Friday, March 28, 2014

Frantic Mama's Five Friday Faves (Round 10)

Welcome to Round 10 of my Five Friday Faves!  It's been a hard week for me-- I've been sick [again] with what is hopefully my last bad cold of the year (fingers crossed!).  So here's a fun list of my go-tos to start your weekend off right.  TGIF.

1.  Tully's French Roast K-Cups.  A flavorful, bold option if you need a hefty dose of caffeine.

2.  Revlon ColorStay Overtime Liquid Lipcolor (~10).  I talk about lipstick a lot, don't I?  I guess I am a lipstick girl.  I like wearing a rich berry color, but there is absolutely no way I can reapply all day with a 1 year old pulling at me to pick her up all day, and a 3 year old begging me to play cars.  I try to put this on in the morning, and then I just apply clear balm throughout the day when my lips feel dry.  My signature shade is Infinite Raspberry.

3.  Play kitchen from KidKraft (~100 on Amazon).  My mom (remember the World According to Ceci?) gave this simple, retro play kitchen to my daughter for her 1st birthday.  Both of my kids like it.  Not only is it adorable, but because of the natural wood color and the simple, pretty pink, it can be in my family room without me wistfully wanting to throw it out like I want to do with all the primary-colored plastic stuff.

4.  Sam Adams "Beers of Summer" variety pack.  Ah, summer.  Considering there is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground here in Minnesota, we can dream, right?

5.  Instagram App (free).  I jumped on the Instagram bandwagon recently, and I am hooked.  Its best feature is the option to filter your photo with different lights and lenses.  You can transform your simple iPhone photo into: black & white, sepia, lo-fi, vintage-like, and many, many more.  Find me on there at FranticMama, and I'll follow you back [unless you're creepy, in which case, no, I won't].

*Stay tuned for my Friday Faves featuring some of my readers' faves!

~Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What to Pack for the Hospital (When You're Having a Baby)

I'm sure there are a million and one articles telling you what to pack in your hospital bag when you're having a baby.  But after having two babies (and 2 c-sections) I want to add my two cents for any pregnant readers out there.

Besides the obvious-- toiletries, a toothbrush, fresh clothes, a going-home outfit for baby, etc.-- I have a few ideas you may want to consider adding to your bag.

(How cute is this bag?  
I found the image on Etsy from Premier Impressions in case you're in the market for one.)

First, let me tell you, I am an extremely light sleeper.  Staying in the hospital is a nightmare for a light sleeper. With my second baby, I did a few things to maximize the little sleep one is able to grab in the hospital.  Another priority for me is staying on top of my hunger and blood sugar.  Last, I needed ways to ease the excruciating back pain that I experienced after both c-sections.

The Necessities:

1.  Sound Machine.  I brought one of these for the hospital when I had my 2nd baby because I had to be able to tune out of all the machinery and comings and goings in my room in order to rest.  This helped a ton.  (The Dohm brand is my favorite; we have them in both kids rooms and in our bedroom.  ~$45 on Amazon)

2.  Neck Wrap.  From clenching from pain, my neck and back were extremely tight and painful during both hospital stays (not to scare any first-timers).  I had my husband warm up one of these in the microwave for me to put around my neck during recovery.  The nurses had warm packs that helped too.
      (This is the one I have.  Bed, Bath, & Beyond. ~$10).

3.  Your own pillow(s).  I assume most people advise you to bring one or more of your favorite pillows so that you can actually be somewhat comfortable in a hospital bed.  I second that advice!

4.  Boppy.  A nursing pillow is very helpful when you are figuring out how to feed your tiny baby-- either with the bottle or with the boob.

5.  Granola bars.  I never leave the house without a bar or two in my purse so I made sure to pack plenty of my favorites in my hospital bag: Luna bars, the original Nature Valley Crunchy bars, and Clif Bars.  Trust me, you will be hungry and thirsty after having a baby, and it just can't always wait until a busy nurse is able to bring you something.

Extra Credit:

6.  Lipstick/Tinted Lip Balm.  This might sound completely ridiculous to some of you, but people take So Many Pictures of you and the baby when you are stuck in a hospital bed wearing a faded, colorless gown.  I am very fair-skinned (even more so when in surgical recovery) and without a little lipstick, I would look positively comatose in every picture without a little color on my lips.  (Burt's Bees makes nice, natural peppermint-scented tinted "Lip Shimmers").

