Made: Little Play Gym

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Ever is 9 weeks old and so lively. Her favorite sound to make is GOO, which she sort of screams at you like, GOO! followed by a big smile that shows all her gums. Whenever you start singing a song she recognizes she smiles so big that her eyes squint into these little half moon shapes. We don’t know half the words to most of the holiday songs we’ve been singing so they end up sounding like Dashing through the snow…in a one horse open sleigh… la la la la la…laughing all the way… ha! ha! ha! She doesn’t mind.

It’s so cool to watch all these new developments in her brain come online every day. I thought it was time we gave her a new form of entertainment (as exciting as her hands and staring at the threads on my sweater are). This little gym was super simple to make. She likes to wave her arms and hit the ribbons, or smile and laugh at the little moon rattle like they have an inside joke going (oh moon, you’re so funny). I added a mirror so she could see herself and watch the objects move in the reflection. The little shag rug makes a soft place for her to practice tummy time, when the dogs aren’t laying on it. It folds away easy too, so the dogs don’t lay on it.

How to make:

Materials
(Most of this was made from things I had already, so some materials are similar to ones I used.)
Two 1 1/2″ x 5 ft wood planks
One 3/4″ dowel rod (similar)
Objects for hanging (I used silk ribbons, this black and white moon rattle, and some 1/2″ wooden beads).
3-4 wood rings
3 yards of rope
Mirror, or similar if not near an IKEA
Hand saw
Drill

Cut 1 1/2″ wood planks into four 30″ legs. Drill large hole for dowel using 3/4” drill bit on all four legs at the top. Drill small holes for supports in middle of each leg using 1/4″ drill bit. Cut dowel down to 36″. Assemble objects to be hanged and tie to wooden rings. Insert dowel into large hole on top of legs. Tie support rope across small holes in middle of legs. Place comfy rug or blanket underneath!

Gift Ideas For A Rad Baby Girl

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I’m so biased with this gift guide, but! I figure I’m already looking at these things so I might as well share. Ever doesn’t need much. She’d be happy with boobs or another mirror to gummy-smile at herself in (we’re just a few mirrors shy of a fun house). But, a few special things for her first Christmas will be under the tree this year. Here are some pretty things that have caught my eye.

A special wooly teddy, baby’s first soft books, a pair of Misha and Puff knit booties, Mabo striped pants, a Jenny Pennywood x Polka Dot Club rattle ball, a wooden Stokke Tripp-Trapp high chair, a cool Bajo wooden puppy push toy, feminist tee, a comfy rainbow pillow, a peace teether, warm pompom beanie.

Pro tip! Follow brands on Instagram for promos and sales. Shop Small Saturday was my best friend this year :)…

Point Reyes, CA

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Last weekend we went out to one of our favorite beaches, North Beach at Point Reyes. We’ve been here many times but coming back with Ever was really awesome. She slept most of the time under the shade of a beached log. The dogs were stoked to run around. They chased the ball and stopped to sniff washed up bull kelp and crab carapaces. It was sunny and warm (by Northern California standards) with barely a cloud in the sky, rare for a place that’s usually blanketed in a thick layer of fog. We bundled Ever up in a bear coat we found on some department store’s sale rack. I think it confuses the dogs, like…is she a human or is she another animal…?

Trey hoisted Ever on his shoulder so I could take a photo of them in front of the waves. Keeper chased plovers in the surf. I distracted Jack with the ball while a pit bull passed us. Anyone else’s cattle dog like to pick fights with dogs they’d obviously lose against? You’d never guess it, but Jack has some kick to him. I’ve become a master at reading the situation. Incoming confident big dog? Yeah he’d nip that. It’s ok we love him.
Anyway, it was the best way to spend a Sunday. On the way out a few whale spouts on the horizon caught our attention, likely some humpbacks passing through.

Ever is 7 weeks tomorrow. It will be fun to bring her here to the cliffs to spot whales when she’s older. She is the happiest, smiliest, sleepiest kid. My dream baby. I’ve been meaning to write more but there’s not too much to report. Life is slow at the moment, in the best way. Ever sleeps a lot right now. We watch a lot of day time television. Lots of rheumatoid arthritis commercials. Life is good.

