Projects & Tips for Babies & Kids
I know there are a lot of people who are turned off by the “green revolution,” and really don’t appreciate snooty environmentalists acting all elitist. Well, sorry folks. Here’s another hippy post, but I promise not be elitist.
In my last installment of “being a hippy mama” I talked about cloth diapers. A lot of the things we’ve decided to do to “be green” are beneficial for us as well as the environment: we’re saving ourselves some serious green, which is a huge motivator. Choosing to be kind to the environment can sometimes be expensive (there’s a reason they call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck”). However, one of the 3 R’s is reuse...which is what I’m going to talk about today.
Most of the larger ticket items I’ve talked about in my recommendations posts have been purchased secondhand, which has saved us a lot of money. We buy a lot of our stuff used, but baby stuff in particular is very easy to find for very little money - at some point every parent gets sick of having loads of plastic crap in their house, and they often just want it gone (which means they list it for cheap!).
In most cases we’ve recouped the money we spent by reselling the items after we’re finished with them; in some cases we’ve actually made money. Here are just a few of our purchases, all found on Craigslist:
Fisher-Price Papasan Baby Swing - Retail $159.99
Purchased $40, sold for $40
I had a hard time justifying the purchase of yet another large plastic baby thing that I wasn’t sure we’d actually use (as it turns out, this swing saved my sanity - to the point where we bought another one for the living room!). The swing was in great shape and looked clean, but I was still able to remove the padded part and wash it - good as new! We sold this sucker for exactly what we paid.
2007 Uppababy Vista Stroller - Retail $679.99
Purchased $275, sold for $350
I bought the Uppababy Vista when I was pregnant, thinking I would love it (after all, everyone raves about it!). As it turned out, I didn’t. As a bit of a tangent, Uppababy is a great company that really improves its products year after year. Thus, the 2007 Vista is not nearly as awesome as a new one, and I think that’s most of the reason I didn’t love it. But I digress. As I mentioned above, I purchased this stroller for $275, and sold it for $350. How did I make money on the Vista? It’s all about timing. When I was looking to buy on Craigslist, there were a ton for sale. I was able to negotiate with a motivated seller. When I decided to sell it, mine was one of two listed (the other was nearly brand new and twice the price), and I wasn’t in a hurry. I found a buyer who was very excited to take it off my hands. Win-win, as they say.
Fisher-Price Activity Table - Retail $50
This was a recommendation from a friend. At this point, we’d already realized that we shouldn’t buy any popular baby toys new. Charlie loves this even still, so we haven’t sold it.
2005 Bugaboo Frog (now Cameleon) - Retail $979
I’m a little bit of a stroller fiend. I thought I couldn’t be pleased, but this bugaboo has stolen my heart. It’s amazing to me that a 6 year old stroller could be far superior to brand new strollers. And with such a great deal, I am thrilled with my purchase.
These are just a few of the many, many things we've bought on Craigslit (including the office chair I'm sitting in right now!). A couple of items we haven’t purchased on Craigslist, and why:
- Car seat - did you know that car seats expire, and if they’ve been in even a small accident, you need a new one? We didn’t trust people on Craigslist to be honest - after all, you truly risk your child’s life if you put them in a faulty car seat.
- Stokke tripp trapp - we would have purchased this on Craigslist, if we had found it on Craigslist. But again, this is about the timing - right now there are a lot of tripp trapps on our local Craigslist, so I'm sure we could have gotten a better deal if we'd been willing to wait.
Tips for buying baby stuff used:
- Look for stuff used. I know this seems obvious, but I truly think most people don't even think to buy stuff used. They think whatever they find will be gross or that finding it will be too much work. Hopefully I've convinced you that buying used is not too much work.
- Be patient, if time allows. In an ideal world, you should start before you need the item, so you’re not desperate and can afford to negotiate. Sometimes (as with the Vista or the Tripp Trapp), timing is everything.
- If you're looking for something specific, set up an alert on Craigslist. Check out how to do that below.
- Don’t just check Craiglist: local baby swaps and yard sales are great resources.
- Resell it when you're done with it, so you don't have a ton of crap around your house (and you have more money to buy other, age-appropriate toys!).
