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Hot Air Balloon Birthday Party

Baby Summer turned one! The second time around, this first year FLEW by. Shockingly fast. We definitely wanted to throw Summer a first birthday party as we had for Gemma, but I knew that I’d like to keep it simple and sweet. I chose a hot air balloon theme to commemorate Summer. She is so carefree, easygoing, sweet and easily adored, even referred to as “Baby Happy” by many of Gemma’s friends. I just wanted something that reminded me of happy, smiles and sunshine, so I decided on a red, blue and yellow theme that always reminds me of summertime.

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It’s a Wrap

Carriers. It’s SO confusing. There are Metas. Full buckles. Half buckles. Wraps. Ring slings. Water slings. Hybrids. Mei Tais. Pods. If you’re new to the world of babywearing, your head is likely spinning right now with visions of Toyotas and fruity drinks. And you might have a headache. Sorry. And with some of the options costing, well, an arm and a leg, you may well be thinking that babywearing is only for people with big bank accounts. I wanted to write a post telling you that you are wrong. But I wanted to be sure. Sure that there were, in fact, comfortable, ergonomic, and reasonable options to fit almost any budget. And there are!

So finding the right carrier is pretty analogous to settling down into a romantic relationship. If my interest in trying new things and general restlessness in the wrap world means anything significant in the arena of my love life, Mr. T had better watch out. Just sayin’. Of course, a great deal of my “try all the things” -ness comes from a purely professional interest. So we’re good. Anywho, if a carrier treats you badly; if it digs, pinches, causes back pain, or is otherwise a sucky partner, leave it: you can do better. If things are going swimmingly but something gorgeous and new catches your eye, by all means– enjoy looking. But don’t feel the need to ditch what you’ve got in hot pursuit of the untried. The other carrier may be popular, but that doesn’t mean that it will have your back (literally) when you’re down. And you may very well lose the wrap of your dreams in a wrap-lust-frenzy that makes swingers look like June Cleaver on a Monday night.

The best carrier is one that you can afford, one that feels comfortable to you and your child, and one that you can live with. The end. You can hunt forever for that one thing made of solid gold (and, may I say, “ouch!”), but in my personal and tested experience you can’t improve too much on what works. I have had wraps that have been uncomfortable, yes– but if I was sworn under oath, I would have to make the confession that the most comfortable and expensive wrap I’ve ever tried wasn’t that much greater than a machine woven that I also loved (and that most anyone could afford). And that the most expensive wrap I’ve ever tried (not mine, thank goodness!) was also pretty uncomfortable to me. Mind blown?

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Etsy Print Shops

I think prints can make such a wonderful addition to children’s rooms, helping tie in themes and add a splash of detail or color to the room. I’m still in the midst of working on Drake and Juliet’s rooms, but I am already dreaming of planning another nursery room one day, so here is a roundup of some of my favorite prints and shops on Etsy.


1) Daisy and Bump Art  |   2) Trafalgar Square  |  3)  Leo Little Lion  |  4) Kelli Murray Art  |  5) Loxly Hollow  |  6) Whimsy Whimsical  |  7) Hello Hue Studio  |  8) The Wheatfield  |  9) The Inked Leaf

Do you have any favorite art print shops?

5 memoirs to read just for fun

In another life, pre-kids, I never appreciated all the free time I had to read whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted. Being an English major and former teacher, I was always a bookworm. Then the kiddos came along, and it seemed like I never had a free moment to myself to read anything other than parenting books about sleep training and weaning.

Thankfully, as my girls got a little older, I discovered that I could actually get through quite a few books in the time I had here and there between waiting to pick up my daughter, naps, and other rare moments of quiet. Having the Kindle app on my phone was key in being able to read on the go, as was discovering that I could borrow Kindle titles from my library.

In the past year, here are five of the best memoirs I’ve read. I love memoirs because they are generally immediately engaging and inspiring, drawing you in right away. I also appreciate seeing a new perspective into the lives of women who are so different from myself, and yet being able to relate to many of the things they struggle through.

