December 26, 2008

Downhere - "How Many Kings" - Live Performance

Okay, I know I just posted a different video of this song a few days ago, but it's still Christmas and this is such a gorgeous song that I never hear enough of it. Hope you enjoy this live performance by the band on a radio station's broadcast.

December 22, 2008

How Many Kings - the Christmas fan video

Just in time for Christmas, the Ross family is making their music video debut with the downhere Christmas fan video. Check it out! :-)

December 8, 2008

Free Shipping Day - December 18th

My friend Damon often hassles me about the time when I was running late to catch my flight at the airport and ended up happily getting bumped and earning $200+ in Southwest vouchers instead. It annoys him to no end that I got rewarded that day for being late!

Well latecomers and procrastinators alike can now be rewarded for their last minute shopping efforts... More than 45 online retailers will be offering FREE shipping on December 18th to online shoppers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Amazon, Apple, Target and Dell are just a few of the online retailers trying to garner your last-minute shopping dollars. Check it out here to get the details. Thanks to BabyCheapskate for the tip off!

October 17, 2008

Why My Friends Will Not Be Voting in this Election

My friend Jeremy posted a great blog entry yesterday about what infuriates me when it comes to illegal aliens voting here in America. Jeremy and his Canadian bandmates have lived exclusively in the United States since 2000, working very hard to support themselves and their families while abiding by the restrictive rules of their work visas. Until Jeremy married an American in 2005, he was only allowed to earn money from playing music in a band - NO other side jobs like Starbucks were permitted. When they first moved to Nashville, the band squeezed 7 Canadian adults (4 band members, 2 wives, and their manager) into one house for more than a year to make ends meet. Each band member was making about $300/month for income. Not exactly what you think of when it comes to living the lifestyle of a "rockstar," eh? So here's a group of honest, college-educated, very hard-working individuals who have followed the rules, while living here for two entire presidential terms, having plenty of opinions of their own. Yet they cannot and will not vote in this election, while millions of others - so many of them uninformed - will vote illegally. What is wrong with this picture?!!? Read Jeremy's blog post here.

Posted by email from goldentwig's posterous

September 23, 2008

Ending is Beginning

Today is the 23rd of September and therefore the day that downhere's new album releases! It's called "Ending is Beginning" and I must say, is quite superb! I've been following these guys since 2001, before they even released their first album, and boy have they come a long way! Their music has progressed in quality and maturity over the years, yet still has a defining style to it. I had the honor of hosting a "listening party" for this album several months ago. This band truly cares about what their fans think... insomuch that they solicit individual feedback from fans about which songs should be selected for the final album track list!

For those who have not heard downhere's music before, the classic definition has always been: Freddie Mercury (of Queen) meets Kevin Max (of dc Talk) meets Bono (of U2). For this album I venture to throw in the name of Brit pop sensation Robbie Williams ("Millennium")... Listen to "My Last Amen" and tell me if you don't agree! "Something Heavenly" is definitely the biggest departure from their past musical styles, but the more I've listened to it, the more I really like it! My listening party's initial reaction was that it sounds "X-Files-ish," but you can judge that for yourself and let me know. "The Problem" has a slight bit more of a country twang to it than anything I've ever heard from these guys before. My early favorite was "Don't Miss Now," a nostalgic ballad about not missing the moment you're living in now. A great reminder for me as a new mom!

Check out the album and see if you agree that it's their best one yet. (Isn't that such a cliché statement about every artist's latest album?) Only you can decide for yourself if it's their best! You can find the album at iTunes, Amazon, or your local Christian bookstore (i.e. Family or Lifeway). Grab an autographed copy over at MusiChristian or directly from the band's website. There was some goof up with the distribution company going out of business and therefore the album won't be available in mainstream retailers like Wal-mart & Best Buy until January.

Also, if you're in the central North Carolina area, downhere will be in concert for FREE this coming Saturday night (9/27) in Smithfield, NC. Read more about it here and see details here.

