Archive of ‘parenting’ category
Smilo is a new local company founded by parents with backgrounds in medicine, science, and engineering. Smilo makes baby and toddler products such as bottles, pacifiers, and dishes. I received a newborn bundle and toddler accessories for review. My toddler son (born July 2015) and infant daughter (born April 2018) are enjoying the products so far!
The newborn bundle (in blue), came with a 3-pack of small bottles with Stage 0 and Stage 1 nipples, two bottle brushes, a 3-pack of newborn pacifiers, a 3-pack of pacifiers, a fabric clip and pacifier, and a baby blanket.
Bottles & Brushes:
Before we had our son, I registered for a set of Philips Avent bottles, a sterilizer, and bottle warmer on my Amazon registry. I wish I’d known back then to try a variety of bottles with him to see what fit him best (similar to how we held off on buying lots of one type of diapers until we found a brand that fit him well). The Philips bottles were okay, but we ended up trying a few other types until settling on Tommie Tippee (which were easy to clean, easy for baby to latch onto, and have an anti-colic valve).
My daughter isn’t yet taking a bottle because I haven’t returned to work, but I anticipate that Smilo bottles will work similarly well. According to the website, the Smilo “patented nipple design features a mom-like milk duct and leak-resistant vent, which work together to create a natural, uninterrupted flow that resembles breastfeeding. This minimizes air intake, taking pressure off of tiny tummies, mouths, and ears, which reduces colic, gas, and ear infections.” I appreciate that the bottles are BPA-free, light, and dishwasher-safe. Their distinctive color also stands out. I have used the bottle brushes for cleaning toddler water bottles, mini thermos, and cups, and they worked great. My son has also repurposed them as “microphones” during creative play.
Our son never took a pacifier (Soothie or Nuk) when he was an infant, and I was expecting that my daughter might not. The newborn pacifier has helped calm her down. The shape worked so much better than the Soothies did for our son. I appreciate that there are styles for different age ranges.
The day our daughter was born, our son learned how to climb out of the crib so we converted it to a toddler bed. He spotted the Smilo blanket from the bundle and declared that he wanted the “tars” (stars) for his “big boy bed.” He loves being tucked in at night and now wants our daughter to snuggle with him. It’s so soft, and the pattern is adorable. I wish it came in a bigger size!
Plates and Bowls:
I like the colors (orange, blue, purple, green). The lip on the edge of the plate helps food stay on (e.g., corn kernels, quinoa, berries).
I do have to remind myself to put them on the top rack of the dishwasher and to not microwave.
These have been a hit with my son! At first he had a hard time taking the lid off, but now he handles it well in the stroller and car seat. We have put in Cheerios, cheddar bunnies, and trail mix so far. The preschool set seems to find them fascinating, as one of our son’s classmates pointed out “you can only bring new toys on show and tell day!” when he arrived eating Cheerios out of the red car. I labeled the boxes using Sharpie so that they wouldn’t get lost at show-and-tell.
The boats are also a hit during bath time. We have used them to combat bath aversion and lure our son into the tub. I especially like that they are easy to clean and won’t gather mold. No picture in actual bath to avoid future embarrassment 🙂
Bonus: our son has enjoyed using the boxes and bundle bag in creative play. He has played “guitar” on the longer boxes, likes moving the boxes into bags and into “pilos” (how he says “pile”).
As much as I dislike Facebook, I do find value in the “On this Day” feature. From April 21, 2011, I wrote this note. Six years later, 3) through 6) are still so important for teaching (and now parenting). Six years later, we have Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Workplace, ClassDojo, Khan Academy and countless other technologies that increase our ability to access content or transmit content to our colleagues or students. Six years later, we have Amazon PrimeNow to get whatever baby product we need within two hours. We have similar access to “wisdom” via countless online mommy/baby forums, sleep consultants, and ScaryMommy/Pregnant Chicken-esque blogs. We can also transmit our content in those forums, in mommy Facebook groups, or on group iMessage threads during late-night feeding sessions.
Increasing access to or ability to transmit content doesn’t make teaching or parenting any easier if the emotional aspects aren’t addressed.
