Friday, June 20, 2014

Growing Up with a Pet | Victoria and Wilson

You don't need to read through thousands of child psychology or baby development textbooks to know that children love animals. The bond that is formed between the baby and the family pet - whether it's a dog, a cat, a hamster or a bird - is proven to be a big factor in child's emotional development. Being around an animal is beneficial in many ways. 

A pet is a great friend and loyal companion. Most pets have it in their nature to look after babies, though some breeds will be better for your baby than others. For a list of suggested breeds, please visit: Just Dog Breeds

Research has shown that children living with pets are less likely to develop certain allergies, as well as asthma and eczema. Their immunity is boosted through regular interactions with the pet, and so they develop a natural immunity to all sorts of yucky stuff, including seasonal colds and many types of bacteria. 

Regular exercise and, therefore, a more healthy life style, is yet another "side-effect" of owning a pet, particularly a dog. As soon as your baby learns how to crawl, they will start chasing the dog around the apartment, trying to pull its tail or grab a fistful of that fluffy fur. Then comes actual running after the dog, playing with the ball or frisbee, jogging around the neighborhood or even just playing in the backyard. 

Caring for a pet helps teach them become more responsible and improves their nurturing skills. They are more empathic and more caring. Being able to care for another creature, boosts their confidence and gives them a sense of accomplishment

Additionally, the relationship between children and their pets offers a special kind of comfort, one that not even parents can provide. According to studies, children with pets are more mature, have higher self-esteem, better social skills, and have virtually no trouble forming and maintaining peer connections. In other words, your child is happier with a little furry friend around

Growing up, I always had at least one pet keeping me company. When I was only 5, my parents brought home an adorable, loving dachshund. We named her Sandra. I still remember running around the apartment with that little monkey-dog, cuddling together on the couch while watching Disney movies (well, at least I was watching, I don't know what kept Sandra sitting so still and fascinated), and going for long walks into the woods area surrounding our home. These are some wonderful memories and I will always cherish them. 

Sandra was my first pet, but far from the last one. After she was gone, we had two German Shepherds, two mixed breeds, a parrot, two hamsters and a fish-tank full of, well, fish. One time, my dad brought home a wounded hedgehog, and we took care of that poor guy, too, until he was healthy enough to be released into the "wild". I grew up surrounded by animals, learning how to take care of them and feeling their unconditional love. Nothing could ever replace their presence in my life, no games, no movies, no books, not even my friends. 

When I found out that I was pregnant, I knew I wanted the same kind of wonderful experience for my baby. Luckily, we already had a wonderful pet, a loving Sheltie boy named Wilson. Now, Wilson is a real sweetheart. He is smart, caring, gentle, and - as weird as this may sound - very considerate. And so I knew from the get-go that he would be a wonderful big brother to our baby girl. And of course, he is. Moreover, he's even better with her than I could have ever hoped for.

Of course, I was a bit worried about the logistics of it all. With my husband in dental school and my parents all the way across the ocean, I am virtually all by myself here. A toddler to take care of seems like enough work, especially in the first few months when you're barely getting any sleep and constantly smell like baby vomit. Or poop. Or both. 

I worried about taking the dog for a walk with a newborn baby. I worried about finding the time to feed him. I worried he may accidentally do something to hurt her (he is a hugger, he likes forcing his furry butt on your lap). I worried about many things... And sure, it's not exactly a walk in the park and it takes some serious planning and trouble-shooting, but it is definitely do-able. Not to mention rewarding. Just seeing these two together makes all the running around, not getting any sleep or rest and often-times, not eating so these two can eat WORTHWHILE. 

I get up in the morning, I feed the little one, change her diaper, change her clothes and then I make myself a cup coffee. I no longer have the privilege of enjoying it on the porch in the morning sun. Instead, I pour it into my go-mug, I leash the dog, get the baby settled in her stroller, and off we go. Two rounds around the neighborhood and one coffee later, we are back home. Baby is napping, why, wouldn't that be a perfect time to sit down and read a bit? Nope, I quickly take a shower to wash the morning vomit off and then I prepare the meal for Wilson. Baby wakes up, it's playtime. Then it's feeding time again, and we go for another walk. If I'm lucky, I had the time to grab a snack for myself to enjoy, if not - oh, well! I'll just wait till hubby gets home (around 6 p.m.). Sure, it takes some sacrifices. Sure, it's not easy. Is it worth it though? Totally. 

