11.29.2012

Checklist Thursday: baby Things

Since I like writing lists so much, I decided from now on, every thursday would be "Checklist Thursday". Everyone needs a good list and it's always fun when it's a useful thing. I happen to be really good at making lists, and I enjoy hearing about the things that people add to my lists and even lists that other people make.

There's something really wonderful to me about making a list and being able to check things off...Don't ask me why, it's just something I really enjoy. (And yes, I have been known to add things that get done that weren't on my "to do" list, just so I can check them off!)

For my first, Checklist Thursday, I am posting my baby checklist. This is my list, other people have a different list when it comes to baby. But, this is how I operated with the 4 babies I've had. The brands have short explanations if I picked one. My choices were primarily based on functionality and really not much else. Feel free to comment or message me if you think of a list you'd like me to make and share!

Functional (AKA the Bare) Necessities: Feed 'em, change 'em, clean 'em

Diapers
: here's the real info.....if they are cheap...they are cheap. Suck it up and either get Pampers or Huggies. They're honestly about the same. Huggies do slightly better overnight, if the baby sleeps through the night.

Diaper Wipes: the gentler the better. IF the ingredients include alcohol, do not buy it. If your baby has the slightest diaper rash and you use alcohol wipes, well, you should know what will happen. (Think lemon juice on a paper cut)

Diaper Rash Cream: Desitin is what we grew up on in my family...it's not bad. A&D Ointment is oily and sticky and (my opinion) smells bad. Boudreax's Butt Paste....it pretty much ROCKS!

Bottles: I prefer the Avent bottles because they have a wide opening and I find them easier to clean.

Nipples: I used the clear plastic ones because I could see if they were clean. (This becomes valuable when you find a bottle buried in the couch, your bed, the car, wherever it fell.)

Pacifiers: This is totally up to you. But FYI, once you get the baby hooked, you are not going back for a while....Lissy Jane uses Avent Orthodontic pacifiers and Dilly uses the Avent Soother Pacifiers. This is only because we needed them to have different ones so that no one would get them confused. We tried just using different colors and LissyJane would take them from Dilly.

Soap: We use Aveeno Baby Shampoo and Conditioner for actual "cleaning baths" and we also use the Aveeno Comfort Lavender bath for "snuggle" baths.

Bibs: I never use them. Naked baby for feeding solves the laundry issue. :)

Food: All things Gerber! (A note on this; if you wouldn't personally eat whatever you are about to feed your child, don't feed it to them. In our house, we NEVER fed them meat products from a jar, or other baby food packaging. We don't eat jarred or canned meat at our house as "big people" so we don't feed it to the baby..)

Sippy Cups: We LOVE the Nuby cups! All shapes and sizes! And they just started making snack cups with the lids the kids can reach in and pull snacks out. They have a great shape for little kiddos' little hands. LOVE!!!!

Diaper bag: We use a monogrammed Medium Boat and Tote Bag from LL Bean. Annie still has hers from when she was an infant and uses it now as a regular bag. I wish I had gotten zipper top, but either way, it's durable, it's a reasonable size and IT ROCKS. (And yes, some people will judge you if you have a monstrous bag that is bigger than your carseat, this is not.)

Extras:
1. Changing tables: only if you need one. We change the kids on the floor with a blanket if we need to....and we NEVER walked to the changing table for every single diaper.
2. Baby Bath Tubs....we don't use them. Sinks work just as well...and I (we) prefer to get into the tub with the babies.
3. Special Towels....regular ones work just as well.
4. Baby Washcloths....we didn't use them. 
5. Diaper Pail.....why buy an extra trash can???

Big Things: Just the Necessities: Car Seat, Stroller, Somewhere for Baby to Sleep (Even if it's a box)

Car Seat: We used Graco Infant Car Seats for Anna and Jonas and after some research we used Baby Trend Infant Car Seats for MelissaJane and Lillian. Here's the link to the most similar on target's website. I really like their system and you can get extra bases on the target website.

Convertible Car Seat: we use this once the kiddos get big enough for it; around age 1, depending on size.  We buy the black Evenflo brand one.

Stroller: We usually have purchased our car seat and stroller as a "travel system" initially. It saves a little bit of money and the carseat fits into the stroller. (And if you are into the matchiness, which I am, it all matches!)

Crib versus Co-sleeper versus In your bed: This is entirely up to you. Our babies sleep in our bed until they are about 2. The first few months my shoulders hurt because they're in the crook of my arm. After that they are next to me. This is really a personal thing.