“From my roommate, who attended a talk about happiness by an HBS negotiation professor tonight. The HBS students voted for the three professors who they wanted to hear from, and these are the main points of the first talk.”
1) Quit early and often. Save up enough to make it monetarily possible for you to do so, and make your own choices.
2) Create value and worry about monetizing it later. The opposite is thievery (going where the money is and trying to create value).
3) Cultivate empathy. See the world through gentler eyes, because you will be better for it.
4) Learn humility. Either humility or arrogance is not enough; you must have a combination to succeed.
5) Learn from unlikely sources and don’t judge your teachers. Everyone around you can teach you something. Even if it’s harsh, if you are willing to take it, you can’t go wrong.
6) Make time for reflection. Ask questions about who you’ve become and who you were. Build in this time to keep reevaluating. You don’t need to aim for being stagnant and stable. Inevitably, things will change about you.
In the past 13 months of motherhood, nights out have become a scarce commodity. When Leah invited me to a Parents’ Night Out at Trade, I jumped at the chance to enjoy delicious food and drinks with Dave, Debbie, Leah (and her daughter), Kim, Kimberly, Nancy, Phyllis, and Sharon. Bonus: no one threw their food on the floor, shrieked at the top of their lungs, or played peekaboo–though a toy fish did appear in one of the beverages!
Being out so late (7:30) on a school night made me feel like I did in the days before teaching and motherhood! So did the lively conversation, which was as full of sassiness as it was full of useful parent advice. My biggest takeaway: blogs, Twitter, and Instagram aren’t awesome just because of the information and pictures–they’re awesome because they help enable interpersonal connections to people with common interests (when you finally get to meet them!).
We toasted to our night out with the Beets by Trade, then sampled the following from the dinner menu:
Raw Bar and Small Plates
Salmon Poke with serrano, red onion, avocado and plantain chips
Buttermilk Fried Quail with harissa aioli and pickled root vegetables
Falafel Pancakes with tzatziki, serrano and scallion
Chicken Meatballs with tomato vinaigrette, garlic cream and pine nuts
Fried Sweet Potatoes with salsa verde and orange
Tasso Ham and Smoked Gouda Flatbread with roasted corn, pickled pepper and onion
Mushroom and Fig Flatbread with gorgonzola, sage pesto and walnuts
Lamb Sausage Flatbread with eggplant, Manchego, peppers and garlic yogurt
Seared Salmon with shredded kale salad, lemon-tahini vinaigrette and pistachio
Oven Roasted Half Chicken with fried potatoes, lemon aioli and charred romaine
Painted Hills Bavette Steak with arugula, french fries and 540 steak sauce
Baked Rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone
Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, out came a Not a Cloud in the Sky cocktail and dessert:
Milk and Cookies: chocolate shortbread, buttercream and crema spressa
Ginger Ice Cream and TRADE Brownie with chili-chocolate sauce, candied ginger, and dukkah
Thank you, Trade for the amazing parents’ night out! Looking forward to visiting again on a girls’ night out or a date night!
540 Atlantic Ave, Boston MA 02110
T: South Station
Parking: Atlantic Wharf Garage at 280 Congress Street or valet
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While my students were working independently in math enrichment recently, I overheard some non-math-sounding talk.
Student 1: “I’m going to the mall later.”
Student 2: “Oh what are you getting? I want to get her candy and earrings.”
Student 3: “I can’t get Granny anything this year.”
Student 1: “You just spent all your money on food!”
Realizing that they were talking about Mother’s Day gifts, I thought about what I’d want now that I’m a new mom. Since you can’t box up “8 hours of continuous sleep a night + a magic genie that cleans the house while crafting impeccable lesson plans,” this is what I’d want:
1) Things that are Pretty and Relaxing
Pampering-related stuff like this True Moringa Mother’s Day Gift Box would be awesome because it’s pretty, relaxing, and socially conscious. I received a sample of the all purpose body oil to try. It’s great for moisturizing especially since the weather’s stayed cold and gloomy this year. Theo dark chocolate is one of my faves to snag at Whole Foods while passing through the chocolate section. Prosperity candles are soy-blend, hand-poured by women refugees, and come in a variety of scents and styles.
