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This year we celebrated baby’s first Christmas. You can make yourself go crazy trying to make Christmas perfect for your little one with millions of presents, a visit to Santa, and creating new traditions you hope to celebrate as a family. As Thanksgiving came to a close, I was determined to create a picaresque Christmas for my 11 month old complete with what would be our family traditions going forward.

I wanted an advent calendar that we would use every year, but could not find the perfect one. I felt defeated as December 1st rolled around and I hadn’t found “the one”. Taking Addison to the Irvine Christmas train was also high on my list….but with so much rain on the weekends this year we didn’t make it. Hitting the shops early or buying all my gifts online was also a part of my plan – but guess what…didn’t happen.

Baby’s 1st Christmas wasn’t ruined, however, because somewhere along the way I lowered my expectations and we were able to start enjoying the holiday. Instead of the long list of to do’s, a much shorter and realistic set of goals was  set.

One was getting an ornament at Roger’s Gardens to commemorate her 1st Christmas. Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach has an amazing Christmas display with gorgeous decked out trees. They also have a Santa who poses with the kiddos for free…we didn’t know this ahead of time, just stumbled upon it; but picking out an ornament each year and posing with Santa is bound to be a Christmas tradition.

We discovered the Elf on a Shelf , and although our little one is too young to understand the concept we can’t wait to read her the story and bring out the elf every year to report back to Santa.

I scaled back my Christmas cookie bake-a-thon to just a couple of different kinds, and that was enough. I made rugulach again this year (will post the recipe soon) and some chocolate and pecan biscotti. I can’t wait until our little girl is old enough to enjoy making Christmas cookies with me (and maybe help me clean up).

In the end, it was all enough. I learned that traditions aren’t made in one swoop; they evolve over time and should not be forced. Everyone is happy and healthy and that made Christmas perfect.

I’d love to hear about some of your Christmas traditions, especially any unusual ones!

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Baby A started eating solid foods last week. We started with an organic brown rice cereal by HAPPY BELLIES , which contains probiotics and DHA.  I bought a wonderful baby food cookbook called The Petit Appetit Cookbook, and have started making purees from organic fruit.  I am deeply concerned about what passes baby’s lips and into her belly; doing research to find the healthiest options.

But what about what passes my lips?  Those starchy garlic fries certainly were tasty enough to make me smack my lips and lick my fingers…and what about that creamy brie?  Good God! that steak and glass of Pinot Noir were deeelish! But I’ve stopped losing the baby weight, I’m swollen, and generally don’t feel tip top.  What I am trying to say is I spend a lot of time worrying about my baby’s health and nutrition and it has inspired me to take a hard look at my health and what I put into my body .

I recently stopped breastfeeding and no longer have excuses to indulge in the extra calorie intake (Cupcake?  That’s okay, I’m breastfeeding… I’ll burn it off !  C’mon you know you’ve had this inner dialogue).   I’ve decided a 3 day juice cleanse is just the ticket to rebooting my tired, bloated, and creaky body.

I’ve been poking around online for a few weeks and found several companies that will overnight their organic pre-made juice to you….but at the tune of $260 I abandoned the shopping cart.  I found a company that also sells DIY book if you were unable to order their juices.  Touted as the “Juice Cleanse for Foodies”, the BluePrintCleanse certainly piqued my interest.  If I can do this cleanse without gagging on sludge, that is what I want to do!

3 Day Cleanse by BluePrintCleanse Founders Zoe Sakoutis & Erica Huss

The 3 Day Cleanse promises amazing benefits, “…you will understand the difference between feeling full and feeling nourished. You’ll weigh less, brim with more energy, and look and feel sexier!”  Damn, if I can have those things after having a baby sign me up!  I’m not only doing this to lose the excess baggage post baby, but for other health reasons.  According to studies sited in the book periodic fasting has amazing health benefits including, decreased inflammation of tissue  and greater mental clarity;  and long term, a decreased likelihood of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  It is recommended to do a 3 day cleanse once a month or even a 1 day cleanse after an evening of overindulgence.

What I like about this cleanse is that it doesn’t appear to be overly strict, setting me up for feelings of disappointment or failure if I don’t follow the program to a T.  I hope this 3 Day Cleanse is as delicious and satiating as it claims so I can stick to it!  More on my progress later!

