What to do with pregnant hair …

Happy Saturday everyone!

Do you feel like your hair is growing really fast during your pregnancy? I did; with both my pregnancies. I’ve always had hair that grows kind of fast but with each pregnancy, within 9 months, I went from having shoulder length hair to the type of hair that elicits the comment, “WOW! Your hair is loooong!”

During my first pregnancy, all the changes with my hair piqued my curiosity so I read a lot about how the higher levels of estrogen prolong your hair growth phase. At the time, my “new hair” was driving me a little crazy but since there wasn’t much I could do, instead of getting frustrated with the unending and erratic-behaving-tresses (my pregnant hair would also never hold a curl), I decided to let it grow out. The long locks were okay until my first child turned two months and I could no longer tolerate it so I decided it needed a good chop and I actually had enough to do something I wanted to do for a long time … have you ever heard of Locks of Love?

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children who have medical hair loss from any diagnosis. I had always wanted to donate hair there but could never quite make the length requirements – until I was pregnant.

I made my first donation in 2012 after my first pregnancy was complete. At the time, I didn’t like the cut but I did love the cause; I still have the certificate they mail you as a thank you for sending in some hair (I actually have it in my child’s baby book because I feel like he was the reason the hair came to be). So recently, after my last pregnancy, as my hair became “too long” yet again – I decided it was time for another donation (which happened today!):

BEFORE

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AFTER

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What do you think?! I’m through the moon happy. Not only does the weightlessness feel great but pretty soon I’ll have another certificate for my second baby’s book. Perhaps my children will think it’s weird when they come to understand what it means but to me it will always be the hair that came about as their little bodies grew inside me and the hair that went on to help someone else too. (That’s why pregnant bodies are so amazing!)

Oh – and because I am so in love with the cut and everyone wants to know who and where I got it done, a big THANK YOU to Taylor at Posh:

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Now I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

PS – some salons give a discount when you cut off hair for donation so if you make an appointment and plan to make a donation, don’t forget to ask! (I saw one spa in Florida that offered a 20% discount!)

Recommended Baby Gear: Foscam Digital Video Baby Monitor

Three years ago, when I was working on the registry for my first child, my hubs and I had a long discussion: “Do we need a baby monitor with video?” At the time, the popularity of video monitors was still low, we lived in a small condo and it cost about 3 times more than a voice monitor so the decision was easy: No.

Then, when my son was about 6 months old, my cousin unloaded all his baby items and we got this:

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A Summer infant monitor. My cousin warned it was “on the fritz” but I figured, “Hey, another baby monitor just in case something should happen to the voice one.” A typical male, my hubs – the technology lover – connected this when we got home and after its first night in use, suddenly I was thinking, “HOW HAVE WE NOT ALWAYS HAD A VIDEO MONITOR?” (Yes – with that much emphasis)

At the time, my son had just starting rolling from back to tummy to sleep and it was terrifying me. I would go into his room and check on him constantly and with the voice monitor, there were times when I thought I would hear something so I would watch the monitor to see if the volume lights were “flaring” but many times, I couldn’t tell and the anxiety got me, so I would get up and walk the 50 ft to my son’s room just to check. With the Summer infant monitor above, if I heard something, I could just look and seeand not have to get out of bed. Pretty quickly we abandoned the voice monitor but as this Summer monitor was on the fritz, after 4 months,  one day the screen was just blank.

With our newfound love of the video monitor, my hubs set out to find a replacement. We started with the Summer brand but the cost to replace the one we had was about $150 and while I loved it, I didn’t feel like I loved it $150-worth. It wasn’t a bad monitor, but I did feel like the video screen was kind of small. I also liked that it wasn’t on 24/7 (it only turned on when there was sound – I think this is called “VOX”) but for $150, I felt we should love whatever we were getting. With the new parameters, my hubs found this Infant Optics as our next version:

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At less than $100 and with the larger screen, it seemed just right.

As my son continued to grow, the video monitor became even more critical for restful sleep. He had a febrile seizure at 13 months and I learned from the doctors that “many children with febrile seizures seize during the night in their crib and their parents just don’t know because they immediately go to sleep.” WHAT? Yes. This tidbit still saddens me. So when the Infant Optics above started to be on the fritz, we needed a replacement immediately. Somehow, knowing I could see my son gave me great peace of mind if there was a chance he would seize in the middle of the night and I didn’t want to be without that.

At the time we were going to replace it, I was pregnant with my second little.  So the question of brand/model arose again; Did we want to get this exact monitor or should we see if there was something else? Maybe something with two cameras? Before I drag you down the camera/screen exploration, I want you to know we abandoned the idea of getting this exact replacement almost immediately because the reason this monitor stopped functioning is because the antennae is super sensitive. I don’t know how, but one day the antennae was broken; it was hanging by a thin wire. Did somebody drop it? Did we bang it into something? Who knows. All I knew was if it broke that easy, then we shouldn’t be bringing it back into the house.

So the search began, again, for a new monitor and I thought something with a dual screen (ie, I could watch 2 kids at the same time) would fit the bill. Well …

Almost immediately, the option of the Summer Dual View arose in the house. Clearly the camera fit the bill – but it was almost $300!

