Friday, February 19, 2010

Luxe Life: Kate Spade Bon Mot X-Ray Coal Baby Bag

Kate Spade holds a special place in my heart. I got my first bag in college and it opened my eyes to the world of designer handbags. Her bags were just making a splash back then, and I felt so swank when I carried my brown nylon tote around town. In fact, I still own that bag and it makes a guest appearance now and again. The Bon Mot X-Ray Baby Bag in Coal embodies Kate's signature style with it's whimsical illustrations of the likely contents of your diaper bag. I love the strong navy and orange colors, and it will look great next to your towel by the pool in St. Barth's or on the sand in Nantucket this summer. The bag has plenty of pockets for storing all your baby gear and although it is canvas on the outside it has a waterproof interior to deal with the inevitable spills that come along with mommyhood! Pair it with this marvelous Mysie Top by Calypso (in KNCKERS) and you will look fresh and ready to take on anything your baby throws at you (with Pooka it's usually peas!).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get Unplugged on A Rug at the Great Green Playdate!

Unplugged on a Rug is the brain child of two moms and former teachers Natalie Cronin Reyes and Ofrit Shirian Peres. Natalie is the National Childhood Development Director for Kidville, and Ofrit's has a music background and is the founder of the Rug Bug music program currently running in Brooklyn. Once a month these two ladies host a fantastic event called the Great, Green Playdate. I'm sure you can all remember how much fun it was to play with a big empty box, well the Great, Green Playdate embraces this idea and takes it a step further. The event, designed for kids from birth to age 4, focuses on creative ways to play and entertain your child by recycling things found in your own home and encouraging imaginative play. The playdate also incorporates music, games, and our favorite part, the call and repeat drum circle using empty boxes. The event we attended in December even had a violinist walking among the children as they played with pillows, scarves, water bottles filled with beads, feathers, or glitter, and the amazingly simple boBle tumbling toys (read more about our love of bObles here). With the motto "Changing the world through play," you will never look at an old scarf or an empty canister of oatmeal the same way again! It's definitely an event you won't want to miss! And did I mention that 50% of all the proceeds go to children's charities? The donations are currently going to support the Max Cure Foundation and their work researching rare pediatric cancers. The next Great, Green Playdate is Friday, February 19th at Kidville in Tribeca. Watch this video to get a better idea of what goes on at the Great, Green Playdate! All are welcome, and you can register for the playdate here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Boon Obsession!

Last week I spoke at the Big City Moms Expectant Moms Dinner on the best items for your baby registry. You can see the five products I recommended last night in this previous post. While at the dinner I had the opportunity to speak some great folks from Boon Inc. and share with them how much I loved their products. Then I realized I should probably share with you, my devoted fan base, the many Boon products we love and why we love them. I should specify that I have never received any free products from Boon, so my love is totally unadulterated.

Ok, where to start? I realized as the Boon folks presented their products that I actually owned the majority of them. I guess I'll start with my first crush item, the Benders Adaptable Utensils. We had a few different spoons when Pooka started eating solids, but found these to be the best. The spoon isn't too big for her mouth, and it's just the right depth to get her a good mouthful without a ton of food squishing back out. As your baby grows they will be able to feed themselves with these utensils because they are the perfect size, and the heads can be bent to help your uncoordinated wee one get the head of the fork or spoon into their mouth (Pooka is working on that). Since we are on the topic of feeding, we are also completely enamored with the Squirt Baby Food Dispensing Spoon. If I had a nickel for every mom who said, "I wish they had that when my kids were young" Pooka's preschool tuition would be covered. The spoon has a reservoir that holds up to 3 oz. of baby food that you can squeeze directly into the spoon. We use it in the car and out and about. Need something to serve your food in? We have the Saucer Stay-Put Divided Plate. We are using it now for finger foods, but will use it for all types of food when Pooka gets more coordinated with her spoon. Wee ones have a difficult time picking the plate up thanks to the rubber ring along the bottom. It should keep the UFO's to a minimum. And don't forget about snacks. We love the Snack Ball because unlike a snack trap, Pooka can only get into this one when I open it for her. It's round shape makes it easy to toss in your bag and find it again, and doubles as a fun ball for Pooka to roll around and play with when we are out and about. Finally, dry your Boon products on the high style design of the Grass Countertop Drying Rack. It's so cute we leave it on our counter all the time (and to be honest there is always something drying on it), and sometimes you can even spy some grownup items drying on the grass.

