Thinker Contest: Interpret That Masterpiece!!

I’ve been endlessly amused lately by my 3 year old’s long and detailed explanations of her drawings. Her art became an after hours guessing game with Daddy for a while – the ultimate how well do you know your child showdown – but he knows her too well, it was way too easy for him. I was expecting a lot more creativity, a lot more comedy. Then I realized I just needed different players for this game. (Plus I have a wonderful prize from Starbucks that I need a reason to give away!).

O drawing 2

So here’s the rules: 1. Follow me on Twitter @ThinkerMommy, 2. Follow me on Pinterest and 3. Leave a comment below with your best guess at what the drawing above depicts. The person whose comment most closely matches the description my daughter gave for this original piece of art will win. And if this guessing game turns out to be far easier than I expected and more than one person gets it “right,” I will give extra points for creativity (and/or use a random number generator) to select the winner. P.S. #1 and #2 aren’t totally required (like if you don’t have a Twitter account or you don’t use Pinterest, don’t let that stop you from entering) but please follow me on those sites otherwise, I’d really appreciate it!

The winner gets a 10 oz bag of ground Holiday Blend coffee from Starbucks and 2 stacking peppermint-striped Starbucks mugs (12oz).

Note: Only 1 bag of coffee is included in the prize - I had to sample the other one.

Note: Only 1 bag of coffee is included in the prize – I had to sample the other one.

How to Recycle Your Old Changing Table

We stopped using my daughter’s changing table around the time she started wearing pull-ups, but we kept it for months afterwards because it was working well enough as a mini dresser. The bins were easy for her to access and the socks & undies drawer underneath the pad was high enough to keep little brother from pulling everything out over & over again (his favorite game elsewhere). But that big open space on top was WAY too convenient – it was a magnet for junk, so I knew we had to get rid of it. It was also time O got a real dresser anyway – those bins were looking smaller and smaller every year. (P.S. I took the picture below after I had already started trying to peel off the reusable stickers – there used to be 2 on the drawer as you can probably tell. There was also a third bin on the top shelf – snatched by a child at picture time – and a soft green minky changing pad cover that looked really nice all together).

changing table before

The Changing Table: Before

As you may remember (and if not, click here), our changing table already went through one small transformation when we painted it white. So I was all ready to give it a touch-up and find someone else with a new baby who could use it. But once I took the pad off, I noticed that we must have exceeded the weight limit at some point because the wood base underneath the pad was totally cracked and near collapse – scary! The drawer was also in worse shape than I thought (probably from rough toddler handling), so I was resigning myself to having to throw the whole thing in the trash when my husband came up with a brilliant idea…

The Changing Table: After

The Changing Table: After

Yeah, he cut it in half; and it literally took less than 1 minute with a power saw. Now we have a brand new coffee table/ train table (which coincided well with a certain Christmas gift) which has a handy rim to prevent rolling vehicles from escaping AND storage underneath for toys. Since our previous outside-the-bedroom storage solution had been a giant tupperware bin (which you can actually see in the photo below), I was very happy with this new upcycle. The giant bin would have fit underneath the new coffee table, but we thought the smaller bins would cause less frustration (and, fingers crossed, less mess) when the kids are seeking and removing other toys. I am still on the hunt for prettier bins though – the green and blue bins we previous had there (which I like a lot more) were moved to the top of O’s new wardrobe since they match her room really well.

changing table collage

Coffee Table: hideout and butt elevator? yoga positioner?

My son obviously has other ideas about the new changing table coffee table. (And no, he didn’t fall. He crawled off the edge, positioned himself as so and stayed that way for about 5 minutes). Whatever makes him happy. :)

I was hoping to turn the top half of the changing table into something; it was too big for a doll bed, possibly a play kitchen somehow? But due to space constraints, weather too cold to work outside in, and the already damaged frame, although I was sad to do it, we had to throw out the top. However, if you do something similar and come up with a good use for the top half of your old changing table, I’d love to see it!

Until next time, Happy New Year everyone.

The First Christmas Eve You’ll Remember

xmas countdown frameChristmas Eve, AKA crunch time. Now that one of my babies is old enough to believe in Santa and all other sorts of wonderful magical things, this is our first Christmas where every little detail matters. I do not want a heartbroken child because Mommy forgot to remind her to sprinkle her bag of reindeer food outside (um, Santa sometimes comes back the next night to feed his reindeer….?). And 3 year olds are savvy; I was just asked why the Santa who was waving on the side of the road wasn’t there again the next day (He went back to the North Pole to get ready for Christmas… but sometimes he comes back to the malls for photo opps? Crap.). There are so many questions I’ve never even thought of – I can’t adequately prepare for this!!

