Eating Like A Hobbit

It’s my favorite day of the week! School has started up again and although Cookie Monster is super sad, I am relieved. It is hard to keep them entertained for a full day (Clearly we had too much fun this weekend because he thinks we are having loads of fun without him. We are, but we are having fun because he is at school. Mean? Yes. Truth? Also, yes.)

Anyhow, off to the updates. That’s what you’re really here for, right? The pics of food and children. (I understand. Both are incredibly mouth watering.)

1) I am surprised by how many churches there are in Taipei (at least in the Da An district where we live and frequent). There are like twenty just in the block by our apartment and on the short bus ride to school.

2) I love how there are so many living walls in the city. It helps with air pollution and is lovely to look at. I will try to get a pic before I leave.

3) I decided to take the kids to eat beef noodle soup and shaved ice and wonders of wonders – my kids actually loved it! Cookie Monster kept saying it was delicious and super yummy. We went to 老張牛肉麵 (Lao Zhang Beef Noodles) and Smoothie House. Here are pics for proof!

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4) People in Taiwan constantly stare at and approach Fleur and I and ask if the kids are ours. I think I would’ve gotten stares anyway if I were with my three, but together? Fleur and I are like a walking cult.

Also, I am slightly jealous that Fleur gets approached so much because of Omi and Gnome (I mean, have you seen them? They are gorgeous.) On the other hand, Fleur is always questioned whether or not the children are hers. Really? That would piss me off.

Taiwanese people love mixed race babies and since all our kids are multi-ethnic, we are constantly approached. On Saturday, two ladies chased us down to ask if all six kids were ours and if they were mixed. This morning, a lady gave me her business card and asked if Glow Worm was mixed. She wanted him to be a model for their maternity and kids’ clothing line. Unfortunately, they need him at the end of August and we will be back in the US by then.

I am constantly tempted to say wildly inappropriate things. But I realize there are far fewer multi-ethnic kids here so people are really curious. Plus, the Taiwanese birth rate is even lower than Japan’s and I think it is uncommon to see families with so many children (let alone a swarm of SIX).

5) Our good friend Tiger Woo suggested we go to the Lucky Art Crayon Factory to see crayons being made, but it is really far. It’s one hour by car and 5+ hours by public transportation. Fleur and I were going a little crazy last night while texting Tiger Woo and Fleur discovered it is 18 hours and 41 minutes if we want to walk there. Double if Omi has to walk. The thought of poor little Omi and her short little legs walking had Fleur and I giggling furiously in the kitchen as we texted side by side into our phones. Hmmm. Perhaps this is only funny if you were actually there. Sorry about the botched telling.

6) Fleur and I might actually be losing weight and/or inches despite our eating like Hobbits and spending almost every waking moment shoving food and shaved ice into our mouths. I think it’s because we have to walk so much and carry everything. Plus, it is so hot we barely need to pee because we excrete all our liquids via sweat. All you have to do is see how we have to haul our children to see why. Here’s Fleur after a long day. (She’s basically Super Mom.)

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7) Glow Worm has had a fever these past few days. I think he is teething. Poor little man. He hasn’t been sleeping well and also refuses to nurse. I suppose he isn’t going to starve – particularly since I swear he has gotten so much heavier since the trip started. So either I am getting weaker or he is gaining weight. I constantly think my backpack is too heavy (even when empty) and only when I shift it in an attempt to lessen the weight that I remember it is fatty Glow Worm that is causing my shoulders to ache. But seeing as he is the only child of mine to so joyously eat food, I don’t mind.

This morning, I wasn’t feeding him 蔥油餅(green onion pancake) fast enough and he started uttering guttural noises and pounding both hands flat against my chest as if to say, “Hey Lady! I am displeased with the caliber of your service. Let’s get a move on!”

7) We went to Kidsburgh, Da An Park, and Wen Zhou park again this weekend. Everyone except Cookie Monster was wiped out. What does it take to tire this kid out? Apparently only extreme heat saps his energy. And even then, his recovery time is super quick. shakes fist at sky Here are some pics of Kidsburgh, the bus ride home, and the park. In case you can’t tell, the kids are melting.

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Alright, I think I broke WordPress’s App. See you soon!

Why Do I Always Ruin Things?

Before I get started, I just want to say that I know I am a horrible, ungrateful person. With that caveat out of the way, here we go.

