Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Outnumbered by Babies and Bacon

Brunch is my favorite meal, though it sometimes overwhelms me.  Right off, it's a crisis choosing between breakfast food and lunch food.  I tend to go with breakfast and then get jealous (and cranky) at the sight of another diner's BLT.  Next point of debate: griddle or eggs.  I heart blueberry pancakes.  They are so warm and fluffy and I consider them a daily dose of fruit thereby warping them into a healthy choice.  Yet, I'm frequently drawn to the make-your-own-omelet, which stirs up a whole new batch of confusing options.  The bacon versus sausage selection is another doozy.  Is it going to be a puny, greasy sausage or something substantial?  Overcooked and brittle bacon or thick and crispy?  I never can tell and I never can choose.

Some Eye Candy via the hazel bloom

I recently shared a brunch with my husband, two of our best friends and their seven month old daughter.  We chose a restaurant known for its brunch specialities and its baby friendliness.  Check, check.  Within moments of paging through the menu, I realized I was facing my classic dilemma of what to order and a new dilemma of being more overwhelmed by the number of babies in the room then my classic dilemma.  The restaurant was FULL of babies.  Children too.  Toddlers?  Yes.  Mini, bald heads and glowing parents were everywhere.

I was amazed and a little bewildered.  Being a non-parent, I don't often find myself in baby friendly environments.  I simply don't factor it in because it's not on my radar.  But for this event, I had thought it important for our friends' baby to be accommodated without hassle (a place for her stroller, a highchair, etc.).  What I hadn't realized is that it was also important for my friends because the sheer abundance of babies put them at ease - a fussy baby was not a problem, spilled food was totally fine and the bulkier the diaper bag the better.

While I may have been overwhelmed by the menu options and baby count, it was clear that this brunch was probably one of the least overwhelming restaurant experiences our friends had enjoyed since the arrival of their daughter.  These were their people.  Yes, my husband and I will always be their people, but these were their baby people.  And they were pretty great people - they didn't seem to stress over the choice between sausage and bacon, there were other (adorable) distractions.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Caption Contest Five

WINNER - JAIME, clearly

Happy Memorial  Day!!! 

In between all those hotdogs (and beers) come up with a caption for the amazing photo below.  The winner will be announced on Friday, June 10, 2011 for all submissions made by 5 pm EST that date.

The only thing making this bearable is that 
your androgynous child's outfit 
is worse than mine.

(image found here)

What's So Great About Sophie?

Sophie the Giraffe is THE most popular baby toy.  EVER.

I have no proof of this (none whatsoever), but I'm making a very educated guess that she's in the top 10.  I spot this damn giraffe everywhere.  She's in the hands of nearly every baby I see, drool covered and dopey looking.  I swear I see her every day.  Sometimes more than once a day (I live in a highly baby populated neighborhood).  If Sophie the Giraffe were to rob me, I would have no problem describing her in perfect detail to the assigned detective and if she were in a line up with several other like sized rubber giraffes, I would have no problem pointing her out.  I could identify those rosy cheeks and that showy pose anywhere.

Have you seen her?  Do you know who I'm talking about?  

She's been around the block
in a stroller or two...

Little known facts about Sophie the Giraffe:
  • She's French (Sophie La Girafe)
  • She's 50 (Born in 1961)
  • She competes with Freddie the Firefly for top teether, but there really is no competition

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stuff People Google 2

This week's phrase that someone googled initially made me laugh and then made me curious...was this search linked to a profession? a hobby? a real interest or a bet between friends? Huh?

how much are baby owls

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baby Bucket List

Most do not know the gruesome origin of the term "bucket list" (it comes from the phrase "kick the bucket" which comes from a method of suicide), but most do know its meaning - a list of things that you want to do before you die.  It's not a brain buster to figure out the meaning of a baby bucket list - crazy, fun, extravagant things that you want to do before having a baby.  Not because a baby equals death!  NO.  Because these things will be more difficult (if not impossible) from pregnancy forward (or at least through toddlerhood).  Check out the website www.bucketlist.org - it allows you to make your own (baby) bucket list that others can follow (to keep you honest).

My ideas below, please share yours - leave a comment with your planned or accomplished pre-baby adventure

Travel - This doesn't have to be Bali or Patagonia or some 24-hour-to-get-to-by-jet destination.  For example, I grew up in Massachusetts and have never been to Martha's Vineyard.  It's on my baby bucket list.  Maybe you've never been camping or always wanted to visit New Orleans.  Yes, a trip to Brazil would be amazing if you can afford it, but a quick babymoon to the outer banks of North Carolina would also be pretty sweet.

