Thursday, March 31, 2011

Off the Registered Path - Crocheted and Knit Gifts

I learned to crochet from a young age.  My mother crocheted and my grandmother crocheted and I was taught as soon as they believed that I had the coordination.  My home had a handmade afghan on every couch, chair and bed.  It's been a soothing and enjoyable hobby that I've maintained throughout my life.  It's also a skill that's come in useful with all these babies cropping up around me.

Not everyone can crochet.  And I've tried to knit, it's not easy.  So if knitting and crocheting aren't part of your evening wind down routine, here are a few gift giving options that you won't find on the baby shower registry (aka on this blog as off the registered path).

You remember Lemonade Couture from the Baby Bears post.  This Hand Crocheted Bunny Blanket/Toy set is gorgeous.  It's gender neutral and machine washable.  Love and love.  And, Lemonade Couture is generously offering a 15% discount to all Next Stop - Baby readers with the discount code NextStopLemonadeCouture from now through April 31, 2011.  LOVE.

by Lemonade Couture

These adorable Bunny Buddy Baby Blankets are hand knit by Wish Fulfilled using 100% organic cotton.  This Etsy shop also sells hand knit sweaters, bibs and clothing hangers.  The bunnies come in the five colors you see below (Pecan, Almond, Blueberry, Strawberry, Petit Fours...makes me hungry).

by Wish Fulfilled
by Wish Fulfilled

Bubbies Blankies only sells made-to-order knit items.  There are three size blankets: lovie, stroller and crib (small to large).  And the lovie blanket was awarded one of the "10 Best Lovies for Babies"by (the online version of parenting magazine).  For you Next Stop - Baby readers, Bubbies Blankies is offering a 10% discount with the the discount code VIPCUSTOMER.

by Bubbies Blankies

Knit cocoons are very hot right now.  Amongst the babies.  Remember The Woombie from my post Unique Baby Essentials?  It's all part of the swaddling rage.

by Bubbies Blankies

These knit pink and grey elephants are so sweet.  Shelia Zachariae makes knitwear of all kinds.  Her items have a unique aesthetic that I really like.  They are colorful and fun, like the reversible everglades blanket below.

by Shelia Zachariae
by Shelia Zachariae

by Shelia Zachariae

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Something for the Dad-To-Be

Women are undeniably the spotlight of the whole pregnancy situation.  And for very good reason.  Yes.  But, there are also many glowing, ecstatic and incredibly dedicated fathers-to-be.  Here are few gift ideas for the men in your life who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new baby.

Children's Books - A special book for the new dad to read to his new little one.  Here are some books specifically dedicated to the father-child relationship.

Diaper Bag - You've heard of the manbag (aka the manpurse), here is a man's diaper bag.  The color scheme and cross-body strap amp up the masculinity.  It looks more aggressive-messenger-bag and less pansy-boy-shoulder-purse.  With this diaper bag, Uncommon Goods includes a onesie that reads "locally grown" and The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips and Advice on First Year Maintenance by Louis Borgenicht.  Give him a bottle and a diaper and he'll be on his way.

Flip Video - This tiny video camera easily fits in a diaper bag or a pocket for that matter.  It's relatively inexpensive (as video cameras go) and it does the trick.  Depending on the model, the doting dad can capture up to 4 hours of footage.  It's easy to upload videos onto the internet and share the latest with friends and family.  The next thing you know, the former-father-to-be will be the current-proud-producer of the video that knocks Charlie Bit My Finger off the most popular youtube video list!

Child Proofing Kit - Let the man of the house be in charge of child-proofing for the baby of the house.  These kits include door knob covers, cabinet safety latches and outlet plugs.  There are plenty of brands and kits to choose from, here are a couple:

Father-to-be Scrubs - For the father that plans to be front and center during the delivery, how about some "I'm the Daddy" scrubs.  They're much more comfortable for the long haul than jeans and much less sloppy than stained sweatpants.  I'm envisioning a scene: father-to-be screaming "who's your daddy?!?!" as he points to his scrubs and mother-to-be screaming expletives to the effect of "please be quiet."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Detective Not Needed

As my First Post mentioned, pregnancy and babies are all around me.  At the moment I have three pregnant friends and several friends who I anticipate becoming pregnant any day now.  Any moment really.  Of these friends, all are married and all are trying (I define trying as not using any form of birth control).  Meaning, while I'm no Columbo, the likely outcome of those equations is impending pregnancy.

