Surviving Parenthood

Preparing for your Baby’s homecoming!

by Mother of two

Preparing for your BABY’s homecoming!  I was never able to find a good list as I prepared for my first baby.  I tried to strike a balance between preparedness, and practicality.  We over stocked on some items for my Little Lum because we were simply inexperienced and did not know what we needed.  So now as a more seasoned parent here is my very own list for new parents.  Not too over the top, but just the bare essentials that I think you might need.

  1. Diapers & Wipes – 50 newborn diapers a few packs of “fragrance free” & “sensitive” diaper wipes.  If you have a smaller baby (less than 8lbs) you can probably use 100 newborn diapers.  Don’t stock up on sizes, N (newborn), 1 & 2.  Your baby will be growing very fast at this stage and he will outgrow the diaper size very fast.  I switched my 8 lbs baby to size one (1) the same week we came home from the hospital.  His thighs were already a bit chubby for the newborn diapers.  As for the baby wipes, I normally like to rinse my wipes in warm water to decrease the chemicals and to provide a more soothing warm wipe (see #10 Chinese hot water warmer).
  2. Formula – Even if you are breastfeeding it is always nice to keep some formula around just in case you want to take a longer nap or have someone watch your baby for more than a few hours.  Be careful not to over stock too many of one kind.  Some babies develop constipation or spit up on certain brands.  I used Nestle Good Start for my baby’s first few months because he digested better.
  3. Bottles – I used Evenflo glass bottles (simple & inexpensive) and switched to a BPA-Free plastic one when I needed a bigger sized bottle. A newborn will need feeding every two hours so you might want at least 6 bottles so you won’t have to be washing all the time.  I had Avent bottles that LEAKED and LEAKED and LEAKED.  I really hate them!  I heard that they bandaged the problem since I purchased my bottles but I am not trying them again.  (Please read my Avent bottle article if you are still interested.)
  4. Pacifiers –Don’t judge.  They can be a lifesaver when you are overly tired and really need some sleep.
  5. Layettes – 5-10 onesies.  I prefer the kimono style or front snap versus the pull over for the newborn because they are easier to put on.  Because I swaddle my babies, I normally put them in the half body onesies with bare legs.    Depending on the weather, you might need to put more or less clothing on your baby (or just use your heater/AC). Remember to wash all of your baby’s clothes, blankets, etc before using.
  6. Mittens & socks – I like socks because you can double them up and use them as mittens to prevent you baby from scratching himself.  Make sure you wash you baby’s hands regularly, they tend to develop a funky smell if you keep them wrapped up for too long.
  7. Swaddling blankets – 3-6.  If you plan to swaddle your baby then you may need more. I like larger blankets and avoid the smaller receiving blankets that are 28×28.
  8. Heater & Humidifier – I like to keep my nursery warmer than the rest of the house.  So I normally have a space heater (oil filled radiator) and a humidifier running at the same time.
  9. Chinese hot water warmer – This appliance provides instant hot water.  We use it to mix formula and also to rinse and warm up our baby wipes.
  10. Crib – Assemble cribs and bedding before your baby’s arrival.  Make sure to wash all beddings with unscented detergent before using.
  11. Baby Swing – Baby swings really helps me at night and is an absolute necessity in my house.  I use it mainly at night after a late feeding to help him sleep longer, so that I can sleep.  Don’t forget, if your baby doesn’t sleep you don’t get to sleep either.
  12. Carseat/Infant carrier – Install the base in your car prior to delivery.
  13. Detergent – We use “All” in the white bottles.  It is less expensive than “Dreft”.  My kids seem to be okay with it.
  14. Baby Hygienic Products – I try to use an all-natural lotion and shampoo, like “Burt’s Bee Baby” or “California Baby” for my infants because they tend to have very sensitive skin.
  15. Baby Bathtub – It is really hard to bathe an infant.  Your baby bathtub should be one with an attachable net for newborns.  There is a new soft foldable tub called PUJ TUB.  Looks interesting but I haven’t tried it.
  16. Amazon Mom – During my first few months home I used Amazon Mom all the time.  Amazon Mom is a program that

Make sure all of the above baby supplies are easily accessible for (not only you) your spouse, grandparents, friends, neighbors or anyone coming in to help you with the baby.  You want to make sure people don’t have to wake you up and ask you for things when you are napping.  This will make things run much smoother and also helps Mommy get as much rest as you can.

