3 Star Wars gift ideas that will make you the greatest gift giver, ever.

With the release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS combined with the end of the Christmas shopping season, we wanted to take a moment to point out three super cool Star Wars gift ideas for young kids, adults, and teens.  If nothing else, you gotta check out #3.

01: Star Wars The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon

Designed for ages 4 and up this is one gift that will make any Star Wars fan jump with excitement.  It’s a 20 inch toy Millennium Falcon, the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, and the coolest spaceship ever. This version gets even better as it shoots Nerf darts; so, basically Christmas has been saved.  It also comes with 3 characters, including Chewbacca.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon

02: Star Wars Battlefront

We all know that once we watch The Force Awakens we are going to want to relive it. Luckily this year also brought us the super popular video game Star Wars Battlefront.

This first person shooter might be a little to wild for little kids (blasters, fighting stormtroopers, explosions, etc) but dad and his nerd friends are going to go NUTS for this. Mom too. And, with versions available for Xbox, PS4 and PC you can make sure that no-one if left out of the fun. The story line takes place during the original trilogy, so it’s a perfect mix of old-school cool and modern video game excitement.

This being Star Wars you know there are a bunch of collector’s editions too. While not needed to have the fun, they are an easy way for you to spice up this gift even more. Check out the trailer below.

03: BB-8 App-Enabled Droid

Finally, this last toy BLEW MY MIND. You need to check out the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid.

Basically it’s a mini version of the new droid BB-8 – the one with the floating head – as seen in the The Force Awakens. Why is this so cool?  Because I can’t figure out how they actually made the thing work in real life.  You can control it via your phone, it takes voice commands, and the reviews on this are astounding.  It actually works and lives up to the promise… FOR ONLY $150!

Check out the video below, and if you don’t want one after seeing it in action then check you pulse because you may be dead. If you need a gift that will blow the mind of any Star Wars fan, this is it.

Perfect for the teen in your life who is addicted to their phone, this is a great way to get them off of Minecraft and – maybe just maybe – on their feet to explore with BB-8.

Nine Awesome Toddler Toys For Your Holiday Shopping [VIDEO]

It’s nearing the end of 2015 and the holiday season is here!

As always, our lists are compiled after months of extensive research.  We talk to other parents to learn what their kids loved, we dig through internet forums and blogs, read countless reviews online and best of all… We do our Christmas shopping!


VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

The Vtech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is a great toy for early walkers.  We inherited this toy from my niece for my son when he was just showing interest in walking and he took to it right away. The music is loud but he really loved it.  He still plays with it now that he is walking, going back to use the telephone and push the buttons to dance to the songs.

We used this walker outside on the street during a block party and he had the best time.  Less than one week later he was walking down the side walk all by himself!  I don’t know if the walker truly helped him walk, but I like to think it did. (Daddy says, “Yes, it totally did.”)


Anamalz [UPDATED]

The Anamalz toy is an eco friendly, wood/fabric animal figurine for toddlers children 3 and older. [See our video review for our updated thoughts on safety]

The toy comes as many different animals such as elephants, giraffes, lions, bears, the list goes on.  It is a cute and attractive toy that can entertain little ones from the earliest stages through pretend play.  A great addition to any toy animal collection.


Big Boom Bat & Tee

The Big Boom Bat and Tee is an inflatable tee-ball set.  Note, all parts are inflatable, making this toy great for indoor play perhaps during the winter months or hot summer days.  The bat is big in diameter and the ball is about 8″ in diameter making it virtually impossible to miss the ball.  The manufacturer recommends this toy for ages 3+, but we know of kids as young as 18 months understanding how to hit the ball off the tee.


Moluk Bilibo

The Moluk Bilibo is a classic toy for toddlers.  The hard plastic form allows children to find multiple ways to play from using it as a tote, a seat, a seat to spin or rock in, or something to wear as a helmet.  The Bilibo is a toy that is supposed to encourage imaginative play, and it will be up to your child whether they use it imaginatively or not.  If you look up reviews on this toy you will find hundreds of people who say their kids loved it, and a handful who say their kids just didn’t get it.  As an adult, I don’t really get it, but our niece LOVED this thing!  The video below pretty much shows why.


Kid O Go Car

The Kid O Go Car is a simple, slightly abstract, car great for little ones to grab hold of and push around the floor.  This toy comes in many colors, is easy to grasp, and is tons of fun for any toddler.

The car’s construction is solid and it can take a beating.    We love the rounded shape too!  You don’t have to worry about sharp angles for your kid to fall and hit his head on. If your toddler is anything like our’s random tumbles are par for the course.

The moment you see your kid crawling around the floor and driving a toy car around will just melt your heart.


Lego Duplo Deluxe Brick Box

The Lego Duplo Deluxe Brick Box is a great toy for kids starting at the age of 18 months.  It is an introduction to legos with larger brick pieces and comes with people, animals, windows, etc. as well as instructions on how to build some items like airplanes and trains. For parents who want to introduce creative play with building toys, this is a great addition to any toy collection. I know I have it on my son’s holiday list!