An Outing

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This past weekend we went for a walk in Walnut Creek, a town just east of us. The only Dunkin’ Donuts within a 20 mile radius of our house happened to be on the way and may have been the incentive for going all along. Early mornings with a newborn call for coffee. The dogs chased the ball and Ever passed out in the Bjorn while we walked on the trail. Trey took some photos of me and Ever in a field when she woke up and got hungry. I couldn’t help but smirk while editing these photos because of how much of a proud mom I look.

We’re starting to get out more and more. Last week Trey went back to work and Ever and I went to the mall in San Francisco just the two of us. It was easier than I thought it would be, minus a diaper blow out in Bloomingdale’s and fending off looks from midwestern tourists while simultaneously feeding her and jay walking in Union Square. Come at me, Kansas!

Ever Juno

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It’s 1:14 am and Trey is asleep next to me. Keeper has secured the primo spot in between us and Jack let out a loud sigh when reluctantly taking to the end of the bed by my feet earlier. Mila cat is stretched out with half her body on my pillow, half on Trey’s pillow behind our heads. Ever is asleep in the mini crib next to me. And me, I’m awake writing this. I suspect the little human will start waking in a few minutes, making the primate noises she likes to make to tell me she’s hungry.

“AH AH AH AH AH”.

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Today she is 2 weeks and 5 days old. It’s crazy to think about everything that happened to get her here and how she’s laying right next to me now. 9 months ago she was just “the female” blastocyst on a sheet of paper one of the nurses handed to me after the transfer procedure. Now she’s this tiny person with eye lashes and dimples for knees and pouty lips that quivers when she’s cold. These last two weeks have been a blur. I couldn’t ask for a cooler kid. She’s chill and cute as hell. She has Trey’s eyes and my cheeks and she’s kind of a miniature giant. The last appointment we had with my OB they told us she would be around 5.5 lbs based on how I had measured during my pregnancy. Imagine our surprise when this 9 pound 7.5 ounce, 21 inch long gargantuan came forth from me. I remember everyone in the room gasping and one of the nurses saying BIG GIRL(!) from behind her mask. Then Trey saying “She has hair! She’s so cute!”. I think most new parents probably breathe an audible sigh of relief when they finally see their kid for the first time and discover there isn’t a thumb growing out of their forehead. I had prepared myself for her to look like a slimy alien that would get cuter over time, but she was so pretty and big and squishy right out the gate. I’ll write her birth story out soon. It was a crazy experience that was both empowering and traumatizing, much like how I’d describe this whole process to have been.

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Watching Trey be a dad has been my favorite thing. How he googles everything and always forgets her pants after changing her. Or how he grinds his coffee beans at night so they are ready to go in the morning so he doesn’t wake her. Or how he sings “Man eater” by Hall and Oats when she cries, and how most nights I’ll wake up to his silhouette rocking her gently at the foot of our bed. After she was born, I wasn’t able to be with her right away and Trey took care of her. My first memory of her is seeing them together. He was so good with her that night (and ever since).

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Jack and Keeper, well they are her new best friends. Keep especially. I think she thinks it’s her job to watch over Ever. Herding dogs are the best. She’ll bring her ball over and drop it next to her and when she cries Keeper howls. Jack licks her face and lays beside her. While we were in the hospital, Trey took a little hat Ever had been wearing home for the dogs to smell. I’m not sure whether that helped or not, but the dogs were really sweet and excited to meet her when we came home later that same day.

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We haven’t ventured outside much except for trips to the coffee shop and grocery store because of the air quality around the Bay right now. Just north of us in Sonoma county there are really bad wildfires which have caused smoke to fill the sky all over the Bay Area so we’ve been staying inside. On one of the clearer days we went to our favorite beach that overlooks San Francisco and the Golden Gate bridge.

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We also went to the craft store to buy ink so we could stamp her hands and feet. Really it was an excuse to get out of the house and go on a car ride so she would nap in the car seat. We got into the store and found the aisle with the ink, then she started wailing – singing the song of her people for all to hear at the top of her lungs. A woman with her grade school aged kid smiled kindly as if to say, been there. Another woman said “oh look at that tiny baby!” while walking towards us. I have no photos from that because I aborted that mission so fast they probably thought I stole something. Having never been one that was personally psyched when spotting babies in public (a puppy tied to a bike rack waiting for it’s owner though? Um, yeah that good boye is getting a head pat), it’s odd to see how much attention having a newborn attracts. It kinda cramps my style, but I’ve found that wearing her in a wrap instead of pushing a stroller feels more liberating and less like I’m parading her around in a gilded chariot for all the townspeople to see.

