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Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

I Heart My…

So, I’m falling in love.

And, it’s not with my husband or my new baby.

It’s with my FitBit.

Love it.

Do you have one?

I have the FitBit Zip

I wear it on my bra every day.  It syncs to my iPhone 5, my iPad and my computer.  It tracks steps, miles and calories burned.  My favorite part is the week overview which gives you your week broken out into Sedentary, Lightly Active, Fairly Active and Very Active.  I’ve been slowly bumping my step goal up to 10,000.

Some days I hit the goal and some days I’m short, but wearing the FitBit has really helped me stay motivated and active!

Plus, it appeals to my competitive side, and let’s me track my steps against friend’s weekly steps!  This really motivates me to fit in extra steps where I can!

I’m hoping that I can use the FitBit to get back into the swing of exercising, while getting back to work and balancing Mommy-duties.

Do you wear a pedometer?  What’s your step goal?  How do you fit in a few extra steps?

P.S. The FitBit One is already on my Christmas List… if I don’t buy it for myself before that!

Why I Hate My Diaper Bag….

I didn’t do my homework when shopping for a diaper bag.

There, I said it.

It wasn’t that it was an impulse purchase, as much as when Brian nixed the Louis Vuitton diaper bag suggestion, I went with another one of my favorite (more affordable!) brands and didn’t really consider other options.

I figured that Vera Bradley would have it all figured out.  Boy, was I wrong.

I purchased the Make A Change Baby Bag- I love Vera Bradley products, they are well-made, intuitive in their design and, sometimes most important, come in fun colors and designs.

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But, they aren’t perfect.

Here are some of my complaints:

1) It’s too long/wide.  I have the UppaBaby Vista stroller, which I love, and is known for having the largest stroller basket on the market, and the bag doesn’t fit neatly underneath.  It’s too long, even without using the two end pockets (which would be perfect for standing up a bottle), which means that I have to wrestle it in and and out constantly- or leave it in the car and hope that I managed to shove everything I need into my purse!  It really needs to be about 4 inches narrower to fit in any stroller (I’ve tried it with a Bugaboo and Britax, and it also doesn’t fit in any direction!!).

2) One of the most appealing features was the changing pad on the outside with pockets for diapers and wipes.  Unfortunately, after one wash, the pad doesn’t fold back into place correctly and is too bulky to use the pockets for more than one diaper or a small pack (10 or less, or as we say, ‘one good shit’!) of wipes.  The pocket is held into place by two zippers and a magnet, but the zippers have to be left partially unzipped and the magnet doesn’t catch after washing the changing pad (because it’s so bulky).  It also means that I have to use one of my inside pockets for extra diapers, since I can only carry one on the outside (and that means more ‘rummaging’ for things!).

3) The inside pockets (and wipeable fabric) were a big selling point, but they aren’t as useful as anticipated.  There are 6 interior pockets, that are the width of a size 1 diaper (and can hold a max of 3 at a time).  That’s not a very big pocket!  And, if you use the pockets, you have virtually no other interior space!  That means you end up using the pockets to the max and cramming stuff in them, making it impossible to find things – or, you don’t use the pockets and everything is loose and you are digging around constantly.

I find myself keeping the bag stocked and in the backseat of my car.  I don’t even bother to put it in the stroller anymore or carry it, because it’s such a pain to try and get into the basket.

I do like the outer end pockets.  I think those are a must on a diaper bag.  And, internal pockets are important, but I think slightly larger pockets is better than the quantity of pockets.  And, I really like the wipeable interior- makes cleaning up bottle spills and other messes very easy!

The only ‘Mom space’ is really the zipper pocket along the back of the bag.  It’s nice to have, but again, poorly designed. If you are using the interior pockets.  My wallet and cell phone barely fit in and out!

I’m so disappointed that I don’t love the bag, because I really wanted to!  I think it was designed by someone who hasn’t carried a diaper bag in a while… And, I know I’m a first time mom, but (I think) I’m pretty minimal in what I carry (I hate carrying a heavy bag!).  Here’s what I like to carry:

For Maddie: diapers (3), travel pack of wipes, empty 8oz bottle, bottle of water, formula travel powder packs (2-3), onsie/pant, burp cloth, pacifiers (2), dog bags or ziploc bags for emergencies :-)

For Me: wallet, cell phone, keys, granola bar, travel-size hand sanitizer, travel pack of tissues

When I traveled, I used it as my carry-on, and added a small blanket, iPad, magazine, another bottle and two ready-to-feed formula bottles.  It was at max capacity, and like I said, the changing pad side was bulging and I could barely get my wallet out of the other side!