I see all of my soon-to-be-pregnant friends on a regular basis.  It's going to be a glaring change when the table orders two bottles of red and my usual wine buddy passes.  Or when my friend, who follows a fierce diet and exercise regime, has been lax about the gym and looks uncharacteristically bloated.  Or when my typically less endowed friend is busting out of her v-neck shirt.  What I'm asking is whether I'm supposed to ignore blatant evidence that my friend is with child because she hasn't confirmed the news.

Despite my lack of personal experience, I know enough to know that many women keep their pregnancy under wraps for the first trimester.  Yet, there is a large possibility (I'd wager a probability) that I will hangout with my friends during this secret first trimester, whenever it comes.  If the telltale signs of pregnancy are THERE, what do I do?  My instinct is to let it be.  A secret so big should be revealed as chosen and asking the obvious question will either ruin the planned reveal or force a really bad and transparent lie.  On the other hand, what if my friend is trying to wait until the second trimester, but desperately looking for an excuse and a person to tell.  Plus, if I don't ask and it's that obvious it will probably get awkward and force a lie anyway.

I'm in unchartered territory.

Suggestions, please.  Would you ask your friend if she's pregnant or wait for her to tell you?  Pregnant women and those formerly pregnant, what do/did you prefer?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Trust Your Gut

It's time for a new guest blogger.  A new and wonderful guest blogger.  Alfie Toner comes from a perspective yet to be expressed on Next Stop - Baby, the perspective of someone who has actually been pregnant and actually had a baby.  She's a great resource for my outsider point of view.  Expect more to come from this experienced mother and fantastic storyteller.

So, since NextStop-Baby is blogging about smells and vomit...and since I have some small experience...I'm reminded of the sweet memory of my first trimester of my first pregnancy - might I add a much desired and anticipated baby.  It was a beautiful day in early November.  Sunny, brisk and clear.  I felt fabulous for the whole month of October since I found out I was pregnant, but suddenly I was nauseous and exhausted.  Side note: among my very strange friends, one of the common party questions to debate is whether you prefer to be nauseous or throw up?  This is very difficult one for me because I hate both.  But if I have to decide, I choose nauseous.  Ugh.

Anyway, on this early day in November I was nauseous and not happy.  The dad-to-be tried to console - ineffectively since he didn't and couldn't feel this part of the "WE are preggers."  Exasperated he urged me to call my mother.  She genuinely tried to cheer me up by reminding me how much joy this baby would bring, and that it would pass soon.

So, I pulled on an oversized sweater, grabbed an apple to munch along the way, and went for a short walk to the local pond.  I spent a few minutes watching happy moms play with adorable toddlers, and then rushed home and made it to the toilet just in time.  I didn't have to choose, I got to be nauseous and throw up.  I climbed into bed, watched some TV and fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up feeling fabulous!  Turns out it wasn't morning sickness at all, it was a stomach bug that came and went in 24 hours...and oh dummy me, I had rallied, and looked on the bright side and eaten an apple and gone for a walk...and it wasn't the pregnancy, it was a virus!!!  Moral of the story: Sometimes the pregnant woman knows best!

Your ever experienced,
Alfie Toner

P.S. I still eat apples, unlike raisinettes - but that's a story for another post.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Importance of Shoes

As a female, it's no surprise that I love shoes.  Shopping for, wearing and thoroughly enjoying shoes is a feminine stereotype that I happily fulfill.  It's no wonder that I'm obsessed with baby shoes.  Actually booties, I think, is the more accurate noun.  I adore them.