Extras:
1. Car seat stroller....it's a frame that the car seat sits in....I had one as a gift. used it 4 times? I think I might still have it, but rarely used it.
2. Umbrella stroller, this is rather handy once the kiddo is around 1.5-2, it's much more light-weight and easy to use for when they "don't want to walk" and you don't want to carry them.
3. Extra base: SOOOO Handy

In the house extra items:
Toys: whatever you are comfortable with, go for it.
Kick Gyms: Be reasonable, 1 or 2 is more than enough!
Swings: if you have the space, they are definitely handy for not having to hold baby all the time and you have a way to comfort without your arms falling off
Rockers: We never bought one, but they seemed nice in the store...

11.25.2012

Getting Ready for Hanukkah

It is my understanding that many people do not know much about Hanukkah and that they are quite curious how it is celebrated in someone's home. These are some of the questions I get and the answers I give. If you want to know more, I'll include some links to help you out.

1. Do your kids get Christmas presents?
Nope. We do not usually celebrate Christmas. If we go to Geoff's mom or dad's for Christmas, then they will get Christmas presents then. But at our house, we don't usually do Christmas.
2. Do you guys decorate/put up a Christmas tree?
I love to decorate! However, we usually do a winter decoration of some kind, but not for Christmas specifically. We have done a Christmas tree before and I own a LOT of ornaments and twinkle lights. I happen to really love the smell of Christmas trees and really like the look, but they do not go up for the Christmas holiday. If we have them it is for fun only. But, target certainly gets in the holiday spirit for us! Giving us a whole 10 feet of an aisle...check it out:


3. Do your kids get 8 BIG presents?
No way! I do not have enough money for 8 BIG presents and it is 100% not what the holiday of Hanukkah is about. Hanukkah is more about being thankful for what you have and celebrating those things. In fact, Purim, a spring holiday that goes with the story of Ester, was the original gift giving holiday of the Jewish faith. Here's a picture of our buffet with all the presents I had finished wrapping after Thanksgiving.
By Saturday, I had this:


4. What exactly is that light/candle thing for?
The light/candle thing, is called a menorah. It represents the oil lamp from the synangogue that was destroyed by the Greeks. The Macabees, Jewish Soldiers, fought to defend it. In each synanagogue there is a lamp above the Torah scrolls and it represents the eternal light. In the synanagogue destroyed by the Greeks, the people could only find enough unspilled oil to last 1 day/night. When they put it in the lamp, it lasted for 8 days/nights. So we celebrate that with a menorah that has 8 lights. We have a special one, called a Shamesh, that sits up taller than the other 8. It is the leader. 
5. How do you guys do presents?
Geoff and I get the kids presents and they do usually end up with 8 things to open, but some nights are definitely bigger than others. Which is TOTALLY fine with me.

6. Why don't you celebrate Christmas; Jesus was Jewish?
7. Do you decorate?
I love to decorate! Since I do a lot of sewing, which you can purchase at www.etsy.com/shop/SewSoStyle I love to make things for our house too! Like my dish towel? I'm working on making a bunting banner and a table cloth for the house; once those are done, I'll share them too!

8. Why the potato things?
The holiday is the celebration of oil. We make potato pancakes that get fried, in oil. For some, the whole holiday is about the celebration of oil and they only eat fried foods for their first nite dinner. (We are not that way.) Some others do donuts. We'll make latkes and have dinner and a few friends over. I'll share that in another post.

I hope that I have answered some of your questions :)

Happy Hannukkah!




11.22.2012

Thanksgiving

This year, as many of you know, has been a rough one. Since loosing my mother last December, this year has been fraught with things that remind us of our loss. Thanksgiving is definitely one of those days. It is difficult to look around at all you have and know that you want one more. Or to have the feelings that your children and family are so precious to you, but somehow it's just not enough. Not that I would ever stop loving my family or caring for my family, simply that I am acutely aware that someone is missing. It's one of the most painful things I have ever experienced.

So, I must admit, I was more than a little afraid of this Thanksgiving. We decided not to travel for the holiday, and to go to dinner at my parents house. But, I was honestly afraid that they had invited half the neighborhood, which would mean, lots of people. I just wasn't really emotionally up for that.

What a wonderful surprise our thanksgiving turned out to be! We had my parents, my children, my husband, my sister Ruth and our good friends, the Shapiros and their daughter Leah. Dinner, though not photographed, was AMAZING. So much love and friendship were in the dining room and it was so relaxed and just made the day much better than I expected.

