Can You Hike In It? Firespiral Autumn Dendron Harvest

Falling leaves, deep brunt orange colors, and squirrels running playfully. This wrap is a lovely cool weather carrier. I was very excited to host this wrap for some Oregon Fall adventure.

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Manufacturer: FireSpiral Slings

Colorway: Autumn Dendron Harvest
Color: Orange, red, purple
Pattern: Trees, leaves, and squirrels 
Size: 6 (Base +1 for me)
Materials: 100% cotton
Weave: Jacquard
Release date: September 2015

img_8505Right away I smiled at the squirrels. I love when carriers have fun little details like this. The deep warm colors are so inviting. And it’s thick and soft like a blanket. I was excited for some newborn hiking snuggles.

img_8136Dendron Harvest went for a very fun trip to the Columbia River Gorge while my in-laws were visiting. Multnomah Falls is truly an Oregon treasure. The fourth highest falls in America, and only 30 minutes from Portland.

Location: Multnomah Falls 
Distance:  0.78 miles
Trail Type:  Paved concrete
Weather: Raining and windy  
Trail Conditions: Wet, muddy and busy 

img_8113Of course, it had to be POURING down rain when we got there. But Oregonians always do it in the rain, so just bundled up everyone and headed out anyways. The falls themselves are just a short walk from the parking lot.

img_8108Then another short but switchbacking hike takes you to the bridge at the first falls. Michael, Jack, Bear and I ran up that one while everyone else checked out the gift shop. img_8117It’s a well maintained, paved trail with some wooden bridges along the way. It is not toddler friendly, the trail has steep drop offs and is not smooth. Please take your toddlers and babies (it’s a beauty they need to see!), but keep them in carriers at all times.

img_8130 img_8126It was very crowded at the bridge, EVERYONE was posing for photos and clogging up the bridge. We quickly snapped the best one we could and ran back down.

I wore Bear in a Front Wrap Cross Carry with a Twist. He was warm and fell asleep in minutes. This wrap is seriously like snuggling in a big soft blanket.
img_8138Then we had lunch in the lodge, and of course Jack finished quickly. He begged me to go wander so I took Bear out the waiting area to nurse while Jack looked around. That went to hell quickly,so as soon as Bear finished, I had to wrap them both up to keep the place from being destroyed.

img_8143So, I did my first tandem carry with the same wrap! I put Jack on my back in a Ruck Tied Tibetan, and took the Tibetan Passes to do a Front Cross Carry with Bear. It was sooo comfortable, and I credit a lot of that to the cushion of the wrap. However, it was a bit hard to pull the Cross Passes up around Bear at first because of the thickness, but I got it done. We walked back to the parking lot with pride.

img_8789Two weeks later, we went on another awesome adventure—Halloweentown! I totally forgot last year that the movie was filmed in St. Helens, Oregon. But this year I made sure to take my family. I realized this wrap was the perfect colors for the occasion!

img_8793img_8831Bear strolled around town in a Front Wrap Cross Carry with a Twist (and I had to do my tutorial video at the plaza with all the decorations).

img_8849 Later Jack decided his legs couldn’t work anymore, so I put him up in a Front Cross Carry. The wrap was very supportive for his 27-pound butt and long legs.

img_8506The key feature of this wrap is the design. How can you not love the squirrels and falling leaves? And the deep brunt orange color just pulls it all together. It’s thick like your favorite winter blanket, but tightens easily for lots of support. It can be a bit hard to spread out when bunched or tightened though. And I would not recommend doing carries where the thick wrap goes under a newborn’s delicate legs.

img_8845 Can you hike with a FireSpiral Autumn Dendron Harvest? Yes! This a great cool weather wrap for all ages. Even when bolting up a switchbacking trail on a rainy day or containing a bouncing toddler, this a great hiking wrap.

 

One Year of Cloth Diapers

One year ago, we made the jump to cloth diapers. I talked about it in a previous post when we started, but I figured it was time for recap of how it went. I can honestly say with confidence it’s been wonderful. Best decision, no plans on going back to disposables full time.  When Jack has a bad rash on his butt from food allergies, we use disposables because the prescription cream is not cloth diaper safe (see here why). And my mom doesn’t like washing diapers and dealing with all the snaps, so she uses disposables when she watches him. I wish she didn’t, but she’s the free babysitter so I don’t argue anymore.

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Like I said in my original post, I selected Alva All In Two (AI2) diapers because of the great price and reasonable reviews. They are often referred to as “China cheapies” and people have concerns about a their quality and origins. I haven’t seen any hard evidence against their business ethics, so I am not too concerned personally. What I can say is they have worked great. The covers have held up great. The elastic did not stretch out, the Polyurethane Laminate (PUL, the waterproof outer layer) has not pulled away or warped. The snaps have kept their snap and did not leak. I have not noticed any fading either, the bright colors are still bright!

I liked them so much, I decided to try some Pocket diapers. Most are Alvas. Some are LBB, which are rumored to be rebranded Alvas. They look and feel exactly the same. I bought some off the Cloth Diaper Swap and some off Amazon. I have some super cute patterns, they always make me smile.

