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Best of the Best – Little Boys Clothes

Like most moms, I really enjoy dressing my kids. They are so many cute options these days, yes even for boys! 3+ years into being a mom, I have, however, become pickier about what I buy for my little boys.

Here is a short list of what I look for in little boys clothes:

  • Easy to put on & take off – these days, I almost exclusively buy pants and shorts with elastic waistbands (even for my preschooler; actually especially for him an elastic waistband is a must-have with potty training). I also prefer shirts or onesies with snaps.
  • Low cost per wear – Note I did not say cheap. In fact, most of the clothes I buy for my boys are not cheap (our favorite brands are Boden & Hanna Andersson). But I will happily pay a little more if they are able to wear the clothes longer, hold up in the wash, or .
  • Cute –  This is almost a must-have for me, and I am not ashamed to admit it. I like dressing my boys in cute clothes and buy things that I think are cute (I do occasionally buy a few neutral colored basics from Old Navy/ Baby Gap/ Carters, but I almost always mix and match them with something with a cute pattern).

And here are our very favorite little boys’ clothes:

Best-of-Little-Boys-Clothes

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What Maternity Leave Looks Like When You’re Self-Employed

I became fully self-employed in the summer of 2011. And I found out I was pregnant with Little Cotton Candy in March 2012. At the time of my pregnancy, I was working as a part time editor for one website and working toward getting more work to ramp up to full time. In other words, my freelancing career was in its infancy.

I need to preface this post with the fact that I have a steady contract with the companies that I freelance for. I do a set amount of work and receive payment on a biweekly basis. So unlike freelancers who have several clients and projects with beginning and end dates, my work is pretty steady. This is great from a budgeting and planning perspective, but it also means I can’t just ramp down or ramp up work when I want to.

Taking Time Off Work as a Freelancer

What does taking time off when you’re a freelancer look like? For starters, I don’t get vacation time in the traditional sense. I’m lucky in that I work with flexible people who allow me to take vacations when appropriate (usually once or twice a year), and I do tend to take off working on the major federal holidays. But I don’t take sick days or personal days, and when I’m on vacation, I’m often checking in several times a day, and even working through them at times. I don’t say this to complain; I am well aware of the perks of being self-employed, and for me the trade-off is more than worth it. I say this to illustrate that freelancers don’t typically get a traditional maternity leave, paid or unpaid.

Taking Maternity Leave as a Freelancer

So, what the heck does a freelancer’s maternity leave look like? The great thing about working in the web publishing industry, particularly the wedding and lifestyle sector of it, is that I work with a lot of women (as well as understanding and supportive men), and everyone was very supportive of me getting time off from work to have a baby. So I had the OK from the company I freelance for to take the amount of time I thought I needed; I just needed to figure out how to keep things running while I was out of the office. For me, that meant paying someone else (who was already trained to do a large segment of my job) for a couple of weeks while I was in labor and resting up at home and getting to know my newborn. She was able to do the daily tasks that needed to get done (editing and scheduling blog posts, writing posts for social media channels), while other, more complicated things were left for me to take care of when I was back in the office. It worked out great, and in hindsight, I would have paid her for longer—one month at the very minimum. I actually ended up taking a couple more weeks off later when breastfeeding wasn’t going well, and she was able to step in for me again. Lifesaver!

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DIY Playstructure vs. Storebought

This summer my amazing parents came out to build Eli a giant play structure. It was an amazingly generous gift of labor and time and I could not be more appreciative. However, when I hang out in my backyard and watch Eli play, I wonder what it would have been like to go the store bought route and not have killed my parents’ bodies for 4 days.

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Pros of DIY:

Cost: $650 for everything; more than I was hoping it would be, but not horrible.

Flexibility: We had a rough spot to build a play structure, up a hill and around a tree. We needed to be able to adapt to our surroundings instead of have them adapt to us.

Individuality: After watching Eli on playgrounds for the past couple years, I knew what things he liked the most and which things required a bit too much guidance for relaxing on my part :).

Cons of DIY:

Labor: So so so much labor. We (my dad) spent the equivalent of three days on this thing. Lots of driving back and forth, teamwork and just plain hardwork.

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Our First Cold & Constipation, Plus Tips!

It was bound to happen and I’ve been fearing it…the dreaded cold. We made it all the way to 8-1/2 months before Petit Macaron, and I’m very glad I had the extra time to get more comfortable with the parenting thing before our first cold hit. I can’t imagine having a sick newborn – yikes! What I didn’t expect was for him to be dealing with constipation at the same time he was sick. It was a double whammy.

I’m not sure where the cold came from – maybe his dad who got sick the same day, a friend, or from our adventures out and about. Who knows?! Isn’t it funny how we always try to figure that out where our colds come from? And isn’t is frustrating how if one member of the family gets sick, it generally spreads to the whole family? So Mr. Macaron was sick, and I also caught a mild cold. Even my poor mom who was visiting caught it. The whole family was down. Ugh!

On Sunday he was sneezing and a bit more fussy, and Monday the cold hit us hard. He woke up with a running nose, and it slowly got worse as the day moved on. Of course, this was the week my mom was flying in from San Diego to spend the week with us. On the drive home after picking up my mom from the airport, the cold hit hardest when Petit Macaron was crying bloody murder and my stress spiked.

