Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blog: She's alive!

Yup, I'm still hanging in there. Sure, I experience sleep deprivation torture the like of Guantanamo Bay, but I've got two adorable little faces (and the occasional glass of sangria) to pull me back from the brink of insanity. So here's what's been going down in the Rockland Mother household...

Liam is 4.5 months old and in the 91st percentile for height and weight! He's a giant bundle of pumpkin-headed love who doesn't like to sleep, but makes up for it with loads of smiles and his new habit of making fart noises with his mouth.

Andrew is going to be three in January! He started going to school two days a week this month and he loves it so much he doesn't want to come home at the end of the day. I'm so glad he isn't afraid to go, but its of course bittersweet to see my little boy growing up so quickly! Also, I'm just a little bit embarrassed when he kicks and screams when I pick him up (I promise, folks, he gets more than enough love, food and toys at home!!)

My husband (have I ever talked to you about him? Whoops.) is working his butt off every day and, while we don't see him as much as I'd like to, he's saving up so that we can buy a house. We've been looking around for said house, but man is it rough out here in Rockland. The houses are still expensive, and we're just afraid to become so house poor that we can't take the boys out to do fun things. We're gonna have to bite the bullet some day, though, no matter how much I do love having my parents upstairs to help us... stressful!

And, me? I'm still trying to get into a groove with the two little ones and lose the baby weight! I'm on Weight Watchers (again) and trying to find time and the drive for exercise. I really should start posting updates for accountability on the blog, but do you guys really want to see me fail so miserably? Egh, maybe you'll kick me in the (extra-padded) butt and help me slim down for my best friend's April wedding? Do I have to beg you??

Well, until next time!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blog: Welcome Liam!

Brand-spanking new!
So, you may have noticed that I've been absent from blogging for quite awhile and it is because of a totally wonderful reason--Liam has arrived! Our second little boy was born on May 3rd and weighed in at 7 lbs 6 oz and 20 in. He is adorable and we are slowly but surely getting into the groove of being a new family of four.

I'll be posting more often now that Liam is over a month old and hanging out in his baby seat awhile more now (and not always eating or in my arms!) I've got reviews of Good Samaritan Hospital in mind, a review of my double stroller--the Joovy Ergo Caboose--and a whole lot more... because being a mommy of two is a whole lot different and requires more accouterments!

1 month old and super cute!
Oh, and since nobody but my lovely blogger friend Sara over at NinjaPanza entered the baby guessing game, she's the lucky winner of 3 handmade soaps from Craft-o-Land! She is a wonderful mommy and deserves this special gift so I won't berate you all for not participating in my little game. (But next time you are all in trouble.) I'll be in touch soon, Sara!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fail: Lamaze Cotton Spandex Sleep Bra

I think many pregnant women get to a point where sleeping without a sleep bra or some other sort of support is way too uncomfortable. Having my increasingly larger and more sensitive parts unrestrained while I sleep definitely has become intolerable for me--but its so dang hard to find a well-designed maternity/nursing sleep bra for larger busts (D+)!

Lamaze's Cotton Spandex Sleep Bra ($18) is definitely not the solution to my problem. While it is soft and comfortable and supportive enough while sitting upright, sleeping in the bra is a whole different situation.

The deep v-neck crossover design--which is designed to make for easy nursing--actually makes is such that when you lay in bed your boobs simply fall out one side or another. Aggravating! Now, if you have super perky boobs (real or constructed) that stay put no matter what, I assume you won't have a problem. But, this mama is just not that lucky.

I've run into this problem before, though, with crossover/wrap-style sleep bras. The only solution, perhaps, for women with larger busts like me is to go for a different style of sleep support and maybe sew up the v-neck opening of your wrap-style bras so they don't go to waste.

My favorite sleep solution so far has to be Bravado's Essential Nursing Tank. No, its not a bra, and it can run up to $60 depending on the size and color you want/need, but your boobs aren't going anywhere in this baby thanks to the comfy built-in wireless bra and the adjustable shoulder straps. If you're lucky, you can find the tanks for sale on discount sites like Zulily or Baby Steals, and Amazon has some of the less popular colors on sale for lower prices.

I'll most likely be living in my Bravado Nursing Tanks once the baby arrives in the next couple of weeks, but I will still be on the hunt for good sleep bras and nursing bras that I can wear outside the house. Please feel free to post your suggestions below!

Friday, April 20, 2012

One(ish) Week to Go!

Hello, I am huge -- and my husband has way
too many toiletries. 
Yes, I'm still around my friends, even though my blog has been sorely neglected! Getting our home in order has been no easy task these last few weeks--especially since my darling Andrew has discovered the world of "no" where clothes and cooperation are frowned upon!

Regardless, I've been slowly but surely getting things accomplished and making sure I'm prepared with baby supplies for little one number two due to make his appearance in the next week or two. I'm actually feeling pretty calm right now--a feeling I'm sure will be shattered once little Liam arrives and the tornado that is two little boys consumes me!

I'm super excited and ready, though, for Liam to be born. My belly is stretched to the max, the lower half of my body feels like it is detaching, my heartburn is at an all-time high, and I can't wait to regain the power to outrun Andrew again! But, mostly, I just can't wait to kiss my sweet new baby and have Andrew meet his (hopefully) future best friend.

I've also got some really great products I can't wait to try out and report back to you! I was able to sell the too-small Valco Ion double stroller and get an amazing Joovy Ergo Caboose (it fits Andrew perfectly and he thinks it is so cool!) I bought a Snuggin Go Infant Positioner to replace our lost infant insert for our Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat. And we just set up our new Arms Reach Co-Sleeper mini bassinet.

