Sunday, July 29, 2012

Visual Recap :: Summer Week 7

We knocked a couple more items off our summer bucket list as well as just had some all around fun moments this past week. Enjoy!

√ Learn to count from 11-20. Check.

√ Complete Reading Challenge at the Library.  

Find the silly baby who has scooted
beneath the clothes drying rack.

Lollypop Farm.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Capture XXII

Who knew flour was so entertaining?

A long, hot week again. Hit up Lollypop Farm (rescued animals as well as some farm livestock) with friends, visited the library + their AC several times, and spent some time attempting to be disciplined in getting the house to a cleaner state.

Out of the mouth of Dom
Dom daily tells me (over + over, sometimes to the point of monotony) that he's going to have a good day. Basically this is his "fix-it-all" for doing anything that is remotely whiney, dangerous, destructive, not listening, you name it. It's sweet though when I sit back and think about it.

We've had a mouse issue lately. Yes, in the middle of summer - you think they'd be foraging outside?!? Dom suggested after hearing me complain about mouse poop all over, "Mama, maybe we should get them a froggy potty?"

"Mama, can we have a tea party today?"
"Can we use your special, special blue teapot?"

Playing with a steering wheel attached to a playground:
"Mama, I'm driving to Timbuktu!"

Updates on the B-boy
Would so much rather stand than sit that he's not getting much practice in. The gums are even *more* swollen, but still NO teeth... Thank God for some of the remedies I listed off in my post on teething comforts the other day.

Quote found
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
                  Albert Einstein

Listening to

In a very Mumford + Sons sort of mood lately. They're coming to concert here soon... I've been debating buying tickets to go see them with das hubband. I should decide soon as it's nearly sold out.


I had money in the form of Amazon gift cards, so I added Downton Abbey (Original UK Edition) to our collection. The husband and I have been watching it in short sessions over the week. It's my fourth time viewing it, and it's still just as charming and lovable.

Cooking (+ Eating)
Caribbean Jerk Tempeh Wraps
Blueberry Jam (made fresh with our blueberries we picked last week! Delish!)

Links to check out
10 Things That Will Make You Happy at Home :: Apartment Therapy
Where Motivation Ends and Discipline Begins :: Work Your Way

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wishing for : Wooden Toys {As Gifts}

I love, love, love wooden toys. If you peek into my house, this would be fairly noticeable right off. So this combined with an urge to actually try out the Polyvore account I have inspired this:

Wooden Toys

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Help Comfort a Teething Baby

I can't believe I used the word 'teething' and 'favorite' together in the title. Teething is one of my least favorite parts of infancy thus far. And by least favorite, I mean parts I loathe. The days are long. The nights are long. It's pretty much an exhausting period of life.

Thankfully, Dom was a quick teether. Quick meaning he got his pearly whites in pairs or triplets, all within a 6 1/2 month stretch of time. We are now going through the teething process on the second go round, and it's just as horrible this time. Lack of sleep... who am I kidding? No sleep would be the proper phrase. My usually content, oh so happy to lay on his back baby is gone, and he's been switched out into a whiner with a short attention span.

I've yet to see a tooth peek out of the swollen gums, but as I sit here patiently waiting, I figured I might as well share some secrets of the trade. Remember time is the best solvent, but when your ears can't take the screaming and your arms need a rest from the cuddling (baby wearing also come highly recommended at this stage), here are some things I suggest making good use of:

Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether is our number one favorite teething toy out there. Beware of the squeak when you first open it - both David + I jumped. True story. Otherwise, prepare to fall in love. Not only is she adorable + a great photo prop, BUT she is also all natural rubber and handpainted with a non-toxic food based paint. I am so sad I didn't have this for Dom as it's now Blaise's favorite toy to have on hand.

Razbaby RaZ-berry Teether is a close second, especially because it's so much easier to take out - perfect for being attached to the Beco or carseat, and it is silent, so during church, nobody takes notice of the baby gnawing for his life. It is not a pacifier, so if you've chosen not to give your child one of those, don't worry- there is no way they'll be sucking on this for comfort. It's 100% silicone and BPA free. We haven't tried this yet, but I've heard it can be frozen for extra comfort. I definitely prefer this over the rings that can be frozen (who knows what is in that strange gel they put in those?).

Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder with a piece of cold food is great for a baby who is being introduced to real foods and teething, too. I don't actually use ours to introduce new foods, but you definitely can. Foods such as avocados and bananas much easily through the mesh. I typically stick a cold carrot inside, which provides flavor and comfort for teething while protecting from any chance of choking. I would not suggest putting an ice cube inside as it would probably be more alarming and painful than comforting to tiny gums.

