Friday, January 31, 2014

The Bachelor Got Married (Again)

Last Sunday, Sean Lowe married the winner of his season on The Bachelor, Catherine Guidici.  If you're a fan of The Bachelor, these type of television specials are your Super Bowl equivalent.  If you aren't a fan, these type of television specials probably make you think less of humanity.

Given that I can no longer write about Pregnant in Heels and I've decided to move on from Teen Mom (now as a mother, it feels exceptionally wrong), The Bachelor is my current reality TV fix.  That's right.  I watch every Monday night as Juan Pablo works on his English and tries not to set a bad example for his 4-year-old daughter (something that he says at least a dozen times each episode).  I'm even in a Bachelor fantasy league.  Clare, Andi, Lucy and someone else are on my team.

Anyway, in addition to my weekly Bachelor fix, I upped the ante and watched Sean and Catherine get hitched last Sunday.  I didn't manage to watch the entire program in one sitting and I didn't manage to keep my eyes on the television screen 100% of the time (some moments were too awkward to take head on), but I got through it and I have a few things to say.  I'll try not to be too catty.

First a pic of the newlyweds.

Photo source: Catherine Guidici Instagram

1) How do these hairstylists to the celebrities always F it up?  I'll admit, this isn't the first Bachelor/Bachelorette wedding I've watched (and hopefully it won't be the last).  In every one I've seen, the bride's hair looks like a hot mess.  Unfortunately for Catherine, she was not the exception.

2) Catherine's theme of "grown sexy" was certainly a new one.  The commentary and comedy stemming from it is endless.  I'll make no personal judgment, but I will point you to a quick and awesome moment about said theme.  In the last scene of the special, Chris Harrison attempted to close out with a summary of the tremendous beauty and love we had all just witnessed and included the term "grown sexy".  As soon as the words came out of his mouth, former Bachelorette Ashley Hebert looks at her husband, makes a scrunchy, perplexed face and says "What does that mean?"

3) I'm pretty sure Andy Dick was in attendance.  I swear that I saw live video of him hugging other guests.  Can anyone else confirm this?

4) The credits were accompanied by a shot of the infamous honeymoon suite and sounds of trains, horses and the wild, wild jungle.  Loved it.

4) Per usual, Twitter provided some fabulous commentary:


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Something Lighter, Something Pink and Red and White

Posts have been heavyish lately with meaty discussions and money debates.  So, today I'm going with something lighter and fully off topic: I've been thinking about my daughter's bedroom.  As you may remember, I lived (yes...lived, past tense) in a small NYC apartment.  For the first four months of my daughter's life, we all slept in the one and only bedroom.  My husband and I had our bed and she had her crib.  We skipped the co-sleeper/bassinet phase because there was no space and no point - the crib was about two feet from the bed.  It was a small apartment with a small bedroom.

When my daughter was about four months, my husband and I moved to the living room.  We slept on our sweet Ikea pullout couch for the remainder of her first year...and some.  For a while there, our living room was our bedroom was also her playroom was sometimes our dining room.  It got really complicated.

This is Ikea's Manstad and the pullout couch that I speak of, same color and everything.
I don't think they sell it anymore in case you were wondering.  

During the past couple months, our family of three has made some big changes.  For starters, my husband and I no longer sleep on the couch.  That's because we no longer live in that tiny, awesome NYC apartment.  In fact, we no longer live in New York.  We recently headed north to the Boston area and can now officially call ourselves Massholes.  We're thrilled.

With our new geographic location has come more space.  Much more space.  For starters my daughter has her own room.  Or, should I say, my husband and I have our own room.  And so, I've been thinking about what most women consider when they're still pregnant - the nursery.  Although, I don't think it's technically a nursery because I no longer have an infant.  So, I suppose, I've been thinking about a toddler bedroom.  Not so much mobiles and Boppy pillows, but mini chairs and chalkboards.

My vision is red, pink, white and birch.  Something like this...

