B and I spent this past weekend in Michigan with his parents and family- a good time was had by all. Despite a truly heinous drive from Chicago to Detroit, in which the baby cried the entire way we had nice weather and good company for the rest of the holiday. We tried to time our drive with bedtime, thinking G would sleep in the car, but she defied logic and stayed away until we were 5 minutes from our destination. Truly terrible fail.
G also suffered from a little time zone confusion so she and I didn’t make it to church on Sunday, which was disappointing but we decided not to wake the sleeping baby that went to bed five hours late on Friday night and then took an epic 3 hour nap on Saturday. The rest of the family made it, and then came back to see the just-woke-up baby-girl dive into her basket. We did manage to get her into her Easter duds to see B’s extended family and participate in the family egg hunt, during which G was delighted to collect eggs and play with the shiny packages inside. Mean Mom wouldn’t let her eat the candy though (she got a small amount of a chocolate egg and later this week we will let her nibble on her bunny from her Great Grandfather). She dug the Easter ham, was not a fan of the deviled eggs. Ah well, more for me.
In a little side commentary, I will say that Easter dresses are hands down the hardest dresses in the world for me to plan. Easter in the Midwest can be enjoyed during a snow storm, dreary rain, or warm sun. I’d initially planned on buying a Boden sweater dress (complete with adorable spring animals) but then, realizing Easter was later in the year, grew wary it would be too warm. Likewise, a smocked bishop dress seemed to be erring on the side of too lightweight, and I hate to cover up smocking with a cardigan. Dear clothing manufacturers: long sleeved springy Easter dresses would sell like hotcakes, JUST SAYING. I instead opted for a simple cotton shift (Carter’s) and an adorable cardigan and ruffle bottom tights. Gracie proudly earned her first grass stained knee, but that is what childhood is about, am I right? At least for other holidays I can be fairly certain of the weather and plan accordingly.
Other weekend highlights: seeing good friends in Detroit (lunch with one, a quick evening beer and live music with another couple), spending time with family, watching Gracie play in grass, taking her to her first Coney Island (where she….threw her Coney on the floor, earning her a trip outside to discuss polite table manners) and nice walk down the street B grew up on, enjoying some sunshine and good company.
We had a much calmer trip home- the Easter basket Buckley Boo monkey was a total hit and kept her entertained for hours (as did copious amounts of cheddar bunnies). I was really glad I kept her basket simple- the Easter bunny is a fun childhood tradition but I don’t want it turn into Christmas 2.0, and I have fond memories of simple baskets growing up, putting more of an emphasis on church, family, egg hunts and Easter lunch. I’m already contemplating next year…and dying eggs!
3. Wearing a swimsuit at a beach, pool or other body of water
5. Frozen cocktails
6. Drinks on patios
7. Freshly mown grass
10. Being outside without 19 layers on
Sadly it appears none of these things will ever be seen in the Chicago area again.
(Woke up to a crunchy coating of ice topped by an inch of snow, and “almost record low” temperatures, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESERVE THIS?)
The weather complaining has gotten tedious I know, but Chicago got 82 inches of snow this “winter” (see also: fall through spring) and you guys, that is not normal. We do not live in Fargo. This isn’t Minnesota. Our average snowfall for winter is 38 inches. I have shoveled, salted, scraped and layered my way through innumerable snow days, polar vortex’s and weather advisories. I threw boiling water into subzero air (it turns to steam and freezes, all very crazy) the first time it happened, the continuing days and weeks were all about survival. I knocked icicles, boiled water in the house and filled radiator pans with water and started using fabric softener again. I slathered my kid in Aquaphor, put spare gloves in the pocket of every coat and wore my Uggs into the ground. I stood at a train station while being pummeled by all variations of terrible winter weather and my boss got worried that no one had been in the office for weeks because it was too dangerous to venture out and commute. The lining of my coat needs repair from being worn so much. I actually wore a hat.
I AM DONE.
Last Wednesday B left for Charleston for sailing while I stayed home with Gracie. I KNOW. CHARLESTON VERSUS CHICAGO. UNFAIR. After realizing last summer that I’m only good at lone wolfing for 2 nights max, I called in reinforcements: my Mom, aka Gigi. While we had some bumps in the itinerary (stroller snafu, all is well) we had an awesome girls weekend and I was really grateful for both the adult company and the ability to take the dog on a quick walk without having to worry about getting Gracie packed up and out the door with me…three times a day. It was also nice for G to take a day off from daycare (Friday) to hang with my Mom- and it meant no drop off or pick up for me!