My house has a giant tub of Legos (many of which are Star Wars sets) that I got used on craigslist. I have a hard enough time keeping track of those pieces so we don’t pull them out much. Besides, Cookie Monster is barely four. He plays just fine with the Duplos.

Well, I just pissed off my mom because she bought Cookie Monster this huge plane Lego set for $100+ and we already have a ton. Now Cookie Monster wants to build it and Hapa Papa has to cuz I sure as fuck don’t want to.

None of us want to.

And I’m annoyed because now I have to find room for this shit and she didn’t buy Gamera a birthday present but she bought Cookie Monster one!!! Good thing Gamera thinks it’s her Lego set too. (The benefits of me forcing them to share everything. My house is Communist central.)

My mom said I could return it. REALLY? How can I return it after she has shown the thing to him?!? She says I take all the fun out of giving gifts. Blargh. I know I’m an ass but wtf. Boo.

Then let’s say he actually builds the damn thing. There is no way he’ll let me take it apart. So wtf am I supposed to do with it?! I fucking hate Lego sets.

I am a horrible, ungrateful person.

She did this I bet because she feels jealous that Hapa Papa’s mom buys them crap every time she visits. She tried to justify it by saying Cookie Monster’s love languages are presents and time.

Really? So we have to give him even more stuff now? (Rants the person who has like a million toys stuffed away for the kids to share for Christmas.)

To top it off, Cookie Monster’s birthday party is this weekend and despite me saying “No Gifts,” about a third will bring gifts anyway. Which he will rip through with Gamera with great delight (as well as remember who gave him what with startling clarity).

All this to say I may have the kids give some of their Christmas presents to Toys for Tots before I give them anything. Thin the present pile out a little.

I know. My heart is apparently two sizes too small.

Wait, so am I the only person who hates Lego sets? I’d much rather they just play whatever and make their own designs. Or am I missing something? (Besides a soul.)

So, now that I’ve shot off my mouth ill-advisedly, I feel awful. I ALWAYS do this to my mother and my MIL when they get presents for my kids. I get annoyed and mad and instead of just SHUTTING MY GORRAM MOUTH AND SAYING, “THANK YOU.” I am a jerk and then feel bad. Then, I try to soften my criticisms with belated gratefulness, but really, that’s just like taking a fat shit on a cake and then complimenting the cake and trying to eat it but all the while, THERE IS SHIT ON THE CAKE. I’ve ruined the present and the giving and nothing I can do will fix what I’ve spoiled.

I am utterly selfish.

If someone else other than my mother or my MIL gave my kids these presents, I’d be over the moon to their face. Effusive in thanks and excitement. But instead, I rob my family of the joy of giving.

Even before I open my mouth, I feel a minor struggle about whether or not to say anything but before my common sense can intervene and help me be a good person, I barf out meanness. *sigh* Because I am a mean person, people.

Just by saying this, people may comment and say, “No, you’re not mean!” and perhaps cite all sorts of evidence. But truthfully, I am nice to people who are not my immediate family. They can choose to not be your friend in an instant and I want people to like me. But my mom or MIL? They’re stuck with me for LIFE, suckers! So, I don’t bother being kind at all. I am an ass of monumental proportions. A selfish, cruel ass.

*SIGH*

Sin is hard on a person’s ego.

My Lazy Veggie Ways

I’m taking a break from the Money Series for the moment. Never fear (or my apologies) – it’ll come back later this month. I’m just feeling a little burnt out on writing about money matters (not to mention a little bored) and no one wants to read a post that sounds forced and obligated. That makes a potentially boring topic even MORE stultifyingly dull.

Anyhow, today’s post is about vegetables. That’s infinitely more interesting than saving for retirement, amiright? And not just vegetables – it’s about hiding vegetables in smoothies. The sexiness in this post is unreal. Prepare to have your mind blown!

Disclaimer: As usual, links to products are my Amazon affiliate links. 

My kids, especially Cookie Monster, are somewhat picky eaters. (They’re not extreme picky eaters, but enough so that it annoys the crap out of me and affects my enjoyment of meal times. I am working on this and will report the results in a later post.) It’s a trial to get them to eat their vegetables so I cheat. I hide them in smoothies (I know, not a novel idea).