Boon's products also populate the bath. They are most famous for their first product, the Frog Pod and its newer sister the Bug Pod. They are one of the few products we don't have (we have gorgeous new carrara marble tiles in the bath and I couldn't bare to hang anything on them!) but hear nothing but great reviews. We do, however, have Bob the Odd Duck and the Splat Floating Ring Toss. We love Bob because he doesn't have any holes to fill up with water and leak out later after bath time is over (Pooka loves to bring her bath toys into the living area). She is also infatuated with the rings from the Splat and carries them all over the apartment, and because all Boon products are BPA, phalate, and PVC free I have no problem letting her chew on them to her heart's content.

So needless to say we own quite a few Boon products already, but there are still some on the list we would love to have. I'm dying for a Stash Multi-Room Organizer to keep bottles, snack balls, etc in so they don't clutter up the kitchen counter. Your child will clearly have the coolest sippy in play group with the intriguing design of the Fluid Toddler Cup. And eventually we'll have to invest in the Potty Bench!

Whichever Boon products you choose they will likely became as indispensable as they have for us! And did I mention that 10% of all profits are donated to children's charities like Helping Orphans Worldwide and the Child Crisis Center!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Too Sweet: NYC Valentine's Day Events for your little Cupid

What could be sweeter than spending Valentine's with your wee one? I'm thinking this might be my favorite Valentine's Day so far, and my husband and I have had some pretty good ones. But seriously, what could compete with having your own real live cherub to snuggle with? Maybe I could get Pooka a little bow and arrow, dress her up as Cupid and have her shoot Dada as he comes in the door. Or maybe not...Perhaps the best part is all the Valentine's activities going on this week for you and your cherub. There tons to choose from, but here are a few of the best.

Big City Moms is hosting two fab V-Day events this week. The first is a Mommy and Me Valentine's Soiree on Friday, February 12th from 11:00AM-12:30PM at Dylan's Candy Bar. The event will feature music by one of our favorites, Rockin' with Andy, plus craft activities, candy, food, and photos. If your looking for a whole family event Big City Moms is also hosting the Sweetest Valentine's Day Party Ever at Kidville on the UES on Sunday, February 14th from 11:00AM to 1:00PM. Featuring a Little Maestro's concert, games, food, candy, family portraits with Suzanne Cohen, and use of the amazing Kidville gym. This is a family friendly event, so bring siblings, dadas, grandparents and more! And I can only assume that BCM will be doing their amazing baby gear raffles at these events. I never walk away empty handed from one of their events.

Diva Moms is also getting in on the V-day action with their 6th Annual Divalysscious Valentine's Day Party at Dylan's Candy Bar on Saturday, february 14th from 11:00AM - 1:00PM. Featuring a performance by Broadway Babies and activities including chocolate decorating, jewelry making, picture frame decorating, family portraits, and tasty sweets.

Baby Bites is hosting a Mommy and Me Valentine's Day Lunch at the Roger Smith Hotel on Friday, February 12th from 12:00PM-2:00PM. This event features a Little Maestro's concert, photos, and raffle for a Chicco Stroller and Boon high chair.

Interested in less child oriented music? Then grab tickets to the Baby Loves Disco Valentine's Disco Ball on Sunday, February 14th from 12:00PM to 3:00PM at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleeker St. There will be music, hula hooping, a bubble machine, snacks, juices, and of course dancing to the grooviest tunes from the 70's and 80's.

For more ideas, check the Time Out NY Kids Valentine's Day event calendar. Some of our other favorites this week include Clifford's Valentines Day Party at FAO Schwartz on Thursday, February 11th, Sailor Valentine's made with shells and other ocean items at the South Street Seaport Museum on Saturday, Febraury 14th, and Chocolate for Tinies at Chocolate and I, New York on Saturday, February 14th.