I bought the bridesmaid versions as wedding favor gifts almost two years ago, and I think this Kate Spade Mom Idiom Bangle would be pretty sweet to wear now.
Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts gift cards might seem impersonal, but they still help SO much in terms of caffeination and saving time. In spite of being an avid French press and cold brew coffee maker and knowing how much making coffee at home saves, sometimes I’d rather spend a little more time chilling with my son now than cleaning up all the coffee grounds and equipment.
3) Cute Things Made By My Child
I can’t wait for the cards with backwards R’s and the macaroni necklaces spray-painted gold (if kids even still make those)…look for me sporting those in a few years!
When getting ready to start maternity leave, I created a Google Calendar called “Parker” and promptly filled it with every single potential support group or maternity leave activity that I heard about from friends, my pediatrician, and Mt. Auburn Hospital. For example, I had bookmarked this post (from exactly three years ago!) and thought that I needed to attend multiple activities every single day of the week. Though Parker behaved better and I felt a lot happier on outings, I soon realized that having a few consistent activities and room for flexibility worked the best for us.
Class & Free Drop-In Groups
Having spent most of my teaching life in very structured time blocks, I longed for the familiar comfort of school when faced with the prospect of unstructured maternity leave. I signed up for the JCC New Arrivals (0-3 Months) and Getting to Know You (3-6 Months) classes at Ready, Set, Kids! in Arlington thinking that parenting classes would help me figure out how to be a mom. Early on, we did check-ins and had a group discussion/lesson about pertinent developmental topics such as sleep, breastfeeding, or preparing for the return to work. As the babies got older, we got to do more activities with them (such as parachute play or the ball pit). I appreciated getting to learn in a small group setting from an experienced teacher and in the company of mothers who were facing similar challenges. Each week, our teacher Liz did an amazing job of focusing each week’s discussions so that we could make progress without getting overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of parenting information that’s out there. I’m sure a lot of the information could have been found via Google, but the filtering definitely helped me focus on Parker’s development. Similarly, the strong personal connections in our small group were worth so much more than the class tuition. Even though I’d come into the class not even thinking about creating a support network, I left with a lot of wonderful mom friends. We spent many a fall afternoon relaxing at Kickstand Cafe or Common Ground, and now we’ll meet up for small “reunions” when there’s a holiday such as Presidents Day.
I don’t have pictures of the Medford group because phones aren’t allowed…this is Parker at a pre-group lunch at Colleen’s.
Two of the women in my JCC classes recommended the Medford New Parents Group as well. This free group meets at Medford High School on Tuesdays, and it’s for parents of children up to 1 year old. Each week, members will check in with their highs and lows for the week and then have an open discussion (one conversation for the entire group). A few folks often meet up at Colleen’s for lunch and some social time before group. Though this group’s facilitator is just as excellent as the JCC one, it has a completely different feel than the JCC classes. It’s drop-in, so it’s a lot bigger with less consistent attendance. There are dads as well as moms (no dads allowed at the JCC classes), second-time parents, and working parents. The discussion topics don’t follow a developmental timeline–for instance, they often arise out of circumstances such as wanting advice for holiday travel. I really enjoyed learning from parents with older babies in this group. Even though they weren’t struggling with the same challenges I was, they often had great advice from having gone through those experiences already. Another bonus: seeing their babies sitting up, crawling, and walking gave me stuff to look forward to for Parker. I also really appreciated that Aine, the facilitator, has a way of making everyone feel welcome and like they can move forward from even the most frustrating of circumstances.
The Library: Cambridge Public Library Lapsit
The library was always one of my favorite spots as a child, so I’d always planned to take Parker there for storytime and crafts. A few friends recommended the baby lapsit (with the caveat that the competition for tickets got so fierce that you’d have to arrive an hour beforehand). At first I thought that was crazy, and didn’t even attempt to go until Parker was 9 weeks old. I took a friend’s advice to go at 9:00 a.m. to pick up a ticket for the 10:00 a.m. lapsit and then go across the street to Darwin’s for a coffee. Parking in the library garage is cheap and easy to find on Monday mornings, which helps with early arrival. When the weather was nice, I’d stroll Parker around the neighborhood and check out the corgis playing in the nearby dog park. Sometimes I’d pick up books for myself in the new fiction section, read board books to Parker in the children’s room. I liked that the children’s room was so welcoming–it’s super clean, has ample bathrooms and changing tables, and lots of couches to sit on and nurse. It’s always hopping with parents, caregivers, and kids.
