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Baby’s First Trip to the Beach

Beach Combing

Beach Combing

We’re headed to the beach next month to enjoy some fun in the sun, and I can’t wait!  I’m excited to watch Frances take in an assortment of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes on her first tropical vacation. I was hoping she would be able to run around on the beach, but I think it will be a more relaxing trip since she is not yet walking. Unless she has a huge breakthrough in the next two weeks, I expect her to spend most of her vacation time sitting.

Which brings me to my question. If I were 10 months old, what would I like to play with on vacation? And no, Mama’s cell phone is not an option. But it better be at least as exciting as all the flotsam and seawater she will be drawn to ingest.

Since we have to pay for checked bags, we’re hoping to travel light. And I would prefer to not resort to buying a bunch of cheap plastic junk from the beach vendors. To top it off, Franci’s toy-of-the-moment is her set of wooden blocks. Unless we want to return home with half as many as we started with, I figure we should leave the tiny toys at home.

So I’m at a loss. I have no idea what to pack for her, so I hope someone has a few suggestions for me!

Black Friday

Get in line!

Get in line!

Do you plan on hitting the shops today? Or were you lined up last night with a belly full of turkey waiting for the doors to open. Maybe you are in your slippers on the couch with your laptop open and credit card near by as you read this post.

I’ve never been that interested in Black Friday, my self. I’ve been an off-peak shopper for years, since I have no patience for lines and I like to get my errands done as quickly as possible. I find the whole concept pretty fascinating, and I’d love to hear what you consider to be the pros and cons of Black Friday shopping.

How do you feel about Black Friday? Are you boycotting the stores or are you trying to be the first in line to get the best deals?

Playing with Fire

Forest fires blow!

I’ve seen some bad forest fires over the years, living in the west as we do, but this year takes the cake. I guess it was overloaded with one too many lit candles!

It’s been days since we saw the mountains just across the valley, and it smells like a campfire inside the house. I’m not sure what I miss more, the blue sky or opening the windows at night to enjoy the cool breeze.

Worst of all is being stuck inside all day! We’re grumpy enough from cabin fever, and the irritated throats and itchy eyes aren’t helping one bit. What’s a mom to do?

Walks and playing outside are out of the question. What activities do you enjoy when you’re stuck inside?

How do you deal with the poor air quality in your home? We have a lot of house plants, but I’ve always thought of that as more of a long-term solution.

Aquasana Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Michele F and  Seth for winning their very own Aquasana Glass Bottle with Silicone Sleeve and Cap. Expect an email from us shortly so you can pick your color.  If you didn’t win this time, be sure to check back for more giveaways later this summer.

Last week I brought four different glass water bottles on a trip with us to do some real side-by-side comparisons, and the Aquasana bottle was declared victor by both my husband and me.  Two of the other styles kept getting stuck in our car’s drink holder and were harder to drink out of, and one didn’t have the silicon sleeve.  Of the four, the Asquasana’s cap went on more easily than the others, which meant it was less apt to leak.

The best part about the Aquasana Water Bottle is the price: $10 shipped on Amazon (well, if you have Prime or order $25 worth of stuff).  Which means it is half the price of my other bottles.  If only I’d known!

Babies really need to get off their iPhones and crack open a good board book every once in a while, right? The Multnomah County Library agrees, which is I guess why they hold a summer reading program for babies, kids, and teens. Read to them, or have them read to themselves for fifteen minutes, a half hour, or an hour (depending on the age group), and they (or you) color in a space on the game card. Fill out so many squares, claim a prize. If your kids fill in the entire card, they get a T-shirt and a bigger, better prize. Last summer Audrey chose a book, but there were also coupons for local ice cream shops and passes for activities around the city.


They also have a great list of suggested books by age group. It’s kind of confusing to navigate this list, but I was able to find some good selections for my daughter under 2nd and 3rd grade fiction. I’m going to have to check out Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell, Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith, and Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins.

Audrey recently asked me to pick up a copy of Little Women. She read an excerpt in her copy of The Kingfisher Book of Great Girl Stories she’s had since birth, and she thinks she’s ready for it. We’ll see!

Great beach read for a seven-year-old

I just wish they had an adult program; my reading motivation has been flagging lately. Plus, I deserve a free ice cream cone, too!

Does your library have a summer reading program? Do you participate? Tell us about it! I also want to hear about the books your babies and kids are into these days.

How can you make Father’s Day special for a new dad while you’re sleep-deprived and have no time to shop? Honestly, I don’t even really remember our first Father’s day celebration as a new family, but after consulting my husband, these are the things he was most wanting back in those early days of parenthood.

Framed photos. Snap a couple shots of baby with dad (and grandpa too, if he lives close), print them out, and slip them into frames for an easy, but special, gift. If you have more time on your hands, make a bound photo book online.

