Baby

Starting solids: A mixed bag

Just thought I’d share these funny photos of our first shot at starting solids (rice cereal) with Georgia this past week. If I figure out how to do this better, I’ll post about that. In the meantime, I’ll be washing a lot of bibs. Happy New Year!

Holidays

38 Christmas Food Hacks

Merry almost-Christmas-Eve, everyone! This was on Buzzfeed last year, but I never got to share it. It’s genius. In particular, I love anything involving the slow cooker, so I am definitely going to try the coconut hot chocolate idea. Thought you’d all enjoy something light-hearted as the big day approaches, with all that entails 🙂 Enjoy your families, make time for friends, and cook up some good food.

Frozen whipped cream dollops for hot chocolate, anyone?
Large-batch French toast to feed a crowd on Christmas morning!

Read all 38 clever hacks here.

Baby · Holidays · Pregnancy

Eco-friendly baby gifts

Sending a care package a new mom’s way, or putting together a gift for a new arrival this holiday season? Here are my fave picks for the eco-conscious, non-toxic and environmentally friendly baby and mama. These are all companies and products we use and love for our family. But first, Georgia’s first visit to Santa!

Now on to the gift ideas you came here for.

Under the Nile

underthenile.com

This company makes one of Georgia’s favorite loveys, the pink baby buddy. All of their products are organic, from apparel to toys, and they also use PVC-free dyes. None of their products include flame retardants, Formaldehyde or other chemical fabric finishings.

Baby Soy

babysoyusa.com

We love their kimono style outfits. This green clothing line is made from sustainable and organic soybean fiber, making them soft on baby and low impact on the planet. The kimono line is their signature, and makes for cozy sleepwear with easy diaper access and convenient fold-over sleeve mittens to prevent overnight face scratches from flailing little hands. We also love their soft, knotted hats, especially for sleep.

Georgia has this in purple with pink trim.
Georgia has this in purple with pink trim.

NaturePedic

NaturePedic.com

This is where we got Georgia’s mattress (and mattress pad). It is certified organic and Greenguard certified (meaning it’s been tested for chemical emissions) and free of allergens. It meets all crib regulations, also fits a toddler bed, and is made in the USA. Best of all, it’s comfortable and firm and she loves sleeping on it. A mattress and mattress pad weren’t things I was willing to compromise on, since she spends more than half her living hours breathing them in.

LifeFactory

lifefactory.com

Creators of shatterproof glass baby bottles with colorful silicone sleeves, LifeFactory designs their products to grow with your child, so you can add a sippy cup top for toddlers and eventually a regular flat cap. There are tons of colors to choose from.

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The Honest Company

honest.com

I love, love, LOVE their products. I started out using their laundry detergent because I’m sensitive to fragrances and other ingredients in commercial soap, and now that I’ve had a baby I use nothing else. We tried and loved their diapers & wipes, and now I purchase my household cleaning products from them, too. That way, I don’t have to worry about fumes or residue affecting Georgia (or me, as a breastfeeding mom) when I clean our counters, toilets and windows. In fact, their stain remover is so amazing that I was able to get a HUGE smear of black ink — from a dropped mascara wand — out of our white nursery carpet(!) Find their “welcome baby” gift package here. I also use their antibacterial hand gel at Georgia’s changing table and in my diaper bag, and at bath time their baby wash and body oil is all we use. I even use those two products on my own body so that I don’t put any toxic chemicals near her little mouth while nursing!

Honest makes a badass diaper cake with 92 newborn diapers and essential baby products in the center. What a shower gift!
The Honest Company makes a badass diaper cake with 92 newborn diapers and essential baby products tucked in the center. What a shower gift!

Anna Naturals Tea

drinkmamatea.com

Teas that are usually recommended for nursing moms are, in a word, nasty. Not these. With organic blends for preconception, childbirth recovery, nursing and weaning, there’s an option for every stage of pre- and postpartum life.

MightyNest.com

mightynest.com

The “mindful gifts” offered at this site are free of lead paint,  heavy metals, and Formaldehyde, and are hand-picked for any age range you’re looking to buy for. Parents of school-aged children can even donate a portion of their purchase to their own district’s classrooms.

Sophie the Giraffe

Georgia can’t get enough of this teether. She loved cuddling and nuzzling it before she was teething, and now it provides a safe, soothing surface to gnaw on when her gums are sore. Free of phthalates and BPA, Sophie features natural rubber and food-based paint that naturally wears away over time. Each one is hand-painted so they are all unique! Available at most baby stores, including Babies R’ Us and on Amazon.

Babies love to chew on her feet, nose, mouth, ears…

Aden + Anais

adenandanais.com

Their organic crib sheets, changing pad covers and easy swaddlers have a trusted place in our nursery. They are available at Babies R’ Us and Amazon. Read more about why I like them in this post about newborn essentials.

California Baby

californiababy.com

We use their calming natural and organic products, especially the diaper rash cream, on G before she does her overnights. It prevents rash from wetness when she’s sleeping the longest. It has a lovely peppermint scent that really is soothing. All their products are certified organic, made in the US, allergen tested and free of peanuts, soy and dairy, with no animal testing. You can find their products at Target or Amazon.