Here’s what I do. I pile in a bunch of veggies and fruit into my VitaMix and blend on high. Sometimes, I will add plain yogurt and/or milk. Because the VitaMix pulverizes everything, it’s very thick and can almost replace a meal! To make a more juice-like drink, I just add more water or milk. I usually serve this in a cup as a smoothie with a cool reusable lid and reusable straw. (I got sick of my kids spilling as well as “wasting” the smoothie with a smoothie mustache that they would wipe off onto a napkin. The straw is also a lot softer so they don’t cut their lips/gums on a plastic straw. Yes, it’s happened. My kids are talented.)

If I have extra, which I usually do, I will pour into reusable squeeze pouches that Cookie Monster LOVES. In fact, he loves them so much that even after downing a pint glass of the smoothie, he’ll demand to eat a squeeze pouch of the same thing he just drank. It’s ridiculous and makes his poo AWESOME the next day. (It does help with constipation, though!) I chose these pouches because from the reviews, they don’t explode or leak. I haven’t had a problem thus far. Like all reusable pouches though, it’s hard to get the edges clean so I’ve used either a butter knife or chopstick to scrape at the food gunk. I hand wash even though they are dishwasher top-rack safe.

I also freeze them in popsicle molds to make popsicles. I first started with standard popsicle sized molds by Tovolo, but my kids can’t finish them. Cookie Monster finds them too cold and will only eat a few bites. The good thing with these molds is that I can shove a partially-eaten popsicle back into the mold and store in the freezer until he finishes it. The bad thing is I think it’s taken a year for him to eat just ONE. These are popular with play dates, though. (I don’t serve the ones he’s gnawed on already, obviously.) Tovolo also makes really fun-shaped molds like rocket ships and ice cream cone shapes.

When I switched to the small NUK popsicle molds, I had much better luck. I really like them because Cookie Monster and even Gamera can finish it in one sitting. Their handles are super-easy to hold and catch a lot of drips. Plus, they’re fun colors. You can even break apart the molds so you can shove them in any random corner of the freezer.

It’s so silly but even though it’s basically the same smoothie, my kids like them in different formats. Go figure. I’m down with whatever puts veggies and fruits in their goldfish cracker filled bodies.

If I have enough popsicles/pouches, I will fill a re-usable tumbler for Hapa Papa to take to work as breakfast. I’m still working on remembering to do this.

In addition to the smoothies, I will also occasionally make veggie breads (from this carrot cake recipe). My mom juices and she will freeze the leftover fiber/pulp. I will either put these into the smoothies or use them in my veggie bread. I pretty much use this recipe except I also add the vegetable pulp, one or two smashed bananas, and a cup of chocolate chips. I also don’t include the walnuts (I’ve used finely chopped pistachios) and use regular unbleached organic flour instead of pastry flour. I would give you measurements, but I don’t have any. I just dump at will. 😀 It usually makes two bread pans worth of Veggie Bread. With two cups of organic sugar in it, it’s hard to mess up. I would freeze the leftovers if there were any. I usually consume an entire loaf by myself.

To give you some ideas of what to put in the smoothies, I’ve included a bunch of the fruits and veggies I use. I often just buy bags of frozen organic fruits from Costco. (Especially for berries since it’s just too expensive to juice fresh ones.) I often also wash grapes or fruits that I will forget to use in time and freeze them in small baggies.

Just remember to have a good ratio between sweet fruits and the sometimes bitter veggies. You can also add honey if you think it’s not sweet enough. Remember, too, that I have a VitaMix so it liquefies seeds and tough fibers. If your blender isn’t quite as powerful, of course, adjust accordingly. Again, I don’t do measurements. I just shove as much stuff in the blender as possible without it exploding. Obviously, these are not all-inclusive. 😀

Fruits

– Globe grapes (with seeds)
– Bananas
– Apples
– Mangoes
– Avocado
– Pineapples
– Watermelon (especially the rind without the green peel)
– Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)

Vegetables

– Carrots
– Celery
– Spinach
– Mixed salad greens
– Kale
– Beets (including tops) (turns the smoothie an awesome magenta color)
– Chard

Anyhow, hope this is helpful! Gamera tends not to drink as much of the smoothie unless it’s thinned out with more water. She doesn’t care for the fruit pouches but will devour the popsicles. So if your kids don’t go for the smoothie, perhaps they prefer its other incarnations.