Teething Bling Necklace, another 2-for-1. The one I have is a wooden one handmade in NY that I got at our local Natural Parenting store. It was much more my style, but this one is very similar in purpose. Mine is especially nice when I have Blaise in the Beco as it's already attached to my neck.
I've also heard wonderful things about Amber necklaces for babies but haven't yet tried them. The baby, not mama, will need to be wearing the necklace as it releases oils into the skin 

A simple washcloth wet can also be an excellent way to soothe sore gums. Cheap and efficient and assumably something you already have in your house. Step it up a notch by wrapping a washcloth around an ice cube and using a rubber band or hair band to secure it tightly. To be noted - make sure the band is in good condition because if it snaps it will hurt your baby and quickly become a choking hazard.

When the teething begins to get unbearable, before you turn to drugs (Baby Tylenol might be the only way you get sleep. I'm not judging. I've been there), here are two natural choices to try first:

Hyland's Homeopathic Baby Teething Tablets 100% natural, with no added flavoring, coloring, or parabens, these little life savers relieve pain and discomfort. They come in the form of tiny tablets that when held under baby's tongue, dissolve almost immediately. They're made in the USA and are from a family owned company that has been in operation for over a century. I discovered these with Dom, and added a new bottle to our supply as soon as Blaise began what looked like it could possibly be teething.

Hyland's also makes a Teething Gel, that unlike it's popular counterpart, Orajel, does not contain benzoczine. It is also paraben, flavor, and dye free, and made with similar ingredients as included in the tablets. The gel is a little easier to apply as you rub it directly onto sore gums. For us the tablets still seem to work a bit better, but I have both on hand for good measure.

There is no evidence to support anything beyond excessive drooling and sore gums, so your doctor may tell you that fussiness, lack of sleep, and the like are not caused by teething. However, if there's something I can do to help the fussiness and sleeplessness that affects my kiddos, I choose to do so. I shy away from medication for the most part in many situations, so that is why I thought I'd share items and products we've found to be helpful and successful, so you can maybe have some peace in your household during the season known as teething.

And may it be an easily comforted and quick season!

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
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This post How to Help Comfort a Teething Baby first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 25 July 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Household Cleaning : Involving Your Kids

Keeping the household clean and somewhat organized is a part of every family's life. Everybody's schedule and ways of carrying out the chores vary greatly, but there is no reason that the bulk of the weight should rest on Mom.  I grew up in a family where everybody took part in the cleaning of the house. We were a homeschooling family of 10, translating into more dirt and more time to make dirt around the house. We all had our part to keep the house running. This does not mean we did a perfect job, always kept up with our chores, or were always cheerful about them, but it was an expectation of us as a part of the family.

Dominic is 2 1/2, and we have already begun implementing his role of helping out around the house as a part of who he is as a part of our family. I don't think any child is too young to begin.

Just think how much their future roommate/spouse will love you. Also, as your child gets older and can successfully take responsibility for chores that you're presently completing, you'll get a bit of a break. Here are a few things I've found helpful with teaching household chores to young children.

Expect it to take more time. I love efficient cleaning. Cleaning the house is definitely not on my top loves in life. I find I work best when I set timers and get as much done in that timeframe as possible. I still do this, but when I am having Dom help alongside, I expect it to take longer. I have to expect this because it almost always does. He's little, and he takes longer to complete tasks- not to mention the many times we sometimes have to redo a chore. Instead of the 2 seconds it takes me to grab dirty laundry and toss it into a basket, Dom takes him a good minute or so.

Don't expect perfection. We only perfect something by learning. Eventually all the contents from the dustpan will make it into the garbage can, but for now he's trying. I let Dom put away the clothes that are probably not going to unfold (socks) or the things I don't care if they come unfolded (diaper covers + PJs). It's helped me as well, learning how to let certain things go a little more imperfect than I would like.

Work with who you have. Think age appropriate. The first "chore" introduced in our house by Dom's first birthday was picking up his toys. We obviously helped him, and this was made easy by most of the toys just having to be placed inside a basket. Don't expect too much of your child - if he/she's not able to fulfill a task, it will just prove to be a frustrating experience all around. Also know yourself. I am not a super scheduled cleaner, so I know I have to have reminders as I teach my kids that certain chores are daily, some weekly, and others monthly. I know it's easier for me to get the laundry done earlier in the day and to only have to do at max, 3 loads in one day. There are many things you'll learn about yourself (or perhaps you already have) as you teach these chores to another.