Please send labor dust my way, bloggerverse, and lots of sleep-through-the-night wishes for me and my two little boys! I'll be sure to post more frequently if I can get Andrew and Liam to agree to a reasonable sleep schedule! :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Valco Baby Ion Ex 4 Two Double Stroller

I managed to find a great half-price deal on a new Valco Baby Ion Ex 4 Two  via e-bay about four months ago, so I snatched the stroller up before trying it out in a store. I really liked it the minute it arrived, but as Andrew got bigger, I knew it wasn't going to work for us.

So... I resold the stroller (for a $30 loss!). But, in the meanwhile, I was able to write up a review of it for you. Voila!

My first impression of the side-by-side Ion Ex 4 Two was that it was an awesome stroller. Its egg-shaped chassis is very sleek-looking, toddler-climbing strong, and slim enough to fit through most standard-sized doorways. It handles like a dream, even with one-handed steering, and I really liked the multi-position-adjustable handlebar. I also loved that there was no way that I could kick the back axle of the stroller without taking an abnormal lunging step (I'm 5'4'').

The sun-canopy offers excellent coverage (very much like the City Mini) via a zip-out extension and has a nice-sized mesh child-viewing window. And, the under-seat storage basket is very large and easily accessible. There are also two hanging, compartmentalized storage bags on the back of each seat, one of which is detachable and can be used as a small portable hand-held diaper bag.

Valco Baby Bassinet, $100-ouch!
Also convenient is that each of the seats can recline to almost flat quite easily and independently of each other. The seat backs are nice and supportive too, unlike our 2010 City Mini single stroller in which Andrew slumps even after buying an extra back support board. Valco sells adapters for some car seats as well as a bassinet, which is great, and belly bars come standard with the stroller (no extra fee!) Plus, folding the stroller is a breeze--just twist the knob on top and lift a safety latch and the stroller folds inward so that the seat fabric is not exposed to the elements.

The stroller is typically $500 and the accessories aren't cheap either. The bassinet runs around $100 and the car seat adapter is $40 (a better bargain, I think, if you can find the adapter compatible with your seat.) There isn't a built-in cup holder for you or your little one either--unless you'd like to purchase an accessory, of course!

It takes a bit of practice learning how to adjust and unbuckle the five-point harness, but I guess this is so that little geniuses don't figure how to get out. Also, while the fold is easy to figure out and accomplish, it isn't a self-locking fold and it isn't a very flat fold either.

Additionally, while the stroller is super easy to assemble, I had no idea how to attach the upper portion of the storage basket for which there were no assembly instructions. I contacted Valco Baby and they sent me an instructional video and some photos to help me out with the installation, but it was still a pain to do (email me if you'd like a link to the Valco materials.)

Finally--and my reason for returning the stroller--because of its sleek and slender design, larger toddlers are not going to fit into this double stroller for long. Andrew was not even two when I got the stroller, but  being 3 feet-ish tall, the fabric from the canopy and curved headrest of the stroller seat hit him on the head. The seat width is also slimmer than other doubles and I could tell my 35-pounder would outgrow it soon. Not to mention that adding a car seat adapter would have taken up more of his space.

The bottom line:
This is a really great stroller if you have smaller children, but there are other strollers out there that would be better for the longer/heavier haul. I'm looking into purchasing a Joovy Ergo Caboose, which transforms from a double stroller with a car seat adapter to a sit-n-stand. As always, I will be sure to report back here. Until then...

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm Pregnant and I Know It!

This video is hilarious and is totally me right now. "Waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle," internet friends!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Baby Liam in 3D (my visit to Hudson Valley Ultrasound)

I've been missing in action, forgive me. But I've got a fun post for you today! Last Friday I went for a 3D/4D ultrasound at Hudson Valley Ultrasound in Munroe, NY and I'm happy to introduce to you baby Liam for the first time in 3D!

How stinkin' cute is he??

The image is blurry because I snapped a shot of an ultrasound printout with my cell phone, but I actually received a CD with over 70 printable/shareable images with my $149, 30-minute-long ultrasound session. Plus, I received a free video of the whole session which is something fun to have (normally a $25 value.)

We had a really nice experience at Hudson Valley Ultrasound. My husband wasn't able to come along due to work, but my mom came along and Andrew too. The ultrasound room was large and comfortable (with a big couch to seat a bunch of family members), and we were able to see little Liam on both a big movie screen and a television. Andrew kept laughing because the baby looked orange on the screens, so I think he's convinced that his little brother is orange (maybe he'll have red hair too so it won't be far from the truth!)

The ultrasound technician was very nice and he worked hard to get a good shot of the baby, even though he was hiding behind the placenta. He seemed genuinely happy every time the baby smiled or yawned for him, which I though was sweet too. The tech confirmed the baby's gender again for me and also confirmed that he was positioned head down.

I left the session really happy we had decided to schedule a 3D/4D scan. I didn't have one with Andrew because my OB provided us with so many ultrasound photos, but this time around I had only 3 or 4 pics. Along with the pictures on the CD, I received 4 black and white and 2 color ultrasound printouts with my session. The ultrasound tech also handed me a small Enfamil diaper bag containing formula samples and a bag containing other baby loot (Similac samples, magazines, etc.) before I left, which was a nice surprise.

Check out http://www.hudsonvalleyultrasound.com/pricing.html for details about ultrasound packages and pricing at Hudson Valley Ultrasound. They even offer sonogram streaming to a remote computer, which is great for far-away family members who want to be involved.