Seems like you can't go wrong with whatever event you chose. We'll be hitting the Big City Mom events, so maybe we'll see you there!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Sippy Cuteness: MAM Baby's New Products

I have to say that I totally heart Austrian-based MAM (pronounced "Mom") products. Pooka and I have been through several bottle styles, but really fell hard for the MAM Anti-Colic bottles. Unlike most of the other anti-colic choices on the market, MAM bottles are super easy to take apart and clean without needing specialized brushes or worrying about tiny pieces growing mold where I can't see it. This is especially important to me because I don't have a dishwasher or sterilizer in my tiny NYC kitchen. The bottles have a great nipple style (they refer to them as teats) that mimic Mama's own and is designed to be harmonious with breast feeding. We never had a problem with switching between breast and bottle with our MAM's. I should also mention that the bottles are very cute, coming in pink, purple, aqua and light blue.

New to the market for MAM is a line of sippy cups. The lovely ladies I met from MAM sent me the new sippy's to test and we adore them. You can start with the Hold Me Bottle as a transition from breast or bottle towards sippy cups. Then move on to the Trainer Cup with perfect sized handles for wee ones and a hybrid nipple/sippy spout. Pooka is using this one frequently now, and can even tilt it up and hold it by herself. The final stage is the Learn to Drink Cup which has a harder spout and no handles. Pooka is just starting to try this cup. They became available in stores last month, so go out and get yourself one and be the first on your block to have one.

MAM has tons of other great products to check out like their famous pacifiers. We sampled the new Air Pacifier that is open around the mouth so the skin can breathe and reduce rashes from frequent paci use. Other products we love are the Starter and Clip teether and Massaging Brush for sore gums and first teeth. Oh, and I forgot to mention that all MAM products are BPA free! What's not to love?

Monday, February 1, 2010

What I really needed at the Hospital

Every pregnancy book, birth book or website has a helpful list of the things you will need to take to the hospital. They are very helpful because, thanks to pregnancy brain, remembering to pack things like your toothbrush or comfy socks might get lost in the shuffle. On the other hand, there are tons of things that you might not ever need, and how big of a bag do you plan to take? The most important thing to remember is that what every mama will need is different based on the type of birth they are planning. We were hoping for a natural birth and packed many items to help with pain management. In the end we were induced (Pooka had no fluid left to swim in) and after 12 hours of Cervidil and 7 hours of Pitocin with zero progress I took an epidural, which made many of the comfort items we packed obsolete. If you are planning to use pain medication or have a scheduled c-section you may not need essential oils, a massage ball, or hot/cold packs. The list I am making here is based on my experience, but should apply to every birth scenario. It is designed to supplement the more extensive list you get from those books and websites.

1. Pillows, Pillows, Pillows: Check with your hospital to see how many pillows are available in your delivery room. Ours literally only gave one per mama, and they were flat as pancakes. Perhaps your hospital will give you several, but if they don't make sure to bring your own. I brought two, but wish I had brought four. Sounds crazy, right? But I would have given my right pinky toe for a couple more before I took that epidural. Besides, you may be at the hospital for a few days and having some creature comforts like your pillow from home may soothe your tired soul. Oh, and make sure if you do bring a favorite pillow that it has a pillow case you don't care about because things do get messy with all that birthing going on!

2. Towels: You know how those towels at the gym barely cover your essential parts? Our hospital had the same size towels, and they didn't even begin to cover my ample pregnancy assets. I brought a big fluffy towel from home and was thankful for it after every shower during the four days and three nights we spent at the hospital. Again, bring an old towel if you are worried about any stains. In fact, just looking at that towel makes me shudder a bit so you may want to toss it when you get home.

3. iPod with Speakers: I made two playlists for the hospital. The first was gentle but upbeat music laced with songs that made me happy and meant something to me, like our wedding song and songs from concerts my husband and I attened. The second playlist was composed of my favorite lullabies from Rockabye Baby. We used both playlists during labor and after delivery. The doctor and nurses especially liked the lullabies and asked us about them when they were in our room. We had also played the same music for a few weeks prior to Pooka's birth so playing them in the hospital gave her a sense of continuity. Make sure to bring battery operated speakers and plenty of extra batteries, because most hospitals won't let you plug anything in.

4. Cozy Sweatshirt: I frequently felt cold at the hospital and was so grateful I had brought along a 3/4 length tie-front sweatshirt from Lululemon. I'm not a bathrobe wearer so having this sweatshirt was key. I wore it while walking the halls during labor, and later while nursing my newbie.