Our zoo trip was dashed by the aforementioned stroller issue (I did something dumb which led to me being unable to clip the seat into the frame, many thanks to Galt Baby for “fixing” it aka showing me the stupid thing I did and reversing it….if you own an UppaBaby Vista, don’t carry the seat by the recline lever….) but we did make it to the playground near the zoo. Gracie growled at the mountain lion statues, pet the baby elephant statue and was overjoyed by simple park pleasures. Behold:
Girlfriend enjoys the breeze in her hair, that is for sure. We had lunch at a nearby institution, R.J. Grunts. Very kid friendly and highly recommended to anyone wanting to grab a bite before or after the zoo (It also has a lovely bloody mary, fancy burgers and an amazing salad bar for the adults in the group).
On Sunday before we took my Mom to the airport (sniff) we went out to the suburbs for an Easter egg hunt at our friend’s house. Gracie was really confused as to why we encouraged her to pick up more eggs than she had hands until she realized: (1) the eggs come apart; and (2) THERE ARE PRIZES INSIDE. One egg of yogurt melts later and she spent the next 30 minutes trying to find every egg she could, including eggs in her friend’s baskets. We had a chat about sharing.
Next time we attend an egg hunt I will remember to bring her basket….classify that as a Mom Fail. As soon as the egg hunt ended our nice weather blew away (today it was raining ice pellets) and we are back to wearing cozy layers and close toed shoes. B got back into town late last night so Gracie and I enjoyed breakfast-for-dinner, a rare treat as B despises breakfast-for-dinner. All in all it was a lovely weekend, even if we missed B and wished my Mom could have stayed a little longer.
For me one of the best parts about blogging my pregnancy & Gracie’s first 12 months (I’m going to keep doing updates, just every 3 months) was “meeting” all of my readers who were a few months (or a year!) behind in their pregnancy/baby birthday and have found my words helpful as they navigate what is ahead of them. For me it is definitely one of those added bonuses of writing things on a blog rather than a private journal. Anyway, as of late the theme of the questions I’m getting in comments or emails centers around all the “stuff” for feeding an older baby. So here we go, all the things we have used and use and loved and didn’t love. Amazon links are affiliate (transparency, high five).
We have 3 highchairs – 2 full size and one booster/travel. We bought one and then received the others as gifts, and at that point returning the first full size one wasn’t an option anymore. For the year of nanny sharing it was awesome to have 2 high chairs and even now we regularly use both. So, yes, you do NOT need 3 high chairs, but since we have them, I’ll give you the rundown on them all.
1. Travel/booster: Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat.
This was given to us at one of our showers and it wasn’t something we registered for, so I figured someone found this to be a very useful item when they had a baby. For a long time it stayed over at the other house of our nanny share, and now that it is back, we have pulled it out to use when we have all of the February Club over for dinner. We plan on taking it with us on (driving) trips to Grandma’s to use at her house too. It folds up REALLY compactly, the trays fit in the dishwasher, and it hooks right to your dining room chair. It is also very easy to clean. It morphs from a high chair with a tray to a regular old booster seat- two in one! At $25 it is a great option for everyone for travel or a main high chair. Not suitable until your baby can really sit up on their own.
2. Full Size- Boon Flair
This space-age high chair has some great features. The seat doesn’t recline so you can’t use it for very young babies, but once they can sit up it is an awesome seat with lots of support. The tray is quite small, which I love (less space to make a mess) and comes with two clip on covers that you can pop in the dishwasher (and due to the size THEY ACTUALLY FIT IN THE DISHWASHER). There are no hidden seams or cracks to collect crud, there is no fabric to absorb spills. The whole high chair is on wheels (but there is a brake) and has a pneumatic lift so you can raise/lower the seat. I find the lift to be a bit sticky but the wheels are awesome. This is the chair we pop Gracie into when we want her to sit in the kitchen while we make dinner/unload the dishwasher.
3. Full size- Stokke Tripp Trapp
Old faithful. This high chair has been around for 75 years and morphs from a high chair into a full size adult chair. While you can buy a tray for it, it is intended to be used as a seat that pulls up to your table, so baby can interact with you during meal time. Gracie loves it and definitely prefers eating at the dining room table like a big kid. This chair is also easy to clean. This chair should definitely only be used with a solid sitter, and in the early days you’ll need the seat set for the lap bar/harness. We never bought the optional cushions for it, and have not regretted that decision- they really are not necessary. I love, love, love that it grows with your child and can eventually serve as their seat when they are adults. The concept of baby eating at the table might seem a little “hippie” but we can tell a total difference in Gracie during meal time in the Tripp Trapp. We have not had a problem with her tipping it, as we have it on a smooth surface, but Stokke has rail extenders to help prevent that from happening. This will be the seat that we use long after the Boon Flair is retired.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. Zoli straw cups!