Booties serve zero practical function for non-walking little ones, other than to keep their feet warm and stylish.  However, as babies develop from crawlers to tipsy toddlers to sturdy walkers it is their bare feet that are most useful.  Without shoes, they more easily learn balance and coordination.  And become strong enough to put one foot in front of the other.  Once a baby is comfortably cruising around on two feet, shoes then become important to protect his or her little feet from random, gross and dangerous debris on the ground.

Whether for pre-walking style or post-walking function, one is never too young to discover the treasure that is shoes.

Here are some of my favorite baby booties and all three Etsy Shops are offering Next Stop - Baby readers a 10% discount!!! 

These gorgeous booties are handmade by Pleasantly plump [knits.].  The color choice, humor (check out the Mr. Mustache booties!), and craftsmanship are perfect.  AND, she's offering Next Stop - Baby blog readers a 10% discount on all of her booties.  Use the code LITTLESWEETFEET and enjoy!

by Pleasantly plump [knits.]
by Pleasantly plump [knits.]
by Pleasantly plump [knits.]

The wool felt shoes by Tiny Toes are simply adorable.  This Etsy crafter delicately embroiders each shoe and can even stitch a customized message on the sole, like "I (heart) mom."  She is generously offering Next Stop - Baby readers a 10% discount on all her shoes with the code nextstopbaby.

by Tiny Toes
by Tiny Toes

You remember Bison Booties from my previous post (A Dinosaur Tribute).  Here are a few more of her wonderful booties - the "Just Like Daddy"and the "Baby Dachshund" booties.  So cute.  Use the discount code BISONBOOTIES0311 for your 10% discount through April 4, 2011.

by Bison Booties
by Bison Booties

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Couple of Dinks

DINK is an acronym for Double/Dual Income No Kids.  Yes, the word dink has a couple other humorous and not so humorous definitions (in particular, definition #7 on gave me a chuckle).  But, let's stay relevant.  The DINK I'm talking about refers to a couple without children who have abundant disposable income due to their lack of financial responsibility.  It's like a couple of yuppies (young upwardly-mobile professional people, the late 70's backlash to hippies) who prioritize growing their combined wealth and not growing their family.

I learned about the DINK demographic recently and was amused (by the name) and intrigued that there are so many of these couples out there that an acronym has been coined.  It was a nice reminder that while my post-marriage plans include starting a family, not everyone feels the same way.  The DINKs  are the target market for luxury brands.  They are characterized by their love of spending money on travel, fine dining and consumer products in general.  They take pride in having absolutely no financial responsibility other than themselves.  Not even pets.

In addition to spending, they love building their assets.  There are blogs, websites and even a DINK facebook page where fellow DINKs share investment strategies.  They hate hearing "you'll change your mind" from friends, family and strangers...because they won't.  Ill-behaved children at restaurants and movie theaters are a huge pet peeve.  And if they made the rules, babies in general would not be allowed in public place because they're too unpredictable and take up too much space with all their accessories.

All this is a stark contrast to the theme of this blog - the baby craze.  And while the typical reader of Next Stop - Baby is more likely to be part of the MEWK demographic (Many Expenses With/Wanting Kids), it takes all kinds.  

If you're a newly discovered DINK (or just interested in stealing their finance secrets), check out the Dual Income No Kids blog for your Kindle or

Caption Contest Dos

The first caption contest was such a hit, let's dive straight into the next.  The photo below is a gift to us from Cake Wrecks blog, it's a cake and, well, I'll leave it at that...

(Winner chosen)
The cake at the Abstinence Only was a huge success!
With only 50 pregnancies report this semester,
teen pregnancy at Memphis high is at a record low.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Mother Who Wears Glasses

I spent last Friday night on a bus to Boston.  It had been a long week at work and once the bus broke free of Manhattan gridlock, I was instantly lulled to sleep by the rhythm of its churning engine.  I woke up somewhere in Connecticut.  What was supposed to be a light nap was more like a coma and it took me a moment shake off the sleep.  I rubbed my eyes and checked for saliva at the corners of my mouth.  Thank goodness for small miracles, in the likely event that I invaded my neighbor's space at least I hadn't drooled on her.