Pre-pregnancy when I wandered the aisles at Target or Babies R Us I would get completely overwhelmed by all of the gadgets and products for baby.  Mostly what went through my mind was, “What in the world is that for?” or “Why would anyone need that?”.  Thankfully I’ve learned to filter through a lot of the unnecessary items by watching my more experienced mommy friends and through some trial and error of my own.

I’ve come across two items that I can’t live without when it comes to leaving the house with baby.

1. Munchkin Powdered Formula Dispenser

My friend Simone had one of these and told me I just had to get one.  “Pish posh”, I thought.  I just filled a Tupperware with formula and put in a scoop. That worked for about a week…

When you have a baby that is cranky and in need of a bottle STAT, you don’t want to fiddle with a scoop.  This is especially true if you are traveling or only have one hand free. (You learn to do a lot of things one handed when you have a baby, trust).  Pre-measured formula for 3 feedings is ready to go in this dispenser!

2. Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser

When I first saw this I thought, “I have one of these for my dog”.  Then I thought, “That is GENIUS!”  I’ll admit, I have gotten even more forgetful since I have had a baby.  I hated being caught out and about without a plastic bag to dispose of dirty diapers.  This solves that issue, and it is one of my favorite gadgets.  The bag dispenser hangs right on your diaper bag with a roll of scented (yes, scented) bags in which to put the yucky diapers.  Genius, right?!

These are two things I am definitely packing as we get ready to take off on our first airplane trip with little A.

*Baby Bottle Plane found on Curiobot.com

We are going to be getting on an airplane with our 5 month old for the very first time this weekend.  A short and simple direct jaunt on the friendly skies?  No, that would be easy!  Our first trip will be to the glorious Mid-West!  Columbus, Ohio to be exact.   This will include 7 1/2 hours of travel time which includes an hour and a half layover.  I admit, I am anxious.

I am anxious that we are going to be those parents.  You know,  the ones that everyone glares daggers at while their poor baby illicits blood curdling screams.  All the while the parents  smile helplessly bouncing the infant on their lap whispering, “She is never like this I swear…”.

I am determined to be well organized and start packing in advance…bottles, formula, car seat (we check that at the gate, right?), Snap & Go attachment (where do we put that? check that at the gate too?), diapers, wipes…and all of our stuff too.   Yet I know in the end I will have no control to how Little A reacts to the cabin pressure or the experience.  Fingers crossed that all will be calm in the friendly skies.

Mommy Savings Tip:

I love diapers.com for many reasons.  The top 2  are low prices on diapers & wipes, and the fact that they are usually on your doorstep the very next day!  I love going out with my baby, but if I can save a trip I’ll do it!

Did you know that you can use manufacturers coupons on diapers.com?  I found this out as a fluke while navigating around their website one day.  You simply send your information along with the coupons and they add the discount to your account for the next delivery.  Click here for directions on how to save MORE on baby essentials with your coupons at diapers.com.

Do you have any suggestions on how to save more $$ on baby essentials?  Comment and let me know!

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Little A smells delicious after using this shampoo.  It was great to use when I was 1st getting comfortable bathing her.  I felt like I was all thumbs with her squirming around – so it was nice to have something that was self-foaming!

Originally submitted at Diapers.com

Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns – 5.07 fl oz

Extremely mild and does not sting the eyes, Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns is specially formulated to prevent and treat cradle cap. This innovative formula gently cleanses scalp while respecting its fragile balance. The mild exfoliating action of AHA’s helps soften and rinse away cradle cap flakes. Its anionic surfactants help eliminate the excess sebum which favorizes the appearance of cradle cap while totally respecting the hydrolipidic film of the newborn’s scalp. Convenient pump packaging dispenses a self-foaming shampoo.

Makes baby smell heavenly!

By Blissfulmommy from Newport Beach, CA on 4/28/2010
5out of 5

Pros: Gentle, Pleasant Smell, Makes bathtime easier, Effective

Best Uses: Daily Bathing, Sensitive Skin, Infants

Describe Yourself: First Time Parent

I love the way my baby smells after using this product. Because the shampoo foams when it comes out of the nozzle, it makes for easy application – no need to lather when you have a squirming newborn which is a huge plus in my book. Rinses easily.

(legalese)

When we began to spread the word that we were expecting, my husband received the obligatory “Daddy Books” the likes of which are half read and gathering dust.  Much like Katherine Heigl’s character in Knocked Up, I had a mini melt down (or 2) when I felt like D was not being fully invested and reading those damn books.  I really wanted him to read those books because I was avidly reading about baby products, what to to expect during pregnancy, and what to do when you bring home baby.  I felt like the pressure was on for me to know EVERYTHING, and wanted him to share the burden.  When I asked D why he didn’t seem to like the books they were deemed uninformative and slightly lame.  I was really looking for some resource to better instruct hubby on what to do and how to handle me!