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I couldn’t swallow the price tag and told the hubs to keep searching. I think Motorola made a similar version, for slightly less, but all the prices were giving me anxiety. So my hubs really narrowed down the parameters via the dollar sign. It wasn’t an easy mission, but he did it: Find something that works for 2 kids and the price needs to be reasonable.

He came back with the following result and only one major caveat – the Foscam:

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At $120 (I thought that was reasonable), the Foscam has a big screen and can accommodate up to 4 cameras. The caveat? You have to manually switch between the cameras. I wondered if the screen would pick up whenever there was movement in one room or the other and the answer to that is also no. Basically the screen would only focus on one camera (there IS a VOX option) but if you wanted to know what’s going on in another room, you have to click through a few buttons to get that camera up. With all that information, my immediate thought was, “No” but we were in dire need of a replacement and I thought maybe we wouldn’t even need 2 by the time the second baby required her own camera (she’d be in our room for a few months anyway) so we took the plunge …

Six months later and I have to tell you – I AM IN LOVE. From the big screen, to the vox, to the rotating camera, to the talk-back feature, this baby video monitor is the bees knees. I recommend it to to everyone.

You might be wondering how this has played out with 2 kids? Well we bought one camera/monitor and I played around with the handset and decided that having to mess around with buttons in the middle of the night (if we got an additional camera) wasn’t going to work. Not only did I not want to be doing that at 3am, but I wanted to be able to see both kids at all times. An additional camera was $60 – which was half the cost of another monitor – so I figured, why not just buy a whole other kit? And we did. I figure when we’re done with 1, I can then pass it on to someone else without having to sacrifice the entire system.

Yeah – sometimes it seems like a lot having all these mini-tvs on my nightstand but for the money, there really is no better value. As my son has known grown into a toddler, I use the talk-back feature to tell him, “Mommy will be there in 5 minutes” and I also pan the room when he’s playing with his toys 10 feet from his crib. The video display even tells the temperature in the room – so now I no longer worry if the kids are too hot or too cold! This monitor is really a great tool. The only thing that would make it better? If it had a clock on the display too. But then again, I can never remember what time it is. Or the day. Or the month …

TGIF!

PS – We were able to buy the first set when it was only $100 on Amazon back in January. I recommend putting the items in your cart (assuming you have an Amazon account) and then every time you sign in, it notifies you of price changes. When that item goes down, click BUY!

 

Top 5 Tools for Surviving Maternity in the Summer

1. Bodyglide  ($10)

Even if you alter your wardrobe to accommodate more skirts, dresses, and lighter clothing materials, that won’t save you from the number one maternity summer nag: chaffing.  I had 3 maternity skirts that I wore all the time during my first pregnancy and they were my favorite wardrobe pieces until my over-sized thighs began rubbing together. Then I purchased this Bodyglide and they were re-worked into the rotation.

It may sound a little pricey ($10 for a little tube) but I would say you have at least 2 dozen applications available, if not more; if you only use it 2 or 3 times a week, that will last you at least 8 weeks! Many people know about Bodyglide in bar form (like a deodorant), but I suggest the liquid version which goes on quick and easy and lasts all day (even through profuse sweating).

Trust me, I tried baby powder. But while that provided minor and temporary relief, it wasn’t nearly the solution that is Bodyglide for a summer pregnancy.

2.  A Personal, Hand held Fan ($10)

I would speculate that your body temperature goes up at least 3 or 4 degrees while you’re pregnant, but add in some sun and humidity and I can tell you – definitively –  from personal experience – you’re about 10-15 degrees hotter when you’re pregnant (and no, I don’t mean as in “sexy.”)

There are some really cool fans out there which would probably do an even better job, such as this one:

But unless you’re carrying around a massive tote (which I wouldn’t recommend during the summer-time anyway), then it kind of defeats the purpose.

Another cooling item, which is awesome, is a cooling collar. Technically, this is marketed for dogs, but only a few years ago, when this item first came out, it was for humans too. I really like the KOOL Collar brand because the cooling packs come in and out so you can easily be “charging” one while using the other.

If you go with the brand above, because it’s been seen in so many pictures with a dog, you might look like one, but you’ll be cool, so who cares. Right? 😉

3. Panty Liners (Less than $4)

There’s a couple of reasons that I think panty liners are a godsend: (1) that little new maternity issue called accidentally peeing in your pants (every time you laugh, sneeze, can’t quite make it tot he bathroom or “just because”) and (2) because you sweat and “leak” a lot during the summer months which – left to its own accord – can cause all other kinds of issues ranging from general discomfort to UTI(s) and other vaginal mishaps.

Keep some in all of your purses, in your office drawer, and in every bathroom in your house and you’ll have one thing guaranteed: peace of mind re the moisture issue “down there.”

4. Talcum Powder ($4- $15)powder

Use it for your feet and under your boobies to prevent blisters and moist-boobs-during-the-day (that’s a “maternity condition” I made up – but it’s true).