That being said, the microfiber and hemp inserts they came with suck on their own. One liner of either material does not absorb even a light peeing. I double up with of the Alva inserts plus a Charcoal Bamboo insert. The microfiber absorbs quickly, getting it away from Jack’s skin, then soaks it into the slow but high absorbing bamboo. Works great for us.

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Didn’t want to lug diapers around the beach, so just used the one cover and new inserts all day.

What’s nice about AI2 and Pocket covers if they do not stink or have poop on them, you can use them again. Just remove the wet liners, insert clean ones and put the same cover back on. However, I hardly ever do this. Jack has no patience to lay still while I take off the diaper, unstuff, restuff, and put it back on. I usually have 5 seconds to change before he runs off, pants or no pants. So I just put a new, already stuff diaper on each time. Thus, I use them more like All In One (AIO) diapers, but oh well. I know a lot of people also do this.

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Recovering from a tummy bug, was so grateful for the snug fit to keep the blowouts contained.

We do have some organic cotton AIOs from Villababies. They are super cute and work WONDERFUL for containing poop blowouts. I was happy to have them when Jack had a stomach bug a while ago. They are trim, fit snuggly around the waist, and no gapping around the thighs on Jack. But, they are not the best for long term wearing. Jack can soak through one after just one pee. He isn’t that heavy of a wetter either. We had several leaks using them. Well, more like soaks.

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No pants at a restaurant because he SOAKED through in 10 minutes.

They just don’t high absorbency. I haven’t sold them because they are a nice filler diaper in my stash. If I need a trim diaper, we are just going to be home and I can change him often, or he’s got the runs. But they are not the first ones I grab each day.

At night, we use a Pocket with one microfiber, one charcoal bamboo, and one hemp. I know some are going to read that and be like WHAT? YOU USE THREE INSERTS? JUST BUY SOME NIGHT SOAKERS AND SAVE YOURSELF THE BULK!

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This leak was a result of forgetting to add the hemp insert.

Yeah, I don’t have extra money to spare and my method works just fine. I am big fan of using what you got on hand in any situation. I can only think of two or three leaks we’ve had all year, and those were mainly from not getting the diaper snug enough.

And to answer a few questions I get asked a lot:

  • No, dumping the poop in the toilet first is not that gross. You have to see it anyway when you change it, what’s an extra 10 seconds? Even toddler poop isn’t so horrible. You signed up for gross when you had a baby.
  • No, the diaper pail we store them the dirty ones between washes does not stink. Get a good container, a good cloth liner bag, and keep it away from the heat—can’t even tell it’s there.
  • Yes, it can be annoying to stuff diapers twice a week. Especially with a toddler who throws them in the air and screams “THROW THE BUTTS!” every two minutes. But it’s not that big of a deal. I just sort them all out, and go on autopilot while watching TV. Michael stuff them a lot of the time, he’s really good at it!
  •  Yes, they work great out and about. We put the dirty ones in a wet bag (a zipper, odor and waterproof bag) and put them in the pail when we get home. They do take up a little more bulk my diaper bag/purse, but it’s not that big of a deal. If I’m really tight on space, I just bring liners and reuse the cover.  Jack doesn’t poop out in public that often anymore, so this usually works well. We even took them hotel rooms, day road trips, and hiking. No issues so far.
  • Yes, we have saved money. A LOT of money. I spent about $300 total on my cloth stash. We paid $35 to $45 for an economy box of diapers every 3 weeks. So that’s about $70 to $90 a month. So about $840 to $1080 in a year. Essentially the diapers paid for themselves in 2.5 months. And we never saw a significant increase in our water or electricity bill.

Check out my washing routine post and journey into newborn cloth diapering coming up next.

Follow Your Heart VeganEgg 

I was never a big egg fan, but it was nice to be able to scramble up a quick breakfast on occasion. Especially for my son is screaming because he’s straving. But me being vegan and his egg allergy, not gonna happen anymore. 

Then I heard that Follow Your Heart was making vegan egg substitute product. And not just another egg replacer for baking, these could be used just like real beaten eggs. Scrambles, quiches, omelette, and baking! 

My first question was what the heck is it made of? Jack is also allergic to soy and cashews, two very common sources of vegan protein. I asked on their Facebook page and they quickly answered it was soy and nut free!  It’s main ingredient is an algae dervitive, algal

My mom asked what she could make for me and jack instead of scrambled eggs for Christmas Brunch, so I decided to order some finally. Luckily a local vegan grocery store in Portland Food Fight had some in stock, so they arrived just in time before Christmas morning. 

They come in cute little eggs cartons, but inside is really a package of powder. 

   
The instructions are easy and straightforward. In a nutshell, add correct amount of powder to correct amount of water, get lumps out, cook in a hot pan until firm. The key is to do what the directions say (duh). Too much water and they come out rubbery. Too much powder and they come out clumpy. And they are dead serious about letting it cook the full 6-8 minutes in an already hot pan. Otherwise it’s just goo that has no resemblance in texture to eggs. 

  

So how are they? I can happily say good! The texture is totally on point. Not too slimy, not to dense.  Fluffy and satisfying feel.  The taste is pretty close, but just a tiny bit off. I can’t really explain how it’s off…it’s like lacking that umami taste satisfaction. But I added a little sea salt and paprika before cooking and it helped a lot. 

