Best and Worst

Over the past few weeks, I feel like I’ve seen the some of the best and worst of humanity.

So, L’s teething necklace got left behind when JD took L to Michigan. His mom mailed the necklace back to us, and as L’s teething symptoms worsened, I anxiously awaited its arrival, but after 5 days of finding nothing but junk and bills in our mailbox, I started to get a feeling that we might not see the necklace again. Sure enough, the envelope arrived on a Monday, a full week after it had been mailed. As I grabbed the envelope out of the mailbox, I noticed it felt… thinner than it should have. I wasn’t too surprised to see there was a hole in the corner of the envelope and the necklace was gone.

I wanted to believe that it was an accident, that maybe the envelope had been ripped inadvertently and the necklace fell out, but my gut feeling is that it was stolen. My guess is that someone who works for USPS felt that there was some kind of jewelry in the envelope and wanted to see if it was something valuable (for the record, I paid $20 for it, but the return on that investment was a happy child and precious, uninterrupted sleep, and you can’t put a price on that).

Part of the reason I’m assuming it was stolen is that this actually happened to me before. A friend’s daughter made me a bracelet one time (again, nothing expensive, just plastic beads), and when the envelope arrived, there was a small hole in the corner and the bracelet was gone (suspiciously familiar to the teething necklace incident). Not surprisingly, the drawing and other things she sent were still in the envelope.

I wanted to be the “bigger person” and send positive vibes to whoever took it- so that they may find themselves in a circumstance where they don’t feel the need to rummage through other people’s mail, but for most of the evening, I couldn’t get past how angry I was. Who did this person think they were? That they could take something that belonged to me? Something that helped ease my daughter’s discomfort? Something that had little monetary value but was important to our family?

This person is no better than the person who broke into my car to steal my friend’s wrapped wedding present (I’m sure those wine glasses have a TON of street value), or the person who broke into my parents’ house and stole my mom’s favorite turquoise ring (among other things, but I mention the ring because the ring didn’t have much value, my mom just really liked it and it’s pretty much irreplaceable). Here’s the part where I wish those people find themselves in a better circumstance someday, so that they don’t feel the need to violate people’s personal space and property.

I ordered another necklace, but of course it was going to take time to ship, so after a few more nights of a miserable, inconsolable child, I decided that I needed to get a necklace for her ASAP.

It was a long shot, but I reached out to mamas in a local Facebook group asking if anyone had an amber bead necklace they weren’t currently using and were willing to let me (a stranger) borrow. I quickly got several responses, 3 of which were offers to let me borrow a necklace.

This kind of brings me back to my Pay It Forward post, because the gesture was so small, but it was so nice to know that there were people out there willing to help someone they don’t know, who are willing to trust a stranger with their belonging, and who would take time out of their day to arrange drop off/pickup.

I’m so, so grateful because the necklace really did make a difference (refer back to my Teething Remedies post for other ideas, but this further demonstrates how great the amber necklaces are). Without the necklace, L was waking up several times at night in misery. The night before I borrowed the necklace, JD sat on the couch with her till 3am before she fell asleep, because it was the absolute only thing that would calm her down. The night we got the necklace, she woke up briefly at 12, then slept through the night. The night after that?  12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Ladies and gentlemen, that was a HUGE victory. I felt like I won the teething lottery.

I guess the lesson here is that there’s always going to be bad in the world.  Fortunately, there is good to counteract that.  Accept the bad, but focus on the good.

Also, magic hippie beads work miracles.

Thursday Tip- Teething Remedies

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As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, Loralai’s recent battle with teething has been hard… on everyone in the family.  There’s a lot of suggestions out there for teething remedies, and at this point, we’ve tried nearly all of them.  Of course, things that work great for one kiddo may not for another, but here is a wide variety of options, all in one place.  Good luck!

1. Hylands Teething Tablets: Probably one of the most useful things we’ve tried.  She loves them, they seem to help, they dissolve quickly on her tongue, and they’re homeopathic (hippie-tastic)!  These things are gold in tablet form.

2. Baby Orajel Naturals: I originally stayed away from Baby Orajel after I read about the risks of giving products that contain Benzocaine to babies.  However, I later found out that the Naturals version does NOT have Benzocaine in it, and it seems to help.

3. Amber teething necklace: Part-time and full-fledged hippie moms alike swear by these.  These  are NOT for chewing- there are oils in the amber that are absorbed by the skin and offer natural pain relief.  Plus, I get a lot of compliments on her “cute” necklace (of course, once I excitedly explain about the magic hippie beads, people seem sorry they brought it up).  To some, this may too new-age (and a little far-fetched), but I swear the worst days she’s had have been when she didn’t have the necklace on.

There are a ton of options on Etsy; I ordered ours from this shop.  Some parents worry about the necklaces being a choking hazard- this is where you just have to do what feels right for you.  Ours is very well-made and I’ve never worried about it falling apart or L being in any danger.

