My first childbirth experience was the most painful, beautiful, and surreal 9 hours that I had ever known. But I hadn’t anticipated the fact that labor is just the first (very intense) part of the long transition into parenthood. My heart was throbbing with love for my baby, my ego was adjusting to the fact that I had to surrender everything–including sleep!–to this tiny being, and my exhausted body was trying to adapt to nursing and early parenthood.

And…I wished I would have stocked up on a few essentials. My midwife brought over a tube of Lansinoh Lanolin to sooth my bleeding skin after my son nursed for hours on end. Lanolin is also a great ointment for diaper rash and skin irritation, but it’s especially wonderful to help new mothers as they begin breastfeeding.

Hot baths were a treat that I tried to fit in whenever possible and Epsom Salt helped with post-pregnancy swelling and discomfort. It was difficult to give myself time, but I also realized that my physical recovery would help me feel better and give me the energy to make it through those difficult nights.

Oftentimes families are showered with meals during those first few weeks with a newborn, but I didn’t realize how thirsty I’d be because of breastfeeding. My husband went out and bought me a dozen bottles of Knudsen’s Recharge along with a bag of crushed ice and some drinking straws. It felt like such a treat to be surrounded by delicious, convenient beverages…especially at 3am.

Due to my extreme thriftiness, I can’t say I would have sprung for the Aimee Gowns Original Bra-less Nursing Gown, but I would have been happy to receive it as a gift! I spent a lot of time in pajamas over the course of the first month with my children, and a great deal of that time I had guests. Having really good quality loungewear with a built-in bra would be nice.

More than any of these items, it was wonderful to have people there to hold my baby while I napped or to cook us dinner. But I have to say that I look back on a few of these luxuries as survival tools during that first few shocking weeks. What were your favorite items during your early days as a parent? What do you give other pregnant friends to help ease their transition to parenthood?



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!



An intelligent and resourceful friend of mine has delicious, home-cooked meals delivered to her door four nights a week. The cost? Utterly free! She joined a neighborhood Meal Co-op and now cooks dinner just one night per week.

How does it work? The one night she does cook, my friend has to make enough for five families. But since she’s making five batches of the same dish, it’s much easier than cooking separate meals for her own crew every weeknight. The group of families set up rules, contributed to a fund to buy enough large dishes, spices and materials for each family, and they were on their way. They suspend the co-op over the summer and during the holidays, but it runs smoothly for most of the year.

Do you do meal swaps with neighborhood family or belong to a meal co-op? It would be a FANTASTIC situation for a family with a very young baby! Would you recommend it to other families? I do wish we could join a meal cooperative, even if it was just for a few nights a week!

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!)

Valentine’s Day Heart-shaped Scones

I am too lazy to come up with my own Valentine’s Day recipes this year, so I have decided to outsource it. Check out Gluten-free Gourmand’s gluten-free heart shaped scones with raspberry jam:

Aren’t these adorable? If you aren’t on a gluten-free diet, you can just substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flour and leave out the xanthan gum.

Also, you can make these Valentine’s Day treats without a heart-shaped cookie cutter, which is convenient for some people. I happen to have at least four different heart-shaped cookie cutters in my collection. Would it really crowd the kitchen too much to splurge on a nesting cookie cutter set?

Or better yet, this 3 piece hearts cutter set:

I’m now convinced I need to round out my collection with that ruffled one.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Thrill of Thrift Shopping

There was time when I found secondhand shops distasteful. Everything seemed dingy and damaged. Why would people pay (even a little) for other people’s junk?

Now thrift shops are my first stop for clothing, household items, toys and much, much more. Why this shift? Once I gained the patience to search harder for treasures, I realized the huge payoff for buying secondhand. Beyond the environmental benefit, we support a charity every time we shop and end up scoring stuff for about 75% less than department store prices.

This weekend was no exception. We headed off to Goodwill to search for Hotwheels cars (my budget-savvy six-year-old already realizes he can get more for his money at a secondhand shop), a coat for my daughter, and a bike helmet for my son.

We found a deep purple, London Fog jacket (with the tags still on) for my daughter for $4.00. As you can see, it was love at first sight for her. We also found a perfect Hotwheels bike helmet for $4.00. (The exact coat and bike helmet are pictured below.) A set of two Hotwheels cars brought the total to $9.00

How much would my total have been at a department store? The coat retails for $29.95 and the helmet sells for $19.95. With the Hotwheels cars the total would have been over 50 dollars!

I don’t always find just what I’m looking for right away, but I do buy items in advance and keep track of upcoming needs for my family. If it doesn’t end up working out, I just send it back to another thrift shop, knowing that at least my mistake helped support a good cause.

Other treasures? My beautiful green angora sweater, which also still had the tags on, purchased for $2.50. My Banana Republic jeans for just $3.00 and loads of other brand name duds, most of which I buy on half-price days.

I love that my kids have a huge comfort zone with buying used and that they may even stick with secondhand shopping in their teen years and later in adulthood. When I think of all the money I could have saved, I can’t believe I didn’t start thrifting sooner!

Do you frequent secondhand shops or are you still turned off by the whole idea? Do you like to stick to online outlets like Ebay or Craigslist?