My only disclaimer is that the office can be a bit hard to find because the Google Map plotting is off and it is a shared office/storefront with other providers. The office is actually located just after the intersection of Lake Street and Millpond Parkway (the lake will be on your right and the office will be on your left, right before the parking lot entrance.)

The parking can also be a bit sketchy (either road parking or the one parking spot designated to the ultrasound practice in a shared parking lot), but we managed to find it and snatch up a parking spot no problem.

Now, let's scroll up and look at Liam again! <3

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Product Review: Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

Duo diaper bagThe Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag was one of the free gifts I received for attending the Martha Baby Shower Show Taping.... and it is providing me further evidence that the "expert" who chose all of the must-have baby picks for the show really have no idea what he was talking about! Sure, the bag is really cute in the wave dot print that we received, but once put into use a parent realizes it is far from a must-have diaper bag.

First off, the Duo is small at just 13" wide x 13.75" high x 4.25" deep. And while it does have 11 organizer pockets in all, they are arranged in such a way that restricts the interior storage space of the bag. I barely fit all of my son's accessories into the Duo (forget about stashing a winter coat in there) so this is certainly not at bag that will be useful to us when our second is born this Spring.

Bag interior. The black lines (zippers) running
vertically house the parent pockets.
I think that, in addition to the bag's tiny depth dimension of course, the major design flaw is this: there are two zippered parent/accessory pockets on the top of the bag that extend only halfway down into the bag's interior. If you put anything substantial into these pockets--say, your wallet--your access into the bag is cut off and you lose precious storage space.

Any mother knows that you don't want to be pulling everything out of your bag to find that one item that has gone missing. So, the folks at Skip Hop have failed miserably by making a bag with inner environs that are infuriatingly hard to navigate. They do offer a Duo Double which is 5 inches wider, but at 13.5" high and still 4.25" deep, you're still going to run into the same accessibility problems. 

Now, there are pros to this bag of course. I do like the sturdy, fashionable material the bag is made of, the magnetic pocket closings, the side cell phone pocket, the shuttle clips that you can attach to your bag (but, seriously, I'd just hang it by the strap and be done with it) and the soft, removable shoulder pad strap. The Duo also comes with a changing pad in the back pocket and the front two pockets are insulated and nice for keeping a juice box and some snacks. Oh, and its currently listed for $58. 

BUT, what does all this matter if I can't fit or find anything inside of the bag's interior? If Skip Hop would expand the width of this bag significantly and maybe extend the parent pockets all the way down to the bottom of the bag (so one wouldn't have to deal with weird half pockets getting in the way), then we'd have something to talk about! As it stands, though, there are other better bag options and the Duo is not so much of a "must-have" if you value not pulling your hair out! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Limited Sizes of Robeez On Sale at Totsy Now!

Robeez undoubtedly makes wonderful shoes for wee little ones. Their shoes are, of course, very adorable, but they are also high quality and soft or flexible-soled to help pre- and early walkers gain confidence. What they aren't always, necessarily, is cheap, and it can definitely be hard for some to spend $30 on a pair of "booties" that fits into the palm of your hand. But boy, if you're lucky and can find your kids' shoe size available, Totsy is making it a whole lot easier right now with their Stride Rite Sale (Stride Rite recently acquired the brand.)

*Be sure to head on over before everything is sold out! Sizes are very limited and the sale ends soon.*
Robeez Little Sheriff
Robeez line of super-comfortable, leather indoor/outdoor shoes are perfect for hard floors when your little one is just beginning to walk. Being able to feel the ground through the soft, flexible shoe sole helps so much with balance and the shoes keep little socks and feet clean, unlike poor Robeez-less Andrew's feet when he was smaller. They also have a textured, suede sole to prevent against slipping. Needless-to-say, our next little guy will be getting some Robeez regardless if I have to pay full price!

On my shoe-shopping wishlist from this sale--and not available in our sizes, unfortunately--are the Robeez Lil Sheriff cowboy boot ($16; originally $33) and the Robeez Brown Sandal ($15; originally $32).

Robeez Soft Soles Cozy Bird
Robeez Cozy Bird; $12.95 at StrideRite.com
So, head on over to Totsy now to see if you can snag a pair before they are gone. Or, if you're looking for a pair of Robeez in a size or style that is not listed at Totsy today, be sure to check out Striderite.com or Robeez.com. I've seen Robeez on-sale for as low as $12.95 or $14.95 on these sites. That's a very good price for an incredibly useful and stylish shoe!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Have a Kushies Winner!

Amanda is the winner of the Kushies pink polka dot sheet giveaway. Congratulations to Amanda and thanks to everyone for entering. Here is the random.org generator I used to pick the winner, just for posterity:

I hope to have more fun giveaways in the near future, so please keep stopping by! In the meanwhile, guess our next baby's due date, height and weight HERE and you could win some nice handmade soap this April/May! Be sure to enter game name RocklandMother2 to get to the game and to put the baby's gender as a boy.

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't Forget My Pregnancy Poll & Contest!

I'm almost 32 weeks pregnant already with our second baby--can you believe it? So, I thought now would be a good time to remind you of a little contest that I'm running:

The person closest to the correct answer of when the baby will be born and his height and weight will win a set of 3 handmade soap bars from my favorite Ukrainian mall kiosk and online store Craft-o-Land.

FYI: Most folks may know this from my posting, but we are having another boy, so be sure to enter boy in the gender field! My due date is May 2nd. 

ENTER YOUR GUESSES HERE! Enter the game name RocklandMother2 to get to my poll. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Love Mommy Necklaces!

