Thursday, February 28, 2013

Motorola Video Baby Monitor

You could call this product a video monitor... OR you could call it by its official name:


The Motorola MBP36 Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor with Infrared Night Vision and Zoom!!!

(I added in the !!!)

I think I'll stick with just "video monitor."

You might remember when I asked for video monitor recommendations after Baba G started pulling himself up in his crib. I was hesitant about getting one because I didn't want to grow obsessed with watching it, nor did I want to be freaked out by any Paranormal Activity-looking flickers or glowing eyes and whatnot.

Before I solicited advice, I didn't realize that the video screen can be turned off while the audio monitor stays on. Um, that's kind of a key feature! So just imagine this thing on my nightstand with a black screen, because that's what it looks like 95% of the time. If you want to turn off the audio, you'll still have the colored dots at the top that light up horizontally to indicate the noise level in the room. If all of them are lit, that means your kid's a-screamin' his head off. Ours normally has three or four dots lit because of the white noise machine we have in the nursery:

His head's in the left corner + typical "booty-up" pose

We ended up going with the Motorola version because I'd heard so many good things about it from others (and thanks to BG&Me commenter Cindy for her thoughts on this model as well). A close second was the Summer Infant monitor, but we liked how Motorola used a technology that was supposedly less likely to interfere with other signals in your house (more on that in a second) and also showed the room temperature. BG's nursery is unfortunately in the coldest room in our condo, so it was important for me to ensure he wasn't freezing down there. We've been able to adjust our furnace so that his room stays around 70 degrees even in the depths of winter (like right now).

Funny thing is, it also helped us realize that his room was way too HOT while on our disaster vacation to the Dominican Republic. Of the many things that went wrong on that trip, one of the biggest was that the air conditioning in our suite was broken (and it was around 95 degrees that week). We'd brought the monitor with us, and that's how we knew that despite setting up two extra fans in BG's room, it remained a stuffy 77 degrees:

Before The Sickness struck!

Here's a little video I took of Baba G walking around a bit before hitting the hay. I clumsily attempt to demonstrate some of the monitors features...

The bottom line: For us, a video monitor ended up being a must-have gizmo. Right now we're not on the same level as Baba G's nursery, and so it's key for us to be able to see what's going on in there before we open up the door and risk waking him up for good. A lot of times he's really loud when he's shifting positions, and if we couldn't see what he was doing, we might think something was wrong.

The monitor also came in handy when we finally broke down and decided to stop going in his room every time he cried, so as to get him out of the soul-crushing habit of wailing for us at 4 a.m. every morning for no apparent reason. The first night we didn't come in, we used the monitor to watch him get angrier and angrier and stomp around his crib for about 15 minutes. The next night, he protested for 5 minutes. After that, the few times he's woken up in the wee hours have been when he's actually sick.

I don't think I could do without a video monitor at this point, and would highly recommend one to anyone who thinks it might make their lives a bit easier. The best thing about the Motorola one is its ability to be remotely controlled. So we can be in our bedroom and pan the camera in all directions, as well as zoom in and out. The worst thing about it is that it definitely seems to mess with our wireless connection. Not the hugest deal, but we have to have the monitor completely off if we're planning on watching any streaming TV shows or movies.

It's also on the pricey side: about $240 on Amazon. For us it was worth it!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ab Binders and Wink Shapewear

My best friend
Today's post is dedicated to my friend MBG, a new and proud mom of twins. She also inspired the idea for this post, because after hearing that her son and daughter were delivered via C-section (I believe her toddler came into this world "the old-fashioned way"), I felt compelled to email her and ask if anyone at the hospital had given her an ab binder yet. And now I feel compelled to tell anyone out there who's pregnant about these magical accessories. (Is that the right word? Probably not.)

I had a C-section with Baba G after 24 hours of unsuccessful labor. I had read NOTHING about the procedure and remember just closing my eyes as they wheeled me into the operating room, thinking, "Here goes nuthin'." So in the days that followed, I had no idea that the lower half of my body would swell up like I was a character in one of Eddie Murphy's fat-suit movies. It was CRA-ZY. They strapped these pneumatic boots onto my legs that were constantly massaging my calves in order to help deter blood clots and reduce the swelling. I loved those things. I'm gonna look into whether or not I can buy some, now that I think of it!

ANYWAY, on the last day before we were checking out of the hospital, one of the doctors in my OB-GYN's practice (the only guy, as it were) gave me an ab binder. I was like, "You are insane if you think I'm letting anything NEAR my incision any time soon." I could barely even stand to think about it. All he said was, "Some people find it's much more comfortable with this on."