Victoria is only 4 months old and I can already tell how much she adores Wilson. And vice versa. She cries a bit and he is the first one to run to check on her. He comes around and she is grinning like the happiest kid in the world. I tell him "say hi to Victoria" and he sticks his cold nose into her cheek and licks her chin a bit, and she is so delighted, she squees out loud. They are so good for each other and I am so happy to see them growing up together. After all, Wilson is still just a baby himself, he's only 2 years old this July. 

I really can't wait to see them playing together when she's old enough to walk. I can't wait to witness more of their adorable little moments and I can only hope to have the camera handy when they happen. I know he'll be a good friend, a good older brother to Victoria. And I know she'll love and care for him. What more could I hope for?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Swimming With Your Baby | Biggest Tub Evah!

     Last Sunday, we finally made the decision to take Victoria to a swimming pool. Our local YMCA has an amazing facility for children, with a separate pool that is just perfect for introducing your baby to the biggest tub evah. It was a hot, sunny day. We were all exhausted and annoyed by the heat, and Victoria was getting her usual "I'm too hot" crank on. What could possibly be better than relaxing and splashing around in cool water? We bought the swimming nappies, packed all the necessary things, and off we went! And it was awesome!

     Victoria is an Aquarius. She just loves water. She won't go to sleep without a long, relaxing dip in her WashPod. Still, I was a little bit worried how she'd react to being in a pool, surrounded by bright lights, lots of water and laughing kids, but thankfully, she really loved it. She wasn't even all that surprised to be honest, she was splashing around like it was her daily routine. 

     Hubby came along, and so we took turns holding Victoria and swishing her around. Because it was our first time taking her to YMCA, we didn't want to overdo it, so we only stayed for about 15 minutes, but next time we'll definitely be spending more time in the water! 

     For those of you who are about to take your little ones swimming for the first time, here are some tips that you might find helpful.

What to bring with you:

- First and foremost - Swim Diapers (You'll have a choice of either getting the reusable ones or a package of disposable ones from, say, Pampers [Splashers] or Huggies [Little Swimmers]. They're more or less in the same price range, so it all comes down to your preference)

- A towel or a towelling dressing gown - and don't forget to bring it to the pool area, you want to keep the baby warm after leaving the pool.

- A couple of your baby's favorite bath toys - it'll make them feel more relaxed.

- Food for the baby, because, you know, babies get super hungry after swimming! Either a warm bottle of formula, or - if you're breastfeeding - account for the extra 10-15 minutes for nursing.

- A bag with: changing mat, change of clothes, either a lotion or baby oil (pool water contains lots of chlorine, so it's really necessary to make sure baby's skin gets the extra pampering it'll need!), diapers, baby powder.

-  If your spouse is coming along, you can also bring a camera to take some adorable pictures of your little one's first swimming experience.

- If it'll be just you and the baby, bring your baby's carrier / car seat. You'll need a place to put the baby down while you're getting dressed.

In The Pool:

- Take it slow, let your baby get familiar with the new surroundings - after all, it's the biggest tub evah!

- Hold your baby close, keep an eye contact and talk to your baby in a soothing, cheerful voice.

- Once your baby gets used to being in water, try splashing a little or swishing her around. Try playing with toys.

- If your baby is old enough, play some fun water games. Encourage her to kick around while you hold her head  and back up in a horizontal position.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Grass Isn't All That's Green Blog Hop | YES TO Products Prize Pack Giveaway

My adventure with YES TO products started a little over half a year ago. I was about 6 months pregnant  at that time and in great need of GREEN beauty products that actually work. I went on Amazon and browsed, browsed, browsed. First I discovered the facial towelletes (YES TO Cucumber), and from there it was all too easy to get caught up in the YES TO buying frenzy. 

So far, I've tried the YES TO Carrots night cream, body lotion and shower gel, as well as the YES TO Grapefruit facial scrub. And of course, the one that started it all for me, the YES TO Cucumber facial towelletes.  

What I love about this brand, is that all their products are at least 95% natural (some are 98% or 99%!). They're all Petroleum, SLS, & Paraben Free. AND - these guys don't test on animals, so they're also cruelty free.

My husband LOVES the YES TO Carrots line, the lotion and body wash help soothe his skin (he's struggling with eczema). Both these products are practically fragrance-free (there's a faint carrot smell, but it's very pleasant), and it's a big deal for him, he won't use products with artificial fragrances.

The YES TO Baby Carrots Wipes are perfect for both the mommy and the baby! They're very gentle on your skin. 

When I signed up for The Grass Isn't All That's Green blog hop, I immediately knew that this was the product I'd like to share with you! So don't wait, enter the giveaway below (good luck!) and say YES TO healthy, beautiful, happy skin!