I found some sage advice for D in a very unlikely place.  Once pharmaceutical companies add your name to the soon to be parent marketing list,  you begin to receive all kinds of things in the mail.  Diaper samples, coupons etc.  A few weeks ago I received some formula samples in the mail from Similac (Abbott Labs).  Inside the box on a small fold out piece of paper I found the best advice for Dads to live by during delivery!

Here is what it said:

How To Be a Hero During Delivery*:  Having a baby is a memory you’ll both share for the rest of your lives.  Here’s how to make sure she doesn’t remember it for the wrong reasons.

  • No wincing.  She feels vulnerable enough during delivery and doesn’t need you reacting like you’re watching a horror movie.  Remember, it’s a beautiful miracle.
  • It’s not a roast. If she’s feeling awkward, she might poke fun at herself.  Don’t take this as an opportunity to craft your own zingers.  Tell her she looks beautiful and stick to it.
  • Never say, “It’s not that bad”. Some “clever” dads think that understating her discomfort will lessen the pain of delivery.  Ditch the Psych 101 tactics.  She needs empathy, not therapy.
  • Swallow your pride. She might yell at you. She might insult you.  Hey, she’s scared. She’s in pain. And she trusts you enough to vent.  So take it like a man, big guy.
  • Careful with the camera. If she wants you to document the delivery, great.  But leave the commentary and creative camera angles to Spielberg.  You’re making a baby movie, not an action movie.

I think I may plasticize this little card and tuck it into my hospital bag!

(*taken from Similac “The StrongDads Hospital Checklist”)

Card from Bonnie Marcus Stationary

I’m at the end of my pregnancy journey with only days left until our little one makes her debut.  I wanted to write my list of mom’s “pregnancy must haves” while they are still fresh in my mind.

  • The Bella Band When your jeans start getting a wee bit too tight this accessory is key.  It allows you to unbutton, even unzipper your pre-pregnancy jeans for as long as you can hold out before buying maternity jeans.  Also, if you have shirts that don’t seem quite long enough because of your expanding belly the Bella Band covers the part of your tummy that the end of your shirt can no longer reach!
  • Maternity Jeans – You’ll find a lot of your favorite brands now make jeans for us preggos.  I found that A Pea in the Pod carries my favorite Joe’s Jeans in a maternity style…it made me feel fashionable as I was expanding.  I know they are pricey, but well worth it if you normally live in your jeans!
  • A maternity Little Black Dress.  As a gift, my friend Catherine sent me one of the most useful items in my pregnancy wardrobe.  A versatile black dress by NOM.  I wore it early on in my pregnancy up until the days leading to delivery.  I wore it to a rehearsal  dinner with some fabulous heels and to the grocery store with flip flops.
  • Palmers Cocoa Butter Lotion for Stretch Marks – smells horrible, but no stretch marks here!
  • Expecta Lipil (in addition to your prenatals) – DHA is important for your developing baby’s brain function.  I asked my OB about the max I could supplement with.  We agreed I could take an Expecta Lipil in addition to the prenatal I take which also has DHA.  Ask your OB if it’s appropriate for you.
  • Flip Flops – Despite the fact that I claimed I would be wearing my Gucci pumps to the hospital, my feet have swollen up and look like Fred Flintstone’s feet.  Get yourself some comfy flip flops or shoes!
  • Tylenol – Helped me make it through a really bad cold and my 1st trimester when I would get really bad headaches.  It’s one of the few pain relievers you can take.
  • The Mayo Clinic Pregnancy Book – A great medical guide!  Tells you what to expect at certain stages of pregnancy, what is normal and if you should call your Dr.  They also have a great web resource.
  • Baby Bargains – This book was a huge help when I started trying to create a baby registry, which can be overwhelming.  Gives you the skinny on essentials vs non essentials and best in class according to category.
  • Baby 411 – A guide for what to do when baby gets here!
  • Lots of pillows! – I didn’t want to buy one of those snuggie pillows.  They are huge!  Where would I store it post baby, and how would me, my husband and the snuggie pillow all fit in a Queen sized bed?  My solution was building my own pillow fortress.
  • Tucks Pads & Preparation H – Just trust….buy it as insurance and hope you don’t have to use it.

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