I decided to call the pediatrician, but felt a bit sheepish since I had already called earlier in the day about his constipation. The constipation actually started before the cold. I noticed on Friday that he was straining trying to “go” but nothing was happening. I felt so sorry for him because he’d look at me all teary and eyes rimmed red while trying to push. His tummy was also pretty hard, which is another sign of constipation. I tried several things, but nothing seemed to do the job. So I called on Monday for the pediatrician’s advice since it had been about 3 days and he’d been trying to “go” all three days. I realize babies can go a few days without a movement, but he was struggling which I felt needed to be addressed.

We have now conquered the constipation and the cold has run its course. But, the cold season is upon us so I thought I’d share some of the tips I received on how to help my Petit Macaron.

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My Entire Makeup and Skincare Collection

I’ve always loved hair and makeup products (I loved going to beauty supply stores in Los Angeles back in the pre-Sephora days), and today I’m sharing every single beauty product I currently own. It’s a lot because I stocked up on my recent trips to Korea and Singapore, and friends from America have brought me things over the past month because I can’t buy any of these products here. I share my holy grail products, my favorite brands, Korean products, the tools I use, why I use certain products, what’s on my wishlist, and more! Get ready for a monster post!

6-Guides-Cleansing-Treatment

Since I’ve worked from home for over a decade, I rarely washed my face in the morning! When I did wash my face, I only used water because I have drier skin. Living in the tropical sun and pushing 40, I’ve become more serious lately when it comes to skincare, and I’m still experimenting with different products to see what works best!

1) Clarisonic Face & Body – I got this particular one because you can also use it on your body. While I’ve never really had to deal with acne on my face, I have dealt with… bacne. I live in tank tops and spend so much time in the sun here however, my back has completely cleared up! I try to use this once a week on my face because I am a huge fan of exfoliation, but I would like to use it more often.

2) Peter Thomas Roth Complexion Pads – My cousin that dealt with bad acne would get regular glycolic peels at the dermatologist, and her skin would always look amazing afterward (though it was red for a couple of days!). These peach bellini scented pads smell nice and are quick and easy to use.

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My Hubby Gets a Green Card Part One

My husband is one of those people who love to try news things, which is why his first job after university was one that required travel.  His first stop outside of Scotland was Melbourne, Australia for a year where he promptly fell in love… with the country. After that Mr. Cookie was sent back to Scotland and started thinking about purchasing a flat and a car.  He finally gave in and bought a car but was sent to the USA two months later. Such is life, right? Mr. Cookie was slated to be in the Chicago area for a few weeks, but that turned into a few months which turned into a two year secondment contract which turned into indefinitely.

Mr. Cookie and I knew early on in our relationship that we would make the United States our home. I don’t exist well outside of the Midwest and while we are often asked if he moved here for me, the answer is no. As soon as Mr. Cookie began visiting other parts of the world he knew he would not end up living in Scotland for the rest of his life. We were nervous because we knew his current job meant he could be sent away at a moment’s notice. Lucky for us his project in Chicago kept getting extended and we were able to to request that Mr. Cookie stay in the area after we had been dating for a while.

Christmas 2011 and Melissa and Grant visit 158

Mr. Cookie and I got engaged on February 19th, 2012. We quickly decided on a Minnesota wedding so we’d only have one family traveling instead of both sides coming to Chicago. That following autumn Mr. Cookie was put on a new project in Kansas City. He began one of those awful commutes of flying out Monday morning and flying back in Friday evening. We were at the height of wedding planning and our weekends were stressful and jam-packed. It sucked but we were happy he had a stable job that kept him in the country.

We knew we’d be applying for Mr. Cookie’s green card after we got married so we decided to do some research ahead of time. First, we looked at the long list of items needed and read about the potential interview, then I tried browsing for blog posts and personal stories of other couples who’d gone through the same process but came up dry. All of the information out there was technical and boring, so I knew I wanted to share our timeline once we had completed everything. Obviously there is no way to tell how long this process will take but here is our experience.

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Accessing Genetic Counselling in Rural Ontario

Hemophilia runs in my family, on my maternal side. The easiest explanation I can give is that women can be carriers of hemophilia, and men can be hemophiliacs. Hemophiliacs’ bodies don’t clot blood properly, because their blood lacks clotting factor. In my family, the actual hemophilia symptoms have been mild, but they exist and have created some questions and confusion.

Women who are carriers have a 50-50 chance of passing that carrier status onto their daughters, and a 50-50 chance of passing hemophilia onto their sons. My grandmother was a carrier, and my uncle was a hemophiliac, but my mother chose not to have genetic testing done, so while I’m well aware of my family history, I have no idea what my carrier status is.

Given that our particular strain of hemophilia is mild, and that there hasn’t been a boy born on my mom’s side of the family in over 40 years — seriously! — it hasn’t been a hugely pressing issue for anyone, but it is something I’d like to have figured out for myself, and for my kids. There is also the fact that with carrying a boy, extra precautions like avoiding forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery should taken.

When I was pregnant with M, I gave my doctor the family history rundown and he put in a request to the genetics department at a larger hospital, five hours from us. While one can access a shocking amount of medical care locally, even in our tiny town, genetics issues have to be taken care of by a larger centre. I don’t know what happened with that, if genetics dropped the ball or my doctor did, but ultimately nothing was set up during that pregnancy, and when we found out M was a girl around 17 weeks, I decided to not push for more information.

I was expecting much of the same this time around, but when I had my first consult with a OB/GYN specialist who was seeing me through early pregnancy thanks to a history of loss, he immediately referred me to genetics when he spotted my family history on my chart. Maybe it’s the fact that he operates out of the same location as the genetics team, but I had a message from them a few hours later.

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