A lot of my preliminary research indicated that for oral development, straw cups were preferable to spouted sippy cups. Our pediatrician agreed with the sentiment, and after a lot of research, I ordered one of these cups. Gracie took to it immediately (yay!) and we had a very smooth transition off of the bottle and onto these- no bottles after her 1st birthday, woot. (This is due to my kid, nothing I did, but hey, I think the cup helped a little!) We have 6 cups total which is not quite enough to get us through a full day and the next morning due to the need to always have 2 cups at daycare. We get the straw clean by running water into the weighted end and “milking” the drinking end for a moment (it flushes all the milk out) and then toss all the parts in the dishwasher. The cup will leak if you don’t thread the top on properly (lesson learned) and sometimes if the liquid is quite cold and the room is warm, you’ll get a small leak from the “capillary effect” but that is going to happen with most valve cups, so I figure I can’t get too upset by something first noted by DaVinci. Definitely buy a pack of extra straws though- they have come in handy!
Spoons for first feedings – Gerber Graduates Soft Bite spoons
Just your basic metal spoon with a soft “scooper” (uh, how else do you describe that?) these really were the best spoons for the early baby food days. The metal handle meant they were stiff enough to stir two things together (yogurt & fruit puree, cinnamon into squash, etc) and the spoon doesn’t hold too much food (which makes things messier). They rest well in a baby food jar or small bowl. Of course I couldn’t just go with what worked and at some point bought some “fancy spoons” – mistake.
I bought a pack of Nuby spoons that turn colors when food is too hot and have a bigger “scooper” and a longer handle. This was fancy speak for a bigger mess and they flip bowls over or fall out of bowls due to the overly long handle. Dumb. They are however awesome for scooping stuff out of tall, narrow jars (crushed garlic, horseradish, capers) so they were not a total bust. They are only top rack safe in the dishwasher, the metal spoons can go in the regular silverware basket.
Self feeding spoons/forks- OXO Tot
We found that the OXO Tot line of kiddie serving/feeding stuff is perfect for our needs. Gracie has recently started insisting on holding a spoon and scooping things herself (daycare skills!) and we bought her this fork and spoon set. Nice and chunky for her to hold, she has a blast trying to feed herself yogurt or veggies. (She doesn’t actually eat the veggies but she greatly enjoys scooping/stabbing them). They wash well in the dishwasher.
Plates & Bowls- OXO Tot all the way
We have 2 OXO Tot plates, 3 OXO Tot divided plates, and one OXO Tot bowl with a lid. You too can have this many plates if you miscommunicate with your spouse and you both simultaneously place an Amazon order. Truth be told we could probably have a few fewer plates and another bowl, but here we are. I’m sure we will survive. OXO has two nice sets you can buy – fork, spoon, bowl and plate all in one or fork, spoon, plate and divided plate. The removable colored lip around the plates is a nice feature- it can help as kids learn to scoop food with spoons or forks but easily pops off when they don’t need it anymore. These items all wash nicely in the dishwasher, although if you run the lip through the dishwasher be sure to keep it attached to the plate so it doesn’t warp.
On-The-Go Snack Cups: OXO Tot Flippy Cup
These little cups are a great way to bring along small snacks (we are fans of Annie’s cheddar bunnies and Joe’s O’s cereal) without them getting crushed in your bag or spilled everywhere. The handle clips nicely onto Gracie’s stroller bar and the removable solid lid prevents snacks from sneaking into my purse over time. She can easily reach in to grab some snacks, but it is less precarious than an open baggie or bowl. We got 2 of these after I got tired of carefully doling out two cheddar bunnies at a time on our commute home on the train. Once again: they wash nicely in the dishwasher.
I’ve mentioned these bibs a few times, but seriously, they are awesome. So lightweight, the pocket actually catches spills and they really do keep her dry underneath. We have six and they are in constant rotation. We wash them in the machine (they come out looking as good as new) and hang dry them (takes about half an hour) and then hang them by a Command hook we stuck to the back of her highchair. They are so lightweight that they are incredibly easy to pack for eating out.
Placemats- Tiny Diner
At home we just wipe up/scrub after Gracie eats at the table, but when on the go out we use placemats. The disposable sticky placemats are great- they stick to any table and definitely contain the mess, but they are wasteful and the strips that you have to peel off to stick them down become a mess in their own way. We invested in a Tiny Diner suction cup placemat that we love- but of course, if you eat in a restaurant with a heavily grained table, it might not stick very well. You win some you lose some. The trough really helps catch her spills and it rolls up nice and tight – easy to transport in the diaper bag. We have two of them due to the aforementioned Amazon snafu….but we definitely only need one. They are handwash only but come clean quite easily.
So there you have it- all of the feeding things we love and use regularly!