He was right. An ab binder is just a thick, rectangle-shaped piece of fabric that uses some heavy-duty Velcro to close. It looks like this, and can be used by anyone post-delivery, C-section or not:

I never wore it directly on my skin, and I can't imagine anyone would want to. What it does is help you feel normal again, even though you might not LOOK normal for quite some time. You won't be afraid to laugh or cough or move the wrong way. And if you're like me, it might even serve to help your self-esteem a bit since otherwise most women still appear to pregnant for quite a few months after the kid is on the outside.

For that very reason (and because I loved the hospital-grade ab binder so much), I started to look into what else was on the market that might be easier to wear once I actually had to go out in public. That's when I came across Wink Shapewear's site. Here's what caught my attention from their FAQs page:

"You can start wearing your Wink™ Shapewear slimming garments immediately after a normal delivery. Our exclusive patented fabric is made for post-surgical procedures, which makes them ideal for a post-cesarean delivery. In fact, our slimming system can actually help with recovery. Our patented specialty fabric will aid in healing, discourage fluid accumulation and encourage you to engage your back and core muscles."

Yep, even this.
SOLD! I basically went nuts and ordered like 5 of their products (which aren't cheap) in the size I thought I should be based on their guidelines. Imagine my depression when I could barely fit a toe through those items. (But in my eternal optimism I kept that stuff and re-ordered everything in the next size up, spending another crapload of money. I never wore the originals.) Thankfully, the bigger size worked out.

I became obsessed with these products and had them on 24 hours a day. I couldn't stand the feeling of my stomach just hangin' out without a binder or one of Wink's products on. I wore them for months, well into the summer (BG was born in January), which was when I learned that the Wink stuff wasn't exactly breathable and could make one quite sweaty and miserable in hot weather. I then realized that while I still had a ways to go to get back to my "before Baba G weight" (STILL not there... hmm, I never go to the gym, so what's the problem here?), I could finally pass for a normal, not-pregnant person again without any secret undergarments.

The bottom line: If you're pregnant or plan on having another kid and didn't use any sort of ab binder product the first time around, TRY ONE. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Ask for one while you're still at the hospital, because then you might get it for "free." (HA.) If you can't get one in the hospital, it looks like Walmart sells them for around $16 (I'm sure a ton of other places do, too). If you are going to be hanging around the house for a while, it might be all that you ever need. But if you want something that's a little more manageable with out-in-public clothes, you could look into Wink's products or any of the less-expensive-but-probably-just-as-good brands out there. The point is, get something to help you feel more comfortable in those early weeks.

Anyone use/like a different brand aside from Wink?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Baba G wants to wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day!

The ONE PICTURE out of about 200 where he sat still for 2 seconds

BG was only 3 weeks old the first time we celebrated this most Hallmark of holidays, and we've been trying to push the experience out of our minds ever since. It was the low point of our time as parents to date, as BG had mastitis (yes, the breast infection—I'll let you Google why it can happen to a baby boy) and spent a few nights in the hospital as a result. He had to have a spinal tap to ensure the infection hadn't spread (THE low point of the past year) and a ton of antibiotics over three days. They put a crazy cast on him to ensure he didn't pull any needles or drips out.

At least the nurses gave him this little pink heart for the occasion:
Brave boy.

Glad THAT's behind us and there's nothing but hugs and kisses on the horizon this time around.

Pucker up!

Wishing you chocolates and flowers and drama-free celebrations today and tonight!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Monthy Milestone Stickers (Baba G through the year)

It took FOREVER for me to pull together all of these pictures in order to finally write about the very cool monthly milestone stickers we received as a shower gift before BG was born. And then wouldn't you know it, the company that makes the kind of stickers we have (Baby Cakes n Beyond) is pretty much impossible to find online, and therefore I can't really sing their praises.

So if you're interested in buying these stickers, I think you'll have to track them down through various eBay sellers or Etsy accounts (Google something like "baby month stickers"). There are a ton of different designs, they're just not altogether in any one spot that I can link to.

We had the dinosaur design, and here's the fun result of using all 12 stickers (alongside Mr. Fox, of course):

Not too sure about this big furry thing next to me... and you say we have to do this EVERY month?
(It's so weird for me to see him without any teeth now!)
Finally getting some meat on them bones.
Happy boy!

Nearly kicking Mr. Fox off the chair, but still happy!
Aerial view, still happy!

Stripping down in the heat of summer, but still happy...

... Suddenly not as happy, and realizing that Mr. Fox might not be totally trustworthy.

Starting to look pretty mature now...

In the midst of his Dominican Republic Flu recovery

It's Christmas Eve and he's in the spirit!

I'm gonna miss these pictures with you, Mr. Fox. It's been real.

The bottom line: Do you need stickers to do something like this? No. I have several friends who snapped pictures of their kids in a chair with a handwritten month-marker sign in the background. I feel like the key is having the kid in the same setting each time to really see how he or she is growing. I, however, am glad we received the stickers as a gift, because I'm not sure I would've been as motivated to take these shots otherwise! And now I'm so, so glad we have them.

