ability to fully understand the DVD menu by recognizing which episode we were on, but also wowed me with his use of synonyms when he said, "we're on the episode with elliot in the middle, or rather the center". and earlier today, while helping him get on a pair of bothersome jeans, i buttoned them and started to zip them when the zipper got stuck. i began to explain the importance of zipper safety when he informed me that, "i usually zip them and then button them and it's actually not that difficult."

well, okay, then.

of course those are just two very recent, easily recalled examples and may not be indicative of just how much this kid amazes me. i'm tired, forgive me. the point is, he often does incredibly grown-up or thoughtful things. much to my mother's delight, i imagine, i cannot say that and not also mention that he definitely has his three year old moments but mostly he's amazing and i'd been desperately trying to get my hands on the oak meadows kindergarten materials (on the cheap) so we could get a jump start on some kindergarten level activities. i know, that goes against waldorf philosophy but i am not adhering strictly to waldorf methodology, by any means. however, i am also now not in any rush whatsoever. he's THREE!

last month we started going to a park with a group of homeschoolers on tuesday mornings but as autumn has now arrived, the mornings are often cool and crisp, so the time was adjusted to later in the day. this has it's advantages, however, i was getting used to leaving the house earlier than normal, twice a week (we also do a preschool movement and music class) as it set a nice precedent for the rest of the day. going to the park before lunch worked well with the baby's schedule but after lunch, not so much. needless to say, we missed the first park day after the time change. the library near our house has story time on the same day and i'm thinking of making that a more regular thing, anyhow. this also has it's advantages - we live so close that we can walk - excercise is good! finding any excuse to use my mountain buggy double jogger is also good! there's a park right next to the library so we can still get some park play time in! the only downside is the early start time (incidentally, story time is at the same that we used to meet at the park) but as the weather gets colder, we can just layer on the jackets, hats, and scarves!

but first things first: we'll see if we can make it out on tuesday. it's that sputter and stall thing. motivation. momentum.

September 23, 2009

still lovin' my hana - and finally! the modification tutorial...

so i've been meaning to blog about some recent playground experiences but instead, i'll just update quickly about how much i still love my fleurville hana. i could use this as a full-time diaper bag, no doubt about it. the size and organization possibilities are perfect. the side, snap-lock pockets have quickly become my favorite feature! my cell fits perfectly in the top pocket and the bottom pocket seems like it was made specifically for a pack of wrigley's 5 gum. they're awesome! of course, not all phones would fit in the top pocket but it fits my motorola krzr like a glove.

i think the fact that it's a very feminine hobo style, yet has a rugged and durable feel to it is also what makes it a favorite. i prefer hobo bags, in general, so i don't feel like i'm giving anything up in the style department, when i'm carrying the hana. it doesn't seem boxy since i modified the bottom (tutorial below) and i still maintain that i will use this bag long after my last baby is in diapers. i mentioned durability and it deserves a bit more explanation - the re-run fabric is soft but feels somewhat like canvas. it wears well and the darker colors won't pick up stains. i treat my bags very kindly but it does seem that spills seem to repel, rather than saturate, and i'm not afraid to put this bag down on the playground, even though i removed the metal feet.

so all in all, i'm still quite enamored with this bag and it's my park/playdate/music and movement class staple! basically, any time i'm too nervous to carry a leather bag, i'm carrying the hana. (yes, that means my modern floral babymel amanda is sadly being ignored - but i do pull her out of the closet every now and then, when i feel like wearing something even *more* feminine than the hana!)

now, i'd mentioned before that i'd modified my hana to suit my needs. below i'll explain, in detail, how i did this since i know it might be purposeful to at least a few fleurville fans out there!