How to set up a Craigslist Alert:
Craigslist alerts are a great way to find items that aren't posted very often. I have ongoing alerts set up for this Melissa and Doug shopping cart, and medium/large gCloth inserts. Neither of these items are easy to come by on my local Craigslist. Here's how to set up an alert yourself:
- Go to your city's Craigslist, and click on "baby+kids." Then enter your search term(s) and (if you want), what you're willing to pay. When you're done, click "Enter."
- Scroll to the bottom of the page. You'll see an orange button with the letters RSS. Click on that button. You'll see a whole page of code in your browser window.
- Copy that page's URL and paste it into your feed reader. Now you can be notified via your feed reader every time an item is posted on Craigslist that meets your search criteria.
I also recommend (if you're serious about Craigslist) the iPhone app "CraigsPro" which has the ability to set up alerts in the app, and also makes searching from your phone really easy.
That's about it for me! Got any other tips?
Warning: this entry is going to be epic. As in, seriously long. My apologies if you have no use for a diaper bag.
When you first have a baby, the mountain of crap you have to take with you everywhere is IN-FREAKING-SANE. Seriously. Half the time my enormous diaper bag was overflowing, and I still didn't have everything I needed!
Now that Charlie is over a year, I don't take the diaper bag everywhere I go - I leave it in the car in case of an "emergency." In the early months, however, you will definitely need a diaper bag with you at all times. Little babies poop approximately every thirty seconds, and that poop has a tendency to get everywhere. Basically, every day is a series of emergencies. ;)
In the beginning, having a very cute diaper bag was super important to me. Later, though, utility took over, and we used the "Diaper Dude" that my parents bought for Y. For every day use with an older baby (when you don't have to carry around a change of clothes, nursing pads, etc), I think putting a smaller pocketbook sized thing in an attractive purse is a better idea.
First, let's talk about the actual bags. You can get really obsessive about bags, which is a (very) dangerous road. We have four, which I think is one too many. Trust me, this can be a bad habit.
- The first bag I got was this OiOi Messenger Bag (1). I was never totally sold on this diaper bag. I thought it was really cute pre-baby, but it felt a little flimsy.
- Then I bought this Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag (2), which I think is VERY cute, but has very small side pockets that won't fit even a thin sippy cup. One major benefit to it is that turns into a backpack, which is great for the airport.
- Eventually, we switched to Y's Diaper Dude (3). It isn't cute at all, but it has all sorts of ingenious little things, like tons of pockets for organizing and a strap that you can snap on and off (so you don't have to pull it over your head).
- I also have this diaper wallet (4) for the essentials (you could also get a diaper pod, or (if you're fancy), a Petunia Picklebottom clutch). This thing is great to carry only what you need in an absolute pinch (ie, a couple of diapers, a diaper cover (if you use gDiapers or cloth, like we do), wipes and a few baggies for dirty dipes.
For newborns and small babies
Little babies must really enjoy pooping, because they do it all the time. Usually, they like to poop out the sides of their diapers (or up the back), soiling themselves, their outfit, and whatever they were sitting on. It's pretty great. They also like to barf on everything in sight, usually soiling themselves, their outfit, and you. Thus, you need to bring a LOT of crap with you.
- First, I recommend being organized. Have a bunch of little bags (like these drawstring Tote Bags (1)), and keep like items together. I am lucky because my mom is awesomesauce and made me some.
- Burp cloths are an absolute MUST. Because I like things that people see in public to be pretty, I loved these Aden & Anais burp cloths (2) for the diaper bag. At home we used these thin birdseye diapers, but they are ugly.
- A change of clothes for baby. This means a little bag filled with a new onesie, pair of pants, socks, and a sweater (because you never know if it's gonna get stormy all of a sudden, haha). These are the sorts of things to keep in a drawstring bag.
- An extra shirt for you. One day, you'll thank me. Also, snacks for you (3). Very important.
- Whatever you need to feed the baby, whether that's nursing pads for you, or bottles and formula.
- Extra pacifiers (4) if you use them.
- Diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and a changing pad (most diaper bags come with a changing pad) Plus, you need something to put the poopy/wet diapers in. I love these biodegradable trash bags (5).