So, I’m at a loss as to what bag to get now.

What are you carrying or what did you carry when you had little kids?  What do you love/hate about your current bag?

Thoughts? Recommendations?  I’d love to hear them!

Favorite Toys: 3 Months

Woohoo!

We are finally getting to a more interactive stage! And, it’s fun!

I feel like some of my posts on motherhood have been negative lately, or if not completely negative, at least a little more exhausted and frustrated then my normal positive, sunny attitude.

But, I guess that’s the downside of writing a blog and exposing a part of your life- you get the good, the bad AND the ugly.

And, I’m pretty sure most of you would agree that there are some pretty ugly moments in those first few months of motherhood. The good news is that those ‘ugly’ moments are now evened out with some smiles, giggles, reaching for toys and ‘talking’ up a storm!

I thought I would include some posts in the next few months about what Maddie is actually playing with and enjoying. I don’t know about you, but I’m always at a loss as to what to buy for friends with kids (not anymore, man, my list is now a mile long!), so I thought it might be helpful to see what toys are used and when…

Did that sentence/paragraph make any sense? Man, I’m on my 3rd cup of coffee, but still my fingers are going faster then my brain!

So here is our rundown at 3 months…

Side Note: where did the last 3 months go? I still remember sitting on the couch, crying, eating chicken broth and lime jello on April 7th, the night before Maddie was born… anyway. Toys.

ToyFavorites3months

1| OBall 2| Wubanub 3| Sassy Rings 4| Taggies Plushie Mirror 5| Mobile 6| Playmat

1| Rhino Toys OBall Rattle

This is going to be one of my ‘go to’ gifts for friends with babies! It’s light, pretty colors and it makes noise. It’s the first thing that Maddie ‘grabbed’ onto and it was so exciting and rewarding to see her waving it around!

2| Wubanub

This is a pretty simple, yet amazing invention. A pacifier with a stuffed animal! Maddie loves it, and she can hold the stuffed animal and ‘self soothe’. Initially, we used it early on to keep the pacifier in (weight of stuffed animal helps keep it in place!), now she holds and ‘pets’ it herself. Plus, it’s super cute, makes her happy and keeps her quiet when she’s upset. A win/win in my book!

3| Sassy Ring O’Links Rattle

We have a bunch of different styles of these, plus some large ‘keys’. They are brightly colored, on a ring that she can grasp and make lots of noise rattling around- what more could you ask for? I like that they are easy to clean (I just clean them with her bottles at the end of the day!), since they inevitably make their way into her mouth at some point during the day. I also use them as incentive during tummy time, placing them just in front of her and helping her to stay focused on them while trying to build her neck strength (this usually works for about 5 seconds before a meltdown!).

4| Taggies Plushie Mirror

This is another item going on my ‘friend gift list’, for when they have kids! It’s wonderful! It’s great for tummy time or for sitting in your lap. Maddie loves to look at herself, and she’s started to reach out towards it and feel the different textures of the animals, the frame and the tags. It folds up pretty flat, and will probably travel with us on more then one occasion. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s wicked cute.

5| My Baby Sam Pixie Baby Mobile

Yet another item that I did zero homework on and worked out beautifully! I picked the mobile based entirely on cuteness and colors. Maddie LOVES it! It’s well made, hangs at the perfect height and she always has a lot to tell the birdies at the end of the day! When we turn it on, her eyes get really big and she just babbles away to the birds.

6| Lamb Plush Play Mat

This is similar to one that Maddie got as a gift. It’s great. She loves to play on it- on her back or tummy. It’s super soft, which means she usually also has a dog or two that joins for play time. It’s been washed several times and still looks great- and is even softer then before! Since our house is all hardwood floors, it makes a wonderful, soft surface for her to play on!

Have you found any other great toys for the ~3 month period? What are your ‘go to’ shower gifts? New moms, what is saving your sanity right now?

Traveling With An Infant- Airplane Edition

I love to travel and I’m really hoping my daughter has the same desire to see the world that I do… but, for the first time in my life, I hesitated when buying plane tickets.

My credit cards were ready to thank me, but my traveling spirit was pissed, so I went ahead and pushed the ‘CONFIRM PURCHASE’ button.  Ok, that’s a little dramatic interpretation, but let’s go with it.

And, then I panicked.  That is not a dramatic interpretation.  That’s the honest truth.

What was I thinking- traveling alone with an 11 week old infant.  I blame the wine.  Once again, must not drink wine and make decisions.

