Friday, April 30, 2010

Product Review: Marie Callender's Pasta Al Dente - YUM!

I'm obsessed with Marie Callender's Pasta Al Dente bowls. They are so delicious! My husband picked some up on a whim a couple months ago and we've been scooping them up (when they are on sale) ever since.
When my "velcro baby" was eating every hour and I didn't have a spare moment to pop anything on the stove, these heat and eat meals saved my life. I ate them for lunch, when my hubby was at work, until he figured out how good they were and he wanted them for dinner too! The sauce in some of them is so good, he and I literally lick the super-sexy clear plastic bowl.

My favorite flavors: Tortellini Romano, Chicken Pesto Parmesan, and Fettuccini Chicken Balsamic. Mmmmmmm!

Now that Andrew is almost 4-months-old and getting into a bit of a schedule, I do have time to whip up a sandwich or salad, but I still have the Pasta Al Dente bowls on hand as a treat. I picked them up at my local Stop & Shop (Myrtle Avenue in Glendale) for $2.50 each. That's pretty darn cheap for a satisfying lunch in New York City! If I was still working, these would definitely be in my brown bag.

Try them!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Greatest Birthday Gift

It is my first birthday as a mama and boy have things changed since last year. Among other things, I'm more sleep deprived, I haven't changed out of my pajamas yet, and there will be no work cupcakes or happy hour drinks for me. I actually even forgot it was my birthday until my husband reminded me this morning! Oh that mommy brain!

Yet, it is already the best birthday ever. My baby boy is sitting next to me making silly noises and I have never been so in love. He is the best gift and biggest blessing I could have asked for. And, he makes me want to be a better, kinder, and happier person, which is the best gift I can give myself.

So, happy birthday to me and a happy spring day to all the people who have been blessed with a child's love. I'm sure not every day will feel like a birthday celebration, but I know each moment will be a gift.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breastfeeding Booby Traps

I have to share a great post with you from Chatter Scene titled "Breastfeeding Booby Traps." Click HERE.

The poster shares a number of the many reasons why so many women these days are unsuccessful at breastfeeding. I definitely had a hard time at first due to a couple of the reasons she posted, namely having a really terrible lactation consultant at the hospital and experiencing peer pressure to give Andrew a bottle because "maybe I wasn't producing enough milk for him."

I wish I knew what I know now about breastfeeding before I went into the hospital. I'm just so glad we have the hang of it now... and I WILL write a post here one day about all I have learned! It really does help to hear it straight from actual moms and to simply just hear that you can do it!

Huggies and Pampers and Luvs, Oh My!

Well, I think we've finally got the diaper situation solved... at least for now!

After we experienced some redness and leakage with the new Pampers Dry Max, my husband picked up packages of Huggies and Luvs for us to try. The Huggies worked OK during the day, but we were still having leaks at night and the pee smell was really noticeable. The Luvs however are GREAT day and night for us and I don't notice a bad smell (chemical or pee) at all--this is something I didn't expect from a "value" diaper brand.

Luvs Baby Diapers Leakguard Protection

We're still using our remaining Pampers Dry Max during the day, since we have a huge box and the baby does do fine in them for just an hour or two, but at night we're using Luvs and will switch exclusively to Luvs once the Pampers run out.

Why I like: The Luvs diapers are soft on the inside and not bad on the outside either--although they do make that crinkly sound you find in many baby toys (I personally love that sound so it doesn't bug me one bit.) They don't have a mesh "poop catcher" like the Swaddlers, but the countoured fit of the Luvs have kept all of our messes in the diapers so far. Anyway, the mesh in the new Swaddlers kept getting stuck to my little one's private property (thank you Bonnie Hunt for that term!)

We did buy a size up as many reviews suggested (we're using a size 3 for our 15-pounder), so this is maybe adding to our success. Who knows? I'm just a happy mama for the extra sleep they allow me!

My only worry is that Luvs are made by the same company as Pampers (Proctor and Gamble), so I hope they won't change the design of Luvs on us like they did with the Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers! I don't think they realize how one chink in the chain can effect a mom and baby's sanity. My fingers are crossed!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Revised Product Review: New Pampers Swaddlers with Dry Max

I've been updating and revising my Pampers Swaddlers Dry Max review as the days go by. I've been having some annoying leaks and the baby is getting a mild diaper rash, so I'm not as happy about the diapers as I was a few days ago. Check out the review with my edits HERE or just scroll down to the previous post.

What a pain in the butt!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Product Review: New Pampers Swaddlers with Dry Max

Pampers Swaddlers Diapers with DryMax for your New Baby
Please note that this review has been edited below in red. I'm not as pleased now with the new diapers as I originally was (guess I needed a couple more days to see the negatives), so we may be looking into other diapering options at this point.

