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10 Things You Can Do for a New Mom from Far Away

My best friend (who lives about 2.5 hours away from me) recently had her second baby. She lives several hours away from all of her family, and her husband is finishing up med school, so she was very worried about how she’d adjust. It has been so frustrating for me to be so far away from her and not able to pop in for an afternoon to help clean her house or take care of her toddler, so I have been brainstorming ideas of ways to help from far away.

I figured I probably am not the only one in this situation, so I’m sharing the top 10 ideas I found for how you can help a new mom if you don’t live close by.

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These little guys are adorable, but they sure do cause a lot of chaos! 

1. Send food! It can be tricky to deliver a prepared meal when you don’t know the area well, but you can easily deliver materials for a meal, or just general groceries! Services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Plated make it really easy to send a few meals that are easy to cook and will save your friend a trip to the grocery store!

2. Send a care package. In those early days with a newborn, it can be so hard to get out of the house to get what you need. Can you even imagine how happy it would make a brand new, sleep-deprived mom to get an Amazon care package with toiletries, diapers, some snacks, and maybe something to pamper herself with?

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Three Tips to Montessorify Your Kitchen

How we Montessori Kitchen Drawer

The kitchen is such an important place in the home. There are a few things we can do to improve our child’s independence and capabilities in the kitchen.

1. Provide the child with their own low drawer. 

A child can have their own drawer for their most used or favourite kitchen utensils. They can store their own plates, cups, spoons, whatever they need to access. If the drawer is organised it makes it easy for the child to look after their things. We use a bottom drawer in our kitchen. For a very young child allowing them to access their own bowl, cup and spoon can be empowering.

How we Montessori make snacks accessible

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What makes a good park?

Since we live in a small apartment, we don’t have a back yard or even a porch to play in, so we always have to get our sun by leaving the house. One thing I love about living in Los Angeles is that there are so many great parks around!

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You can ask any mom that lives near you and they’ll tell you their favorite park is usually one you’ve never been to or heard of. Usually I make a decision based on the age range of the play area and also whether there is sand, water play or just regular playground things. Here are the key things I look for in my ideal park:

  • Gated all around

Some really nice parks actually have a security guard that watches people go in and out. They’re usually very friendly and it’s great to think that if a kid somehow opened the gate themselves that the guard will be able to catch them.

  • Has clean sand

Baby Pencil loves to play in the sand and there’s nothing more gross and disturbing to find pieces of litter in the sand. I especially love the areas that have a huge shade where the sand is so that they’re not stepping all over hot sand in the summer.

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Entering the World of Boosters!

I cannot believe how fast my little girl is growing! Years ago, I didn’t even know there were so many car seat options – bucket infant seats, convertible seats, boosters, oh my! I seriously thought you just needed ONE car seat to get you through all of childhood. Boy, was I in for a surprise! At 5 years old, 46 inches tall (launching her into the 97th percentile for girls her age!) and 43 pounds… Noelle is now in the final leg of her car seat journey.

I’ve been researching boosters for weeks now, and was initially amazed at the price variance in boosters. There are economically priced $20 ones, and at the other extreme, those priced at $250+. There are backless boosters, high-backed boosters, and harness to booster. Like anything else in the baby/toddler world, the choices are endless and overwhelming!

Features I knew I wanted for sure was that it had to be a high-backed booster with a LATCH system. Having a secure seat, and strong side impact protection is important to me. Comfort and good cushioning are also big selling points because I want this last car seat purchase to withstand long family road trips, allow her to fall asleep comfortably if needed, and will last her until she outgrows it. Being from California, we’re in the car A LOT. This also brings up the question, when do kids outgrow a booster? The current recommendation is kids should be at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds to be considered booster-free. Kids normally hit those ranges between the ages of 10-12, thus, whatever booster I choose will be needed for the next 5-7 years. Let’s make this investment a wise one!

With these considerations in mind, I narrowed down my choices to four high-backed boosters – the Britax Parkway SGL, Diono Monterey, Diono Cambria, and Clek Oobr. All of these boosters come with great reviews, so I don’t think you can go wrong… in the end, it really comes down to preference and details. It’s always easier for me to see the key differences side-by-side, so I created this grid to help me with my decision:

Print

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8 Tips for Moving with a Toddler

We are in the midst of changing almost EVRRRYTHING that Will has come to know in his short 21 months of life – where he lives, sleeps, plays; where he goes every day for school and all the people in his ‘second family’; and his daily routine. Career transitions and my frustration at my commute hitting an all time high necessitated a change, so two months ago we bit the bullet and started looking for a new home. We live in the DC area, and this move amounts to moving across the city from one suburb in Maryland to a much closer one in Virginia – but even a 30 mile move brings change, anxiety and requires planning.