- A baby blanket. These are good for spreading on the floor at Baby & Me group, or for keeping your little muffin cold in a place with air conditioning. You can also put this over the carseat to block out light. You don't need anything fancy - these these thin blankets will do just fine (5) will do just fine. Or if you are fancy, you could bring an Aden and Anais swaddle wrap (6).
- Wet bag - this is great whether you use cloth diapers or not. When baby barfs on something, you need somewhere to put the dirty clothes. We have this one made by PlanetWise (7), which comes in a three sizes and lots of patterns.
- A couple of toys like this crinkly activity book (8) (see my other post about baby toys for this age group)
For older babies and little toddlers
As your baby gets older, you don't need to take the essentials everywhere you go (because they stop pooping on everything, all the time). We have the "emergency" diaper bag (with a bunch of diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, diaper salve, rags, etc), which we keep in the car. We rarely need everything in there, but its good to have, just in case. We have all that stuff in the Diaper Dude. We also keep some of the items below in the back of the car (in an ugly Drawstring Backpack), because we don't need them ALL the time. In the future, I'll do a post about what baby stuff we keep in what location, which will include a "what's in my diaper bag" show-and-tell. But for now...
Most of the stuff you'll be taking with you relates to food:
- Travel Packs of Disinfecting Wipes(1) are necessary for eating in restaurants or riding in shopping carts. I'm not afraid of germs, but I am TOTALLY grossed out by the crusty, slimy (seriously) highchairs at restaurants. To be honest (and this is a controversial "do you really need it?" item), I got a highchair cover (2) because I got so sick of cleaning highchairs only to be STILL grossed out. I also use the wipes on shopping carts all the time - some stores don't have antibacterial wipes by the carts.
- Along the same lines, if your kid is eating in a restaurant, they can either eat off the table, or they can eat off something like the Tiny Diner (3). This thing has pluses and minuses. It works well on certain kinds of tables, but the suction cups don't work that well on others. plus, the whole thing rolls into that catch-all thing at the bottom (which is great), but C tends to grab the catchall thing and pull the whole Tiny Diner off the table. I think the pluses outweigh the minuses, personally. I really don't like leaving a mess when we go to restaurants. It's not cool to make the server clean up after your kid, I say. Their lives are hard enough!
- Lifefactory Sippy Cup (4) (for water) - we actually keep the sippy cup attachment on the four ounce bottle, just because it's easier to carry around. We recently found just the sippy cup part (they were out of stock for awhile), so you can have extras or convert your existing bottles.
- Because we (mostly Y) are anal about keeping plastic away from C's food, we bought this stainless steel Eco Lunch Box (5). We also have stainless to-go containers (6) (in addition to a bunch of glass jars we've saved from jam, etc). We take these when we're packing a lunch.
- A lunch pail like our cute owl one from Skip*Hop (7) is a necessity. You need a cooler for all the food (plus one of those frozen thingies to keep it all cool). I also keep a bib and a napkin in the inside pocket. I like the Skip*Hop one because it comes in all different kinds of animals!
But you'll also need a few other things, like entertainment & diaper stuff:
- I suggest taking a diaper wallet or diaper pod (see top image) with you instead of a whole diaper bag. Keep the diaper bag in the car with stuff you don't need as much, and the wallet for the necessary things. The only drawback to these is that they don't fit most cloth diapers. We use compostables when we're out, so I have an extra Little gPant and about three compostable gRefills.
- Sunblock is always good. Make sure it passes the new sunblock tests, though!
- I keep two toys in my purse that C never gets to play with at home (and rotate them out randomly). She is always very excited to see them. I also keep a bunch of random crap that she's fascinated by - for example, she likes twisting the top back on these Plum organics baby food pouches, so I bring an empty one. Other hits? a hair elastic, an empty Myntz tin (Y is addicted to those, so we have plenty!) and two cheapy metal bracelets (sort of like these, but mine are from H&M). I also have my iPhone, filled up with the best baby apps (<--I updated that post to include screenshots, by the way!). Peekaboo Barn always works. :-)
And thus ends another of my epic "must have" lists (this one new and improved! With pictures!). I hope you find it helpful! Anyone else have any "must have" items for the diaper bag? Or, heck, indulge me: a favorite diaper bag?Comment
I’ve now given you two lists of things I love for babies...but what about the mama? In the beginning, all sorts of strange things will happen to your body. And if you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will hurt and they will be HUGE. Also, you will feel fat. However, I’m not going to talk about what sort of postpartum pantyliners you should get. After all, that stage doesn’t last very long - and honestly I barely remember what I did during those first few weeks anyway.
