Friday, September 24, 2010

Awesome Anatomically Correct Baby Dolls

I buy only cloth-bodied or anatomically correct baby dolls for Isla, since the realistic bodied type with no genitalia freak me out. Cool anatomically correct dolls are hard to find, though, so I am always casually looking. Luckily, you can get really cute (and non-toxic!) ones locally, from Summer for Kids in Montecito (or on their website). Pictured is their European Boy with underwear, and they also have a girl and a newborn girl. Unfortunately at the moment they only offer White babies, but I've inquired about it and they do have plans to carry other ethnicities as well.

The other company I like for dolls is Berenguer. Pictured is the Asian Baby Girl. The website is a little strange, but I ordered a newborn doll for Isla (to be the present from her soon-to-be baby sister) and it came in the mail quickly and in really nice packaging.

Blessing Way for Baby Lyra

When I was pregnant with Isla, I secretly pined for a Blessing Way, even though I wasn't entirely sure of what that was. And I don't think very many of my friends (if any!) had ever even heard of it. I had a gorgeous baby shower that was fancy and lovely, and we had every guest decorate a quilt square that we later made into an incredible quilt for Isla. I felt incredibly lucky.

After the birth, I joined a mamatoto group, and met dozens of incredible mamas, a large handful of whom would become some of my closest friends. This pregnancy, I was lucky enough to be thrown another beautiful baby shower, and later, my mamatoto friends threw me a Blessing Way! What is the difference? Including my own, I've attended only two Blessing Ways, so I am by no means an expert, but here's what I've noticed: like a shower, a Blessing Way honors the mother and the baby on the way. However, traditional showers seem to focus on the gifts, and Blessing Ways feel more spiritual. The showers I've attended go something like this: guests arrive, eat, play games, and watch the mother-to-be open presents.

The Blessing Ways were like this: each guest brings a dish and a special token to decorate for a secret project for the baby or the mother-to-be (no traditional wrapped gifts). The gathering is generally smaller, and more intimate. Guests pamper the mother-to-be with foot rubs, belly casting, henna, etc. Then, a long strand of string or ribbon is stretched around the group so each guest holds onto a point while they take turns saying a blessing for the mama-to-be, the baby, and the birth. At the end, the ribbon is cut so each guest keeps a piece to wear until the birth or keep in a special spot and wear for the labor. Or, each guest may bring a bead to bless and then string on a necklace for the mama to wear while she is in labor to remember the support she has.

My Blessing Way was magical and amazing, and I was so moved I wanted to cry the entire time, but I was having too much fun to do that. My friend Alicia organized the entire thing. Everyone brought a Moroccan dish (my all-time favorite food!) and a piece of driftwood. I was pampered with foot rubs, shoulder rubs, and braids in my hair. My friends decorated the driftwood with beautiful art and loving words, and then strung it into the most incredible mobile for Lyra. Then everyone held onto a long piece of hot pink elastic and blessed the baby and me. At the end, my friends each put a hand on my huge belly and we took pictures.

Don't get me wrong, the traditional shower is important as well. The Blessing Way works best with a smaller group, and you probably have some family and friends who would rather attend a shower. I think if you can swing it, the way to do it is to have one of each. My Blessing Way was the best party I've ever had, and now that another mama in our group is expecting, I can't wait to throw a Blessing Way for her.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Birth Center in SB

Isla and I got wrangled into modeling for the "Fabulous Fashions for the Family" event benefiting the Santa Barbara Birth Center a couple of weeks ago, on August 14th. Although I am a home birth lady, I am a huge supporter of the Birth Center, because it gives women more options for their births. Birthing at home is at one far end of the spectrum, and a hospital birth is at the far other end. The Birth Center would provide a safe and more natural alternative to birth in a hospital. I have lots of friends who are afraid of having a home birth, and although these fears are largely based on nebulous fears and not actual information, they keep these women from having the natural birth they would like. Check out their website for more info at and if you'd like to see more pictures from the fashion show you can see them here. Why are people getting in the pool in that first photo? Because at the end of the fashion show, $100 was being donated to the Birth Center for every person who jumped into the pool. Isla was one of the first ones in - and I guess she, my babe in belly and I counted for 3!