Trey went back to work yesterday. It was really sweet just camping out at the house together with him and the animals getting to know Ever these last few weeks. Ever has been a dream baby so far, even when she’s screaming. The other day at the pediatrician they were measuring and weighing her and she had to be naked. She put up such a protest. I was like, that’s my girl. Fight the system, you tell them!

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Speaking of which, she has waken. The monkey calleth and I must go…

AH AH AH AH AH

Little Human’s Corner

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Sorry Swayze, we put baby in the corner. For the first few months at least, we’re going to have little human in our bedroom by my side of the bed. Eventually the operation will move to the nursery, but for now we’re all going to be roommies. I wanted to keep our bedroom clean and bright while bringing in some baby things that felt cozy and still allowed the room to work for all of us. Jack has already decided the floor pillow is his. I’m such a sucker.

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To add storage, we brought in a dresser and added a changing mat on top. We mounted a tv and have wireless headphones for watching without disturbing little love. We’ve never had a tv in the bedroom, but I’m liking it. Watching the news in bed with a matcha latte in the morning is something I never knew I was missing out on until now. In the corner we put up a tiered woven hanging basket to hold bibs, coconut oil and other little necessities. Below that is an essential oil diffuser and night light. Right now I like to keep our room smelling like either lavender or eucalyptus since they are both calming scents.

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The top dresser drawer below the changing mat is devoted to little human’s things. It has changing supplies, onesies, jammies, socks, tiny booties and mittens. The feetie pajamas always get me. That, and anything with ears.

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For diapering, we’re trying out a trial of the popular compostable service offered in the Bay Area called EarthBaby that picks up soiled diapers from your doorstep and converts them into topsoil in 14 days, while also dropping off a new supply of diapers. Going into this, I thought any old biodegradable diaper was the way to go, but learned that unless you’re composting them yourself they actually have to go into the city trash bin (rather than the green city compost bin) because it’s human waste. Meaning, they go to the landfill like every other diaper and sit there. Granted the materials used are more natural and likely decompose at a faster rate, but, why buy biodegradable diapers if they aren’t going to be composted and biodegrade? Using less plastic while still having the convenience factor of a disposable is optimal for us. I’ll report back on how it goes. For wipes we’re using Water Wipes. They are made from 99.9% water, and .01% grapefruit seed extract. We went with this diaper pail and keep it next to the trash can in the kitchen.

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I can’t say enough how much I love the wooden mini crib. It’s so pretty and I love that it rocks. Trey says he’s going to rig up something with the Arduino to make it rock on it’s own. I love his Honey I Shrunk The Kids ideas. He does this thing where I have something that breaks and he rushes to fix it, or I have a crazy idea and he comes up with a solution, then presents it to me saying (in my voice) “My Hero!”. I love him, I love him, I love him.

We also have a Snuggle Me for co-sleeping, though I’m not sure we’ll use it for sleeping at night since the dogs tend to sleep with us. We’ve been experimenting with shutting them out of the bedroom, but that doesn’t really work since they both know how to open doors. By morning they are both in the crooks of our legs. I tried putting a door wedge in the door (see photo below), but Keeper will try with all her might to open the door even with it in there…which can be loud. So yeah, we’ve created monsters. Don’t teach your dogs to open doors. Anyway, we’ll likely use the Snuggle Me nest during the day for naps on the couch since the bedroom gets really sunny in the afternoons and likely will be too bright for napping.

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We made the wooden mobile above the crib using dowel rods, heavy duty fishing line, and different wooden shapes. I love how it turned out. When we have the windows open the breeze makes it spin in a slow, mesmerizing way.

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The little patchwork pillow I made from scrap fabric I had laying around. The mini Jack and Keep toys are a favorite for obvious reasons. Beside the mini crib is a basket with cotton swaddles and extra mini crib sheets.

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(Jack’s new friend)

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The little rocker chair is another piece I really love. It’s lightweight, making it easy for a little human to bounce themselves once they get to that arm and leg-flailing stage. I also like that you can move it from room to room. The rug we’ve had for a few years and just adds a little more comfort for tummy time shenanigans.

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As for toys, we don’t have many at the moment. I have some in mind for Christmas. At this early of a stage though, simple rattles and shakers (and making funny faces) will do. Trey also brought home this little black and white dog lovie that I think is really cute!

