Hellobee

Small(er) space living with a baby

One of the most common questions we got after announcing that we were pregnant was “are you going to buy a house?” Even though we live in a fairly metropolitan area, it seemed to be a common theme that baby = house. When we said no, we had no plans to give up our condo, we got a lot of raised eyebrows and questions about how we were going to fit in such a small space.

When we originally decided to buy a home, having kids wasn’t anywhere near our radar. We had a limited budget in a very high cost-of-living area, and our priorities were keeping our commute reasonable and to buy a space that wasn’t high maintenance. Neither Mr. Carrot nor I had any experience with home ownership, and our busy work lives, travel schedules and limited finances didn’t jibe with spending much time on figuring out how to do major renovations. Within these parameters, our best option was to buy a condo.

We bought a two bedroom unit in an older building rather than new construction, because the square footage was actually comparable to many houses in our area, whereas most new construction units were half the space. We assumed that if anything ever changed on the subject of kids, we at least had an extra bedroom to work with, and we’d figure out everything else. Now that Baby Carrot is a toddler and we are in full throes of being overrun by baby “stuff,” we’ve found some tactics to make our smaller space work for our needs, and discovered some benefits we hadn’t considered to condo living over owning a house.

1) Walls and corners are amazing organization (and baby proofing!) tools. I admit, I can be a bit neurotic about keeping our living space organized, so when Baby C started getting mobile and her activity needs increased beyond just a play mat, I was really nervous about tripping over toys and having no space to house her stuff. However, putting her toys around our wall spaces and corners ended up being a two-fold benefit – nothing was in the middle of the room AND we could hide some of the things that aren’t so baby safe but are hard to do without.

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House Hunting: 3 Kids Under 3

When Mr. H and I found out we were having twins, we immediately went into action to get out of the house we were in and into a home with a better set up for our (quickly!) growing family. Our space just did not lend itself to having three children under the age of three, and because we knew we’d have to move sooner rather than later, we didn’t want to try and move while our small house was cluttered with too much baby gear.

What we were dealing with in our current space was: no parking, no yard, and three bedrooms split between three levels of the home. Not exactly ideal for a lot of young children. The upside was that we were in a very desirable area of the city, near an awesome park with a great neighborhood full of family-friendly activities, in a good public school district.

 Miss H walking down the stairs at our old house. I thought we’d have pictures of her standing there for her first day of kindergarten!

But space for us trumped everything. So, right after we learned we were having twins, we got in touch with our real estate agent and shared with her our very aggressive time frame. Fortunately she is also very fast acting and aggressive so she got to work quickly.

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How I Learned to Stop Raising My Voice and Get to School On Time

The other morning, Charlie was late for school and as usual, he wasn’t listening to anything we said. I was growing increasingly exasperated but trying to hold it together and get out the door.

“Charlie, put your shorts on! We’re gonna be late for school!!”

“Ok, ok!” he said back to me in the exact same tone of voice, while doing nothing. After watching him dawdle for 10 more seconds, I felt I had to repeat myself.

“Charlie, did you hear me?? You have to get dressed for school right now!! We’re late!”

He disappeared into his room and didn’t come back for a few minutes. We peeked in there and he was looking for his stuffed animals. He wanted to bring them with him on the way to school. I could feel all the patience leaving my body. If I was Bruce Banner, I probably would have turned into the Hulk right then and there. Instead I did what I had been doing way too much lately: I raised my voice.

“Charlie, get dressed right now!!!  We’re late!!!”

He was finally moved into action, but not nearly fast enough. So I grabbed his shorts and started helping him get dressed.  We finally made it out the door, and started running to school.  It’s an 11 minute walk, but we can make it in half the time if we run.

As we ran, I thought to myself: there has to be a better way.  This isn’t the way I want to parent my kids.  I wasn’t at the point yet where I was yelling at the kids, but I was raising my voice and getting exasperated far too often.

So when I got home, I sat down and made a plan… and since then, things have gotten so much better!  Here’s what been working:

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The Grocery Shopping List for Kids

I loved Mrs. Chipmunk’s perpetual shopping list and decided to make one for myself because I’ve tried various apps, but good old-fashioned paper lists just work better for me. I shop at a bunch of different places, so customizing a list according to what I buy where makes the most sense. I plan to laminate it, stick it to the fridge, check off what I need as I run out, and take a picture of the list with my phone before I head out to the market.