4. Baby Ibuprofen/Tylenol: These days, it seems that people are one extreme or the other when it comes to medication.  I’m only part-hippie.  While I don’t want to overmedicate, I do think that medicine is going to help more than hurt if she’s absolutely inconsolable.  I can’t blame her either- sometimes you just need the good stuff.

5. Castor oil: Mix a drop of this with a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as olive or almond oil) and rub on your baby’s gums.  I swear it works better and more quickly than the Orajel.  The one thing you have to be careful is that you dilute it, and when you dilute it, you have to use a carrier oil and not water.  Test on yourself first to make sure it’s not too strong and will irritate your little one’s mouth!

6. Frozen teethers: Not such a hit with her.  I think she doesn’t like that when she holds them, her hands get cold too.  I can’t really blame her for that.

7. Frozen peas/crushed ice: The frozen peas were recommended by my mother-in-law.  Because they’re frozen, they feel good on her gums (without making her hands cold like the frozen teethers), and once she gnaws on them a bit, they get mushy enough for her to swallow (though if you’re nervous about choking, a friend recommended crushed ice, which would melt).  The success rate for this has been about 50/50.  Sometimes it seems  to give her relief, sometimes it only serves as a distraction.

Some moms also use mesh teethers and put a frozen strawberry or something in there.  The mesh part eliminates the choking hazard and most babies love the strawberry 🙂  

8. Distraction: as mentioned in Tuesday’s post, good, old-fashioned distraction works wonders. As long as she’s busy playing and having a good time, she doesn’t stop to think about her teeth, but watch out when you put her in the car seat to leave or get up off the floor to do something else.  Game. Over.

 

Some things I haven’t tried-

Sophie the Giraffe: This is a must have for a lot of moms, but I hesitated from buying one of these when I read a review where a mom reported that her baby rolled onto it and one of the legs jammed down his throat (he was fine, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop worrying about it if she had one).   I later found this version, which eliminates the worry with the legs, and I kind of wish we had one because I think L would probably love it.

Vibrating Teether: The vibration offers a gum massage, although every time I think of getting one, I get a vision of L with a confused, panicked look on her face.  If I come across one, I may try it sometime, but I haven’t gone out of my way to get one.

 

 

Thursday Tip- Car Seat Poncho

The fall chill has arrived here in NC, and a few weeks ago, I had to bundle L up in a coat before leaving the house.

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It wasn’t until I got her to the car that I was faced with a dilemma.  I had taken the time to bundle her up and get her out to the car (we don’t have a garage), only to realize that I now had to take her coat off before buckling her into the seat.  (I think a lot of moms don’t know this, and I didn’t know this till I read it on someone else’s blog, but it’s actually a huge no-no to buckle your baby into the car seat while wearing a bulky coat.)

It seemed like such a hassle to get her into the coat only to take it back off when we got to the car, then do it all over again when we arrived at our destination.  Since she’s out of her infant car seat and into her convertible car seat, the go-to car seat covers wouldn’t work for us anymore.  So, I reached out to other moms via my Facebook page to see what they do in the same situation.

One of my friends saw my post and texted me a link to the Car Seat Poncho.  Um, genius.  One of those why didn’t I think of that? moments.

Okay, disclaimer. I don’t actually own one of these ponchos, and I probably won’t be buying one, just because Loralai already has quite the collection of coats so we’ll probably just wrap her in the coat till we get to the car, then use the coat as a blanket.  But I still think it’s a great idea, and might be useful to other mamas out there.

 

Baby Gear Without Breaking the Bank

What you learn quickly as a new parent, is that your baby always seems to need something, and that something is usually expensive. I hadn’t even finished maternity leave before L had graduated from her swing to her play mat. I blinked and she had outgrown the play mat and has moved on to her jumper. Mere weeks after purchasing her Bumbo, we could barely fit her chubby little legs in it anymore. Could you get away without all the “stuff”? Sure. But for those of us who don’t always have an extra set of hands around, you need something to keep the baby entertained (and in one place) so you can shower, make something to eat, etc (you know, take care of yourself as well as your little one).

If you’re lucky, you’ll get a lot of the stuff you need from friends and family at showers, or even as hand-me-downs from other moms you know (we scored big with hand-me-downs from friends), but there will inevitably be gaps, and if you’re not looking to go bankrupt (assuming the cost of daycare hasn’t done that already), it will take a little time and creativity, but you can get what you need for much, much cheaper.

Here’s a little feedback from my experience bargain baby shopping.

CRAIGSLIST

Craigslist can go either way. We had issues finding a glider because we had something super specific in mind (it had to recline, it had to have an ottoman, and it had to have high quality padding that would be comfy and last a while), and after realizing we could NOT afford what we wanted if we purchased a brand new glider, we spent weeks scouring Craigslist. We viewed a LOT of very old, very ugly gliders, but eventually found a really nice one that was exactly what we wanted for 1/5 of the price of the new ones we had looked at. If you’re going to shop Craigslist, I’ve found that it requires diligence, patience, and it’s best if you only search for things that have a picture (taken by the seller, not a manufacturer pic pulled off the internet). Oh, and schedule pick-up for a time your hubby can come with you- just in case.