Physical Challenge - Not the Double Dare kind...or maybe.  These are athletic feats that you've always aspired to conquer but never had the motivation.  Being pregnant seriously limits your ability to exercise and the baby's arrival will serious limit your free time - how's that for motivation.  Get it done while you have the time and energy to do it.

  • Triathlon - The website www.beginnertriathlete.com is dedicated first time triathlon competitors and provides everything from an event calendar to training programs
  • Marathon - It takes (on average) from 16-24 weeks to train for the 26.2 mile (length of a marathon) race and around 5 hours (for a first timer) to run it.  Go to www.runnersworld.com for a comprehensive database of marathons (and other length races) 
  • Adventure Race - These are races that combine athleticism with chaotic fun like Muddy Buddy, Rebel Race and Spartan Races
  • Bike Race - Go to www.bikerace.com for a full list of nationwide bike races

Things You Missed In College - College was a time of unabashed mayhem.  Minimal responsibility plus maximum consumption to cheap alcohol created lasting memories (for those who were sober enough to form them).  But not everyone went to a college with wild parties, those who did weren't necessarily in attendance (lame) and some didn't go to college period.  Before your hands are busy burping and diaper changing, maybe a quick beer funnel is in order?  Pick up A Guide to College Partying for the basics.  I don't think you'll have much trouble getting a few friends involved in these list items.

  • Kegs - Throw a keg party or at least find one so you can attempt (if not master) the keg stand
  • Beer Funnel/Bong - By clicking on the words Beer Funnel/Bong you are on your way to becoming the proud owner of the Ultimate Beer Bong. 
  • Stay up until sunrise - You can class this one up with a bottle of wine instead of a case of Milwaukee's Best and a game of Pictionary instead of Kings (refer to your copy of A Guide to College Partying if you don't know Kings).  Yes, you will likely be up at sunrise with the baby, but the circumstances of this list item should be slightly different
  • Strip Club - Enough said

Luxury Stuff - These are unnecessarily expensive material things (iPad, Manolo Blaniks, etc.) that you've always wanted but been too fiscally conservative to buy, despite having the funds.  If you don't buy it now, you won't once the baby is born.

Take a Class or Develop/Nourish a Hobby

  • Language - A DIY tool (like Rosetta Stone) or a group class are both great options.  Most major (and some non-major) cities have adult education language classes that are relatively inexpensive.  Once you've learned a little, search Craiglist for a speaking partner
  • Photography - Get yourself a sweet camera and take a photography class (again, local adult education classes are great for this)
  • Cooking - Take a cooking class for a practical and fun experience.  This would be a great couple's activity
  • Wine/Beer - Learn about wine so you don't look like an ass (like me) every time you try to spin your glass at a nice restaurant and the wine spills everywhere.  Or learn how to brew beer with a cool home brewing kit

Random - Audition for reality television or a game show, compete in a food eating contest, or try not to kick the bucket on a sky-diving and bungee jumping excursion.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nursery Rhyme Baby Shower, Hey Diddle Diddle

What's more baby quintessential than nursery rhymes?  I was inspired to pull together ideas for a nursery rhyme baby shower when I saw the invitations below (by olive + STAR).  I just loved their simple, yet playful vibe - which can be said of this theme in general.  It resonates a wonderful feeling of old and new - timelessness.

The Invitation

These invitations by olive + STAR are modern and whimsical.  The cow jumping over the moon is perfect for a boy, girl or surprise baby shower.  The mary janes (one two buckle my shoe) are certainly feminine, but olive + STAR works with customers to create original designs - so don't be afraid to ask for a more masculine take (boots would be adorable!).  Mention "Next Stop Baby" in your purchase comment and you will get free shipping.

by olive + STAR

by olive + STAR

This sweet invitation by Down-to-Earth Paperworks includes bits of many nursery rhymes in a personalized poem.  The sample below uses rose pink paper, but the color can (of course) be customized.  As the shop name suggests, eco-friendliness is incorporated whenever possible.  If you mention Next Stop Baby in your order comment you will receive free shipping!