The lapsit itself lasts about 20 minutes. Julie the librarian (and her model baby Jake, a Curious George doll) leads the group in singalongs and finishes with reading a board book. The “good morning” song always starts, followed by introductions of the babies. The songs are consistent from week to week (to help the babies with language development). The lineup usually includes Pattycake, The Wheels on the Bus, Tony Chestnut, Kissing Frogs, Open Shut Them, Dump Truck, The Noble Duke of York, Trot Trot to Boston, Let’s Go Riding on the Elevator, Jumping Frogs, and Twinkle Twinkle. Even when Parker was going through fussy stages, he was always enraptured by all of the singing and the other babies. I grew to love it as a way to kick off the week.
Other Fun Stuff
We also liked:
– hanging out in coffee shops or restaurants (especially Diesel, Dwelltime–now Barismo, and Bagelsaurus)
– walking on the Minuteman Trail, Somerville Community Path, Alewife Greenway, Fresh Pond, and the Fells
– Capitol Theatre Baby Matinee: only went twice, and realized that this is best for really young babies…at six months, Parker would want to be entertained constantly rather than just sleeping through the movie.
– O2 Mommy Baby Yoga: only went once, and now I wish I’d been able to go once he hit six months because he doesn’t need to be held as much and would probably be happy exploring toys on the mat.
Stuff I Wish I’d Tried
I know it’s impossible to do everything, but I do wish I’d tried the following:
– Little Fox Library Singalong
– Jeff Jam Singalong
– Museum of Science (esp. because I could go for free as a K-12 teacher)
– Trustees of Reservations hikes
– Hike It Baby
I’ve been looking forward to (and sometimes dreading) my return to teaching after maternity leave. It’s so exciting to get that part of my identity back, but it feels like getting a new job after I’ve been spending so much time learning how to be a mom. Becoming a mom has strengthened and subtly changed my relationship with my own mom. For instance, she recently shared a story about how she left the Philippines to start work at the World Bank. The story was for her baby apo (how you say grandson in Tagalog), but it meant a lot to me too.
She sent these two pictures from January 1971, when she flew to the U.S. with two other women also starting jobs at the World Bank from a group of eight who were recruited from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). She had no idea at all where I was going except the knowledge that she was going to work at the World Bank. Since she was traveling with two friends she just went with the flow. The picture on the left is from her airport sendoff with family (she’s in the fabulous ’70s yellow/orange/green outfit). The other picture was from a stopover in Hong Kong, which was followed by San Francisco, L.A., and then Disneyland. In L.A., she marveled at the amazing things she had never seen before. She had a very enjoyable time because all expenses were paid by the Bank (she had left home with only about $100 in pocket money). On January 31, she and her friends flew to Dulles airport and were met by a World Bank car and driver. They stayed at the YMCA on 16th Street for about four days until they found an apartment where two other ADB girls lived (at 2430 Pennsylvania Ave NW).
Her first day of work was February 1 (I find that symbolic because of today’s date). She recalled being very sleepy at 5 p.m. during orientation and pinching her arm to keep herself awake. She didn’t know what fate awaited her in D.C…only that a certain Florido Buenafe lived on the same apartment floor as her and her roommate Cora. And the rest was history (helped along by my dad trying to woo her by bringing her a watermelon and sabotaging any would-be suitors by telling them that she moved away 🙂
Today I’m grateful for a fellow mom-friend who said “want to come over and hang out?” when I mentioned that my husband was in Denmark for a business trip. Though interacting with folks via Facebook, Twitter, and text message does offer some solace when at home with an infant, it doesn’t replace the calming effect of in-person time. We chatted a bunch while playing with our babies (who have known each other since ~6-8 weeks of age but only recently recognized each other’s existence). She mentioned that she would be doing Mystery Hunt this weekend and explained it to me when I got intrigued. She shared a few of the past puzzles with me so I could get a sense of what it was like, and then I got hooked. We got to chatting more about riddles we’d enjoyed as kids and spent a while trading ones back and forth about people found dead in various places and having to figure out why. It felt nice to kick it old-school style with just puzzles and human interaction!