7.  Gift for older sibling(s).  Hands-down, the hardest part of being in the hospital with my 2nd baby was the fact that I missed my first, and I was worried he missed me.  I had complications after my 2nd, so when my husband and I finally felt like I was up for a visit, he brought my sweet little, wide-eyed then 2-year-old son to see me and his new baby sister.  I had packed a book for him and written a note in it.  He curled up with me on my bed (very rare!) and let me read it to him.  I love him so much, and I hope he'll always keep the book to remind him how special he is to me.

Is there anything unique I'm missing here that helped you immensely after having your baby?  Please add it in Comments for my readers!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Frantic Mama's 5 Friday Faves (Round 9)

This is Round 9 of my Friday Faves.  Enjoy!

*Just for Fun:  Do you have a can't-live-without-it item?  Send me a message using my blog's comment box, and I might just include it with a link to your blog (if applicable) if I love it too!

1.  Boden Clothing.  Have you received a Boden catalog in the mail?  They have adorable, yet a little too pricey for my taste children's clothes, but they also carry really pretty and wearable women's clothing.  It is on the higher end side (a t-shirt will cost you more at Boden than at Target), but I try to buy a few Boden pieces a year to update my "wardrobe."  One tip:  order one size up in U.S. sizes if you want a bit of a looser fit.

2.  Disney Pixar Cars 2 World Grand Prix Launcher (~$20).  My amazing sister gave this toy to my 3 year old son for Christmas, and he uses it daily.  If you have a little kid who is in love with cars, this is a sure bet.  My son likes to organize the cars in it, talk about the cars in it, and then launch them out.  

3.  Marian Keyes.  Have you read any of Irish author Marian Keyes's books?  She strikes a really nice balance between humor and heart, and I love how all of the character's lives intersect.  I just finished the Mystery at Mercy Close, one of her more recent novels.  Some of her older, memorable ones are:  Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Sushi for Beginners.  Even her short collections of personal essays make for good reading.

4.  Trader Joe's mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups.  I know what you're thinking: she's obsessed with Trader Joe's!  And you are right-- I am a little obsessed.  I'm also obsessed with peanut butter and dark chocolate, especially when combined.  So these are a perfect little treat.

5.  What the Flicka.  I'm giving a shout-out to the fun website I contribute to, started by the smart and funny actress/wife/mother Felicity Huffman.  The website features cute and often hilarious child-centered YouTube clips, lighthearted articles on motherhood, as well as recipes and crafts.

~Frantic Mama

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Pinterest-type Craft Even a Frantic Mama Can Do: Tadpoles and Lilypads

So many things make moms feel guilty.  Not playing outside with our kids enough, not taking our kids to every museum possible, not following the less-than -1- hour-of-t.v.-a-day rule, and, perhaps the newest one thanks to Pinterest:  not doing educational homemade crafts with our kids every other minute.

In Minnesota, we had a record number of below zero temperatures this winter, which means I had a record number of days trapped inside the house with a 3 year old and a 1 year old.  You know it's bad when even the kids are sick of watching t.v.  The guilt consumed me, and I figured: I guess I need to come up with some sort of friggin' project.

So here it goes-- my real first attempt at creating a Pinterest-like craft for my kids.  It is a game that I found in the adorable High Five magazine that my son never reads.

Tadpoles and Lilypads Game:

1.  First, you need to put some uncooked rice in a couple of plastic lunch bags.  Secure the rice in a little ball at the end with a rubber band.

2.  Scavenge for some leftover green tissue paper from your basement Christmas stash, and place it over the plastic bag.  Use a rubber band to secure.

3.  Draw a happy face on the ball end.  Now you have happy tadpoles.

4.  Warning: You will roll your eyes at this part, but here it goes:  Get out the finger paints.  Gah!  There, I said it.  Have your kid glop some finger paint on a few paper plates.  I let my son use different colors; we call them "tricked out lilypads."  (See?  So educational!).

5.  Let the plates dry (while struggling to distract your kids so they don't get paint everywhere).

6.  Now you have a cute little toss game!

To play:  Take turns tossing the tadpoles onto the paper plate lilypads.  With older kids, you can add numbers to the paper plates and keep score.  Or, just let your kid throw the tadpoles a couple times before he moves on to Hot Wheels again, like mine.

Whew!  We did it!  A real, bonafide craft.

I felt like a really good parent [for 10 minutes], and now you can too!  :)

Do you have any similar (i.e. easy/do-able crafts/games) you would like to share?  Please do!