DISCLAIMER: i am not suggesting that anyone perform this modification on their bag and i am not responsible for individual results, if such mofication is performed. i am also pretty certain that altering the bag in such a way will void any warranty that fleurville may provide. since i purchased my bag used, on ebay, i wasn't too worried about this since the manufacturer's warranty did not apply to my purchase.

that said, one day i accidentally discovered that the metal feet under the fleurville hana were nothing more than large brad-style fasteners that weren't permanently attached to the bag. this gave me an idea! see, the hard, structured bottom of the hana was the only major issue i had with the bag and without it i'd have a bag something pretty close to my dream bag.

one problem i could forsee is that the hard, structured bottom piece could be attached to the bag somehow so i spent some time undoing the brad fasteners through the inside of the bag, without altering the lining, to determine whether or not it would move freely. not an easy feat and difficult to explain but since the hard plastic piece maintaining the structure of the bag WAS NOT attached, i don't have to explain and the feet can be more easily removed after the seam is open.

another problem was that my sewing machine lives at my mom's and i wouldn't even know how to use it, if it were in my home. but since i can hand sew pretty darn well, i looked over the bag to see where i might be able to easily open a seam and hand sew it back together. i was prepared to open the seam near the top but then i realized that a section of seam wasn't sewn inside out. i'm not sure if this will be the case for each bag but in mine, the area was at the bottom of the lining, on the back of the bag (the side where the interior zip pocket is):

i pulled the lining up and out of the bag to easily access this section. there was probably about 10" of exposed seam but i took these pictures after i'd already opened it so you only see a little bit between my thumb and finger:

in this photo, you see the area i ripped out. i didn't remove the entire seam, but rather about a 6" section (just enough to pull out the plastic bottom) between the two halves of the interior fabric:
after wriggling out the plastic bottom piece i folded the two pieces of lining and held them together as they had been sewn. then i used some fabri-tac glue to keep them together until i had a chance to fix the seam by hand:

it did a pretty good job! i used some binder clips to hold the seam while the glue dried, and to be honest, it's been more than a month and i still haven't fixed the seam by hand. not sure i ever will, unless my glued seam comes apart and it seems necessary. i did fold in the excess thread on either side of my opened seam and made sure to glue the thread down to the fabric so that my seam would (hopefully) not open wider. so far, so good! i've realized now the advantage of doing this at the bag bottom, rather than the top, because if i'd opened the seam near the top, as originally planned, i would have definitely had to sew the seam together since the weight of the bag contents would have stressed the seam by now:

it's possible that some people may want to put the feet back on, but for me, i felt that without the structured bottom, the feet served little purpose and were visible even when the bag was worn. using a bit of fabric paint to create "feet" of your own is a good alternative. the right shade of brown will blend and if you cover the holes, entirely, it will prevent the openings from possibly fraying or opening further (not that i think this is a real problem, but it could happen, if you're rough on your bags).

next up, i got even more brave and decided to remove the metal hardware on the strap. so far i've only managed to add an extra 2" to my strap drop and it is no longer adjustable, but it was worth it because not only did i find the strap length too short at it's maximum length, but i also felt that the square corners of the strap slider were sharp and potentially dangerous. i was nervous about removing the hardware but armed with a flathead screwdriver and a hammer, i set to work. it was a success! i put the bag on my sidewalk, placed the screwdriver in the center of one metal piece, and hammered the top of the screwdriver. sure enough, a nice indentation was made. with this, it was easy for the screwdriver to stay in place until i hammered through and the metal piece cracked in half:

one side was easier than the other - i hammered the screwdriver quickly on either side of the hardware and removed the piece:

the slider was slightly more challenging because of the bar that goes through the center, but i was able to carefully place the tip of the screwdriver between the strap fabric and metal center and hammer, while keeping the facric folded out of the way. then i only had to crack one other side of the hardware and the strap easily slid free: i had in mind, a large metal, replacement d-ring, or something similar, but have yet to find what i'm looking for. in the meantime, a small carabiner clip is holding the straps together (and it even matches the silver finish on the stroller d-rings). as i mentioned, i only gained about 2" in length but i will gladly update if i ever find a better solution.