Option 1: We rarely take the time to stop and smell the roses. Even on the most disastrous of days, good things happen. And these good things, when you’re on the lookout for them, pop up. All. The. Time. So for one day (heck, do it for many days), keep a lookout for the small good moments during your day and blog about them. We bet that by keeping an eye out for the good, your whole day will be even better!
My one good thing! He’s overseeing my blogging from his “office.”
I’m in the home stretch of maternity leave with my son Parker, so as much as I wanted to share what a day looks like for me teaching math and being an IB coordinator, it feels weird trying to recreate that when I haven’t been in the classroom since June 25, 2015. In the throes of the newborn stage, I quickly realized that there is no “leave” in maternity leave. I missed school–not only the familiar faces and routines but also the feeling of being competent. As a student and as a runner, I’ve previously been able to achieve good grades and better race times. With a known input comes a known output.
But with motherhood, like teaching before it, I have felt so deskilled in that putting hard work in doesn’t necessarily yield a desired result. It’s been a humbling journey, and though each day brings new challenges, I’m starting to find my footing. Over the past few months, I have grown by leaps and bounds since that first day home with Parker (when my husband and I put the car seat down on our floor for the very first time and wondered “how did the hospital let us out when we know *nothing*?”). I feel more confident with taking him out, with soothing him, with feeling like a mom, and with knowing him and his quirks. I cherish our snuggles, outings to baby lapsit, long walks, and co-cooking sessions (when he oversees me from his lion seat). Watching him grow and learn is amazing. Laughs, rolling, grasping, and getting closer to sitting up are all so cool to see.
That leads me to the overall “one good thing” of this post. Being at home with Parker and enjoying these small moments is helping me be patient with where I am rather than always worrying about not doing enough. When I got pregnant, I knew that teaching would become very different as I took on the new role of mom. However, I kept up my old habits and work style right up until the summer because I just wasn’t ready to let go of them and change. Throughout maternity leave, I’ve worried about forgetting how to teach, about my school not needing me anymore, and about how I was going to handle work if Parker still woke up multiple times a night to feed. Recently, I finally started to change my mindset about the onset of work. My brain sometimes still thinks it needs to go into panicky worry mode before every start of school, even though it doesn’t need to do it anymore.
Life will be okay if I’m reasonable about setting my bars for success. For instance, I recently ran without RunKeeper or music and just set out to enjoy the run without setting a pace goal. I could have gone into it saying “well, you *already* failed because you also didn’t double up and do a barre class today” or “if you don’t go faster than your last run, you’ve failed” or “you’re not running five miles at a time yet? FAILED!” Instead I just enjoyed the balmy weather, quiet Tufts campus, and feeling happy for having gone on a run at all. Teaching is going to be fine. It’ll be a tough adjustment, much as getting used to maternity leave was, but I’ll be able to handle it.
I’m researching blackout shades for our nursery and started my design process by polling a few mom groups. One mom suggested Pottery Barn Kids.
These Harper shades are lovely, on sale, and have been positively reviewed at Embrace My Space. However I realized that they wouldn’t work for our nursery upon seeing that all variations were 64″ long. Our windows are almost floor-to-ceiling.
I went in to measure the window widths to see if curtains might work. A friend recommended these Koala Baby curtains, but they would be too short. These Harper curtains come in varying lengths that could potentially be tall enough. However, the smaller windows are approximately 22″ and the large window is approximately 58″. We’d need three 44″ panels to cover the span of the windows without leaving gaps.
Perhaps wider curtains would work? My friend Heidi at This Bold Home recommended these, which are 52″ across. Two of those panels could work! The nursery foiled me again though. This weird ceiling dip also prevents a curtain rod from going all the away across the windows.