Earlier this week, I posted about the uproar over the new Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers with Dry Max. I've been using the new Swaddlers for two days now and here are my thoughts:

(First things first for comparison: I'm using Pampers Swaddlers with Dry Max Size 2-3 for my 14-pound son.)

Unlike what I've been hearing about the new Pampers Cruisers, the new Swaddlers DO have the patented mesh lining. Thank God because I really feel like the mesh holds messes in the diaper. Some folks are reporting more blowouts with the new diapers, but this has not been the case with us so far.

The new diapers are indeed less soft than the old Swaddlers, but only on the outside area which does not touch the baby. I did a good old rubbing the diaper on my cheek test and the new ones were a little scratchy. The old ones made me say "ahhh."

The absorbent material does not go up all the way to the top of the diaper in the back, but it does in the front. However, I haven't noticed a difference in absorbency between the new and the old diapers, which were absorbent all around. We have not had any leaks. Also, the absorbent gel does puff up the thin diaper considerably, but the gel has always remained soft for us and never got hard as some have complained. My son hasn't shown any discomfort, and I have left him in the diaper overnight (5-6 hrs).**

**4/16 EDIT: We had our first leak last night, up and over the back of the diaper where the absorbent material runs out after only 2 hours of sleep. Bah! I will keep you posted on more!**

**4/17 EDIT: We had another leak last night/early this morning. It went not only up and over but THROUGH the back area of the diaper where there is no absorbent material. SO frustrating. It happens really early in the morning when he has a lot of pee, so perhaps I'll have to switch his diapers just for overnight.

I'm also noticing my little one's bum getting a bit red, which is concerning. I'll keep you posted!**

I have not noticed a diaper rash on my son, but I am really being extra careful--applying tons of Balmex at each change. I'll keep an eye out and report here if I do notice the beginnings of a rash as some are reporting severe chemical-burn-like rashes, possibly from the new diapers.**

The worst things about the new Swaddlers are that they took away the wetness indicator line on the front (I loved that thing!) and they smell terrible! I got the distinct whiff of chemical when I opened up the package, which concerned me. And, while the smell dissipates a bit to a sort of powdery smell in the open air, once the diaper gets wet, the chemical smell returns with a vengeance.

If something could be done to get rid of the smell and the wetness indicator line returned, I'd probably give the Dry Max Swaddlers two thumbs up. For now, however, I'll give them just a thumb, and hope for the best. (Boo to you, Pampers. A thumb down now! Bring back the old design, please!)

Anyone in agreement/disagreement?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Uproar Over New Pampers Dry Max Swaddlers and Cruisers

Pampers Swaddlers Diapers with DryMax for your New Baby
If you're diapering a little one, you've probably heard that Pampers has come out with a new line of "Dry Max" Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers, replacing all of their regular Swaddlers and Cruisers with these "new and improved" products. I was pretty annoyed to find that I couldn't purchase the old product at all anymore--we just figured out that normal Swaddlers fit our baby best! And what's more troubling is that the new Pampers have been arriving in the old boxes, so many parents weren't aware they were purchasing a new product.

Well, here's more to perhaps be troubled about: a page has popped up on Facebook calling for the return of the old Pampers, with one of the reasons being a high incidence of severe diaper rash (check this blog for a photo if you're not squeamish; the Facebook discussion about rash is HERE.)

If you hang around the discussion boards of the FB page, you'll read a lot of interesting info about the switch, including a response from Pampers North America VP Jodi Allen which does not seem to be satisfying many mamas.

However, the ladies at Chatter Scene have a discussion going right now, though, and many are having no problems at all with the new product. I've got a HUGE box of Pampers Swaddlers due to be delivered to my door any day now, so I'll be sure to tell you my experience with the new product... even though I'm not certain if its worth taking the chance with Andrew's precious bottom!

Let me know what you think of this new Pampers too!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Product Review: Old Navy Nursing Tanks

UPDATE: Well, after numerous wears and washes, I need to take back my mostly positive review of this tank top. At this point, by the end of the day, the scoop neck of this top stretches down to my stomach! I can't wear this shirt in public anymore, so it has been downgraded to weekend, lounge-around-the-house wear. Bah!

After buying maternity clothing, I really didn't want to spend money on a whole new breastfeeding wardrobe as well... but the fact is, I am finding it absolutely necessary to buy at least a few pieces! Contrary to what I had hoped, I have only so many button-down shirts that fit my new breastfeeding body (read: humongous boobs) and I'm getting tired of wearing tanks under shirts that need to be pulled up. So... off to I went!

Old Navy's selection for nursing clothes is REALLY slim, but I did pick up two of their jersey nursing tanks, which I'm happy with. The pink color on the right is one of three colors offered at $12.50. I also picked up a muted blue color for $14.50.