September 10, 2008

Papa Spuds

So about a week ago, I stumbled upon a local farm co-op website that lets you order their produce by the week! Most co-ops that I have ever heard of require you to join at the beginning of the season and stay committed for the entire spring and summer. But Papa Spuds works a little differently as it's an "online farmer's market," so we decided to give it a try. Tonight we received our first "crop" share and it sure looks yummy! There were a few variances between what I ordered and what I received, which I guess is part of the game due to supply, demand and availability. I ordered Slicing Cucumbers, but unless those aren't all zucchini (which I also ordered), I think they substituted Sweet Baby Lettuce instead. I also learned that ~1 lb. of grapes is actually more like 11 oz., but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt this time. The grapes looked so good that we ate them all up as soon as I could wash them! The Acorn Squash is something I'm pretty excited about trying. I've never cooked one of those before. The two best parts about this whole Papa Spud's deal is that most of the order is organic produce (and the order is completely customizable each week) and also they DELIVER it to your front porch! That's worth QUITE a bit extra in my book. I don't have to drive to 3 grocery stores and then the Farmer's Market looking for organic acorn squash! Hopefully this will force us to "eat our veggies" a little more each week. I guess we'll see!

August 1, 2008

Freepeats - now open for free registration in Raleigh-Durham!

So I ended up scoring some pretty decent deals at the consignment sale I mentioned in my last post, and another one this morning. What I found that I enjoyed most about this morning's sale was the few hours before the sale started when I worked as a volunteer. I know I'm a pretty outgoing person, but it was a lot of fun to meet other people and help get things ready for the sale. It's open to the public on Saturday and the room was JAM-packed, so if you're in the Raleigh area, you might go check it out.

Consignment sales can save you a lot of money on baby and kid items, but what's even better is when stuff is FREE! About a month ago, I heard about a new website called "Freepeats." It's based on the Freecycle model of sharing items you no longer need with other people who live in your area to keep them from ending up in landfills. The difference with Freepeats is that it's all baby, kid & maternity stuff! Members who have something to give away post an "Offer" ad, and then when someone else has picked it up from them, they change the title to "Taken." It's as simple as that! Members can also post "Wanted" ads if there is a specific item for which they are searching.

Freepeats requires you to join a local chapter group and pay a one-time ever fee of $4.95. However, if you join a newly-formed group with the first 2 weeks of its inception, you get a lifetime membership for free! And it just so happens that the Raleigh-Durham chapter opened its virtual doors TODAY! So if you live anywhere near the Raleigh area, I encourage you to join right away simply so you don't have to pay the fee! (I did notice that the free lifetime membership cut off for Raleigh is listed as 9/01/08 instead of 8/14/08. So I checked with the moderator and found that she will be on vacation during mid-August, so the Raleigh and Birmingham chapters get an extra two weeks to sign up for free!)

Another difference between Freepeats and the Freecycle models that I've used, is that Freepeats utilizes a message board system for listing items instead of the archaic Yahoo email groups that most Freecycle groups still use. This makes it much easier to quickly scan the list and see what is available that you might be interested in. I've noticed they also have areas for free formula as well as coupons and formula checks.

So clean out your closets, check this out, and let me know if you snag a great item for free!

July 22, 2008

Consignment Contentment!

This past March I discovered a wonderful little thing about parenthood called "kids consignment sales." Not knowing what I was getting into, I attended the "Kids EveryWear" sale at the 'dead airport mall' in Morrisville (if you live around here, you know where I'm talking about!) and was simply blown away at the options for parental consumerism. Well those impressions were floored tonight when I walked into the Jim Graham Building at the NC State Fairgrounds. The "Kids Exchange Sale" is going on this week and opens to the public for shopping on Friday and Saturday (July 25-26). (See below for more sales and dates.)

Apparently I'm not the only one who didn't know about these huge events before entering parenthood... I've run across quite a few new moms who weren't aware of these massive consumer-fests. So here's a quick guide I've put together with some thoughts about consignment sales.

I didn't really know what to expect with this Kids Exchange Sale, except that I had heard it was the biggest in the area. For some reason, consignment sale websites never seem to have many detailed photographs, which doesn't make sense to me. I should think they would want to give new parents an idea for all that is offered at these sales. Anyway, this sale is MASSIVE... apparently the coordinators are saying this year is the biggest sale yet, and they are overflowing the outdoor toys and bikes, outdoors! As my daughter and I walked around tonight putting out our measly 15 or so items that I'm consigning, parents walked by with huge carts full of clothing and baby gear to sort into the appropriate areas. A volunteer handed me a MAP when I walked in the door and I needed it too! Pretty much any baby/child item I've ever thought of is probably somewhere in that huge room... now it's just a matter of finding it and getting to it before everybody else does! I started a needs/wish list a few months ago, and have been holding out on purchasing some desired items until after this sale and the others have passed, hoping to snag a deal along the way. Since I'm selling more than 10 items, I'll get to shop "early" with other consignors on Thursday, but I definitely won't be beating the crowds, so I hear. Expected wait time in the checkout line is minimum 30 minutes, but possibly an hour or more! Good thing I just updated my iPhone with the new 2.0 software and got some games. ;-)