The Best Play Dough

Isla has gotten really into play dough. First we tried making our own. She loved it, but I rarely have the energy or drive to do it, and she rarely has the patience to wait for it. Then we tried Eco-Kids Eco-Dough but it was crazy expensive, and such a mess! I loved how natural it was, and although Isla doesn't ever try to eat her dough, some of her friends do. However, it was a huge pain to get it off of our floor, and left a weird residue on our hands. Next we tried the name-brand Play-Doh. I was scared of the ingredients, but loved how easily I could sweep it up off of the floor once it had dried. And it is so cheap. But the nagging feeling that I was giving my daughter something unhealthy to play with made me switch it up once again. Now we use Clementine Art Natural Modeling Dough. It is totally non-toxic and the ingredient list makes me feel like I could eat it by the handful. Even the colors are completely derived from natural ingredients. It smells like fruit and doesn't leave a gross residue on my hands. It's easy to sweep up off of the floor and costs way less than the eco-kids variety. You can get it from the link above, or they also sell it at Lazy Acres.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Fairy Prince and Princess Party - A Success!

So, the party went really well, and even though I forgot to put out a lot of the fairy snacks I made, I'm really happy with the outcome. The babies had lots of fun and really got into the crown making and fairy house painting. Around 18 babies and their parents were at the party, all crammed into our small backyard.

My sister ended up making "Fairy Stew" AKA vegan chili, summer salad, dino pb&j's for the babies, lots of organic fruit, fairy cupcakes with homemade frosting and sprinkles (verrrrrry little suger, but SO GOOD), and we had lemonade/limeade with raspberries to drink, along with water and ice tea.

The party went from 10am until 1, but ended up going until around 2 because we were having so much fun. Most of my non-parent friends didn't make it until later, because the concept of having a party at 10 in the morning was so strange (it won't be after they have kids and start working around the nap schedules!). All in all it was a lot of fun, and fairly low stress, a combination I am really not used to!

Monday, August 2, 2010

No Mama Bullies!

Most if not all of the babies in our group have gone or are going through a grabbing phase. Isla is definitely no exception. It's hard for her not to grab when she sees a toy she wants to play with in the hands of another baby. The natural reaction might be to then grab the toy from Isla and hand it back to the child who was initially playing with it, but I don't think that's right. How can I show her grabbing is wrong when I do the exact same thing to her? Would I teach her not to hit another baby by hitting her? The better choice is to try to get her to give the toy back on her own. Almost always easier said than done. An important piece is to give her a way out so that she can feel like she is doing good by sharing back with her friend, rather than making her feel like she did a very naughty thing and shaming her into giving it back. I say things like, "Isla, Brody was playing with that fish, and he seems really sad that you took it. Can you give him his toy back and make him really happy?"

When this technique works (it usually does) both babies end up happy, not to mention the mommies. When it doesn't right away, I am still modeling for both babies that the way to solve problems is to talk things out, for as long as it takes. Taking the "quick and easy" route of grabbing the toy back from the child who took it may seem like you are "sticking up" for the victim, but really it teaches both children that the bigger, stronger person may grab, and that that is how one gets what she wants. It's really hard, but I am constantly trying to make sure I only use force with Isla when her safety or the safety of another baby is at stake. This goes for "time to go," "time to get in your carseat," and "time to brush teeth" to name just a few.

Sometimes Isla is just not in the mood to cooperate at all. She is expressing her frustration (or exhaustion, or over-stimulation...) by having full blown tantrums lately. My patience is tried daily. I do use force to just hold her when she's having a tantrum unless there is a safe spot on the floor and she seems to need her space to squirm and kick, but then I try to keep a hand on her and tell her I hear her and I love her. I also try to put words to what she might be feeling, and she seems to like that. Sometimes. More on tantrums later.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birthday Party Favors

Isla's second birthday is around the corner, and I'm embarrassed to admit I've been planning it for months. It's very unlike me. I am such a spur-of-the-moment type... which is the pc way to say lazy - that it's really out of character for me to start the planning process more than a week before the event. But this is a big deal, and I want to do it right.

