Mama's Little Helpers

Tabula Rasa.

My favorite annual activity has once again beckoned my attention.

I get to set up next year's new weekly planner.

Moleskine's large hard cover red weekly planner with the back pocket and the elastic closure lays to my left, while this years weekly planner lays lovingly at my right.  This years planner served me well.  Lavender Gallery Leather weekly planner kept me together during this very big year.  But I shall not return to the Gallery Leather planner, nay it is the Moleskine that I will work with this time around.

I need the pocket.  I need the elastic closure.  Let's be honest, we all could use a space for our baggage and something with a little give to keep it all together.

And red is racy.  This upcoming year, 2012, is a year of new beginnings.  A fresh perspective, a new path. Pish will be one.  Nico and I will celebrate our 2nd anniversary.  I will find a space for myself professionally.  I will once again own my place and allow that place to be whatever it needs to be.  I will be present, relatively on time, and kept together.

The first stroke of ink on the crisp pristine pages of this new planner is my dedication to what lies ahead.  It will be my confirmation that I'm in and ready to go.  Let that ball drop Ryan Seacrest, this year is my year.

I have to chose the right pen so that my handwriting will look its best.  This is a very particular process and I do not take it lightly.  My penmanship vacillates between that of a chicken and that of an artist.  It can be unruly and scribbly or something you'd find in the Lucidia font family on Microsoft Word.  I hope it's a good day.

Anyways.  I'm just excited about this annual momentous task and I wanted to share it with you.

The Gates of Hell.

Vienna is a little maniac; crawling around and scaling furniture like Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger.  With that being said, some necessary precautions have been in order this past month, not the least of which are gates.

I hate gates.  They either scuff up my walls or require power tools so they can be screwed in.  If I finally have one in place and need to get through the blocked doorway my options are either to take it down only to have to put it back up, or climb over it.  But I'm short, so it doesn't really feel comfortable to be straddling a wooden barricade in my own home.  Not so good for the...  You get it.

I HATE pressure mounted gates because my doorways are all different widths.  That means that if I need the gate to be in a different location than the last, it needs to be resized.  What this also entails is a chew toy for myself to stifle my inner truck driver as I try to block Vienna from climbing up said gate that isn't even fully installed yet.  By blocking her I make her cry and by picking her up and moving her I lose my grip on the gate and have to start all over. By the time I get it back to where I was, she's already climbing up it again throwing it off the mark.  Chew, chew.

Once when I was attempting to block off the bathroom, she stealthily managed to crawl back to the gate and use the locking mechanism as a grip as I was closing it.  I unwittingly pinched her little baby sugar plum fingers in the lock and I wanted to throw the damn thing out the window.

I understand that these gates need to be child proof, but adult proof as well?

The Gate of Hell is one that is actually pretty necessary in a home.  Maybe I just need a better one, but come on, who has the money?  I'd rather buy an owl pillow from Etsy.  This gate (of hell) was only $20 at Babies'R'us.  It's not ugly, but the locking mechanism is flimsy and a potential death trap for your fingers (or your 8 month old's).  If you close it so that the panels slide too far in, each panel becomes dislocated from the slider brackets and you then have to somehow slide each panel simultaneously into each opposing bracket in order get it back into gear.  I recommend having the chew toy on hand.  Or directly in your mouth.

This gate is helpful because sometimes I need to block off the bathroom and sometimes I want to have my sliding door open to the patio, but don't want Maniac McGee to scale the screen and put her hand through it.  Which she has already managed to some degree.  So I use the gate and suspend it in between the door frame and the open slider.  It works great.  But it is so fantastically frustrating to assemble that sometimes I look at the slider and convince myself that fresh air is overrated.  Or I just close the bathroom door.

We have a gate (i.e. "the Pearly Gate") screwed into our kitchen doorway that is great and I have no complaints.  You have the option to use it as a pressure mounted gate, but clearly I have enough problems so ours is stationary.  When it's not in use, the gate swings all the way flush to the wall so its out of the way.  I highly recommend this if you have a doorway or room you know you need perpetually block off.
You can purchase both of these gates at Babies'R'Us.  Hell gate is North States Clear View Pressure Mounted Gate, and Pearly Gate is Safety First Lift and Lock Gate.  You be the judge.

Gates are a necessary evil.  And by evil I mean evil.  I used to use Vienna's ExerSaucer to block off the walkway between my couch and my office because I haven't yet purchased the gate particular to that area. But recently Baby Einstein figured out how to commando crawl through space between the top and floor parts of that toy.  We're so proud.

I can't wait to buy another gate.

Boon Shaka-lacka.

Boon is an uber contemporary company, with all products BPA free, Phthalate free, and PVC free.  Boon ended up in my kitchen randomly and serendipitously.  One was a gift and one just happened to look cool online when I was hoping to spruce up my countertop.

As a rule, Mama's Little Helpers never have to sacrifice function for form- even though I have a tendency to find a reason to do it all the time.  
Form gets me every time.

'Squirt' is a baby food dispensing spoon for on the go mom's (every mom).  You twist off the orange portion from the translucent spoon and fill it with baby food.  There is a little hole at the base of the spoon so that when you squeeze the orange handle, the food "squirts" right out onto the spoon.  Squirt comes with a matching cap to cover the spoon and the hole to prevent leakage.  This mama loves it.  It comes in orange, pink, blue, purple, yellow and red.  The orange was a gift.  I like orange- but I think I would have picked pink for my nugget.  My one hang up- if the food is a bit chunky- which it will be if your mixing rice cereal in your baby food- be careful when you squeeze.  The chunks can cause a momentary blockage and then due to pressure, bust out of the hole in a shooting/ spray action.  It could entertain your little one, but I don't think it's funny when I have to wear rice and smashed sweet potatoes- but that could just be me.  And the other thing is that the last two 'spoonfulls' don't really get squeezed out.  The last bit just sits at the neck and no matter how you shake this thing- the last bite refuses to come out.  But that's it- the functionality and ease and general cleanliness of this product is fabulous and I rave about it to you.  Go out.  Buy.  Enjoy.

'Lawn' is a solution to the spacially challenged countertop.  (I hope my kitchen isn't insulted.)  I registered and constantly used a two tiered spinny white and blue baby drying rack that had little poles to hang bottles and nipples on as well as breast feeding paraphernelia.  This was a highly functional instrument and I highly recommend it.  But as Nug Nug got older and I developed a newer system for bottle storage, I needed less and less space on my drying rack.  It then became an eye sore and I was ready to move onward and upward.  Lawn.  It's fashion forward- as far as baby supplies go- and does a great job of providing form and function.  I have one concern that is not a big deal at all.  There is no drainage on the white tray at the bottom.  Happily, this is a two piece rack (the white tray and the grass pegs) and they're both dishwasher safe, so lift the grass from time to time to check its status and to drain the tray and you're golden.  Remember, these items are for the top rack of your dishwasher only, as they can warp due to the heat.  If they do, use as per usual and the warp will weigh itself out over a few days.

You can find these and other sweet Boon products at
Also sold at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and BabiesRus.
Stay Tuned.