September 06, 2009

homeschool preparations

my oldest son has been homeschooled a few times but right now he is thriving in a public school and starts (OMG) high school next year. but i am determined to homeschool, consistently, the younger two - with a waldorf-inspired foundation as i've always been drawn to the philosophy and teaching style.

my three year old watches too much department of education funded PBS and tells me he looks forward to the day when he can go to a real school. because he has this crazy idea that it will be fun. and okay, i am severely biased against public school, i'll admit it. for some kids, i'm sure, school is fun. i wasn't one of those kids. not because i didn't love academics and learning. i did. but i was a nerd who wanted desperately to hang out with the cool kids. if i had strived for mediocrity, instead of excellence, i might have been popular. it wasn't until i was homeschooled, myself, from seventh grade, that i learned to accept who i was and identify with my peers in a more acceptable manner. i stopped caring who did and didn't like me. i also stopped trying to dress like "everyone else" and instead found inspiration in the unique. this was about the time that grunge music was sweeping the nation and "clarissa explains it all" was on nickelodeon, so i was damn cool.

point is, i do not wish to project my own subjectivity based on past experience to my children. but i do want to provide them with the best education that i can - and at this time, i just wouldn't feel comfortable sending my youngest boys to the public school in our district. SO long story short, i was printing off materials in preparation for our preschooling, which i will begin next week.

i came across this wealth of information and started reading through the materials. in the "parent preparation" of the unit studies, the author mentions how previously she always felt her toddler was in the way, underfoot and that once a waldorf-method of homeschooling was adopted, everything changed as she engaged her toddler's help with chores. i'm hoping for such a huge shift in our day to day activity, as well. i'm also wondering if it will justify the purchase of a learning tower. still not sure what i'll do with the infant during all of our "schooling" since as crunchy as i'd like to be, i can't wear him in a carrier all day long.

i'll keep you posted!

September 02, 2009

before i forget...

We love our Skip Hop Palette Bowls! They're supposed to accompany the Palette Plate, which I don't own - I purchased the replacement bowls seperately.

Not only are they super cute and tiny sized, but they are super functional. They feature a tight, leak-proof lid and are perfectly proportioned for small snacks or a serving of baby food. I can easily throw one or all three in my diaper bag without crushing small o-shaped pieces of cereal, or finding crumbs all over the interior of my bag, which is a problem with many other small, totable snack containers.

I know this isn't what they were intended for but I am so glad I thought they were cute and purchased some, on a whim. They're also BPA-free, which is a huge plus and so handy that I am trying to convince myself that I need more!

September 01, 2009

i have been meaning to post a psuedo-tutorial and pictures of my fleurville hana alteration/modification/whatever, but the delusion i had that the third baby would have an easy time teething was simply that. a delusion.

i still think my oldest had the roughest time and so far the baby was handling it as well as the toddler did. but really, this is only the second-night into what i hope is actual teething. you know the kind that results in visible teeth? yes, can we just please move through this phase quickly? because his gums have been bothering him for a month or more and maybe it's like prodromal labor. it seems like it's never going to end but a lot of the work has been done upfront.

i'm hoping, as we've got more symptoms now.

fever. clinginess. drowsiness except, you know, during the time when everyone else in the house is asleep or wants to be. excessive drool. the heartbreaking sobs produced when whoever is holding him (raises hand: it's me. only me) even thinks about sitting down.

so. instead of taking full advantage of the infant motrin and C-batteries in the infant swing and uploading pictures to showcase my DIY-action on a diaper bag, i'm going to go to bed.

because i have a feeling i'll be up again before the sun.