I thought I would share the portion of my list that specifically pertains to breakfast and packing the kids’ lunches because that’s what makes up the bulk of our purchases (plus I love seeing what other people are buying!). Charlie and Olive get most of their daily calories at lunch so I always pack big lunches consisting of a protein, vegetable, fruit, cheese, olives or pickles (Charlie’s favorite food), and a small treat. I’ve shared some of our lunch ideas and favorite brands below!

P R O T E I N S

breakfast sausage (from butcher)
ground turkey (meatballs)
ground beef (meatballs or pasta)
beef stew meat (seaweed soup)
rotisserie chicken
cornish game hens (chicken porridge)
eggs (boiled or fried)
Applegate Farms Organic Bacon
Applegate Farms Organic beef hot dogs
Applegate Farms Pepperoni
Applegate Farms Organic Ham  (DIY lunchables)

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Back to Nature: Weight Loss Edition

Over the last few years in the Hellobee community, I’ve talked a lot about my visits to naturopathic doctors, and the various treatments I’ve tried. At first it was for general health and weight loss, then for PCOS and infertility, then for depression and anxiety, and now we’ve come full circle and I’m back on the general health and weight loss wagon.

Here’s the thing. I’ve lost the baby weight. It was gone by about 6 months postpartum. But I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that because, though the scale says I’m back to ‘normal,’ I know that’s not true. Having a baby does some weird things to your body, folks. I’ve got this weird muffin top/spare tire hanging out around my waist, my hips are wider than they were before, and there are some bizarre inner-thigh lumps that have tagged along. I’m not ashamed of my postpartum body….but I’m not content to leave it the way it is.

A big part of my issue when it comes to weight loss is that pesky PCOS. I’m insulin-resistant, and I hold on to fat like nobody’s business. Combine that with a sluggish thyroid, sloooooow metabolism, and general love of all things carbohydrate, and I’m a bit of a weight loss nightmare.

So, besides upping the exercise and ditching the cupcakes, what is my naturopath recommending for me? Here’s a glimpse into my treatment plan.

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Preparing For Our 18 Month Sibling Age Gap

When venturing into our parental journey, our hope was always to have our second child when our first was around two years old. Once Roman reached 6 months, I secretly started fantasizing about having another much sooner. Strangely enough, before that 6 month point I had trouble imagining having another at all. I wasn’t traumatized by my experience with Roman; I was just so intensely attached to him that having another baby felt like a betrayal of some sort.

At my last ob appointment, while I was buckling Roman into his stroller to leave, my doctor said, “Aren’t you a little sad, he’s still just a baby?”

I’m not sad, so apparently I went from one extreme to the other. I feel happy for my children that they will have each other through all their years. I daydream about them playing together, about family dance parties and adventures. (I feel it is important to document this now, so my future self can look back and laugh when they are pulling each others hair out.)

After finding out I was pregnant with our second baby I was so hungry for feedback on what to expect with this 18 month age gap. Every mother I encountered at the playground with a toddler and an infant was greeted with the ever popular, “how old are they?” followed by a slew of more questions if it turned out they were in fact “two under two.” I quickly got the impression that it isn’t something people like to talk about, as it seems they’ve learned already that when it comes to siblings it all depends on the individual children and every age gap has its perks and drawbacks through different phases.

I was also just so curious what to expect of my son as an 18 month old. How much will he understand; how well will he be able to express himself; what milestones and behavior bumps will he be experiencing? After some observation of 18 month olds, I concluded there will be no predictability with this either. Roman recently experienced a long independent streak followed by an intensely clingy phase, suddenly exhibiting jealousy when he sees me holding another baby or hugging family members. I am completely clueless as to what the next 4 months might bring. Right now he hasn’t the slightest idea what is going on. We point to my belly and say, “Isn’t mamma’s belly getting big?” but he has no interest. I can picture him looking at his sister with sweet curiosity, the way I see him check out the other infants he’s encountered, but I can’t imagine how this will affect him, what he’ll think, and how long it will take him to understand.

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Creative Play with a Sticky Mat

Have you noticed that little ones love stickers and sticking things onto other things? Glue sticks are practically magic! A fun twist on this is a sticky mat, and it’s perfect for even toddlers to explore!

This simple and fun activity is basically a sheet of self-adhesive paper that you can attach lots of different things to, all without glue. And because only the mat is sticky, you won’t have things getting stuck in places they shouldn’t.

Many items can be stuck down and removed, ready to be stuck down again, although some things (like tissue paper) will stay stuck for good. After you’re done or all of the stickiness is gone, you can throw away the mat and start fresh next time.

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