 Did they pass the toddler test? Kinda. But Jack was more excited for the ham and maple syrup. He took a bite of the scramble, didn’t hate it but didn’t love it. 

I think this is a great product, I plan on buying it again and hope it becomes available in stores soon. A great vegan protein source that is soy-free. I’m going to try baking with it soon so look out for that recipe.  

 But For now, I highly suggest some over toast with salsa and hot sauce for breakfast. 

Water Babywearing

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You know the one drawback to being an experienced mom? You get to facepalm yourself when you find a new product that could have made your life easier from the start. Babywearing allowed me to eat, go to the bathroom, and clean up around the house while keeping Jack happy. But I always had to wait until he was either asleep (and do the paranoid mom checking the monitor every 30 seconds) or wait until Michael got home. And sometimes things got so busy I forgot to shower (more like I fell asleep before I could even think of it), that it could be days before I got the chance.  Jack loved baths with me, but sometimes you need a good standing scrub to feel clean. Sometimes Michael would hold him in the shower, but it’s hard to shower and hold a baby (they get heavy after awhile!).

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Hard to thread, slid down easily, choked me, and only instructions were for front facing.

A few months later I bought a water ring sling to use at my sister-in-law’s house. It got the job done but was not comfy at all. I used in the shower when I needed to (like when I remembered it’s been 3 days since I had a good shower), but never really loved it. It made Jack happy, so I decided to hold on to it. But I knew I was not going to use it with another baby. It would be back to dreaming of showers.

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Fresh out of the box.

Then Lorene from Frogmama let me test out Wrapsody WrapDuo and everything changed. The night it arrived, Jack and I took tested it in the shower. It was a hit!

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The most fun shower ever!

We tried a Front Wrap Cross Carry, one of Jack’s favorite carries. He was so happy! All secure and tight—I could never get that stupid ring sling tight so he was never this secure before. It was easy to nurse in to (because toddler logic says a shower is a great time to nurse….).

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Happy husband to wear his son, grumpy baby ready for a nap.

A few days later I let Michael try it out at the local splash pad. Jack was grump and didn’t want to get wet. But Michael liked the wrap a lot.  He liked that I could pre-tie it on him, pop Jack in and out as needed. He said it would have been nice to have used when Jack was a newborn in the shower (that’s when I facepalmed myself).

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Jack is shocked at how supportive it is at the pool!

Then we tried it out at the pool and it was another big hit! Sadly, I forgot to check the open swim times and we only got to swim for a half an hour. But it was a savior in the showers afterward. Jack was furious we got out of the pool so early. I kept him in the wrap and rinsed us off quick and ran to the car with no fuss. It was very comfortable in a wet Robin’s Hip Carry while we got the chance though.

Pool time in FCC!
Pool time in FCC!

Lastly, we had a playdate with Myste, another Brand Ambassador, at a pool with a splash pad. It was a little chilly when we arrived but Jack wanted to check out the splash pad still. He stayed warm enough in the wrap close so my body that he was happy to play. Later we went into the pool, and Jack was still just as happy. This time we did a Front Cross Carry so I could pop him in and out as needed. And it was once again a life saver in the showers. Jack was upset playtime was over, but we got right into a warm shower and he calmed down.

Here are my final thoughts on the WrapDuo…

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Not toddler worthy when dry unfortunately.

Cons:

  • The wrap is only suitable for front and hip carries since it is a stretchy wrap. This is a good thing because it not safe to have your baby in water and not be able to see them their head level in the water. Since this is a wet/dry wrap, it kind sucks you can’t use dry on the back. It would have been a lot easier to carry my bag and the wet towels to the car after the pool with him on my back.
  • It’s not toddler worthy out the water. The dry weight limit is 20 pounds, which means Jack at 22 pounds was technically too heavy. So when I was wrapping him before the we got in the shower first time, it was really hard to get him tight enough without popping his heat. And Michael said he felt like Jack could have just leaned back and fell out when he was walking to splash pad. I am sure this would not been an issue at all with a baby under the weight limit.
  • They take a while to dry. You know how your swimsuit can still be wet after hanging in the shower hours later? The wrap is made of similar material, so it also can be awhile before it it totally dry. Not a big deal, but it is more wet thing you have to shove back into your bag.
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Even wet, it is small enough to fit in a small bag.

Pros:

  • It is easy to put on and take off. It’s light weight, glides nicely when tightening, but still makes a nice secure knot. No complicated rings to thread or buckles to snap. As long as you know the basics of wrapping, than you are set! And when Jack wanted out to play on the steps of the pool, I just pulled him right out with no fuss. Plus you can do all your favorite front and hip carries, so it is very versatile.
  • It is toddler worthy in the water. The wet weight limit is 30 pounds, which covers most kids well into toddlerhood. I never had issues tightening and securing Jack when the wrap was wet. It felt like any other good quality wrap. It did not dig or hurt in any way either.
  • Easy to store. It is very light weight and folds up small even when wet. It didn’t hog up space in the diaper bag or feel like I was carrying any extra weight.  Nothing is worse than your diaper bag weighing more than your baby.

Overall, the WrapDuo is a great wrap. Like I said, I am facepalming myself for not knowing about it when Jack was still a clingy baby who never me set him down. I could have at least been nursing him for 30 minutes straight while I took a warm shower!