I ran into my friend Nancy and neighbor Lisa, who both gave me some great insights and help about how to put my stuff out and strategies for shopping and selling. A Kids Exchange worker gave me a suggestion to go buy a large rolling trashcan from Wal-Mart to bring with me while I shop; She said that's it a perfect size (tall with a small footprint) for holding everything, yet navigable through the crowds. How much stuff does she think I'm going to buy? A trashcan's worth?? Hmm, I guess we'll see.

So anyway, just to try to capture the sheer enormity of this sale, I snapped a few pix with my iPhone. A farm of baby swings.

A wall of Board Games

A Sea of Toys

Swim Gear

Changing Tables and Highchairs

Need a bouncy seat or 50? How about an Exersaucer? There are hundreds to choose from!

This is just one row of perhaps a dozen like this, each FULL of clothing.

Videos, media and "educational" games

Enough children's books to fill a small library.

So in case you miss this sale, here is a list below of other upcoming local kids consignment sales in the Raleigh, NC area. If you aren't from this area, look up your state on

(Please click on the links to check for updated event information and changes.)
Kids Exchange
July 21st - 28th, 2008
Jim Graham Building at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh
Twice as Nice - I went to this one last spring and found *lots* of cute clothes!
August 1-2, 2008
The CC Jones Building
309 Holleman Street
Apex, NC 27502
Upscale Resale - sounds like it's exclusively very high-end clothing.
August 14-16th, 2008
Cary Masonic Lodge in Cary (also planning to have another in Greensboro but have not scheduled that yet.)
The Divine Consign Show Raleigh - also sounds like it's exclusively very high-end clothing. No toys or other items like that accepted for consignment.
August 26-29, 2008
Quail Hollow Swim and Tennis Clubhouse
Contact Kelly at (919) 272-3070
New Mom Registration - If you are expecting your first child or if your first child is less than 12 months old, you are invited to attend the New Mom Private Shopping on Thursday, August 28th from 9:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. But you must register!
Kids EveryWear - This sale seemed HUGE when I attended it in March! I got tons of deals on baby gear, toys, and clothes too.
September 13 - 19, 2008
Prime Outlets Mall
Morrisville, NC
Adoptive parents, first-time moms of a child under age 1, and pregnant moms can all shop early after registering online!
Kid Around Kidsale
October 3-5, 2008
"The Factory"
1839 US 1-A /South Main St.
Wake Forest NC
Just 4 Kids Consignment Sale
October 5-10, 2008
Life Spring Community Church
501 Wake Chapel Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Most consignment sales offer you the opportunity to shop first if you volunteer your time to work a shift. You also get to shop earlier than the public if you are a consignor, so dig out 10 items from your closet and tag them! It's worth the bargains to get to shop first! Also, many of these sales are actually biannual with one sale per year focused on winter and fall clothing, while the other sale focuses on summer/spring apparel.

Good luck bargain hunting!

July 18, 2008

Twitter in Plain English

Twitter is a cool little website that I've been using for a while now. It basically takes the "What are you doing?" status update portion of Facebook and strips away everything else. So it's a very simple, to-the-point way to update people on yourself. You can Twitter about yourself, an event, include web links, photos from your cell phone, and also reply to other people's "tweets." Here's a quick video describing it more:

July 2, 2008

Starbucks to close 600 stores

Starbucks announced yesterday that they will be closing 600 stores and will scale back the opening of new stores in 2009. I guess "a Starbucks on every corner" didn't turn out to be quite as profitable for them as they had imagined. Perhaps it was the $4+ cup of coffee which never really seems worth it to me. I am far from a coffee connoisseur however, as I proclaim myself to only be a "social [coffee] drinker," so what do I know? Could it be that clown Ronald and his ubiquitous chain of Mickey D's restaurants and their new low-cost specialty coffees that gave Starbucks a run for its money? Even more likely, it's the sky-high gas prices that drove people to reconsider their financial priorities and cut back on their luxurious lattes.