Angel Dear blankies

angeldear.net

Georgia has two of these: an elephant and a bear, both pink. (See her cuddling one of them in this post). This San Francisco-based company is committed to organic fibers and their products are luxuriously soft to the touch. I wish I had gotten G a curved pillow to match her blankies, because I think it would have come in so handy with tummy time!

Georgia loves cuddling this elephant blanket.

A Mighty Girl

amightygirl.com

This awesome site, dedicated to matching parents with empowering, educational and fun toys for girls, has lots to choose from — but I particularly think it’s cool that they have an entire guide to children’s books about the environment. Check it out.

Baby Gap Organics

We have a new baby coming into our extended family this year right after Christmas, and I’m loving some of Baby Gap’s organic cotton gift sets for the little guy or gal (it’s going to be a surprise). This collection takes gender-neutral baby clothing beyond the realm of green and yellow, which is one reason I love it!

I also love this handmade plush toy from ABCHome, and I really want this frame from Pottery Barn Kids to commemorate G’s first year. It’s so beautiful.

What are your favorite products and brands? Did I miss any?

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I am not affiliated with or endorsed by any of these companies. In some cases, clicking specific product links will earn me a small commission. I never recommend any brand or item I don’t believe in and personally use.

Baby · Beauty & Fashion · Books · Holidays

My Christmas Wish List…

…has a definite postpartum, new mama theme to it! 

This year, I decided to finally make a Christmas list on Amazon, and in keeping with my new life philosophy, it’s what I would call carefully edited. Most of the items are designed to help me organize myself or get back into fighting shape after having this (beautiful) baby. Such as:

Chewbeads

These are designed to look like real jewelry, but they give teething babies something appropriate to put in their mouths, instead of your expensive diamond necklace (or your hair, which you should probably cut above shoulder length).

Workout DVDs for exercising at home

I’ve heard great things about both of these tapes from other new moms, and you know I loved Tracy Anderson: The Pregnancy Project.

A quesadilla maker for simple weeknight dinners

A novel, because some day I’d like to read for pleasure again

Jhumpa Lahiri is seriously one of my favorite authors. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read her other books, especially Interpreter of Maladies, which made me love short stories again.

Two cookbooks that I think look awesome

Button-down pajamas for easy night nursing

JCrew, $95, 30% off with code PRESENTS

iPad Air

I know, I’m the last person on the planet to buy a tablet. (My Nook Simple Touch doesn’t count, but I do love it). I should never have tried this one at the Apple store…but Mark insisted! And now I can’t stop thinking about it! (PS what do you all think of Mark’s new website design? I’m still tweaking it, but that was one of the few non-baby things I got done during my maternity leave. That and selling a bunch of old furniture on Craigslist).

iPad-Air
I’m telling myself it’s to help me be more efficient with work and blogging.

Of course, what I really need this year is a LOT of new clothes.

My wardrobe wish list includes slimming & stretchy jeggings and leggings, long sweaters that won’t ride up on love handles, feminine blouses that can be tucked in to hide a post-preggo pooch, comfortable yet pretty cotton underwear, low boots that add a bit of height without making me unstable while carting around Georgia, and plenty of skirts and dresses for work, because (ahem) I still haven’t reunited with most of my pants yet. I’m employing the same sartorial tactics I used to conceal my morning sickness (read: diversion) to distract from my as-yet-undefined post-baby body. Where I once used scarves, earrings and patterned tights to draw attention away from my sickly pallor and bloated mid-section in early pregnancy, I’m now making sure that I look my best even when I feel like a whole different person by keeping my hair trimmed, getting my nails manicured, and having fun with the bold lip colors and chunky necklaces. Oh, and I’m buying lots of flats. Lots and lots…and lots…of flats.

I also decided to buy a couple of my favorite jeans in a size larger on consignment to save some money until I lost the baby weight, and I found TWO pairs in my size on the site ThredUp. Each pair was like 10 or 15 bucks, so for less than $20 including shipping I was able to replace two pairs of pre-pregnancy pants that cost $70 new at The Gap! You can also send things TO this site by pre-ordering a free “clean out” bag from them, and I plan to do this for the clothes that just don’t work for me post-baby.

But back to Christmas shopping.

Here are a few other fun finds from Etsy that I’d love to get for myself or someone else on my shopping list this year:

Good Fortune 14K yellow gold plate necklace by EmilyEJewelry
Mint Gold and Ocean Blue statement necklace by ShopNestled
Makeup organizer and docking station by CitizenGoodsCo
Purple chunky knit infinity scarf by DayDays

I actually made my mother-in-law a chunky cowl like that for Christmas two years ago. It’s a super easy pattern — maybe I’ll post about it in the future! I love making Christmas gifts. This year, I designed a few ornaments and photo books on Shutterfly, and I should really solicit them for a commission with all the mentions I’ve posted on here lately 🙂

How about you — what are you asking for, and giving, this holiday season?