By the time we got to the one-year mark, Baba G was onto the whole scheme and had ripped the sticker off within seconds. But the stickers served their purpose well for the biggest period of change and growth in his life, and for that I am grateful.

As I mentioned, I couldn't find this exact design or brand online, but if you're interested in similar stickers that go for about $10 (for 12), here are some on Etsy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cloud b Sleep Sheep

On the evening of January 28, at approximately 7:27 p.m. CT, my husband managed to tap out a short message to me on his Blackberry while attempting to rock Baba G to sleep.

Unfortunately for him, it was one of the rare occasions when I was actually relaxing and watching TV and not online in any way. So I didn't understand why he seemed so flustered once he'd put BG in his crib and returned upstairs.

Him: Why didn't you come down?

Me: What?

Him: I sent you that message about the noise—why didn't you come down?

Me: I have no idea what you're talking about, I wasn't on my laptop.

Him: Well there was this really strange sound, like a sick mouse or something, like something was moaning or wailing. And I couldn't figure out what it was...

Me: —Oh, so you wanted ME to come down and uncover this scary and sick creature that's possibly dying in our basement somewhere?

Him (starts laughing): ... but then when I put BG to sleep I realized it was that sheep thing. You had it on the "whale" setting.

It took a minute for me to process what he was saying, but then I started laughing, too. We always have white noise (in the form of a static-filled AM radio station) playing in BG's nursery, but we also have the Cloud b "On the Go" Sleep Sheep attached to his crib, and I often hit the "Waves" setting on it to, shall we say, further enhance our noise-muffling attempts. (We live in a very loud neighborhood, to put it mildly.) The Sleep Sheep is a soft little sheep (duh) that hangs onto a crib bar and emits one of four sounds for either 23 or 45 minutes in order to help your kid get to sleep.

That night I must have accidentally hit the "Whale" setting, and the gentle giants' eerie songs were apparently loud enough to scare the bejeezus out of my husband. [It's pretty hard to hear, but the 8-second mark on this video might help you get the idea.]

I was glad my husband solved the mystery, but then I was curious as to what exactly he'd written me. I just about doubled over when I turned on my phone and saw his urgent message:

"Weird noise downstairs ... come figure it out."

Who would've thought this little sheep could cause so much panic?

The bottom line: My friend CM used the Sleep Sheep for her son who's a year younger than Baba G and she highly recommended it. As I knew I was going to need all the help I could get with creating a peaceful atmosphere in BG's nursery, I was really happy when we received the Sleep Sheep as a gift after he was born. Because they mesh well with white noise, I prefer the Ocean Surf (waves) or Spring Showers (rain) settings, but I know other friends' kids have seemed to like the Whale Song and Gentle Stream options, too. And apparently their daddies are in on the situation and not mistaking the whales for ailing city critters.

Cloud b makes several different bedtime and sleep-related products, and I'll be reviewing at least one more of them (Twilight Turtle) in the future.

But back to the Sleep Sheep. It's certainly not a must-have product, but it does make for a great gift or a cute nursery accessory if you know you're going to need help blocking out noise. It costs around $25 on Amazon.

Oh, and as I was about to hit "Publish," I realized that I should probably clarify that we do NOT have any issues with mice or what have you in our condo. But when my husband and I first started dating in the late '90s, he DID have a lone mouse in his apartment, and it rattled him to the bone. He was totally freaked out (whereas I was like "Oh, cute mousey!!!!"). Clearly he is still suffering from the awful memories of how that little guy used to terrorize him.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rich Frog Critter & Creature Slippers

As I'm still trying to pull together shots for the post about Baba G's monthly milestone pictures, I thought I'd write about these incredibly cute "Creature Feet" in the meantime. My cousin bought them for BG before he was born, and I've had them in his nursery as a decoration until he was big enough to wear them. And guess what? He's big enough now.

He didn't really know what to make of them at first.


 But then he got into it.

Wait, maybe I think these are funny.

I'll show you where the Wild Things are! ROOOAAR!

Believe it or not, he CAN walk in them, and it's pretty funny to watch. But he likes to play with them off of his feet as well.

You know it's hard out here for a monster.

The bottom line: There are a ton of adorable Critter and Creature Feet (in the form of slippers and baby booties) to choose from at the Rich Frog website. Some of them even come with books. And there are funny hats, too. I'm glad we got a pair as a gift or else I wouldn't have known about them (or the Rich Frog brand, which seems pretty cool). I think if Desmond is ever really into a certain animal (or monsters) when he gets a little older, I would buy another larger pair of slippers so that he could play pretend with them.

Most of the Creature Feet are $18.95. Don't go to the Rich Frog website if you don't want to spend any money, though, because they have a ton of really cute baby and toddler products — the slippers are just one category of goodies!