Thursday, July 10, 2014

KIDDOS: Best Baby Buys {part 2}

I had read stellar reviews of Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets on several mommyblogs before Arlo was born, so I splurged and bought myself a 4-pack from Amazon and was that ever a good idea. We LOVE these blankets. You can see we brought the monkey print one to the hospital for Arlo's birth and it became a feature in his hospital birth photos and therefore a keepsake. They are the best for swaddling wee babes tightly with warmth, but are very breathable. Perfect for winter and summer alike, I can't express enough how much we use them. Arlo is still wrapped in one every night and there's always one in the diaper bag. They also make great makeshift nursing covers on the go without leaving me sweating like mad on these 100+ degree days. They cost about $34 for a 4-pack, so an average of $8 a piece.

{photo courtesy of}

We started using Aveeno natural oatmeal formula baby wash & shampoo when Lucy was just a few months old and fell in love. It seems less harsh than the Johnson & Johnson products and less drying on soft baby skin. It's also tear-free, and since it's a hair and body wash, it's all we use on our wee ones for years (until the girls' hair was long and ratty enough it needed separate intense conditioning treatments). I usually get it from when I order our Nature Babycare organic diapers and it's really not that much more expensive than other brands, around $5 for an 8oz bottle, and you can find it anywhere, like Target, Walmart or Walgreens. 

{photo courtesy of}

Another item we've been using since Alice was born over six years ago are these glass bottles from Evenflo. I freaked out about BPA in plastic bottles and started using these when our babies drank milk and we love them. My kiddos never drink more than 4 ounces at a time, so these little bottles are perfect. Some people are afraid of their babies/toddlers dropping the bottles and them breaking, but we've had them chucked across concrete and tile kitchen floors and never had one break at all. You can find these everywhere (again, Target, Walmart, etc.) and at just around $5 for a package of four, they are so inexpensive and worth it (sans BPA).

Something else we've had for over ten years and has been a life-saver is our Baby Bjorn front pack carrier in navy blue. All our babies have ridden close to our hearts in this device, and have viewed the world from the safety of our chests. Dr. Brown (the hubs) loves that it is unisex and easy to put on for daddies as well. It retailed for about $80 then (my dad bought it for us for a baby gift) and they are still pretty expensive, but you can also find barely used ones on craigslist and used baby stores for like $20. They hold up SO well, also. I know there are a million other kinds of baby carriers now, but this has remained a favorite of ours.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ARTSY: Art Party Boise

When Tahirih Cahill of e11even Shades Studio contacted me in February about coming over and showing what her mobile art studio, Art Party Boise, was all about, I was super pregnant. Like, ready-to-pop-dilated-to-3-centimeters pregnant. So, as excited as I was about learning more about her cool small business idea, I had to wait until May to act on it.

I knew that my super artsy daughters, Lucy and Alice, would love a mother-daughter date night painting, and Tahirih agreed. She sent me several samples of paintings she thought the three of us would like, and be able, to do. Of course I picked the quirky little owl with hipster glasses.

The concept is brilliant: Tahirih or one of her staff artists (that's right, she's had to hire two new gals to help her out given the popularity of her mobile studio of late) comes to your house, or business, or the park, or wherever you choose, brings the supplies, and teaches you how to paint a lovely acrylic piece for your home. There are various sizes and styles to choose from and the idea is that everyone is an artist. She's right.

She got the idea from talking with a fellow mom friend, who wanted to do something fun with her other mama friends, a ladies night out with wine and the like, but all the things that make it hard for mamas to get out - like newborns and the cost of babysitters - were a problem. So, why not bring the mamas night to the mamas in her own comfortable place, making it less expensive and easier? What a great idea! The prices range from about $10-$25 per person, and include all the supplies and you leave with your own masterpiece.


It was a bit of a challenge to find something to paint that would fit the range of 'talent' from my six year old Alice to my thirty-eight year old self. Tahirih did a great job - and walked us through our owl process. I put out some snacks from our new Trader Joes - organic strawberry lemonade and a bowl of kettle corn - and daddy took Arlo for a walk. The whole art party lasted about an hour and a half.

Here's our completed paintings, all hung in a row above our play kitchen in our family room. The cattywampus arrangement wasn't intentional, but I kinda dig it. Fits the playfulness of the paintings and the play area and, well, our family style. In order from left to right is mine, Alice's and Lucy's.

Alice, my ever self-critical artist, didn't love how her owl turned out at first. She said it looked nothing like Tahirih's and looked like a bat. We thought her puffed out wings made her look like she was about to take off in flight. I think she's perfect. Like Tahirih said, "There are no mistakes in art." I couldn't agree more. And, I think, we're all sold on a girls birthday painting party for next spring.

Find our more about Art Party Boise on her website or Facebook page. Thanks, Tahirih!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