Thanks Frogmama for letting us testing it out! I so need one when I have another baby.

Things Saving My Sanity With a Newborn

Overall, I lucked out with Jack. He really isn’t that fussy of a baby. He usually only cries when something is wrong, like he needs to be fed or is tired. But, he has his moments. And let me tell you, this kid has a set of lungs on him. There is nothing more taxing on your soul than hearing your baby scream when you are already exhausted. By 3 weeks old we figured out a few things that will calm Jack quickly and keep him happy pretty. So here is a list of the things saving my sanity:
  • Swaddle Sacks: The first night at the hospital Jack was either nursing or screaming because he wanted to nurse. Michael and I were trying everything to get him to sleep more than 10 minutes. Then a nurse came in to take him for his hearing test around midnight. When she brought him back, he was all swaddled and happy. He slept for an hour until he was hungry again.  I unswaddled him, feed him, and he got all fussy again. Then the nurse came in to check his vitals and swaddled him. He slept for 2 hours. Then another feeding followed by fussiness. Then another check and nurse reswaddling, followed by 2 more hours of sleep. Thus, we quickly caught on he liked to be swaddled. But as best as we tried, we couldn’t get him tight enough and he kept breaking free (which just made him madder). The first night at home, we just couldn’t keep him asleep for more than 30 minutes and were exhausted. Then I remembered there was a swaddle sack in the bag of hand-me-downs my friend gave us. I put him in it, rocked him until he fell asleep. And to my delight he slept for 3 hours! The next day we ordered 2 Summer Infant SwaddleMe’s from Amazon. We swaddle him every night for bed, most naps, and when he is insanely fussy. He sleeps in 3-5 hours stretches at night and takes 2 or 3 good naps every day. So worth the money.
  • Boba Wrap: Several of my friends told me to wear my baby. After Jack’s first few days at home and him constantly wanting to be in my arms, I decided it was worth a shot. I decided on the Boba Wrap because of the good reviews and the price. I watched the videos on Youtube on how to put it on and wear your newborn thought it looked easy enough, so I ordered one off of Amazon. When it came, I was kind of overwhelmed by the amount of fabric and by the stretchiness. I am petite and I was worried I would not be able to get it tight enough to support him properly. But I went for it anyways. I spent a good 15 minutes messing with it.  Once it  felt right, I put him in and he was so happy! We went on a walk and he loved being wrapped. Went right to sleep. Whenever he gets too fussy now, I just put him in it and go for a walk or walk around the house. All hands free! However, there are two issues I had with it. First, it can sag. You need to tie it at your actual waist not, where you wear your pants (or atleast I need to). And you need to pull it pretty tight. But once I got the hang of it there was no more issues. Second, it gets hot. Your baby is wrapped in three layers of pretty thick fabric right up against your body. You two may get a little toasty in the summer. I recommend you wear a light tank top and put the baby in just a diaper when its warm.
  • Soothie Pacifier: Jack is a sucker (and a cute one at that!). His favorite place is attached to my boobs. At first I didn’t mind because I knew he was cluster feeding and growing. But when he wasn’t in a growth spurt, he still loved my boobs and it began to hurt after awhile. I tried every pacifier we had but he would spit it out after a few minutes and cry. Then someone on the April 2014 Birth Club on Babycenter mentioned Soothies. They are the kind used in hospitals. They look and feel more like nipples. I ran out the Target one day when Michael got home from work and bought a two-pack. Jack took it instantly. They work great! He gets to suck and my nipples are spared. However, these only piss him off if he is actually hungry. So I need to make sure he is fully fed before I give him one. Then he will happily suck away—and sometimes even suck himself to sleep.
  • Lavender Oil:  Lavender is known for it’s calming qualities. Jack was not a fan of baths at first so I wanted to do something to make them more enjoyable. I didn’t want to use the popular Johnson and Johnson Lavender products. So I got a bottle of organic lavender oil and added a few drops to his bath. The minute we set him in, he calmed down. Now he loves baths (even when he’s screaming his head off prior). And during the day if he gets too fussy and won’t go down for a nap, I dab a drop on the oil on his chest. He calms down most of the time, it’s almost like magic! But I need to stress that lavender oil can be a powerful relaxant and you really only need a few drops. Too much can affect your baby’s nervous system (see side effects here). Also, if your baby has sensitive skin, I would suggest not applying it directly to their skin. Instead add a few drops to a carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil) and apply that to their skin.
  • Relaxation Melodies App: I’ve used this to help myself fall asleep for years. There’s a wide variety of sounds you can use for white noise. I like the combination of ocean waves and rain. It reminds of my two favorite places, Oregon (the rain) and Hawaii (the ocean). Babies like white noise because they spent 9 months inside you listening to sound of your heartbeat and other bodily noises. I thought of using this app one day when Jack was 2 weeks old and having a hard time falling asleep. So I put the sounds on and he calmed down instantly. I put it on  almost every time I put him to sleep now or when he gets too fussy. He screams halfway through our morning walks on occasion. The second I put on “his music” he goes right to sleep. This app is free and totally worth the download.

