Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traveling With Baby: Baby Travel Gear

We recently took our first family vacation, and because it was two weeks long, there was a lot of preparation on my part. Some things that we took were completely unnecessary and then there were others that I wish I would've thought of before hand.

The Best Baby Travel Gear

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Having Dogs Prepared Me for a Baby

Couples often get a puppy before having kids as “practice.” Shortly after we got married and moved to California, my husband and I got not one, but two puppies. (They weren’t from the same litter, by the way. We got our first one and then a month later brought home the second one). It really helped curb our baby fever and satisfied my maternal drive.

I thought with all the pain those wonderful dogs put us through, a baby would be a piece of cake. I mean, there’s no way a baby would be chewing chunks out of the counter, scratching massive holes in the wall, eating my leather jacket, or throwing up all over the carpet in the middle of the night. Hopefully, I’m not the only delusional parent who thought that dogs would in any way train me for a baby.

That’s not to say that they didn’t prepare me a little. Here are some of the ways that having dogs helped prep me for having a baby:

1.     Having dogs got me used to handling/seeing/smelling poop. Living in an urban environment, we have to pick up our dogs’ leavings in little baggies, and one of our dogs always seemed to get some stuck in his fur on his backside. So he certainly got me used to having to wipe behinds. 
2.     I became adjusted to having to spend money on living creatures other than myself (and my husband). $40 a month on two dogs is chump change compared to what a baby costs. But at least we kind of eased our toes into the spending pool. Plus, I liked spoiling my dogs with new toys and treats and now I can transfer that desire over to my own flesh and blood (much to my husband’s dismay).
3.     I was never much of a clean freak, but once we got dogs (and two big ones at that), I was kind of forced to vacuum more frequently. In a small apartment, it’s astonishing how quickly the carpet gets saturated with dog hair. A baby doesn’t exactly contribute to all the hair in the carpet or dirt in general (they’re so tiny!), but at least it got us into the habit of cleaning, which helped create a healthier environment for our little boy.
4.     Two dogs produce a lot of noise, and therefore got us used to noise in general. Granted, our dogs bark only on occasion - and usually out of excitement - whereas a baby screams and cries, and aside from hurting your ears, it also breaks your heart! Plus, we trained our dogs to “quiet” on command, and though they don’t always listen, they do sometimes. A baby on the other hand… good luck getting one to just stop crying just because you said so. 

And… here’s how dogs did absolutely nothing to prepare me for a baby:

1.     I thought having to take the dogs outside to go potty and house-training them as puppies would help prepare me for diapers and eventually potty-training. But in reality, dogs, even puppies, go to the bathroom much less frequently than a baby. An 8-week-old puppy can go at least one hour between potty breaks (and adult dogs can hold 8 to 12 hours on occasion!) so I was taken aback when I changed my 8-week-old boy’s diaper four times in a 15-minute span.
2.     Dogs, from a very young age, are able to walk on their own. You don’t have to hold them all the time, and if you have to go to the bathroom, you don’t need to worry about what to do with them because there’s pretty much no chance that a dog will accidentally roll off of the couch.
3.     Though not as self-sufficient as cats, dogs are still more independent than a human baby. If you leave the house, just leave a bowl of water for them and they’ll be fine. If you leave the house once you have a baby, you kind of have to take them with you (or get a sitter). A baby is 100% reliant on you, and if you are breastfeeding, then they’re also pretty much attached to you all the time.
4.     Dogs don’t need help going to sleep - even young puppies fall asleep on their own. Babies, on the other hand, as I’m sure any parent will tell you, often will not go to sleep unless you hold them/rock them/swaddle them/feed them/sing to them/shush them/walk them/drive them around in the car/etc.

Well, that’s my list. How did dogs prepare you for a baby? (Or, how did they not prepare you?)

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Baby's First Vacation

Our first family vacation was quite a long one! The longest trip I'd ever taken - 2 weeks long. We wanted to visit family (both sides) so they could meet baby G, since we didn't know when our next opportunity to see all of them would be. (Hey that rhymes!)

We traveled from California to Virginia where my parents and all of my husband's family live. That's where the majority of our time was spent - about a full week. Then we flew to New Orleans and drove to Picayune, then Hattiesburg, Mississippi to visit some of my family. Our final stop on the trip was Pensacola Beach, Florida, to join my mother's family in their annual group vacation.