KIDDOS: Best Baby Buys {part 1}

So, baby Arlo Valley Brown was born a little over six weeks ago on a gorgeous Friday morning, March 21st. He waited until one day after his due date and the spring equinox because he probably wanted to be an Aries like both of his sisters. He was big and beautiful with the darkest hair, weighing 8 pounds and 14 ounces and measuring in at 21.5 inches. We are over the moon.
Needless to say, I've been busy staring at our bundle of joy and trying to cope with the changes that happen when you have three kids, not to mention my copious volunteer duties around town. Whew. That means no blogging for a while, especially when you have to type one-handed, as baby boy continuously occupies the other.
Daddy's on duty at the moment, and I've wanted to write a little series on best baby buys - sort of my take on a few things I can't recommend more to new moms, especially since this is my third go around. It KINDA makes me an expert. Just sayin'.
{Image courtesy of}
First up, I was lucky (smart) enough to start prenatal water aerobics at just 17 weeks pregnant and I couldn't have made a better move. I don't know why I didn't do it with my other pregnancies, but it was amazing. Just $30 a month for one hour classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings every single week in the warm water of the local rehab hospital pool? It was wonderful. Not to mention the friendships I formed with other beautiful bellied women. Here in Boise you can sign up through St. Lukes Hospital here. If you're expecting, trust me on this.
{Image courtesy of}
My dear friend Kristin had the brilliant (BRILLIANT, I SAY) idea to sign me up for MealTrain, this fantastic and free website where your friends and family can sign up to bring you meals on dates you pre-select. This is perfect for people having babies or in the case of sickness or death or any major life-changing event. We just finished up getting SIX WEEKS worth of food from friends, from homemade feasts to Jimmy Johns delivery to gourmet boxes of ingredients from Blue Apron. The girls loved the surprise dinner menus and I couldn't be more thankful and amazed by the graciousness of others. As my friend Melanie said, "MealTrain is like having a church lady committee without having to go to church." AMEN, sister.
{Image courtesy of The Laurie Berkner Band blog}
Ten years ago when Lucy was born my dear friend Betsy introduced me to Laurie Berkner, who she saw on a cable television show on Nick Jr. She had a CD and it was catchy and cute and not annoying to listen to on repeat. Laurie and her band play and write the kind of music parents love as well, and we quickly became fans. We now own all of her CDs and they get resurrected with each new baby in our family. She has her own little indie label and you can buy her CDs for cheap from there, if you're old school like me, or download them. I can't recommend getting one (or all of them) enough. Take a listen to the song that stole my heart.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A broken heart is not the end of anything. It’s the beginning of everything.

I've written before about my respect for the brilliance that is Glennon Melton behind the blog Momastery and her book Carry On, Warrior. Today's post by Glennon on Facebook captured everything I've been feeling this week and made me cry huge fat hormonal pregnancy tears.
She writes,

"We try to protect ourselves by not allowing our hearts to be broken. But a broken heart is not the end of anything. It’s the beginning of everything."

(Oh sister, ain't it the truth.)

Along with this video:


Here's the full link to the post Broken is the Beginning (this accompanying poem is heart-wrenching).

One year ago this week my heart was shattered in ways I never knew possible. It took me a whole year to get here, but here I am, living proof that it was the beginning of everything.

I'm 39 weeks pregnant.

With my first son.

With a lost mucus plug, bloody show, hours of painful contractions, many centimeters dilated, a car seat installed and two big sisters excitedly awaiting his arrival, any day now.

It's the beginning of everything.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Follow me

So, I'm finally joining the century, oh, say 10 years late, and have started a Facebook page for this here blog which, coincidentally, links up with my Twitter account. You should really follow me on both, as I post more than links to the stories I write here. I write all sorts of commentary (snarky and sincere) on life, love, motherhood, being an Idahoan, puking, giving birth, peanut butter M&Ms and more. It's really fun. Although I'm so old-school at heart, I also blame part of my slacking in the social media trend on growing humans for the better part of the last ten years.

And baking lots of sweet treats as a result. Just keepin' it real. And delicious.

Friday, February 14, 2014

ARTSY: A love poem

love is:

the smell of his sweat, knowing... glances, a rash from his beard, staying in bed all day, hungover breakfasts, running away, crying through vows, sharing one car, proofreading thesis, U-hauls, Wall Drug, Graceland, swelling bellies, death, heartbreak, blood, vomit, growth, care, learning


her big brown eyes, April, thunderstorms, cradling in hospital beds, Minneapolis, ticks, fear, introversion, owls, airplanes, anxiety, books, sweetness, curls, math, so much kindness


her tiny features, daycare, dance parties, big sisters, camping, chaos, fast, funny, speech therapy, fearless, blond, puzzles, Idaho, cuddling


two pink lines, nausea, exhaustion, sadness, worry, ultrasounds, heartbeats, rolling, lolling, quickening, stretching skin, exploding hearts, belly kisses, tiny blue onesies, joy

*A valentine to my family. I wrote this a few weeks ago for a contest called Speak To Us Of Love, hosted by jenny wren designs and Rose & Odin, two makers of art extraordinaire. I won some fabulous prizes, but the best part? I cry every single time I read this.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

CULTURE: Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Boise State University

This year my kindergartener, Alice, spent a lot of classroom time learning about who Martin Luther King Jr. was and why he was important. As part of that lesson her teacher told them they'd be going on a silent peace march through the school, but I knew I wanted to continue that education outside of our little elementary school.

In early January I'd picked up some kids books on MLK Jr. for the girls, as MLK has affected our lives more than we even know. But mainly the lives of African-Americans, giving them their voices and, subsequently, some power back.

I have been a follower of Dr. King since my youth. Two moments, however, stand out in my memory as really feeling his teachings and life lessons: spending a half a year as a white student in a downtown Charleston, South Carolina university and visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on my honeymoon. I walked into the room at the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. King lost his life and I couldn't breathe. I stepped out onto the balcony to escape the sadness and, embarrassed by my reaction as a young white gal from Idaho, I ran to the street below. The tears that flowed so long and so powerfully remain etched in my skin.

I will never truly know, or 'get,' it. Neither will my girls. What we do get, though, is the importance of standing up, speaking your mind, taking a chance, fighting for your voice, being respectful, remembering history, and seeking hope for the future. If I can leave any legacy for my children, it's this:

(Thanks to Holli Woodings, State Representative, Idaho Legislature, District 19 at State of Idaho for this photo.)

*Much thanks to the Boise State University MLK Jr. Living Legacy Committee for organizing this march, providing poster making materials, homemade buttons, tee shirts, and leading the walk from the campus to the Idaho State Capitol building. They host this community event every year on MLK Jr. Day in January. Join us next year.