I’d love to hear your ideas, too! Let me know in the comments what has or hasn’t worked for you. Thanks in advance!

Now That I’m Done Judging, Perhaps I’ll Actually Be Helpful: New Baby Series Pt 4

Alrighty, folks! Lazy post today. (I think I’m allowed. I just had a new baby, after all.) We are finally at the last of the series (and hopefully, you haven’t been bored to tears and found some of the information useful). Here are several sites and books that I found invaluable when I first had Cookie Monster. I referred to them less and less as I had subsequent children (mostly because I stopped caring and worrying about every little thing). Although, the Ferber book has been constantly referenced in the last 3.5+ years since as soon as you get something down, your kids change. (Those bastards!)

Anyhow, thank you for being patient with this series, and rest assured, folks with no kids (and with no intention of ever having them), this is the final section!

Disclaimers: As usual, all the opinions are mine. YMMV. I used Amazon Affiliate links.

Helpful Books:

1) Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems – Richard Ferber

2) The Happiest Baby on the Block – Harvey Karp

3) The Wonder Weeks – Hetty Van de Rijt

4) NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children – Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

5) What to Expect: First Year (and Toddler Years) – Sandee Hathaway

Helpful Sites:

1) Babysteals.com – I would sign up for it now because you often see deals ahead of time (eg: Ergo for 50% off). However, very dangerous because they have a lot of cute things!

2) Albeebaby.com – great site for deals on strollers, car seats, etc.

3) craigslist.org – Sounds stupid, but I would buy a LOT of stuff used. I wish I did. Especially for toys. Always search for the RICH areas/neighborhoods. They give things away practically for free.

4) nickisdiapers.com – great for cloth diaper deals and information.

5) amazon.com – Clearly a no-brainer – but also for the amazon Mom function! Like amazon prime but FREE!

6) http://parents.berkeley.edu/ – So much helpful information. A lot is Bay Area specific, but I’m sure the parenting advice can be universal.

7) kellymom.com – Super helpful re: breastfeeding and parenting.

Ok. Now your turn. What were some helpful books and sites that got you through the first years? Let me know in the comments.

You Might As Well Flush Your Money Down the Toilet As I Mock You: New Baby Series Pt 3

I know. By now you get it. I’m an ass – and not only that, judgmental as well! Since the cat’s out of the bag and well on to making kittens, I might as well tell you what I think are total wastes of money. I’m sure I’m bound to insult pretty much all of you since most likely, you have at least one of these products for your child (if you should have any).

However, I never said this judging should be one way only. I have now given you at least three posts with which to judge me mightily and scoff at my purchases and obviously poor uses of money. So, have at it! If I can’t take it, I shouldn’t dish it out. But until then, here is a non-all-inclusive list of Baby Stuff that I think you don’t need.

Disclaimer: YMMV. Sorry ahead of time if I bruise your delicate feelings. No amazon links because I am feeling particularly lazy today and don’t care enough about these products to link to them.

 

What You Don’t Need

1) Diaper Genie/Champ, etc – although the actual genie/champ is cheap, it’s the replacement bags that are expensive. I would recommend you just get a covered trash can (preferably electronic or a step one for convenience, but that’s not necessary, either). Ours locks in the odors just fine and I use cloth!

2) Wipes warmer – it’s nice, I suppose, but seriously, a total waste of money. Plus, when you’re on the road and use a cold wipe, your kid is gonna be SUPER pissed.

3) Bottle warmer – putting the bottle in a cup of hot water will do the trick.

4) Diaper changing table – really, any flat surface will do. We just use our bed. The diaper changing PAD is useful, though. (Keeps potential spills and accidents off your bed.) Just buy two covers and you’re good to go! With Gamera, our changing pad disintegrated so I just started putting a small towel under her butt. Worked just fine, too.

5) Dreft (or any BABY laundry detergent) – They’re a rip-off. All you need are fragrance free and dye free detergent. I just buy the Costco/Kirkland kind. Wash bedding, clothing, diapers, etc, and all mommy clothes in this.

6) Baby Food Mill (or any BABY food maker) – They’re a rip off. If you have a blender, food-processor or magic bullet, you don’t need anything else.