The Menu

Something about nursery rhymes reminds me of barns and farms.  You too?  I think this is because nursery rhymes so often include farm animals.  I'm not sure why, but my guess would be that farming was the only way of life when most nursery rhymes were written.  With all this in mind, here is my menu vision:

Drink - Lemonade sweet tea (check out this recipe from Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box), regular old iced tea, apple cider (cold, warm, mulled or spiked), punch (with or without champagne) and ice water in pitchers garnished with lemon and lime slices are all refreshing choices.  

Food - PIES!!!  Rather than serve a whole mish mosh of food and dessert, how about just pies?  Pies are a perfectly down home treat that everyone will enjoy and there are so many choices: apple, blueberry, cherry, lemon meringue, pumpkin.  You can get creative and make your own chocolate pudding pie (like the gorgeous one below by The Smitten Kitchen) or you can head to your local bakery and pick its specialities.

via The Smitten Kitchen

via The Smitten Kitchen

The Decorations

Continuing with the farm/barn look, here are some basic and inexpensive ideas to pull the theme together.  Also, don't forget baskets - to display the napkins and as a vase for your sunflowers - they scream country and you can probably find a few lying around your house.

A red checked tablecloth is ideal.  Amazon.com of course offers every variety that you can think of: cotton gingham (like below), vinyl and plastic disposable (for 59 cents!).

via Amazon.com

Huge, ceiling high sunflowers might not be an option for your indoor space (go for it if they are or if the baby shower is outside), so cloth or paper sunflowers are a great alternative.  The sunflowers below are made from a sunflower kit by Paper Source, which is fool proof for the slightly less crafty individual.
via Paper-Source.com

Made by N.V. makes these farm animal cupcake toppers.  How cute? How perfect?  If your theme is more particular (Little Bo Peep or Three Little Pigs or Cow Jumped Over the Moon), then you can make your order more particular (sheep or pigs or cows).  Use the coupon code SHIP4FREE to receive free shipping on your order.

by Made by N.V.

The Favors

The little envelopes below are filled with flower seeds for your guests to take home and grow a garden.   SuLu Gifts makes these unique gifts and is offering NSB readers a 10% discount with the coupon code BABY10. 

by SuLu Gifts

The Fabled Needle makes this 4" x 6" notebook, which would be an awesome prize for a baby shower game - a practical and beautiful and themed gift (four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, remember that one?).  Enjoy 20% off your purchase with the coupon code "blackbird" through May 31, 2011.    

by The Fabled Needle

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Friggin Babies

I woke up Saturday morning with vivid details of my night's dream still lingering in my head.  It was a bit of an odd dream, but also really good.

Upon arriving at a house or restaurant or park (the setting was unmemorable) to hang out with three of my best friends, I was a little surprised to see that all three had babies on their hips - surprised because none of these women actually (in real life) have babies, but only a little because I imagine (in real life) that they someday will.  In contrast, I was very taken aback by the size of the babies.  They were friggin HUGE.  My normally slim girlfriends were completed dwarfed by their ginormous bundles.

One friend’s baby had to have been 50 lbs.  I watched with simultaneous joy and anxiety as she tried to switch her baby from one hip to the other.  Between the flailing chubby arms, the bobbing watermelon head and the sheer weight, I was sure she was going to fall...and probably be crushed to death by her own child.  But she managed.  And a couple minutes later, when she switched hips again it was far more graceful and I was far less worried.  And after a few more minutes I felt a distinct confidence that my friend and her big baby were going to be just fine, that she would simply get used to the size and weight because it was, after all, her baby. 

A little while later (in real life), I described the dream to my mother over breakfast.  I stretched and curled my arms to demonstrate the baby’s size and laughed at the absurdity.  My mom laughed too and then enlightened me as to the obvious meaning of my not so absurd imagination: a baby is an emotional, physical and financial burden whose arrival will weigh on every aspect of my daily life.  Yet, I am equipped to manage the massive change.  I am capable.  I am strong.

Thanks mom.  And thanks subconscious.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nine Month Abs

After a long hiatus, guest blogging is back today - with a BANG.  And an ouch two days later, from soreness.  W. Wilson has a degree in fitness and nutrition, owns and teaches at a gym and boasts a serious six pack.  She's also one of the funniest people I know.  In the world.  I'm so grateful for her contribution to Next Stop - Baby.