Uncategorized

Back to work

Well. I went back to work this week. The parts I thought would be difficult were a piece of cake; conversely, I was blindsided by things I hadn’t anticipated.

She's usually asleep at drop-off AND pick-up :(
She’s usually asleep at drop-off AND pick-up 😦

I thought I would cry when Mark dropped me off at the train. I was actually fine, and getting back to the office felt like I’d just been on vacation for a couple weeks. But finding clothes that fit and are flattering every morning has been difficult, and Georgia has been waking up at different times every day — anywhere from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. — which makes it hard to figure out when to shower, blow dry, do my makeup, etc. I know it’s been hard on Mark to get up and play with her while I’m getting ready, since he’s used to sleeping in after working late at night. I know we will figure it out in time.

How I prepped

Getting lunches, dinners, snacks and breakfasts ready ahead of time was essential. Thankfully my Mom came over the Sunday before I went back (since Mark works weekends, often until very late at night) to help me prep. She did my laundry, helped me clean my house and do the dishes, and just generally served as a second brain so I wouldn’t forget to pack anything. Even better, she played with Georgia when she wasn’t napping, so that I could focus a little bit on getting one thing done without any interruptions.

My friends at work offered to bring me breakfast that first day, which I thought was very sweet 🙂 And I had a couple presents waiting for me when I got back to my desk — check them out in my office! Pretty, right?

Two colleagues treated me to welcome back plants on Monday-- a Christmas tree and a bunch of blooms!
Two colleagues treated me to welcome back plants on Monday — a Christmas tree and a beautiful bunch of blooms!

My dad & stepmom also helped out by dropping off some pre-made dinners the day I went back, and by subtly checking in on my husband during his first day home at what he calls “Daddy Day Care.” He did great, actually. I left him detailed instructions and prepped all the bottles, bibs and toys he would need that first day, and he took it from there. I’m so blessed to say they they are getting on great together every day, which makes it easier for me to be back at work even though I miss her so much while I’m gone. In fact, I stayed home on Thursday, and found to my dismay that she already prefers his style of eating and going down for naps. I was nothing but a huge disruption!

I’ll be posting the recipes for what I made myself to eat for breakfast for the week very soon.

Since I’m pumping midday, to facilitate better nursing success and to help keep my milk supply up, I did the following:

  • Brought instant oatmeal, which helps maintain milk supply
  • Carried a reusable water bottle everywhere, for the same reason
  • Packed clementines, cheddar cheese, yogurt, granola bars and dark chocolate to snack on, since breastfeeding makes you famished (and you need the extra calories to produce enough milk).

I made myself my favorite Tropical Smoothie also, and I pre-made some Risotto for Mark to have around the house for lunches and early dinners before work every night. I know how hard it is to make yourself lunch at home when the baby is there. When it’s just me, I eat these awesome Campbell’s Go Soups — you heat them right in the bag and can pour them into a bowl one-handed — and for this upcoming week I am going to make Mark a Shepherd’s Pie. All he’ll have to do is reheat it, and it’s nice and filling. You can make it meat-free, too. (The soups are great for me because they help keep up your milk supply).

Pumping at work

This has been a challenge. Between remembering the ice pack and the Pump, to figuring out when to charge it and how to clean it, I’ve been juggling a lot of logistics. And that’s before having to beat people away from my desk with a stick in order to get to the privacy room in our office! I feel lucky that we have a dedicated lactation room, and so far I’ve been able to get there every day by 1 p.m. to pump. My yield has, unfortunately, been going down a little bit every day, so I may have to go twice a day or just make sure I’m eating and drinking (and minimizing stress) enough, as all those things can affect supply.

This breastfeeding thing is no joke.

Georgia at 16 weeks

She is amazing. Still so sweet, so fun to be with, and a pretty good sleeper (though not every night is a breeze to be sure). These shots were taken on Thanksgiving Day at Mark’s grandfather’s house in New Bedford. We also got some great pictures with her two cousins! My sister-in-law is due with their third baby in early January, so by the New Year Georgia will have three little cousins to grow up with. To think that less than three years ago there were no babies in the family! Life is amazing sometimes.

Baby · Beauty & Fashion · Pregnancy

Our Maternity Photos

Back in July, I convinced Mark to have some maternity portraits taken. Though he was hesitant at first, I think he’s glad I convinced him to do it. Now we have a record of this very special time in our life, and even better, we can show it to Georgia some day when she’s older!

DSC3523-Mark-and-Amanda-Holding-Booties-Portrait

At the time, I was about to no longer fit in any of my shoes or jewelry, and I felt awkward and clumsy. Now, when I look at these photos, I think: “what shiny hair and clear skin!” and, “How well-RESTED we look!”

Yup, we told them the name for this shot -- they were sworn to secrecy!
Yup, we told them the name for this shot — they were sworn to secrecy! And my mom made these booties. How beautiful are they??

Click here to see the Shutterfly photo book I made of our shoot.

Special thanks to our friends Scott and Jena of Dengrove Studios in New York for providing our maternity shoot last July in the Boston Public Garden.