How to Shop for a Baby Shower: pt 1

It can be hard when you know nothing about babies, and your friends insist on spawning left and right. You then get invited to the celebration of said spawning, and are expected to provide something useful and meaningful for the spawn. If you have no babies this can be a HUGE challenge. I know it sent me into whole new territories at Target I had never ventured into before, even when I worked there.

Well here’s a trusty guide from me, a relatively new mom, with almost no prior baby experience. I can help you navigate this madness!

1) Registries – ALWAYS start with the registry. Most pregnant ladies focus their nesting instincts on picking out exactly the right crib sheets and baby bottles. If they’re like me, they neurotically compared ratings and safety information across several websites before adding even a pacifier to the registry. Acknowledge all that hard work by getting them exactly what they want. A couple more hints:

a) Make sure the item is listed as “Wanted” and not “Purchased” or something like that. Items are not REMOVED from the registry after someone buys it. You want to avoid duplicates so the massively pregnant lady, or the new mom hauling a tiny baby, doesn’t have to trek back to the store to return or exchange it.

b) Make sure your purchase is marked off the registry. This also helps prevent duplicates. Check with the store or retailer to see if there’s a special process to have the item marked “bought”. Even just double checking the registry to see if it was marked off can be helpful.

2) Get a gift receipt – if you’re shopping online, I don’t think this happens, but I could be wrong. Even if you followed the above steps with the registry (good for you!) not everyone else giving gifts did, I promise. Hopefully, when the mommy ends up with two pack-n-plays, you’ve provided the receipt so she can return one.

3) Baby clothes – New parents do NOT register for baby clothes. They are told not to, and with good reason: EVERYONE wants to shop for baby clothes. We got TONS of them. My son is 6 months old, and I’ve still never bought him an outfit. If you desperately want to shop for baby clothes, go for it, but keep a few things in mind:

a) Most people buy tiny clothes, like newborn and 3 month. Help the new parents out by buying older sizes, like 12 or even 24 months. My son was born so big he never fit into several of the smaller outfits we had for him.

b) Keep the season in mind. If the kid is born in winter, s/he’ll be one year old again in winter, so buying warm 12 month old clothes makes sense. Buying warm 18 month old, not so much.

c) I would buy something practical, like a thermometer, in addition to the clothes. But that’s just me. Or, of you want to buy practical clothing items, consider Onesie Extenders. These are short pieces of fabric that have snaps on both ends. They can be added to a onesie to make it fit longer. The link I provided is for Amazon, but you can also find them on Etsy and Ebay.

d) Buy something washable and practical. Read the washing instructions. If it says anything like “Dry clean only”, or “Hand wash separately, lay flat to dry”, PUT IT DOWN. Ain’t nobody got time for that, much less new parents.

e) Also make sure the neck opening has snaps or fabric folds so the baby’s giant melon-head can fit through. We got one outfit that was super adorable, but had no way to get it over my kid’s head, so I have no idea what to do with it.

This post got pretty wordy (What? Me, wordy? Never!), so I decided to give your eye balls a rest, and break it into 2 parts. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion! Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

 

June 27, 2014. Tags: , , , . Baby Stuff. 4 comments.

Games for Good

So you’re screwing around on the internet, and you feel like playing a game. But Angry Birds is so 2012, Flappy Bird is dead, and you’re broke from Candy Crush. Want to waste time but also do some good? Here are two games I’ve found that can meet both of those needs:

With Free Rice you can answer questions on a variety of subjects: English vocabulary, geography, human anatomy, paintings, and all kinds of stuff. For each correct answer, they donate ten grains of rice through the World Hunger Programme. You get smarter while helping end hunger, and get rid of all that annoying free time you had piling up!

If multiple choice questions aren’t your thing, you can play at building RNA molecules on EteRNA. I found out about this through a Hank Green video, probably SciShow, but now I can’t find it. Basically, by playing at assembling RNA molecules you’re helping scientists understand them better. They explain it much more eloquently on their About page.

 

So legitimize your time wasting! Do something fun, that’s also helpful, rather than just staring at Facebook waiting for it to update.

June 25, 2014. Tags: , , . Nerd Stuff, Random typing. Leave a comment.

I’m Special Because I had a Baby

For those of you who don’t have kids, you may not realize they’re a lot of work. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that intellectually, but that’s a bit different from the concrete evidence that accumulates once you have a kid.

*Warning: Ranting Ensues*

Before anyone gets started, yes I CHOSE to have a baby. I chose this knowing it was going to be hard, but rewarding. When people choose to climb Mount Everest they go into it knowing they’ll be freezing cold and gasping for air, but that doesn’t mean they have to be chipper when they lose a pinky toe to frost bite. I am allowed to complain if I want. That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, regret my decision, or don’t love my child. It doesn’t give you the right to gloat or say “I told you so”. I would still do it all again, even though teething is AWFUL.

