Sneak Peek of Cruz @ Nine Months

Last Thursday, Darcy from At Play Photo came over to capture some photos of our little man at nine months.  We started in his room, taking pictures of him standing tall by his book shelf or reading But Not the Hippopotamus in his big chair.  He hammed it up for her, showing his pearly whites and scrunching up his nose.  And while I relished the opportunity to sit back and watch as someone else snapped pictures of my sweet boy, I couldn't help but remember the last time Darcy was in Cruz's room, when he was just six days old.  We've come a long way since that peaceful little morning at home and our rambunctious little man is keeping us on our toes.  

I've loved all our photo shoots with Darcy, but must say, Thursday was my favorite.  In a little over two hours, we managed to travel from our house, to downtown Waterloo, and back to our house.  And after posing and shooting and changing and smiling, we ended the photo shoot with a sunset, a galvanized bucket, some bubble bath, and a naked baby boy.  I would have given anything to climb inside Cruz's head at that moment, wondering what he thought of being stripped down to nothing, in the middle of our backyard, in front of a strange lady snapping pictures of him in a bucket.  He had the funniest look on his face!  

It's been pretty special sharing these milestone ages with Darcy.  With just one shoot left before our little boy turns one, I find myself so thankful for the piles of pictures that serve as documentation of a year that is has been the best of our lives.  

Until next time, here is our newest sneak peek.   

Modern technology a blessing or a curse for our third culture kids?

This week a colleague of mine had the honour of became granny for the first time in her life. A small grandson was born and she was elated! Of course we all had to hear her good news and see the photographs on her iPhone, but that was not all. She actually had the baby visible on her webcam, we could see him lying in his cot and moving his arms. When he was picked for a feed, the cot was empty. He was in a local hospital here in the Netherlands. I suppose it is rather special but how can you do your work if you can watch your grandson all day? What about the privacy of this newborn? It made me wonder if granny lived in New Zealand would she have been able to watch this baby too? Times a definitely changing. I nearly spelled "definitely" wrong because I spelled it "definately". I just discovered that definitely is the most misspelled word in the English language. Never too old to learn something new! By the way webcam was developed in 1991, but the first commercial webcam came on the market in 1994.

When I was born years ago in the Zambian bush my parents sent a telegram home to the family. My grandparents saw me for the first time on a photograph but that was weeks after I was born. These new possibilities can be a great advantage for families separated from their loved ones by many kilometres. Like the third culture kids (TCKs), children growing in in another culture. I came across a great article Grandparenting over the seas written by Libby Stephens. There is another article too How to bridge the gap: tips for long distance relationships.

Skype has made long distance calls very cheap and with the great possibility of being able to see each other. This is really good for children. When I was in Indonesia and our daughter who was 2 years old at the time was able to skype with me from home base in the Netherlands, it made her feel that I was nearby. When she was going to have her meal she asked "mum are you coming home now to eat too?"

Friends of mine recently moved abroad but on their blog they shared the added pressure the new possibilities create. How often do you skype with grandparents when you are living abroad? Sometimes with the time differences you have to be creative to be able to actually skype together.

In this day and age it is important that we talk to our kids about social media: Facebook, hyves (the Dutch youth),Youtube etc. For third culture kids (TCKs) the internet is a blessing, it makes it so much easier to stay in contact with friends all over the globe, but it can be a curse too. Just read the newspaper and see what kind of things happen using the internet. Listen and watch this: for one minute about social media and your kids. It is a short video from the website Healthy Children powered by pediatricians.

What are your experiences with having family far away? Are you able to bridge the gap? Please share your stories here, do you have advice for other families? Is the modern technology a blessing or a curse?

Babywearing & The Sleepy Wrap (Video)

"Wearing" Avery at 4 weeks old
Now it didn't take long after Avery was born for me to ask myself, "How am I going to get ______ done, now that I have a baby?" The blank being things like cooking dinner, vacuuming, doing laundry, and just plain getting ready to go out in public.  Avery doesn't mind sitting in something we call "The Rock N' Roller" for 10-15 minutes max while she's awake, so I try to get done what I can while she's in that but it's usually short-lived. This leaves me with completing all the tasks I mentioned above, while Avery is asleep or with a baby in one arm. Now this is fine for awhile, but then your arm gets tired and everything you do takes double the time because you have to do it one-handed (which is how I'm typing this post right now...with one hand, since I'm holding Avery with the other hand while she eats-lol).  This leads me to babywearing, or as I call it on some days, "my sanity"!  Babywearing is just that- you wear your baby! I first read about babywearing in The Baby Book by Dr. Sears, and countless other baby books, as it has benefits for both mom and baby, and is used by moms all over the world. 