Bonus item: LEGO DUPLO Play with Letters 6051

The Lego Duplo Play with Letters set is a great set to include with your existing Duplo Lego pieces.  It adds blocks with letters on them to incorporate into any structure your child wants to build.  This is best for children ages 2-5 and can assist your child with learning their alphabet.


Buckle Toy

This Buckle Toy is a great toy for toddlers 1-4 years old.  It provides kids with the ability to practice buckling an unbuckling from an early age and most toddlers will spend oodles of time playing with it.  With over 200 reviews on Amazon and a rating of 4.5 stars you know this is a winner.

The Buckle Toy comes in various designs from a plush square with a face, stuffed animals, a backpack, etc, and it is a great toy to keep a child busy while traveling.


Moluk Plui

The Moluk Plui bath toy is a simple and great toy for the bathtub, or even a small backyard splash pool.  Simply fill it with water and let it rain, plug the hole at the top and it stops. I know this seems dull, but kids seem to find this fascinating and the fact that it kept coming up again and again, and again… and again as we researched awesome toys that we got the message and made sure to include it in our list.

The main complaint with this toy is that it can get moldy if not maintained properly.  Make sure the toy fully drains, and on occasion run some bleach water through it to kill off the mold that is bound to grow in any dark and damp environment.  You have to clean the tub, so it’s only fair that you need to clean a tub-toy now and again.  Otherwise it is tons of fun for toddlers!


Little Helper Broom Set

Every toddler loves helping mom and dad around the house with tasks like cooking to decorating the walls with crayons. Doh! Luckily, they also love to mimic and help clean up too. After several melt downs when we would take the broom away from our son – in an attempt prevent half the house from being destroyed by an out-of-control broom handle – we bought this broom set.  The Little Helper Broom Set proved to be  big hit in our house.  Apparently we are not alone either as this item has over 1350 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.5 stars.  Yes, a broom.

This has become one of his favorite toys.  Our son carried this broom around the entire night and for several days after he was “sweeping” just like mommy.  He definitely still goes for the bigger broom, but not as much and he is perfectly happy using his own now. Months later he still loves to sweep and he has now learned other uses like riding it like a pony. Best of all it’s become a makeshift microphone that he sings into while dancing to music.  So glad we got this for him!

My Favorite Sippy Cup

Hands down, my favorite sippy cup so far is the Pura Kiki Sippy Cup.  Unlike almost every other sippy cup on the market, this one is not made of plastic. Instead it has been crafted from stainless steel and silicone, so no fears of BPA or other weird chemicals.  Pura sells insulated and uninsulated versions, and I currently have the uninsulated version.  We primarily use the silicone straw attachment.

I saw several of my son’s friends with this cup and they all seemed to like it (as did their mom’s) so I figured I would take the plunge and purchase it for our son. He took to it right away and hasn’t had any issues with it.  The construction is nice and simple and the straw has a basic valve that is opened by pressure from your child’s mouth or suction.

It does not leak.  The closest this gets to a leak is when some water is left in the top of the straw and it gets bent over.  When released it will spring back with a tendency to spray tiny droplets of water everywhere. I wouldn’t consider that leaking more like a little spritz, and this doesn’t happen very often.

Pura2
The Pura is a tall sippy cup so it doesn’t sit perfectly in cup holders. Not a deal breaker.

I will admit that if our son turns the cup upside down and shakes it and pounds it on the floor, yes, some water will come out of the straw; this is something I would expect from any cup with a straw in it.  Oh, and this can take a serious beating thanks to the stainless steel construction!

My only major complaint with this cup is that the cap (also silicone) does not fit over the straw tight enough.  I can fold the straw over, but it still doesn’t stay on very well.  While I don’t always need a cap, I like to have it if I know we will be going someplace where the other kids are going to be attracted to his cup and especially if I think it might get dirty. I would like to be able to cover the top better.

The only other note I would give is that because of the steel construction the cup is heavier when compared to plastic cups.  Especially when the Pura is filled with water.  Over the several months he’s had it our son has never had an issue carrying the heavier weight.  I mention it for the sake of honest reporting.

I give this sippy cup the MOST ROYAL seal of approval and 5 out of 5 stars.

While it isn’t the cheapest cup on the market it is the best that we have used.
MostRoyal_Stamp

Seven Picture Books about Awkward Subjects

After the popularity of our post listing 21 Must Own Board Books we started to think about what books might be overlooked.  After walking into a children’s book store and seeing the classic, “Everyone Poops” it dawned on us: Books about Awkward Subjects!

So after a lot of research and reading we curated a list that goes everywhere from farting to porn to dealing with divorce.

Please enjoy, Seven Picture Books about Awkward Subjects!



Everyone Poops
by Taro Gomi & Amanda Mayer Stinchecum

  • Age Range: 1 and up

Everyone Poops is such a classic that it inspired this list. A great way to introduce potty training to your little one, it explains to your kids that everybody poops, from elephants to mice, and it explains where creatures do the deed, what it looks like and how it smells.   This humorous book keeps children entertained and hopefully, ultimately, more relaxed about the whole idea of using the potty.  Like many parents before us, when the time comes to potty train our little guy, this will be the first book we take off our library shelf.