My Third Trimester

I can’t tell you how happy I am to no longer be pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally in love with my son and so happy to have him. But I hated being pregnant. And I think the third trimester was the worst by far. Now it’s all over so I thought I would share some advice like I did for my First Trimester and Second Trimester.

Things I would do again:

Taking Zantac: My acid reflux kept getting worse and worse. First it was just spicy foods at made it act up. Then it was acidic foods. Then it was the amount of food. Then it was practically every food. Then I started waking up in the middle of the night to throw up acid. I had a prop myself up with pillows and wedges, and only lay on my left side to just be comfortable to even think of falling asleep. I wasn’t losing weight but I hadn’t gained any weight in 2 weeks at my 34 week appointment. So my OB/GYN said I could take Zantac daily. It wasn’t complete relief, more like 50% better. But it was so bad that something was better than nothing. I could eat smaller, bland meals without throwing them up most days.

Walking Everyday: My husband and I work for the same company, so everyday we went for walks on our breaks. Just around the building. It was great exercise and time for us to chat about the baby. Plus neither of us have windows at our desks, so it was nice to have some sunshine. I really think daily walks helped Jack turn downward and get into position for labor.

Prenatal Massage: My mom got me another prenatal massage when I was 37 weeks. Oh boy, did I need one! The way I had to lay at night to be comfortable put a lot of pressure on my hips. And I was starting to have braxton-hicks contractions in my back. It was so nice to just lay on the table for an hour and have all the pain melt away. If I had the money, I would have gotten a massage every week while pregnant.

Going On Leave Early: In my maternity leave post, I mentioned my original plan was to work up until I went into labor. But Jack was measuring big and I was uncomfortable that I decided it was for the best to go on leave earlier. So I set-up to go on leave at 38 weeks, but then at 36 weeks couldn’t take much more. I went on leave at 37 weeks and it was probably the best decision of my whole pregnancy. I rested up a bit and got to focus on preparing for labor—and considering how fast my labor went, this was very helpful. I am so glad I listened to my body.

Things I would do differently:

Eating Out So Much: I don’t mean in terms of calories and weight gain. I had such bad acid reflux I was lucky if got more than just breakfast down most days and barely gained 6 pounds my last trimester. What I do mean is that I was just crabby and nothing sounded good most days. The acid reflux left a weird taste in my mouth that ruined most of my favorite foods. And my stomach was just so squished that I had little room for food. I could fit in a very small meal at best. So I figured since I was so miserable I should just eat whatever I wanted. And I didn’t want to cook so this mean take-out. I still ate pretty healthy so it was not that big of a deal. But it would have been nice to save that money

More Baths: I loved taking a nice Epsom salt bath in the evening to relax and relax my muscles. A little nice music and same candles too.  I wouldn’t have the water that hot and had a glass of ice water with me so I didn’t overheat. I have no idea why I didn’t take one every night! One night I was really crappy and Michael pretty much put me in the tub to calm me down. Next baby, I will just make this a nightly ritual from the start.

More Sleep: Between the hip pain, acid reflux, and the over 8 pound baby squishing all my organs, I got very little sleep. I also started having Braxton-Hicks and cramps at night. A few night a week I would end up on the couch. Not because it was more comfortable, but to let Michael sleep without my tossing and turning. Even on maternity leave I didn’t get much sleep–which totally came back to bite me in the ass for labor. I was so tired that I didn’t have the strength and patiences to do my all natural birth plan. I needed an epidural to calm me down enough to push. I really wish I was more well-rested. I am not sure how I could have accomplished this–besides taking serious sleep medication–but it’s my own regret my whole pregnancy so far.

The thing I am not sure about:

Support Belt: My back started to hurt sitting at my desk at work. So Michael got me a support belt. It did relieve the back pain. And took some of the pressure of my belly off my pelvis and bladder. But it dug into my back side when I sat down. And if I moved from side to side too much, it would unvelcro itself. And was a bit impractical to put over clothes sometimes and look weird under clothes. I ended up only using it when I was going to be walking around a lot, like for our Babymoon. Not sure it was worth the money.

The Nursery: The Crib

I had no idea cribs were so complicated. Do you want changer combo or a standard crib? A convertible one? What color? How big of slots? Does it have stationary or drop sides? What is the maximum mattress height? Wood, metal, or plastic? Do you want to skip a crib, and do a bassinet or pack n’ play instead?

After some research (links provided below), I figured out what I wanted. We have a bassinet that my in-laws used for all of their kids that is still in great condition. We want to use that while he is really little so he can be right next to our bed. But we still wanted a crib in the nursery for when he got older. We wanted it to be wood, to match the baseball theme. Also, we wanted it to be lighter in color like a baseball bat—but not too boyish so if we had a girl in a few years it wouldn’t match girly stuff. I wanted it to have stationary sides so he can’t hurt himself he if climbs out. Because the room is small, I liked the crib/change combos to save space.

Once we figured all that out, we were in for major sticker shock. Cribs are so freaking expensive! We fell in love with one from Pottery Barn Kids, but it was $849! So I began looking for good deals. I quickly came across ones for around $100, but they were unstable and usually all plastic. I wanted something inexpensive, but still good quality. Then Babies R Us started discounting the 2013 model cribs at the end of the year and I found what I was looking for!