I made this little mood board using the website Olioboard (super fast, super easy, super free) and here are the links to all the above products:

1) Red kid's adirondack chair by Loll Designs 
2) "To the Moon and Back" pink pillow from One Kings Lane
3) Red three legged lamp from Lamps Plus
4) Wooden rocking horse from Land of Nod
5) Nightstand by Posh Tots
6) Tea set by Plan Toys
7) Poodle Pouf from CB2
8) Pink cotton rug from Dash & Albert 

I paid zero attention to cost when I made my mood board and, unfortunately, basically all items are beyond my budget.  Other than that adorable wooden tea set, which is $25 (a likely 2014 birthday or holiday gift for my daughter).  Cost aside, you can get the feel for what I've been thinking about.  I hope to turn my vision into reality with more budget friendly items.  Maybe I'll even share as the process gets underway...a la Young House Love (my favorite blog).

How did you go about decorating your baby's nursery?  Or your toddler's bedroom?  Where did you shop for furniture and accessories?  What was your inspiration?

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Not All About the Benjamins

How much does it cost to have a second child?

I googled that phrase and came up with a couple helpful, though slightly dated, articles (here and here).  The bad news, which you may have suspected, is that it does in fact cost more to have a second child.  Hopefully, this doesn't blow your mind.  You'll spend more on childcare, clothing, gear, diapers, food, college savings and health insurance, to name the obvious ones.

My original intent for this post was to delve into each considerations in some detail.  How much does childcare go up?  Answer - Not double, but a bunch more.  Can you reuse baby number one's clothes for baby number two?  Answer - Depends on the physical similarities of your kids (weight and height) and the similarity of the seasons (winter baby versus summer baby) and their gender (some people don't want to dress their boys in pink Bambi pajamas).

Speaking of pink Bambi pajamas...the above are currently on sale at Baby Cottons, hence the blue sale sign

I quickly realized that too many financial considerations will differ on a family-by-family basis.  Not everyone uses childcare and some first borns will be out of diapers by the time their sibling is born.  I also quickly realized that this subject is a tad depressing and could, potentially, scare a type A person like myself away from having a second child.  I mean, not really.  But it could add an unnecessary level of stress to the whole thing.

Being pregnant while caring for a toddler is something I have not experienced, but I can imagine that it's tricky and a bit intense.  Just being pregnant was tricky and a bit intense at times.  Preparing yourself and your family for the new member is a huge job.  There are a lot balls to juggle with money being one of many.

While I'm not suggesting to stick your head in the sand and ignore the financial implications of a second child, I do think that money is just a piece of the puzzle.  And, perhaps, not the most important piece.  Moreover, no amount of Excel spreadsheeting is going to give you a precise dollar amount because for all the tangible considerations there are at least as many intangible considerations that you can't even predict.  You might end up having a boy in July and your cousin had a boy in July two years ago.  Bam, full wardrobe immediately accomplished.  Your co-worker ends up getting pregnant around the same time as you and wants to go in on a nanny share when the babies are born.  It will cost you half as much as the daycare you had been using for your first born.  You might get ballsy and give cloth diapers a whirl.

I envisioned myself using gDiapers with my daughter.
My mother even gifted me the washable outers and some inserts at my baby shower.
Never happened.  Not once.

Thinking about how much money your second child is going to set you back is responsible.  It's good parenting.  But, plotting it out to the penny, stressing out, preemptively selling your second car, is probably not productive.  It might actually be more harmful than helpful.   So, think about the money, but not too much and not too hard.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Under Two - The Pros

Whenever a family has two children who are both under the age of two, it seems to put them in a special category.  Rather than referring to these families as simply having two kids, there's the added mention that both children are under two.  It seems that two years is some sort of marker to be considered in family planning.  Side note: I hate the term family planning.  It brings me back to freshman year in high school when I was in "Decisions" class, watching in horror as my teacher waved a condom in the air and asked for volunteers to identify it.  Rather than expand on this memory, I'd like to get to the bottom of the "two under two" mystique.

So, let's focus on the positive (no need to join the haters club), and brainstorm all the reasons we can think of as to why it would be awesome to have two kids under two.  I'll go first after we look at some gratuitous celebrity pics.