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I’m happy with how everything is coming together. With 9 days until my due date, it’s nice to cross “little human’s corner” off the list. We’re getting close. When I dropped Trey at the train this morning he told me “don’t go into labor, I need to rearrange the basement!” Like OK, I’ll try not to…!

38 weeks

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We’re just two weeks away from meeting the little human that’s been judo chopping my rib cage these last 9 months and we’re so stoked. It’s been a long time coming and for the day to almost be here is a pretty cool feeling. I keep getting asked the question “are you ready?”. I think we’re ready. As ready as you can be. I feel great. I’m still swimming and doing everything I normally do. A woman stopped me on the stairs the other day and was like “Girl, take the elevator!”. Another person asked why I was out so close to my due date, as if I’m supposed to stay inside. I think movies portray pregnant women going into labor very differently than how it happens in real life so people have this idea of a woman’s water breaking and then this mad dash to get to the hospital. I could only be so lucky. Likely it will be a marathon.

We put the finishing touches on little human’s space this weekend. It’s just a corner of our bedroom right now. I will share that here later this week. We picked up a rocking chair this past weekend, which was one of the last things on our list we needed to get done. We took the truck to go pick up the chair even though the registration is out of date, so on the way we were coming up with ways we’d talk our way out of a ticket if we got pulled over. We came to the conclusion the most effective way would be for me to hold my belly and say I was in active labor. SORRY OFFICER. NO TIME TO TALK! Luckily we didn’t have to pull that trick out of the bag and made it home without being pulled over.

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We’ve been spending time at the beach and river with the dogs a lot lately. I’m sure they have an idea about what’s coming, they’re smart dogs. The other day I was doing these breathing exercises my doula recommended and Keeper ran in the room and started howling to alert the neighborhood. False alarm, Keep!

Trey is really excited to be a dad. It’s really great to see. He told me yesterday that he thinks people might think he stole a baby if he’s out alone with little human. “What is that guy doing with a baby?”, as if he doesn’t look the part. I thought that was funny. I think this kid is really lucky to have him as a dad.

Over these last 9 months we’ve sat on the floor of a yoga studio in San Francisco on bolster pillows learning about newborn care, swaddled and diapered infant-sized dolls with other parents to be, laughed our way through awkward birth positions at birth classes, watched detailed videos through our fingers, and read the tried and true books on babies. Now we just wait, armed and ready with little knit hats with ears ready to put on a sweet babe’s head!

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Well that, and we should probably install the car seat and pack a hospital bag.

Little Human: On the Go

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Shopping for baby gear has been a lot of fun. Cue a dorky montage of us trying out baby carriers with Mila cat in them, test driving strollers as if they were BMX bikes through department stores, strapping Jack into the car seat to test the weight limit, texting each other funny reviews on products, holding up little fleece-y winter coats with ears to show each other from across the store just how cute it is(!), etc etc etc. There are a ton of options out there for baby products and choosing the right ones takes a little bit of time, but we had fun with it.

Since our lifestyle is a mix of city and outdoors, we decided to look for versatile products that would work in both settings. We made a list of things we consider essentials and focused on those. At going on 37 weeks, I can say we’re just about ready gear-wise. Of course, who knows. Every kid is different and requires/prefers different things. We’ll see how it goes. Here are the products we plan on using while out and about with our little human…

For on the go:
 
A Nuna Pipa car seat, for getting there.

A City Mini GT stroller – compact enough for busy San Francisco streets and all-terrain enough for trails through the redwoods.

A baby carrier – this outdoorsy Bjorn for Trey, and this tan Solly Baby wrap for me.

This diaper bag , to store essentials like diapers, wipes, milk, an extra onesie, etc.

This travel changing mat, for changes on the fly.

 
More Little Human series, here.

Pregnancy Wellness: My week in lunches

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“My week in lunches”…might be the most pregnant thing I’ve ever said.

My lap top is teetering atop the growing mountain of a belly I’ve got going on. At 32 weeks, it’s getting pretty big and makes a nice spot for my lap top to rest on while typing this. I thought since food is a big part of my life right now (and in general) that I’d document some of the meals I’ve been preparing and eating for lunch lately. My diet hasn’t changed all that much since growing a little human except for making sure I load up on iron-rich foods and healthy fats, while avoiding certain iffy bacteria-harboring foods. Pregnancy only really requires 300 or so additional calories a day, so that whole “eating for two” thing is a myth. Really it’s making sure you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients for two. I’ve found that sticking to a natural, whole food based diet with meals that are prepared simply makes me feel the best both physically and mentally. Everything in moderation though. Because, beignets. And brioche french toast. And parmesan truffle fries.