Another reason I’m probably so concerned about everything being perfect is that I didn’t celebrate Christmas when I was a child. So besides the fact that I’m reliving my own childhood (I really really really love this holiday), there’s a ton of activities I’ve never EVER done before, even after starting to celebrate myself as an adult: leaving out cookies for Santa, reading a Christmas book the night before, packing our Santa Sack full of old toys for other little girls and boys (Santa takes it as a kind of exchange), scattering reindeer food, making and leaving out a Santa Key since we don’t have a chimney – these are all new to me too. And as if the plate wasn’t already full, we couldn’t forget the Xmas traditions my husband and I have had for years before kids: driving around to see our neighbor’s light displays, leaving cookies for our mail carrier (Mr. Mailman gets a bag decorated with LOTS of stickers this year), and playing my collection of Christmas CDs on repeat. Phew. Fingers crossed I didn’t forget anything.

xmas wrapping 2013

But really, nothing says tradition for me like procrastination. Normally I love watching presents start piling up under the tree as the advent calendar gets emptier. But this year, my youngest is teething and nothing has been safe from his jaws of doom – so we thought it better to leave all the gifts hidden as long as possible. Unfortunately, I learned it’s also pretty easy to wait/forget to wrap gifts when you know Santa is bringing them all on Christmas. Soooo… I have a lot of wrapping to do. Time to pull out the coffee!!

This year I’m going with Starbucks’ Holiday Blend. During our first taste test, my husband said (insert Jersey accent): “It tastes like coffee. It wakes me up. I like it.” Clearly it’s up to me to be more specific. If you’ve never tried the Holiday Blend, it is much more mellow and less spicy than Starbucks’ Christmas blend. The package says “Soft and Layered” and that it’s a medium roast, but to my not-so-refined taste buds, I’d say it’s similar to a breakfast blend. As I got to work, I spiked my Starbucks with hot cocoa and peppermint marshmallows – instant Christmas café au chocolat! Thank you, coffee, for keeping me going until, wow, midnight. Just a few more packages to go, but I had to take a break and write this. Don’t want to risk repetitive action injuries… (I swear this isn’t more procrastination). Now where are Santa’s cookies?

Merry Christmas!

I was lucky enough to be sent product to sample from Starbucks. However, the comments and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own. I was not paid for this blog post.

Holiday Gift Guide 2013

The best gift guides are ones that people actually purchase from right? So here’s what we’re getting and giving this Christmas:

b toys teepee blue1. Although I think a $249 play teepee from Pottery Barn Kids is beautiful, that is way more than I want to spend on a single Christmas gift for a kid under 5 years old. This version by B. toys, though, is only $39.99 and includes a star-projecting lantern inside! I’ve honestly never seen a teepee for under $100. Plus it looks like it’ll last longer than the cardboard castles and playhouse we’ve gotten in the past (although those were great to color on!).

hape-ukelele-red2. My 3 year old loves making noise… er, music. Instead of getting another electronic toy that plays automatically with the push of a button (of which she has tons), we thought this year she might enjoy something a little more individually powered. This tunable, 21″ Baltic birch & maple ukelele by Hape grows with your child if they wants to keep honing their skills. And at $29.95, it’s cheaper than most wooden guitars (in case the love is short-lived).

piggy paint orange3. This is more of a stocking stuffer, but we’re definitely getting some Piggy Paint non-toxic nail polish in Mac-n-Cheese Please – their most Vibrant, Pumpkin Orange and O’s favorite color. But, of course, there are lots more colors and sets to choose from (the Fancies and Frills set and Jingle Nail Rock sets are especially cute). I did my research and have used Piggy Paint since I was pregnant so I feel safe using their low odor, water based formula for both me and my young daughter. merida plush doll

4. I have a soft spot for all things Disney. It hasn’t completely taken hold in my children yet, but I’m pretty sure once they start watching the movies, it’s only a matter of time (of course, we may need a trip to Disneyland to cement the love, haha). In the meantime, I’m completely in love with these all-soft, 18 to 21 inch Disney character dolls. I love the large-but-not-too-large size, their creative fabric hairstyles that will never tangle, and their cuddly bodies. I’m stocking my son and daughter’s toy boxes with Woody, Rapunzel, Captain Hook, Cinderella, Flynn Rider, Merida & more. Plus frequent sales (including the Black Friday weekend prices happening now) often take these dolls from $19.95 each to under $10!!