It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends
by Robie H. Harris & Michael Emberley

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years

It’s Not The Stork is a great book to assist in talking to your children about the inevitable Birds and the Bees. It has age appropriate information about anatomy, reproduction and even good and bad touching. It is very easy to navigate with bright, colorful illustrations that keep children engaged.

For many people this is a very taboo subject, but knowledge is power, and the more your children know the better decisions they can make later in life. This book will assist you with the uncomfortable conversations, and help you to discuss the importance of good versus bad touching, something that is so important to teach your children.

Starting these conversations early, before they can become taboo will helps make children feel more comfortable and able to discuss and ask questions as they get older.

Also check out It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families for kids aged 7-10.



The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts
by Shinta Cho & Amanda Mayer Stinchecum

  • Age Range: 2 and up

Obviously, this book is hilarious.  I mean, what kid doesn’t love talking about farts.  Beyond a genuinely hilarious text written in a frank and informal style, this book is actually informative and includes a diagram of the digestive system and other illustrations to explain the science behind digestion and… Well, farts.  Want to know what foods make gas stink? How about the amount of gas you pass each day?  I bet you do now; and, most likely your kids want to know too.



I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private
by Kimberly King, Zack King & Sue Rama

  • Age Range: 4 and up

I Said No! is a kid friendly guide to understanding personal boundaries.  This conversation is critically important and this book will help your child prepare for any circumstances he/she may encounter.

This book is told from a child’s perspective, and using child-friendly language it covers inappropriate touching, how to deal with inappropriate actions and/or threats, and when touching is appropriate and with whom.  This book is written in a flexible nature allowing it be used with older kids.

One area we like is that this book gives prompts for you to discuss specific concepts with your own children on your own terms.  For example, parents may be uncomfortable using the true anatomical terms vs. cutesy terms so the book provides a nice segue so that you can explain using your own terminology.

I would say this is a must have book for anyone looking to teach their child about the dangers of inappropriate touching.


Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids
by Kristen A. Jenson M.A., Debbie Fox and Gail A. Poyner Ph.D.

  • Age Range: School age and up

Yep.  We found it.  A book to help you talk to your kids about porn.

Written as comfortable, read-aloud story it tells the story of a mom and dad who are teaching their child what pornography is, why it’s dangerous, and how to reject it.  While this might be a book you want to read in advance to make sure it aligns with your views on sex education these are conversations you should be having in this modern internet era.

The theme of this book is that your child will eventually be exposed to porn, most often by accident. As a result they need to know what it is so that they can handle the potentially shocking images without trauma.

The thrill a child receives from viewing forbidden content can lead to addictive behavior so this book also contains detailed sections on addiction.  These self-awareness skills may prove helpful later in life when your child is confronted with drugs and alcohol.



Potty
by Leslie Patricell

  • Age Range: 1 – 3 years

Picking a traditional potty training book for this list was insanely difficult.  We decided to focus on a good entry to the topic and Potty by Leslie Patricelli answered that call. With simple text it’s easily memorizable by  your toddler, making it a great book that they can “read” while sitting on the potty themselves.  But, the secret trick is that the sparse text is spread out over 28 pages making is a nice slow process where your child can look at the pictures, giving them (and you) the time to sit and wait for something to happen.

I essence the story focuses on a toddler who has to “go potty.” Scared the child investigates what the dog and and cat do for their own potty needs. Several pages later, and after some hesitation, the toddler tries the potty where they find success.

It would be nice if this book included more about “post potty” time like wiping and washing hands, but I think the intention here is to get kids used to the idea and concepts.  Many parents report great success after reading this book at bed time for several nights before actually having their own child try the potty.



Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce
by Tamara Schmitz

  • Age Range: 3 – 7 years

Standing on My Own Two Feet is a beautifully illustrated story about a little boy who’s parents are going through a divorce. If a book can put a positive spin on a painful topic, this one can – provided you are sharing custody. The story aims to teach your child that even though Mommy and Daddy can’t be together anymore, they both still love him and the divorce is NOT the child’s fault.  It will teach your child that having two homes isn’t a bad thing and that your child can still be happy.

Six things I wish I had known about Breastfeeding!

The following article has been written by Megan Wynne, a fine artist, breastfeeding advocate and mother of two.  

“Still Attached” meganwynne.net

When I was pregnant with my first child, like many mothers-to-be, I was obsessed about being prepared for labor and delivery. My dad is an OB/GYN and I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth. However the real reason I read so many books and sat up front, asked questions, and took meticulous notes in my childbirth education classes was because I was absolutely terrified of having to do it myself. I just couldn’t even begin to wrap my brain around having to go through labor. I was so focused on the labor part, that comparatively speaking, I didn’t think too much about the baby-having part at the end of it.