I decided on a Fairy Prince and Princess party for her, since she is really into wings and dress-up. I wanted there to be fun activities for the babies, but also wanted the whole party to be eco-conscious and non-toxic. Birthday crowns sounded like a fun project, but I wanted to avoid plastic. After a tiny bit of searching, I found almost everything I would need on etsy. Tami's Cozies pre-made the crowns out of felt for me, in different colors. Then I sewed buttons on each. I have a huge bag of felt shapes I got from bbd Supplies, and I cut slits in all the shapes that didn't already have them so that they could easily slip onto the buttons. The picture is the prototype of what the babies will be making (with the help of their mamas) at the party.

For the other craft, I got wooden birdhouse building kits which we are calling "fairy houses," and some eco paint and felt creatures to decorate them. The rest of the plan is to have a table with eco-dough to play with, a couple of baby swimming pools with plenty of toys in them, tents and tunnels all around, and to decorate Isla's fort "fairy style." Party favors are tiny butterfly people from KhaliNouveau, little fairy telescopes, bubbles, and hopefully some home-made play dough if I can swing it.

My sister is an amazing vegan chef, and is graciously making all of the food. She is talking about making fairy cakes, which will be sweetened only with fruit (bananas, dates) and lots of baby friendly snacks. Now all I have to figure out is the music.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My friend Carrie ( and I had a booth this year at the Live Oak Festival. We both make baby clothes, and thought we'd try out the carney life for a weekend. It was probably the wrong venue, but it was fun, as well as being the catalyst for creating in the weeks before. Now I just have to take pictures so I can *finally* update my etsy page.

The Wedding Blowout

So, funny story. I ordered this kimono outfit for my baby girl on the way. When it came in, I was so excited about it, I carried it around with me all day Saturday, showing it to everyone. I went to a wedding Saturday evening with Isla and husband Ryan. As is her style at fancy functions, Isla had a BLOWOUT in her diaper, and the dress she was wearing at the wedding was covered in... brown. We didn't have an outfit to change her into! But, in desperation, I tried the kimono and skirt on her... and it just barely fit! Not only that, but it was flipping adorable. ...And here is Isla, wearing her second outfit for the night!

This outfit is available from Koolmono, and you can get it by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Eats

Isla's been loving the Plum Organics veggie purees from At just over $1 a pop, they aren't cheap, but they are organic and good for on-the-go or travel food as they don't have to be refrigerated until they've been opened. Isla would eat a dozen a day if I let her. Save 15% on your entire first order with code SB004240

Some Love for Little Boys, Too

Even though our house is having a pink transformation in preparation for another girl, I still keep my eye out for cute little boys clothes. Froggy beanie by HuggaBeans, monkey hat by Sweetlovecreates', monkey slippers by RusticPatriotGirl and kimono outfit by AuntE.

Kimono Craze

I've been having a little bit of a kimono obsession lately, and set out to find some for the baby on the way. The best are on etsy, of course, and my favorite sources are: Koolmono, MsWood, and Feyacblurk. The kimono robe by MsWood I got for Isla, and she asks for it daily. She calls it her Kee-Mo-Mo, which always makes me smile. Isla actually got to squeeze into her soon-to-be sister's kimono onesie by Koolmono when she had a major blowout at a wedding we went to a couple of weeks ago. We got her the matching skirt that went with it, and she looked adorable. I'll be sure to post pictures of her dancing in it when I get them from the photographer.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Potty Training Camping Weekend

With all of the babies either two or nearly two, my mamatoto group thought it might be a good idea to try out potty training. We thought somewhere out in nature would be best, where it was warm and they could run around diaper-free for a few days. We camped at the Paradise Campgrounds at Red Rock, and there were nine babies in all, although some just made it for one day or another. The idea was that the babies would see each other using the potty and that we, the parents, would have the support of the other mamas and daddies in the group.