I needed to call my ride on the other end and give an estimated time of arrival.  So, where exactly was I?  Big, green rectangles whizzed by the side of bus.  Wordless signs.  I squinted, trying to see.  Didn't help.  I squinted harder.  Still didn't help.  I dug through my oversized bag and after a frustrating 30 seconds found my glasses.  Instantly the world made sense.  I was about an hour away from Boston.

Glasses are quite new to me.  My 20/20 vision remained fully intact through my mid twenties.  Now I am absolutely dependent on glasses.  I need them.  I wear them all the time.  Yet, when I look in the mirror, I haven't adjusted to my new image.  The thick tortoise frames are foreign as they sit atop my cheeks bones.  I don't think of myself as a glasses wearer, though that's exactly what I am.

It struck me, on this bus ride to Boston, that I will be a mom who wears glasses.  My children will know me this way.  When they close their eyes or dream at night, the will see me in my glasses.  I wonder if they will see me as a nerdy mom or serious mom because I wear glasses.

As we grow older, there are so many things that change in our appearance and our character.  Who we are and how we see ourselves is constantly evolving.  I am no longer my sixteen-year-old self (thankfully) and in ten years will no longer be who I am today.  By the time I have children maybe I'll have taken to wearing contacts.  Or maybe, I will finally identify with my glasses adorned face.  Either way, I'm sufficiently confident that I could be a cool mom, even if I wear my nerdy glasses.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beautiful Belly

The ancient art of henna body painting has been an important part of cultural celebration in India, Africa and the Middle East from as far back as 1200 BC.  Henna is a plant that can be used to make a red dye, which is then painted on the body as tattoo-like art.  Unlike a tattoo, it's temporary and fades in one to three weeks.  A nice alternative for the fickle.  It can also be used as a natural hair dye, but test it out before trying your whole head because the resulting color does not always look so...natural.  In recent times (as in the last decade) henna has become popular in Western countries, the United States included.  We just took many thousands of years to catch on.

What does any of this have to do with pregnancy and/or babies?!

Well, part of the henna trend is painting pregnant bellies.  The bigger the bump the more thin the skin is stretched and the better the henna dye works its magic.  Traditionally ornate burgundy patterns are meant to glorify and honor the beauty of carrying a child.  I love the intended symbolism - at the most bloated, enormous moment of your pregnancy this art celebrates the beauty of reproduction, with your huge stomach as the joyous centerpiece.

If you have just envisioned something that resembles a finger-painted whale, your wrong.  I swear.

This gorgeous baby bump was painted with the help of a henna kit from Henna Deva.  The crafter behind this Etsy shop tells me that her Pregnancy Henna Kit was designed for very simple use by any beginner.  She has over ten years of experience as a professional henna artist and was incredibly generous with her knowledge, so don't be shy to contact her.

Also check out Mehndi: The Timeless Art of Henna Painting by Loretta Roome - a book that incorporates the history, the spiritual importance and a how-to guide of henna.

Something new, something different.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gifts for the Momma-To-Be

Throughout the pregnancy (and for a long time after) there will be plenty of gifts for baby.  Here is a list of gifts for the mother-to-be that range in price and effort (handmade versus store bought).   

Pregnancy Survival Kit - This is a homemade kit of the pregnancy essentials.  Like a preggers first-aid kit.  Here is a list of ideas:
  • Antacid (Tums, Rolaids, etc.) - Heartburn and swirly stomach can be an ongoing ailment throughout all three trimesters
  • Saltines - A classic cure for nausea
  • Belly Band - An amazing invention that lets her wear her regular pants during the pregnancy
  • Shea Butter or Body Butter - To prevent and combat dreaded stretch marks
  • Prunes - Um, yeah.  Constipation is a pregnancy symptom for many women.  
  • Prenatal vitamins - Many women start taking these before they are actually pregnant, so see if you can do some detective work to get more stock of the brand that your friend is already using. 
Gift Certificate to a Maternity Clothing Store - Your friend is going to have to get her hands on maternity gear, even if she has a belly band.  With all that planning for the baby's arrival (read: saving and budgeting), spending money on a forgiving, empire waisted dress (read: moo-moo) will be last on her list.  So, you can do it for her.   