7) Splat Mat – It sounds good in theory (a mat on the floor to pick up stuff your kid throws down), but it’s just easier to clean the floor. I can see this being useful if you have carpet in your eating area, though. So, I guess, YMMV on this one.

8) Shopping cart cover – It’s lame. One more thing to carry/forget/wash. I get WHY people have it, since it’s comfy and seems cleaner, but totally not worth the hassle. Just wash your kids’ hands!

That’s it. My judgmental list is short and sweet today. (Ok, I guess eight things aren’t exactly a small list, but considering how mean I am in general, this is SMALL. Be grateful!!)

If you’ve managed to steer clear of all these products, congratulations!! You are well on your way to being more awesome like me! YAY!

Your turn, now. What do you think is/was a waste of your money?

The Next Best Thing to Sleep: New Baby Series Pt 2

Of course, if you can get extra sleep with a new baby, I’m sure it’s awesome!! However, I’m more thinking along the lines of baby products. With Cookie Monster, because he was my first baby, I got a ton of brand new stuff. In retrospect, I wish I had just gotten gift cards or cash and gone straight to craigslist. When I see what people are selling their super-expensive baby items (that I, too, own) for dirt cheap, a little part of my soul dies. I just think to myself, “I could’ve put all the money I would’ve saved into a savings account for Cookie Monster’s college fund.” (Hey, with 3+ kids, I’ll need all the help I can get. But that is a different post for another day.)

Anyhow, last Monday, I posted about What You Really Need for a New Baby. This week, it’s all about what is nice but not vital.

Disclaimers: Of course, the usual YMMV et al as well as my using copious Amazon Affiliate links. Do what you see fit.

Now, without further ado, what is NICE to have:

1) Baby swing – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. You only end up using this 3-4 months (until the baby is too big/heavy for it). They are really expensive new – and only about $40-75 used on Craigslist. Just wash the washable part and you’re golden. One caveat: don’t make the mistake I did. Get a swing that can go both back and forth as well as left to right. You never know what way your kid will like. Furthermore, your kid could hate it. Another reason to borrow/buy used.

2) Exersaucer – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. And I would get Bright Starts Around We Go Activity Station instead of the regular kind because then your kid can practice walking and not go anywhere! I’ve seen these at Costco for $70 and used for $30-50. I am convinced this is the reason why Cookie Monster and Gamera both started walking so early. When they no longer need the walking part of the exersaucer, you can take the seat off. My kids STILL play with the table almost every day. (Mostly drive by playing, but it’s still used.)

3) Bouncer – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. You only end up using this about 6 months because once your kid can sit up, it’s dangerous! They have all sorts, from super cheap to super tricked out. But you really don’t get your money’s worth.

4) Activity gym/playmat – I would borrow a friend’s or buy this used. Although, if you do buy it, you do use it more about 9 months, but YMMV.

5) Sophie – Teething giraffe. Splurge and get this! Super cute – don’t get the weird alien kind. That one looks phallic and most babies I know prefer the Sophie. Keep in mind though, that if your car or the temperature is super cold, let the thing warm up before you put it in your kid’s mouth. Otherwise, someone, say Cookie Monster, might bite off a big chunk of the ear and choke (he didn’t). Also, it can get pretty gooey on the snout and ears (with sticky stuff because I think the rubber gets a little degraded and soft and warm and attracts lint).

6) Covered Baby Food Ice cube trays – Nice to have if you’re making your own food. Yes, you can just use a regular ice tray, but then those aren’t covered. I find that squicky.

7) Mother’s Milk Tea – tastes kinda bland (like chamomile) but SO HELPFUL in making milk. Whenever I stopped, my milk supply dropped.

8) Boppy or My Brest Friend – Both are good. The Boppy can be used not only for nursing though. It’s a good baby support to help the kiddo sit up before they know how. I preferred the My Brest Friend for Cookie Monster – it was firmer and easier to use at first. But I preferred the Boppy for Gamera because it was easier to get in and out of. (There is no belt buckle in the back.) If you end up getting two (one upstairs, one downstairs), I would get the second one used.

9) Aqueduck – It’s a faucet extender and everyone always wants to know where I got it. You can see my review here.

10) Swaddle-MesI totally sucked at swaddling. These were helpful so I didn’t have to figure out how to do it. However, honestly, I only ended up swaddling the babies for the first month or so. After that, I got lazy and they were just fine.

