Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sucking Out Baby Snot with My Mouth and Other Cold Remedies

As parents, my husband and I have done many things that were previously unimaginable, such as sucking snot of a nose. 

Greyson got his first cold over Christmas while we were in California visiting family.  Who knows where he got it from since there were so many opportunities to get sick:  we were on a plane for 5 and 1/2 hours, my husband wasn't feeling well, we were around other sniffly babies and kids and there were many weather changes from New York to California.  We figured Greyson's first cold was going to happen at some point this winter, like a rite of passage...for him and for us.

The cold took about 10 days from start to finish; three really gnarly days in the middle that involved lots of crying and reduced sleeping and breathing, bookended with sniffly days that required a little extra comforting.  After much trial and error, we learned some lessons about baby colds.

The first lesson we learned is that these syringe bulb aspirators that they give you at the the hospital don't work well.   It is probably more useful as a turkey baster.  We found that the tip was too hard and pokey to be comfortable in Greyson's nose, especially as he thrashed around like a line-caught fish.
Great for basting a bird, not for sucking out snot
What was it like to suck out our baby's snot with our mouths?  Find out after the jump!

I Don't Know How to Knit, But I Churned This Baby Blanket Out In Two Days

Two words of advice: chunky yarn

Things like hand-knit blankets represent the  kind of childhood I didn't have.  I grew up very quickly since my mom died when I was four and my dad did his best to raise me and my younger brother by himself until he remarried when I was 12.  I don't have sweet memories of favorite blankies.  Instead, I have memories of waking up to my own alarm clock when I was five and constantly getting into trouble for losing my house keys starting at at least age 7.  It's OK; my circumstances helped make me independent.  But, I want to give my son a happy and safe childhood.  I have the luxury of doing that.

My son was going to have a hand-knit blanket, gosh darn it.  I realized no one else was going to knit him one, so I was like, I'll do it!  It should be from me anyway!  How hard can it be?

The thing is I don't knit.  Well, I first learned to knit when I was 11 and I knitted a potholder with tons of mistakes in it.  About five years ago, I knit a scarf and quickly forgot how to knit shortly thereafter.  Then I picked up the knitting needles again two years ago and knit a scarf for my husband.  I have to relearn how to knit each time and it takes me so long to knit something that I say I'm never going to do it again.  Famous last words!

You know you're not a real knitter when...
-You have to youtube search "how to cast on," "how to knit" and "how to bind off"
-You pray you don't make any mistakes because you don't know how to fix them
-You look for the thickest yarn you can buy because otherwise a blanket could take a year to knit
-You know how to do one type of stitch and that's knit (and you're not sure if it's called a stitch)
-You can make versions of a square or rectangle and that's it

Why did I have to knit my baby's blanket in two days?  I'll tell you after the jump!  Also, more pictures!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love this Free Family-Friendly Activiy in Brooklyn

"Cool!  Why didn't I know about this before?  Do people know about this?"  That's what I was saying at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) when my friend and I took our babies there for a stroll and picnic in early November.  We had learned that we didn't have to pay $10 each to get in.  It turns out that the BBG is free on weekdays from November to March and free on Saturdays as long as you get there before noon. 

I'm all about supporting organizations like the BBG by paying admission, but when they say come on in since it's free...I'm not going to say no!

Greyson enjoying a free afternoon at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
With limited green space in the city, it's nice to have an option like the BBG.  Even in the colder months, it's a gorgeous place to walk around since it's like a beautiful, meticulously landscaped park.  And even in the winter, I still have to get outside if it's not wet and snowy.  You get cabin fever staying inside New York City apartments for too long.

Take a mini tour of the BBG after the jump!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eleven Madison Park's Granola Recipe Will Knock Your Birkenstocks Off

I wouldn't usually describe any granola as fancy.  I mean, granola is sort of the opposite of fancy:  you throw a bunch of ingredients together with maple syrup or honey and toast it up.  That's not very fancy.  But there's, something about Eleven Madison Park restaurant's granola recipe, which I first read about in The New York Times in October, that makes it fancy.

The granola may feel fancy to me because of the combination of ingredients, which I wouldn't have come up with myself.  This is the kind of granola where you eat it and you're sort of surprised it came out of your own kitchen.  It feels like something you paid too much for at Dean and Deluca.

Apparently, the upscale restaurant gives a small jar of this granola to diners at the end of their meals.  I don't remember them doing that when I went there several years ago, but what a cute idea. 

More about the ingredients and the one thing I have changed to the recipe after making it four times after the jump!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travel: How to Rent a Car for Cheap via Priceline

This could be you.  Rolling in a Sebring.

When traveling, I'd rather spend money on fun stuff rather than renting a car.  So, for a few years now, we've been "naming our own price" on Priceline for car rentals when we go somewhere in the States and need a car.  Priceline has worked best for us (meaning the prices were the best) when we picked up and dropped off a car at an airport.