And, last...
Make it fun. For us, this includes some dance music to make our toy pick-up go faster or to keep our vacuuming from getting too scary (my boys are still pretty young; hopefully they'll outgrow this). I never received an allowance growing up, and we don't plan on that being a part of our household. However, I am presently on the lookout for a baking pan to upcycle into some sort of chore chart. When I actually do this, I shall share. I want my children to see that when their responsibilities are complete, there is time to enjoy privileges.

More ideas + info:

An awesome Age Appropriate Chores Printable from The Happy Housewife

My Pinterest board: A More Perfect Mess for organizing ideas + cleaning schedules

Another of my Pin. boards: Green Home + Human Care for natural cleaner recipes that are safe for kids to use

Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post Household Cleaning : Involving Your Kids first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 23 July 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Visual Recap: Summer Week 6

Only one thing checked off the "Summer Bucket" list this week and that was jam making. We picked blueberries yesterday and made them into some delicious jam today. Otherwise it was just a regular ol' week around the O-quarters. 

Blaise tries some new foods - bananas here. Not a fan.


Presents from Grandpa - the wrapping won for B.

"It's Ferdinand!" - Dom's immediate reaction to seeing
the tiny bull sent to him from Madrid.

Storytime with my big boy.

Blaise deciding to "read" Mama's book.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Capture XXI

Blaise was 6 months old this week!

We've officially started potty training - taking it slow and letting the boy lead as of now. I'm a little scared about it all though eventually it has to happen, right? The deed happens about once a day at this point, and he refuses to poop in the potty, instead choosing to take his daily "privacy moment" in the comfort of his bedroom as he plays trains. Logic doesn't line up with mama's thinking at all... if you know when you're ready to poop, why are we still doing it in a diaper?
The teeny man is sticking right along the 75% curve for height, weight, and head size. Not quite as big as Dom was, but a healthy sized boy all the same. Gums look painful to me, but he has yet to poke any pearly whites out. Sleeping is getting more and more non-existent... ugh. For both B and me. Thus, the training to sleep in his own bed shall have to commence soon. You know, as soon as I have enough energy to even think about that in the middle of the night.
Oh well. Looking forward to some family time this weekend. And perhaps some rest? After we berry pick, make jam, mop some floors, scour the bathroom, and some. Scratch the rest. I don't foresee it...

Pooped out after a crazy morning

Quotes from the boy
Dom has been declaring his friendship for certain friends (Macy) - and that was before she shared the construction site in front of her house - as well as stating that his little brother is a good baby. 
He's all about the 'good' these days... he recalled to his daddy the other day as they were snuggling before bedtime: "I had a good day... I played." 

The boy's favorite for this week (we read it *at least* twice a day and have been all week):

I've wrapped up a couple "ok" mysteries, the 2nd book of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy (moving on to the 3rd now), and just checked out the The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, the sequel to The Penderwicks, which I enjoyed immensely. 

Quote found
"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."
          Victor Hugo

Cooking + Baking
Sweet Potato Burgers (including some sweet potatoes for the teeny one)

Links recommended 
Anatomy of a Mother :: Tales from a Gypsy Mama
Is Anything Safe to Eat Anymore? :: Kitchen Stewardship
How to Cook with Bacon Grease :: Mama + Baby Love
19 Car & Truck Crafts for Kids :: No Time for Flashcards

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

6 Baby Items for the First 6 Months

6 months. My baby boy was 6 months old yesterday. The saying is old and quite possibly overused, but how true is it that it seems like just a week ago I was walking around (10 days late) hoping to urge the little man into action. The time flies faster than I'd like to sometimes although nights that last as long as last night make it seem the opposite. Crazy thing time is.

His little personality peeks out a bit more each day. Alongside his passive side that I recognized right off when he was in the womb, I am delighting in his extreme curiosity and wonder that he takes in discovering new sights and sounds. He takes after his brother in his will to get whatever he wants, even if that means scooting on his back across two rooms, sometimes ending up with his head stuck, wedged in some uncomfy place. Also like his older bro, he feels the need to vocalize his opinions - these apples don't fall far from the tree.

Now doing this whole "first 6 months" thing a second time around, I think my mentality on what is needed for baby has become even more minimalistic. Our boys share a room, and we live in an apartment on the top floor of a house. It's great space for what it is, but I'd rather not be tripping over every baby gadget that is *a must* on the Checklists pushed upon you when signing up to register. You really don't need 72 bajillion items to successfully get from 0 days to 6 months. In reality, babies don't need much more than the rest of us. I will admit that I do like to have a content and happy baby as much as possible as well as the use of my hands at times, so there are a few things I think help make that happen.