My Giveaway:

What you can win:

Open to: residents of US/Canada
Ends: 6/30
Enter via Rafflecopter below

About the hop:

Welcome to the Green Your Summer Event! The Blogging Mamas Network has come together with like-minded bloggers to make sure your grass isn't all that is green this Summer!

Each blogger in the Event is bringing readers a great green prize to win. You have until June 30th to enter, so be sure to hop around to them all and find great eco-friendly products to help you go green and don't miss the fabulous Grand Prize: 3 Month Subscription to Green Kid Crafts and an Amazon Gift Card!

Grand Prize:

(click on the image)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Garlic Butter with Dill | Recipe

We decided to try and make our very first Garlic Butter with Dill today and it turned out beyond wonderful! It's such a simple and quick recipe, and the butter can be used for many different meals - from garlic bread toasts to steak! I highly recommend trying it out - you will be in food heaven! 


2 sticks of butter, softened
2 tablespoons minced garlic (fresh, not the jar kind)
2 tablespoons chopped up dill
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


1) In a bowl, combine softened butter, minced garlic, and dill. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix until smooth.

2) Wrap the garlic butter in a foil wrap and roll to shape it. Refrigerate until hardened (about 30-40 minutes).

Use within 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Serving idea:

Steak strips with garlic butter, young potatoes and salad. Yum!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Currently Reading: The Signature Of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things is coming out in a beautiful paperback very soon and to celebrate that, we are giving away a copy on Bookish (US only, enter HERE).

I am only about half-way through the book right now (and it's a long one - 500 pages in a tiny font), but I am completely and utterly mesmerized by both the gorgeously rendered historical settings and Gilbert's beautiful writing style. 

I haven't read Eat, Pray, Love
Nor have I read any of her other novels.
This is my first experience with her prose. And I am kicking myself for not picking up one of her books earlier. 

It's, well, quite frankly, amazing. Intelligent, clever, meaningful, charming.. 

Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel centers around the Whittaker family - focusing mainly on Henry Whittaker, a self-made millionaire who makes a fortune in the South American quinine trade, and his daughter, Alma, a brilliant and gifted botanist. It's a meticulously researched, evocative tale of ambition, love, desire and the thirst for knowledge and self-improvement. 

“Take me someplace where we can be silent together.”
     “You see, I have never felt the need to invent a world beyond this world, for this world has always seemed large and beautiful enough for me. I have wondered why it is not large and beautiful enough for others-- why they must dream up new and marvelous spheres, or long to live elsewhere, beyond this dominion... but that is not my business. We are all different, I suppose. All I ever wanted was to know this world. I can say now, as I reach my end, that I know quite a bit more of it than I knew when I arrived. Moreover, my little bit of knowledge has been added to all the other accumulated knowledge of history-- added to the great library, as it were. That is no small feat, sir. Anyone who can say such a thing has lived a fortunate life.”
“The trick at every turn was to endure the test of living for as long as possible. The odds of survival were punishingly slim, for the world was naught by a school of calamity and an endless burning furnace of tribulation. But those who survived the world shaped it--even as the world, simultaneously, shaped them.”
“I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent–and working at a pace so slow–that I would be able to hear myself living.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

GURAIO Striping Tape Line Nail Art (Review + Nail Art Bundle Giveaway)

     I'm a beginner when it comes to nail art, but I recently got an opportunity to try out GURAIO Striping Tapes and boy, was that a lot fun! These tapes are not only visually appealing, but also really fun and easy to use. It takes a bit of practice and some manual skills to get a really nice and clean design, but once you get a hang of it, the possibilities are endless. If you need inspiration, there are literally hundreds of YouTube tutorials to help you. 

     I got the tapes on Amazon from a seller located in China, at a wholesale price (they came in a bundle of 30 for only about $2.00 with FREE shipping!). The order came way faster than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise, and the variety of colors and patterns was amazing. I didn't get any doubles in my order, though I probably wouldn't mind either way, not for that prize! There is enough of product to last me a life time, honestly. I don't think I'll ever have to order these again (though I totally would!). 

   The only thing that I could complain about is the quality of the glue. It just doesn't always stick well. But then again, like with any other nail art stickers, as long as you put on a layer of clear coat nail polish on top, you're all good! Overall, this was an awesome purchase and I'm really glad I gave these a try.

Now, if you'd like to have some NAIL ART fun, too, be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY below!
Open to: US/CANADA
Ends: June 28th

Enter via Rafflecopter below! 
Products you can win:

- GURAIO Acrylic Designer Nail Tips
- set of premium MASH rhinestones
- 30Pcs Mixed Colors Rolls Striping Tape
- SHANY Nail Art Set (24 Colors Nail Art Polish)

a Rafflecopter giveaway