Pregnancy Book - This is an especially great gift for a first time mom-to-be who doesn't yet know the bizarre, gross and wonderful things that pregnancy and baby will bring.  Books are an important resource for the massive amount of information that there is to learn.  Beyond the standard books, there are also specialized books for specialized friends (vegan pregnancy, home birth pregnancy, etc.).  Here are a few top selling classics:

Pregnancy/Baby Magazine - These are great gifts for first timers and many timers.  For women experiencing their first pregnancy, a magazine is a great and relaxed way to absorb information.  Pregnancy books can be overwhelming and scary.  Magazines provide information in smaller doses and give the recipient something to look forward to on a monthly or weekly basis.  For women who are already mothers, magazines always include the latest and greatest products, health advice, parenting ideas, and everything in between. 

Jewelry - How about something impractical, non-informational and beautiful.  Pregnant women are bombarded with advice and know-how from the moment they announce their joy.  Let your friend choose her information source and instead give her something special to keep forever and connect with this amazing nine months. 

Check out these fun and unique necklaces from Brass Isaac.  This Etsy crafter also makes custom pieces, so you can work with her to choose words and charms that will be especially meaningful to the mom-to-be.

I LOVE this "poem necklace" that reads
"No one, not even the rain, has such small hands"
from a poem by E.E. Cummings.  Beautiful.

Mani/Pedi or Spa Treatment Gift Certificate - At some point, she's no longer going to be able to see her feet and her ankles are going to feel like watermelons.  A little pampering may help with both issues. For summer pregnancies this is a particularly good gift.  Some spas even specialize in "prenatal massages."  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Let the Best Caption Win!

Here is the photo, what is your caption? (Winner chosen)

Reacting to the news that Donald Trump might run for president...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Smells Like I'm Going to Puke

A dear, pregnant friend of mine emailed me a hysterical story last week.  Hysterical to me, not so much to her.

A client walked into her office sometime after the breakfast hour reeking of Dunkin Donuts.  Apparently there is a potent and recognizable "smell of Dunkin Donuts."  I say "apparently" because my sense of smell sucks.  It's been muted my whole life and I'm used to not appreciating the smellier side of life, in fact I consider it a blessing of sorts.  On top of The Double D being a pungent restaurant, my friend's sense of smell is wildly heightened as a side effect of her pregnancy.  With all this in play, the client barely made it through the office door before my friend was fighting an extreme need to projectile vomit.

For many pregnant women, normal smells are potent and potent smells are an all out assault on the nostrils.  While many people consider nausea a telltale symptom of pregnancy, it is sometimes not a independent symptom but just the response to an overwhelming smell.  Things that would be a mellow or even pleasing scent under normal (aka non-pregnant) conditions can become revolting when whiffed during pregnancy.  This smelling super power is a result of elevated levels of estrogen.  Blame it on the hormones - the cause of most overwhelming and heightened female behaviors.

So, my pregnant friend is on the verge of barfing all over her client because all she can smell is an extra light, extra sweet hazelnut coffee and Boston Creme donut.  She is literally turning her back to hide the retching.  By some small miracle, she manages to hold it together until the meeting is over and he finally leaves.  Crisis averted.  Or not...a young boy comes into her office for her next meeting of the day and within seconds vomits all over her shoes.

Her story ended there.  And so does this one.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Unique Baby Essentials

Another post about things I didn't (until now) know about pregnancy and babies.  This post has a special dedication to odd baby products that assist with odd needs of a new parent.  Needs that I never could have imagined exist.

Let's get started with nursing pads.  For women who choose to breastfeed, the first few months can produce some leakage.  Seriously.  Hence the invention of nursing pads.  They are small, circular pads that slip into a bra.   They prevent public incident (think partial wet t-shirt contest) and breast milk stains...which are apparently hard to remove.  Here are a few awesome things about these (below) nursing pads: they are made from natural and organic fabrics, they are machine washable, the maker (Rebourne) is an awesome Etsy crafter who would love to answer any questions you have about nursing pads, and if you use the Coupon Code "nextstopbaby" you will get 15% off!!! 