The youngest of the Spelling/McDermott brood (Hattie and Finn) are fifteen months apart.
(Photo source)

Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler will be the proud parents of two under two later this year
(Photo source: Kristin Cavallari Instagram)

Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green are expecting their second any day now.  Their first was born fall 2012.
(Photo Source)

1.  You're already used to lack of sleep.  Chances are, with one child being fifteen months or younger, you're not getting a solid eight hours on the regular.  Your body is used to shorter chunks and has adapted relatively well (by now).  A return to night feedings isn't going to rock your world. 
2.  They're bound to be besties.  Whether the same gender or different, the fact that your two babes will be so close in age means that they're going to experience life at a similar pace.  They're going to have shared experiences, (probably) shared interests and (possibly) shared clothes.  This is the stuff that forever friends are made of. 
3.  No need to unpack all the baby stuff because it's already on your living room floor.  Your first born is probably too young for you to have put most stuff in storage.  Sure, there are a couple rubbermaids in the attic, but a lot of baby stuff is already where it should be.  
4.  Built in socializing.  No need to stress about engaging your children in social situations that will build sharing and compromising skills.  There will be plenty of socializing, sharing and compromising right at home.  Morning, noon and night.

Your turn.  What else can be added to this list?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Proper Farewell

I guess I hate goodbyes?  I'm not sure, but I should probably look into it.  First there was my slow and slightly awkward retreat from blogging.  Admittedly, I was less than graceful in stepping back from Next Stop Baby last winter/spring.  Though, I finally did announce my hiatus in a vaguely respectable post (here's the post).

Then, there was my failure to bid adieu to Rosie Pope and her pregnant ladies that sometimes wore heels.  To this day, the most read post on Next Stop Baby is the one where I called out Rosie's (seeming) lisp.  By "called out", I mean that I wrote about someone else who called out Rosie's lisp to her face her twitter handle.  I'm a lot of talk and very little action.

You may have noticed that Pregnant in Heels didn't make it to Season Three.  Last April, Bravo announced its 2012 shows that would be kept on for another season...Pregnant in Heels wasn't on the list.  Kind of sad (for a few).  There wasn't even a formal announcement that the show got cancelled.  It was canned by omission.  Clearly I'm not the only one who hates goodbyes.

Now that I'm back, I feel that it's only right for me to formally thank Rosie Pope and all those involved in the production of Pregnant in Heels.  Mrs. Pope and her show were the subject of ten posts, two of which describe the time that I met her saw her in close proximity.  She brought Next Stop Baby a lot of readers and she brought me personally a lot of fodder for sarcastic, joyful posts.  So, thanks Rosie.  You may not have made it to Season Three on Bravo, but you made it to Season Ten in my book!

And Next Stop Baby loves you, duh.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meaty Discussion Time

Let's start our week with a nice, meaty discussion.  Do you get a little uncomfortable when someone says 'meaty discussion'?  I do.  Meaty discussion.  Meaty.  Gross.

I found the following article through a link on my Facebook newsfeed the other day: So, You Would Like to Have Three Children?  The title is relatively benign.  The content is relatively alarming (and a bit annoying).  Basically, author Laura Garwood Meehan is giving you reason upon reason upon reason to not have three children.  She lays it on thick like buttah.  I stopped reading halfway through because it was getting repetitive and unnecessarily dramatic, so I may have missed the happy conclusion. If you get through the whole thing, please let me know how it ends.

Here's the thing - a lot of families have three kids.  And some families have more than three kids.  GASP.  People of all kinds, all financial means, all over the world have three kids.  I'm not trying to downplay what it must be like or what it must require to be a parent of three.  My world was rocked with the addition of one child, so I have no doubt that the impact of two would be exponential, much less three.  But, I still wasn't buying what this article was selling.  Maybe it was the article's tone?  It felt like a warning: Do Not Under Any Circumstances Think That You Are Capable of Handling Three Children.  You Aren't and You Can't.

It reminded me of that crazy annoying phrase, "you wouldn't understand because you don't have kids".  When I was not a mother and a mother would say this to me, I would cringe and viciously bite my tongue.  Adding the word "three" into that statement doesn't make it any less patronizing and misguided.  How many kids does one have to have in order to "understand" whatever there is to understand?

However, my point is not simply to criticize the article or the author (too late).  My point is this: If you have any pearls of wisdom to bestow upon those embarking on a journey you've already taken, keep in mind that no two people and no two journeys are alike.  So, typically, generalizations are stupid.  And, typically, generalizations about parenting are wicked stupid.