Simple Long Mommy Necklace in
I finally treated myself to a beautiful necklace from Mommy Necklaces and I am so impressed! My first Mommy Necklace is everything it claimed it would be--stylish, incredibly well-made, and irresistible (yet safe) for babies and toddlers. Not to mention that it was reasonably priced!

The gorgeous Simple Long necklace at right only cost me $28 including Mommy Necklace's standard $2 shipping cost. And every dollar that I spent before shipping is converted into a reward point that adds up to a Mommy Necklace gift card at 100 points!

Mommy necklaces are colorful bead creations made from USA-manufactured acrylic beads that have been lab-tested for safety. They are meant to be used as a distraction for teething or hip-held babies--they are not meant to be teethed on or left alone with children--while still being stylish enough for evening or everyday wear. Most of the necklaces can be customized, from adding dangling donut charms, accent strands, or matching bracelets and earrings to altering the necklace length or beading structure. And they are guaranteed from breakage and can be re-stranded or altered at any time for a small fee.

Flourish Mommy Necklace in
Aside from being pretty, I love that the necklaces are substantial, but do not feel heavy on. You can also tell that the cording used is very sturdy and will not break, as Andrew has already tested by using the necklace  as a seatbelt for his backhoe, unclasping and clasping it a million times, etc. The only change I would make is this: each necklace has a sturdy black break-away clasp. For the lighter colored necklaces, I would love if the clasp could be white or even clear.

I would definitely recommend you get over to Mommy Necklaces and check out their collection. They are a great baby shower gift as well as a gift for yourself. Also, be sure to friend them on Facebook--I just got an awesome deal on the Flourish necklace in diamond (my birthstone!) because I learned it was on-sale via FB. The folks at Mommy Necklaces also generously give away extras and will let you know online, so you'll be wise to follow them now. Happy shopping!

P.S. Don't let my love for blue fool you, Mommy Necklaces has many other colors available!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giveaway Time! Kushies Girl's Polka Dot Crib Sheet as Seen on Martha Stewart

So, how did you guys like the Martha Stewart Baby Shower Show that aired last Friday? Did you agree with my thoughts that some of the products were nice but been-here-done-that or do you think I'm just a horrible hormonal pregnant lady? :)

Seriously, though, being at the show taping was great and the baby picks/audience gifts were lovely--and lucky for you I'm giving one away!

Kushies Fitted Crib SheetFounded in Canada in 1953, Kushies started out in Canada as a doll clothing and accessory manufacturer. Now they make a large array of adorable baby products, including organic layette sets, cloth diapers and the beautiful pink polka dotted fitted crib sheets at right, which I am giving away to one of you!

From the website: Kushies premium quality 100% cotton flannel sheets are available in adorable pre-assorted boy, girl, and neutral colors and prints to match any nursery!  All fitted sheets are fully elasticized for a perfect fit. Finished edges for quality & durability. Sized to allow for shrinkage - fits perfectly after each wash.

To enter to win a pink polka dotted 100% cotton flannel fitted crib sheet from Kushies, please leave a comment below by 11:59 on February 29th. I'll contact the winner on March 1st. Good luck!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: MusicClasses4Kids - Kids' Music Classes in Rockland, Bergen & Passaic

Andrew is obviously going to be the next big music star (see exhibit A), so we gladly signed up for MusicClasses4Kids Winter 2012 session at the New City, NY location after attending a free trial class back in January. We love this creative music education program and are happy to have been going there long enough now that we can finally recommend it to you! 
Exhibit A: Rock God

Created by Mark Pent (Mistermusikmark) and Gail Pent (Kupkake), this music program is fun, effective, and so refreshingly far from the computer or TV. Mark--an accomplished professional percussionist and early childhood music and educator--and Gail rely primarily on drums and other percussion instruments, an mp3 player, singing, dancing, storytelling and on-your-feet games during each class. And, wouldn't you believe it, the kids have a ball and learn at lightning-fast speed too.

Proof? Andrew is only 23 months old, but last week at class he was able to create an eighth note structure out of popsicle sticks--and most of the other kids in the class can do it too! He sings the songs we learn in class at home all the time, he can identify a ton of different instruments now, and he pretends to "air" play those instruments CORRECTLY. I am one very proud and impressed mommy. 

Not to mention that Andrew has such fun at each and every hour-long class, dancing under the parachute, making animal sounds, banging on a drum or shaking his egg maracas. He even enjoys it when he doesn't participate exactly as instructed to, such as sitting in the middle of the floor playing a drum while we all have a musical parade around him. The Pent's encourage parent participation, though, even when the little ones aren't paying their full attention. If mom is doing it, Andrew usually comes around. But if he doesn't, its OK too--as long as he does not touch another child (these classes are a rough-house free zone!)  

You can try out a FREE CLASS at the end of March/beginning of April before the Spring 2012 session beings--just check the class schedule HERE for more info. The tuition is $209* for 10 classes (11 including the free class) and babies attending with a sibling up to 8 months are free.This is really great for me as Andrew won't have to miss the next session of classes when the baby arrives--I'll just need to ask someone to come along to occupy the littler one (dads, grandmas, grandpas, any helper guardian is welcome.) *There is a one-time new family fee of $15. There are class locations in New City, Pearl River, Tallman, Butler (NJ), and Ringwood (NJ).  