Dyson Toy Vacuum5. Both my kids love whenever I pull out the vacuum: when they were babies, I swear the sound would put them to sleep, and when they got older, they’d crawl around the room following it, throwing a fit when I finally turned it off. My oldest has asked to help vacuum a number of times (yes, please!) but the large Dyson is hard to handle at her height. So, when I found a near identical, mini version of our red Dyson, I knew it had to be ours. This cool toy can even suck up little pieces of paper which will delight my kids. But this is just a toy, not an actual vacuum cleaner – from the reviews I’ve read, as long as you keep that in mind, it’s a pretty great gift.

6. We’ve had quite a few failures with blocks. I never bought plain wooden blocks because I’ve known too soft foam blocksmany people who’ve gotten hurt on those hard wooden corners and I was worried about them being thrown. So in my search for alternatives, first we had the set of giant Lego-like eco blocks that were impossible to separate and hard for kids under 3 to push together – oops. Then, we had the slightly smaller Lego-like blocks that refused to stick together making life frustrating for a little girl who wanted to walk around with her creations. But on a recent playdate, I found these soft foam Wonder Blocks which seemed like the answer to my prayers – no interlocking pieces and no worries about tall towers falling on someone’s head.

my pal scout7. My one year old really doesn’t need much, but he has a serious soft spot for puppies. So this year, his big gift is an oldie but a goodie: The My Pal Scout doll from Leapfrog. This toy has been around a while but it’s still on the shelves because moms and kids love it: you can customize Scout so he’ll say your child’s name and a few other fun personalized things, he sings songs, plays games and is easy to use. I hope the lullaby feature will help with naptime once Bugaboo stops nursing too. Kiwi Crate box

8. Last but not least, my daughter has an aching love of craft boxes. We already get monthly boxes from Kiwi Crate and BabbaCo but each box only lasts a few days and the months are long. So, I’ve put a few subscription sites on our Christmas wish list: M is for Monster, The Little Thinker Box and CareFree Crafts all look really promising.

Happy Black Friday shopping!

Ending Breastfeeding, Weaning Mommy

I read a lot about breastfeeding before having both my babies but I don’t remember seeing much about the weaning period beyond: “Stop when you’re ready to stop,” “Gradually decrease the number of nursing sessions,” or the less helpful, “Just breastfeed as long as possible.” Well, Bugaboo is over a year old and certainly showing no signs of stopping, but mama is ready. So what now?

We’ve been nursing before naps and at bedtime, often (unfortunately) in the middle of the night too. Skipping nursing sessions usually only works if my husband is home. If I’m holding him, Bug literally pulls the neck of my shirt to try to cram his head in, face first. In less desperate moments, he just sticks his (usually cold) hands down the neck of my shirt. I get the message loud and clear: nurse now or your shirts will never be acceptable to wear out in public again! (Yeah, he knows my kryptonite).

Sure, you say, I just need to buck up and let him cry a little. It won’t really last very long and he’ll get over it. But here’s the kicker – when I do give in and nurse my baby, my toddler actually, I always get the same reaction: his eyelids flutter, his eyes roll back a little, and he breathes out a tiny moan of total pleasure along with a deep sigh as though I’d been starving him for days and broke his fast with a 5 star dessert. He is so completely content and it’s the simplest thing I could possibly do – really I just sit there and enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted reading time. I don’t usually feel the typical “mommy guilt,” but that does it. Why on earth would I take nursing away from him?

Because I want my boobs back, for one. Because I have a bunch of very cute non-nursing bras waiting for me. Because my son very slowly increases the pressure with his teeth so that by the end of many nursing sessions, I have four well-defined marks around my nipple. Because I’m scared he’ll still be nursing years from now (I have no problem with moms who nurse older kids, I just don’t want to do it myself). And because I want to sleep through the night for once!

It turns out none of those reasons are good enough to break the spell my son has on me, though. I still haven’t done much proactively to wean my son. I guess I’m really hoping my son will just decide on his own that he’s done with nursing and it’ll be a nice, peaceful transition. That happens sometimes, right?