When I make my transition from a single serving to batch, I will certainly be asking for advice.  But, hopefully, the advice I receive will be slightly more positive and balanced.  Namaste.

Update (1/23/14) - Thank you Time Magazine for your (slightly dated) article on something positive to consider about adding a third child to your family: finances.  The money it takes to raise a second child is far less than the cost of the first, and the third child is down right cheap.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dear Baby...

I'm already going off topic.  This post has absolutely nothing to do with round two.  Well, not really.  But there are some collateral mentions.

Do you keep a baby journal?  I'm not talking about the classic baby book that keeps track of birth stats and milestones and height/weight charts.  Not that there's anything wrong with those, I have one and have taken my documenting responsibilities very seriously.  But, for the moment, I'm talking about an actual journal (think: Dear Diary), but instead of rambling about the highs and lows of your own day, rambling about the highs and lows of your baby's day.  Maybe it's a story about the bully at daycare that pulled her hair or the afternoon that he puked peas all over your comforter, pillow and face.  The memorable stuff.

I'll answer first - Yes, I keep one of these baby journals (in addition to my classic baby book).  Kind of.  I kept a pregnancy journal and wrote very often.  I think my purpose was to release some of the excitement.  As soon as I discovered that I was pregnant I immediately wanted to converse with my unborn child.  Pronto.  So, I wrote to him/her (I didn't know that she was a she at the time).  And then, part way through my pregnancy, it seemed that I was also writing to myself.  I was chronicling the nausea patterns and the first feelings of movement so I would know for the second time because I (correctly) assumed that I wouldn't remember every little detail.

Once my daughter was born I continued to write in my pregnancy journal, which then became this baby journal that I speak of.  It's sort of like a collection of letters to my daughter.  If I'm being honest, I don't write often.  But if something particularly memorable happens or if I spy the journal under the stack of books on my nightstand, I'll sit and take a minute to give an update.

I have a friend whose mother still keeps a baby journal for her.  After 30 some years, her mother still writes about her daughter for her daughter.  Amazing, huh?  I have another friend who writes in one of those "A Line A Day" journals for her daughter.  I love this.  I may steal it for my round two.

Here's the One Line a Day book that my friend uses.
There is also one specifically called Mom's One Line a Day.

My baby journal is extremely basic, it's from Barnes and Noble.  It's not a moleskin notebook, but might as well be.

Here is a sweet one that I found on, a website that I love, hence the fact that I've mentioned it in many a post.  They have a ton of baby related (and non baby related) stuff, including a fantastic selection of baby journals, most of which you can personalize with photos or the baby's name.  Great gift.

So, back to you.  Did you keep a baby journal?  Will you?  Do you have one of those milestone baby books?  Were you just as good at journaling/documenting for baby number two as baby number one?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Time for a New Blog Title

Before I return to being a somewhat regular blogger, I need to address a foundational issue.  The title of this blog is Next Stop Baby, but the figurative train reached the figurative next stop back in 2012.  I arrived.  I'm a parent.  I have a baby...actually, I have a toddler.   So, "Next Stop Baby" is a bit of a farce.

I thought about it (for a minute or two) and came to a quick conclusion.  For me, the logical transition is from "Next Stop Baby" to "Next Stop (Another) Baby".  When I started Next Stop Baby, I was considering the idea of considering the idea of starting a family.  Now, I'm considering the idea of considering the idea of expanding my family.  So, the new title makes sense, right?  Having another baby is on my radar, but I'm not there.  

That's where we're at.  Ready yourself for discussions on the timing, the money and the space required for a second bambino.  I will attempt to tackle the hot topics of double diaper duty and two under two from all perspectives.  Maybe I'll even do some research on parenting techniques as they relate to birth order (I'm making this up as I go).  And, of course, there's always my favorite topics of nursery decor and baby names.

Speaking of, I'm already excited about Drew Barrymore's second baby...what will Olive's younger sister be named?!  And Olivia Wilde is pregnant, which is another name I'm eager to learn, especially because it's a boy.  Hollywood has been producing some especially interesting boy names as of late - Axl Duhamel and Kaius Jagger Berman...which I constantly say in my head as a callus on your foot.