Britax Frontier 85 SICT

by Mother of two

The Britax Frontier 85 SICT is the monster replacement car seat we got for Little Lum after our car accident in May. I went overboard when I purchased this because we had just walked away from a 5 car freeway wreck that totaled our 2008 Toyota Sienna Minivan.  And since the insurance company was paying for a replacement, we opted for the “Mercedes Benz” of all car seats.

The Britax Frontier 85 SICT was their newest model at the time, just released in June of 2011.  I purchased this model mainly because it was a larger car seat that Little Lum could grow into.  I did not want a small seat that I would have to replace in a year or two.  This is especially important now with the new 2012 California Law requiring car seats for all children under the age of 8 and height of 4 foot 9.

Britax makes 2 Frontier 85 models.  The SICT model has added side air bags that provided additional side impact protection.  This is important since the configuration for our new 2011 Sienna Minivan forced us to place the seat closer to the doors in the middle row.  Britax does also make a Frontier model without the side airbags if that’s what you prefer.

The Frontier was a little heavy but pretty simple to install.  You do have some options on how you can install your car seat depending on your type of vehicle seats.  We used the LATCH system, and although it was definitely heavier than my First Year True Fit, I was still able to lift and adjust it in by myself.  Little Lum loves his new throne because it has two prominent arm rests and built in cup holders, one for his toy and the other for his beverage.  And best of all it gives mommy & daddy piece of mind!  When Little Wing is old and heavy enough, we will definitely get another one for him too!

Preparing for Mommy’s homecoming!

by Mother of two

Preparing for Mommy’s homecoming!  When I was preparing for my first baby and researching on supplies and preparations needed, I saw very little information about preparing for Mommy’s homecoming. I was very fortunate to have a great coworker who gave me the following list.  Thank you JK.

  1. Feminine Pads – Thinner & larger the better.  I would stock up before having a baby; otherwise I have to send my poor husband to the store with very specific instructions on which kind to buy (speaking from personal experience).
  2. Granny Panties – Ugly, but you don’t feel guilty if you ruin them
  3. Tucks Pads – Really work and make your sore spot feel better.  If you have a tear/episiotomy and are really uncomfortable, try sticking a few on your pad and voila!  P.S. these are flushable.
  4. Dermaplast – If you have a tear/episiotomy, spray your sore spot when uncomfortable epescially going or just after bathroom visits.  I was given one in the hospital to use and took it home when I left.
  5. Docusate Sodium (stool softner) – So you don’t have to buy them when you’re discharged from the hospital.  It will really make going to the bathroom (stool) easier, and is a definite must if you have a tear/episiotomy.  I took this religiously for the first few weeks after delivery.
  6. Prenatal Vitamins
  7. Advil (Ibuprofen) – I took it around the clock as prescribed by my doctor as part of my discharge for the first few days.  I had tears and this really helped with the discomfort.
  8. Sitz Bath – If you have a tear/episiotomy, really do this.  It improves circulation and cleans out the area and improves healing.  Use warm/hot (as hot as you can tolerate water and as often as you can (easier said than done, I know). I was given one in the hospital, but sometimes you need to ask the nurse if it is not already in your room.
  9. Hand Held Mirror – To check healing areas.  It is better to look and keep an eye on things than to be shy.
  10. Chux (blue sheet things from hospital) – To protect your bed sheets either before delivery/after delivery.  I use this in public restroom to line the changing table before placing down my changing pad. I lay these underneath my preschooler’s bed sheet.  Since he sleeps without a diaper now, this helps me clean up his bed quickly at night if he has accidents.  I just pull off the top layer of sheet and chux and he is ready to go.
  11. Headbands to quickly get your hair under control.  I normally cut my hair short before delivering and I normally loose A LOT of hair after the baby comes.  The headband also helps me keep my bathroom floors free from the loose hair.
  12. Snacks – It is so hard to feed yourself and take care of yourself.  Sleep when you can and eat when you can.  Cleaning can wait.
  13. Stretchmark cream – Hey, if there is any chance that it works, I am all for it.
  14. Helpful tip:  The hospital will give you a Peri-Bottle (basically a squirt bottle) to help keep you clean when using the bathroom. Try to get an extra one (one for each bathroom you have at home) if you can.  They come in handy later as great bath play-toy for kids (silly, yes).
  15. Helpful tip:  If its really uncomfortable to sit try sitting on a soft pillow instead of a donut shaped pillow or Boppy.