We considered transitioning Will from his crib to a toddler bed at the same time (and then realized we didn’t want to be IDIOTS). My only anxiety about this move stemmed from shaking up Will’s world – which meant it was easy to spend my energy focusing on making it the best process possible for him.

After we found a great home, I spent considerable time searching for a new second family/daycare for Will, figuring out the best routes to get me to work to maximize my time with Will (one of the primary reasons we’re moving in the first place). Then, I began to ask around – fellow mamas in a social media group, for one – for tips for making the transition as easy for Will as possible. Combined with my research here, here and here, I came up with a plan to manage the before and during transitions for Will.

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The front cover of my take on an awesome suggestion from some fellow mamas for helping Will adjust to a new home and routine.

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Room for One More?

If you have been reading some of my posts, you can see I am having a very large internal debate about whether or not we are done with having children. In truth I don’t think I will truly know the answer to this question until a few years from now. In my mind I can see having another baby in the next maybe 3-4 years, but past that I feel like I’ll be too old and life will have moved on too much for us to plunge back into those newborn days again. My children are also spaced out with 2-3 year gaps right now, and anything larger than that makes me worried about closeness and bonding. I have a lot of reasons on both sides about adding to our family, so I thought I would write it out to see where things are weighing, as well as get others’ thoughts on my reasoning.

The reasons why we should be done are easy: money, time, energy, and sanity.

Money: I think the biggest factor for Mr. Chocolate is money. I’m currently a SAHM and so we are on one income. I’m in limbo about what I want to do after all the kids go to school, whether it’s finding a part time job or persuing my photography into an actual business. Mr. Chocolate is set on paying for college for all our children as both my and his parents paid for all of our schooling, so we had no debt coming out of college. He feels it’s important we do the same and with rising college costs, this is one of the biggest reasons he wants to be done with children. Also in general children aren’t cheap to house, clothe, feed, and raise. With Juliet starting pre-school soon and Fiona not too far behind that, the costs add up and the more kids we add the more it will end up costing us.

Time: If you saw my day in the life post recently, you will see my days are pretty busy just minding three kids already. There are schedules to juggle, housework to do, and clearly not enough hours in the day to pencil in sleep as well as down time, both of which are vital to survival. I feel stretched pretty thin some days, and obviously one more child will mean less time to devote to each of them, which I don’t think is totally fair to them. I want to be present for my current children and be able to take them to their activities, watch their practices, recitals, etc. and most of all give them some one on one time daily.

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How We Picked A Baby Name

I feel like some women have their kids names picked out in middle school, but I was not one of those women. Deciding on a baby name was hard and it was probably the only baby decision that Mr. Ice Cream and I made ourselves. We didn’t want to bring our friends into the decision because inevitably someone knows a “Morgan” who was “weird in 4th grade” or an “Eva” who “ate paper” or a “Joe” who “spread ketchup all over this pretzels and stuck them in his ears.” But early on we had a short list of things we wanted to consider in addition to whether we liked a name or not:

1. How does the name sound with your last name?

We started off focusing on the first name and we came across a few we really liked, such as Owen, Logan and Noah. But when we finally said it out loud with our last name, it came out like a tongue twister. We immediately had to cross off half the names on our list.

2. Is there an obvious way to make fun of the name?

Of course, we want to teach Max to embrace his individuality. But that being said, kids have to deal with so much these days that we wanted to make sure there there wasn’t an obvious way to laugh at his name. True that when kids want to be mean they can come up with anything, but we did our best to minimize this (we hope!).

We also considered the initials in the traditional order (first, middle, last) and first, last, middle to make sure it didn’t spell out anything weird.

3. How popular is the name?

Mr. Ice Cream and I have opposite experiences with this one. My name is Bernice and I have never had another Bernice in my class, let alone met another Bernice my age. The most common thing I hear is “so and so’s grandmother’s name is Bernice.” In fact, when I was in high school there was a Hoveround commercial (a motorized wheelchair company) where a woman named Bernice makes it to the top of the Grand Canyon. There were probably times when I was younger that I wished I had a more common name like Becky, Emily or Sarah, but as I’ve gotten older I love and embrace the uniqueness of my name.

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