I wasn't sure Isla was ready. Actually, I was pretty sure she wasn't, but I thought it would be a fun camping trip either way. We gathered up our camping gear. I tried on my down jacket ahead of time to make sure it fit over my enormous pregnant belly, and grabbed Isla's potty along with her potty baby and her potty. Luckily husband Ryan is a great camper. He got everything else together first thing Friday morning and we were at the campgrounds by two.

It turned out that Isla had very little interest in being potty trained. We had a lot of poop on the floor, and ended up back in diapers for the last day and a half. I wanted to be careful she didn't feel pressured, and the group did a good job of keeping it fun for the babies. We had potties everywhere, and when a baby went pee or poop in one, we sang a song and did a dance about it. Besides that, we went to the river every day and cooked dinner together every night.

The camping trip was such a success that there are plans for it to be an annual event, and I am already looking forward to next year... with TWO babies!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making my own baby food for Isla was easy, but with all of the inexpensive organic options out there I often wondered if it was really necessary. Inhabitots posted an article/study that makes it very clear why (after exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months) making your own baby food is best.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Isla is at that stage now where she likes to imitate everything I do. She wears my high heels around the house, repeats what I say to the dog, and the best fun she has is carrying the broom and dustpan around the house pretending to clean.

I had to seize the opportunity. Since she was born, I've had trouble cooking. She really loves to be held, and really can't tolerate attention being split between her and anything else.

This is where the apron comes in. I don't know why I even have one for myself, but I do, so I put my apron on, which makes Isla want one for herself. She has a very adorable one my friend Carrie made her, and it's just her size. She knows aprons go on in order to cook dinner, and she can't wait to get a wooden spoon in her hand and some vegetables to put in a cup. We kind of make a game out of it, and it works almost every time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Green Bee Clearance

If you haven't already, I highly suggest stopping by Happy Green Bee's online clearance store. I just bought nine things for under $40, (probably at about 90% off), and the shipping was free! All of their clothing is organic cotton, and Isla is a big fan of their cozy tees and dresses.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baby Brag Necklaces

Simple, handmade, hammered gold letters keep your little lovey close to your heart.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Smoothie for the Busy Natural Mama

Now that I am pregnant again, I am cutting back on how much Isla nurses. We've been pretty consistent for the last week or so at about 8 nursings in 24 hours. This is way less than the 20-30 nursings we used to do. I started feeling like she should be drinking milk, so I've been giving her different temperatures of different types of milk in cups and bottles. She's not so keen on any variation I've tried... except one: the smoothie! All it is is mostly milk, with a little banana blended in to make it sweet.

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Magical Room Decor

If Isla's room weren't already strewn with mobiles, I would have a hard time not buying one of these magical hanging art pieces by Puddle Stomper.

Isla's New Favorite Toys

Ill share our secret resource for the coolest toys: Green Man Shop. The pea pod babies are among our favorites, along with Ganesha, Gnome-Butterfly Babies in hanging cocoons, and the sweet Dad and Daughter Hugging Dolls.

Fun, Green Toys to Make

Fortytworoads promises that with these instructions, recycled cardboard, wire hangers from the dry cleaner, and odds and ends you most likely already have around the house, you will construct a functional washer and dryer that is adorable and remarkably sturdy. Looks pretty awesome to me!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Pregnant Lady's Cheat Sheet

A list of everything I would have loved to have when I first found out I was pregnant:

1. What do I do first?

-Contact Anna, Alice, And Laurel (Santa Barbara Midwifery), even if you are not planning on a home birth. They are a great place to start and have volumes of information and resources, and books to lend, and your initial meeting is free. You can find more information on their website at or give them a call at: 805.563.0348 . **Please see my earlier post about my home birth experience.

-Subscribe to Mothering Magazine immediately.

-Find a pre-natal workout class for fun and some exercise. You'll end up meeting the ladies you'll be spending all of your time with for the next couple of years here. I like Tracy Schmidt's class at the SBYMCA. It's kind of jazzercize-y and it takes away morning sickness. Also, Fredda Spirka teaches a great free pre- and postnatal yoga class through adult ed. This may be your most valuable resource. You will learn so much about doctors, midwives, pediatricians, birth, etc. from the women in these classes.