Personally, I'd like to engage in wishful thinking and believe that it was The Mocha Club which changed Americans' coffee buying habits. Check it out!

July 1, 2008

Free Downhere music offer extended for 2 more weeks!

In case you're running behind on life (as I often am), you're in luck this time. Centricity Music has extended their offer of Downhere's CD, "Wide-Eyed and Mystified" for another two weeks. So what are you waiting for people? Go get it! And then spread the word to your friends... who wouldn't like some no-cost DRM-free mp3 files to add to their musical collection?

Also, after you listen to it, be sure to request their song "Here I Am" from your local radio station, as it is the new single that went for adds last week.

June 25, 2008

Free full album download of Downhere's CD, "Wide-Eyed and Mystified" - only 5 days left!

Okay, so I'm a little late to the game to be posting this on my blog, but something is always better than nothing... Centricity Music has partnered with to offer Downhere's most recent CD release, "Wide-Eyed and Mystified," as a completely free, no-strings-attached, mp3 download during the month of June! It's all of the songs, in their entirety, not just sample clips! Why you ask? It's in hopes that you'll become a fan of Downhere (if you aren't already) before their new album, "Ending is Beginning," releases on September 23rd, 2008. Thing is... there are only 5 full days left in June as I write this, so you better get to downloading! If you have never heard Downhere's music before and you like what you hear, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think! Click here or on the image below to download the music.

April 19, 2008

eXpelled... no intelligence allowed

Tonight some friends and I went to see Ben Stein's new movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed which opened today in theaters. I first heard about this movie back in January and have been curious to see it ever since. The basis of the plot is about how many professionals in the scientific and education community have been immediately ostracized by their peers when they merely bring up the subject of "Intelligent Design." Darwin's Theory of Evolution has long been the standard ideology taught in science classrooms across this country, often disregarding the first word of the title, "THEORY of Evolution." Yet the blacklisted scientific intellectuals pruport that Intelligent Design should be allowed equal consideration in the education field, especially since Darwinism still can't explain how the first molecular cell came into existence.

What I gathered most that this film is about is not necessarily an argument that viewers should believe in Intelligent Design (although it makes some hard points that are difficult to counter), but rather that it was about academic freedom and the opportunity to explore other options besides the standard Theory of Evolution that culture has so firmly settled upon. If the field of science uncovers new facts and evidence through modern technology that counter the accepted norm, will the scientific community consider these points, or continue to teach something that does not contain the full picture yet is so widely accepted across the culture?

Expelled touches on how a person's world view affects their viewpoint of this topic, how Darwinism influenced Hitler, and takes a look at the deeply intricate structure of human DNA. Ben tours Dachau concentration camp in Germany as well as another Nazi controlled hospital, speaks to dozens of scientists on BOTH sides of the issue, and conducts an extensive interview with the author of "The God Delusion," Richard Dawkins.

Stein did a great job keeping the documentary from getting too dry by interspersing hundreds of old black and white film clips, many of them humorous, into precisely-timed points of the movie. Much of this footage had double meaning, in that it drew parallels between this subject and events throughout history such as the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust.

While it's a bit obvious which side of this issue Ben sits on, I found it refreshing to hear the "other side of the story" from that which is most often discussed. Being a Jew himself, Stein distinguished the difference between Creationism and Intelligent Design, drawing distinct lines between the two and countering those who think that Intelligent Design is just a ploy to get prayer back into schools.

I'm sure there will be some opposition to this film, but if it can open the doors of discussion on the subject of Intelligent Design like Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" did for global warming, then I believe it will do a great justice to the scientific community and the future of education. After all, if we lose our academic freedom to explore all possibilities of life and how it began, then what other freedoms will we lose next?

April 8, 2008

Adobe takes Photoshop software online... for free!

[I'm participating in Techie Tip Tuesday! Read more about it here.]

A little more than a year ago, I decided to break my blogging hiatus by writing a nice blog entry about Adobe's announcement of a free online version of Photoshop that they would be releasing in the future. Well as you can read here, that was before Blogger had implemented the "Auto Save" feature and a bug in their new system caused me to lose my whole post! Discouraged, I never rewrote that original entry...