So, give a free class a try and let me know if you agree with Andrew and me. Then, let's start a toddler band and make like stage moms!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Preview: The 2012 Martha Stewart Baby Shower Show and Rockland Mother's Top Baby Picks

I had the immense privilege of attending the taping of Martha Stewart's "Baby Shower Show" yesterday (my friend applied for tickets online) and boy did we have a nice time! Everyone in the studio audience left with a ton of great products, including those chosen as top baby picks by The Baby Guy who writes The Baby Guy Gear Guide online.

I don't know much about The Baby Guy, but he does know a lot about baby products from his research. BUT, I don't necessarily think he picked the newest and most useful products for the Martha Stewart Show. Perhaps it is because a) The Baby Guy does not have children himself and b) he is a baby GUY and therefore isn't as intimate with the ins and outs of childbirth and breastfeeding as a woman is, but I felt that some of the products that he picked, while wonderful, were either things we all already know about or things that were simply "adorable."

That said, I'm not going to reveal his picks--you can check out the show on Friday, February 17th on the Hallmark Channel--but I do want to quickly mention a few of the items I would have featured had I been the show's baby expert!

Product Details1) Milkies Milk-Saver:  I've mentioned this product for nursing/pumping moms before. This smart little invention catches any milk leaking from the breast you are not feeding or nursing on so that you can save it and store it for a future feeding. I haven't tried it yet, but I think the Milk Saver is a new and novel product that will help many a mom.

Product Details
2) The 4Moms Mamaroo: This innovative infant seat takes up less space than traditional infant swings and mimics a variety of motions from car ride to a mother's rocking arms.  Among other features, it plugs into the wall so that you don't have to eat through D batteries and it also hooks up to your iPod.

Product Details
City Select
3) Expandable Strollers: Yes, the robotic, self-folding Oragami stroller is awesome and I'm tempted to list it since it was not mentioned on the show either, but I think many more moms will benefit by knowing about the large array of "expandable" strollers that are out there. By "expandable," I'm referring to strollers that have the capability of growing from a single stroller to a double or triple.

Baby Jogger's The City Select, The Britax B-Ready, and the Valco Tri Mode Ex are just a few of the expandable strollers out there. If I had known what I know now, I would have registered for an expandable while pregnant with my first--they may be more expensive than a single, but you'll save in the long run when you don't have to buy a double when/if you have a second.

Product Details4) Shrinkx Hips: Yup, I'm going there. This product claims to take advantage of the extra relaxin left in a woman's body after birth and help shrink her hips back to normal (or even small than) pre-pregnancy size! You can bet my large pregnant ass (and hips) I'll be trying this product this spring.

Simple Strands - Mystic5) Mommy Necklaces: These stylish bead necklaces are made with safe-for-baby materials and are incredibly strong so that a mother doesn't need to worry about ruining her more expensive jewelry. Mom can wear them while breastfeeding to hold the attention of a fussy baby--and they are even great at distracting my two year old in a pinch! They are the perfect baby shower gift and a great way for a mother to feel pretty in those days just after giving birth--just note that these beads are not meant to be teethed on and that you never eave a child alone with them (not a toy!)
Product Details

6) Convertable Diaper Bags: A stylish diaper bag that can hang on your stroller handle is a wonderful thing, but one that is stylish, attaches to a stroller, and can convert from a shoulder bag into a backpack is simply amazing. Anybody who has carried a large toddler on their hip while toting a huge shoulder bag or has run around a playground with a heavy messenger bag across their body can attest to this! (The Baby Guy has probably never done any of these things!)

Jujube's BFF and Packabe or Petunia Pickle Bottom's Boxy Backpack and Abundance Boxy Backpack are stellar examples of a convertible diaper bag. Expensive, yes. But the smart features in all of these bags definitely make up for it.

Product Details

7) The Snuza: The Snuza Halo and the Snuza Go are small baby movement monitors that clip directly to a baby's diaper, rather than being placed under the crib mattress. This eliminates those false alarms that may occur when a baby rolls away from a movement sensor pad place under him in the crib and allows the monitor to be used on the go (in the car, etc.) The Snuza Halo even features a vibrating "rouse" feature to stimulate a baby who has not moved for a certain amount of time and will alert you to rouse incidents.


And I've got loads more we don't have time for today folks! So, maybe Martha will give me a call the next time she needs to put together a smattering of new and awesome baby picks for the year? Check out the show on Friday and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Tour of the Birthing Center at Good Samaritan Hospital (Suffern, NY)

Good Samaritan Hospital offers maternity floor tours on the first Sunday of every month, so my husband and I took the opportunity last weekend to check out where we'll be having our next little munchkin in 12ish weeks. It was really nice to get acquainted with the place on the one-hour tour and to be able to ask a Good Sam nurse all our questions. And seeing all the sweet little babies in the nursery brought a tear to my eye--I can't wait until Spring!

The Waiting Area

The USB Family Birthing Center is on the 5th floor of the hospital. Entering the reception/waiting area from the elevators, you feel like perhaps you're walking into a hotel lobby. The room is dominated by a large dark-wood desk in the middle, which is surrounded by various comfy seating areas for waiting families. Behind the desk are couches and a bookshelf and a child-sized table and chairs to occupy the little ones. To the right and left of the elevator bank are bathrooms and also cute alcove-type waiting areas with TVs that offer a more private place for families.

Aside from looking really nice, the waiting room seems like it will be a safe and easy place for, if necessary, grandpa/whoever to keep Andrew occupied when I'm in labor. This has been one of my major concerns being pregnant with our second, so I was relieved when I walked into the waiting room.