A personalized picnic. Whether it’s gourmet potato chips or homemade pasta salad, your fellow has a few special entrees that may not cross the dinner table on a regular basis. Pick them up, pack them up, and head out for a hike..or just an afternoon at the park.
Date for father's day
A date. Every dad (and mom!) deserves some time off. Create a homemade gift certificate for an afternoon or evening out. Do a babysitting trade or perhaps leave your tot with family so the two of you can hit all of his favorite pre-baby hang-outs. (The picture above is of a special date we had six months ago. We hiked the same trail we took on our first date!)

An Ipad. My husband claims that this gizmo is extremely practical for fathers taking the 3-5am shift. Sitting in the rocking chair while watching sports highlights made those late nights infinitely more bearable. This seems to be the least sentimental and the most expensive item on my idea list, and yet it is the thing that my husband most adores.

Do you have special Father’s Day traditions in your family? Any glorious gift ideas to share with the rest of us?

Check Out My New Blog: Never Adopter

I’ve been busy the last couple weeks setting up my new blog: Never Adopter. According to the tagline, “I don’t believe in cellphones, the internet, or technology.” I rant against cellphones (but decide to get one), get nostalgic for cassette tapes, and otherwise try to adapt to twenty-first century life. Check it out, post a comment, and like Never Adopter on Facebook! I’ll get back to my regular Green Baby Guide posts next week!

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  • We have hiked along the river at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum for years, and midway along the trail, we have always passed this bench. We sat and ate strawberries on it while I was pregnant seven years ago, changed cloth diapers on it a few times with our newborn babes, and now use it as a jungle gym for my acrobatic children.

    But my favorite part of the bench is this quote inscribed in the rock: “Do the good things.” What a glorious and simple insight! To me it means everything from, “Get outside!,” to “Skip the mall on Saturday!”

    Maybe I happen to be influenced by the fact that it is carved into a bench in the woods, but it reminds me of all the things we do that are good for us, good for our health, good for our family, and, very often, good for the environment. These things usually aren’t complicated, expensive, or difficult–and they often provide a multitude of rewards. I don’t always get it right, but as we continue to stride pass this bench on weekend hikes with our growing kids, it provides a great point of focus. (And a good family photo now and again!)

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  • For awhile my daughter was quite content to play on her adorable little Alex Wooden Cook Top Playstove. It was a great value at about $30 and also took up just a small corner of her room. Glorious! Now she’s dreaming of a bigger, more luxurious environment in which to whip up imaginary cupcakes. Have you invested in a wooden play kitchen? Was it worth the money and space in your home?

    I like the simplicity of the Melissa and Doug Cook’s Corner Wooden Kitchen. It’s smaller than some and costs under $100, but I wonder if its size would limit the span of years she’d be interested in it. Have you tried this one?

    Kidkraft’s Red Retro Kitchen seems like it might hold her interest for a few more years and it’s still under $150. It’s not exactly simple, but perhaps the details would lead to more options for play.

    My absolute favorite kitchen, is the Camden Rose Childs Cherry Wood Play Kitchen. It’s a heirloom piece of furniture that would surely last for several generations, but it is quite a bit more at about $350.

    What has your experience been with toy kitchens. Did they hold your child’s attention? Did you find a glorious deal on Craigslist? Thanks for your advice!

    After much saving and searching, we bought a used Prius a few weeks ago! How is it working out for our family? I love, love, love this car! From pushing the start button to monitoring the fuel expenditure while I drive, this is the most fun I have ever had driving.

    The interior is roomy and comfortable for our family, although I don’t think it would be possible to squeeze three car seats in the back. I love the vast amounts of storage and the crazy number of cup holders throughout the Prius.

    Are there any drawbacks to this glorious machine? So far my gas mileage isn’t the dreamy 50 MPG I was hoping for. The best average I’ve been able to achieve is about 44 MPG, but I’m sometimes coming in at just 40 or 42. This is still quite a bit better than I was getting with my 2001 Honda Civic, so it’s still fun to buy such small amounts of fuel every month.

    So will the savings in gas make up for the thousands extra we shelled out to buy a Prius? Depending on how many miles we drive, it will save us between $500 and $1000 in gas each year. If we own it for a full decade, and gas prices continue to rise, it will be well worth it. If not, we will at least know that we are saving the emissions we produce.

    What motivated us to make this purchase? We finally bought an older mini-van with low miles and use it only occasionally for longer road trips. Since the van uses quite a bit more fuel than our Camry did, I wanted to be sure our other car was as fuel efficient as possible. So we’re not perfectly green when it comes to transportation, but we’re making progress!

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  • The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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