11) Food mat – Great for eating out and you don’t want your kid to eat off the table – or break plates. I’ve seen people use the kind where you tape a plastic mat onto the table, but I just find that wasteful. This one you can use again and again. Although, I must say that I used this more for Cookie Monster and didn’t bother at all with Gamera. Not sure whether it was because I had given up on eating out with two toddlers or if I just stopped caring about hygiene or other people’s plates.

Ok. That was my list of NICE to haves. What do you think? What are yours?

Yes, I Totally Am Judging You (and You): New Baby Series Pt 1

I freely confess: I totally judge what people put on their baby registries. Totally. I make snide texts to my mommy friends and we laugh and scoff and mock people who buy baby socks and items I personally find useless and stupid just to show off how brilliant I am with my “years” of collected wisdom. Of course, this is totally unfair. After all, how do you know what you will need if you’ve never needed it before? Even though I, in all my genius, went with a friend who had a kid and she did all my baby registry choosing for me (ie: she told me what I would need and what to get), I still had craptons of stuff I never used and never needed.

So, in honor of Baby3 coming in mid-August (still haven’t figured out what his alias will be, after all, it’s usually based on personality but all I know is that this kid kicks like nobody’s business), I thought I’d have a post on what new parents really need (after surviving two small children).

Disclaimer: Obviously, YMMV and this is my personal opinion. Plus, I think I used an Amazon Affiliate link or two. You’ve been duly disclaimed.

What You Need

1) Crib – preferably one that is convertible to a toddler bed as well (so you don’t have to buy one at a later time). Of course, you can just go straight to a twin bed instead. There is no real need to get one that’s super expensive. Walmart has them for $150 and are still really nice. (Although, I’m not a fan of Walmart but you get the idea.)

What I recommend you splurge on is an ORGANIC baby mattress. That will set you back a good $200+. Mattresses off-gas for their lifetime and since babies are sleeping 90% of their life for so long, I would go with the organic mattress. The beauty of this is that you can use it for multiple babies so the cost factor goes down.

2) Yoga ball – super helpful for calming a baby down and putting them to sleep. We used to have four. Now, after giving most away, we only have one. (Maybe we have another hidden somewhere in a closet.) But whatever. Very useful.

3) Onesies/Footie Sleepers – At least for the first 3 months or so – especially if your baby is a winter baby. Your life will be much easier if you just keep them in PJs. Much easier on EVERYBODY. Once they are a bit older, maybe 3-4 months and are more alert, then you will likely start changing them into more daytime and night time clothes. But otherwise, what’s the point?

4) Burp cloths – I would use very good quality cloth diapers. The cheapo thin ones won’t soak up anything at all.

5) Video Monitor – Ok ok ok, I suppose you don’t NEED it – but once you have it, you won’t want anything else. The best one (after trying several to Hapa Papa’s great annoyance due to high cost), is the Motorola MBP3. Otherwise, audio only monitors are perfectly fine and if your house is small enough, you might not need a monitor at all.

6) Diapers – for newborns and size 1s, they usually have diapers where there is a wetness indicator. GET THOSE. They are SUPER helpful. Once the umbilical cord falls off, you may want to consider cloth diapers. It sounds gross, but it is super easy, saves a LOT of money (initial outlay of about $3-400, but when you consider that our first month of Gamera, I just went with disposable diapers and I already spent over $100 in diapers, that is NOTHING). I have a whole post on cloth diapering if you are really interested in checking it out.

7) Breast pump – if you plan on breastfeeding. They are pretty expensive but can come in handy – especially if you go back to work. If you’re a SAHM, you might not need it as much, but I still pumped milk when my kids dropped a feeding and ended up donating gallons of milk. (Also, breastfeeding is so much cheaper than formula – Formula is $25+ a can. That’s at least a can a week!) Also, less stinky poop! But ultimately, your baby will be fed and healthy and fine regardless of formula or breastmilk.

8) Pack n play – I would use this instead of a bassinet the first few months. It’s cheaper and more portable and useful in the future. Don’t buy the expensive kind. Get the cheapest one (usually around $60). We initially bought three because I thought I would need one at my office and my mom’s house. They were barely used and cost us at least $150 each because we bought the fancy kind. We ended up giving one to my brother, and the fancy one does have a cover that came in handy, but ultimately, the cheapo one we used more. Also, Costco sells pack n plays for cheap.