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The way we play

Play and learning have always been of big interest to me. My mother is a teacher, and I worked with kids of all ages all through high school and college, so when it came time for me to become a mom, I really took the idea of being my child’s first teacher head on. Before Baby Carrot even made it home from the hospital, our bookshelves were full, our toy box was loaded with blocks and learning toys, and I was ready to talk to her nonstop as she grew up, as all the advice recommends, to make sure that she was hearing lots of words. And then my inner introvert knocked and laughed at all these plans.

One of my first struggles between figuring out how to be the engaged parent I wanted to be and my inner introvert was when Baby Carrot started doing tummy time and hanging out on a play mat. She hated tummy time, so I would talk to her for a few minutes until she got upset, then flip her over and describe the play mat and what she was seeing. All that took about 2 minutes, then I ran out of things to say, and I felt like I was failing at mom because I really just wanted to look at my emails or read a blog while she played. I felt like I was leaving her alone, and depriving her of that valuable learning, and the introvert inside was screaming for a little decompression, making it even worse. Introverts generally have a hard time with lots of “on” time and with a baby of any age, you’re always “on.” Lack of sleep aside, the most exhausting thing for me, especially in the early days, became the constant interaction with another human being, even if that human being didn’t do much beyond eat and sleep.

What helped a lot was coming across articles, blog posts and studies on independent play. After reading about the value of leaving Baby Carrot to explore on her own, even if that meant she just lay there in those early days, and talking to some friends who had older kids and did the same, helped me feel less guilty. And after I did some digging about what unstructured and independent play meant, I did still spend as much time as I could talking to my daughter, but when I ran out of steam, I let her be and gave myself permission (and felt OK with) to do my own thing – which usually involved reading parenting blogs and learning about something else baby related.

As Baby Carrot now enters the toddler years, interaction is more important than ever, but so is letting her explore independently, so I’ve been aiming to follow a few general rules for how she and we play:

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Vietnamese Lettuce Cups with Pickled Carrot Strings

I’ve been getting really sick of eating and cooking the same 5-10 meals over and over again, so I recently decided to try a few new recipes to change things up a bit. First up is the Vietnamese Lettuce Cups, featured in Nom Nom Paleo’s latest cookbook. I love ground meat dishes because they are so versatile. You can put them on lettuce, add it as a topping over rice, or even eat it on its own topped with an egg.

Don’t skip out on the pickled carrot strings because they really add a whole new dimension to this refreshing dish.  It, along with the diced apple, also gives it a different textural dimension. The mint and basil really adds a brightness to this dish too that makes it scream summer! Add more fish sauce than the recipe calls for if you want more umami and an extra punch in flavor.

My daughter and husband (two of the pickiest eaters I know) really loved this dish, and I hope you will too!

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Hopes for “Normal”

In my mind, I clearly remember the first time I noticed the bright pink sign on the door to my room in the post-partum wing.

The night before, Elliot & Finn arrived in the world and were swept away to the NICU. I had been down to see them after we got the clear from the NICU staff the night before, and we went back down first thing the next morning. We spent the morning holding Finn when we were allowed to do so, staring at him in his isolette, and holding Elliot’s hand since we couldn’t actually hold him. We brought our parents in to meet their grandbabies for the first time. We were trying as hard as we could to be “normal” parents and do “normal” things with our newborns.  That afternoon, we headed back to my room to take a nap between hands-on times. I’d been on my feet all morning, leaving my wheelchair behind as much as I could so I could interact with both boys, and at less than 24 hours post c-section, I was running out of steam.

Mr. Blue wheeled me to the elevator and down the hall.  The nurses asked how the babies were and shot sympathetic looks our way. We got to the door of my room, and there was the sign: a bright pink laminated sheet of paper with a single, giant letter on it.

N.

I stared at that letter N for a moment, confused by what it was or what it meant.  Slowly, comprehension spread through my mind.  The “N” was for NICU. It told every nurse, doctor, etc. that there was no happy family inside that door, that when they entered no baby would be nursing on its mothers breast, no proud father would be introducing his child to family. Instead, it was an empty room where someone clearly slept but nothing else.  This wasn’t the place that a family would spend its first days together. It wasn’t the place that a recovering mom could lie down with her child in her arms.  It wasn’t a celebratory place. It was just a place to sleep and take meds and grab the occasional shower.

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