August 27, 2009

For the Love of Diaper Bags!

if you haven't noticed yet, i don't like capital letters. somewhere along the way, i got lazy...i spent a good portion of the last nine years keeping a livejournal and many of those years i was also persuing an undergraduate degree in psychology so i decided to save all my shift-key action for academic paper-writing purposes only. it worked out nicely and even though i received my second college degree over a year ago, well, i just don't see any point in regular capitalization. however, the title of this entry reads like a book title with all proper words in uppercase. i could have gone all out, capitalizing every single word:

For The Love Of Diaper Bags!

or better yet, every single letter:


because it's no secret. i'm serious about my diaper bags. and i've learned over the last year or so that many of us are. there are a certain, select group of women out there that will never buy a diaper bag at a large department store. never buy one with winnie-the-pooh or any other character or childish image emblazoned all over it. never buy one that looks like a diaper bag. i mean, it's not the kid that's wearing the thing, right?

right. now, being surrounded by boys, i have to play up my feminity whenever possible. this might mean carrying pink bags or carrying my kids around in floral carriers. but that's another topic.

actually, pink isn't my color, though it once was so it will always hold a dear place in my heart. brown is much more my thing, yet the two together are a combination i cannot resist. which is why i love this fleurville hana!

sure, this hobo is probably old news at this point and truth be told i've wanted one for at least two years. i'm not entirely sure what prevented me from getting one sooner, but i think it was because i saw a re-run messenger in person and didn't care for the fabric, i'll be honest. but in the hobo design, the re-run fabric works! had i got one of these sooner i probably would have been mostly satisfied and not tried so many others. no, really. even if my bag obsession sometimes verges on sick, i do tend to make good, long use of things when they serve their purpose well. this hana does just that, packing for diaper duty like a badass! and i see it definitely serving a purpose long after i'm diapering a bum.

how come? well...for starters, it doesn't look like a diaper bag. it's big and roomy and has great organization. it's large enough to hold everything i need for myself, my infant, and my toddler (my teen carries his own bag, er, manbag) without looking bulky. the strap length could be better because it makes cross-carrying a bit awkward (but it's doable) and there could be two sippy pockets on either side. i don't mind that the one sippy pocket isn't insulated so much because it keeps the bag light-weight and i don't feel like i have to use that pocket for a cup, i can use it for anything! also, the turn-lock pockets on the other side are actually pretty handy and if you carry the bag on your right shoulder, your cell phone is always in reach.

the hana is sporty yet cute and sassy. rugged yet charmingly classic. the front pockets are much deeper than they appear and even though there is no closure on them, i feel like anything i put in them will be secure. i had this for a hot minute in the fabulous ogo print but there was something about it that i just didn't love. the green lining? awesome! but the pink lining in the chocolate hana is also pretty awesome. this bag could have seriously ended my obsession with trying every single brand out there! i'm not even kidding.

(i totally altered mine by opening a seam in the lining, taking out the structured plastic bottom, removing the silver feet, and repairing the seam. it was rather simple but i don't recommend this unless you're sure that you'd prefer a less stuctured bag and don't mind voiding the warranty.)

now in the same week, i also received a babymel amanda AND the higher-end storksak emily, made by the same company. let me say this. for the price, the babymel amanda could improve on it's design only by screenprinting in the weave of the nylon outer, rather than on top of it. but everything else is superb! it really is lightweight. the two insulated bottle pockets are roomy. it looks like a cute, oversized purse and is another bag i might not be afraid to carry once my youngest is past the diaper stage. it comes in many styles but i went with pink and brown, again, and got the modern floral design.

this has an insanely long, adjustable strap that allows me to wear it cross-body and around my baby's bum when he's being worn in my calyx carrier. i love the easily wipeable surface and it'll be the bag i go to when i want to be just a little extra girly.