So I’m going to talk more long-term about what I have found indispensible, and what I did in the beginning that I would recommend you do as well. All of these tips relate to the following philosophy: “You have to feel cute, or you’re gonna get depressed.” For real.
Here we go!
- Nursing tank tops - I resisted nursing tank tops for a few months, thinking that there’d be nothing out there supportive enough for my colossal chest. HOWEVER a woman in my mother’s group suggested the Glamour Mom full bust nursing tanks and OMG my whole life changed. I literally wear one EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They are amazing and I have one in every color. I would suggest going to a local store to be fitted, but if they don’t have a good color selection, check out Figure 8 Maternity. I ordered mine from their online store and was really impressed by their customer service and super cute packaging (packaging goes a long way, I say!).
- Buy a new pair of jeans for every size. Yes, this can be expensive, but I’m not talking about buying a new pair of Sevens for every size. Post-partum I was an 8-10 and I’ve bought at least one new pair of Gap jeans for every size I’ve been at. I now have about 6 pairs of jeans that don’t fit, but I put them in with my maternity clothes for the next time around (whenever that is, haha). I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans (I blame breastfeeding), and buying new jeans saved my self esteem. Definitely worth the money, if you ask me. If you think you're like me and won't lose all the weight until you're done breastfeeding, go ahead and buy yourself a pair of Sevens. I wish I had.
- Purge your closet and buy new things - Nothing makes a girl feel less cute than looking at a closet full of clothes that she can’t fit into, I swear. Right after I had Charlie, I expected not to fit into any of my pre-pregnancy pants...but I also could not fit into any of my shirts. And I have to say, it’s now 14 months later and I still can’t. It took me about 8 months to purge my closet, and I really, really wish I had done it earlier. I’m not saying you have to get rid of all those clothes, but for the love of god, put them somewhere you can’t see them and buy yourself something pretty.
- Babies like to pull on things. A lot. This means that your hair is in a ponytail most of the time, and you can’t wear dangly earrings or necklaces unless you want to experience intense pain. I suggest finding cute ways to put your hair back, and buying some stud earrings that you actually like. I got bangs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, though, because I discovered bangs are just as fun to pull on as full-length hair. Sad face.
- If baby can’t pull on it, make sure it’s cute. This means that you need cute accessories like belts and shoes. These will make you feel happy.
I realize that none of this stuff directly relates to babies, but you know what? Sometimes it's not all about the baby. You're important, too! Anyone got anything else they think is important to add?
Hi all! I know I said that I'd be sharing our office next, but after waiting literally MONTHS for my darling husband (hi dearest!) to clear off his desk so I'm not mortified to take photos, I've given up and am moving on (for the time being).
Instead, I'm going to share C's big girl room, which I finished right around her first birthday.
Why redecorate her room, you might ask? Well, two reasons: 1) I was irrationally annoyed by how trendy the pompom lantern I made was, and 2) I wanted her room to fit her personality, and this is a very adventurous little girl. I wanted to create a "big girl room" for her that was her size - everything within her reach - and that had a theme befitting a tiny explorer.
Ironically, the room was inspired by a rug I bought from Ikea that we no longer have - Elvis Purrsley peed on it and ruined it (I love him, but he can be obnoxious, that cat). I always wanted a rug with roads on it for my matchbox cars when I was a kid, so when I found the super affordable ($15!) rug, I had to buy it. But it didn't match the rest of her room! What to do?
Over time, the perfect theme came to mind - a city. And when I thought about creating a little reading nook for her, I decided to create a park-themed reading area in a modern city.
How about a little tour?