After fourteen hours of labor and three hours of pushing, my child finally arrived with the assistance of vacuum extraction. And, as the nurse laid the child upon my chest, I literally gasped and exclaimed, “There’s a baby on me!!” as if I didn’t realize the purpose of my visit to the hospital until that very moment.

One of the childbirth classes offered at the hospital was on infant feeding. I paid close attention as I did with all the other classes I took. I felt prepared as I could possibly be. When my mom asked me if I was going to breastfeed I answered her with hesitation, “Um, If I can. I’ll try….” I wasn’t confident about it. Like many women, I started out never having seen a woman breastfeed before, and I’d only heard stories of how inconvenient and problematic it could be. At the hospital I remember my experience with the Lactation Consultant consisting of her watching me struggle in vain to get my baby latched correctly for fifteen minutes and then leaving. My daughter was getting milk, however, so I felt like everything was OK. Unfortunately in the coming weeks and months I ran into a long list of difficulties feeding my daughter. I overproduced, my milk ejection reflex was too strong, my daughter was very “colicky” and was extremely fussy when I tried to feed her. She was so rough on my nipples that they felt like they were on fire. I could go on and on. My health insurance didn’t cover the cost of a lactation consultant. None of my internet reasearch helped me. I felt like a failure as a mother.

Now, as a second time mom who is still nursing a two-and-a-half year old, these are the things I wish I had known back when I was struggling and miserable.

1. La Leche League meetings are free, you have no obligation to join, and the people are there to help you.

I am not the kind of person that joins a club in the first place. I had the assumption that to attend a LLL meeting you had to make a commitment and pay dues. Also (and what turned me off the most) was that I thought that the meetings would simply consist of a bunch of cliquey women effortlessly nursing together, congratulating each other, and complimenting eachother’s nursing bras (or something to that effect). That kind of enviroment was the last place on earth I wanted to be. I couldn’t bring myself to go to a meeting until after all my breastfeeding problems resolved on their own, when my daughter was almost a year old. I remember listening to the story of a new mother who was sitting across from me. She was having a terrible time making enough milk to feed her son. After the meeting I approached her and I touched her hand and I think all I got out was, “I’m sorry you’re going through this, I had a hard time too…” and I began to cry, and then we cried together. The leaders at the meetings are educated and helpful but the support of other nursing women is invaluable. And yes, becoming a member is probably a good idea afterall.

2. Don’t believe all the pro-breastfeeding propaganda 

OK I’m exaggerating a little bit here. Before I had a child I got the idea that breastfeeding was hard and not for eveybody. After I had a baby and was having so much trouble nursing her I ran to the library to try and diagnose myself (or my child, whichever of us was the problem, I had no idea). I read a lot of books about how beautiful and perfect breastfeeding is and got very little information on resolving problems that many women must have (right?) when breastfeeding. I read about how breastfeeding makes you lose weight. That wasn’t true for me, it made me gain weight because I was hungry alllll the time. I read about how convenient it was. It wasn’t convenient for me to feed a newborn that wouldn’t let me cover her* when I went anywhere because she was on and off the breast so much because of my “issues.” It was hard to have to be the only one who fed my daughter for the first six weeks because I didn’t want to use an artificial nipple for fear of her getting “nipple confusion.” I longed for a break. I couldn’t wait until I could pump a little and sleep for four hours straight. Sometimes in the breastfeeding community, legitimate issues can get glossed over because they (rightly) want more people to breastfeed and see it in a positive light. However this tactic for promoting the cause can backfire and make a woman struggling feel alienated (see #1).

3.  “Post Partum Depression” doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you are a bad mom.

The maternal experience in our culture is so often oversimplified and idealized to the point that discussing PPD is almost taboo. Additionally so much of the focus in the post partum period is on the baby, that the postpartum experience on the new mother can be severely downplayed or even ignored. When it was suggested to me that I might have it I felt ashamed, and immediately rejected the idea. PPD is caused by many factors, which differ depending on the mother, but I thought that I couldn’t have PPD because I was sad for a “real” reason: my life legitimately sucked.

My baby was so “colicky” that she wouldn’t let me hold her at all when I wasn’t feeding her or she wasn’t alseep, for the first eight or so weeks of her life. She would arch her back and freak out, even when I fed her. When she was awake I couldn’t stop her from crying, only my husband could do it using a certain specific movement that my arms weren’t strong enough to do continually. Because of my crazy overproduction I had huge milk stains down my stretched out shirts and I smelled like cheese 24 hours a day. It wasn’t pretty, and neither was I. I believe my breastfeeding issues largely contributed to my PPD, but giving up would have made me feel even more like a failure. I was a total wreck. Regardless, any reason for a postpartum mother to be depressed is “real” enough, and should be taken seriously. Thankfully there are many resources out there, you just have to ask for help.

4. So breastfeeding can suck, and that’s ok.

After all the toubles I had, my daughter slowly became less colicky and miserable and my milk production became more reasonable. Eventually my nipples healed. It took a long time but I emerged from that terrible period of my life proud of myself for persevering. My point is that breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and happy cuddles. Its not effortless. It can be a huge pain in the ass. But I’m telling you, as hard as it can be, in most cases the pros still outweight the cons. I’m not going to say “breast is best” because that makes formula seem like the neutral thing and breastmilk as an extra special step above it. Its not. Breastmilk from a human is what human babies are supposed to eat. That’s not a radical thing to say.