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The Delta Houston Crib and Changer in Cinnamon. We had looked at a similar model in darker finish at the store a few weeks earlier and liked it. We didn’t get it because the price was too high though. This one seemed perfect—crib/changer combo, in a light color, stationary sides, and can convert into a toddle bed/bed frame later. And it was only $299!

He opened the beer seconds before
I asked him to assemble the crib.

My husband assembled it one night after work, with some help from his sister and brother-in-law. It wasn’t that complicated, but the instructions were kind of vague and hard to follow at first.” Insert HH into C. Then insert C into D”….yeah because that totally makes sense…

All ready for baby now!

Obviously I can’t fully review it yet since Jack isn’t born yet. But it appears to be very sturdy (Michael gave it some good shakes and it hardly budged). My only minor complaint so far it already has a scratch on it. It happened during assembly, Michael leaned it against the bed and it slid down slowly until it hit the floor. Nothing major, but kind of annoying to happen so quickly. I like the two storage drawers and three side storage shelves a lot. The larger top shelf fits a good amount of diapers and wipes.

I would also like to comment on the crib bumpers. I know no bumpers at all are recommended, but I babysat for a little boy who got his leg stuck and badly bruise when he was only a few months old. It was awful. I know odds are that most kids will never get their body parts stuck in the crib, but I don’t want to risk it. The ones on his crib are mesh and very light weight. And I know you can breathe through them because while I was fixing them one day  my cat wrapped herself up in it tight and totally covered her head. I panicked thinking she was going to suffocate, but as I picked her up I could see her nose smashed against the mesh breathing comfortably. I will remove the bumpers when he gets bigger and will be able to take them off himself though.

Links on how to select a crib:
How to Buy a Crib, Baby Center
How to Pick a Crib For Baby, My Mommy Manual
Baby Crib Buying Guide, About.com

Pilothouse and The Argonaut Cafe

A few weekends ago, Michael and I went on our babymoon in California’s Gold Country. Check out my pregnancy blog for a full review of the trip and money saving travel tips. We had both been dying for a Gold Country trip for over a year now, so this was the perfect way for us to have some quality time before the baby comes. We ate at two restaurants that really impressed me, so I thought I would share.

Old Town Sacramento at night.

We went on our babymoon starting the Saturday of Presidents’ Day weekend, so we decided to save our fancy Valentine’s Day dinner for that night. We both wanted a nice dinner in Old Town Sacramento, so I did some online research and found Pilothouse.

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The restaurant is located inside the Delta King Hotel, a retired riverboat docked along the Sacramento River. I made reservations online, but we probably did not need them. We came later in the evening so we missed the rush, and the hostess told me that the day after Valentines Day is never that busy. She suggested that in the future we always make a reservation just in case.

The staff was very friendly, though our specific waiter was kinda slow (Michael’s beer and our bread came about 15 minutes later). The atmosphere was very nice, the whole dinning room restored to it’s 1930’s charm. And the view of the river all lit up at night was lovely.

I ordered the beet salad (Michael just ate the cheese for me). It was sooo good. The beets were perfectly cooked and very juicy.

For my entree, I had to order the only vegan thing on the menu, Grilled Vegetable Tagine. I was a little annoyed at first there was only one choice, but it was tasted good so I have no complaints. Lovely crisp veggies served over rice, seasoned with a sweet but savory spice blend. I am sorry I don’t have a photo of my entree, I know I took one and somehow it vanished off my phone….

Michael ordered the Saturday Night Steak Dinner Special—nothing besides his starter salad was vegan. He always wants steak for Valentines Day. I can’t complain because I didn’t have to cook it for once. He loved his organic and antibiotic free prime rib. And was in heaven with his buttery mashed potatoes. Meh, I will stick to my still delicious healthier food 🙂

Aren’t we cute all dressed up?

This place is expensive, but it was a lovely treat. We got to dress up and snuggle up next to each other. It would have been even better if I could have sampled the wine selection…..

On Monday while visiting the Marshall Gold Discovery Park, we had a lunch at this adorable little cafe across the street from the Visitor’s Center. The Argonaut Cafe is an organic, farm-to-fork style restaurant. It’s a tiny little building, and even at 2:30 PM when we entered, it was pretty busy.

The cafe is decorated like an old Gold Rush era store, mostly wood and metal. There are a lot of picnic tables out back with a great view of the American River.

The menu is basic cafe foods, like soups, sandwiches, salad, and a few desserts. I ordered the Fresh Veggie Sandwich (without the cheese) on Sourdough and Michael got the Organic Smoked Turkey on Sourdough. My sandwich was heavenly. Fresh, crispy veggies with a creamy hummus. And I love buttery California avocados. I was so happy to find fresh organic food in such a small town at reasonable price (both sandwiches were $8 each).  The soup of the day was vegan chili, but I didn’t want to be too full and set off my acid reflux. It looked really good though, maybe next time.

We want to do a bigger Gold Country trip when Jack is old enough and I totally plan on coming to both these restaurants again. Though, Jack might stay the night with his Auntie who lives nearby when we go back to Pilothouse so momma can enjoy some wine in peace.