Below are a few of the pictures I took.

Don't forget to check out the cute picture of Lissy in my dress and the bloomers I made! I made a pair for each of the girls.



MelissaJane wearing my dress that my mom made.
Leah, Ruth and Jonas checking out the Trivial Pursuit Board.

Geoff and the little girls both wearing dresses that my mom made. This will forever be one of my favorite photos of the three of them.

I had so much fun making these bloomers for each of the girls.
It was great to get to see the Shapiros. The relationship Leah has with her mom reminds me of the relationship I had with my mother. 
My dad and Dilly after Thanksgiving Dinner. He had great fun holding her.

Me and My not so little, little girl. Time flies way to fast. Kiss and hug your babies, while they are small.



11.16.2012

Planning...over the top!

On Tuesday, I talked about how neurotic I am about planning...making detailed lists...knowing exactly what comes when, etc.

It's so much worse than you even know!

On Sunday, I got to meet Megan's (the girl whom Annie is having her Bat Mitzvah with) parents and her younger sister and brother. I had both babies with me, so it was rather eventful just trying to get in Starbucks. While we were there we had a great discussion about what our personal expectations were for the day, the things that we want to include and how we want the weekend to go.

I am very excited about how the morning went. We all seemed to have the same idea about how much money we were prepared to spend. And even better we are all on the same idea about keeping the weekend about the girls and about Judaism. We have a few things that have already been figured out and it all just seems to be going really well. 

It's still sad for me that my mom can't be a part of the day, but it is so heartwarming to me the number of my friends who have stepped forward asking to help and wanting to help. There's definitely going to be a lot of work to do, given the fact that we are trying not to spend a ton of money and go broke. I can't wait to see how it all works out, but I have to admit, I'm a little sad to see my baby girl grow up so fast.

Below I will put the list of all the things that I have outlined that have to be done....you may laugh. Just a warning; it's a little long...and you'll notice, we are waaay ahead of schedule, with a few things already done! Yeah!!!