My choice was right for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.  You’re probably getting pressure from family and friends to start your own little brood, and I get that. I am not trying to pressure you into having kids by having a kid myself. If you keep your snarky remarks to yourself, we can commiserate about how awful people are who try to dictate your reproductive future. It never ends, BELIEVE me. We have a kid and we keep getting the “When’s the next one?”, “Are you going to try for a girl?” None of your beeswax, Nosey McRudenheimer!

*End Rant*

That was kind of a long tangent. I may have some pent-up frustration. Anyway, back to the point of this post:

The first time I went to the grocery store with my new baby, I walked in the door in amazement I had finally gotten there. In order to get the 2 blocks from my house to the store, I’d had to feed baby Nacho, feed myself, change him, get myself showered and dressed, let him finish his nap, feed and change him again, pack the diaper bag, remember the grocery bags, shopping list, and my purse, strap him into his car seat, then the car, then find a parking spot near the carts so I could easily move him from the car to the shopping cart without leaving him in the car alone and having the whole neighborhood judging me, load him into the cart, remember the diaper bag, purse, grocery bags, and shopping list, then push my already full cart up the hill and through the doors. I was almost amazed I didn’t get a standing ovation from the staff and shoppers when I made it inside. I wanted to yell “Do you people know how much effort it took to get here?? I’ve been preparing for this for TWO HOURS!”

Of course I didn’t do anything of the kind. And now I have the routine down a little better. It helps that Nacho has gotten older, so he’s not pooping every twenty minutes, and I’ve more experience handling him and his needs now.

But those first few weeks after the baby is born put you in a bubble of specialness. People bring you food, and presents, and coo over your little bundle of awesome. Strangers congratulate you, and you get all warm and fuzzy from all the attention. This helps to balance out (or is enhanced by) the sleep deprivation.

For the first few weeks you SHOULD have that feeling. You did something that is hard, chancy, and full of weird occurrences.  You’re at the start of a challenging path through life, so let that happy feeling invigorate you for the bumps ahead.

Some people, however, absorb this attention and think they deserve it permanently, just for breeding. They become arrogant, demanding, and entitled. Don’t be that person.

Every person on this planet, living or dead, had parents. There are over 7 billion people on this planet right now, and they all came about the same way. Even if your birth was one in a million, there were 6,999 others just like it on this planet, just considering the current living population.

So calm down. You’re not a special, unique snowflake. You’re not forging some new path no one has ever trod before. You are not Gaia, the Earth mother. You are not the first person to have a kid, and you won’t be the last.

Enjoy your new adventure, revel in your baby, but don’t be a jerk. You know what? That’s your rule to live by:

Rule for Life: Don’t be a jerk.

Let’s all do that and hopefully together we can decrease the amount of stuff that sucks in the world, and increase the awesome. My first rant could also be cured by people not being jerks. The Golden Rule still applies when you’re an adult, people.

This whole post seems to just be an amalgamation of ranting and tangents, but I’m alright with it.

June 23, 2014. Tags: , , , . Baby Stuff, Random typing. 3 comments.

Our Calendar is Stupid

The calendar used by basically the whole planet is the Gregorian calendar. This method of tracking time is full of problems. It’s so illogically arranged that you have to have a poem to remember how it works:

Thirty days have September,

April, June, and November.

All the rest have 31,

Except February alone,

And that has 28 days clear,

And 29 in a leap year.

A poem that doesn’t even rhyme! What kind of society are we that we have just accepted this nonsensical arrangement for so long? It was last updated in 1582! Well, I have a better idea.

Make every month 4 weeks long. There are 52 weeks in the year, which would give us 13 months. Every month would be 28 days long. Getting paid twice a month, or every 2 weeks would mean the same thing. Every 15th would be a Wednesday (or whatever number it worked out to be). Billing cycles would be consistent. Holidays would always occur the same day; none of this “Uh oh, President’s Day is on a Thursday this year, what do we do?” We can call the extra month Cleverember, and tack it on at the end of the year.

Now I know there would be issues. All computer code is written with the current calendar in mind, and changing it would be worse than Y2K. People’s birthdays would change. Leap years would shift the day of the week everything happens on, so the first is now Tuesday instead of Monday. I’m sure there would be other problems, but think of the simplicity! You could have the same calendar for 3 years!

I’m not an astrophysicist, or whatever type of scientist would be an expert on this, so I don’t know how to calculate a truly logical calendar. I do know you can’t even get Americans to use the metric system, so changing to a simpler calendar will never happen. But a girl can dream of a simpler, more logical world.

June 17, 2014. Tags: , , . Nerd Stuff, Random typing. 5 comments.

