From the category archives:



by Milton on Tue, Jun 15th, 2010

in Baby,Baby Gear,Challenges,Design,Home,Month 1,Parenthood

Baby on one knee... iPad on the other.

With the exception of our nursing and napping enabler, the marvelous iPad, we’re both super sensitive to baby gear.  Most of it is junk.  I see it in the store and immediately visualize it in a landfill.  It’s pretty much all badly made molded plastic crap, and much of it requires a batteries.  Gross.  I cringe at the use of even a disposable water bottle or plastic shopping, so you can imagine how all of this other stuff makes me feel.

I tried to get around the baby gear issue by only registering for very few things and buying vintage.  The furniture I bought to house Axelrod’s little onesies and pajamas is midcentury stuff that matches all the blonde wood we have in our space, refinished a little with some fabric that will eventually translate well into his own room (someday, someday!).  Our pram is a fantastic mid-70s vintage.  We co-sleep when he’s not in the pram, and hope to totally avoid ever owning a crib.  The little books and toys we’ve gotten for him are stashed in bins on the blonde wood shelves.

The big, amazing, SUV style BOB stroller is the big item in one of our only big closets.  The ugly Graco infant seat was my one plastic concession in our living room, along with a vibrating chair that is on loan from another family.  We found that we could strap him into the car seat and rock the seat with our foot, creating a swing effect, OR put him in the vibrating chair.  They both work, depending on his mood.  I thought it’d hold out through the infant swing phase nicely.

And then he started to get fussy in ways that only a good rock would suffice.

He’s generally not a fussy guy.  He doesn’t cry unless he has a really good reason.  He cries when he’s hungry.  He fusses when his diaper needs changing.  He cries when he has gas.  The thing is, that whole gas issue?  Yeah.  That happens a LOT.  He’s always working something out, be it a man sized burp or a series of charming farts.  He grunts and pushes and cries.  I can’t blame him.  Digestion issues are the devil.  We use a little Gripe water from time to time, but this stuff certainly doesn’t put him down for a nap, hands free.

The thing about infants is that they get all worked up.  They’re happy and gorgeous and smiling, and then something will happen to tip the scales and you could be looking down a rocky road for the next few hours of family peace.  It’s not that he screams, really.  We are very fortunate to not have a baby with colic.  He just fusses.  He grunts.  He squeaks.  He squirms.  If it goes on for two long, the scales get tipped and his head gets all messy and refuses to sleep.  You’ve got to reset that baby brain with some white noise and swinging to lull him off to sleepy time, thereby lulling yourself off to some precious sleepy time.

For us, the worse time is in the morning.  It starts to happen any time from 4am to 6am and can sometimes (luckily not often) last until 2pm.  He starts to get gassy and he starts with the grunting and the squeaking.  Sometimes, this makes for parental shambles for the whole rest of the day.  A baby who nurses at midnight, 2, and 4 and then decides to be mostly awake until late morning or early afternoon makes for a parent who is trying to survive the day on only 2 hours of sleep.  Exhaustion makes everything worse.  We will start to snip at each other and argue about areas where we generally feel peaceful.  That’s not a pretty way for new parents to go!

Enter… my bratty foot stomping insistence on buying a baby swing.  I was lucky to have the backup of my mother and sister-in-law on the swing front.  They were all visiting- Milton was uncertain of this ugly plastic monstrosity, but it’s rather hard to argue in the face of so many mothers.  Our family needed a swing- it was decided.  We headed to a local baby gear consignment shop and put our fussy baby into some of the ugliest swings I’ve ever seen to test them out.  In the end, Milton and I decided to come away with the cheapest one.  His sister used the same model for her little girl, and it worked for her, that was good enough reason for us!  We bought it and brought it home.  My mother sent me to bed for a much needed nap and commanded absolute silence from my very young sisters and step-father.  She scrubbed the swing while I slept.  It now looks practically new and now doesn’t have that sweetly rancid other-people’s-baby smell that I associate with day care centers and baby consignment shops.  Phew.

Today is the first day we’re getting to test the swing.  His little head flops around a little in it, so I’ve got him supported with an adorable purple elephant that a good friend of ours knit.  I put him in that swing when he was grunting, squeaking, and badly in need of a nap… and he went down for the count.  After 10 minutes, I moved him to his pram for a proper sleep and breathed a sigh of relief.

The swing will go right back to that consignment shop in a few months.  Our living room will look worse for the wear in the meantime, but we three will get some sleep in the meantime.  We’ve learned that a sleepy baby by day means a sleepy baby by night… so I don’t doubt he’ll be lulled to many naps in this thing.