~Frantic Mama

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I'm also honored to contribute to:  MamalodeWhat the Flicka, and Mamapedia.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Frantic Mama's 5 Friday Faves (Round 8)

TGIF.  Here it is, Round 8 of my 5 Friday Faves.  (Round 8?  I must like a lot of stuff in this world).  Enjoy!

1.  Smoothies (that's what we call those genius squeezable fruit and veggie pouches, such as Mash-ups, Gerber Grabbers, and GoGo Squeez Applesauce).  How on earth did we live without these before they hit the shelves a few years back?  Both of my kids (ages 3.5 and 1.5) LOVE them.  They are perfect for throwing in my purse or car for a quick burst of energy when the kids are entering that [frightening] low sugar fussy, meltdown state. Sure, they may not top eating an actual apple or banana, but for convenience and picky-eaters, these can't be beat.

2.  Little Board Book Sets:  These miniature board books are great for travel, throwing in a diaper bag, keeping in your car, etc.  The kids can also stack them like blocks, chew on them (of course), and hide-and-seek them. They are cute and fun and somehow the kids rarely tire of them.

(Both of my kids like this Mickey set; you can get it for around $12 on Amazon).

3.  Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Risotto:  Yummy, yummy, yummy, yum-ay! (to be sung in the tune of "money money money mon-ay!).  Such a perfect side dish for so many things.  And I ate some of the leftovers for breakfast the other day.  Your kids might not eat it (mine didn't), but if you like squash, you'll love it.

4.  White puffer vest.  I bought one of these from J. Crew several years ago (you know, pre-kids, when I used to go shopping somewhere other than Target and the grocery store), and I still wear it to bridge the gap between winter and spring, and then again between fall and winter.  You can find them at just about any price point if you do a quick online search.  I've thrown mine in the washer many a time because of the occasional spillage of #1 (see above) and it has escaped relatively unscathed.

5.  Modern Family.  I've mentioned this show before; I just love it.  Currently, Cam and Phil are my favorites.  Then again I also like Manny, and well, okay I like all of the characters.  Even Gloria, as ridiculously perfect as she is, manages to be hilarious and likable.  The show can be liked by women and men (even my conservative, ol' FranticMamaHubby laughs throughout entire episodes).  If you haven't seen it, start from Season 1.  You are in for a treat.

(Pssst!  USA plays re-runs several night a week).

~Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

She's Got Curves: My Little Daughter

My daughter is about one and a half.  To me, she is the most beautiful little girl in the world.  Her blue eyes glow in the sunlight, her light brown hair is soft and fine, and her rosy cheeks are to die for.  She also has squeezable juicy thighs and a delicious belly that begs to be tickled.  As a friend said once, "she's got curves."

I love that at this age, my daughter has absolutely no concept of self-consciousness.  She happily stands up in the bathtub, dripping with soapy water, and sings and dances for my husband and me, her little hands patting her chunky legs, clapping out of rhythm.

She gobbles her favorite foods-- hot dogs and sausages-- with abandon, clueless of the stereotype that those are "man foods."

(Photo from Getty Creative; not my daughter)

I wonder how old she'll be when she gets embarrassed to be seen in the bathtub or feels the need to hide what she sees as imperfections.  I want to freeze what I would call her current lack of self image, or her lack of negative self-image.  I hope she'll always feel as comfortable in her own skin as she does right now.  Is that impossible?

In the meantime, I constantly marvel at her adorable little self, and I'm pretty sure I'll always find her as delightfully flawless as I do right now.

~Frantic Mama

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Frantic Mama's Five Friday Faves (Round 7)

Are you ready?  Are you SURE?  Then it's time for Round 7 of my Five Faves!

1.  Tea Tree Facial Scrub from the Body Shop.  The Body Shop keeps changing this product's name, but I've used this scrub once a week for years, and it leaves my face feeling smooth, refreshed, and better able to absorb moisturizer and all the anti-aging stuff I should start rubbing on with wild abandon.

2.  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  I would be left speechless if someone asked me "what the book is about."  I can't even begin to do The Goldfinch justice, but I'll say that I think the novel is a modern day David Copperfield, making your heart pound as you join Theo on his incomparable journey.  And, like David Copperfield, it is LONG (according to my Kindle, I'm 62% through it), so get ready to commit.

3.  Edens Garden Essential Oils.  I use these oils with my Humio humidifer.  The Top 6 Basic Sampler ($20) is what I have, and it is awesome.  Adding a few drops of eucalyptus and tea tree oil to the humidifier or a big pot of steamy water on the stove will help clear your sinuses.  Adding drops of lavender or peppermint to the bath is relaxing, and I've heard the lemon is a natural cleaner (yeah, I still need to try that one...).