Breakfast Quinoa

I saw a recipe for savory oatmeal somewhere, and I thought, “That would be much better with quinoa, which I happen to have gallons of from my Costco trip“. So I did it, cause I’m cool like that. You will need:

1 cup quinoa (I used red quinoa this time)

2 cups broth or water

1/2-1 cup shredded cheese

2 green onions, chopped

3-4 eggs

optional: leftover cooked veggies

Cook the quinoa according to the instructions, using broth or water. While that’s cooking, either fry or poach your eggs. You could scramble them also, I guess. I won’t judge. I will judge if you hard boil them though, and harshly. When the quinoa is done, mix in the shredded cheese and chopped green onions. I also happened to have some cooked zucchini in the fridge, so I heated it up, and threw it on top, then dropped the egg on top of that. The whole process takes ~20 minutes or so, and yields 3-4 servings. This is a great hearty breakfast, perfect for those days when you have a lot to get done. It will stick with you for hours.

Also, keep in mind, I’m not a food photographer. I make my food, take a picture, then eat it. I don’t sit around, posing it for hours, analyzing lighting, etc. I’m usually starving, and barely remembered to take a picture in the first place. I still think this one came out pretty good, though:

DSCN8095

June 13, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Cooking. 1 comment.

Better Coffee at Home

You’re trying to save money by avoiding coffee shops, but you miss the delicious caffeinated treasures they provided? Fear not! We can make better coffee at home and save you money!

First of all, good for you for trying to save money! It can be a challenge, but you can totally do it. You will be so proud of yourself!

Ok, now onto the coffee stuff. You’re trying to save money, so it’s possible your bought the cheapest coffee available. If it tastes ok, then good job! If it tastes terrible, that might be causing some discontent. There are several different ways to make your addiction cheaper:
1) Buy some really good coffee and some cheaper coffee, then blend the two together.
2) When buying coffee grounds at the grocery store, buy a small amount of the cheapest coffee. If you don’t like it, next time spend slightly more, until you hopefully find a brand you enjoy. Even buying Dunkin brand coffee at the grocery store is cheaper than buying a pre-made coffee at Dunkin Donuts. You don’t have to take the absolute cheapest option in every scenario, if it’s making saving too painful. The goal is to stop wasting money on silly things, not become a martyr.
3) You can reuse coffee grounds, but I would only do this if you’re drinking a few pots a day. Throw in a small scoop of fresh grounds on top, then add more water.
4) Train yourself to like cheap coffee – I did this from the very start. My friends and I used to hang out at IHOP and Denny’s and just endlessly drink their coffee, full of cream and sugar.
5) Speaking of cream and sugar, you can cover up the flavor of not-great coffee using some add-ins:

There are lots of possible add-ins to make cheap coffee more palatable, or actually coffee in general. Black coffee is abhorrent to me. I always have to add at least milk to it. For some flavor variety, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, chicory, or vanilla extract to the basket with the coffee grounds. You can add a bag of Chai tea to the carafe for that Chai latte flavor. Once it’s in the mug you can add chocolate milk, vanilla milk, cocoa powder, honey, or whipped cream to make it special and different. (Just don’t go overboard on the sugar). You can also google even more ideas. Some people suggest adding cayenne, which sounds nuts to me, but apparently some people like it. I guess it would wake you up in the morning. “The best part of waking up is A FIERY CUP OF PAIN”.

You can also mimic some of the fancy recipes direct from the coffee shops. Search for “homemade pumpkin latte“, or whatever specialty drink you’re craving. Get creative, make up your own and have fun in your kitchen. Here’s a recipe I came up with to mimic the mocha lattes I used to love:

1 cup coffee, 1 jar nutella, 2 cups pure lard, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon chocolate, I’m kidding please don’t make this, I don’t want to be responsible for giving you diabetes

Keep in mind the roast you’re using makes a huge difference. I personally enjoy a really light roast, because it tends to be less bitter. Here are a couple additional tips I heard on NPR the other day:

1) Use cold water to brew your coffee (like from the tap, not refrigerated)
2) Let the water run for a few seconds before filling the pot
3) Never use distilled or softened water

All of these money saving tips are going to become more important. Drought and disease are reducing coffee production, so prices will be increasing in the future. Using these tips, we can all get our daily dose of caffeine without having to sell our first born child.

June 10, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

The Writer’s Almanac – Naming the Baby

I’m not usually in my car at the right time to hear The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor, but I had to run an errand this morning, and managed to catch it.

If you aren’t familiar with it, each day host Garrison Keillor (best known for A Prairie Home Companion) enlightens us about literature. He lists writers whose birthdays occur that day, and teaches us a little about their lives, what they wrote, and its impact on society. It’s always interesting, and I wish I kept up with it better.

The poem of the day is called “Naming the Baby” by Faith Shearin. I thought it was very appropriate considering how many of my friends are breeding right now. And congratulations to Jamiehead on her new little boy, due this fall!

So now I’ll sign off with Garrison Keillor’s traditional ending:

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch”

June 3, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Book Reviews, Random typing. Leave a comment.