As a trainer, it is important for me to know the goals and limitations of my clients.  So when Brook, a 32-year-old recently married client of mine, confided in me that she was pregnant, I knew we had to make some changes to her exercise routine.  Her pre-knocked-up workouts were intense for anyone NOT smuggling a watermelon, let alone full blown prego.  However, against her doctor's orders (who said not to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs), I wasn't completely ready to trade in tire flipping and sledge hammer swinging for Zumba hip circles quite yet.

I did a quick search on www.mayoclinic.com (which has made me a complete hypochondriac by turning every symptom I have ever had into cancer) and found that they recommend 30 minutes of light exercise each day such as walking, biking, swimming, or rowing.  Unconvinced, I continued to www.webmd.com, my usual second opinion.  They believe that as long as you were active before pregnancy, there is no reason you cannot continue with your normal routine within reason.  In fact, they even said exercise could decrease backaches associated with pregnancy and build stamina needed for delivery.  Score!

Keep in mind: one should not let her heart rate go over 140 beats per minute.  The fetal heart rate is tied to your own.  If your heart is racing, so is your little one's.

One should also avoid exercises that my create impact, such as kettlebell swings, and exercises causing instability and risk for falling like gymnastics, skiing and horseback riding.  Of course, like every exercise program, you should consult your doctor before beginning.  Preferably one that does not look like this:

via http://www.bodyshapeshiftersonline.com

I went with Brook to the local Walmart to purchase a heart rate monitor and advised her to visit www.crossfitmom.com where she could find great modifications for exercises done pre-pregnancy.

via Cross Fit Mom
Using a box or a step for pushups leaves plenty of room for your growing belly

via Cross Fit Mom
Ring rows are a great substitute for pullups

Many times the movement does not have to change, just the intensity.  The trainer from www.crossfitmom.com (Andrea) also provides dos and don'ts categorized by trimester.

via Cross Fit Mom
This mom-to-be chooses a lighter weight instead of 9 months on the couch

Brook is nearly 5 months into her pregnancy now and continues to monitor her heart rate, taking breaks in her workout as necessary.  She finds that staying with her exercise program gives her more energy and makes her feel less bloated and "fat."  I would say it is working.

via Cross Fit Carolina Beach

via Cross Fit Carolina Beach

by W.Wilson

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stuff People Google - 1st Edition

Today kicks off a new weekly post: Stuff People Google.

I am privy to all the ways in which people find my blog (links from other websites, twitter, search engines, etc.) and since I started blogging (about 3 months ago) there have been many funny, bizarre and slightly concerning phrases that have led people here.  Every Friday I will post a word or phrase that someone has googled/binged/yahooed/etc. and as a result found Next Stop Baby.  I will not alter the word or phrase in any way.  Here we go.

I don't want to share my baby

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Little Boob Goes A Long Way

I've gotten myself into some hot water.  Or, hot breast milk.

I'm new to twitter.  For the most part, I haven't a clue as to how it works.  But I'm learning and it's been a little bit of trial by fire.  In an effort to draw attention to my new twitter self, I engaged in the following exchange last week:

@MommyNews:  Think 'extended' breastfeeding (past 1 year) is wrong? Well, Michael Jordan was breastfed to age THREE.
@NextStopBaby:  @MommyNews wrong is a little judgy...perhaps socially taboo is better? Or WEIRD (ok, I'll be judgy)
@MommyNews:  @NextStopBaby I nursed my son until just before his 4th birthday - so clearly I don't think it is wrong, taboo or WEIRD
@NextStopBaby: @MommyNews with that, I can understand why you don't.  Different strokes for different folks.

Initially (read: 5 seconds after the above occurred), I regretted the exchange.  I felt like a twitter bully for stirring up trouble with my snarky remark.  A week later, the only thing I regret is my approach.  I should have been more intelligent in my choice of audience.  Turns out that @MommyNews describes herself as a "Breastfeeding Advocate" and there's no debating the issue with a woman who breastfed her child until he could ask for her boob with spoken (and probably written) words.  Meanwhile, she probably realized that there is no advocating for extended breastfeeding to a woman who's never had a baby, much less breastfed.

But, my opinion - that breastfeeding at a certain age becomes weird - is genuine.  I'm not sure what that age is, but I do feel (wicked) uncomfortable at the thought of a four-year-old politely asking to nurse and his mother responding that she first wants to hear about his day of school.  I just shouldn't have directed this feeling at some who has a decidedly different perspective.