There is no easy way to handle the first few months following your baby’s arrival.  Take all the help you can.  Anyone who wants to come and hold your baby for a few hours while you sleep is welcomed to.  If you can afford it, get someone to come and clean your house during this time.  Grandparents are also great help.  If you have a type “A” personality like me, you will need to learn to let go a bit.  With all that in mind make sure that you enjoy your time with your baby because before you know it, they will be all grown up before your eyes.

Otter Box Great Customer Service!

by Mother of two

Crack in my old Otterbox.

Otter Box Great Customer Service!

I have an iPhone 4.  With 2 short tempered little boys that have a tendency of throwing the phone when either the 4G or Wi-Fi service is interrupted, I rely on my Otter Box to protect it.  The Otter Box cover has a hard plastic shell that is covered by a soft plastic wrap for a better grip.  It will double the size of your phone, but it will go above and beyond to keep my phone in one piece.  My phone has been through my minivan accident where it flew from the third row of the car to slam on the front dash to daily tantrum beatings by the boys.  After two years, my phone is still intact and working perfectly thanks to the superb protection from Otter Box phone case.

Recently, I noticed some cracks in my hard plastic cover when I was cleaning my phone.  I was disappointed and I wanted to know if it was still covered under warranty.  I called them up to ask if it was still covered, otherwise I would have asked my credit card company to replace it instead.  I spoke with a customer service representative and he said that they would replace it, with no question asked.

I gave them my name, address, phone, & where I purchased the phone.  He told me that if the company still makes the case, they will replace it regardless of the 1 year limited warranty.  Their main concern was that my phone was protected.  So nice!  My poor phone greatly appreciates it!  They didn’t have my exact color but gave me a list to pick from.  My new cover should be arriving within a week or two (they are currently out of stock due to the high demand for iPhone 5 covers).

If you have young kids handling your smartphones or tablets Otter Box covers might be a good choice!  I purchased my case from Amazon but you can also purchase it directly from their site as well at

How to get your baby to sleep through the night?

by Mother of two

“How to get your baby to sleep through the night?”  is the million dollar question for all struggling parents trying to get a decent night sleep.  There are countless books and articles published on the subject promising you results, but I personally do not believe that there is a perfect solution.  Your results will always vary from baby to baby and from parent to parent.  Ultimately as a parent you will try anything that will work for your baby, so with that in mind here are some tips that I hope you will find useful.

  1. Establishing a Bedtime Routine – Regardless of what sleeping methods you are contemplating,  a bedtime routine is helpful.  It helps encourage your baby to recognize that bedtime is approaching.  Our bedtime routine includes, a short book, a diaper change, a change into pajamas, the dimming of lights, and soft classical music.  Whatever you choose for your sleep routine, just know that consistency and repetition will be the key to establishing your routine.
  2. Recognizing Sleep Patterns – Make sure you notice your baby’s sleeping pattern.  There should be one stretch where he/she sleeps longer than usual.  If this is during the day, I would try to shift it gradually until this long stretch is firmly moved to nighttime hours.  You do this by keeping your baby awake longer before his naps to make the adjustments.  This is easier said than done, this may take a few days so be patient.
  3. Feeding – Try to see if your baby will feed more right before bedtime.  1-2 ounces might make a difference, but don’t force your baby.  When he or she is able to take baby cereal, try to add some into the baby formula.  The solid food will keep your baby full and asleep for longer stretches of the night.
  4. Baby Swing – Might help your baby sleep longer at night.  I mainly only use it at night time to maximize sleeping time (for baby & Mommy).  But do not use it all the time, or your baby will get so used (mostly addicted) to it that he will only sleep while being swung.
  5. Pacifier – Some babies won’t take a pacifier and others will.  Regardless of how you feel, pacifiers can help your baby sleep longer.  We don’t judge!
  6. Soothing Bath –A warm soothing bath helps to directly calm and relax your baby. This is a great addition to your bedtime routine.
  7. Swaddling – Newborns especially like a tight swaddle to mimic their time in the womb.  This also helps keep their hands from swatting their faces and waking themselves up.  The right swaddling method may take some practice to master.  I personally prefer larger blankets to make a tight wrap around my newborn.
  8. Be Realistic – Your few weeks old baby will not sleep through the night.  Some will not completely sleep through the night until he/she is over a year old.  Be grateful if your baby wakes up to feed and goes right back to sleep afterwards.