Some of the benefits of babywearing for babies (according to Dr. Sears website and the Sleepy Wrap website):
  • cry less
  • learn more (are smarter)
  • are healthier (seen to gain weight faster and have better motor skills)
  • get a better view of the world
  • become independent faster since they feel loved and cared for
  • sleep better
  • are happier
I guess this is how the "Sleepy Wrap" gets it's name!
Not to mention benefits for parents as well, such as:
  • Creates better communication between parent and baby.
  • Is convenient, since you don't have to lug them around everywhere in a car seat (boy is that thing heavy and awkward!)
  • Encourages parents to stay active since they can easily take the baby with them. I've been able to "wear" Avery here at home, to the grocery store, and even to the beach!
  • Not to mention you probably burn a few more calories when you're wearing them.
  • Builds confidence in parents since they know their baby's needs are met.
Some of my favorite things about babywearing are:
  • Being able to get things done around the house...hands-free!
  • Bonding with Avery. This along with baby massage as I mentioned on this post, will be one of my favorite things to do with Avery once I get home from a long day of work.  It will be great to have her nice and close, and I doubt she'll mind!
  • It takes the pressure off my arms and back and distributes it evenly so I don't mind holding her for longer periods of time (see more about the special wrap I use below).
  • Knowing all of Avery's needs are met.  Sometimes I feel guilty just leaving her sitting in her Rock N' Roller or doing Tummy Time, what can I say, I'm a new mom! So to be able to get things done and keep her satisfied with me (not just laying around all alone) feels so much better. 
Getting some onions from Costco at 2 months old.
Now babywearing is all nice and dandy when you talk about the benefits, but when you start looking for the type of wrap or sling you want to use, things get a bit more confusing. There's slings (which go over one shoulder and create a pouch for the baby), wraps (a piece of fabric that can be tied and wrapped around for a variety of ages and positions...that's what I'm wearing in all of these pictures), as well as other soft structure carriers (Mei Tai) or probably the most commonly known, Baby Bjorn

So, being the little prepared, pregnant planner mama I research around and found this Seven Slings sling online and decided to give it a try.  But when Avery was born I tried putting her in it and it just didn't feel right.  She seemed so tiny and crunched up...maybe I had the wrong size I don't know, it just didn't feel right.  So I began looking online, and found the Balboa Sling, which Dr. Sears himself recommends.  After paying for next-day shipping (silly momma), it arrived and I tried it out on Avery and although it seemed to fit a bit better, it gave me one aching back after just 15-20 minutes of wearing it...darn it! It basically felt like I was carrying a heavy messenger bag that was only going to get bigger and heavier as the weeks went on, ouch! Slings were not for me. Let the online research and shopping continue!
On the beach at 2 1/2 months.

That's when I came across The Sleepy Wrap.  Originally I was put off by all the wraps and ties, but once I learned how to put it on, it was all worth it.  I loved the quote on the front page of their website: "The baby wrap proven to calm and relax your baby from day one." Sign me up! So, once again I paid for next-day shipping, and when it arrived I tried it on and never looked back.  Does the format look similar to the Moby Wrap? Well, you're right, it's very similar to the Moby Wrap, the main difference is the fabric and how the Sleepy Wrap uses more spandex in it's fabric and it's a heavier, high quality knit.  What this means is that although the Moby Wrap may stretch out over time, the Sleepy Wrap always bounces back and stays nice and snug to your baby and your body. 

Some of my favorite features of the Sleepy Wrap are:
  • No pressure on my back, shoulders, arms, etc. Love this feature! It makes me enjoy carrying her!
  • No special sizing involved, everyone who wears it can adjust it to fit them.  Brandon has even worn it from time to time here at the house.
  • They have organic fabric available.
  • Can be worn for many months (starting right at birth) and even into toddlerhood, without having to buy differnt models or changing sizes.
Need more convincing on the benefits of the Sleepy Wrap? Check their comparison page here, it's very informative.  Maybe you have some questions, so here's their FAQ's page that may help. 

Now one thing to note is that the creators of The Sleepy Wrap do not recommend wearing babies in a "facing out" position. Although this position is a great way for babies to look out and see the world, it
does not provide good head, neck or leg support.  Also, babies can not turn away if the outside environment becomes too overwhelming (something I see Avery do from time to time when we are at a busy grocery store). It also makes it difficult for parents to read their babies cues since they are facing out.  Read more about this forward-facing issue here.

Now just with everything on my blog, do what works for you!  Maybe the Seven Slings sling works great for you, or Baby Bjorn is your go-to carrier...that's great! We're all different and so are our babies, so try out a few and find the one that works perfect for you!