Halloween Photo Contest from PicMonkey

picmonkey_halloween_contest1
I absolutely love PicMonkey and use it constantly (as you’ve probably seen), so when they contacted me to help promote their Halloween photo contest, I said Yes! Yes! In exchange I got to play with the full features of their Royale premium membership.

Here’s the contest nitty gritty: PicMonkey is going to choose the most creative Halloween pictures in each of 3 categories: scary, cute, and funny. The 3 winners get a free year of Royale premium membership! To enter, just use PicMonkey’s FREE photo editing tools to monster-fy one of your photos, then share it on one or more of the social sites below, tagged with #PicMonkeyBOO (the hashtag let’s them find your entry, so don’t forget it!).

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Muzy
  • WeHeartIt
  • Flickr
  • Google Plus

The contest ends at 11:59pm PST on Tuesday, October 22th, 2013 so you definitely need to jump on this, but with PicMonkey’s simple tools, you can make your photos Halloween-tastic in about an hour or 2 (depending on your perfectionistic tendencies). Read the complete contest details here.

I’ve used PicMonkey’s free tools in the past to brighten up my iPhone pictures, add text and watermarks, make collages, change the style of a photo with lots of contrast, add helpful arrows, block out unwanted faces/bellies, etc. But with a paid Royale premium membership, you really get to kick your photos up a notch. In the Halloween themes, access to Royale features means you can use gashes and slashes, veins, extra scary eyes, the tooth decay tool, monster morph (which I used to create arched eyebrows), more realistic images of bats, lots of extra backgrounds, and more!

Royale membership opens up non-Halloween-themed tools too though. I especially liked playing with the wrinkle remover, eye brightener, mascara (so cool!), the better text fonts, sunglasses (hilarious), and the clone tool that I haven’t totally mastered yet but basically helps you remove or add things from your photos without it looking like you did so (so you don’t have to cover them up with stickers).

So now it’s time for the proof, my little vampire and zombie baby courtesy of PicMonkey’s awesome photo editing tools. Their zombie-loving Daddy is so proud …

O and O Monster Faces 3

But to prove my children really aren’t devil spawn (probably), here’s the before picture.  ;)

Give PicMonkey a try, it’s easier than you think, you’ll have a ton of fun and I swear you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Good luck!!

together happy faces

Halloween!!!!

halloween collage

Halloween 2012 as the Sesame Street Family

Every year, when we go to our adorable local zoo for their annual trick or treating event, there are hundreds of children in costume and maybe 10 parents dressed up. I don’t know, it just seems like such a waste – why not? Are you really going to be embarrassed in front of  kids that are totally fine with a ridiculous molted Easter bunny costume on some random person at the mall? Think it’s too much work? There are companies who are wholly dedicated to making Halloween ridiculously easy – enter the T-shirt costume (here’s one example). And there’s this thing called Google – just type in “easy Halloween costume.” Boom. But how about just simple memory making? You only get so many years where your kids aren’t embarrassed to be seen with you. So 11 Halloweens? 12? And then you’ve lost the opportunity.

Here’s another argument: most activities are way more fun in a group. The more the merrier, as the saying goes. Plus kids LOVE seeing their parents be silly. You know how they think it’s hilarious when you put something on your head that’s not supposed to be there? (no? try a cereal bowl, you’ll see). Well, imagine what a kick they’d get out of seeing you in costume! Add to that letting your children have a little bit of say in what you choose to dress up as and you’ve got excitement for weeks.

I love the holidays – even if we take the cheater’s way out sometimes, we still make an effort. Last year, we decided O would go as Cookie Monster and Number 2 as Elmo. I found a sexy Oscar the Grouch costume for adults (because non-sexy costumes don’t exist) but since I was 2 months postpartum, exhausted and it was like 50 degrees, I just took the cute trash can headpiece and picked out a green ensemble. I really wanted Daddy to accessorize with a yellow feather boa, but luckily for him I suppose, we couldn’t find one. He went with a bright yellow thermal to channel Big Bird with extreme simplicity instead.

This year, I was ready to go all out. I had a list of awesome groups with 4+ members as potential ideas: Alice in Wonderland, The 3 Little Pigs (with the big bad wolf, of course), Wizard of Oz, Mario Brothers, etc. But then, as Halloween drew closer, I asked my daughter for her costume opinions. I was not prepared for her to have just one definite idea that she didn’t let go of though. O wants to be a ghost. That means the rest of us could be… um, more ghosts? Uhg. Luckily I asked around and a Facebook friend suggested the rest of us be Ghostbusters – brilliant!!