The Labor and Delivery Rooms

I was impressed by the delivery rooms mainly because they are big! When I gave birth to Andrew at LIJ in New Hyde Park, there was barely enough room for one guest chair in addition to the hospital bed. Good Sam's rooms are spacious and have showers for a laboring mother's comfort. We were told that some rooms and some showers are even bigger than others, so be sure to ask for one of the bigger showers if you plan to go without an epidural. Some rooms even have beautiful views of the mountains outside your window (I think my view out of the LIJ windows was of a construction site!)

After you give birth, you'll probably remain in the L&D room for another hour or two, so its really nice to have such a large and comfortable space in which waiting family members can visit, if you so choose. The nurse leading the hospital tour told us that there are no set visiting hours when it comes to the L&D side of the maternity floor--but be aware that only two people can stay with you in the room when you are laboring.

The Postpartum Rooms

A great thing about Good Sam's birthing center is that you will most likely have a private recovery room--unless the hospital is incredibly busy that day. The postpartum rooms aren't huge or gorgeously appointed, but they seem comfortable. They have a hospital bed, shelves/storage for your clothes, a TV, a sleeper chair for dad/partner, a private bathroom and shower with a shower seat (awesome) and enough room for baby to room in, visitors to sit around, and a toddler to entertain himself without running amok through the hospital floor.

Overall, I felt really good after the tour. I feel like baby and I will be in good hands and Andrew won't feel scared or destroy the place when he comes to visit. Also, the nurse expressed that the hospital is very pro-breastfeeding, which is nice. They won't even give your little one formula without you signing off on it--unless, of course, there is a medical reason that necessitates it. They also have great security measures like most maternity wards, which means baby will be wearing plenty of ID bands and an electronic bracelet that prevents anybody from abducting him/her.

Another awesome thing--the parking lot at Good Sam rocks! You can valet park or just self park for free just a short walk away from the hospital entrance. This is nothing like having to pay for parking in a 3+ level parking garage halfway across the universe from the entrance at LIJ!

So, we'll see what I think about the hospital once I actually deliver there! I'll be sure to post a birth story and "notes from the inside" come April or May. Until then, take a tour if you're expecting to deliver at Good Sam and let me know what you think! Just go to the fifth floor birthing center at 10:50am the first Sunday of the month for a tour--no registration necessary.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Aveeno Baby Lotion Recall

aveeno baby lotionAveeno has just voluntarily recalled their Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort lotion due to high levels of bacteria in the product (yuck!) The products were sold in AL, AR, FL, GA, KS, LA, MS, TN, and TX and the bacteria found is considered to not be hazardous to baby's health.

Read more here.

While not so hazardous, its still frustrating that these baby product contamination recalls seem to crop up so often. But I'm glad they do catch them and nip them in the bud--I'm not quite prepared to start making my own baby soaps and lotions!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Product Review: Bare Escentuals Skincare Trio

Do you remember that I went for a free makeover at my local Bare Escentuals at the Palisades Center Mall a few weekends ago? Well, I've been using the products I purchased since then and I'm ready to give you my review!

I'm going to split the review up into two posts--skincare and makeup--to save you from reading a novel. So here goes my skincare thoughts...

(Disclosure: I have a cousin who works at a Bare Escentuals botique. The contents of this review, however, are all my honest and unbiased opinions. I have not been compensated in any way for this review. All customers are entitled to a free makeover at this store.)

Firstly, the store makeover experience was great. It was so nice to have a makeup pro pick out the correct foundation color for me and also show me how to apply the products, including the skin care line. And, since I was complaining that my skin was dry to the point of hurting, I also got a nice lesson in overall skincare from one of the national trainers who happened to be on-hand. God forgive me, I forget his name, but he was an amazingly sweet and informative man!

I asked for an evening look and I liked the result a lot--and especially how easy the product was to apply. I could definitely see that the powder was sitting not as nicely on the super-dry parts of my face, though, so I took the sales associates' advice and bought a skincare trio along with my bareMinerals Get Started Kit.

The Skinny on the Skincare

My skin has been super dry this winter. I don't know if its the pregnancy hormones, the forced-air heat or a combination of the two, but even putting something as gentle as Cetaphil on my face burned my cheeks. The bareMinerals Purely Nourishing Moisturizer, however, doesn't burn me at all and, over the past few weeks, I have noticed a huge reduction in the dryness of my face after using it twice day most days. Really, my skin looks and feels great.

Naturally Luminous Moisturizing Trio (Combination Skin): Facial Cleanser + Moisturizer + Eye Cream - 3pcs
$49 in most stores or online
I've also been using the Renew & Hydrate Eye Cream and the Naturally Luminous Purifying Facial Cleanser most mornings and nights. The eye cream feels very luxurious when I put in on and hydrates nicely--and you only need a teensy weensy amount, so it should last a long time. You only need one pump of the facial cleanser too and all your makeup washes away with ease--impressive! But I have found that if I don't put on the moisturizer right after I cleanse my face feels tight. The tight feeling reminds me to moisturize, which is good, but it is not very comfortable or welcome when I'm being lazy!

I bought these three products together in a bundle called the Naturally Luminous Mouisturizing Trio for Combination Skin for $49.00. Since the products should last a while and are giving me nice results when I'm not even the most vigilant user, I feel the price was quite reasonable, as well as comparable to what I would pay for three similar products in a drugstore.

Overall, this skincare regimen amateur is pleased with the bareMinerals skincare brand, so I'm definitely going to stick with it in the future. It really doesn't take more than two minutes a day to use these products each morning and night, and skipping a night once in a while when I'm falling asleep on my feet doesn't really hurt at all. Easy, effective and forgiving--perfect for this soon-to-be mommy-of-two!  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Doctor Review: Ramapo Valley OB/GYN (Pomona, NY)

Shame on me! Did I never post a review of Ramapo Valley OB/GYN? You may know by now how fickle (er... picky) I am when choosing doctors, so I'm astounded I haven't chronicled my Rockland OB search for you the way I did when I was in Queens!