There are many many studies that on the surface appear to show all the extra special fancy things that breastmilk does for a child and breastfeeding does for a mother, but what those studies really show is that formula just doesn’t quite cut it when compared to breastmilk. Those “fancy” things about breastmilk and breastfeeding are things you are supposed to have as a human. And while my breastfeeding troubles may have contributed to my PPD, the oxytocin release I got from breastfeeding and bonding with my child probably saved me in the end. And I can’t even tell you how much my kids (eventually) appreciated their relationship to my boobs. The comfort and fulfillment that boobs give babies is mind boggling.

My daughters both called me, “Boobie” (or more accurately, “Buh-Buh”) long before they called me, “Mama”. That’s what I was, a walking set of breasts. I came in a room and they wouldn’t look me in the eye. It actually started to make me feel rather objectified. But I digress…That emotional benefit* shouldn’t be underestimated. If you ask, me the “feeding” part of breastfeeding is only half of it.  (*Yes, I know you can cuddle and feed a kid formula – or breastmilk – from a bottle and make them feel loved. As an adoptee I was only fed formula as a baby and I am an emotionally and physically healthy adult…but…sometimes I wonder how much smarter I would be now if I had been breastfed… 😉

Some women simply cannot breastfeed, no matter what they do or how hard they try and they should not feel guilty for it. Of course, I know it can be easier said than done. If a caretaker doesn’t have access to human milk, formula, relatively speaking, is an AMAZING substitute to have. I am very thankful to live in a society where formula exists and is safe. For one reason, without it I wouldn’t be alive.

5. You do NOT have to cover up or hide when you feed your child in public! 

Some people find it really easy to cover up with they breastfeed. I was not one of those women. I tried and tried, even after my second child was born. I was also very afraid of being harassed in public so I never wanted to do it. So I’d try to bring pumped milk in a bottle, but it was a pain. I’d have to put aside an extra 20 minutes to pump before we left, but I couldn’t pump any milk if my baby had just eaten. In that case I’d get milk from the freezer and defrost it, but I’d worry about the milk not staying cold enough the entire time we were out.

Then when we were out my breasts would become uncomfortably full with milk, or I’d let down and get soaked if my baby fussed. It seemed ridiculous to feed the child from a bottle when I had perfectly good milk in my own uncomfortably full breasts right then and there. I’d try to hide in my car in the heat of the summer to nurse, but people would see me if they walked near my car in the parking lot. Also after my second baby it seemed ridiculous and cruel to strap my older child into her car seat for 20 minutes in a hot idling car just so I could feed her little sister.

I’ve heard about people suggesting using public bathrooms to nurse. Besides the gross factor, the flushing toilets and hand dryers going off startled my baby so much that she wouldn’t eat at all. They still startle my kids and make them uncomfortable, and they are 2 and 4 years old now. Also, from my experience people usually don’t like when someone hogs public bathroom stalls (especially single person bathrooms) for 20 minutes at a time. And again, what do I do with the second kid?!?!

Then one day I was talking to my friend who worked with nursing women at WIC and she explained to me that she doesn’t advise women to cover because breastfeeding is nothing to be ashamed of. She told me that when more women see other women nursing it will make those women more comfortable nursing their children in public too. And that day I realized that the expectation for mothers to cover is a problem with society, not a problem with me or my child. If women can wear cleavage revealing tops (not to even mention all the butt and boob on display at the beach, on magazine covers, in the media, etc.) then why can’t I simply feed my poor little hungry baby? You know you can look away, right? Just as I’d expect you to look away from gratuitous boobie cleavage hanging out of a shirt or bathing suit if it made you uncomfortable.

Also it should be mentioned that it is not “immodest” to nurse uncovered by definition, since being immodest means to be indecent and shameless. Breastfeeding does not apply here whatsoever. This mindset that women should be ashamed to breastfeed comes from a culture whose priorities and values are all out of whack. It doesn’t reflect well on how we value women, or children for that matter, because they are the ones that suffer the most. When it is super inconvenient (and often mortifying) for a women to feed her child anywhere outside her home, that is a HUGE disincentive to keep breastfeeding. Considering the importance of breastfeeding, (see #4) you can see how this messed up perspective is failing the mothers and babies of our society. By the way, you do realize that mothers + babies = everybody, right?!

So if you want to and you’re feeling brave, go ahead, do it for all of us. Now I’m not saying you won’t get harassed, you might, but covering up doesn’t prevent you from getting harrassed either. For proof of that just join one of the many Facebook pages on the topic of Breastfeeding to read personal stories of other women. HOWEVER, some good news…

6. There are laws to protect you from harassment if you ever decide to leave your home! 

Check your state’s laws on public breastfeeding. When my first child was still nursing we only had a law here in Virginia to protect us from being arrested for indecent exposure. Yet if, for example, a store owner wanted to kick me out of their establishment for feeding my child and I refused to leave they could still have me arrested.