So now that you know the benefits of babywearing and my favorite type of wrap, let me show you how to put it on!  As I've mentioned many times before, I learn best through videos, so when my Sleepy Wrap arrived in the mail I watched YouTube videos over and over about how to correctly put it on, and they were a lifesaver.  So, for this post I figured I'd let you meet Avery (video-style) and show you my favorite way to put on the Sleepy Wrap.  Here we are in her room (Want to see all the work we put into it while I was pregnant? Check out this link!) and I'll show you one way you can put on the Sleepy Wrap:

Did you like Avery just chilling out in the chair waiting while I put on the wrap? He he! She cracks me up.  I have a feeling this won't be the last time she shows up in a video on my blog!

Well that's the Sleepy Wrap, my favorite type of wrap that helps Avery and I reap the many benefits that come from babywearing.  Have you ever done babywearing with your little one? If so, what carrier did you like best? I'd love to hear what worked for you. Happy Babywearing from Avery and I! ( :

Suppertime Fun

Today, while I was uploading some videos on my computer, Cruz crawled over to watch.  You could tell he was completely mesmerized by my voice and his face on the screen.  He would watch really quietly, then look at me to see if I was making the noise he heard.  When he watched himself do the 'So Big' on camera, he copied himself and did it again!  Pretty cute.

The Secret Garden

We found a place this summer.  A place where Weeping Willow branches wisp the ground beneath them and wild lily flowers shoot up to the blue sky above.  A place where bright green lily pads create a blanket for the red and yellow Koi fish that swim below, just waiting for a fist-full of food to graze the surface of their water home.  A place where cobblestone paths lead to wild prairie flowers, handcrafted Adirondack chairs are nestled beside oak trees, and milkweed grows at your fingertips.

We found a place.

A faraway place.

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel I paint, but it is a great little hideaway place I had no idea existed.  The Cedar Valley has its fair share of beautiful parks and is even better known for its great bike trails.  One day this summer, Google helped me discover our very own Botanical Gardens.  Who knew Waterloo had Botanical Gardens?!  So, one afternoon, we went to scope it out.  And my, what a little treasure I found.


There are walkways and benches, Adirondack chairs for the young and old, a sandbox built for the Duggar family, and a Koi pond with lily pads and stone frogs that spit water in the air.  There are watering cans for the littles to help keep the flowers pretty, and a railroad system with trains, covered bridges, trees, and tiny people.  If one looks closely, one may also discover the remains of old prehistoric pets that used to roam the area.  

Last night, we beat the heat and had a picnic under the Weeping Willow tree.  With sweet tea and Popeye's Chicken, we munched and talked and made plans for future picnics.  Then, we explored.  Beau taught us all kinds of tricks, like knocking the concrete edge of the Koi pond to send the signal that food was in store, or using the pollen of the orange lilies to make face paint.  Cruz felt his first fish nibble and squeezed milk out of a milkweed plant.  It was quiet and peaceful.  


On the way back home, we talked about traditions.  Beau was thinking about the idea after one of his clients was talking about a Christmas in July tradition they have with their family.  And while putting up the Christmas tree, filling stockings, and singing 'Silent Night,' sounds a little weird amidst heat indexes of 100 degrees, I hope one of ours includes a picnic, some Popeye's chicken, and a weeping willow tree.  

And maybe a Koi pond, :)  

Daycraft Notebooks

A few weeks ago, I contacted Daycraft, in Hong Kong, to express interest in reviewing some of their products. I have seen some recent reviews of their notebooks, and I noticed that there was quite a bit of variety in what I had seen online. I was notified that I would receive a sample package, and within two weeks a package arrived. I was rather surprised when I found two notebooks and two diaries in the package, along with an extensive catalog of products. The catalog demonstrates that Daycraft caters to many different kinds of preferences, from small, sophisticated pocket diaries to the more visually interesting notebooks with designs.

The first item I pulled from the package was this small diary, which Daycraft calls the 2012 Signature Diary (mini size). The color is listed as green, but it is mostly a blue with some green, perhaps a darker teal. The contrast between the color of the color and blood orange pages/ribbon really grabbed my attention. It's not an obvious color pairing, and I like that. It draws on some styling that might be more common in the 60s and 70s.  The cover is soft and flexible, and it would be easy to forget that this is in your pocket. 

Another cool feature is the year printed across the side of the pages. If you had several years of these little diaries, it would be very easy to identify them as a stack on the shelf. I personally enjoy giving my notebooks labels and dates, so this feature appealed to me. 

The inside of the diary is loaded with all kinds of useful information: nutritional details, conversion tables, holidays, information on other countries, etc. All good stuff, especially if you don't have access to the internet at the moment and you need a quick reference guide. 