Well now I can write it again, because Adobe has finally released the Photoshop Express Beta! Here's an announcement I got about it a couple of weeks ago:
Today Adobe announced Adobe Photoshop Express public beta, a free Rich Internet Application (RIA) available to anyone who wants to store, sort and show off digital photos with eye-catching effects. During the public beta period, Adobe will solicit Photoshop Express user feedback on product features and functionality, which will continue to evolve over time. As the newest addition to the Photoshop family line, Photoshop Express has taken much of Adobe's best image editing technology and made it simple and accessible to a new online audience. Photoshop Express allows users to store up to 2 gigabytes of images online for free, make edits to their photos, and share them online in creative ways, including downloading and uploading photos from popular social networking sites like Facebook.
2 GB of online image storage and instant access to Facebook... I don't think it will take very long for this thing to take off! I wonder if it will really help sales of the full retail version of Photoshop like Adobe hopes it will. I suppose there will be people formerly intimidated by Photoshop's price tag who can finally learn a simplified version of it now and upgrade later. But then again, this version is free and sounds like it will do a lot, so unless you're a graphic designer, is it really worth forking over hundreds of dollars for the full package? I guess we'll see.

In the meantime... I can't get the PS Express beta version to work! Firefox and Safari both give me a blank white screen and my copy of Internet Explorer is currently having problems with the Flash plugin. (Guess that's why they call it a "beta"!) So I can't really comment on how I like Photoshop Express just yet, but I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it. Leave me a comment below!

March 19, 2008

Geared up for baby!

Well Riley turned 3 months old this past Saturday... as a friend recently said to me, it's funny how a single day can crawl, but then a month has flown by! That is SO true with a new baby! Sometimes it seems like the day is endless and evening will never come, but then I look back at the week and can't believe how fast it passed!

Since this time last year when I found out I was pregnant (Maundy Thursday on April 5th to be precise), I started noticing a trend among other friends and family members who were also pregnant. It seems that there was something in the water, because the more people I told I was pregnant, the more people I found out were pregnant themselves too! I started keeping track on a post-it note and then had to add a second post-it note... and then a third. At last count I have at least 35-40 friends 43+ friends who are/were having a baby(s) between May of 2007 and August of 2008! That's not even including three families I know who've adopted during that time frame nor all of the new friends I made during my prenatal exercise & education classes! At least Riley will have lots of friends to play with in the coming years. :-)

Apparently my expanding network of friends isn't so uncommon, at least in Wake County. According a newspaper article published last summer, Wake County has been experiencing 35 births per DAY in recent months. That's one new (very full) kindergarten class every DAY!!

So as two more of Riley's future friends (boyfriends?) were born this past week, I keep getting asked about cool products and ideas I've discovered and would recommend. I'm sure there are many more that I'm overlooking, but in honor of Riley's 13 weeks of life, here's a list of thirteen great baby resources we like, in no particular order.

1. Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper - We have the "Mini Convertible" co-sleeper and have absolutely loved it! Two fellow fathers came up to Robert in one week while we were pregnant and both told him, "You HAVE to get a co-sleeper... it will save you so much sleep when your wife wants you to bring her the baby at night!" Basically it's a "sidecar crib" for your bed, and the baby (technically) sleeps right there next to you at night and is only an "arm's reach" away. I say" technically" because everybody knows that young babies don't actually sleep at night. :-)

2. Baby Bargains book -I discovered this book early on and then my neighbor told me, "I would have given you my copy if you didn't already have it!" I call it a "must-have" when shopping and registering for baby products. I don't think there was ever a single item I wanted to know about that wasn't listed in this book... and rated for reliability, safety, price, necessity factor, etc. by the authors and other parents.

3. "My Brest Friend" (MBF) nursing pillow - Okay the marketing department for this company should be fired for the terrible name this product has. Nonetheless, it's a great product, so I still have to mention it here. You may have heard of the wildly popular "Boppy" pillows for breastfeeding. Well this is a similar product and when I first saw it, I immediately dismissed it as a Boppy-knockoff mostly because of the hokey-sounding product name. Yet a fellow Aqua Mom (see below) who delivered her baby about a month before Riley was born said that she preferred the MBF over the Boppy, so I decided to give it a try. I traded in one of the duplicate Boppy pillows I received at a baby shower for the MBF and was really impressed! Although I still like the Boppy better for some situations, the MBF pillow is really convenient in that it actually hooks around your waist and provides a better flat support for your baby to lay on. You don't have to worry about the pillow sliding away from you with each movement and can actually stand up while wearing it, provided that you hold on securely to the baby! I found it really nice to use in bed for middle-of-the-night feedings. Boppys are good for babies to use themselves though when learning to sit up and for "tummy-time" play.