Marshmallow Man Childrens Costume - Stay Puft Warm Version

Marshmallow Man Childrens Costume – Stay Puft Warm Version from The Wishing Elephant on Etsy

ghostbusters juniors costume tee

Ghostbusters juniors costume tee from Mighty Fine on Amazon

If you’re following me on Pinterest, you’ve seen my research (if not, click here). Although there are some great tutorials for DIY proton packs, I found a lovely printed t-shirt (with a proton pack printed on the back!) and that is totally enough for me. Daddy found a similar t-shirt and we’ll pair it with khaki pants, black boots (and probably a few layers underneath for warmth). There’s still a slight potential for a better, 3 dimensional proton pack but we’ll see what happens. Number 2 is going to be an adorable (and toasty warm) Stay Puft Marshmallow Man courtesy of The Wishing Elephant on Etsy. And my firstborn… I have an idea for a ghosty hooded cape a la Martha Stewart, but I’m not 100% sure, even with the sparkle overlay, that she’ll be satisfied without full head cover. So we’ll see. I better get sewing.

Potty Training Tip – Beware the Fancy Diapers!

toddler upsidedown $

Beware the fancy diapers!

I thought we were doing my daughter a favor by getting her the really soft disposable diapers. Sure they were more expensive, but she was our firstborn, our baby! I gathered up all my diaper samples from the various baby expos I’d attended and did a complete, almost scientific, brand test. Some of the diapers leaked on us, some were so papery they crinkled every time she moved and I worried the rustling would be loud enough to disturb her sleep (yes, I was paranoid), and some just seemed really scratchy. Didn’t we love our daughter enough to spend a few extra dollars to prevent an itchy and uncomfortable feeling that we wouldn’t put up with ourselves? Well, when you put it that way…

I later discovered our fancy disposable diaper brand also had a loyalty rewards program with some pretty cool “free” stuff we could earn (with points from our purchases) and I’m a huge sucker for that kind of stuff. So that, plus the fact we had no complaints (no rashes, etc), kept us from switching brands as she got older. We did eventually get a big plastic Little Tikes grocery cart for “free” which I still find totally awesome (please do not reply with logic about how with all the extra money we could have saved by buying cheaper diapers we could have bought 10 grocery carts – I don’t want to hear it. It was free I tell you, free!!).

cart 076

It was free I tell you, free!! (doll not included)

Then came potty training. Or it should have. We passed her second birthday and her third and still my daughter had no problems being wet or poopy. Like no problems whatsoever. She would have stayed in one diaper for the rest of eternity if left to herself. As I scoured potty training guides and parent manuals, many said the first step was for your child to show readiness, meaning discomfort being wet or soiled, or at least notifying you in some way before or after. Of course this is all usually supposed to happen a lot sooner too. We got nothing. I might have tried the “run naked and free until you feel pee dribbling down your leg” method but we have carpet throughout our house so I stuck that in the last resort file. I also read that rushing potty training can seriously backfire (constipation, taking longer to train overall, etc.) so I just kept telling myself, it’d be fine, no one goes to prom in diapers.

minnie potty chair

Our 3rd potty – the self “flusher” that says “hip hip horray” made this one the winner

We decided to move our daughter into Pull-Ups even before she was “ready” to potty train because 1. she was too big for the changing table, 2. we wanted to associate the changing table with babies, like her brother, not big girls like her and 3. we wanted her to get in the habit of pulling her diaper on and off by herself. But we stuck with our expensive brand out of habit. I tried giving O lots of liquids and asking her to try to use the potty every 10 or 15 minutes but she would go in her diaper directly before or after sitting on her potty. I tried demonstrating for her. I even tried a different potty that mounted onto the big toilet. Still no success. I think she knew exactly what I was asking for, but her body wasn’t cooperating; it just hadn’t clicked yet.

CVS brand pull up diapers

CVS brand pull up diapers. AKA not fancy.