Next up, the Pee-Pee Teepee.  This is a little (very little) fabric cone.  It addresses the hazard of a baby boy's uncontrollable urination.  When the diaper is removed there is an instant and significant golden shower risk.  I suppose goggles would also work, but it's much easier to proactively stop the problem at its source than reactively clean the pee out of your clothes, carpet and teeth.  These Pee-Pee Teepees from Uncommon Goods are for "The Sprinkling Wee-Wee."  They are available in regular and organic cotton and they come in a mini laundry bag.

Last on the list (for now) is The Woombie.  A great name for a great invention.  My layman (read: non-parent) definition of swaddle is the act of bundling your baby in a blanket.  It's actually a lot more serious than that.  A true swaddle is a tight wrap that firmly binds the baby's arms against his or her body.  Like a mini straight jacket.  It looks a little creepy, but is very healthy for the baby.  It mimics the condition of the womb, which leads to better sleeping, better self-soothing, easier body temperature regulation and reduction of colic and general fussiness.  The Woombie is the ultimate swaddle tool.  Look at how content that little one is!

This is the Paprika colored no leg woombie.
There are color options,
organic options and leg/no leg options

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I versus We

Who's pregnant?  The woman or the couple?

There's the biological answer - the woman (or in the rare case of Thomas Beatie and probably a few others, the man).  Then, there's other answer - the couple.  I'm not quite sure how to characterize the latter.  The emotional answer?  The politically correct answer?  The inclusive, supportive, family-oriented answer?

As a preliminary issue, it's a pet peeve of mine when someone answers in the "we" without being prompted.  For example, I ask my married co-worker about her weekend plans and she answers, "WE're having dinner with friends."  She uses "we" incessantly: we hate Mondays, we love Chinese take-out, we were feeling sick.  Her individuality is nil.  If I didn't know she was married I would wonder whether she had a creepy, and slightly sad, obsession with her dog or mom or neighbor.  But, before I go hating on the "we" responders (too late) I should probably admit that I do it once in a while on the shameful and rare occasion.  I'm not proud of it.  It just slips out.  This admission aside, as a general rule I don't approve of the "we" response.

The exception to this rule (every rule has one) may be the specific and isolated response of "we're pregnant."  While the woman is pregnant, she certainly didn't create said pregnancy by her lonesome.  The "we" response is modern and conveys joint participation and excitement.  It has a tone of partnership.

However, it also has an awkward and corny tone.  Awkward because HE is not pregnant.  Corny because it's overtly sentimental.  And, just because a woman says, "I'm pregnant" doesn't mean she's a man-hating, bra-burning feminist who thinks the father-to-be had the sole and quick task of delivering the sperm.  The joy is shared even if the pregnancy isn't.

When it comes to my pregnancy, WE'll be using I.

What do you think?  Thumbs UP or DOWN to the "we"?

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Dinosaur Tribute

Did you know that the pterodactyl is not a dinosaur?  Rather, it is (was) a flying reptile of sorts.  But not technically a dinosaur.

The Land Before Time was one of my favorite movies as a child.  It had it all: adventure, fear-inducing thrill, heartfelt moments between friends and the ultimate battle of good versus evil.  A true coming of age piece played out through an amazing journey to The Great Valley.  I was obsessed with Littlefoot and his clan of misfit friends.  I have vivid memories of my brother and I sitting on the plaid patterned couch in our playroom (read: half-finished basement), eating string cheese and debating which character was our favorite.  Quotes like "Sharp Tooth!"  and "yep, yep, yep" remain stored in my memory from incessant viewing sessions.

String cheese and The Land Before Time are two of the infinite and important treasures of my childhood.  Treasures that I hope to share with my future little family members.  I won't and can't forget the day my mom made me listen to Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas & Friends.  She took out the record from the special record cabinet and delicately slid it on the record player (yes, we had records and a record player in my house).  She switched the knob "on," flipped down the needle and closed her eyes as the music began.  And we listened.  Together.  Granted, it was probably more awkward than it was sentimental.  It's awkward just writing about it.  But, it's certainly a memory I will never forget.