Here are what I would say my Top 6 Newborn Items are:


  • Moby Wrap - This and other similar carriers (see: Mei Tai and Baby K'tan ) are usually my number one recommendation to ALL new, expecting parents. If I had the money, I'd purchase one for everybody pregnant mama I knew. Most especially in the beginning, where Baby thinks 24 hour cuddle time is a right, not a privilege, my Moby came in handy. I needed my arms, and that was that - the Moby gave me back my arms. It is a little Oragami-ish (and can get frustrating) as you decipher the twists and wraps to get it on, but once you have it down pat, I think it's pretty easy (from what I've heard the Mei Tai is easier to get on). Both my sons were perfectly happy taking naps within the Moby cuddle - Blaise at 2 weeks old was already napping 3+ hours tied onto my front. I love baby-wearing - for me it's the perfect way to get in cuddle time and still be a productive mama around the house. Love, love, love it. 

  • aden + anais Cotton Muslin Swaddles - Um, well first off you can see that they're just lovely. The prints carried are adorable as well. If that wasn't reason enough (which if you plan on being a minimalist at all, it can't be) these blankets are perfect for winter + summer and are huge in size - you'll have no problems making fancy burritos out of tiny, flailing appendages. As if and swaddling a squirmy infant wasn't hard enough, the majority of infant blankets are of a measly size. These were so different from anything I had with Dom. Even now when we aren't using these to swaddle, they're still great for a nursing cover and for laying over Blaise on hot summer nights. I received 2 of these fabulous blankets for Blaise, and this is the one thing I most definitely will be purchasing more of before we have another little one. 

  • SwaddleMe - We borrowed these from friends for B, and I cannot say how much easier nighttime sleeping was with these fancy blankets. I generally shy away from velcro on anything but diapers, but this particular style of swaddle wrap worked the best for us. The number of times we found ourselves re-swaddling the baby decreased dramatically. I find that newborns, for all they love the comfort of a good swaddle (note: good swaddle - bad swaddling doesn't help at all!), if they wiggle their arms out, you're back at step 1. And this design is perfect for preventing that.

  • Nosefrida The Snotsucker - Name = gross. I know. And you might need a helper the first time you use this fancy tool. No, not to hold still the squirmy child. Rather you'll need them to plug your ears and hum you a tune, so you completely disconnect your sucking with the whole idea of snot. All that aside, this was another gift I received that still gets lots of use. Infants are terribly stuffed up human beings in terms of the nasal cavities, and this is the first product I've found that is efficient as well as affordable, with no requirement of batteries (really, who wants to go searching for 2 AAs when their child can barely breathe? Not I!). I recommend using Little Noses Saline Spray or another brand of saline drops to loosen boogies first.

  • Baby Swing - Obviously this link does not go to the only kind or brand of baby swing out there. Baby swings vary nearly as much as babies themselves. I vote you buy one used because I think they're overpriced. Also, as they are mostly aimed at the first 6 months of life, you probably want one that folds, so it's easily stored away. I kept this on my top 6 list because for both of my babies as well as for my siblings + kids I nannied in the past, this was a great place for the quick naps, for soothing a colicky little one, or just a place to set baby down, so I could gain full access of my arms again. With Baby #2, it was an off the ground place to set him down, so he could remain in the midst of our family life without possibly getting squashed by his eager, older bro.


  • Burp Cloths - a necessity for any tiny human. You can go pretty much any way with variety in these, but when it comes down to it, you need something to sop up messes - from spit-up to pee to milk to poop explosions. Babies come with an innate need to create disaster as quickly as possible at the most inopportune moments. I had a stack of these burp cloths in each room of the house in reach for any moment. They can also double as a nursing cover up or a splash guard for baby boys who think you need a shower. Two things to note - you can always use towels or rags, but I find having softer cloths nice for when you're wiping faces. Also, make sure if you cloth diaper, they look different, so you don't mistakingly wipe a prefold diaper on your little one's face (well, unless that doesn't bother you...).

This list is fairly short, but I think these items are useful for any situation. Most of them don't take up much space, all of them are used often (at least by me), are perfect to keep for the next little one or pass on to a friend, and they are fairly well priced and can often be purchased consignment or on craigslist. I do realise some of these items are not for everyone, but I love each of them and think you might, too.

Two items that did not quite make the list as they are much more a person by person thing, but that I love just as much as the above and hope you find ones that work just as well for you and your family are:

A Co-sleeper or another way that works for your infant to be in your room, at least in the early months.
A fantastic diaper bag - if you have one you hate, you'll get frustrated with it way too often. Trust me, that's how it was with my first. I picked one I loved the 2nd time around, and it's been WAY easier. Note: I know many friends that have found their perfect "diaper bag" in a large tote bag, purse, or backpack.

Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post 6 Baby Items for the First 6 Months first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 17 July 2012
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