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We also found a jumper on Craigslist. This was a bit easier to come by. The woman we purchased it from said her son had only been in it a handful of times because he didn’t like it. So it was practically new and we got it for less than half of what we would have paid new. Score! The best news of all is that L loves it!

 L in Jumper

CONSIGNMENT

Children’s consignment stores and sales are also a great place to look. Sometimes it’s hard to find what you need if you’re looking for something specific, but we have popped in a few times and found some really good stuff- a wipes warmer, a Baby Bjorn (this was especially nice because it gave us the opportunity to try it on, with the baby, before we bought it), a bouncy seat, etc. The nice thing about consignment stores is that most of them are pretty picky about what they’ll take, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting something that’s damaged or doesn’t work.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Never underestimate the power of social media. One of my friends had remained Facebook friends with a previous business contact, so when he posted custom, handmade nursery furniture on his Facebook page, she sent the link to me because she knew we were looking. We scored big with this one because we got totally unique, well-made, custom nursery furniture for less than what we were going to pay for a brand new crib by itself. Let your friends know if you’re looking for something specific (but don’t be that girl and clutter people’s news feeds with super annoying “I need this!” posts).

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And speaking of Social Media… another option would be to join or create a Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook group specifically for your community.  You can get some really good deals on otherwise expensive baby gear in a less scary format than Craigslist, because there is usually a moderator for the group who controls who can join.  I was lucky because someone recently created one for my community and I posted a few “ISO” (in search of) posts and had multiple responses that same day, and was able to acquire a Bumbo, shopping cart cover, and play mat for less than half of what I would have paid new. Most of my transactions were porch pick-ups where the seller left the items in a bag on the porch and I left money under the mat, which is easier (and less intimidating) than meeting someone at a specific place and time.

Also, a lot of small online shops and businesses will post giveaways on social media. Look for friends to post things in their newsfeed or follow businesses you like. Using a promotion code, I got a sling carrier and a nursing pillow (basically a Boppy knock off) for only the cost of shipping. This meant we had an extra nursing pillow to keep upstairs and it wasn’t a great loss when I tried the sling and hated it (my giant milk makers were too big and got in the way, and I never felt like she was secure enough in it).

 

So, there you have it.  Buying baby stuff can be overwhelming, but a little creativity and patience will make things easier on your bank account!

Thursday Tip- Timi and Leslie Diaper Bag

Of all the baby products we registered for, bought, and were given, the diaper bag is what turned out to be the greatest dilemma.  We originally registered for this Eddie Bauer bag.  I thought we were being smart by getting this bag because it wasn’t too feminine so JD would be okay carrying it on days he had L.  It didn’t take long for me to be frustrated with this bag on multiple levels. First, I was disappointed in the quality because we’d only had it a few months before a few tears appearing in the lining.  It’s not like we toss it around or mistreat it; with a brand name like Eddie Bauer, you expect better quality.  Also, I didn’t like that the bottle pockets were on the outside, but that’s personal preference, and not really my main point.

My main issue was I found it really annoying that I had to take the diaper bag AND my purse whenever I went somewhere with the baby.  The diaper bag was stuffed full, so there was no way I could fit my stuff in there with the baby’s stuff.  Plus, there weren’t a lot of pockets on the inside, so stuff would just be in there haphazardly, making it difficult to find.

I turned to my friend (and experienced mama), Jen, for advice, and she really came through.  She recommended something from Timi and Leslie, who make gorgeous diaper bags that don’t really look like diaper bags.  I was immediately in lust; the bags were so pretty, I forgot I was shopping for a diaper bag.  I settled on the Annette in pewter and we had our solution.  The Eddie Bauer bag would be on-hand for JD days on baby duty and drop offs at the babysitter’s house, but I would keep the Timi and Leslie bag more lightly packed for evenings and weekends, so I could throw L’s stuff and my stuff in one bag.  And if you’re wondering if it’s annoying to have 2 separate bags?  No, because I keep each bag packed and ready to go, but again, that’s personal preference.

Not only does the bag work for all our stuff (plenty of pockets inside and out!) but it comes with a TON of accessories.  The changing pad is nice because it folds neatly shut and is secured with Velcro, plus it has a mesh pocket to keep a small pack of wipes and a diaper or two handy.  The bag comes with a long strap to carry it as a shoulder bag, or you can use the smaller straps as a hand bag, OR you can use stroller straps to strap it to the back of your stroller.  There’s also an insulated bottle carrier (with it’s own strap to keep handy on a stroller handle), a key clip at the top of the bag so your keys don’t sink to the bottom and get lost AND my favorite part- a mini purse for mom.  When we went on vacation, I just brought this bag to carry our stuff throughout the week, and then when JD and I had a date night, I just pulled the mini-purse out for me.

 

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Disclaimer: I originally had the thought that I might have JD take cute pictures of me with the mimi mom bag, but then I decided the mom purse doesn’t go with yoga pants.
And since I’ve generally changed into yoga pants 60 seconds after walking in the door from work, I resorted to lame picture of diaper bag accessories on bed.  You’re welcome.