9) Car Seat – Most likely, you will start off with an infant car seat and base. Any company will do (We used Graco).

Your baby will be in that for at least the first 6 months. After they get too big, you will want to switch to a regular car seat (which is safer). Infant car seats are super handy – especially if you get a travel system (which is a stroller that goes with the infant car seat). You just pick up the car seat, put it on the stroller and go. Just beware that travel system strollers are REALLY HEAVY. They are cheaper than the super nice strollers, but their resale value is lower. So you’ll likely pay $150-200 for the stroller, and then re-sell it for $40.

In retrospect, I would’ve gotten as light weight an infant car seat as possible. I think the lightest weight ones are Maxi Cosi brands. The Gracos and Chiccos clock in at about 25lbs. Add on a 15lb baby and that’s 40lbs you’re carrying on one arm. Not fun.

When the baby is bigger, switch to a convertible car seat. You want to have as high as possible weight limit for rear-facing (they now recommend up to 2 years rear facing). Cookie Monster was rear-facing until he got close to the 40lb weight limit (and not because he hit the height limit). This is because it is much safer to have them rear-facing in case of an accident. Although Cookie Monster’s legs were bent and perhaps he could’ve broken his legs in an accident, I would rather have broken legs than a broken neck! When they get too big for rear-facing, then it “converts” to forward-facing.

These suckers are EXPENSIVE. Wait until they go on sale (either at Amazon or albeebaby.com). I would NOT buy used because you never know if they’ve been in an accident. Once they’re in an accident, the integrity of the car seat is no longer there so don’t risk it.

Also, it is tempting to put the car seat on your Baby Registry. RESIST THE URGE. Mostly because it will be almost a year before you will likely use it and then, you have burned a year and now, you are one year closer to the expiration date. Yes, car seats expire. It really pisses me off. Let’s not get me started on that bullshit. But what can you do? Are your really going to risk your kid not being “safe” in a car seat just because you’re a cheap ass?

10) Strollers – you can go the expensive route or the cheaper route. If you go the cheaper route, just buy the stroller that goes with the infant car seat. Those are usually hefty (25lbs) but have great built in options like cup holders, great baskets, one button close, etc. They’re great but heavy.

If you have two or more kids, then I would fork over the cash for a SUPER nice one. The one we have now is the Baby Jogger City Mini Double Stroller. It can be extremely expensive so I would recommend buying on a great sale, used, or opt for an older version. Obviously, you don’t need that now, but it is 25lbs and awesome.

You can get the single version, too. These are $250 new, but they have great resale value on craigslist. You can probably re-sell the single stroller around $150. (Or you could buy it used.) If you’re not the jogging type, you don’t need to splurge for the joggers.

Another popular kind is the Phil and Ted. Also great re-sell value. Plus, when you have a second kid, you can just buy a kit to add on vs. buy a totally different stroller. But for two kids, the bottom kid gets kinda cramped.

The best site I’ve found for buying strollers, car seats, etc is: albeebaby.com. Sign up for their mailing list and you will get their sales. However, if the sale prices are comparable to amazon, I just go with amazon for the 2 day shipping. The more expensive strollers, you have to buy their accessories (eg: cup holders, bars, car seat holders). But I would dare say it’s worth it on the second kid. Plus, you don’t have to buy their brand of holders.

11) Ergo Baby carrier – Super helpful!! You will need the infant insert for when the baby can’t put their legs around your torso yet. I would also get the teething pads so they end up chewing something soft vs the harder canvas. I would buy used, perhaps. The main cons are that the carrier tends to run warm/hot, and the baby only faces you.

A lot of people use the Baby Bjorn – but that is bad for your back (everyone I know who uses it, their back hurts), and bad for the baby’s spine. But, it is nice because the baby can look out.

Now, again, these are what I think are necessary for a baby (and by necessary, I suppose I more mean supremely useful to have). I guess one doesn’t really need a crib – just a drawer or a laundry basket to put the baby in Benjamin Button style. But you get the idea.

Next week, I’ll post about What is Nice to Have for a Baby and the week after, I’ll post what I think is a total waste of money.

What do the more experienced parents think? Agree? Disagree? Did I forget something that you think is amazing? Tell me in the comments.