2-3 Years in Advance
  • Set the Bat/Bar Mitzvah Date DONE
  • Book venue for reception DONE
  • Determine theme DONE
  • Determine a budget and set the priorities DONE
18 months in Advance
  • If necessary, find a tutor for the bat/bar-mitzvah
  • Determine the torah and haftarah portion for the bat/bar-mitzvah date and confirm with your Rabbi
  • Begin thinking about potential Mitzvah Projects STARTED
  • Meet with the Rabbi or Cantor to understand the bat/bar-mitzvah process and answer any questions you may have DECEMBER 9th
  • Begin to work on a guest list.   Separate the list into “Must Haves” and “Nice to Haves”. 
  • Book an Event planner to oversee details of the day DONE
  • Consider DJ/Entertainment
1 Year in Advance
  • Discuss the bat/bar mitzvah requirements with the Rabbi, including the timeline for completing the mitzvah project
  • Begin (or continue) attending Shabbat services as a family
  • Send out a Save The Date
  • Reserve a block of rooms at a hotel for out of town guests
  • Reserve a Venue for the reception
  • Pick a theme for the reception and begin to think about decorations
  • Book the Caterer
    • Check with Temple that they are on the preferred list for the luncheon
    • Make a decision whether or not to do something different for the reception
  • Book the Music and Entertainment Vendors
9 Months in Advance
  • Tutoring begins
  • Select a Mitzvah Project
    • Include food being brought to the luncheon the day of by the guests
  • Determine if there are ways for the entire family to be more connected with the Torah portion and mitzvah project
  • Order Invitations and Thank You Cards
    • Vistaprint or some other online inexpensive vendor
    • Or print/make ourselves?
  • Book Photographer and/or Videographer
    • Photographer: Laurie Coopwood Valenzula, Southern Style Photographer
    • Videographer: Brian Knight, he does most of Temple’s work
  • Florist and decor
6 Months in Advance
  • Start Mitzvah Project
  • Finalize the guest list
  • Decide what enclosures need to be included with the invitation (maps, etc)
  • Determine what other events your family will host (Shabbat dinner, Shabbat Kiddush, Havadallah, Sunday Brunch)
  • Order any items that require customization, including kippot, party favors, sign-in boards
4 Months in Advance
  • Discuss how to incorporate tzedakah into your event
  • Bat/Bar-Mitzvah begins writing the dvar torah
  • Shop for Clothes and Shoes
3 Months in Advance
  • Finalize the guest list for all events your family is hosting
  • Address the envelopes, or have a calligrapher address them
  • Go to the post office to have the complete invitation weighed and purchase the appropriate stamps
  • Order a Cake
    • Penny: who did you mention?
  • Plan the menu for the reception
  • Arrange for the rental of party supplies not supplied (chairs, dishes, etc)
    • Sarah beth offered to let us use for free brown table cloths as long as we fold and wash
    • We discussed having burlap runners with their names on them
    • What do you guys think of using the baskets from the luncheon to hold bags of trail mix or baggies of smores ingredients, etc on the tables at the reception?
2 Months in Advance
  • Mail invitations.  Be sure to check the weather report to avoid rainy days
  • Select who to honor with aaliyot and get their Hebrew names
  • Parents should work on parents’ speech or blessing
  • Finalize centerpieces (including flowers for the synagogue service), décor, and favors
    • Centerpieces for lunch tables: baskets for donated food
    • 2 bunting banners; one for each girl
    • Favors: www.discountmugs.com for stadium cups
  • Finalize the entertainment for the party
  • Make a draft of the seating chart
  • Make hair appointments for family
  • Work on the ceremony programs
  • Begin ordering supplies and compiling local information for gift baskets for out of town guests
  • Arrange for Transportation of family and/or guests, if necessary
1 Month in Advance
  • Meet with the DJ and Entertainers to pick songs and games?
    • I’m not sure this is necessary, but this is where it was on the time line J
  • Bat / Bar mitzvah should finalize the dvar torah and write a thank you speech if necessary
  • Arrange for a rehearsal in the synagogue sanctuary
  • Confirm party timeline and schedule with all vendors, including photographer, videographer, music/entertainments, and caterer
  • Purchase any items not provided by the caterer (liquor, challah, etc)
3 Weeks in Advance
  • Visit the tailor
  • Make up toiletry baskets for the bathrooms
  • Finalize ceremony programs, print and assemble
2 Weeks in Advance
  • Confirm final headcounts
  • Finalize seating chart, and write placecards (wait to fill in the table numbers until closer to the event if possible)
  • Compose candlelighting introductions or poems
1 Week in Advance
  • Drop off welcome baskets at hotel
  • Have a rehearsal at the synagogue
  • Finalize aaliyah list and give a copy to the rabbi or cantor
  • Contact all event vendors for last minute details or questions
  • Confirm all details are in place (food, decorations) for other events being hosted (Shabbat dinner, Kiddush, etc)
Bat/Bar-Mitzvah Day
  • Relax and Enjoy the Day!
Post Event
  • Give a donation to the rabbi, synagogue and/or other tzedakah options
Write and mail thank you cards



11.14.2012

Tooth fairy: Do you still believe?

Annie recently lost her 10th tooth, a molar. She wrote a letter to the tooth fairy, as she has with every tooth. This time it struck me at the core...

"Dear Tooth Fairy,

For my 10th tooth, may I have advice? I also want to keep my tooth!! Well, you know about my foot and all, I bet, so should I be scared about the results? And can I write to you even when I don't loose a tooth? ~Annie

It makes me sad to think that I have already reached the point where my daughter doesn't always feel comfortable talking to me and would rather write to the tooth fairy. But part of me is also warmed by the fact that my 11 year old still believes in the tooth fairy. It's kind of awesome that I've managed to keep her "in" her childhood this long. So much is changing so fast for her, I'm nervous about what the future holds for us.

Why is raising a preteen so hard?

Rachel

11.13.2012

Bat Mitzvah Planning!?!?!?

Some of you already know how nuerotic I am...others, well, this may be your first taste into the true crazies...

Bat Mitzvah Planning technically started about 1.5 years ago, when Annie started Hebrew School...we talked about her mitzvah project and other things, but nothing was formalized.

A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a special moment for a Jewish teenager. This is the time when they begin to formalize a Jewish identity. They work for several years learning Hebrew, with the culminating event being that they lead the service on a Shabbat morning. They also decide on and conduct a Mitzvah project. This is sometimes as simple as working at the local food bank or soup kitchen or as big as putting on a 5k. They are as varied as the students.

Over the last year and a half, we have discussed themes, decorations and her project. My mother and I talked briefly while she was in the hospital, so that she was still a part of everything, but that part will obviously be hard.