and finally. the storksak emily. i thought this would was the be-all and end-all but not for me. maybe for some, but not me. the celebrity hype might be what fuels this bag's popularity but it could be made a lot, and i mean A LOT, better to justify the price. i made the mistake of getting one used on ebay. mistake because by "used" i mean tore up from the floor up. it is naive of me to think that everyone will baby their bags like i do mine, but seeing this bag makes me really question the quality, in general. the bottom of the bag i received is not messed up at all, nor is the body, for that matter so i know it wasn't abused. but the strap and the FAUX-leather (don't let the few websites that mention "leather trim" fool you...this baby is not made with real leather!) trim is wrecked. i mean, cracked. torn. coming apart at the seams. it seems that the weight of the bag, when filled, really wears on the flimsy, vinyl strap and the adjustable buckle pulls so much that the strap openings split open. i haven't packed it up yet and maybe i'll be impressed when i do, but i'm not expecting a miracle. i'm horrified at the quality and craftsmanship. a bag that sells for $180 should not wear so poorly. (and really? $180 for nylon and vinyl?) granted, i have no idea what the previous owner did to the bag or how she treated it but like i said, the overall condition of the bag doesn't signal any abuse - it just seems the strap isn't adequate and wears out in a way that makes the entire bag appear cheap. it gets decent reviews but i'm hard pressed to believe that any of the reviewers feel the same way six months into their purchase.

August 09, 2009

i always save my reciepts!

for a little while, anyway. for important stuff, until the receipts expire and for not-so-important stuff, long enough to know if what i've purchased is going to work for me.

my partner, on the other hand, doesn't save his receipts at all. we can stop for a snack at costco after checking out and risk losing the proof that we've paid for the items in the cart because he's so quick to toss the receipt as soon as he can.

and this, a trip to costco, is what i am writing about today. tonight, whatever.

see, two weeks ago we needed toilet paper and i like to buy this sort of thing in bulk so i don't have to run out of it often and think about picking it up at target on a weekly basis. usually we buy it at sam's but we recently got a corporate account with costco and decided to go on a family outing just to get toilet paper. i like quilted northern so when i was comparing its price to another brand at costco, i figured it was the better deal, overall, because the other HUGE package contained individually wrapped rolls and i felt that wasn't quite eco-friendly enough for me.

so i grabbed the quilted northern, noticing that the package was purple instead of blue and that there were some words on the package like "new" and/or "improved" but it didn't concern me. it was the only type of quilted northern in the place and i figured northern couldn't mess up what it did best.


the new "ultra plush" quilted northern is worse than charmin. and i'm sure some people really love their charmin with it's fun colors and weird scents. and without going into a ton of detail about what i prefer in a toilet paper experience, i'll just say that charmin is too lint-y. and well, "ultra plush" quilted northern is, too. it might even be moreso than charmin.

a few days after we brought home this insane amount of crappy (har har, that was maybe a pun) toilet paper, my partner informs me that he doesn't like it. i agree. he doesn't like it because the rolls are thicker and shorter than the standard roll or even the typical double roll so it fits on the holder awkwardly. i couldn't care less about that, but the lint this stuff produces is astronomical!

lesson learned, we won't be buying it again (i wonder if sam's club has the regular quilted northern.....). fast forward a few nights later, i'm watching late-night TV and notice a commerical for this stuff with a money-back offer if you're not completely satisfied. and i'm completely not, though i know the receipt is long, long gone.

why did i feel compelled to blog about this? because this toilet paper is gross and i'm out $17. i just want to spare someone the same horror. i mean, try it if you must. buy it if it's on sale. you might even like it.

but just in case you don't, save that receipt!

July 27, 2009

this i know

i know many women before me and many women after me will mother a clan of all boys.

males are highly prized individuals in many cultures and some really do cherish their three or five or eight male children and don't really feel like they're missing anything by not raising girls alongside their sons. like sincerely cherish. i know this.

and i'm feeling that way, now, mostly. except when i am blindsided by the most adorable pair of toddler girl jeans with cute flowers and butterflies embroidered on them. or sweet, little pink sandals that would resemble something i'd wear, but in a totally respectable manner, not in a "i'm trying to turn my three year old daughter into a skank" sort of way.

but is that it? allow me to ponder whether or not my materialistic-ness (a better word escapes me, right now, as i nestle a heavy sleepy baby boy to my bosom) is the only thing that would be satisfied by having a daughter.