Once he grows a little more and can focus on some different things, I’ll tell you all about the ugly playcenter hand-me-down that was dubbed by it’s previous owner as the “Neglector 1000.”  We’ll use that thing (currently stashed under the couch) and pass that right along to the next baby, too.

In baby world, the fussbucket motto must be, “By Any Means”. Even if those means are plastic.



by Esther on Fri, Apr 2nd, 2010

in Challenges,Design,Pregnancy by week,Week 34

Researching baby gear was by far one of the more frustrating experiences of pregnancy preparation.  There is so much information out there, so many reviews to read, and so many people who believe they’ve got it just right who want to offer you every bit of advice they have.  I didn’t know where to start when it came to diapering, sleeping, strolling, or feeding.

Luckily, pregnancy is long.  I’ve dedicated myself to hours of baby homework in a way that I wish I had once poured myself into academic study.  Probably like a lot of parents-to-be, we have become a wealth of information spouting, carefully planned and hopefully prepared moms and pops.  In our minds during a good moment, anyhow…

One of my biggest concerns was the early sleeping arrangements.  We believe in co-sleeping to an extent, but I definitely wanted the baby to have a space of his own in which to snooze.  I wanted something that would easily rock him to sleep, and something that would leave me to my own bed when I needed a break.  I just can’t imagine myself doing the full-on attachment parenting thing, (but that’s another post).  Finding a bassinet was easy if I could have my pick of anything off of any design site.  Unfortunately, the bassinets that I found myself drawn to were on often out dated European design blogs entries.  Beautiful, located thousands of miles away, and massively expensive if they were even in production to begin with.  There was very little for me to fall in love with state side, and certainly nothing in the plastic filled baby superstores where 75% of Americans happen to register for baby goods.

As we don’t really know what kind of baby this Axelrod will be, we don’t want to buy a crib just yet.  We want to let him tell us what he needs as time passes, and possibly figure out how to use the Montessori Sleep Method in our loft.  Also, I have to admit that I’m not a huge crib fan.  This could be a result of our living in a very open space-  I don’t want to see bars anywhere in the loft!  It’ll break up the space and, hey, I gotta have the right energy flow.  I’m sure that most parents out there will poo-poo my musing about design, but I’m also pretty sure that most parents out there don’t live in a loft that they’d ultimately like to sell to another design oriented downtown individual.

Eventually, while reading one of my very favorite pregnancy/baby blogs, I came across a most spectacular idea!  And… I’ll admit!  I ran with that idea, obsessed.  The folks over at Dear Baby got their gorgeous baby girl a sweet vintage pram.  I saw the post about it and just fell in love.  I immediately (and obsessively) started combing antique stores, craigslist, and ebay for a pram of our own.

This wasn’t an easy feat!  A brand new pram costs thousands of dollars.  A well-kept vintage pram could cost you a good grand.  Out here on the west coast, we don’t see to many vintage prams.  They are only manufactured in Europe, and rarely seem to make it to the east coast of the states, much less all the way across the Rockies and the Cascades.  And, of course, we don’t need a pram.  They’re big!  You can only use them for basinet purposes for maybe 8 months, and that’s if your baby is not so bouncy!  They’re no where to be found for a cost-conscious price!  I didn’t care.  We have an open space with a sweet mixture of modern (from my husband) and antique (from me) fixins, and I could totally see the right pram fitting into the shape of things very nicely.

I bid on a pram in Florida and was outbid.  I bid on it again.  I got caught up in a bidding war!  My husband raised his eyebrows when I told him how the war had gotten to $350 and the sellers reserve had STILL not been met (thanks for being patient with that, Milton) I lost the war and was heart-broken.  I found other prams on ebay that were too kitschy for our aesthetic.  I found prams that didn’t match our colors.  I found a pram that my husband declared was “too dirty 70s”, prams that were too victorian, prams that were ugly.  I thought I’d never find the perfect one at the right price in time…

Until!  Suddenly one day I changed my usual ebay search words and came up with a sweet, very well kept, pram that was exactly like the one I had lost in my  exorbitant bidding war!  This pram was located about 20 minutes from my hometown, right down the street from family!  The price?  Well.  It still wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t ridiculous.  I won the pram for $180 (which was the starting bid) and sent my awesome mom to pick it up!  Unfortunately, the East Coast had been so pummeled with snow that the pram took weeks and weeks to procure.  Then, my parents had the heady duty of figuring out how to ship this huge crazy beast all the way to Seattle.  My dad built 2 boxes and they lovingly wrapped the whole shebang in plastic bubbles, which we received yesterday!  Yay!!!

Behold!  Our mobile bassinet!!

Panda Perambulation!