Breastfeeding is an important parenting choice.  One that is personal and unique to the mother and baby and, as a result, one that should be sensitively considered.  Like I tweeted, I don't think there is a wrong answer, but there are certainly diverging opinions that simply can't be reconciled.  And that's okay.

Mental Notes:
  • Breastfeeding is no joking matter and there's no point in slinging breastmilk in either direction
  • Lay a little lower in the twittersphere

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Baby Shower, Bzzzzz

Summer is coming and I can't wait.  Sunshine, beach, flip flops and iced coffee.  All things that make me (and most) extremely happy.  A summertime baby shower will be a great event for friends and family to catch up, hang out, and celebrate in the good weather.  Of course it can be themed any which way, but why not just play up the simple joys of the season?

The Invitation
What could be more indicative of summer than lemonade and bumble bees?  These printable invitations by Pixel Paper Invitations are adorable.  I love the "Mommy-to-bee" inclusion, so cute.  Mention Next Stop Baby and you will receive %10 off printed purchases and %5 off digital file purchases!
by Pixel Paper

These handmade blank cards by For Stationery Sake are so sweet.  The message on the front can be customized (something simple like "A Baby Shower" would be perfect).  Then hand write the invitation, which is a refreshing, personal touch.  Ask friends and family to join the mom-to-be for some lemonade and sunshine in celebration of the baby's expected arrival with the date, time, location and contact for RSVP.      
by For Stationery Sake

The Menu 

Drinks - Lemonade (regular and pink and Mike's Hard), limeade, iced tea and iced coffee, fruit punch and sangria.  Check out this amazing recipe for a mango ginger float to try something unique and delicious.

Food - Icecream sandwiches, popsicles, cold pasta/potato salad.  Yum.  Hotdogs are perfect, so make their finger food version: pigs-in-a-blanket (click HERE for recipe by The Way the Cookie Crumbles).  Fruit in general is a must.  What could be more summer apropo than watermelon?  Berry parfaits are a food and decoration all in one (click HERE for recipe by Food Blogga).

Pig-in-a-blanket via The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Skinny Berry Parfait by Food Blogga

Pour the drinks from a spigot and serve them in old fashioned mason jars with colorful straws.  The mason jars (below) are from amazon.com and the paper straws (below) are by Isa Kay Boutique (also featured in Milk and Cookies Themed Baby Shower, MMMMMM Good).  

via Amazon (by Artland Simplicity)

via Amazon.com  (by Kerr)

by Isa Kay Boutique

The Decorations

Centerpieces of colorful gerber daisies or bowls of limes, tangerines and lemons are inexpensive and quintessentially summertime (remember from The Breakup, "What my baby wants, my baby gets"..."baby wanted twelve, twelve lemons").  The soothing and modern color combo of grey and yellow is popular for this theme.

These cupcake toppers by Rachel PS (aka The Things I Sell On Etsy) are cute and contemporary, yet have a vintage feel.  There is an entire collection of Bumble Bee Baby Shower items that are all downloadable files for self-printing.  Cost effective, just how I like it.  AND, if you mention Next Stop - Baby during your purchase you will get a %15 discount!

by Rachel PS
by Rachel PS

Use these mini pinwheels as an alternative for cupcake toppers.  Etsy crafter Twirlie Whirlies makes twirlable pinwheels in just about any color and pattern you can imagine.
by Twirlie Whirlies

This bunting (as it's called in Great Britain) or party flags (as I call it) is FANTASTIC.  I can't believe I've only just discovered their maker, Sew Sweet Violet.  Whether to decorate the edge of a table or hang from tree branches, these will make a beautiful, festive addition to the baby shower.  Sew Sweet Violet is generously offering Next Stop - Baby readers a 10% discount with the coupon code BABY10 

by Sew Sweet Violet

by Sew Sweet Violet

by Sew Sweet Violet

This framed chalkboard by BeaPea could be used in all sorts of ways: as a welcome (Bee-autiful Day, Welcome) or as a Menu (Enjoy the fresh squeezed lemonade, ice tea and sweet treats) or as a label for the gift table (Gifts for Baby Jones).  And, post baby shower, it would be an awesome addition to your home decor.

by BeaPea

The Favors

Sherry Scotties makes these beehive soaps and favor tags.  Check out her Etsy shop for all sorts of crazy soap shapes, like barns, space shuttles and revolvers (I wonder what kind of party you give those away...).  Mention this blog during your order and you will receive a 5% discount.

by Sherry Scotties