surely, others can relate. i know this. but is that really all there is? does it come down to cute baby girl clothes and well, playing dolls? and by playing dolls, i mean dressing them and combing their hair, not having a batman action figure hitch a ride with dora and her mom, in their minivan. true story.

okay, so batman and dora make a lovely pair and i'm not complaining about my three year old's terrific ability to blend characters for imaginative play. in fact, i am rather amused by it. i'm just trying to figure out, in an effort to grow as a person, if i am so shallow that i really only wanted a daughter as an excuse to go shopping!

i mean not having a little girl certainly doesn't bother me when i see my friend's twelve year old daughter sprouting real, actual, for serious, breasts. nope. i actually breathe a sigh of relief when that happens and count my blessings that i am not now mothering a 13 year old girl, but rather a 13 year old boy that only wants to use a ceramic flat iron to straighten his hair but doesn't also want to wear make-up, short shorts, bra-strap revealing tank tops, and *gasp* go to the movies with the cutest boy in eighth grade, or even high school. yes. i'm counting my blessings right now...i mean, of course i'd have some ground rules and never allow my young teenage daughter to dress like that or go out with boys, yet, however i was a young teenage girl once. and we won't go there.

i suppose the answer to my current mind-examination will not come quickly or easily. perhaps i will never know. my 13 year old did suggest the other day that i just start my own line of children's clothing. for boy children. but i don't know...there are boy mamas that have done something similar and either cater exclusively to girl mamas by making the sweetest clothing ever (think: matilda jane) or make clothing for children in general, not catering to one gender over the other. and see? the problem isn't that i think the world lacks cute clothing for boys (even if girl clothing is so much more exciting!). quite the contrary.

there is an impressive range of adorableness out there for any style and budget, from the wonderfully vast array of handmade clothing, to the modern classics found at mini boden and garnet hill, and the assortment at gymboree, the gap, or old navy. and let's not forget that the good ol' classic carter's has re-vamped their line and appeals to those of us looking for simple, easy-wear play pieces and in their newfound simplicity i must admit that i think their boy clothing is much cuter than their girl clothing. tea and rabbit moon have also produced some of the sweetest classic boy apparel i've ever seen. i could go on and on. obviously, my children are not missing out in the aesthetics department simply because they are boys. it's just that when i see mini versions of free-spirited hippie-like clothing that i would have loved to wear as a child, i get a little weepy for the daughter i'll never have. and i just really don't think that i could ever be clever enough to market prairie skirts or shirts with antique floral designs to the mothers of little boys, for their little boys.

of course, the thought of designing clothing that society deems appropriate for little boys does seem exciting because one can never have too many choices. but right now i think i'll focus on raising my boys and outfitting them in what's currently available. considering that i don't even know how to operate a sewing machine (yet), they'll probably thank me when they grow up. but every now and then i'll stop myself. and ask myself why i really, truly ever wanted a little girl. this will most likely occur as i am walking through the children's clothing department because no matter how i try to avert my eyes from the girl section, i will inevitably catch sight of some adorable pink and brown floral thing that could never fall into the "gender neutral" category. and i'll get a little sad.

i know this.

and it's okay.

June 12, 2009

i sense some bitterness


perhaps dilbert's mother never had that daughter she always wanted.

i saw this cartoon, one morning, as i was reading the sunday paper, weeks after it arrived on my driveway (who has time to read it the morning it's delivered?) and it struck me as not very funny, but maybe i understood some of the psychology behind the mother's lack of interest, if i read too much into it, of course. it reminded me of how i never want to parent my sons with indifference, not as children and not as adults.

of course, i have no idea what scott adam's issues are with his mother or why he made this particular comic strip (can anyone argue that it has nothing to do with his own mother?) but for some reason, in my fuzzy, exhausted head i felt like sharing it. now, even weeks after i first read it and started this blog, i cannot fully explain the impact it had on me.