4.  Cliff Z Bars for kids (the chewy ones).  On a good day, we have a box of every flavor of these in our pantry:  Iced Oatmeal Cookie, Honey Graham, Peanut Butter, and yes, even the Chocolate Chip.  There are crunchy versions, but the chewy ones are much easier for toddlers and little kids to eat.  Z Bars are natural, filling, and tasty-- even for the pickiest eaters.

5.  Hannah Andersson Leggings ($20).  I was pretty clueless about little girl clothes when I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital.  Luckily, several of my friends already had girls, and they generously passed along some hand-me-downs to us.  These are the best leggings ever for little girls.  Pricey, but they wash so well and are thicker and warmer than cheaper ones.  Highly recommended.

Tara, over at That's What She Said, created a Five Faves list featuring her 18 month-old's Favorite Things.  Check it out, right here!

What are some of your must-haves?

~Frantic Mama

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I'm also honored to contribute to:  MamalodeWhat the Flicka, and Mamapedia

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Competitive Breastfeeding: How Long Did You Nurse?

Before you had a baby, you might have heard a new mom talk about her big leaky boobs, or witness a baby quietly nursing under a blanket, but you didn't really know what was truly involved with breastfeeding, right?

Then, BAM!  You are in the hospital, holding your tiny baby for the first time, and immediately asked if you are ready to try nursing.  You are then pressured to room-in with your baby, again to encourage breastfeeding.

You come home from the hospital, exhausted, depleted, and eager to keep the baby alive, and people start asking how the nursing is going.  How long you'll be nursing.  And for the love of God-- 'when your milk came in.'

Welcome to the world of competitive breastfeeding:  one you didn't know existed until you entered the realm of Motherhood.

You'll need an electric pump, a breastfeeding pillow, nursing tops, lanolin for chapped nipples, and leak guards to stuff in your nursing bra.  Don't even think about stocking your pantry with formula:  it's for the Devil.

My heart thumps as I type all of this.  The pressure.  The anxiety.  The contraptions.  Who knew?  

I will admit it: I didn't love every minute of breastfeeding.  I did it for a while with both of my children, and usually enjoyed it, until I couldn't take the feeling of being penned in any longer and at the mercy of the constantly ticking nursing clock.  The one you hear when you venture out for 45 minutes to get your first post-baby haircut.  The one that haunts you when you have to hurry home from dinner to pump or feed the baby.  I especially felt the pressure to make sure the baby was "well fed" before going to sleep at night (Implication being: if you are good at breastfeeding and the baby eats well, he will sleep longer).  So the ever-precious commodity of sleep was tied to my body too.  Awesome.

What bugs me-- or maybe saddens me is the better word-- is the competitive undertone when some moms casually ask "how long you nursed" and "if you exclusively breastfeed."  They are often the same mothers who manage to slip in how many months they did it, especially if it is over a year, as in "Oh me? 14 months."

Yes, surely breast milk is healthier than something you find in a can.  It would be impossible to truly replicate with chemicals something produced by nature.  But isn't it only the healthier option insofar as the mom (and baby) is doing well?  Meaning, if a mother is completely worn down because of issues feeding the baby, the lines become blurred as to whether nursing is truly the better option for her and her baby.

I did feel guilt when I switched over to formula.  I also felt an enormous sense of relief and empowerment.  I could be a mom, and I could also be a woman.  I could wander the mall with a latte and enjoy some alone time without the imaginary clock ticking away.  I could relax and read a book at night without wondering if the baby had 'gotten enough milk' to sleep that night.  I could enjoy a rare date with my husband without dreading the pump when I got home, tired and ready for bed.

And here's the big one:  I swear both of my babies were happier when I switched to formula.  Maybe it was because I was happier.  Maybe it was because they were getting more to eat than they did with me.  Either way, I loved snuggling with my sweet little ones to give them a bottle before bed.  For me, holding my baby with a warm bottle was bonding without the pressure I had previously felt.

                                                                    (Image from

People judge us constantly on the decisions we make as mothers.  People will judge me for writing this.  How you feed your baby is one of the first big decisions you face as a mom, and my hope for any new moms out there is to feel comfortable with whichever choice feels right for you and your baby-- whether that means nursing, or... doesn't.

~Frantic Mama

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