Don’t ever feel like a failure!  Even if you tried everything and feel like nothing has worked.  It is not you or your baby’s fault.  With Little Lum, I tried to follow a rigorous routine and it backfired on me.  We had to take him for long drives at night to get him to sleep.  And he didn’t sleep through the night without waking up for milk until he was past one year old.

With Little Wing, he was much easier.  He was able to sleep through the night without any problems.  We still read a book, dim the lights, and turn on soft classical music for him.  Around 10-11 months he even stopped waking up to drink milk.  What a sweetheart!

Each kid is different.  Don’t be so hard on yourself or your baby.  Be flexible and just go with the flow.  (Easier said than done, especially when you have to wake up a few times a night).  Good Luck!

Luvs Diapers

by Mother of two

I got a box of Luvs.  Since baby number 3 is on her way, I am trying to save some money so I downgraded from Huggies (my preferred brand).  In my opinion, Luvs tries to emulate Pampers (probably because they have the biggest share of the market).  The diapers are thinner than Huggies and smell good, just like the Pampers.  It holds well but I still prefer Huggies diaper for bedtime.  The tabs are similar to Pampers but the folds are a little sharp along the edges facing the inner thigh.  I compensate for this by pulling the tabs closer to the middle since their diapers are looser.  The gel is also softer than Huggies so when the diaper becomes wet it tends to sag more.

Overall, I am satisfied with Luvs and I have no major complaints about them.  But my first choice is still Huggies over either Luvs or Pampers.

I order my diapers thru Amazon with Subscribe and Save & Amazon Mom discounts.  Size 4 diapers come out to roughly  $0.16 per diaper.  Huggies & Pampers would cost me closer to $0.20 per diaper.

On Hiatus

by Mother of two

The past few weeks have been very chaotic.  We celebrated our two boys birthdays, moved into our new house which actually still needs some work, and unexpectedly discovered that we will add a new member to our growing family this fall.  All of this in the span of a few short weeks.

The boys have now adjusted to their new home.  We are currently waiting for the weather to warm up so that they can finally enjoy the pool, and the beautiful backyard area.

The moving process has really slowed down.  We are somewhat settled in but we still have a lot of boxes left unpacked in the garage.  We are learning the joys and pain of home ownership for the first time.  But overall, we are excited for our growing family at our new home.

As for Baby Number 3, what is there to say?  This is truly a blessing, a true gift from GOD.  We have family and friends who have tried for years and have even sought help from doctors to little avail.  We have always contemplated a third child but with our growing fatigue and dwindling bank accounts, it really was the last thing that we had in mind.  If we had to plan it, it would probably never have happened.  After getting over the initial shock of the pregnancy, we began to get excited for our growing family.  Maybe it’s a girl.  We can’t wait to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl, but the only thing that is truly important is that we get a happy and healthy baby.  Nothing matters more than that.

Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat

by Mother of two

Graco Nautilus installed.

Graco Nautilus has 3 different positions.