Well--surprise surprise--I did have my reservations about Ramapo Valley OB/GYN when I first started seeing them back in August. I had my 8-week prenatal appointment with the practice's only male doctor, Dr. Amnon Fein, and he rubbed me the wrong way (Figuratively. Eewwww.) He made some off-putting small talk about my age and loudly reprimanded Andrew for touching the door handle (I'm not a fan of strangers shouting at my son for stupid reasons.) He also didn't ask me my medical history at that appointment and later barked angrily at me when I called the emergency line during a weekend with bad stomach pain, which, busy doctor or not, made me think less of him.

Needless to say, I made sure that all of my appointments after the first were made with the other doctors at the practice, Dr. Michele Batista, Dr. Suzanne Flapan, and Dr. Carrie Panoff--and am I glad for that! I've seen each one of these women for appointments since August and they are really just superb. They are sweet and thorough and have not made any discouraging comments about my steadily-creeping-up weight (hurrah!) I was actually really touched when, at my last appointment, Dr. Flapan genuinely smiled when she located my little one's heartbeat with the doppler monitor--you can just tell she really enjoys her job. (Check out their linked names above for their bios on the practice's website.)

Also awesome: They deliver at Good Samaritan hospital, which is my preference. The office staff is nice and I've waited 10-15 minutes for all but maybe two of my appointments. An ultrasound tech comes right to the office so you can combine ultrasound and standard appointments. And there is also a Quest diagnostics located just across the parking lot for any test you need done.

The negatives: Sometimes there is very little parking to be found (its a hopping little medical plaza!) and I find their office hours impossible to remember. Also, they made me do some take-home blood kit where I had to prick own my finger--not cool! With my first pregnancy, I had this test done by a technician at Quest but Ramapo OB/GYN insisted on the take-home. Maybe its standard to do a take-home test now, but my fingers were not happy with my hack job!

So, overall I'm pleased for now with Ramapo OB/GYN and PRAYING that Dr. Batista, Flapan or Panoff will be on-call to deliver the baby this Spring! Here's the practice info if you're interested in giving them a go yourself. Good luck ladies!

Ramapo Valley OB/GYN
974 Route 45, Suite 100 (first floor; door is on the left)
Pomona, NY 10970
T: 845-354-1113
Hours: Mon 9-4 Tues 1-8 Wed 10-6 Thu closed Fri 9-4

They also have a Monroe office:
Suite 17 Shoprite Plaza
Monroe, NY 10950
T: 845-782-9449
Hours: Mon 9-4 Tues 1-8 Wed 10-4 Thu closed Fri 9-4

Thursday, January 19, 2012

To Andrew at Two

Dear Andrew,

Even before you were born, your Daddy and I knew we loved you more than anything in the world, but I don't know if we could have grasped then how completely and utterly you would have stolen our hearts. Each of your belly laughs, silly dances, guitar solos, "baby genius" discoveries, and night-time snuggles reminds us how incredibly blessed we are. (We'll take the temper tantrums too--as long as you promise to give us a big bear hug when you're finished!)

Your birth two years ago and every day since is the greatest day of our lives because of you. You will always be our amazing blessing of a baby (even when you're 90). Happy 2nd Birthday to our incredible son!

Mommy & Daddy  

Check out the flame torch of a lighter!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Must Have! Boon's Grass Drying Rack

I am not a neat freak in most areas, but I have anxiety about Andrew's bottles, cups, etc. being clean enough or the just-cleaned items touching my (imaginedly filthy) plastic and metal dish drying rack. Enter Boon's Grass Drying Rack to save the day--while this ingenious product has been out for a while now, I just got one and love, love, LOVE it.

All this drying rack is is a bunch of green plastic blades of "grass" sticking up from a white plastic tray. Simple in theory, but amazing in function.

The blades are plentiful and sturdy and there's tons of space for storing a wide variety of baby paraphernalia. With nothing else on the rack, I've managed to stack and dry 12 standard-width baby bottles and cups at once with no side-hangover. I generally don't dry that many bottles at once, though, so I always have room for nipples, bottle rings, toys, etc.... even the occasional coffee cup (those blades are strong!)

Unlike traditional racks, everything fits nice and snugly onto the slightly flexible blades so that there is little danger of you knocking just-cleaned items onto the floor (almost as terrible as spilling breast milk, no?) And everything is just a little suspended above the plastic tray so that nothing is sitting in water (yuck). Plus, the entire square rack of blades slips easily in and out of the drip tray for easy cleaning.

This rack is for sale for around $14.99 at both Amazon and Babies R Us (and surely at other retailers as well.) If you're sick of dealing with other complicated, messy, or just plain annoying bottle racks, this is the answer to your prayers!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the News: Hospital Makes Error, Aborts Two Babies

I don't often use my blog to post about "political issues" but I've just been made aware of this story from November 2011 which really makes me extremely sad:

According to an MSN NZ article, an Australian woman pregnant with twin boys chose to "terminate" one of the children at 32 weeks because he "had a congenital heart defect that would require years of operations, if he lived at all." The hospital, however, made an error during the procedure and killed the child without the heart defect. The mother then underwent an emergency c-section to "end the life of the sick child." (Note that they didn't deliver the baby to see if it would survive. They delivered him to end his life.) 