And last, but not least

(if not, arguably the NUMBER ONE MUST HAVE SUMMER MATERNITY ITEM):

5. Water

If possible, you really should keep a water bottle – that is full – on you at all times. I know it royally sucks to have to pee every 30 minutes as it is, but water is your best defense against dizziness, fainting, dehydration, swelling, and many other serious medical conditions which are about 10 degrees more scary than moist-boobs-during-the-day. The more water you drink, the better you’ll actually feel.

Good luck ladies and may the force be with you in August!

My Favorite Baby and Children’s Music

I’ve been wanting to compile a list of my favorite baby/children’s music for a while now but having two kids nap at the same time (so I can write) is rare. If I was super tech-savvy, I’d create the ultimate playlist or make something custom and shareable on iTunes (you can do that, right?) but I’m not. So instead, here’s my favorites list with lots of links. Enjoy! (PS – please note children’s music is not for all – I like to think/hope this list is a good combination of artists and songs that won’t drive the ultimate music lover crazy)

jewel 1. Jewel – The Merry Goes ‘Round; this is the soundtrack of my life. Literally. I have been playing it in the car since my now 2.5 year old was only 2.5 weeks old. I love every. single. song. on this album and even play 2 of them for my toddler before he goes to bed every night. If you don’t believe me when I tell you this album is incredible, just check out the reviews on Amazon. It’s pretty high on the YAY v NAY.

If you go ahead and purchase or own this cd, please see my notes on some of the songs below:

– “Supermarket Song”: Good luck. It took me 2 years to get ALL the words. I am particularly proud of my, “They’ve got chocolate chip cookies …” run

– “Just Like Penguins Do”: We play it every night. So calming!

– “And the Green Grass Grows”: is it just me, or does the “limb” really throw off the song? I’ve mastered it nonetheless. Sometimes when I get through the whole thing my toddler squeals with joy, “Again? Again!” but I’m usually really out of breath by then.

– “Snooze Button Blues”: sometimes I imagine myself holding a glass of wine and being at a concert while I sing this tune.

– “Count on Me”: Perhaps it’s just me, but I think this should be a wedding song. This is the second song we play every night.

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2. It’s a Big World by renee and jeremy

Since my list began with Jewel, perhaps you can tell I’m kind of into calming and simple sounds but I promise the musical arrangements get a little more elaborate as you move on down the list. Until then, I do listen to this CD, which is acoustic, even when I’m without my kids. I particularly love the title song, “It’s a Big World”, “Welcome to the World” and “Shoorahlaywho.” What the heck is a Shoorahlaywho? I don’t know. If you want the be able to sing along though, you can CLICK HERE. (That’s what I did)

 

ss3. Short and Sweet by Andrew & Polly … as I’m working on the links, I just found out this one is not available on Amazon (GASP!) so check iTunes. If you are having trouble finding this album, then message me; I’ll start making bootlegs (JUST KIDDING! I don’t want to be sued!) In all seriousness, I came across this album when I was trying to find a James Taylor version of Jelly Man Kelly and I fell in love. On an unrelated but mildly hilarious note, I can sing the Jewel songs mentioned above, pretty decent. But the “Goodnight” track on this album should probably be reserved for those who can really sing. The song is so darn cute you’ll be hard pressed not to sing along but if your partner is around, they might berate you, like mine does. I’m okay with it though. Until my kids start asking me NOT to sing, I assume they are enjoying it so I break all the windows in the house trying to reach the “Goodnight” note. Good luck.

pe4. Happy to Be Here by Parachute Express … you know how 80s and 90s TV shows were so good? It’s true of some children’s music too and this album falls into that category. This CD was released in 2000 and I never forgot the songs from my baby-sitting days. Warning: this one is definitely more of a toddler’s CD and may drive a ‘normal’ music lover crazy but if you like kids music, this CD is amazing. The first song always gets me really pumped up and I have a whole dance I choreographed for “Smooth Movin’ Boogie Express.” Other faves include “What Will I Take to the Moon?” and “Willy Falldown.”

littlebird5. You Are My Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell

I know you know that song, “You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray.” From that same great artist if this really sweet album. I particularly love Little Liza Jane and “Little Bird, Little Bird.”

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6. Under a Shady Tree by Laurie Berkner

I’ve had this album for a while now but just realized recently that this is the same Laurie Berkner on Sprout (a channel for pre-schoolers). This particular album is over a decade old so I think that shows what good-staying power she has as a Childrens’ Musician. Laurie has a whole “music store” on Amazon and if you have a toddler who likes to watch videos, you can see her performing on Sprout online here.

This concludes the TOP of my children’s music list. If you’re craving for more you should check out Raffi too. I LOVE him but he doesn’t have any full albums that I love – just a variety of songs across many albums (and yes – we have them all).

Speaking of “just songs” – there’s also a really cute one that I highly recommend called “Pajamas” by Livingston Taylor (who happens to be the brother of James Taylor). When I was growing up, I had a teddy bear named Wilson so I always felt like the song was written for me and when I found out I was pregnant and started compiling children’s music, I looked long and hard for that track. The song is very cute and I promise it won’t disappoint.

On that final note, my toddler is calling, “Mama!” Happy singing (and dancing!) y’all. I hope these tunes provide some background/soundtrack for some beautiful memories.