I purchased a new Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat today for Little Lum.  I am home for the next 2 weeks watching him since his babysitter, i.e. Grandma, is vacationing in Vietnam.  I only have one car seat in my Honda for Little Wing since we use the Minivan as our main baby transporter.  My husband got tired of driving in my little Honda and has taken his Minivan back so I finally decided to buy an additional toddler car seat for my car.

In my new car seat, I am mainly looking at safety, comfort, price, and maximum height & weight limits (especially important with the new California Law).  The Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat is rated at 4.5 stars with over 1000 reviews on Amazon.  I have seen the Nautilus in stores and it is one impressive car seat.  It looks and feels very sturdy and well made.  In addition to side head protection, it has two reinforced steel bars in the additive support.  It also has a cup holder (which Little Lum uses for toys, because daddy does not trust him with drinks) and two cubby holes to hide little toys.

The seat can be used as a traditional car seat using the Built-In Harness, without Built-In Harness (i.e. using your cars seat belt), and without Back Support (booster seat). Depending on the different configurations, it can potentially hold a 4’9”, 100lbs child.  This is perfect for us since we live in California.  Starting January 1st of 2012 a new law required all children under 8 years old and 4’9” be secured in a car seat in the back seat of a vehicle.

We were planning on buying the Graco Nautilus for Little Lum when he was old enough since his cousin has one and totally loves it.  Little Lum will definitely enjoy riding around town with mommy in his new car seat.  I will definitely hide some toys in his cubby hole as an additional surprise factor for his trips.

Organic Apple Chips

by Mother of two

I love simple products when it comes to food.  Grandma just gave Little Lum a big bag of organic baked-dried cinnamon apple chips from “BareFruit”. They are crispy, not too sweet, and simply delicious.  They are made from organic Washington State Apples with no added sugar or preservatives.  Best of all they are made in the good old U.S.A.

I used to buy another brand from Costco, “Brothers All Natural Crisps”.  I stopped buying it because I discovered that they were made in China.  Sorry to the people of China. I spend extra purchasing organic products for my kids simply for peace of mind and the concept of organic products from China seem a bit contradictory to me given their safety records.

The apple chips from BareFruit also stay crispier longer than the Brother All Natural Crisps.  Because Brother All Natural freeze dry their fruits, once you open the bag the contents have to be eaten immediately otherwise moisture in the air will re-hydrate the fruit and they become soft and stale. This is why the come in smaller individual packets.

Knott’s Berry Farm

by Mother of two


My husband's Snoopy soda bottle that exploded on him twice!

We finally took advantage of my husband’s free admission pass to Knott’s Berry Farm.  Knott’s Berry Farm offers an annual Fire and Law Enforcement promotion (usually November thru January), which give you two (2) free passes and heavily discounted additional passes.

Since we have annual passes, we usually visit Disneyland on the weekends, but we wanted to give Knott’s a try before the promotion was over.  So on Saturday we made our first venture into Knott’s Berry Farm.  It wasn’t just my kids first time but my first time too.  I have lived in Southern California for 30+ years and (can you believe it) have never been to Knott’s Berry Farm.  Not even for their famous Halloween event, “Knott’s Scary Farm”.

At the entrance of Camp Snoopy on top of the store.

Knott’s Berry Farm is not as glitzy and glamorous as Disneyland, but it provides younger children with even more fun and entertainment.  Little Lum really loved Camp Snoopy.  The rides there are by far more age appropriate for younger kids.  They were packed closer together so there is less time lost to walking from one ride to the next. Lines were short in general, so it was easy to hop on the same ride multiple times if you wanted to.  Do keep in mind that there is a height requirement (a maximum and a minimum) on some rides.

We spent most of our time in Camp Snoopy since we were there mainly for the boys.  Knott’s Berry Farm does have some fairly new and exciting rides for adults as well, but I think that my husband and I are too old to ride the big roller coasters nowadays.  Just looking at them can make me feel nauseous.

Something worth mentioning is that an annual pass to Knott’s is a pretty good value. On their Gold Pass you have access to their Soak City Parks and it is only about a quarter of the cost of a comparable Disneyland Park Annual Pass.   Disneyland does give you access to California Adventure, but Soak City Parks is still pretty hard to beat during the summer months.