But, it really went big, about a week ago, Wednesday November 7, when our envelope arrived from Temple giving us all the details on picking our date. In the next short time, I had Annie read to me the contents of the letter as we drove to Hebrew School. In the letter it said that students who are doubles (share their Bar/Bat Mitzvah day) would have priority over singles. So, I had Annie put 1 star by all the students with September birthdays. Then I had her put a second star by the girls she would want to share the day with.

And then, the phone calls...I called both houses of the parents of the 2 students she gave 2 stars to. I left a message at one home and the other was a disconnected number. (Which meant I would have to wait....) And, I should admit, the message I left probably sounded a little bit frantic....

Well, the dad of the first child called me back. And I immediately began a verbal onslaught of information. I think I was a bit intense...they had not even received their packet yet! While I waited for the dad to talk to the mom. I emailed Temple to ask them for email addresses. Once I got them I emailed the mom of girl #1, girl #2's mom didn't have an email address. So I sent an email...

Well, to get the story ended on a happy note...We have a partner, a date and made a request to the Temple for our date! Next post, I'll show you how nuts I really am!

11.12.2012

2K dinners are the best

Phone call on 11/8/2012: Caroline to Rachel
C: I miss my baby (Lissy)
R: OK, come see her any time you want.
C: But I can't!
R: Sure you can.
C: I think you need to come over here soon, because we miss yall.
R: Ok. When?
C: My mom says to come on Sunday.
R: Ok, how's 5pm?
C: Perfect!
R: And it'll be close to my birthday!!!
C: Yeah, we can celebrate!!!
R: ok.

Text message received on 11/11/2012 at 2:58pm from Caroline:
"Please arrove promptly at 5. I miss you all terribly."

Doing our 2K dinners is always a highlight.We get to see everyone in one place, have a big bonding session and eat too much food. It's always fun to watch Lissy walk around and talk to everyone and try to go up the stairs. She's starting to have such a personality. And last nite, even though she didn't feel well, she still waved and said "bye" to everyone as they were leaving. It was so sweet to see!

A while back I borrowed Kathleen's favorite kitchen towel so I could figure out how to make them myself. It took a while for me to get up the courage. But a couple weeks ago we ordered the fabric for her towels...so I had to get going. And since we were going to their house for our 2K dinner... well, it was time to put up or shut up! And thankfully, she loved them!!! They were much easier to make than I expected them to be and I loved the way they looked when they were finished.

Now, to get the babies healthy before winter kills us all!

11.07.2012

Pink TOMS

Don't ask me why, but there is something super cute about seeing a little girl fall in love with a pair of shoes!

LissyJane has had a pink sparkly pair of TOMS sitting in her shoe organizer for months now. I knew they were too big when I bought them, but I figured she could grow into them and that they would still look cute even if it was this fall or the coming spring....I was sooo right!

Geoff put them on her feet this morning and said that she has been pointing at her feet ever since! Love that little girl!!!
 

11.06.2012

Temple Israel's Mitzvah Day...our Project

This past sunday was Mitzvah Day for all congregational members of Temple Israel. In previous years, my mother oversaw the production of several beautiful murals in the stairwells of Plough Towers. Such as this one...

This was the drawing that I did for the mural I was asked to do.


I was definitely excited to get to oversee a mural project, but the experience was more than a little bittersweet since my mother was not there with us. It was yet another reminder of her absence from our lives.

Once we got to Plough Towers, Annie and I immediately set to work. We arrived early so that I could sketch out the drawing and make sure we knew exactly where each of the different colors would go. By the time Kathleen arrived at 9am, we had already gotten quite a bit done. We took hourly photos, which you can see below.



This was how much Annie and I had gotten done at about 10am.



This was how much we had all gotten done at about 11am


About half-way through our morning, the activities director, came by and asked if we would do the other wall that was prepped. Another artist was supposed to be doing a mural as well, but she had not shown up. Annie and Justin, the two kids in our group, were excited to do the other mural. Annie came up with a design and immediately got to work putting it together. Within a short amount of time they had gotten quite a bit done.

This was the halfway point of the second mural.

It didn't take long for both of the murals to get finished. We had a few friends come and go to help with both murals and we were done with both by noon. We cleaned up and went on our way. While it was sad to not have my mother there to share the day with, it was wonderful to get to brighten the stairwell for the residents on two different floors. It won't be long before all of the floors on that side are done and we'll have to do the stairwell on the other side of the building! 

Happy painting.


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