The good: I feel like a human being in this shirt. Its long length covers and slims the parts of me I'm not so happy with post-baby and the layered top is stylish rather than screaming "I breastfeed!" I wear this tank with a hip-skimming jacket, a long necklace and sunglasses and feel like a celebrity mom... without the money, makeup artist and personal trainer of course!

The bad: Like all nursing tops, the tank gets stretched out as the day goes on. My current nursing bras (Leading Lady) are full coverage, so they peek out just a bit at the neckline if my shirt shifts late in the day. A quick readjustment, though--or a sexier nursing bra--and all is well.

The reviews on ON's website lament that the shirt is too long (I disagree) and sized too large (I agree), so go ahead and order a size smaller.

Happy shopping and happy spring!

Product Review: Leading Lady Molded Stretch Pad Nursing Bra

A while back, I promised I'd review my Leading Lady nursing bras once I had given them a test drive. Well, test drive achieved--they are two of the only three bras that I can wear these days!

Leading Lady Molded Stretch Pad Nursing Bra 410

I ordered two Leading Lady molded stretch pad nursing bras from for $23.62 each, and, for that price, I am quite pleased. The bra is supportive, not hideous, and looks great under clothing (comparable to my $38 Victoria's Secret bras--ridiculous!). It is very easy to breastfeed in, allowing for one-handed clasping and un-clasping. And, despite some minor fraying around the cup connector clasps, they've help up very well in the dreaded laundromat washer and drier.

On the downside, the bra is full-coverage, which is great for support but not great for remaining hidden under low necklines, and only goes up to DD. Also, the stretchy fabric under the cup (which allows you to pull the molded cup down and still keep your bra on) gets pulled out of shape and tends to play peek-a-boo as well. I also have to re-clasp the cup very slowly so it doesn't make a loud SNAP! and wake my little light sleeper!

And, while the cups are indeed molded, I personally need to wear breast pads for nipple coverage--but I think most nursing mothers are wearing pads for leakage anyway, so this really isn't a negative in my opinion.

Overall, despite some negatives, this is the only type of bra that I wear out of the house. I feel really comfortable in it and I think most nursing mothers would too--just be sure to measure yourself before ordering as I ordered a size too small and need to use a bra-back extender (available cheap at any craft/fabric store.)

Now I just need to find a bra which is more low cut for my sexier outfits and I'll be set... wait, do I even have sexy outfits anymore?? :P

EDIT: I neglected to mention one of my favorite features of this bra: the bra straps are tightened and loosened from the front, rather than the back. Genius! I wish all bras were made this way!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gymboree Forest Hills -- The Final Showdown

In the midst of all the brouhaha over my negative review of a teacher at Gymboree Play & Learn in Forest Hills, NY, I didn't get to write my final thoughts on the place after having been there for three months now and having found a couple teachers we really like. This is a review, though, that I really feel is important to publish, because, I've had somewhat of a change of heart it some areas.

The bottom line (and I bold) is that Andrew loves the Forest Hills Gymboree and I have come to love it too. After three months he has become so enamored with the songs and games that he squeals and dances around in class--and I often have to cry laughing at him! We have also made friends with the other parents and kids and they know to expect Andrew to tear the place up or stop in front of the iPod to bust a move. I really think Gymboree has had a part in making Andrew the social butterfly he is today--no more crying when other kids scream because he's the screamer now!

So, I must admit where I have been mistaken: Mary Ann O'Neill of Gymboree commented on my original review. I had said that I found fault with Gymboree's requirement of a 3-months membership before cancellation is possible, but she responded that:

          "The 3 months give parents time to see what children can actually learn by attending classes. We see so many children, children that could really use the Gymboree experience, taken out of the program because they were not performing up to parent's expectations by week four! It broke our hearts. Just like us, our children need time to feel comfortable."

I must admit that Mary Ann was right. It really did take time for Andrew to acclimate to the classes before he really started enjoying it. I am glad we were required to stay at least 3 months... even though contracts can tend to make me bristle!

As for my second review of the Forest Hills Gymboree--where I was upset with one of our teachers, Miss. Gaby, because of her disorganized teaching style and (blush) thick accent--I must defer to Mary Ann from Gymboree's comment again:

          "Oh my gosh, Gaby is such a dedicated, energetic, and loving teacher, and gives her all to her classes each and every week. Her classes are full of energy and challenging, fun activities. (They must be fast paced to keep the attention of 1 year olds).Yes, she does have an accent similar to Sofia Vergara on Modern Family, but once accustomed to it, you can understand her clearly. Most importantly, her students really, really love her.

          At Gymboree, we try to have a variety of teachers all with different, winning personalities, because we know 
our parents and children are all different too. Each family will pick a teacher that fits best with their child. So even though the curriculum is the same, each class will have a different flavor added by the wonderful, fun personalities of our teachers! 