Thankfully this year a law was passed here in my state that protects women who nurse their children wherever they are allowed to be. Many states, while they have laws, don’t have any way for the law to actually be enforced. Its more like declaration of support and strong suggestion to business owners. This is obviously NOT good enough. We need more protection, we need more laws that support us in the workplace, and we need better parental leave. These are issues that advocates for parents and children are working on every day, and I have the honor of personally knowing some of these amazing people. Just know that things are changing, however slowly.

So, while you may come up against negativity as you embark on your amazing, beautiful, and complex nursing relationship, you may also get an unsolicited high-five from someone like me. And, I’m sure your baby will appreciate your perseverance and commitment to breastfeeding more than you know.


You can see Megan’s artwork on her website:  http://meganwynne.net

Editor’s note: The Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” now requires all health insurance plans to provide breastfeeding support including lactation consultants, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding.

The Dancing Baby That Changed Law

You may remember the news back in 2007 about how Universal Music Group freaked out and got YouTube to take down a 29-second long video of a baby dancing.  Why?  A song by Prince was playing in the background.  What is amazing to me is that the audio quality is so horrible that I’m practically unable to recognize the Prince song being played and I am a Prince fan!  This was shot back way in 2007 when YouTube was but an infant itself.

Universal claimed that the video was copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The ironically named Stephanie Lenz (get it?  Lenz? Like a camera lens?), who uploaded the video and is the mother of the baby, sued Universal for wrongly targeting lawful fair use.  This is pretty amazing when you think about it.  How many mom’s and dad’s would have just rolled their eyes and taken the video down?  Nope, not Lenz.  She knew this was stupid and fought for your rights to post your home movies.

The story caught the attention of the media at first, but as it slowly made it’s way though the courts everyone forgot about it. Now we finally have a decision that impacts the video she uploaded and extends way beyond into the thousands of videos upload by parents each year to Youtube, Facebook and Instagram.

On September 14th a three-judge panel in San Francisco’s federal appeals court sided with the dancing baby and ruled unanimously in favor of Lenz, saying that copyright holders must consider whether a use of material is fair before sending a take-down notice.

NPR’s Laura Sydell put it succinctly saying, “Fair Use permits people to use copyrighted material in certain situations like satire or news. Now three judges on the 9th circuit say that unless Universal evaluated whether it was fair use, it may have violated the rights of the video maker. The case is significant because critics say copyright owners like Universal abuse the take down process often at the expense of free expression.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who represented Lens in the lawsuit, pointed to how this ruling will impact the 2016 presidential election by stating, “The decision made by the appeals court today has ramifications far beyond Ms. Lenz’s rights to share her video with family and friends. We will all watch a lot of online video and analysis of presidential candidates in the months to come, and this ruling will help make sure that information remains uncensored.”

So the next time you take a cute video of your kid dancing to a gratuitously sexual 80’s pop-funk genius – don’t fret.  That video is YOUR video.  This extends beyond kids too… Is the dog doing something stupid?  Quick, get a video! Let’s Go Crazy!

 

Man Attempts to Steal Baby from Car

File this under, “Reasons to never leave you house.”

Local news affiliate WMAZ in Georgia reported a nightmarish tale that makes me want to invent a 6-point car seat harness that shoots lasers and is protected by a cage of razor wire.

After taking her daughter to a doctor visit, Isabel Midence, 35, of Lawrenceville GA swung into a McDonalds for breakfast. She was shocked when she went to exit her car stating, “When I was ready to get out, someone opened the door.”

A strange man had opened the door and was actively trying to steal Isabel’s daughter from her car seat. “Her left arm got stuck with the belt” she said. His reaction? He pulled the baby out by her neck.

Yes, by the baby’s neck.

Luckily Isabel was traveling with her father and the two of them worked to fight off the kidnapper. As she held onto her baby for dear life she used the most basic of tools as a weapon, her teeth!

“When I was fighting with him I kicked him, and bit him because I was holding my baby in my arms,” she said.

Now that’s a move you don’t see in MMA. Well done Isabel!

After the man ran off, police tracked him to a nearby hotel where they found Sterlyn Reynolds, 19, and charged him with Kidnapping and Cruelty to Children. Reynolds told police he had no knowledge of what happened. If you are concerned about him being a case of mistaken identity, police arrested him because he fit the description and he had a bite mark on his arm.

I can’t even imagine the post traumatic stress this mom is going to deal with after this incident. When my kid walks near a table with sharp corners I feel freaked out. This would make me live in a locked down bunker.

I’m fascinated to know what the motivation was for the alleged Sterlyn Reynolds. What type of scum bag tries to kidnap a child, and how crazy do you need to be to try and steal a kid out of a buckled carseat?!

20-60% off Baby Clothing, Gear and More on Amazon!

The kids are back in school, the sun is starting to dip a bit earlier each night and September is halfway over.  You know what else is half off?  Hundreds of baby items on Amazon.com!