Based on all of these constraints, I’m eyeing custom cordless cellular blackout shades that can be installed by the company.Blinds to Go cordless cellular thermal shades seem the most promising right now because the former owners of the unit two floors above ours also used these for their baby’s nursery (same room as Parker’s and same dimensions), so their shades would likely work well in our space. I feel like I *should* DIY and self-install, but I’m neither interested in nor good at it. I feel hypocritical saying “I’m not good at it” because I really dislike it when people say “I’m just not good at math” and give up on it. But, in comparison to something like cooking (which I enjoy and can do without lots of struggle), the time and effort spent on self-installation would far outweigh the cost. I recently had an Elfa closet installed, and the fee was well worth it. It only took the installer an hour to do (while it would have taken my husband or me much longer, and we would have had to have the other person watch Parker).
Other recommendations from fellow moms:
– The Shade Store
– Lowe’s – from the former owner of our unit, who installed plantation shutters in the living room and cellular shades in both bedrooms
– Bed, Bath, and Beyond curtains
– JC Penney cordless cellular blackout shades (install yourself) (though one mom pointed out that
– Home Depot cordless cellular blackout shades
In my old life as a consultant, I supported operational and technical solutions for a Department of Justice High-Risk Metropolitan Areas Interoperability Assistance Project, which provided federal, state, and local public safety agencies with emergency intersystems communications in 25 areas at risk for terrorist attacks. I haven’t had the word “interoperability” pop into my head for a while (except for regarding school data and gradebook systems) until my recent ponderings about baby social media.
I’ve been pondering how to share pictures and video of Parker via different systems to various stakeholders (grandparents, immediate family, friends, acquaintances) and with different technologies (iPhone apps, Android apps, websites, printed paper books or calendars). Major considerations have been privacy, ease of use, and accessibility. I’ve been sharing via iCloud photostream to immediate family as well as via Facebook and Instagram for friends. However, none of these offer an optimal solution. Not all family members use iPhones. Some friends use Facebook and Instagram, so double posting there would be an overload for them. Some use only Facebook or only Instagram.
I love that iCloud photostream allows for multiple contributors and for immediate notifications. It saves the effort of creating a separate album somewhere and emailing it, and consolidates photos automatically (which wouldn’t occur if you texted photos individually). Two of my immediate family members are on Android, so they don’t get the updates unless they load the photostream via its weblink. And if that weblink got forwarded erroneously, all privacy would immediately go out the window.
I’ve been on Facebook since 2004, so I’ve added a lot of friends from various contexts in my life. Not all of them are close enough to warrant baby photo sharing, and many are likely not interested in seeing photos of Parker (hopefully not to the point of something like unbaby.me). Other mom friends have mentioned that they too love sharing but worry they are going overboard. Though Facebook seems to already creepily prioritize posts in the newsfeed, it can’t yet read our minds and execute the command “just show this to people I care about and who would actually want to see my baby photos.”
I know there are options for creating tiers of friends like one would in real life, but I’m not interested in trying to coerce Parker into sitting still long enough for me to curate various lists with privacy permissions for seeing my statuses or photos. I’m also not interested in putting in the effort to create, invite people to, and maintain a private Facebook group for sharing his photos. A friend pointed out that several of his friends even made up different names for their kids on Facebook in addition to locking down the privacy settings. I suppose I could always go back to calling Parker his pregnancy nickname of “Henry.”
Instagram would theoretically work if I hadn’t already had a public Instagram. There are options for making photo albums or prints from Instagram photos, which would be cool. However, simply making my account private wouldn’t solve the matter of having Parker’s photos viewable by current followers whom I don’t mind seeing my posts about food, fitness, or teaching but would mind seeing Parker. Keeping the account public makes me wary of issues such as baby catfishing. I ended up deleting all photos of Parker except for his birth announcement and one where he’s in a stroller around my students. I have reserved the Instagram account with his full name, but there’s no easy way to just transfer those past posts to it.
Friends have suggested other apps that were specifically designed for the baby photo sharing use case: Smugmug, 23 Snaps, and Lifecake. Side note: I think this is the death knell of my being on the cutting edge of new technology, because I hadn’t heard of them yet. They seem great with privacy, organization, and ability to create printed photo albums. I do worry about the extra effort required for technology adoption, though apps being consolidated on one’s phone does make this much easier these days. I also worry about having to sort through and upload all of the photos from the past 3.5 months of Parker’s life…the longer I wait to switch, the more onerous that will be.