Whole Foods v. Trader Joe's

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This petite mama was tired of all the hype and decided to find out for herself if shopping at Trader Joe's was going to save her bundles of money compared to Whole Foods.  I went to both places on the same Monday am, and both stores are 0.25 miles apart on the same road so extremely comparable.  I wrote down prices for similar products, the closest comparison I could find.  If it was TJ's brand, I went with Whole Foods 365 for comparison.  Organic for organic.  Same size containers/weight.  I tried to make it as fair as possible, so I could really see the bottom line.  And here it is, side by side.

Item                                          TJ's                 WF

1 lb. bag baby carrots                 $1.99              $1.99
Bananas                                   $0.19/each       $0.34/each
Organic Gala Apples 2 lbs          $2.49               $5.00
bagged organic lettuce                $3.29              $3.99
onions 2 lbs.                              $1.79              $2.58
red pepper                                 $1.29              $0.85
broccoli   2 crowns                     $3.99              $4.73 (contained 50% more in bunch)
1/2 gallon organic skim milk        $3.69              $3.69
gallon organic whole milk            $5.99              $5.99
Fage yogurt                               $1.79              $1.79
ground fair trade coffee               $6.99              $5.99
1 lb. hamburger                          $4.49              $5.99
chicken breast                           $6.99              $8.99 (Bell & Evans, couldn't find comparable)
salad dsg                                  $2.99               $3.79
peanut butter   1 jar                    $2.99               $2.39
store brand cheerios                   $1.99               $3.39
Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal        $3.69               $3.69
1 box clementines                      $5.99               $6.99
3 russet potatoes                       $1.08               $3.46
2 lbs. white rice, organic             $3.99               $5.99
12 oz. chicken sausage              $3.99               $5.99
1 doz large eggs with omega 3    $2.49               $3.49
organic olive oil 16.9 oz bottle     $5.99               $6.49
canola oil                                   $3.49               $3.49
wheat crackers                           $1.69               $1.99
12 oz. frozen organic raspberries  $3.69              $3.69
12 oz. frozen organic strawberries $1.99              $1.99
bread  multi grain organic              $2.99             $3.89
1 lb. shredded mozzerella             $3.79              $5.99
OJ 64 oz with calcium                 $5.49               $2.99
15.4 oz can black beans              $1.09               $1.09

total for the above items at TJ's:  $93.85
total for the above items at WF:   $124.41

I would have saved $30.56 for shopping for the above items at Trader Joe's instead of Whole Foods.                        

Go Crib---I'm In Love!

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We started out with the smaller Peapod which was working great for our infant under 1. It was extremely lightweight, packed into a suitcase, and was perfect since when we travel it usually involves airplanes. But now that she is 1, she's running out of room (she loves to sleep in every direction) and can't sit and stand, which she still attempts to do in the peapod even though she's getting too big for it. So, we were looking for a new travel crib. We found this and all love it! It's great because she has tons of space and can move in every direction. The blow up mattress is the same size as a pack n play mattress, so there is an abundance of sheets and pads to choose from to cover it. It took me less than 5 minutes to set up for the first time, and that included reading the directions! I also found it really easy to stuff back into the backpack and get it all back down to the same size it first arrived in. Will easily fit into a suitcase if you don't feel like making it a carry on, and it is still on the lighter side (10 lbs.) Really remarkable product, and very sturdy/well made. Looking forward to using this for several years and for future kids!

The downside to this is the price.  But, considering it does everything we need, and is even big enough to act as a playpen for a few minutes when needed when staying at the grandparents "museum house" we feel it is worth it.  Also, the quality is such that I'm not worried about it looking shoddy after a year of heavy use, and really think this is going to carry us through multiple children.

Favorite Baby Food Cookbook

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I am a petite mama that loves to cook!  I could just feed people all day long and I'd be very content.  With that said, you can imagine my excitement once our little girl was ready to add solids into her life.  I researched and researched, and thought I'd add a couple of baby food cookbooks to the cookbook shelf for some new ideas.  I went out to the bookstore to check them out in person, and boy was I disappointed. 

I couldn't find one that wasn't just a picture book, and one that offered good advice as to the why's and how's.  I found it frustrating that the doctors, etc, just kind of told you to start feeding your baby without offering much guidance, when everything up to that point felt so regimented.  I just wanted a sort of plan that left freedom but also offered guidance.  In the end I bought I book that I wasn't too thrilled about, but gave me some new ideas that I still use.  But, a recent search on Amazon.com led me to a recently published book that is outstanding!!  If only it was around 5 months ago!  I love it, it offers guidance, advice, tips, recipes, and answers all the questions I had when learning about making my own baby food that I spent hours researching answers for on the web.

This is the only baby food cookbook I'd recommend, and I highly recommend it at that!

Favorite Newborn Toys

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Deciding on baby toys is like deciding on clothing without trying it on.  It can look fantastic on the hanger, but you really aren't going to know how you feel about it until you get it home and put it on!  It's just the same with baby toys, as your wee one has to get their mouth on it before it can be deemed like-able or not.

Because this can be hard for mamas to sort out, I thought I'd put together a list of some toys that have been very popular with mine and my friends' babies.  This is really about 0-8 month toys.

Sassy Ring O' Links (I've also seen it called Lively Links) is a definite keeper.  This is one toy that has been replaced twice as she has dropped it while strolling and it is too much fun to not replace.  I recommend getting 2 straight off the bat, as you can use 1 as the toy, and the other set's links to attach other toys to strollers, etc.

Learning Curve Stacking Cups.  I like these because they have numbers on the bottom, and holes so they can be used in the bathtub and not hold water.  They stack upside-down and right-side up.

Haba Kringelring.  This has been a consistently favorite toy for my daughter, since she was 3 months old and could grab it.  She manipulates it, rattles it, bangs it, shakes it, and pokes at the rings trying to figure them out.  This is always with me in the diaper bag!

Skwish.  This seems to be one of the favorites among all the babies.  Comes in 2 different color palettes, and a natural version for those that don't want color.  Babies can shake it, skwish it, and just enjoy watching the bobbles slide back and forth.  My daughter has loved this from about 4 months old until about 8 months old, and during that time it was a favorite.

Winkel.  I hate the name of this toy, but this was the first toy our daughter took to.  It was picked up almost accidentally as she would just weave her hand in it and it would sort of get stuck, and then she'd have no choice but to shake it.  The tubing is also the perfect size for wee hands, and my favorite part about it is how easily it cleans up.  It's the perfect toy to have on hand when the baby is spitting up the most.

Finally, the O-Ball.  It rattles, it rolls, it is light as air.  It is another one that baby loves putting up to the mouth, shaking, and getting their hands stuck in.  Another favorite!  We even have the Mini O-Ball for the stroller, which is just as popular.  This toy is still as popular with our daughter as it was when she first discovered it when she was about 3 months old.

Traveling With the Wee One

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Okay mamas, I know there are lots of you wondering if you dare travel to the far ends of the Earth with your wee little baby.  Some feel that the risks are too great and it will be too stressful, and others feel that traveling with your little tiger is the stuff of dreams.  My dearest hubby and I fall somewhere in between, leaning slightly more to the side of looking forward to traveling.

Well, our first big trip was to a small city outside of Guadalajara, Mexico.  It was a 14 hour trip, door-to-door.  Our trip went like this: taxi, security check, flight, layover, security check (yes again), flight, customs, and a taxi ride to our final destination.  What did I learn during this?  Well, first and foremost I now officially hate the "Please Fasten Your Seatbelts" sign.  That meant that no matter how cranky our little love bug was there was no getting up to walk or rock her.  Ugh.  Second, the other biggest lesson is that everyone else on the plane does not hate you, many people actually feel for you when your child is acting up and would do anything to help.

Overall it was an eventual trip, and an extremely long day.  But, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and I think I learned quite a bit on how to simplify things.

1.  Pick the security line off to the side, the one all the other families are going through.  Often we will be ushered ahead of all of the other passengers (who then give you dirty looks) through the line that the flight crew uses.
2.  Bring an extra shirt for yourself in the diaper bag.  A friend recently had to purchase a $68 T-shirt as their child soiled their shirt and they only had a spare outfit for the baby, which would have left Daddy to stink up the plane without a shirt change.  Hence, buying a $68 T-shirt.
3.  Make sure your diaper bag comfortably fits under the seat.  There is nothing as awkward as trying to hold a squirmy baby and getting your oversized diaper bag from under the seat.
4.  It can help if the baby is sucking on landing and take-off.  Pacifier, nurse, bottle, whatever your flavor.  Our daughter has been asleep for take-off or landing multiple times and didn't seem to mind, but we were always prepared for otherwise.
5.  ABC--All Babies Cry. 
6.  If you do gate check your stroller and car seat, ask for your tags prior to boarding.  While getting your tags, double check your seat assignment with the flight attendant as their may be a spot with an empty seat next to it that they would be happy to move you to in order to give you more space.
7.  Did I mention ABC?  ;)
8.  Our prefered method of containment for our little one upon arrival for sleeping is the Peapod.  Much lighter and smaller than a Pack 'n' Play.  I bring a crib sheet and bassinet mattress pad to place over the mattress inside the Peapod, since our baby is a heavy drooler and tummy sleeper.
9.  We preferred to wear the baby while in the airport and use our stroller as a place to carry our bags and car seat.  (I take my Maclaren, and strap the car seat to the seat with a bungee cord.  This way when out and about our daughter isn't so confined in the car seat as she would have been if we had brought the Snap 'n' Go.)
Safe travels!  Really, it isn't that bad.  We've actually come to enjoy it!

When My Baby Goes to College...

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Just today I got caught up on feeding my 7 month old solids.  I have noticed she doesn't like some things, but I've learned that if I mix some pears in with whatever the offensive food is she will then take to it and gobble it up.  As I was feeding her I was obsessing for a few minutes about if I'm ruining her taste for different foods, if she'll never like vegetables, and finally, at the height of my obsessing: will she think everything tastes like pears?

It was at this moment that I remembered the advice given to me by the leader of our Great Beginnings group at Isis.  Whenever we would obsess over things like, "how can I get her to sleep through the night?" and we'd appear overwhelmed by it, she would simply respond with an, "I assure you, when your baby goes to college they will be sleeping through the night."  So, whenever I get stuck obsessing over some current baby situation, I just apply her wisdom and smack back into reality into my current situation.

There I am obsessing over the fact that I think my daughter thinks all food tastes like pears, and then it hits me.  "When my baby goes off to college she will not think all food tastes like pears." 

'Nuff said, I could relax and just laugh at myself, moving on with our day.

Sweet, Sweet Sleep.

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Now that my little baby girl is 6 months old I thought I'd talk about sleep.  Sleep is such a huge topic of discussion amongst mamas, so I thought I'd contribute my 2 cents. 

First, I just want to say to all of you struggling with sleep issues, every child is different and every child will find a way.  I happen to be in the lucky crowd who's baby has decided they like sleep and will do so all night long.  But don't be jealous, as she was also colicky (a 3pm till 12am kind of colic!!) for the first 10 weeks of her life, so we more than did our time.  The one thing that was on our side was that she was never a constant crier when she was colicky, she was almost always consolable, but once you found something that consoled her you couldn't stop.  I think there is a path in my kitchen/living room from all the walking.  I used to knit while I paced!

The biggest thing that I learned about sleep for our baby was that she couldn't tolerate being awake for more than 2 hours at a time.  Once I learned this by reading my favorite sleep book things greatly improved.  At 6 months old she still is pretty much a 2 hour awake kinda girl, but now will also go to stretches of 3 hours comfortably.  Any longer than that and I can hear "Danger Will Robinson, Danger!" over and over in my head.  I have found that by respecting this simple "rule" we have a much happier baby and much less stressed parents.  It's a complete win-win.

I've also learned that my baby doesn't cry much at this point anymore.  I'd definitely say < 15 min/day.  If she wants something, she tells me differently, doesn't just cry anymore.  However, she definitely does cry at times, and usually it is to let me know that I am completely missing her other ways of telling me what she needs.  This change happened sometime in the 3-4 month age and I have been much happier since.  Again, I find that this is the case when I'm most respectful of her sleep (such as making sure I'm home for her nap time) as when I'm not, we have a much more cranky baby, and then the crying will often exceed the 15 min/day.

Also, I've been really pleased that our child has fallen into the norm as listed in the book for the most part.  She generally wants her long nap around 1pm, usually for 2-3 hours.  In the morning she likes a shorter nap, and that is about an hour long and starts around 9am.  The only thing that gets us in the wrong phase is that she is having an early wake up time, around 6am.  Then she wants to take that first nap around 8, and I find that she'll usually need a catnap around 10-11am in order to make it to her long nap at 1.  So, she naps 2-3 times a day, anywhere from 1 hour to 3 at a stretch.  Bedtime is around 7pm.

I just thought I'd share where she is at during this stage in her life, and that the book by Weissbluth has been very very helpful in helping me navigate this.  Now, I should mention that the biggest lesson I've had in being a new mama is that as soon as I get the hang of taking care of her, something changes.  My advice is to hang in there, do the best you can, and seek advice where you may.

Good luck!


Summers Infant Video Monitor

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I'm sure you've all had the debate.  If you are getting a monitor, do you get video or sound only?  In this petite mama's house dearest hubby felt video wasn't worth the cost.  I, being a new mom, felt otherwise.  So, I decided to post-pone buying or asking for a monitor until our daughter was here and we could see what we needed then. 

The day finally came when Daddy decided that it was indeed a good thing for us to have a video monitor.  We would put her upstairs and we would be downstairs while she was sleeping.  Since babies are so active in their sleep, we didn't always know if she was awake or just dreaming.  So, we'd walk up and down the stairs, quietly creep in the room, only to discover her waking up because we were in the room.  <sigh>

Then came the video monitor.  We can peek on her to our hearts content, and she will never wake up because of it.  I'm sure that we check on her way too often, but as new parents it is comforting to know our little bundle of joy is safe and sound when no longer by our side.

Wipes Warmer

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To warm or not to warm?  That is this petite mama's question.  I originally felt having a wipes warmer was a bit posh and unnecessary.  Babies will adjust to whatever is available, as they have for centuries.  Well, this mama's philosophy was changed once we switched to using cloth wipes.  It was difficult to squirt the right amount of water on baby or cloth fast enough without making a mess.  So then I tried having a small bowel of water nearby, and that quickly became annoying.  What is a mama to do?

Bring on the wipes warmer.  My dear hubby braved Babies R Us and picked out the perfect one--by accident of course--but it did turn out to be perfect.  It's designed for use with cloth wipes, which is a must being that I love the thick, plush, Bottombumpers wipes.  It's the Princelionheart Warmies wipes warmer.  We have no need for the top with the slot as we never plan to use disposable wipes, so this does not have that piece. The glowing light at night is also not too annoying;  It does give just a subtle illumination the room could use so you don't stub your toe at 4am.  The Everfresh pillow is also doing a great job of preventing the wipes from becoming musty smelling or drying them out (or is it the fact that we go through them all in a 24 hour period or less?)


Bottombumpers Cloth Wipes

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As I've mentioned this before I'm a petite mama who is concerned about the environment as much as most, and also trying to stretch a dollar bill.  We decided to venture into cloth diapering, which surprisingly has been easier than we could have imagined.  But one thing my dear hubby wanted to hold onto were his disposable wipes--that was until I came home with the wipes made by Bottombumpers.

These wipes are the softest wipes I have felt, thick, plush, and highly absorbent.  They are organic bamboo velour on one side, and organic cotton fleece on the other.  They don't roll in the wash, they lie flat in the warmer, and they are so soft my baby girl doesn't even flinch when wiping her sore tush in these frigid New England winters.  We like them so much I promptly went back to the store to pick up some more packs to get us through a few days so we could wash with the diapers.

I am not a fan of the flannel wipes because of the fact they have to be washed many times before they do more absorbing than smearing.  This mama likes things to work the way I like out of the box.  I also tried the bamboo wipes from Bumgenius being that I like their AIO fitted diapers so much, and those also failed.  They stuck to everything in the wash, rolled, stayed rolled, and just felt too thin.  Also not as soft as I would have liked, but soft enough.  All those wipes took a back seat once I got the ones by Bottom Bumpers.  Highly recommend!  They also make great facecloths for adults.