The pages are pretty small, so you get just enough lines to keep track of your obligations, homework assignments, and meetings. If you are a super busy person, than the size might be too small, but I think the format works well for the amount of space involved. The "diary" is clearly more of a planner than a diary, but Daycraft prefers to call it a diary, so that is how I will relay the naming to you.

The pages are very thin, so I'd only recommend using a ballpoint pen, a micro tip (~.38) gel pen, or a pencil. I didn't bother with a writing test, because the characteristics of the paper made the options obvious. If you don't mind using something that puts less ink on the page, this will likely be a great little diary for you. 

This is the band that was wrapped around the diary. As you can see, the diary is identified as green, which it most certainly is not, but I still think the color was appealing. 

Next we have the SKINZ notebook (A6 size), which features two menacing revolvers and a familiar phrase from Clint Eastwood, "Make My Day," which draws on the Daycraft slogan on the cover of their catalog, "We Make Your Day."

The notebook includes several temporary tattoos. I can't help thinking of the metal band Guns N Roses, which is an easy connection to make given the tattoos being of guns and roses. The tattoos don't appeal to me now, but I would have loved to be displaying these back in the day. 

As you can see, the pages have designs at the top, which I personally would rather not have, but it's nice to have something different from time to time. The pages are marketed as being 100 gram, which I thought was very surprising, so I had to try a writing sample. 

The Noodler's Piston Filler and Kaweco Sport feathered the most, but in both cases it wasn't terrible (Moleskine is typically much worse). I am guessing that less saturating (watery) inks tend to spread more on this kind of paper, which is not as smooth as Rhodia or Black n' Red. All in all, the paper held up very well, and I'd have limited issues using a fine point fountain pen nib on this paper. 

There was some considerable show-through with some of the pens, but I don't typically write on the back pages unless I am using something far less likely to produce show-through. If you mind seeing the ink on the opposite side of the page, you might not be a big fan of the outcome here. I guess it all depends on how particular you are about utilizing both sides of the page. 

Another aspects of the pages that might bother you is that the lines do not go all the way to the edge. This helps me keep my hand writing a bit neater, but many people prefer to have the lines go all of the way to the edge. Again, your preference may make this a deal breaker, but it was a bonus for me. 

 Here is the band that was on the outside of the SKINS notebook. 

Next on the list is the D-sign (read: design) notebook (A6 size). Unlike the SKINZ notebook, this one has a hard cover. The SKINZ notebook is firm, but had a softer, more flexible cover. 

A statement of what is meant by the image on the front. 

Again, the lines do not go the edge of the page, but there is is no design at the top of each page, given you more space than the SKINZ notebook. The pages are a bit smoother than the SKINZ notebook, which I like. I chose not to do a writing sample in this one a) because I am assuming it is just slightly better than the paper in the SKINZ and b) because I would like to have this in pristine shape to giveaway, either on the blog or as a gift. 

 And here is the band for the D-sign notebook. Some notebooks never give you these details, so I really enjoy that this notebook has a spec sheet of sorts to answer my questions.

Lastly, this is the 2012 Vogue Diary. It was the only one to come in a box, and it has a very tactile cover to it. The color is obviously blue, and it has a stitched square pattern that a bit squishy upon pressing on it. While the design might not be my personal taste, I am pretty sure my sister or girlfriend will snap this one up. Included is a good sized ribbon page marker. 

Out of the box, you can see just how shiny the cover is - it is polyurethane, by the way. 

The Vogue Diary has month view pages and day view pages, allowing you to get a better sense of your upcoming obligations. This is my preferred format, so you can get a glimpse of the year rather than just being buried in all of the details of daily tasks. 

The daily format has specific time slots to notate what you need to get done. If you have a more free-flowing style of planning, this may be too rigid for you. I am very specific about what I need to get done each day, so I thought this layout was perfect, if only the outside of the diary appealed to me more. Again, this is really a planner, not a diary, but Daycraft prefers to call this one a diary, so a diary it is. 

And here is the spec sheet band for the 2012 Vogue Diary.

 I had asked Mr. Lee, retail and marketing manager at Daycraft, a few questions about the company's goals and mission, and here is what he had to say:

  • We hope to sell in US. But up to now, you can find our Cookie Bookie Notebook in MOMA Shop ( in New York only;
  • Please refer to the "ABOUT US" in our web-site (; We hope to make good quality, creative but affordable products;
  • The paper is outsourced from reliable suppliers. We shall choose suitbale paper for a specific series!

     So, there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed taking a look at what Daycraft has to offer, and I only have a small sample of what is available through Daycraft. They clearly care about considering different tastes and designs, and the paper is very good, depending on what you intend to use it for. I look forward to seeing more of these available in the U.S. once distribution has expanded.