          It's up to you to find the flavor you and your child like the best. That's when Gymboree becomes a place of learning, joy, and making friends, sort of like a second loving home to your child. Gymboree is so much more than just a playground. Find the right teacher, then just give it a few more weeks to see the magic unfold before your eyes!"

It was not so much her accent that really bothered me although I chose to mention it because it did affect our class experience and I wanted to write an honest review. I mean, who doesn't love Sophia Vergara? Also, if you heard my dad talk, you would understand that I've grown up with accents all my life. Really, it was the disorganization, speediness of the activities, and general feeling that Andrew was not enjoying his time with this particular teacher that got my proverbial goat.

Since we switched classes, though, we have found two amazing teachers: Miss Kristi and Miss Natalia. Both teachers are really great--Miss Kristi is high-energy and Andrew crushes on her and loves to follower her around and Miss Natalia is so sweet or more soft-spoken, but still a lot of fun. I have never felt rushed from one activity to the next--both Miss Kristi and Miss Natalia let the children linger at an activity if they like but always encourage them to try each new task.

This is not to say that maybe if I had given Miss Gaby another chance, I might not have had a change of heart about her too. But, we were really happy with Miss Kristi and Miss Natalia and, unfortunately, we just don't have time to take another class with Miss Gaby before we move. Like Mary Ann said, though, "it is up to you to find the flavor that you and your child like best." Our flavor happens to be Miss Kristi with a side of Miss Natalia. Maybe you'll think differently, but I'd like to give you my opinion all the same.

So, if you've got the time and extra cash sitting around, do try out Gymboree in Forest Hills! Try it for three months and you might fall in love just like we did. We're actually so in love we're going to look into signing up at the Gymboree in Nanuet, NY when we move (its $40 cheaper! $69/month!) With what we know now about shopping around for teachers and giving it a couple months for the class to become a comfortable place for Andrew, I have a feeling we won't be dissapointed (a review of Gymboree Nanuet to come of course! Haha!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dr. Paul (Apostolis Tsoumpariotis) in Glendale/Astoria

I have to rave about our pediatrician, Dr. Paul (aka Apostolis Tsoumpariotis). He is just the best! Besides being super kind, he is also incredibly patient with my husband and I and spends quality time with us and our son at each appointment, always finishing up by answering our questions and reviewing Andrew's development charts on the computer. And yet, we never have a long wait--must be magic!

He's also available via phone whenever you need him. We've already called him with a number of silly questions, but he never makes you feel stupid or as if you've disturbed him. I really appreciate that.

Maybe most importantly, Dr. Paul practices what he preaches--he has young kids himself and recommends for his patients what he does for his own children. Yet, he would never force you to do/not to do something that you have your heart set on like, for example, if you want to do a delayed vaccination schedule, which he doesn't really recommend. (Unless, you want to do something dangerous like have your kids wrestle alligators... he'd recommend you NOT do that, of course!)

If I had to say something bad, it would just be about his office in Glendale which is not stroller friendly (you walk down a flight of steps) and does not have separate well and sick waiting rooms.

In short, we love Dr. Paul! And, many other folks do too as notes he is the winner of the Patient's Choice Award for 2008 and 2009!

Dr. Paul'sinfo:

Glendale Pediatrics PC
7309 Myrtle Ave
Glendale, NY 11385
(718) 821-4200
*Call the office number for info about the Astoria office, which we haven't visited. :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Website Review: Chatter Scene

I'm so glad Chris, the creator of Chatter Scene, reached out to me--what a great community she has going over there! If you're like me and a fan of The Bump message boards, you should give Chatter Scene a try.

Chatter Scene is message board for women at all stages of life. Whether you interested in talking about anything from books to soap operas, trying to conceive to pregnancy and parenting, there is a message board for you.

While the format of the boards may take a little getting used to if you're not familiar with free-standing internet message boards, the ladies at CS are there to help you along the way. (See how-to info on their Welcome Center board HERE.)

Once you get the hang of it, you'll have a lot of fun not only chatting with a great community of women, but also playing the "game" that is CS. You see, the more you post, the more privileges you get, from being able to see pictures in other members' signatures at 20 posts, to earning points and special image badges for your own profile.

You can also use the posting points that you accumulate to buy virtual gifts for other users or play in CS's arcade. I haven't gotten to this point, yet, but I'm looking forward to it. (The gift-giving option kind of reminds me of community games on Facebook.)

I also like that, unlike The Bump boards, the CS boards have "sticky posts" which always remain at the top of the web page, eliminating the asking and re-asking of certain questions. It also seems that there is a lot less snark at CS, so it may just be the community you are looking for if the Bump gets you a bit hot under the collar! :)

I've only been on Chatter Scene for a short while, but I'm certain it is going to be one of my favorite new sites to connect with other women. I'll keep you posted as I become a CS aficionado. Until then, check it out for yourself, mamas!

If you'd like to sign up for CS, click here: