Posts filed under ‘Our Favorite Things’

Favorite Apps: Instagram

I am a terrible photographer. Terrible. Just awful. I see a shot that would look good and try to snap a photo but it turns out all wrong. And to make matters worse, I take 99% of my pictures with my iPhone. The majority of the pictures of my son are taken one handed while I’m holding him. I don’t know much about photography but I’m fairly certain you shouldn’t be holding your subject in order to get the best snapshot.

But of course the Apple App Store has a solution – and this one is free! Instagram.

Take a semi-decent picture with your iPhone and then open the Instagram app (or take a picture directly in the Instagram app); crop the picture and then apply a filter – my favorite filters are Nashville and Walden. Somehow the filters give just a little something extra that transforms that ordinary picture into special.

Here’s a picture I took of my son resting against my chest (can’t believe I am actually sharing a picture of me sporting a double chin). And then that same picture after some Instagram magic.

Pictures can be shared on six different social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

And one more before and after of a totally banal picture amped up a few degrees.

-Aly

August 12, 2011 at 8:24 am 4 comments

Somewhat Sane Mom

If you’ve visited our Facebook Page you know that we talked about the Somewhat Sane Mom blog written by our friend Katie before.  Katie is the mother of three young girls and runs a daycare out of her home .  Her humorous blog is filled with anecdotes and good advice.  It’s definitely worth a read.  I personally love her analysis of children’s tv shows:

Max and Ruby- So we have all heard the “Where are Max and Ruby’s parents?” question before. I have accepted that I may never know that answer. That is fine. I would like to know a little more about them though. For instance, is the grandmother the primary caregiver? If so, why does she live down the street? How old is Ruby supposed to be? If she is old enough to babysit for her brother while unsupervised, I think she needs to get a grip and stop playing with all of her damn dolls then. And why is it that Max only says one word each episode? That is just annoying. Ruby needs to stop babying him and being an enabler.

See, I told you it’s funny!

-Katie

August 8, 2011 at 7:33 am Leave a comment

Favorite Apps: The Wonder Weeks

My son left the hospital in late April at about six weeks adjusted. Any parent will tell you that six weeks is still fairly newborn and babies don’t do too much that’s actually interesting yet. They’re kind of just cute, mushy little marshmallows. You can dress them up and cuddle with them but for the most part they sleep, eat and poop. Yawn.

Like any first time Mom I was eager to find out when my son would reach certain milestones. Really I was just anxious to see a smile. He was only six weeks adjusted but I was four months invested in this kiddo and frankly, I deserved a damn smile for all the additional grey hairs I collected since his birth.

I hadn’t yet sworn off What To Expect The First Year and I was able to find some decent expected milestones by month in that book. And yet, I wanted more information. My husband and I noticed some new things our son could do that weren’t addressed in WTETFY. I turned to google and found The Wonder Weeks. I haven’t bought the book yet but I find the website fairly informative and I was thrilled to discover The Wonder Weeks app!

The Wonder Weeks concept is that babies have specific weeks when they make huge mental, physical, emotional leaps. The app goes off expected due date so it neatly avoids the actual/adjusted issue. And it tells you real things. Things parents will care about (but that will bore the tears out of your friends). For instance…tears! Yes, the first Wonder Weeks leap, at 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 weeks, speaks about how babies start seeing further, responding more to the outside world and producing tears.

The app breaks down each of the ten leaps into four sections: Summary, Signs, Abilities and Help. The app is customized to your child based on due date and will highlight your child’s present week. For $1.99 I highly recommend checking it out!

-Aly

As always we aren’t paid or perked for our recommendations. Just trying to share some things we like or find useful.

July 28, 2011 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

Cheesy Gifts that Grandparents Love

It doesn’t matter how tacky you think the gift is, at the end of the day they love ANYTHING that has a picture of their grandkids on it. Here are some ideas that I guarantee they’ll be delighted with:

Brag Books– For Christmas I gave all the grandparents a brag book (small photo album) of Nora.  My mom took it everywhere with her and strong-armed everyone she met into looking at pictures of her “beautiful granddaughter”.

Personalized Photos – For my dad’s birthday I sent him this postcard.  I simply bought an inexpensive chalkboard tablet and took pictures of my daughter holding each word.  I then went to cardstore.com and made a picture postcard. My dad carried it around with him for weeks to work, family events, the bar, etc.  As you can see from the scan it’s been around town and is a little worn.

[An alternative take on the chalkboard – buy inexpensive letters such as P O P and take pictures of your baby holding each letter.  Then create a photo collage of the baby spelling out Pop Pop. -Aly]

Mugs, Mousemats, Calendars, etc.  Yes, I know you think these are beyond cheesy, but you can’t imagine how much your parents will love seeing their grandchild’s face as they drink their coffee, use their computer, or check a date on their calendar.  My dad uses his “Nora” mug every morning.  Most photo sharing websites sell such items.  I particularly like shutterfly.com.

The best part about all these gifts is that they’re fairly inexpensive, but your parents will exclaim “Look at that face.  It’s Priceless!”

-Katie

July 26, 2011 at 7:55 am Leave a comment

Favorite Apps: Whatsapp

If you travel internationally or have family or friends abroad this is a great app to help you stay in touch.  Whatsapp is a messenger for your smart phone that works through wifi to allow you to send messages, videos or photos instantly to other Whatsapp users for free.

I have been living in Madrid for seven years and was unable to text my family and friends outside of Spain due to cost and incompatibility of mobile providers, but now we text on a regular basis.  I send daily photos and videos of my daughter to them.  I also use it while traveling when I can access wifi and I don’t have to enable roaming which can be really expensive.

As stated in previous posts we aren’t compensated for any of the products/services we mention on our site.  We just want to to share all the things that we love and that make our lives a little easier.

Happy Texting!

-Katie

July 22, 2011 at 8:09 am 1 comment

Best Baby Gift – What’s Your Favorite?

I totally forgot one of my favorites yesterday –

The Baby Bunch!

The flower buds are actually 11 different articles of clothing. Friends sent this shortly after Kevin came home and I kept it on display for three weeks – it was too cute to undo the buds.

So what was favorite baby present you received? What is your favorite gift to give?

-Aly

July 10, 2011 at 9:09 am Leave a comment

Best Baby Gifts (that weren’t on our registries)-Aly’s Picks

Aly’s Picks…

I ditto Katie’s statement that registries are great but I confess that I did a terrible job registering as I was overwhelmed by the entire process. Stores such as Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby – well, they just blew my mind. There’s simply no way we need that much stuff.

That being said, I’m sure friends and family got a good kick out of some of the stuff I did register for. Luckily, many people went off registry and bought us some really wonderful and some really practical gifts.

1. Anything Handmade – My Mother-in-law’s colleague made us a lovely handmade afghan. It is absolutely beautiful and I’m looking forward to the cooler weather when I can cuddle up with Kevin and the blanket. We also received a few hand knit outfits. These are definitely to be worn for only special visits or pictures but they are adorable – and again, something I’m looking forward to using in the cooler months.

2. Laser Carved Wooden Blocks– One of the most charming gifts we received was a carved wooden block set that included a personalized block with Kevin’s birth details. Personalized Baby Block

3. Favorite Sports Team Gear – my husband and I are fans of the Yankees and the New York Football Giants – not easy gear to come by in Delaware (although Red Sox gear is inexplicably everywhere!).
Right after Kevin was born we received a Giants piggy bank and stuffed doll/mascots in both Yankees and Giants outfits – the stuffed items were made even more special because they were from our friend who is diehard Red Sox/Patriots fan. Kevin’s also received outfits of all sizes for both teams.

4. Religious Books – We are not religious people and we do not plan on having Kevin baptized (a post for another day) but I believe strongly in providing Kevin with a good, moral background. I remember reading bible books as a kid and loving the stories. Luckily my Aunt Roseann gave Kevin a Jesus A to Z book.

5. Used Baby Items – such as swings, Bumbos, etc. I’ve been lucky enough to get many lovingly used items such as a swing, stroller and even a baby monitor. It might not be the most exciting thing to give but I was thrilled to not have to spend money on a second set of these critical items for grandma’s house. And, as in the case of the Bumbo, it’s a great way to save money on something your baby may not like. Kevin is having no part of the Bumbo so I’m glad the one we have is third hand – I don’t feel bad that it just sits in the living room.  One friend even lent me her microwave sterilizer for bottles and breast pump parts.

6. Toys Beyond the Infant Stage – Kevin is still an infant since we go by his adjusted age of 3.5 months (another post for another day) so we’re not there yet with toys – kiddo is still figuring out how not to smack himself in the eye with his rattle. But I can see that we’re approaching the “I like toys” day soon and we were given several toys for six months up through a few years old. Friends recently came to visit and brought Kevin a toy their now nine month old daughter loved when she was six months. You really can’t get a better toy endorsement than that.

7. Cloth Diaper Inserts can it get any more boring and plain vanilla? But this is one of those things where I’m sure my Aunt Patty M. looked at the cute (tiny)
burp cloths I’d registered for and laughed.



And then she bought us these and we can’t live without them. Those cute burp cloths may work for some babies but if you know a baby with reflux these cloth diapers are the only way to go.

8. Gift Cards – I know Kate has these on her list too and, tacky as they may be, boy do they come in handy. We tried everything to get Kevin to sleep: crib with mattress elevated, crib with mattress flat, swing, Moses basket elevated on couch, Moses basket elevated in crib. Finally I broke down and got the Rock N Play so many reflux moms recommend. It’s only $59.99 at Babies R Us (cheaper at Amazon.com) but I have a hard time bringing myself to spend good money on something a baby will only use for a few months. Having a gift card to use on these limited use items really got me over that mental block. And, it worked! Kevin loves it and we are all getting a better night’s sleep now.

9. Personalized Book – One of our favorite NICU doctors took a special liking to Kevin and gave him a My Very Own Name book. It was so touching. My mom then had the brilliant idea to have all the NICU staff sign the book. It’s an incredible NICU moment and it reminds me of the fabulous Dr. Velanki every time we read it.

10. Personalized T-Shirt – two of my aunts had a personalized t shirt (in 2T) made for Kevin. They actually had two of them made – one to wear and one they framed. It traces Kevin’s name back three generations in our family and hangs proudly in his room.

-Aly

July 9, 2011 at 11:39 am 1 comment

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