And see, it’s not that hard to go on a vacation and eat vegan. Just do some research and be prepared that your food will be delicious, just not a mound of buttery mashed potatoes. Or who knows, maybe you will luck out and find an awesome organic cafe!

Chipotle Sofritas

Last week Michael and I stopped by the mall after work to browse for some stuff. I suddenly got that horrible pregnancy hunger—the one like “IF I DON’T EAT NOW I WILL TURN INTO GODZILLA AND DESTROY THIS WHOLE BUILDING!!!” So Michael suggested we eat before continued. I saw Chipotle and thought of how those warm burritos saved my life after hours of studying in college. As we entered, I saw the sign for sofritas! I totally forgot they added a vegan protein option to the menu! I thought I died and went to heaven!

The sofritas are braised organic tofu  marinated in a blend of spices and peppers. It’s was very tender and very flavorful. It had a bit of a kick, but was not overly hot. I wouldn’t say it tasted exactly like meat (a meat eater would probably be able to tell the difference), but the texture was pretty close.
While I love Chipotle, they can be very high in calories. Even if you make it all vegan. Let’s compare the burrito I used to order in college:

Do you see that? 1505 calories in a burrito and side of chips & salsa. With no meat or dairy! It’s all the carbs and fat. Proof you can still be vegan and eat unhealthy. Let’s make some reasonable variations, like adding the new sofritas and cutting out the chips & salsa:

Just buy cutting out the chips& salsa, you save 590 calories alone. The carbs drop from 215 to 147, and the total fat from 60 to 43. Getting better, but let’s look at what I ordered last week:
A total of 660 calories, way more reasonable. I switched to tacos instead, which saves about 50 calories from the tortilla. I also cut out the rice. Yes, you can get brown rice for added nutrition, but that is still a lot of carbs for one meal, so skip it. I also cut out the guacamole. It is a healthy fat, but it’s high in calories and still is a fat. I add it as treat every one and awhile, but not every time. I also always pick black beans over pinto beans because they have less sodium and more fiber. But load it up with all the salsas you want! They are lower in calories and you get more veggies in for the day.
If you are really cutting calories try this:
A salad with sofritas, only 440 calories. More nutrition from the added lettuce. The black beans still provide some carbs to make it a balanced meal. No dressing (215 calories), but all the salsas will provide enough liquid/flavor to take it’s place at a less than half the calories.
I really suggest trying the sofritas next time, they are really delicious. Just make wise decisions on what you add to your meal. Even healthy and organic food in the wrong amounts can become unhealthy. And if you are pregnant like me, make sure you get enough protein (likes sofritas) with every meal to keep you full so you don’t end up wanting calorie-packed extras like chips. No one want to be losing a ton of baby weight because you didn’t balance meals properly.
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I couldn’t get a good shot of just the sofritas without
it falling apart, but it pretty much looks like tofu pieces.
By the way, all the images I used are screen captures from Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator on its website. I really suggest checking to see if you favorite chain restaurants have this feature before you go. You can see what vegan options they have or how you can make things vegans. You can also figure out how to get what you really want, without going overboard.

My Second Trimester

I am officially done with my second trimester. I am both happy and sad about it. Happy because it means I am closer to kissing my son sweet little face. Sad because I know that my pregnancy is going to get more uncomfortable now.

Overall my second trimester went well. Just some mild drama and discomfort. I love feeling him kick and move all the time now. And I am in love with my gorgeous, thick beauty queen hair! However I am not a fan of the nightly heartburn. Or the horrible round ligament pain every time I cough, laugh, or stretch. And the thing I hate the most? Having to wear a panty liner all the time now because my bladder leaks slightly. Did I mention that peed myself a few weeks ago when I sneezed? Yeah, that seriously happened.

So I thought I would do a similar post to my First Trimester one. The things I would again and the things I would do differently.

Things I would do again:

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  • Prenatal Massage: My husband bought me a prenatal massage from Massage Envy when I was 22 weeks. I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for it. It felt amazing and helped my sore back. And the massage therapists advice helped me lessen my discomfort over all (see my Fluid Retention and Weight Gain post).
  • Support Wedge/ Maternity Pillow: Around 19 weeks, it started to get very uncomfortable to sleep. I was annoyed I couldn’t sleep on my stomach or back. I didn’t like sleeping on my sides. My belly was in the way, my back hurt, painful heartburn, and leg cramps. I woke up crying one night because my back hurt so much. I got very little sleep each night, and all my tossing and turning woke Michael up. I bought a maternity pillow first. I could hug it and place it between my knees, which supported my belly and lower back. But I was still uncomfortable, I want to be propped up more to alleviate heartburn and relax my upper back. I wanted a big wedge pillow, but the ones we could find were insanely expensive. Michael brought me to two smaller ones instead. They helped tremendously. With all these pillows, I am now supported and cradled all around.
  • Not Giving in to Insane Cravings: I have been lucky so far with no really ridiculously cravings (my mom told me she craved raw zucchini with peanut butter, ick). And I have not wanted to eat an insane quantity of food either really (and my stomach feels so squished I am not sure I could). I do get cravings for some pretty unhealthy foods though, mainly carbs. I indulge a little bit, but don’t over do it. I wanted a big burger Red Robin a few weeks ago. I got my fave burger with a vegan Boca patty, no cheese, no mayo and side salad instead. It was very nice, but responsible treat. I do have one craving I will not indulge in no matter what: a Baskin Robins ice cream cake. I don’t even care which flavor, I just keep thinking of one in general. And I do not want just one slice—I want the whole thing. It’s not vegan or even remotely healthy, so it is not happening. There is a difference between a nice treat and insanity.
  • Stretch Mark Cream:  I refuse to have insane stretch marks. I know some are inevitable, but I do not want to be one of those women with the permanent, deep purple marks all over their stomach. I slather myself daily—and I mean slather—in hopes of preventing them. I had few existing ones that got a little more defined, but nothing else so far. I switch between two products, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion and Bio-Oil. I try to massage it in well all over my belly, sides, boobs, thighs, and butt. It’s nice bonding time with my son, plus I smell great and feel very soft after. Michael says I smell like a doughnut after the Cocoa Butter.
Things I would do differently:

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  • Drink More Water All Along: If you didn’t check out my Fluid Retention and Weight Gain post yet, please do. Drinking more water really helped me not only feel more comfortable, but also helped me control my weight gain. I know the recommended 8-12 glass a day during pregnancy seems like a lot, but trust me it is worth it. I wish I did this from the start. Next baby, even if I throw it up, I am going to make myself drink tons of water.
  • Getting My Husband More Informed: You know that blank look men give you ask them a question? The one that says “I have no idea what you are talking about, but I love you so please don’t get mad at me when I say something stupid.” I was getting a lot of those looks in recent weeks. For example, his sister brought up that we should get a car seat that is also a carrier. I said we don’t need one. Michael then says we probably should get one, and my blood instantly boiled. I told him weeks ago that it is better for the baby’s spine and head to be held in your arms or in a sling facing towards you. Later that night I had a hormonal crying fit about it. He comforted me, but didn’t understand why I was upset. He then reminded me that I have cared for babies before, and he hasn’t. He is very excited to be a dad, but has no idea what to do. It isn’t fair for me to get mad at him like that. When I told him about the spine and head stuff, he had no idea why I mentioned it. I calmed down and explained that I do not want the car seat carrier because of the spine and head concerns. He understood and agreed. So from now, when it comes to making any decision,  I make sure he understands the background information and why I feel the way I do about it, then we discuss it openly. I am also looking in to parenting classes or DVD’s for the both of us.
  • Buy Comfy Shoes Sooner: I have a desk job, but I do get up to look for things often. Plus my 10 trips to the bathroom a day. I quickly ditched my heels (though I wear them for special occasions still). My flats do not have enough support for me right now either. And my sneakers do not match my work clothes. I have a comfy pair of no-slip shoes from when I was waitress, but they are open on the top so my feet get cold. I wanted something comfy, warm, and easy to get on (getting harder to bend down easily). Michael bought me a pair of slide-on sneakers from H&M that work great. And my mom got me vegan UGG-like boots for Christmas. Both are great and I wish I had them all along. When your feet hurt, you get grumpy. And being pregnant makes you a little grumpy anyways. No ones like an extra grumpy pregnant lady!
  • Taking a Fiber Supplement Everyday: There is no polite way to discuss this, but it’s vital. You will probably get constipated while pregnant at some point. All the hormones and the baby pushing on your intestines, bound to back you up. And if you develop anemia and have to take iron supplements, it will only get worse. And to quote my best friend about the subject “It’s funny how people get so irritated when they can’t poo.” You feel so bloated and uncomfortable that you just want to punch everyone. I had no issues with it until about 2 weeks after starting my iron pills. After about 3 days of nothing, I began to panic. I ended up trying a whole bunch of different things, but at that point I was so backed up that it took a few more days for it all to start working. I wish I just took a basic fiber supplement all along like Metamucil to keep it from ever becoming a problem.
Things I am not sure about:

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  • Getting the Nursery Together So Soon: It is a relief to know that if Jack came early, that the nursery is mostly together. The walls are painted and the crib is together. We have some clothes, diapers, and other stuff too. I want everything as perfect as can be for him, so I started planning stuff early. But I realized recently that it pretty much just going to sit there empty for 4 more months. And I still have my baby shower coming up, so there is no point in planning on getting much more stuff right now. Plus my mom told me she already bought stuff and so did my sister-in-law. It’s a relief for a first time mom, but not sure it was worth the hassle so soon.
  • Preliminary Birth Plan: I was once thinking about being a neonatal or OB/GYN nurse, so I knew some stuff about giving birth before. I decided to make a preliminary birth plan, just in case I went into labor early. All these options came up on that I did not know about. Do you want to try a birthing stool? Do you want to be constantly monitored or intermittently? Do you want an epidural or to try other pain management techniques. Do you want a mirror to see the baby come out? Do you want your partner to catch the baby? Do you want to tear naturally? Do you want skin-to-skin contact immediately? I had no idea! I began researching all this and more, and sharing the info with Michael. We slowly started to make informed decisions and came up with a preliminary birth plan. But we still need to take the hospital tour and some baby classes, so thing may change. Though it’s nice to know we have a plan, it was overwhelming to work on by ourselves. It might have been nice to have waited till we had the tour and the classes.