Amazon is having a huge September Baby Sale with 20-60% off baby clothing, gear, toys, and tons more!

We stocked up on all sorts of items and everything arrived in 2 days thanks to Amazon Prime.  They even delivered on a SUNDAY!  Mind = blown.

Shop Amazon – September Baby Sale

4 Best Selling Baby Carriers Reviewed

Early on in my pregnancy I knew that I was going to have to carry my son a lot as we live in Brooklyn, and strollers aren’t always the most efficient mode of transportation. Pushing a stroller through snow banks only to find yourself carrying it down a flight of crowded subway stairs gets old FAST!  So one winter day I dragged my husband to a local boutique baby store and made us try several carriers in hopes of narrowing our options.  We liked three options, and we had already registered for the original Ergo carrier.  Over time we ended up buying and trading our way through 4 carriers.  My husband and I both used these extensively.

The following article reviews the carriers that we ended up purchasing and using:


Kinderpack Infant Carrier

BabyCarrier_Laundry
Using the Kinderpack to wear the baby AND do laundry. SuperDad?

We ended up purchasing the Kinderpack infant carrier by Kindercarry because I was having my son in the summer and I knew the Ergo’s infant insert was like a sleeping bag and way too hot for a NYC summer!

The Kinderpack is great because you can purchase it with a mesh front where baby sits allowing for ventilation on hot days (see featured image).  NYC summers can be brutal, and I am one of a few in this world who hates the heat.  In addition, it’s design is highly customizable allowing you to convert it into an infant carrier and then gradually transition it to a toddler size.

The Kinderpack straps also criss-cross in the back, which we have found is much more comfortable for us. In fact, the Kinderpack excels in this regard.  It has straps that can be adjusted from various angles making it easy to get the perfect fit.  Or, if you don’t like cross crossed straps you can wear it like a reversed backpack. My husband used to take our infant son out for walks at night and his only complaint was that while this carrier is hyper adjustable, he found that it was not always easy to adjust when he was by himself and unable to reach some of the back straps.

Their design also allows the Kinderpack to be worn in a hip carry position and on your back with your little one looking over your shoulder.  The one thing the Kinderpack does not offer is a forward facing front carry.

Kindercarry is a small family run business and all carriers are hand sewn in Illinois by a handful of people.  It feels great to support a small family business for something so convenient and well made as the Kinderpack.  They also have carriers in a wide range of fun prints.  Many of the prints appear to be limited, so if you see one you like it may not be available in 6 months.

I give the Kinderpack 4 out of 5 stars.  It really is an excellent carrier.  It is very comfortable, lightweight and the mesh is a great feature.  I just wish it had a forward facing/front carry option.  We have only experimented with back carry a few times.  Our son seems a little young for this, but perhaps as he gets older this position will fulfill the forward facing need.  In fact, I think it’s time we try it again… hold on… [trying back-carry again]  Okay, My husband just wore him around the house for 15 minutes and Jr seemed to like it, although I think he’s still a little too short and ended up watching a lot of my husband’s shoulders and neck.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and breathable fabric.
  • Very customizable straps for excellent comfort.
  • Also supports hip and back carry positions.
  • No need for accessories if you want to use it as an infant carrier.
  • Fun prints!

CONS

  • Not great for cold weather (if you purchase the mesh version).
  • Doesn’t support a forward front carry.

 

Ergobaby Original

ergobaby
Ergobaby Original

Now, I have raved about the Kinderpack because I think it is a fantastic carrier, but I will admit that I still used the Ergo Original a lot.

I used the Ergo primarily through the winter. Since we bought the Kinderpack with mesh, it wasn’t great for the miserable NYC winter. The Ergo is a very comfortable carrier, provided you don’t require the straps to crisscross your back.  The straps are very well padded, the weight distributes well, and it was cozy warm.

The pocket on the front of the carrier allowed me to slide in a wallet or keys when I just needed to run to the grocery store, and the hood was great to pull up over my son’s head on cold days when he would fall asleep.  All in all, the Ergo is a great carrier, and I am sure I will continue to use it, but we eventually purchased the Beco Gemini, which changed baby carrying for us in a big way.

I give the Ergo Original 4 out of 5 stars.  It is very comfortable, it was a great carrier through the winter, but it is a little warm for the summer months, especially with the infant insert. It would be nice if the straps could cross in the back and if a forward facing/front carry were an option, without having to upgrade to the Ergo 360. In retrospect, I wish we had registered for the 360 instead as it offers many of the features found in the Kinderpack and Beco Gemini [reviewed below].

PROS:

  • Very well padded straps.
  • Great for cold weather.
  • Helpful front pocket.
  • Popular, so it’s easy to find this used or as a trade.

CONS

  • Straps can only be worn in one position, like a reversed backpack.
  • Requires an additional insert to carry an infant.
  • In retrospect I wish we had registered for the Ergo 360 instead.
BabyCarrier
Braving the winter cold! Using the Ergo with an additional fleece cover.