For our upcoming trip to California for Christmas, we rented an economy size car for seven days from December 18 to 25.  Using Priceline, we paid what some people pay for renting a car for one day.  See what we paid after the jump.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Warmth Guaranteed: How to Prepare Your Baby for a New York City Winter

Greyson was born during a heatwave, so this summer baby spent much of his first months in just a diaper.  When we went to Greyson's first pediatrician's appointment, I was fanning him furiously, concerned he could have a heat stroke, as we walked four blocks to the office. 

But around September, we started thinking about how we were going to prepare Greyson for his first New York City winter.  It was a conversation I had many times with the moms in my mom group.  We were all perplexed.  Do you put the babies in a thousand layers?  Do you put them in a parka...but then how do they fit in the carrier?  And my big things was, why is it so hard to find things made of wool instead of cotton, which is not a warm fabric?

It's December now and I think we might just be ready for our first New York City winter!  Here's what we're doing after the might work for you, too!  (But note that we haven't actually been through January and February yet, so I'll have to do another post on what we learn after we go through the really rough part!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

How to Spend an Afternoon in DUMBO, Brooklyn, With Your Baby or Kid

Before we went to Spain a couple of weeks ago with our five month-old baby, I looked for Spanish websites to learn about kids' stores, playgrounds, family-friendly restaurants and fun things to do with our baby while in Barcelona.  Since our baby is only five-months old, he's happy to just do whatever we're doing, but I like for him to see other babies and kids whenever possible.

I found a Barcelona-based parenting website called Mamaproof that had some posts in English.  I ended up reaching out to one of the bloggers to ask her for her tips for shopping for our baby in Barcelona and she kindly sent me a list of stores, many of which we visited and wouldn't have learned about on our own.  It was great that I found Mamaproof, but I was surprised I didn't find more sites like it. 

That got me thinking about New York and Brooklyn.  Sure, there are tons of blogs about New York and tons of general parenting blogs, but I wish there were more sites about how to get the most out of New York City with kids.  There are calendars of events and you can cull through the sites and put together your own thing, but I like the idea of packages.

So, that was the idea behind today's post of how to spend an afternoon in D.U.M.B.O.  We went last weekend because we had a friend in town from Rio de Janeiro who had never been to Brooklyn and I wanted to check out the new carousel down there.  Maybe someone else who lives in New York and is reading this is also curious about the carousel or maybe someone in Barcelona wants to visit Brooklyn, but doesn't know what to do there.

Here's what you can do in D.U.M.B.O. after the jump!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The 10 Best and Most Useful Gifts for a 6-Month Old Baby

So many useful topics get covered on my local parents' listserv.  The other day, someone asked the community for the most useful gift ideas for a six-month old baby.  Since my son Greyson is almost six months-old and I am thinking about Christmas gifts, I was very interested in seeing the responses. 

The mom who threw the original question out to the thousands of parents on the listserv posted a summary of the responses she got.  I want to share with you my interpretation and edit of the summary and my own ideas.

Six months is a really interesting time because babies are on the cusp of many fun developments:  sitting up, crawling, eating, teeth, clapping, saying their first word, etc.  Many of the items on this gift ideas list addresses the particular developmental stage of a six-month old.

The best gifts for a six-month old baby are...

1.  Gift certificates for classes and museum memberships
At six-months, babies are social and interested in people, especially other babies.  A gift certificate for music class or swimming class is a super fun idea.  Another option is to give a one-year membership to a local children's museum, zoo, or YMCA, etc.  Living in New York, I really appreciate great gifts that don't take up much space.  Plus, gift certificates to classes and museums are gifts that keep on giving.

2.  Food and feeding-related items
Most babies are introduced to solids around six months and soon begin drinking from sippy cups.  Gift ideas include a Beaba, high chair, spoons, cups and bibs.  (I got the Beaba as a gift, which I can't wait to use, and we also have the below Fast Table Chair.)

Check out the rest of the top 10 gift ideas list after the jump!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Top Tips for Surviving Your Baby's First Long Flight

It's not long ago that I was the person who would see someone getting on the plane with a baby and start thinking, please let that baby not sit next to me...please let that baby not sit next to me.  So, I dreaded our first flight with our 5-month old.

Rob and I agreed before having Greyson that we wouldn't stop traveling.  Yes, it's slightly more challenging to travel with a baby, but the benefits far outweigh the small inconveniences.  And even though our baby isn't aware that we're traveling yet, starting now ensures that travel and exploration is a part of our lives and not something that will happen at some magical point in the future.  I think that getting our baby used to traveling now will pay off when he's a toddler because he'll have done it many times.  Plus, it's free (and almost free internationally) to fly with a baby until they're two years old!

So, Greyson's first flight was from New York City to Barcelona, a seven hour flight away (the return flight was over 8.5 hours).  For weeks leading up to our first family vacation, I thought about what we could do to make the flight smooth for us...and everyone around us.  I researched countless websites, spoke to many other moms about their experiences and came up with some of my own solutions, too.  I guess the preparation paid off because both flights were completely uneventful for us.  No one can predict how their baby will act on a plane even if they were great on the last flight, but preparation helps alleviate anxiety!

Here's a video of our experience and the things that helped us have a smooth flight to and from Barcelona:

After the jump, I provide a cheat sheet of tips and photos on how to get through your long flight!