Then we went to a CVS I’d never been to before due to a mix-up with a prescription at the pharmacy. I have a secret love for drugstores like Walgreens or Rite Aid; stores where there’s a little bit of everything and you never know what you’ll find, and where there’s always a holiday section filled with cheesy adorable themed knickknacks you don’t need (I always end up buying 1 or 2). While living in Boston, I discovered that very CVS is different, so I’d always wander the aisles whenever I was in a new store or just had time to kill (this is all related, I swear). While wandering this time for new and interesting products I didn’t know I needed, I noticed a super sale on the CVS brand pull-ups and I swear a light bulb clicked on above my head. What if the super plush, super absorbent, fancy diapers were part of the problem? What if she needs a flimsy, cheap diaper to feel that she’s wet and that wet is not good? What if she needs an uncomfortable diaper to motivate her to switch into comfy cotton undies? I still had fears about leakage but the sale was enough to prompt me to give it a try. Wait… what are my design options? Adorable alien monsters and/or pink butterflies? Ok, Sold.

It was like magic. Once we started wearing the cheapy diapers, O started telling us when she wet her diaper. So we started regularly asking her if she had to go, or to just sit and give it a try, and finally she successfully used the potty. I went the bribe route by offering m&ms for every attempt which worked sometimes but O was still going in her diaper frequently. The turning point was when she had 2 total leak-through accidents within 2 days (something that would never have happened in her expensive pull-ups) and suddenly the switch in her brain flipped. She’s been using the potty like a pro ever since. She has actually requested to wear her undies at night too and has stayed dry (5 nights and counting!!).

So there’s my cautionary tale. Should have saved this post for Halloween, haha. Beware!!

4 Reasons All Baby Boys Should Wear Girls Leggings

tight pants collage

So stylish and he doesn’t even know it

I just had an epiphany so I’m going to keep this post short and to the point. Skinny jeans are in for everyone but apparently leggings didn’t make the cut. Whatever man-rules there are about tightness in that general area, I’m sure they don’t apply to a baby in diapers.  So here’s why all baby boys should wear little girls leggings (at least until they start making boys leggings):

baby losing his pants

Losing his pants while getting into mischief

1.   No more rolling up your son’s pants to keep him from tripping on them. And/Or no more pulling up his pants over and over (and over).

It’s inevitable that when your child begins to walk, he’s going to step on his pants. Sometimes my son even did it on purpose. And even if you’re sure you’ve finally got the perfect roll this time, his pant legs are probably going to fall back down in about 5 minutes. Some boys pants have elastic or ribbing at the ankles, but I’ve found they stretch out during wear and even those end up falling over my son’s toes. Crawlers can have problems too: they’ll land a knee on one wide pant leg but won’t let that stop them from moving forward and down goes the trou. Or their pants will wrap over their feet and, while trying to push for momentum on the carpet,  they will simultaneously pull their pants lower and lower. But add leggings and all these problems magically disappear.

2.   Instantly avoid the kick-out-one-leg-the-minute-you-try-to-put-the-other-leg-in-the-pants trick. Often performed on changing tables.

Stretchy cotton shorts help somewhat because you can pull those up pretty far on one leg and still bend the other leg into the remaining hole, but there are no long boy pants on this earth that can prevent my son from Houdini-ing himself out of them before I can get the second leg in. I usually have to put one leg on, then stand my infant son up against me to get the second leg partially on, then half pull half bounce the pants up to his waist, then put him back down flat to try to fix the zipper or snap before he turns himself over. Phew. It’s not easy. Girls leggings, however, are much harder to kick out of (though not impossible, unfortunately). Usually I can get my son’s second leg in while he’s turned the first leg inside out but still hasn’t gotten it completely off his foot – which means I can right the first leg easily and pull the pants over my son’s butt while he’s still flat on the changing table and he’s clothed in seconds instead of minutes.

3.   In the winter, no more cold chills blowing up your son’s pant legs (also noteworthy when in carriers or slings).

When my firstborn was a baby and the weather started turning cool, I noticed how often we were readjusting and pulling her pants back down as we held her. We wore her in a Baby K’Tan wrap carrier a lot and that little bit of fabric pulling her securely towards me was enough to make her pants ride up too. Even sitting down in a shopping cart could expose skin in most pants. But since leggings are tight enough to never fall over her toes, we could put my daughter in pairs that were a little big so that there was more length to prevent ride-up and protect her from the elements without worrying about her tripping over them the minute we got back inside. When my son was born, I’d already learned these lessons.

Even when your baby’s pants don’t ride up, the cold could still be sneaking up around their legs and most boys socks aren’t long enough to significantly combat the problem. Add some leggings, though, and problem solved! Plus you can layer the offending pants over the top of your leggings when the weather gets a little more chilly. P.S. don’t discount full tights either, just think of them as leggings with built in socks – why they don’t make tights for baby boys who have outgrown footie pants I still don’t know.