Hospital error aside, how horrible is it that the mother and hospital planned to end the life of the "sick" child at all? 32 weeks is almost full-term and it is stated that he might have lived with medical intervention! Think of all the parents who are battling for their children's lives, whether they be struck with heart problems or cancer, are born premature or have been injured--would it be acceptable for them to "terminate" their sick children? NO. Why then was it acceptable in this case in Australia? 

According to the above referenced article, the mother's friend says "She went to the hospital with two babies and now she has none... And she had the heartache of giving birth to her sick baby. She's traumatized." 

Oh, really, she's traumatized? Forgive me if my heart breaks more for the two innocent children who were killed due to her and the hospital staff's terrible judgement. Aren't most folks aware that there is a risk to the entire pregnancy when you "selectively reduce" one or more multiples? Doctors should definitely be aware of this. And, again, what right did they have in ending the child's life at 32 weeks when he very well may have lived?

Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe there are details that I don't have which effected the mother's decision-making process (medical details, financial details, etc.) But--screw it--I'm on the side of the babies in this one. What a different situation it would be if she had just delivered the boys. What precious time she lost with both her boys because of this tragic decision.

What are your thoughts? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

I am a Pregnant Lady and I Approve this Sandwich

When I was working at the Flatiron in Manhattan (did you know there are a bunch of book publishing companies in there?) I was obsessed with a sandwich called the Skinni available at Natural Deli on 23rd Street. A Munster cheese sandwich topped with avocados, bean sprouts and wasabi mayonnaise on seven grain bread, this was a delicious, creamy, sometimes-nose-clearing sandwich masquerading as something healthy for me.

But, alas, I am 50ish miles away from Natural Deli and baby wants a Skinni right now! So I've come up with my own version of the Skinni for mommy, baby and your delight:

The Rockland Skinni
2 Slices of Bread (white, wheat, seven grain--whatever you prefer)
2-3 Slices of Munster Cheese
1/2 Medium Avocado
Wasabi Mayo (Available in you grocery store condiment aisle. I like Dynasty Brand--expensive, but lasts a long time.)

1) Slice half an avocado into thin, vertical slices.
2) Slather one slice of bread with wasabi mayo. Be careful only to add as much as your taste buds/nasal cavities can handle.
3) On second slice of bread, layer on muenster cheese and avocado and top with second slice of bread.
4) *Optional: Grill sandwich in a pan with some butter. Melting the cheese makes the avocado less likely to slip off the sandwich and the butter adds extra flavor. You can also add some chicken to the sandwich--Boarshead's spicy buffalo chicken adds great kick.

As an added bonus--you have half an avocado left for another sandwich the next day (or that same day!) or to use as an accompaniment to chicken in the evening. If there's one thing I appreciate this pregnancy it is a delicious avocado. And chocolate. And pickles, And.... you get the point.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Makeovers & Skin Care Samples at Bare Escentuals Palisades Center This Friday-Sunday!

Ok, I'm ridiculously excited. I made an appointment for a free makeover this weekend at the super-pretty Bare Escentuals boutique at the Palisades Center! I've been curious about Bare Escentuals products since first seeing the Bare Minerals advertisements on TV years ago--I'm even watching a QVC Bare Escentuals program right now and literally squealing with anticipation on the inside. I'm SO ready to bust out of the new-mommy no-makeup rut I've been in and I've wanted to acquire a quality, grown-up makeup stash for a long time now (Andrew deserves a beautiful, confident mommy, no??)

Have any of you tried Bare Escentuals before? Have you gotten the hang of spelling of their name? Haha. Seriously, though, I'd love to hear about your experiences. I'm really hoping this makeup is going to be the answer to my "I have no idea what to do with my face" prayers.

Or, if you're curious about the makeup line and want to nab some free skincare samples this weekend too, you can call 845-353-1394 to make an appointment and report back here alongside me. Hope to see you in the next makeup chair!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Free Trial Kids Music Classes in Rockland this Week!

MusicClasses4Kids is offering free hour-long trial classes in Rockland this week before the start of their Winter 2012 classes on January 11th. While I'm not completely certain what the classes entail, the website explains:

"We offer morning, evening and Saturday classes consisting of 6-12 children ages 0-6 years old and their parents/caregivers. Each semester features a new musical theme with CD/Songbook, consists of ten 45 minutes long classes once each week that include songs, chants, small and large movement, dance, instrument play, games and craft activities. In addition to hands-on instrument play your children will be introduced to the instruments of the orchestra, a wide spectrum of musical styles/artists/composers from classical to funk and spend time learning about foreign languages through music of other countries."

We're heading over on the 4th to check out the class in New City and will report back to you. OR, you can join us by heading on over to their website to register for one of the many free trials offered January 4th-10th:

Wednesday - January 4th - 9:30 am
New City, NY 
Germonds Presbyterian Church
39 Germonds Road

Thursday – January 5th - 9:30 am 
Tallman, NY
Tallman Bible Church
280 Route 59

Thursday – January 5th - 7:00 pm
Pearl River, NY
Beth Am Temple
60 East Madison Avenue

Friday – January 6th - 9:30 am
Pearl River, NY
Beth Am Temple
60 East Madison Avenue

Saturday – January 7th - 9:30 am
New City, NY 
Germonds Presbyterian Church
39 Germonds Road

Tuesday - January 10th - 12:30 pm
Oakland, NJ 
Messiah Lutheran Church
228 Ramapo Valley Road 

An 11-week class (12 weeks if you count the free class) costs $209.00 plus a $15 non-refundable new family registration free. An additional class for the same child or a class for a sibling costs an extra $150.