It was a lot of fun though a bit stressful at times - but also a great learning experience. Here's the rundown of our trip:

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting Baby to Love the Water Part 5: At the Beach

We recently took our first family vacation, and on this two-week trip, our boy had his first experience at the beach. This is the fifth part of a series on getting your baby to love water! The first 4 parts? Baby baths, big baths, breastfeeding in the tub, and then swimming pools

Daddy and Nonnie introducing baby G to the ocean!

We were lucky to be able to have his first experience with the ocean be in Florida, where the water is much warmer. (We live on the West coast, and the sea is super cold year round!) That would be my first suggestion: if possible, introduce baby to the beach and ocean when the weather is warm (and try to introduce them to warmer water first).

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Friday, July 25, 2014

First Giveaway... AllieLou Baby

Just a heads up that I will be hosting a giveaway on this blog soon. The wonderful AllieLou Baby shop from Etsy is providing the prize - a beautiful baby set (to be revealed soon).

Still deciding how to run the contest entry portion... For you readers that have entered blog giveaways before... what are your favorite entry methods? Facebook like? Comment? A click-to-enter button? I certainly don't want to have a page-long list of things you must do in order to be entered ("like this," "like that," "comment here," "tweet this," "share that," etc).

Comment below or tweet me @elrussell10 to let me know your thoughts!
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Why I Have Three Diaper Bags

Before my son was born, I read lots of tips that suggested having three sets of crib sheets and three changing pad covers. One that would be in use, one that would be in the laundry hamper/washer/dryer, and one that would be in the closet. Well, these are great tips, but do not apply to my three-diaper-bag situation. So why do I have three diaper bags?

Well, I got all of them as gifts (one off my registry and two from different military spouse baby showers) and wasn't really intending to use them all (at least, not all at once). But my mom suggested putting one (stocked with diapers and wipes) in the back of my car in case I ever run out of the house without my fully stocked diaper bag.

Then, just recently, I began using my third one. My main diaper bag is so heavy and really all of that stuff isn't necessary for quick trips (but it's great for all-day outings). So I put the most minimal stuff in that extra bag for shorter trips.

What is in each of my diaper bags:

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daily Life With A 3-Month-Old

Though I promised not to write solely about my day-to-day life and turn this blog into a diary, I have posted about what daily life is like with a 2-month-old, and intend to write a similar post each month as my boy ages.

So, here's what a standard day is like (for me) with a 3-month-old. It really isn't all that different from when he was 2-months-old... he's just awake a little bit more. We were on vacation for two weeks, which sort of threw of his schedule (not that he really had one). But, this is roughly what life was like with him for that month. These are all average times... perhaps in the future I will try and document one full day, if it's an interesting one.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Traveling With a Baby: Preparation

In preparation for our first trip with our baby, (three-months-old at the time), I did a lot of research. I didn't want to get stuck having to dump out pumped milk or having to pay extra to check a stroller cause we didn't do the process right, or have a flight attendant fuss at me to cover up while breastfeeding. I especially wanted to check all the policies and rules because we would be flying on four different planes over a two-week period and visiting four different states. I just like to be prepared!

So I hoped to save someone else a little trouble and compile everything I found here. This is the first part on a series of traveling with a baby and it's solely on preparing for your trip.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Things Your Babysitter Wish You Knew

When I started looking for a sitter for our 3-month-old, I was thankful that I had spent a few years as a nanny and babysitter. I knew what it was like to be on their side of the interview and knew what I could realistically expect as far as their abilities went. Then I realized perhaps not every parent was a babysitter at some point in their lives and therefore may not understand what it’s like to be a sitter and watch someone else’s kids for a living. So I went to social media to ask sitters and nannies for things they wished the parents knew.

Here’s some of the best:
·      They are only one person
o   If you and your spouse can’t find the time to watch the baby, make dinner, and clean the house, you shouldn’t expect the sitter to be able to either. “Babysitting” is not code for “cheap housekeeping.” It’s one thing to ask them to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, but asking them to clean out the garage is a little much! (Yes, that actually happened to one sitter).  
·      You don’t have to pay them the exact amount down to the penny
o   If your sitter is there for 2 hours and 37 minutes and makes $10 an hour, you do not have to give them $26.16. But rounding up to $27 would be preferable to rounding down! (84 cents won’t break you, but it will flatter your sitter!)
·      Let your sitter know what they can and can’t do once the kids are asleep.
o   I always felt uncomfortable just “making myself at home” so usually sat there awkwardly doing nothing. Tell them they can watch tv (and if there’s a parental code, give it to them so they aren’t stuck watching Bubble Guppies all night) or leave a couple of magazines out on the counter for them.
·      Do tell them what your kids can and can’t eat, but don’t expect them to cook a gourmet meal from scratch
o   A friend once had parents leave her a detailed recipe to make a meal from scratch for the kids. Not every sitter can cook well. It’s much easier to leave leftovers for them to warm up or just have them make a quick sandwich.  
·      Sitters appreciate punctuality just as much as you
o   You expect them to show up at 5:00, and they expect you to come home at 9:00. If you’re going to be late – call. It’s no fun sitting in someone else’s house wondering where the parents are and having them show up an hour late. But on the flip side, if you tell them you’ll be home at 10:00, don’t show up an hour early. They may have been planning on making a certain amount of money that night, and losing out on that hour’s pay can really hurt. (So if you are going to come home early, let them know in advance or at least pay them for that time anyway).
·      Be organized and informative
o   Make sure to provide your sitter with your contact info and any emergency numbers as well. And it’s always nice to give them the wifi password so they can use it while the kids are sleeping. Letting them know what any noises or gesture your baby makes mean or what little quirks your child has can be helpful. And please, tell your sitter when your baby had a rough night, or when your little one is suddenly starting to fuss during diaper changes. It’s never nice to get surprises like a baby that screams all day and you don’t know it’s because he’s over-tired.
·      Set your sitter up for success
o   Your sitter wants to succeed – they want your kids to like them just like you want your kids to like them! So don’t give them an exorbitant amount of rules to follow or too many things to accomplish. Don’t set them up to fail by leaving them a list of 50 rules and a long recipe to a meal made from scratch for the kids’ lunch. Just let them relax and have fun with the kids – if they’re stressing out about your too-detailed list and high expectations, they won’t have as much fun with your children (which is the main reason you hired them, right?)

In the end, you hired your babysitter to watch your kids – and to have fun with them. Having them do a thousand other things is going to take away from their time with your munchkins. Just let them do their job and you both will be happier.

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting Baby to Love the Water Part 4: At the Pool

Many people love water, but many babies may not. It can be jarring and startling to an infant - especially if they haven't been around it much and suddenly they're in the ocean where it's loud, salty, and splashes in their face and stings their eyes a bit. It can be helpful to introduce them to water slowly before taking the plunge (pun intended).

Getting a baby used to water is imperative. Knowing how to swim is a life-saving skill that everyone should know how to do, and it' easier to learn to swim if you aren't petrified of water because you've been in it hundreds of times and had positive experiences.

Plus, for most people, being around water is very calming (hence why beaches are so popular). Being in water is possibly even more soothing. Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist and research associate at California Academy of Sciences, calls it the "blue mind effect." The term is used to describe the "calm, peacefulness, unity, and sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment that people feel in and around water." According to Psychology Today, the effect may be because of catecholamine neurotransmitters, which relay stress signals in the brain. The transmitters recalibrate in water, and reduce to lower levels similar to the levels delivered by meditation. This reduces stress and anxiety (and makes you happy).

Swimming in a pool was our fourth step of introducing our baby to the water. The first three were regular baby baths, then putting him in bigger baths, and then I even did some breastfeeding in the bath to help strengthen that positive association with water. 

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Olivier Dunrea: Children's Book Author and Shelter Dog Rescuer

If you don't know who Olivier Dunrea is, then you should! He is the author/illustrator of one of my new favorite books - Gossie (and every other book in that series!) To read my review of Gossie, click here. He lives in upstate New York in a home/studio called Moel Eyris at Henwoodie. In addition to being the author and illustrator of more than 70 books, he is also a master map maker.

I was very pleased when I looked Olivier Dunrea up (after reading Gossie) and discovered that he supports some great causes. He is a huge supporter of dog adoption - he and his partner have 8 dogs, 6 of which were rescues.

He started a fundraising campaign called S.E.R.F, which stands for Sophie's Emergency Rescue Fund. Sophie is a dog that he rescued from a shelter in San Bernadino California, and he started the fund in her honor. Her rescue story is quite a tale, and you can read all about it on his site. "All donations to S.E.R.F. go directly to rescuing other deserving and desperate shelter dogs and helping hardworking rescue and transport teams who work tirelessly to get as many shelters dogs to safer havens, no-kill shelters, and hopefully into loving, welcoming homes."

For a $50 donation, Olivier will personally sign a copy of either Bear Noel (which is out of print) or Old Bear and His Cub available only through S.E.R.F.

He also sells artwork on his page - 100% of the proceeds go to helping shelter and deserving dogs. A lot of the artwork are sketches from many of his books before they made it to print, some are on-of-a-kind pieces (with a hefty price to boot), and then there are posters. If I had the funds, I'd buy an art piece because 1) I love his art, and 2) every penny I spent would go to helping dogs, which is one of my favorite causes. It's too bad the Gossie poster is sold out, or that's the one I would've gotten!

Julia Roberts apparently bought some of his original drawings too!

In addition to all of that, he will be writing and illustrating a book that tells Sophie's story - 100% of the proceeds of which will also go to rescuing desperate shelter dogs. 

Though this post may not inspire you to donate to SERF or purchase some of his artwork, hopefully it will at least get you to read one of his fabulous children's books! 

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Baby to Love the Water Part 3: Breasfeeding in the Tub

If you missed parts 1 and 2 of this series, click to read about bathing baby and taking a bath with baby!

Breastfeeding in the Bath

Another way to help your baby enjoy the water, is to breastfeed them in the tub (if you're breastfeeding). Baby already loves breastfeeding - it's warm and cozy and mom smells nice (usually. haha). Both mom and baby get a rush of oxytocin (the "love" hormone) when breastfeeding, which means that baby (and mom!) will feel good and be happy during this time. So use this to it's advantage!

Follow the same steps as before, filling the bath partway with warm water. Once you're in, have your partner hand you the baby - please don't try to get in with him! You could slip and the baby or both of you could get hurt. Let baby be partially under the water so that he stays warm.

Then, breastfeed while baby is partially submerged. You can even let their lower half float while they nurse. Then, when they're done, you can let them float and kick around the tub for a few minutes. 

It was a little awkward when I tried it. I wasn't super comfortable - the water level was a bit low, so I had to turn on my side so that Baby G would be in the water. (Just on my back, with him on my stomach/chest, he wasn't in the water at all!) But, he enjoyed it and it was a fairly pleasant experience overall. Besides, it's not about my comfort, but his. I already like baths and swimming! :P

As always, you want to keep their water exposure short and sweet. Try to stretch it out and you could be in for a surprise meltdown!

Next up, Part 4: At the Pool
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Bring back the classic toys!

I started looking at baby and children's toys before my son was born (who doesn't?!) and was just a little dismayed by some of the selection available. Everything that I saw looked like cheap plastic that would inevitably break 6 months after purchase. It all looked tacky and flimsy and just... unappealing to me. Perhaps I am the only one, but I prefer the toys I remember from when I was a kid. The wooden blocks, abacuses, lincoln logs, stacking rings, train sets, etc. Sure, I had lots of the plastic stuff too - but those aren't the toys I remember as vividly. They didn't last as long and for whatever reason, I don't remember them being as much fun. Also, they look so busy and complicated sometimes. There's often a lot going on on just the one toy and it makes my head hurt. I like simpler toys that allow for some creativity and don't burn your retinas. Plus, both the classic and newer wood toys are more unique - not every kid is going to have that exact toy.

I'm sure part of the argument behind all these cheap plastic toys is that they're easier to disinfect. Which is fine for daycares and preschools, but most of us aren't running one, so your little tyke isn't likely to have 30 different kids' germs all over his toys.

There's just something sentimental to me about those wooden toys. Even the brand new ones on the market today have a vintage feel to them, and look a little like family heirlooms - like something you'd find in your grandmother's attic. There are vintage plastic toys - but they seem more durable than the mass-market plastic toys available today.

I was able to find some cool wooden toys on Zulily - which I have blogged about many times before. It's really one of my favorite online shops - I always find new products I have never seen before plus good deals on brands I already know and love. I found a neat wooden ball toy and cute wooden dinosaur puzzle. There was a sale on Eric Carle products in celebration of the Very Hungry Caterpillar's birthday - and I picked up a hungry caterpillar wooden stacking ring toy.

Thanks to Zulily, I also was introduced to the brand Green Toys, which makes toys out of 100% recycled plastic - milk jugs to be specific. I saw them at Pottery Barn Kids the other day too, and they appear thicker and more well-made than a lot of the cheap stuff you can find at Walmart and Toys R Us (not that there's anything wrong with either of those stores!) Plus, they're made in the US - California to be specific - and are sold in 100% recycled cardboard packaging with no plastic twist ties or cellophane.

I have a cart full of wooden toys on Zulily right now. Not that I'll be buying them... my boy won't be playing with trains any time soon!

Another place to look for durable, classic wooden toys is Etsy. There are a lot of shops that make handmade wooden toys - like these gems. 

Cute wooden tooth teether toy from Little Sapling Toys
"magic beans" from Apple n Amos
Wooden telephone from Goshen Pickers
Cheeky little wood cellphone teether from 3 Princesses

I don't know about you, but as for me, I will be essentially boycotting all of the cheap plastic junk available on the market today (as much as possible) and will instead be opting for more durable, long-lasting wood and handmade toys. I love Etsy, so I will also be supporting small businesses! I just took up sewing, so I may even try to sew my own toys down the road.
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sun Safety for Summer Fun

Let me quickly debunk some myths about the sun and sun safety. First, there is no such thing as a “safe” or base tan – even if you use a tanning bed. People who have used tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than someone who has never used one. The only “safe” tan is the spray-on kind (and that is not going to protect you from the sun – there is no SPF built into a tan). Sunburns do not discriminate – people of all ethnicity can develop skin cancer, though the risk of melanoma is 10 percent higher for those with fair skin. The sun is not necessarily stronger when it is hotter; you can burn on a cool, cloudy day. You’re not safe in the winter either, since the sun reflects off of snow (and sand, water, ice, and concrete), which intensifies UV radiation. No sunscreen is completely “waterproof.” In fact, manufacturers can no longer describe their sunscreen as “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” or label it as a “sunblock.” Now, sunscreens labeled “water resistant” also have to indicate how long it will last – either 40 or 80 minutes. An SPF 30 does not provide twice the sun protection of an SPF 15. SPF 15 filters out about 93 percent of the sun’s rays, and an SPF 30 about 97 percent. Anything higher than an SPF 50 has not been found to be any more effective than an SPF 50.

Now, on to some scary facts. Malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has risen in children and teens an average of 2 percent every year. Nearly 25 percent of a person’s lifetime sun damage occurs before they are 18 years old – although those are the years when our kids are still under our control! Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles the risk of melanoma later, and a person with fair skin can turn red in under 10 minutes without sun protection.

To keep your kids (and yourself!) sun-safe, start by avoiding the sun between the hours of 10 and 2, when it’s at its strongest. Use a sunscreen with as few chemicals as possible, such as a mineral sunscreen where the main ingredients are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Use a lip product with SPF in it since the skin on the lips is thin and burns easily. Avoid using a spray sunscreen in the wind, and do not use it on the face. In fact, it’s better just to use a cream sunscreen, as you are more likely to apply enough to get sufficient coverage. Also, sunscreens do have an expiration date. Some of them are hard to find on the bottles, but a good rule of thumb is to get new sunscreen at the start of every summer.

If you or your kids are in water or on surfaces that may rub the sunscreen off (like inner tubes or slides), reapply every 40 or 80 minutes according to the bottle. But always reapply at least every 2 hours. If they’re old enough to, let your child help choose their sunscreen. You want them to put up as little resistance as possible when it comes time to apply (and reapply), and if they picked it out themselves, they’ll be more willing to have it slathered on. Even little ones, like 2 year olds, can help choose. Just make it easier for them and only give them two options to choose from.

Your diet can help protect you from the sun! Antioxidants and Omega-3s can protect you from skin cancer, and caffeine can repair damaged skin. So load up on fish, yogurt, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, olive oil, red wine (just you! Not your kids!) and lots of water for the antioxidants and Omega-3s. Studies have shown that women who drink 6 or more cups of coffee daily are 30 percent less likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma, which are common but not normally lethal forms of skin cancer). Each 8-ounce cup o’ joe was associated with a 5 percent decrease in non-melanoma skin cancer risk.

Finally, follow the UV Index score daily to track the risk from the sun’s rays. The UV index is calculated based on the amount of ozone, the elevation, cloud coverage, latitude and time of year and indicates how strong the sun’s rays are (and therefore how fast you will burn!) Download the Environmental Protection Agency’s free app SunWise to use your zip code to see your area’s daily UV Index and UV forecast.