4.   Boys in tight pants are hipster cool.

Wearing girls pants doesn’t mean you have to parade your son in pink – although, if you do, more power to you. Grab a pair in basic black or better yet, stretchy girls jeggings, and watch your kid rock play group.

Planning our Itsy Bitsy Spider First Birthday Party

spider label collage watermark

Unbelievable. It’s almost time for Number 2 (aka Oren)’s first birthday. I admit I used to roll my eyes a little every time someone said it with a nostalgic sigh, but one day it’ll hit you – the time really does fly! Funny thing about time though: when you’re looking forward to something it can move faster or slower depending on what you don’t want it to do. Ten more minutes until the school bell rings takes forever because you want the day to be over. But I’m so excited to be planning this party and loving every minute of it and then all of  sudden I’m like, “Wait… what?! It’s already Thursday?!! I only have how many weeks left?!”

Anyway, Grandpa in California decided he wanted to throw the big 01 party this year and we needed to check off a long-overdue visit on our end, so that decided things quickly. Nana Mark’s monster theme is going to be spectacular but I obviously don’t want to miss out on a second opportunity for cake… I mean, I don’t want to miss out on having a party with my east coast friends masquerading as a party for my one year old who won’t even remember it (except in pictures – which is what I have to keep reminding my husband to prevent it from turning into a lame single balloon and sheet cake type of event). So… we’re having 2 birthday parties; bi-coastal celebrations!

P.S. Since I’m so cool to be having an east and west coast party for my son, I’m also going to pretend to be a movie star as we schlep car seats, a stroller, diaper bags, gobs of toys, suitcases, 2 children and god knows what else through the airport. I’m pretty sure all I need is a funky new infinity scarf, big sunglasses, new books on my Kindle and a secret Godiva stash. I have an excellent imagination.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider theme for the east coast party came about because it’s the first song that ever really caught Oren’s attention – stopped him from squirming on the changing table or fussing while getting into a car seat – and it became a favorite. Unfortunately, the minute we stop the song he usually goes into hysterics, so there have been some memorable never-ending musical adventures. Plus spiders are cool (and my 3 year old is totally into bugs right now – every time we go outside she tries to force an ant to hitchhike on her hand to destiny unknown).

Sorry this post has serious ADD! Anyway, when I started buying things for the party, I realized that most of the adorable shops I love that sell printable invites, etc., didn’t offer Itsy Bitsy Spider themed items. For such a popular nursery song, I was really surprised. Most of what I could find was in Halloween oranges, purples and black – not the happiest colors. But I had already fallen in love with the spider idea and nothing else seemed right for Oren.

So, I made this Pinterest board and decided to emphasize the “out came the sunshine” and “down came the rain” parts of the song. First, I made the color scheme bright blue and yellow – nice, happy colors for a little boy’s birthday party. Then, I focused on those 4 visuals: rain, clouds, sun, spider (I’m pretty convinced there’s no way to make a water spout look good on anything but the invite). There are actually lots of “You are my Sunshine” themed party printables so I tagged a few as something I might be able to use with slight alterations (just add spider, right?). But eventually I decided to enlist the help of a talented graphic designer on Etsy to design something original and adorable for me. Etsy has this great feature where you can request a custom order from sellers that are willing to do accommodate them – so no matter how crazy your idea, someone out there will probably help you make it happen. Luckily my idea wasn’t so crazy (for once).  ;)

Here’s what Mia at thepartyfairydesigns on Etsy, came up with for me (also pictured at the top of this post):

spider party xtra collage watermark

clockwise from top left: invite, t-shirt iron-on design (!), treat bag toppers, party hat

And this is just a VERY small part of what I got for only $32 ($12 for the invite and $20 for the rest of the custom party package). Mia even made me a personalized coloring book page for Oren and his little guests, a welcome sign, a custom happy birthday bunting, and more. Click here to see the amazing amount of stuff she’ll make for you in a custom party package.

So the decor is mostly done, just need to do some printing and cutting, buy a tablecloth, plates, streamers and such. Now I can move on to trying to figure out what we’re going to serve our guests to eat. I give Mia total credit for coming up with rainwater as a beverage idea (and I’ve got a cool label to go with it) but I’ll need a bit more than that. Wish me luck! And please, comment if you have any ideas – I’d love some suggestions!

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