But, in the end, we both survived the trip and had a great time.

Here are some tips and thoughts for you new moms and future moms-to-be (and for those grandparents that insist on a last-minute visit!).

Note: We flew JetBlue BOS>BWI and Maddie traveled on my lap.

1) Think about your daily routine and how you can adapt it to a new place.  I didn’t have most of my usual gadgets (MamaRoo, Swing, toys, books, etc), so I had to get a little creative with what was available.  I realized that I can change a baby just about anywhere, and that sometimes a blanket on the ground is a better soother then a swing…

2) Think about what you really NEED versus what makes life easier… this was a tough one, cause lord knows, anything that makes life easier for a new parent should be in the *NEED* column.  But, I managed to narrow it down to this: Pack & Play crib, umbrella stroller, changing pad, diapers, bottles (3), formula (ready-made and powder), pacifiers, swaddle blanket, burp clothes (3), clothes.

3) Plan ahead- can you ship things ahead? Can items be purchased when you land?  I saved a lot of packing space by planning to purchase diapers, wipes and formula when I landed (ok, honestly, I mentioned this to my dad ahead of time and he went out and got it before we got there!).  It saved on things that I had to lug through the airport and I wasn’t stressed about packing enough to make it through the entire visit.

4) Borrow items if you can.. my parent’s neighbors had a baby a few years ago and had an infant car seat that we were able to borrow.  You can easily gate check one, which I would have done if Brian would have been there to give me an extra hand, but this worked out just as well, and gave me one less thing to deal with!  Same with strollers and cribs/pack & plays.  Think outside the box a little on this one and you might be surprised.  There are also mom groups all over facebook that can lend assistance or help if you are traveling to a location you aren’t familiar with!

5) Plan on wearing your baby through security (which means you also need to plan on carrying or pushing your stroller!).  It makes it so easy, I didn’t have any problems, and Maddie slept through all the checks.  However, I would practice wearing your baby- doing things like bending over to fold up your stroller, sitting down (in a narrow chair, to mimic an airline seat), and taking her in and out of your carrier or wrap.  I felt quite clumsy the first few times I did it, but by the end it was fine.  Wish I would have ‘practiced’ a bit more to feel more comfortable!

6) Take a deep breath and realize that at some point in the trip, your child will have a temper tantrum, and just do your best.  I traveled with my diaper bag (remind me that I owe you a review on it- I HATE IT!), which has two end pockets.  I stuffed the pockets with a bottle, ready-made formula, diaper cloth and pacifiers.  It made it super easy to grab the items when Maddie started to fuss and I didn’t have to rummage through my bag.

Here are a few products that I LOVED for this trip:

InfantTravel

1| Moby Wrap  2|Uppababy G-Luxe Stroller  3| JJCole Pacifier Clips

 4|TMSoft White Noise App  5| Similac Advance Formula

A few notes on the products and why I love them:

1| Moby Wrap 

This was the most comfortable baby carrier for me.  Maddie is old enough to ‘Hug Hold’ and did great going through security, waiting for the flight and sitting through most of the flight in this.  It was light enough that I was hot by the end of the flight, but not uncomfortable.  I also found it easy to wear, even when I had her sitting on my lap or eating.  Definitely practice moving around in it and getting your baby in and out easily.  My only complaint was that I had a hard time bending over to fold up the stroller, put my shoes back on after security (wear flip flops or slip-ons!), but I think that would be the case with any carrier!  A final note, I strongly advise wearing a tank top with a light weight layer over… anything more and I would have been sweating buckets!  I wore a Bravado nursing tank with a light weight cardigan- made security a breeze and I was comfortable at the airport and in the plane.

2| Uppababy G-Luxe Umbrella Stroller

LOVE THIS!  It’s a splurge for an umbrella stroller, but worth every penny.  First, it reclines far enough back, that you can use it with a 3 month old, which meant that I didn’t have to bring my big, bulky stroller with me!  Second, it folds easily and stands up, which makes it manageable to maneuver while wearing your baby in the airport.  Third, it’s lightweight and has a strap that allows you to carry over your shoulder.  I actually wore both the stroller and diaper bag on my shoulder, while wearing Maddie and felt OK.  It has a lot of the features of the Vista and Cruze I love, but in ‘travel size’.

3| JJ Cole Pacifier Clips

I love these.  They are sturdy, they hold on to just about anything and they come in cute designs.  I only traveled with one, and I wish I would have had at least two more.  Pacifiers are an important part of our ‘soothe’ routine, and I was always searching for one.  I wore the one we had clipped to the Moby Wrap for travel and it was so convenient to have it right there if Maddie started to get fussy.