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gossie by Olivier Dunrea Children's Book Review

While my husband was deployed, he managed to find a bunch of children's books from a program that had left them there in Afghanistan. He was able to send me a huge box full of stuff. I assumed (incorrectly) that I was going to get a box full of beat up books no one had ever heard of. Really, there were some wonderful books in there - classics I already knew, a couple that we already had, and a few gems that I'd never heard of before but fell in love with!

One of those such gems was Gossie by Olivier Dunrea. Surprisingly, even my mom, who is an Elementary School Librarian (sorry mom, I mean, Library Media Specialist and Reading Specialist), hadn't heard of it. It was one of the very first books we read to baby G after he was born and I immediately looked up the author and his other books (which I rarely do).

Gossie: A Review

Gossie is about a little gosling named Gossie.  The version I have is a little board book, but I believe it also comes in hardback (at least, Amazon says it does).

Gossie is "a small yellow gosling who likes to wear bright red boots every day." The book chronicles her little adventures - where she likes to wear her red boots - when suddenly, she loses them! Spoiler alert! She finds them in the end. :)

The artwork is adorable - also by Dunrea. I would love to just have blow-ups of the pages to hang on my wall! It's not too busy but makes use of bright colors and high contrast which is great for little eyes.

Possibly my favorite page in the book! I like pigs. :)

Gossie is part of a series of books about a bunch of goslings. Some of the other titles include: Gossie and Friends, Gossie and Gertie, Gideon, Ollie, and more. Dunrea just released a new couple of goslings: Jasper and Joop (and on his site, he shows a sketch of two more: Gemma and Gus). Each gosling has a special characteristic. For example, Gossie wears red boots, Gideon has a stuffed octopus, and Jasper and Joop are clean and messy, respectively. I'm very excited to read the newest books in this little series for young readers - I have a few books now and would love to collect them all!

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DIY: Upgrade Your Plain White Burp Cloths!

I recently began sewing my own bibs and burp cloths (among other things); I just got my first sewing machine.  I was using cotton fabric backed with terry cloth and realized I could just re-purpose the plain white burp cloths I already had. Technically, they're cloth diapers but they really do make the best burp rags. They're just kind of plain and blah looking - especially once they've been used and laundered a few times. After that they look a little lumpy and crooked and kind of ratty. I thought that they'd be easy to jazz up - just put a printed fabric on one side or edge it in ribbon or something.   

It's a very easy and quick project - great if you have scraps of ribbon or fabric laying around! I "made" 3 burp cloths in a short amount of time and will likely make more. I sewed a black and white fabric to one, two strips of ribbon to another, and made one a cute flannel-backed one with little ribbon loops (like those "taggie" blankets). I'll walk you through it. :)

I used an old burp cloth, printed cotton fabric, and satin ribbon. You will also need scissors, straight pins, and a sewing machine. Though you could hand sew it. It will just take you longer!
 Burp Cloth #1:
I started by cutting the fabric to the size of the burp cloth. You can pin and measure if you'd like, but I didn't. If it's a little crooked, it won't bother me. Baby's just going to spit up on it anyway! :P
I pinned the fabric to the burp cloth with the "good" side facing in. 
Then I sewed most of the way around, leaving a small opening so I could turn it right side out. Then I stitched all the way around to both close the opening and add some extra stability. Ta da!

Burp Cloth #2:
This one got a little wonky. I just sewed two strips of ribbon on the outer panels of the burp cloth. Not my best work!

Burp Cloth #3:
I started this one the same way I started the first one. Cut fabric and then turn upside down and pin to the burp cloth.
I then cut small pieces of ribbon and folded in half to make a loop.

Then I took each ribbon and put it between the fabric and burp cloth with the loop towards the middle.

I then put a pin through the fabric, ribbon, and burp cloth.
As before, I stitched all the way around leaving a small opening on one side to turn it right side out. Then I stitched around again to close the opening and make it look finished.
Baby boy seemed to like it! Kept sucking on the loops and trying to stuff the whole thing in his mouth.

All in all it was fairly easy! I'm not a super experienced seamstress and wasn't trying to achieve perfection. The burp cloths were a bit difficult to work with - kept stretching, bubbling and changing shape as I sewed. If you used a brand new prefold cloth diaper/burp rag, it may hold its shape better. But I still think they turned out pretty cute! PLUS, the "taggies" burp cloth doubles as a toy/lovey!

Comment below with any questions or if you have any creative ways to upgrade a plain burp cloth!
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