This is the view from the door. The hot air balloons are made by Travels Light, and were a gift from my friend Reichel over at Copy Cat Chic (she bought them for her daughter's gorgeous nursery and didn't end up using them!). I think they look perfect above C's crib. And because I don't want you guys to think I've got it all together (as if you thought that anyway, ha!), here's the full disclosure: I was totally planning to DIY hot air balloons using paper mâché, but the project was really frustrating and I gave up. I'm glad I did - these are so much better!
Here's a view of the "park" reading nook. I love these LOVA leaf canopies from IKEA, and I've been surprised that more people online aren't using them in their kids' rooms. Sitting under them makes you feel like you're in a secret spot - they're awesome!
Underneath, she has "grass" (two little rugs, also from IKEA) and a cushy place to hang out. My mom made the big gumdrop pillows; you may recognize the one in the back from her original nursery, and the two new ones are made with tree fabric to fit the park theme. The pattern is Amy Butler's Gum Drop Pillows, if you're curious.
C also has three pillows with Stinkerpants animals on them - a deer, a squirrel and a skunk.
Here are a few close-ups of the reading nook. The bookshelves were taken from a post on Ohdeedoh - those are IKEA spice racks - $3 each! I love a good - and cheap - idea!
Next we move over to the changing table area. There's not much on the changing table itself, because C likes to throw things (haha). All of her changing supplies (wipes, etc) are in the bookshelf next to the dresser.
Over her changing area are two wooden biplanes with a special purpose. I am super proud of this idea - it was a stroke of genius in the dead of the night. ;) I needed a place to hang her barrettes - so I created little banners for these planes (thick floral wire inside white ribbon), and clipped her barrettes on them.
The planes are hung using fishing wire, which you can barely see when you're in the room. The planes themselves are actually part of a plane mobile, which I bought at a toy store in Berkeley.
Here's her Expedit, now filled out with more toys and fun stuff than the last time you saw it. ;)
A few more photos of some of the details...
The shelves on the wall are RIBBA photo shelves (from IKEA, of course). Behind them, I painted clouds directly on the wall (I was inspired by these shelves, but wanted something a little more handmade looking). Her original nursery included a lot of artwork, and I was sad that a photo wall didn't exactly fit in with the new theme - it looked weird floating in the "sky." There were a couple of pieces of artwork that I really wanted to display, though, so I put them on the shelves.
Here, the "Springtime" print, which is one of three I scanned from one of Y's favorite baby books.
And, the wish tree print, which Y and I spent a lot of time filling out and means a lot to us.
I also have toys and books from Y's and my childhood in C's room...
My grandfather (who C was named after) gave me this Felix the cat stuffed animal, for example:
And a little shadow box I made using the onesie she wore when she came home from the hospital (and various other "the day you were born" knick-knacks):
More of the artwork I couldn't part with (this one I drew for C with all of her animals) from the original nursery, plus my childhood toys & a toy left over from her circus birthday party:
There you have it! I am happy to say that C really seems to enjoy her room, especially the little reading nook. It's a lot of fun to watch her play!Comment
I’m beginning to realize that party planning is not for me. While I enjoy the coming-up-with-ideas part, the actual execution part stresses me out. Somehow, things never end up going as planned.
In summary, I should have known better than to plan Charlie's first birthday party outdoors in the hills of the San Francisco Bay Area in the summer. It was very cold for most of the party, and the fog/wind wrecked a few of my DIY projects. Oh well. I like to keep it real here at Stinkerpants.com, so it wouldn’t have been me if I had an array of stunningly perfect first birthday photos, now would it?! ;)
Also, I’m convinced that people who have beautiful parties for babies either have a professional photographer, or they have a lot of help. Or maybe everything in their lives goes as planned? I'm not sure - whatever it is, the parties I looked at for inspiration were perfect. I don’t believe in photoshopping myself for this blog, and birthday parties are no different...so these photos have cars in the background, Charlie isn’t smiling (why is that?!), and I don’t look perfect (mostly because I was cold and had my jeans on under my dress - otherwise I usually look perfect, right? HA!).
Despite the weather, the carnival birthday party ended up being fun for all (even Charlie, who is going through a shy stage right now). And although my favorite DIY project didn’t work out, I let it go and had a good time anyway.