I realize that there will be new, fancy, 3D, HD, super-technologically-impressive animated movies of the moment to watch and enjoy.  I also realize that string cheese is just short step above Velveeta.  But, I plan to sneak in some old school dino time with my child(ren).  As long as I don't whip out a VHS tape and VCR I should be ahead of the curve.  I just have to hope that someone has been genius enough to convert The Land Before Time to blu-ray...or at least DVD.  Cringe-worthy moments between family are the better portion of lasting memories for most people.  I suffered through Marlo's peace-loving harmonies, my kids can suffer through a bit of corny dinosaur adventure.  

Here are some of my favorite dinosaur baby stuff.

These Bison Booties are amazing.  So cute.  I'm sure you agree. They are handmade in a smoke-free, pet-free studio and come in a range of patterns.  And, they can be customized by size and pattern.

You remember Auntie Jill.  She makes the personalized minky snuggle bunnies.  This is her Rockin Dinosaur Plush.  A slightly scary plesiosaur.  I love it!

These onesies are designed by a team of sisters that make up PAWLING.  Their minimalistic design is perfect for your chic newborn who already knows a great thing (a dinosaur) when he or she sees it.

This is an on-the-go changing kit from DillyBaby.  The kit includes the zipper case, a changing pad, 2 diapers and a reusable case of wipes.  This sweet dinosaur pattern is just one of many offered.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


My favorite southern belle, Ella Mae, is the guest blogger behind this fabulous post.  It is a poignant (and funny!) story about the question of whether one wants to be a mother at all.  I am so excited that Ella Mae has joined the Next Stop - Baby blog family and hope that she will write again for us...soon.  Maybe a little Mint Julep will assist in the encouraging?

I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting at my desk in Mrs. Kramer's 4th grade classroom.  We had to write down our future and then read it out loud.  My paper read, "I will be an actress living in New York City.  I will be married with no children."  The fragile boned boy who sat across from me said, "You're not going to have any kids?  That's weird!"

You see, I've never been cut out for motherhood.  I'm a daydreamer, a relaxer, someone who loves "Me" time.  Like my Father, I've been known to have a short fuse.  I don't like sports.  What if my child wanted to play a lot of sports?  Even worse, what if they were winter sports?  I hate the cold, anything below 60 degrees borders on unbearable.  I don't have an artistic bone in my body, so I would be virtually useless at helping out with elaborate school projects.  Lastly, I'm a terrible driver.  In fact I prefer not to if possible.  I would be that woman that all of the other mothers talk about for not taking a turn in the carpool group and for always being absent at PTA meetings.

The funny thing is I consider myself a mother.  Six years ago my now husband gave me the best birthday present I could imagine.  Charlotte, a small white Chihuahua with huge ears.  She's the most perfect 'baby' possible.  She doesn't get runny noses or talk back or leave toys lying around.  She loves to go for walks and I never have to be on "diaper duty."  However, on a beautiful September night this past fall while I was at the author of this very blog's wedding, my throat started to close, tears formed in my eyes and I felt a dull ache in my stomach as I watched the Mother and Son dance.  I could practically feel the bond and love between the two of them.  All of a sudden, I wanted to flash forward 30 years and be dancing with my son at his wedding.  It was then that I knew deep within my heart, someday, Charlotte is going to be a big sister.

By Ella Mae

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Prescription of Flintstones Vitamins

I recently inquired of a family friend (a doctor friend) (a girl-doctor, doctor friend) about prenatal vitamins.  My independent knowledge was minimal - they are multi-vitamins for pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant.  And that's it.  So, I asked for the insider details. When should one start taking them?  How often?  Does one need a prescription?

She had a anti-climatic, short response - prenatal vitamins are pretty much the same as run-of-the-mill multi-vitamins with extra folic acid, I can buy them at Duane Reade without a prescription and if I'm not good at swallowing big pills then Flintstones chewables will do.  Hmmm...I was expecting more.  Really, Flintstones vitamins?  I didn't want to seem ungrateful or, worse, probe to the extent where she assumed there was some personal motivation (there's not).  So, I left it at that and turned to my trusty resource for all things: Wikipedia and the internet in general.