-Make sure you are taking a good pre-natal vitamin

-Grab a book on each of these: pregnancy, baby's first year, breast feeding. The Traveling Pants in Carpinteria usually has used books which are really inexpensive. The thrift store at St. Joseph's is also a great resource, but you have to dig and they are only open Wednesdays and Saturdays until 2 pm.

-Get insurance if you don't already have it. AIM is great for those who qualify. It's worth taking a look:

2. Where do I register?

***I have an older post that is a sample registry that might be helpful, and you can find it by scrolling down.

-Find a site like where you can register at any online store, and have just one list for everything. Some great online stores include,,, and

-It is so important to register at a physical location. Summer for Kids in Montecito has some excellent natural choices and Chicken Little in Santa Barbara has a huge selection as well.

3. Is home birth for me?

-Please look into this, even if you don't think it's for you. We are so lucky in Santa Barbara to have such great choices, and since this is one of the biggest decisions you'll be making in your life, it probably deserves a little research. I was terrified of home birth before I had real information. I watched movies and talked to midwives and women who had given birth at home and decided undoubtedly that it was the safest and best decision for me and my baby.

-Watch some movies! So important. The Baby International Film Festival has some great ones. I recommend The Business of Being Born, with Ricki Lake if you only plan on seeing one, or as a starting point.

Good Books

My new favorite book is Earth Child by Kathryn Sheehan and Mary Waidner, PhD. It seems to be the perfect Earth science resource for a parent or teacher. The sections include "The Circle of Day and Night," "Earth Celebrations," "Wonders in the Garden," "Trees Are Terrific," "Hurt No Living Thing," and "Let There Be Peace on Earth." It's full of "games, stories, activities, experiments, and ideas about living lightly on Planet Earth," as well as songs and crafts.

Yesterday my daughter and I observed rainbows in our kitchen, and watched how they moved when we moved the crystal in the window. She was in awe as we put the rainbows on our hands and feet. Today we took a nature walk and found some ladybugs to inspect and kindly touch. I am thrilled with the possibilities in this book and am literally vibrating with impatience to share them with Isla.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Get Rid of Cradle Cap

The best cure for cradle cap is actually the most natural. I didn't want to use Head and Shoulders on my daughter since I had heard it could burn her scalp. The hot tip was olive oil. Just drizzle olive oil all over baby's head and massage in. I left it on her head for about twenty minutes. Then, exfoliate gently with a comb. I turned the comb on a 45 degree angle and gently scraped off the pieces of crust that came off easily. Then, shampoo as normal with a natural baby shampoo (we like California Baby). Repeat this process the next day if needed, and it should all be gone.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Educational Dolls

MamAmor makes these incredible educational mama dolls. They can be pregnant, and birth babies which not only have detachable cords and placentas, but they also breast feed (Im guessing their snap-mouths snap on to the snap-nipples on the mama doll). Amazing for a child expecting a new sibling, especially if you plan on letting her or him watch the birth.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Yoga for Babies?

Our love of mama and baby yoga is growing along with my toddler. Once she started doing downward dog on her own I really wanted her to have her own yoga mat. She carries her rolled up mat to Emma's class, and spends some of the time practicing moves on it (the rest of the time she plays with the other babies.)
She really likes to use it at home. We put on Kyra Willey and practice sun salutations together.

The Best Anatomically Correct Baby Dolls

My search for the best anatomically correct baby doll for Isla is over. I settled on the Gotz Aquini doll with a potty for a few reasons:
1. the price was pretty reasonable
2. she comes with a potty that looks just like Isla's potty and may help make potty training fun
3. she is recently made and presumably not toxic (the anatomically correct vintage newborn twins I bought for her online smelled like toxic fumes... and they were made decades ago)
4. she's pretty cute, and smells nice
You can find this doll on Amazon, ebay, and at Chicken Little in Santa Barbara.