4. Books, books, and more books! There are so many books I have enjoyed reading. There are even more that I probably should have read, but never got around to! Last fall, some pregnant friends and I compiled a list of books that we recommended to other moms-to-be. Here is a website listing those books. If you have a newborn, or one on the way, be sure to check out "The Happiest Baby on the Block" book and DVD. It's really cool when you try out the five S's on a screaming infant and see them calm down right before your eyes!

5. Aqua Moms - In the middle of August, I was only 5 months pregnant, but the idea of exercising to stay in shape had already worked its way out of my desires. Yet in the midst of the heat, I came across a listing for a prenatal swim class for moms-to-be and the idea immediately excited me! Mostly because I wanted to go swimming and had no access to a pool, but I also knew I was supposed to stay in shape for the baby's sake. Enter "Aqua Moms," a very fun water aerobics class taught by Marybeth Winstead of Healthy Moms of NC and you have the most fun I've ever had working out. Healthy Moms offers all kinds of fitness classes for both moms and babies, but the best part of it was all of the friends I made who were due with their babies around the same time I was. Members from my class have even formed a playgroup now... check out the photo!

6. gDiapers - If you had asked me a year ago about using cloth diapers, I probably would have looked at you like you're crazy. Extra laundry is not what I'm looking for as a new mother! However, a pretty cool "in between" solution is called gDiapers. They are adorably cute cloth diapers that have a snap-in liner which holds a biodegradable, flushable insert! You can either take the insert and flush it down the toilet OR compost it in your backyard OR just toss it in the trash knowing that it will break down in 50-150 days! It's a pretty cool earth-friendly, feel-good concept and I was really sold on it before Riley was born. Now that I've tried it out, I'm still liking it okay, but find it a little more difficult than the "kill the planet" method of using disposable diapers. (They take up to 500 years to break down!) I haven't mastered the art of flushing the insert while still holding Riley (it really takes two hands), so I have to find somewhere to put her down which can sometimes take a few minutes. Also, we only have two colored "shells" (the outer part), so when they are both dirty (sometimes that's after 4-5 diaper cycles, other times after just one!) then we are done using gDiapers until they get washed. So it just takes a little more practice than disposable diapers. All in all, I like the concept a lot but recommend that you have an ample supply of shells and liners on hand, and also I'm not sure I recommend gDiapers for very young newborns who have poopy diapers EVERY time. Wait a few weeks until that slows down and you'll save yourself a lot of washing! I've heard that some parents use cloth inserts instead of the flushable gDiaper inserts, but that spells even more laundry to me and we are under water restrictions here in Wake County, after all! One more cool thing about modern cloth diapers though: they have Velcro tabs! No more big diaper pins!

7. Maya Wrap - If there's one product I've gotten the most compliments on, it's been the Maya Wrap sling I sometimes use to carry Riley in. I really enjoy wearing it because it lets me carry Riley essentially "hands-free" and there are a zillion different positions she can sit in, although we've only mastered a few of them. Check out the different fabric designs at Thanks Stacy & Tim for letting me borrow yours!!

8. SnugGlider - I know I'm not the first parent to fall in love with baby swings, but I just want to share my appreciation anyway... swings are awesome! At least Riley thinks so! We have really lucked out with friends letting us borrow a lot of baby gear, eliminating the need to purchase some big-ticket items. Friends Andy & Megan have done no small part in outfitting us with two of their baby swings, both of which Riley just might wear out before we can give them back! She absolutely loves the Fisher-Price Rainforest Open-Top Cradle Swing and actually coos when we put her in it and pull down the mobile. But what has been an even bigger lifesaver is the Graco SnugGlider car seat swing frame. As shown in the photo, it lets you snap your SnugRide infant car seat into the frame to create an instant swing - perfect for when the baby is still asleep after getting home from a car ride! It also helped us get her to go to sleep/nap at home a lot in the first few weeks. It folds up nice and portable for taking along on a road trip which worked well for us too.