Turns out, she pretty much nailed it.  There is not much to these prenatal vitamins.  The dosage of certain vitamins, like folic acid and vitamin C, are increased above the levels contained in regular multi-vitamins.  These elevated levels are based on medical studies that show a correlation between certain vitamins and a baby's health at birth.  Makes sense.

But, what about just eating the foods that contain naturally high levels of important vitamins?  Why don't doctors recommend that?  I've read In Defense of Food (actually, I only read the first half because it was really, really dry) and I drank the all-natural Koolaid.  The premise of this non-fiction, healthy diet preaching, somewhat boring book is that people should eat actual food with actual nutrients.  And not processed stuff with supplemental, artificially added nutrients.  Eat the banana, skip the potassium pill.

These bananas look about a day away from overripe gooshiness

So, pregnant woman and female family planners should be eating foods that contain naturally high levels of folic acid.  Foods like citrus fruit, beans and leafy greens (collard greens, spinach and broccoli).  Iron, which is also important if you're preggers, can be found in egg yolks, artichokes, prunes and red meat.
"Grade A Fancy"

This juice is made from concentrate. 
If you're really going for the whole "actual food" diet,
then actual oranges would be a better call...
or at least juice made from actual oranges.

I understand that not everyone can or wants to change their diet and that the average diet won't provide for the suggested levels of certain vitamins.  But it is an option.  One that I have not heard.  Maybe because it's obvious?  Maybe because the makers of the prenatal vitamins have more pull with the doctors than the growers of folic acid rich foods?

Whether by prenatal vitamin, Flinstones chewables, a diet full of orange juice and chili or a combination thereof, the consensus seems to be that upping your daily vitamin and mineral intake is a good call if you're pregnant or in the market to become.

Nutella is not specifically good for pregnant women, but delicious.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Practical versus Adorable

A post inspired by one of my favorite followers, you know who you are (svelt lady).

When it comes to buying a baby shower gift - do you go for the thermometer or the plush, snuggly, stuffed animal?  The bottle brush or the collection of classic Dr. Seuss books?

Practical gift giving is boring.  Adorable gift giving makes for gifts that will be cherished for a lifetime.  Right?  I'm not so sure this is how it actually plays out.

As a non-mother (and non-mother-to-be), the wedding gift registry is my point of reference.  My wedding registry had gifts ranging all over the scale of functional to indulgent.  I considered sheets to be one of the functional items and a Kitchen Aid mixer (with all the bells and whistles) to be one of indulgent items.  Towels = functional.  Featherbed = indulgent.  But, in reality, nearly every item on my registry was indulgent on some level.  Were my then husband-to-be and I sleeping on a bare mattress each night until we were gifted a set of sheets?  No.  Maybe our sheets were old and didn't match our bedroom motif, but we had sheets.  Before getting fluffy new bath towels, did we have to drip dry when we got out of the shower each morning?  No.  We had a few towels around to help along the process.

Here lies the major difference between wedding registries and baby registries - pretty much every single item on the baby registry is practical on some level.  The parents-to-be are just as likely to have zero pacifiers as they are to have zero onesies.  Most non-parents don't own an old but working breast pump.  Unlike wedding gifts, nearly all baby gifts are functional.  And first time parents, in particular, are truly starting from scratch with baby stuff.  With that being said, there is a clear difference between essential items and useful items.

So, here's my take: when you're perusing through the registry list and see that 0 of 3 requests for bottles have been purchased, strongly consider buying a bottle.  Even though the jungle monkey play set is just the cutest thing you've seen the 2011 Puppy Bowl (one of my top 5 favorite television events each year), remember that your friend can manage parenthood without the play set (though it would help).  But she absolutely, positively needs to feed her first born.  If you really want to gift something more timeless, which I completely understand, do so along with one of the basics.  Get a pack of pacifiers and a copy of Goodnight Moon.  And, of course, if all the essentials are already purchased then issue has resolved itself.  Done and done.