5. Comfy Socks and Slip-On Shoes: Bending over to put on shoes after you deliver is not easy, particularly if you have a c-section. So bring some big fluffy socks with grippy traction on them so you can head to the bathroom during the night without having to put on shoes. But you will want shoes when you venture out of your room so make sure they can easily slip on. Again, there is a possibility of them getting stained so you may not want to bring brand new Ugg slippers!

6. Breastfeeding Book: Unfortunately our hospital did not have a lactation consultant on duty, but the baby nurses were very knowledgeable when we needed help getting Pooka latched. But I also wanted to remember all the little tips and tricks I had learned at my breastfeeding class and from the books I had read. And by the way, I dragged my husband to our breastfeeding class (he was one of two men there). It was much easier than having him ask a hundred questions after the baby was born, and he was able to provide an extra level of support. We brought The Nursing Mother's Companion by Katherine Huggins with us and we both referred to it regularly over the three days we were in the hospital.

7. Fashionable Hospital Gown: So I know this sounds crazy, but having my own cute yellow and pink polka dot hospital gown to slip into after the birth was like a tonic for my soul and made our first memories with Pooka picture perfect. By picture perfect I mean literally, since pics of Mama, Dada and baby were being snapped left and right and I wasn't sporting a crappy hospital issued gown. It was also perfect because the nurses still had appropriate access to my IV, etc, and it was super easy to breastfeed in because the shoulders quickly unsnap. My family thought I was neurotic for purchasing my own gown, but then again I labored and gave birth in my own tank top and Binsi Birthing Skirt because I hate hospital gowns that much. But hey, I wasn't there because I was sick, I was there to have one of the most memorable moments of my life and I wanted to look good doing it! Just note that the birth process can be very messy, so you may not want to actually give birth in your cute hospital gown (the Old Navy Maternity tank top I wore was very stained and had to be cut off of me after the birth because of my IV). There are several cute options for hospital gowns, including Peanut Shell, Dear Johnnies, and B.Y.O.G. (I had the Lemon Drop pattern).

8. Baby Bottle and Pacifier: Pooka is breastfeed and has never taken a pacifier, but she does take a bottle on occasion. Before she was born I was completely against giving her a bottle or pacifier until she was at least a few weeks old and past the point of nipple confusion. But despite our best laid plans I wasn't producing much milk yet and Pooka wasn't peeing (it's a requirement for your baby to pee before you are released from the hospital), so the nurses began feeding her formula. Luckily our hospital was just a few blocks from our apartment and a family member was able to fetch our bottle of choice. If she had to drink formula I wanted her to have the most breast-like bottle. The same goes for pacifiers. If there is a particular brand you want your baby to use introduce it at the hospital.

9. Multiple Baby Outfits: So you obviously know that you need a going home outfit for your wee one, but I would bring more than one. First, if you stay at the hospital for a few days you might want your little one to wear something other than white during that time. But more importantly, you can never be sure what will actually fit. Pooka was expected to be over 7 lbs based on level 2 scans we had the last few weeks, but in reality she was less than 6 lbs. I had brought three outfits, but only the absolute smallest one worked for her. Other friends have unexpectedly had 9 lb babies when they were expecting 8 lbs. So make sure to pack a good size range so you'll be sure to have something that fits.

10. Baby Nail Clippers: I think this is totally odd, but our hospital would not clip Pooka's nails. And believe me, she had some serious daggers when she was born. Again, we had a family member bring a set from home but you should probably just throw a pair in your bag just in case.

11. Olive Oil: So you probably know that baby's first poohs are called meconium, and are tarlike and sticky. They can be very difficult to clean off your wee ones bum. A touch of olive oil can make things a lot easier. Apply a little with each change to keep the meconium from sticking and those first diaper changes will be a breeze!

As I mentioned previously, this is not meant to be an extensive list, but a supplementary list. There are many other things you may need, and probably a few that you won't. Things I didn't use included makeup, and the cute going home dress (I opted for my Lululemon pants and did my mom ever put on makeup and a dress?). I also brought Booby Tubes for breast engorgement, but didn't have good access to a microwave and ended up using hot wash clothes instead. I think in the end the lighter you make your bag the happier you'll be. There are also a few things you'll need once you get home, so stay tuned for a later post!

Photos of Pooka taken at the hospital by Hannah Hardaway Photography.