Didymos DidyTai

Didymos DidyTai
Didymos DidyTai

When we went to the boutique store to try out the carriers, I tried on and really liked the Didymos Didytai.  It was lightweight, and a mix between a structured carrier and a wrap carrier.  It was also comfortable.  Keep in mind that I tried this with an 8 lb doll.  Effective, but VERY different from a live squirming baby.

Since there are no clicking buckles to struggle with, snaps in weird places or Velcro to scratch you, the result is a very natural feeling carrier that conforms to your body shape. A DidyTai allows for many tying variations including a front position, a hip carry and a baby backpack.  It doesn’t allows for a forward facing carry.

I purchased this wrap from another mother as it was out of my price range new.  I gave this wrap a try on a number of occasions.  I wore it through the neighborhood, into Manhattan, on long and short walks, and I realized as much as I liked the carrier, it just didn’t work for me.  I needed more structure.  The carrier constantly loosened on me and dropped too low.  I could never keep it at the correct height and I was always concerned something was too loose.  I still like the carrier and I think it would work for someone else.  It is a great concept and I really do wish it would have worked for me.

I give the Didymos DidyTai a 3 out of 5 stars for being a great concept, but it just didn’t fit me well. My husband wore this a few times.  It’s definitely the most feminine of the carries we owned so keep that in mind if your husband is concerned about those types of things.

PROS:

  • Lightweight!
  • Great for infants.  Super snuggly!
  • Comfortable.  Because it’s a wrap the weight is distributed widely across your body.
  • Unique look.

CONS

  • Can be a long process to put this on, especially if your kid is fighting it.
  • Hard to to adjust once you have it on.
  • Less structure than other carriers.
  • No forward facing option.

Beco Gemini

As I met other moms in the neighborhood and started to see all of the other carrying options, I began to see some of them wearing their little ones faced forward in the carrier.  This is something that I knew my son would LOVE.  Sadly, the Ergo Original and the Kinderpack did not allow for a forward faced carry.

I was able to trade the Didymos Didytai with another mom for the Beco Gemini.  I have to say, the minute my son was able to face forward, his mind was BLOWN.  Walks and outings became exciting trips.  He could see the world, not just my throat.  He rarely if ever fusses when in it, and it is as comfortable for me as the KinderPack and Ergo.

Now, that being said, facing him in again may not be an option.  We will see once winter comes again and the cold wind picks up, but every time I try to face him in now he tends to fight it, or tries to turn or hang out of the carrier so that he can see out.  I have tried back carry and hip carry both in the Beco Gemini and Kinderpack and those work fine as well, but nothing is the same as forward facing.

Let’s talk about the straps.  These can be worn Crisscrossed across your back or in the reverse backpack position.  Each has it’s own benefit.  The backpack style is very fast to put on and remove, although my husband never felt that this was as comfortable and secure as having the straps cross your back.

The Beco Gemini also has buckle locks.  Basically once you clip the straps together they have a third button your need to press in order to undo them.  This has been a mixed bag.  It’s nice having the extra safety, but taking this off can be a tricky feat of coordination until you get used to it.  We can undo them one handed now.

Once adjusted, this carrier stays in place and doesn’t drift or loosen.  Yet, somehow, the Beco Gemini has proven to be super easy to adjust as you wear it.  Sometimes we loosen it up if our son wants to squirm, other time we tighten for a snug feel.  Loosen it again to sit down and then tighten when we get up to walk again.  Loosen again to breastfeed, etc.  Besides the option of forward facing, the ability to easily adjust the carrier while being worn is it’s killer feature.

I give the Beco Gemini 5 out of 5 stars and our MostRoyal badge for being so versatile!   My husband also prefers using the Beco to carry our son, even at a his heavy 14 month old weight.

MostRoyal_Stamp

PROS:

  • Forward facing!
  • Allows for other carry positions such as facing in, back carry, side carry.
  • Confortable.  Straps are easy to adjust even after you have it on.
  • Straps can be crisscrossed or worn backpack style.
  • Extra safety locks on all belt clips.
  • No need for accessories if you want to use it as an infant carrier.

CONS

  • Fabric seems to get dirty easy (then again we use this the most).
  • We’ve read some complaints that the leg gap becomes too narrow as kids get older.  We are watching for this.
  • Extra safety locks on all belt clips would be a bad option for anyone with finger joint mobility concerns.

 

In conclusion, I would say that the Becco Gemini carrier has been our most versatile carrier.  The forward facing feature made such a difference for us carrying our son around the city.  The Kinderpack and Ergo come in a close second, and the Didytai was nice, but not for me.

I would absolutely recommend trying on carriers before you make any decisions.  If you have a baby who will cooperate, use them! If your little bundle of joy has yet to be born a weighted doll will suffice, so check to see if the store has one. Many do. If you are far into your pregnancy and have a belly to contend with, bring along your spouse or a friend who can also try the carrier on and give you their thoughts.

Baby carrying is a great way to bond with your child, and if you’re living in a city and do a lot of walking like we do, it is the perfect mode of transportation.