Because we live in a condo and don't have a back yard, we decided to hold Charlie's party at a local park, near a carousel. I had grand visions of tons of balloons (which Charlie loves), a very cute display of her weekly photos, and a warm, sunny day. The reality was a bit less than that, but I still think things turned out well. How about some photos?
Inspired by a post on Hostess with the Mostess,I bought a few tin circus toys on Etsy and displayed them on painted, upside-down terracotta pots. I also used rolls of tickets to create displays. Some of the ticket displays were actual ticket rolls, and others were 9" round foam discs (which I got from our local flower mart), with tickets glued on. The other centerpieces were cheap plastic wild animal toys, which I spray-painted gold, and ticket flowers, which I made using the various colors of tickets I bought. It was Y's genius idea to cut out the "one" from the "admit one" tickets for the center of each flower. Perfect for a first birthday!
On Pinterest (which, by the way, you should follow me on! Or, if you want an invite, comment below and I'll send you one!), I found this awesome beverages display and was totally inspired. I circus-ified a sign, and used a tin beverages container we've had for ages. Izze makes the perfect party drink - it's tasty and oh-so-pretty. It's also not cheap, so I wanted to prevent people abandoning their half-finished drinks when they lost track of whose was whose. I made little flags for people to write their names on for the stripey straws (leftover from our baby shower), and displayed them in a vase I made from one of the ticket rolls.
Another photo of one of the tables...notice Charlie's weekly photos, laid out on the tables? Those weren't supposed to be there. This is the only project that didn't work out that I was truly sad about. These were supposed to be hanging up as part of a "step right up and see the cutest baby on earth!" display (which you'll see in a minute).
For food, we served hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and various delicious sides from Best in Show (Y got a great groupon!). I must say, the food was really good.
Because it was so cold, the birthday girl's adorable outfit (handmade by her Grammie) was covered up for most of the day. She was wearing a mish-mash of various warm add-ons, none of which matched (haha). Y and I also dressed up to be a little circus-y, but I think Y's outfit (completed by an awesome moustache) looked way better than mine!
Y and I bought a birthday hat from a seller on etsy, which would have been awesome (if she'd sent the one we ordered). My mom and I took it apart and made the hat a million kinds of awesome using glitter and a feather boa (thanks Mom!).
Both of Charlie's grandfathers got rainbow suspenders - my dad already has a moustache, but Yeh Yeh needed one (like how it matches his hair?).
Clown noses were provided for the guests (of course).
See this display? I still think it was a genius idea. I bought cheap umbrella stands from Amazon (yay for Amazon Prime!), and wooden dowels from Home Depot. Then I hand-lettered a sign that said, "Step Right Up & See the...cutest baby on earth!" The idea was to string all of her weekly photos between the two dowels. Sadly, the moisture in the air from the fog combined with the breeze ripped the strings and the photos were flying all over the place. Sad. That was my favorite idea. I would have set it up at home, but somehow the sign got ripped and part of it was missing. Oh well. As it was, it became a cute backdrop for people to take photos with their babies.
I didn't want to go over-the-top with cake. Fondant isn't really my thing - it's a little too fancy for a first birthday party in my opinion, and it isn't the best taste-wise. I really wanted simple and relatively inexpensive cakes from a local bakery (they make the best Red Velvet cake!). We reused cake stands from our wedding, and I bought cake bunting from a seller on Etsy (even though these are super trendy right now, bunting is just soooo circus-y! I had to do it!).
I really expected Charlie to freak out and do a face plant into her tasty cupcake, but she didn't eat ANY OF IT, even after I put some of the frosting in her mouth! Behind Charlie, you can see more bunting (from the same Etsy seller). I strung the bunting between two dowels, much like the beverages sign & the weekly photos display (my dad got the fun job of getting the dowels in the rock-hard ground. Still not sure how he did it!). You can also see Charlie's cute oufit a bit better here.
The cakes came in three flavors: chocolate, white, and red velvet (the red velvet was the biggest, of course!). People seemed to enjoy them - I know I did!
So that's it for Charlie's first birthday party! I still can't believe she's a year old. Next year's party will be a lot less involved (unless I get carried away again...)!Comment
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