Monday
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Avocado and tuna salad on sourdough with a side of spinach and kale, along with a daily prenatal vitamin + dHA supplement. Passionfruit La Croix to drink. I also ate a handful of chopped dates like a caveman after foraging in the cabinet for something sweet afterwards. I’m not big on eating tuna because they aren’t a very sustainable option. Their life cycles are long, meaning they don’t reach maturity until later in life and get overfished quickly. When I do eat tuna, I look for skipjack or albacore that’s pole caught (it says on the label) since those fisheries are doing the best. Seafood Watch offers a good guide for eating fish sustainably. Hops down off soap box

Tuesday
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Kale and heirloom tomato pizza with pesto and smoked mozzarella on a rice crust, left over from his and hers pizzas we made for dinner last night. Prenatal vitamin + dHA supplement. Lemon ice water and a green smoothie to drink. I like having a green smoothie or juice every morning, but was in a rush and didn’t have time to make one this morning so I had one at lunch. This one is spinach, kale, apple, coconut water and chia seeds blended on the juice setting of our Blendtec.

Wednesday
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Thai pumpkin curry with coconut rice, leftover from dinner we made last night. Slices of fresh mango, and juice made with beets, apple, carrot, lemon and ginger. Prenatal vitamin + dHA supplement.

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Today we had a doctor’s appointment to check on little human and went out for a late breakfast/early lunch afterwards at Grand Lake Kitchen. I got the french toast with strawberries and Trey had a turkey sando as big as his head. Prenatal vitamin + dHA supplement.

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I beelined it to Roam Burgers after lap swim today for a beet, quinoa and black bean veggie burger with avocado and a side of sweet potato fries. It’s probably my favorite veggie burger in the Bay although there are lots of good contenders around here. To me, this is summer in burger form – so good! Prenatal vitamin + dHA supplement.

Baton Class, 1992

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There I was, 6 years old standing shoulder to shoulder among a row of girls stretched across the half court line of an elementary school basketball court. It was early summer 1992 and I waited on my mark, baton in hand, sparkly leotard on, large bouffant hair bow on the top of my head. The music came on, signaling the start of the routine to C&C Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now). The instructor motioned for us to begin and we started walking towards her, twirling our batons to the music.

And just like that I was transported to another place.

I wasn’t twirling a shiny baton with ribboned ends in a stifling hot gymnasium among a group of female peers. I was warding off bad guys in some back ally with my bow staff like my rat sensei had taught me as Donatello, the purple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As the other girls proceeded in synchronized fashion to the other end of the court, I fell behind, voluntarily, too entranced in my own personal ninja pursuits. The music stopped and one by one the trophies were handed out to everyone in the class who completed the routine. If you received a trophy, you were pretty much guaranteed to be a shoo-in for the small town’s 4th of July parade (dream big). The instructor thanked everyone for coming and I made my way over to my mom on the side lines without a trophy. I wasn’t upset about it. I didn’t need some trophy to tell me how awesome I was at twirling a stick. My mother (a baton veteran herself) on the other hand, was fuming. She approached the instructor and insisted I be able to try again so I could get a trophy just like all the other little girls in the class and qualify for the town’s parade. The instructor obliged and rewinded the tape as I reluctantly took my mark in the middle of the gymnasium, alone this time. From the sidelines my mother pointed to her mouth, gesturing for me to “smile!” with accompanying jazz hands. The other girls and their mothers sat criss-crossed on the sidelines with their trophies, staring back at me. The instructor pressed play on the tape, cueing the start of the routine, and I, Donatello, stood frozen alone on the court for 30 seconds before finally returning to my mission of fending off bad guys and restoring peace to the city with blunt, swift swipes of my bow staff. I went home without a trophy that day and never made it to the parade.

It’s funny, when you’re about to have a kid of your own, you start thinking about what you and your partner were like as kids and compare stories. Trey has a good one about him playing the Wham Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go instrumental preset on the family keyboard while “porky piggin” it (wearing a shirt and nothing else). I try not to have any expectations for our little human, but sometimes I secretly hope we have a free spirited Donatello or Wham nudie on our hands.

Illustration by Trey.