It’s that time of year again. Romance is in the air. What better way to celebrate the day of love than to shower your little cupid with heart-themed diapers and onesies? Yeah, it’s a stretch, but I can never resist an opportunity to find the latest holiday-themed baby bling. Here’s what’s hot for Valentine’s Babies of 2013:

 

Charlie Banana Red Petit Coeur on Hot Pink ($21.88)

Baby Leggings Hot Pink Ruffles with White Hearts ($6.96)

Bumpkins Keith Haring Grande Diaper Bag Heart ($21.68)

Okay, this is actually a really cool diaper bag! Year round!

Ju-Ju-Be Mighty Be Diaper Bag Sweet Hearts ($45.87)

Be My Valentine Baby Leggings ($6.98)

Sigg Hello Kitty Valentine Bottle ($15.99)

Organic Baby Bodysuit Pink Hearts and Skulls ($36.97)

It’s surprising how many baby clothes feature skulls these days.

See Kai Run Organic Cotton Socks ($9.99)

Also, I really like these socks.

Work it, babies!

We have the honor of owning two pairs of these adorable potty-training pants by Kara at Little Acorn Designs, and they are dearly loved. Why? My daughter is extremely sensitive to “wedgies” and cries at any point that she thinks her underwear might bunch in the wrong places. So even though she had these exact cloth training pants since she got out of diapers two years ago, she still cherishes her Little Acorn Designs Undies. (And they are still holding up beautifully!)

Just what makes them so fantastic? Is it the soft, stretchy waistband? The extra-soft cotton knit that comes from recycled t-shirts? Or the padded middle area made from super absorbent Zorb 2 fabric? Maybe it’s just magic of the whole combination. But I do know that these never, ever give my daughter a wedgie. (Which makes all of us happy!)

These trainers are just $9.50 each and the cost helps support another mom entrepreneur. When you think about the ongoing financial and environmental cost of pull-ups, that’s a great investment! And my daughter has worn them well beyond potty-training.

Have you found any special items on Etsy that you just love? Please share with us! It’s such fun to support other moms while finding unique and beautiful items for your babe!

Maybe Just One More Baby…?

While we theoretically wanted more than one child, after the first year or so of parenting our first, we weren’t entirely sure. I was tired. I was living in body that still hadn’t recovered from pregnancy and birth, and I couldn’t imagine being in charge of another human being. But somehow, just twelve months later, I was happily pregnant.

What happened? I’m pretty sure it was just short term memory loss. I slogged through another pregnancy while encountering the parenting challenges of the terrible twos, working nearly full time, and writing our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.

Still, the moment my daughter, Jovi, arrived, it was so clear that we had made the right choice. In the exhausting weeks that followed, we weren’t always euphoric about our new parenting demands, but we also delighted about having our new baby.

And now…my little newborn in 3 1/2 years old–and I’m 40. It’s very clear to me that I do NOT want to host a living being in my body at this point, but adoption sort of dangles out there attractively as a possibility. It’s not the paperwork of adoption, or the complicated process of adoption, or the cost of adoption–but the fact that some baby out there needs a loving family and that there is room in our home.

We still have much of the baby gear from our first two, although I have put most of it out on loan. But there are eight Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers that I can’t seem to get rid of. What if we do decide to have another child and I won’t have them on hand? (It’s ridiculous, I know!)

And yet when one of my kids has the flu or the laundry piles up, it’s very clear to me that we are utterly, absolutely, happily done adding members to our family. But then a few months go by, and that short term memory loss kicks in again.

Am I actively pursuing adoption? Not even remotely. But if someone left a baby in a basket on our doorstep, it would be easy to fold that little person into our family life. Have you ever struggled with the decision to have another baby? Is environmental impact a factor for you? Or cost? Or just the added complication?

We recently got a question from a reader about her drop-side crib:

I have a drop-side crib made in 2004, and the manufacturer does not offer an adaptor kit. I tried to access a link on your website for a kit available online ($10), but it could not display the page. Could you give me the website you have listed?
I searched around, and sure enough, it didn’t seem like anyone was selling a crib immobilizer kit that would work for any crib. All the articles I found said to check with the crib’s manufacturer. If your crib’s manufacturer doesn’t offer one, what are you to do? It’s currently illegal to buy or sell drop-side cribs. We’ve heard people weigh in with different perspectives: Some continue to use their drop-side cribs, others destroy their old drop-sides and buy new cribs for their second children.


If you can’t find a $10 immobilizer kit, I guess you could go ahead and buy this eco-friendly one for $900.

We used a drop-side crib for our baby (this was well before the ban). There was really no way for a baby to lower the sides herself, as the release mechanism was practically under the crib. If the ban had been enacted while my daughter was still sleeping in the crib, I have to admit I wouldn’t have bought a new one.


This Graco crib is more reasonable at $250. I am not sure why it showed up in my search for an “eco-friendly” crib other than the fact that it has a “smaller footprint” than other cribs and is therefore conducive to apartment living.

But let’s get back to our reader’s question: Do you know where to find a crib immobilizer kit if your crib’s manufacturer doesn’t offer one?
The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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