9. Apple iPhone - Okay, I know this isn't a typical "baby" product, but if you're a techie like me, you really should consider this as an "investment" into your sanity as a new mother! I was fortunate enough to win an iPhone in a drawing last April (THANK YOU CENTRICITY RECORDS!!!), and now I don't know what I would do without it!! Seriously, it has been so many different things for me in the past three months as a new mom: a late-night email reader, web browser and game device while sitting in the dark for hours each night; a digital camera for those impromptu have-to-get baby photos; a night light; a music player for white noise and lullabies (works great when placed in the infant carrier while shopping!); a place to keep track of feedings and diaper changes; a digital calendar for scheduling the next appointment at the doctor's office; a grocery list keeper; an online maps and "virtual GPS" device when I'm lost or need directions; a Facebook portal; an online shopping tool for price comparisons (saved us $18 one time when we checked while standing in Babies R Us!); and not to mention a cell phone!! Knowing what I know now, I'd gladly shell out $399 for one of these and call it worth it, at least for me. There's always the iPod Touch too if you don't have AT&T mobile phone service.

10. Kids' Consignment Sales - I just experienced my first two consignment sales for kids' clothing and toys last week and I'm hooked! I got some amazing deals on products I needed, not to mention a bunch of really cute clothes at a fraction of their original cost. These sales seem to be popular in the spring and fall (although there's a big one in Raleigh in July), so do a Google search and find one near you. Be sure to make out a list ahead of time of what you're looking for, and if you want to shop before the public does, find a few items of your own to sell and you'll get to shop ahead of time with the other consignors. I did this at one of the sales and it was well worth it, even though only a few of my things sold.

11. Online Resources - My husband and I really enjoyed getting the weekly email updates while I was pregnant that told us how much and in what ways the baby had grown that week. Now that the baby's been born, it switched over and sends us emails about what to expect each week with the newborn. Some other great resources I've used online are the La Leche League's forums on breastfeeding, on breastfeeding and parenting, and which was recommended by my health insurance company (about 8 times they've told me to go there!) and covers LOTS of women's health topics.

12. - I discovered this website last May and absolutely adore it now! Basically it's a free membership that lets you mail books to other people in the country that want them, and then you receive books you want in the mail! All you ever pay for is postage to mail out your own books. Once you list an initial 10 books that you're willing to trade, the system will give you 2 credits to get started. Out of the 18 or so pregnancy books I have, I only paid money for 3 of them (which were all journals), because I got the rest of them free through this system! I'd go to the bookstore and pick out a book I wanted, jot down the ISBN, add it to my PBS Wish List, and then wait for the email that says it's coming! This really works well for just clearing off your bookshelves too, but if you're not into reading they've added new services recently called SwapaCD and SwapaDVD which let you transfer your credits between all 3 sites. Be sure to use my referral code (goldentwig) if you sign up for any of them and I'll earn a free credit!

13. "Hooter Hider" - I know not everybody can or chooses to breastfeed, but in case you do, it's good to have resources! My mother-in-law asked me a few months ago if I had ever heard of a "Hooter Hider" to which I replied no. Later, while looking on Amazon for something else, I came across the Hooter Hider's line of products, which are nursing shawls. Honestly though, it ranks right up there with the "My Brest Friend" on product names that make you laugh when you say them! I recently purchased one (although I chose a different brand) and it has opened up a world of places where I can feed her now... on an airplane, in the airport terminal, sitting in a room full of people... and most are none the wiser for what I'm doing!

Okay, whew! If you're read this far, then congrats! While not exhaustive at all, hopefully my list was helpful if you're shopping or registering for a new little one in your life. For those of you "veteran moms and dads" out there (even at only 3 months like me!), what are your favorite products / books so far that you want to tell others about? Leave a comment below and tell us!

March 5, 2008


Here's an interesting tidbit of information that I received via email this week (HT: Ann & Mom) about Easter in 2008. I haven't done extensive calendar research to verify that it's true, but Snopes says it is, so that's good enough for me! Check this out...
Easter is early this year. Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

Based on the above information, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22); that is rare.

Here's the interesting information. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early before (95 years old or above). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier! Here's the facts:

1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).

2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!

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