4| TMSoft White Noise App

I forgot to throw in the Sleep Sheep, but this white noise app works in a pinch.  There is a FREE lite version, but I splurged on the one that is $1.99.  My sanity is worth that much (but probably not much more right now!).  It has both a hair dryer and a vacuum sound that settle Maddie immediately.  Save yourself some packing room and let your phone do double duty.  I missed a few calls and text messages, but it didn’t run my battery down like crazy and it got us through the entire trip with minimal fussing at bedtime (other times, not so much!!).

5|  Similac Advance Ready-To-Feed Formula

Formula is expensive, and ready-to-feed versions even more so, but it was so worth it to have a few bottles available on the plane.  It made me feel confident that I could feed Maddie (and avoid a huge meltdown!) in a matter of seconds.  I opted to just bring along one of her slow-flow bottles, and poured it into it and we were all set.  I used the slow-flow to try and help her ears during take-off and landing (the only times that she fussed, if she fussed at all!).  It forced her to drink and swallow more, which (I believe!) helped her clear the pressure.  Pack one more than you think you will need, because you might find that eating patterns are a bit off.  I definitely threw away more than I would at home, since I didn’t have a fridge available, but the convenience was worth it!

Note: I didn’t add a picture of our pack and play, but this is the one that we have for travel that I really like: Graco Pack n’ Play

Other than that, I would say check a bag if you can bring yourself to pay the fees (or fly JetBlue, your first bag flies for free!).  It will make life easier getting through the airport.

And, as tough as it sounds, relax.  I was a lot more relaxed on the trip home (having survived the trip there!) and Maddie was a lot more relaxed as well.  I think babies are sensitive to your stress and anxiety, especially when you are wearing them.  I tried to be kind and polite to the people around us, and in turn, they were equally polite and understanding- even when Maddie started to fuss.

Let me know if I missed anything, or if you have any special tricks… I’m already thinking about booking our next tickets!

XO, Mer

What I’m Lovin’ Friday…

It’s raining.  Like pouring buckets.  Like the kind of rain that makes you want to curl on the couch with an extra cup of coffee and shop the morning away.

I’m totally freaking out about my return to work in a few weeks, and doing retail therapy as a way to soothe my fears of returning to the workforce and the ‘mommy guilt’ that goes along with it.

I’ll confess that I do some shopping in-person, but most is done under the cover of my email address, boxes received and stashed before the hubby comes home (therefore no lying about purchases required).  Although, I do often call my Nordstrom boxes a ‘free gift with purchase’, which is a complete lie and open joke in our house!

Anyway, I’ve been using Ebates to shop online lately.  A friend suggested it, because if you click through their site to start your shopping, you earn a rebate on your purchases.  I’ve earned almost $30 (told you I’ve been doing retail therapy!) and they have most of my favorites sites for doing damage: Nordstrom, J. Crew, Target, Red Envelope, Amazon, Macy’s, etc.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

 

So, that totally justifies all the purchases, right?  Especially the fact that I had to buy new work pants in a bigger size (it’s funny, cause the depression that caused only made more things end up in my shopping cart…).

And, another thing I’m loving (since this is turning into a random post!) is the Furminator.

After giving my mother shit about posting about it on facebook, this happened:

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Let’s be honest, I don’t have time to devote to a ton of cleaning these days, however, I’m still pretty obsessed with having a neat and tidy house.  I’ve been using it for a week and see a NOTABLE difference in the amount of shedding in the house.  Crazy, wish I was the person who came up with that idea!

You can find it at Petco, Amazon, etc.  Here’s a link for you:

That thing really is amazing.  It’s the best $28 I’ve spent recently, and if you read the above comments, you’ll know that I’ve spent a lot of $28 recently (or more!)… ;-)

Lastly, I’m loving this:

d2e800058125cb04_Pomelo-Sauvignon-Blanc

Consume with caution (and, preferably, some food), or this will happen:

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Editor’s Note: I’ve tried to crop this half a gazillion times so you don’t have my personal information.  It is not cooperating.  If you go stalker-crazy, just know that I will kick your ass (and be secretly flattered).  Thanks.

That wine is amazing.  It gives you super-human powers to think anything is possible.  It’s probably what Kim Jung Un drinks for breakfast.  Only explanation.

And, with that, I’ll add the required cute Maddie picture and get back to my online shopping.

Happy Friday, Friends!  Hope yours is starting with less of a headache then mine…

XO, Mer

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