Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bizzy Gets a New Book

Wednesday night I found myself with a rare blessing -- a suddenly free evening with access to the car. So after dinner, I grabbed Biz (one of many nicknames for my daughter), my baby sling and the bag of magazines and books I was planning to trade in, and headed to Half Priced Books. I'm still thrilled that I actually live in the same city as this store. What a treat! I decided to drop off my bag at the buy counter and take Susie to explore the kid's section. I figured if I found a board book we couldn't live without, it would probably end up being free.

Of course we did! My eyes lit up when I saw the spine on Baby! Baby! by Vicky Ceelen. I wanted to get Susie a book of baby faces, since she loves flipping through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog with me, and is mesmerized by the show "Bringing Home Baby" when it's on in the morning. I was not disappointed! This big square book has large pictures of animals and babies on each page, mirroring each other in facial expression or position. The cover is a terrible example (I'm sorry, I don't think that baby looks like that ugly dog!), so here is a picture I took of Susie's favorite page. She just loves the baby sticking out its tongue; she's sort of all about tongues right now. I knew this book was a keeper when Susie was laughing by the last page. Good news! It cost a dollar less than what I made off my trade-ins, so even the tax was covered!

I chose this book for Feed Me Books Friday because it is JUST the sort of book we can enjoy together! I love making up words for wordless books, or just talking about the pictures. Susie loves the babies so much that this morning when I pulled the book back out, she was kissing them over and over. I'd say this book is a win-win-win. Post here if you've had some amazing second-hand book finds! I love to buy used books, and I ADORE discovering something special like this. It was not Walmart, with a dozen of the same books, but almost no selection. There was only one copy and that one was there just for us.

Sorry, I didn't do the books you can sing theme! Head over to The Adventure of Motherhood for more book suggestions! If you're like me, and reading to a baby, please read my post from yesterday on reading to babies and contribute to the conversation!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reading to Babies

Oh, how I love read-aloud!! I always have. I've looked forward to the days when I had a little child of my own to sit on my lap and read good stories to. I've built up my book collection with the classics that every child should have read to them. And now, I have a precious daughter to read to. All the time. Whenever I want.

But. . . reading to a baby can be hard! And for an active baby -- especially in the 6month+ range, where everything goes in the mouth -- books aren't exactly the best toys, unless you want your autographed Kevin Henkes book ripped to shreds and the cover chewed up. When Sus was brand new, I'd read to her on her changing table -- the bookcase was right there by us and I could choose book after book. Now I've switched to strictly board books (we try a paper one every once in a while, but as of yesterday she still wasn't ready), and I thought I'd share some practical tips for reading to a little booky-monster.

1. Be realistic. It's ok if you can only get through a couple pages. Of course, it's good to build on this, but by choosing short and simple board books that take less than a minute to read, you can set a practical reading goal for your baby. Mamas-of-babies might try to read The Velveteen Rabbit because it was a gift from great-grandma and then get frustrated and think "my baby doesn't like to be read to". Here are some types of books I like:

  • Board books with all the words on one page -- sometimes it makes it easier, because I can look at one side and let her play with the other
  • Board books with a whole thought/story/poem per page -- keeps your sanity! You actually read something whole, not "Spot went to the. . . " over and over.
  • Board books with large illustrations -- some even take up a whole page (another reason I like the words to be on one side: that way the pictures can be bigger
2. Give Freedom. Try to hold the book so that your child has some freedom to explore what you're reading. For example, I hold our bedtime book so that all the pages on one side stay tight together, but she can open and close the cover over and over if she wants. Since all the words are on one side, I can still see what I'm reading. For some reason, she loves the front and back covers of her favorite books. It's good for babies to learn to turn their own pages; it teaches them how books work so they can learn to look at books by themselves. I usually try to read through the book as far as I can (you can usually tell when the good listening time is ending), and then let her turn back and forth to pages. Sometimes she has favorite pages and I read them over and over. I have those pages memorized.

3. Make it interactive. It's more than reading with expression, doing voices, etc. I had that down reading to bigger kids. For a baby, I point to parts of the pictures (she usually follows suit and touches what I touch -- this is all good learning), and I try to touch the picture that goes with what I'm reading. I make the lions in Daniel's den roar (softly) to catch her attention (it doesn't scare her). I say "Ooooooooooooh. . . the baby. . . look, he's so cute. . . " and slowly pet the picture over and over to to convey what I think of that cute picture. She doesn't have words to tell me what she thinks of the cute picture, but she can touch it and make sounds like me. In this way, she is interacting with the book.

4. Have a routine and build it up. Our bedtime reading time has really extended and improved since even just a month or so ago. I read from Baby's Hug-a-Bible (read my review by clicking the link -- I love it!) to her each night at bedtime. I've recently found that if we snuggle up and I hold the book pretty close to us (not on my lap like I was doing), the picture fills more of her field of vision, and she's not distracted to look at other things. That may not always work, but for now, she's had extended attentive listening time this way. Of course, it's nice to have spontaneous reading times whenever your baby picks up a book, but it's wonderful to have a storytime before bed and enjoy a wonderful routine. I choose to read a God-centered book because this is the beginning of our devotional time together. As time goes on, we can read storybook Bibles and then just the actual Bible. But for now, I am teaching her that this time is special, and this book is wonderful.

Please share your tips on reading to a baby! Have you had success with reading paper-page books? If so, please share how you do that without communicating that books aren't for touching -- I just can't figure that out!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parenting the Heart

I've just started Ginger Plowman's Don't Make Me Count to Three, and already I'm so encouraged to aim at my daughter's heart when I speak to her. My friend Christen read this book years ago when we all lived in Illinois, and I remember the title catching my attention . . . but, not having children myself made me only pay a bit of attention to what Christen said about the content (sorry, Chris!). Fast forward about 4 years, and my friend Jenn, who is expecting her first child this summer was finishing reading it while babysitting for Sus at my house. "Hmmmm. . . " I thought "Maybe I need to start reading books like that!" I guess because my baby is only 10 months old, I wasn't thinking about discipline issues coming along for another year or two. I mean, I do believe in sin nature and that I need to begin training her now to not touch things that will hurt her, etc., but I guess I sort of thought I had that all figured out on my own, and didn't need to read any books yet!

But this book is just great -- I'd totally recommend it. The author makes the point that parental instruction does not just consist of changing behavior or telling your child what to do (even if that is done gently, using Scripture, etc). True instruction also includes listening to your children and asking questions that teach them to examine their own hearts. She gave great examples of questions to ask, and ways to resolve common arguments and family situations, so the book is full of good helpful tips.

Susie isn't really able to express to me yet the reason she wants to roll off the changing table while she's getting her jammies on, but as I'm consistently instructing her on what Mommy wants, I've begun to think through my words a bit better. I can begin now, to talk to her the way I would when she can truly understand. Why wait? Why not practice good parenting even before the child can respond?

What parenting books have you found to be particularly helpful? I'm sure I'll be ready to read more and more the older she gets!

Friday, April 23, 2010

To the tiger at the zoo, Susie-Q just said "Pooh pooh"

This week, Susie and I had our first outing to the Louisville Zoo together. I love to connect reading a book with a new adventure, so for my first "Feed Me Books Friday" post I decided to write about Curious George and First Words at the Zoo. I read this little board book (click the link to see why I'm board book only at this age) to Sus several times before we left for the zoo in the morning, and we've been reading it a few times since. At 10 months, she doesn't necessarily get the connection, but it won't be too long before she will! At any rate, it's a great vocabulary builder; my husband was reading this to her the next day and she started saying "Dorge, Dorge"!

One thing I really like about Curious George and First Words at the Zoo, is that there is no story, just pictures labeled with words or phrases. Perfect opportunity for mom or dad to be the storyteller! I love to make the story up differently as we turn t
he sturdy colorful pages:

"OH NO!!! Curious George took the zoo keeper's keys! He's gonna let out the animals!!!"

I hope I'm teaching my child to be expressive and love words. Books are so much a part of who I am, and I find myself quoting bits of children's books when the opportunity presents itself. Here are a couple quotes (that I remember) from our zoo trip:

"Look Susie!! Look at the Elephants! There's a Mama bear elephant, Papa bear elephant and Baby bear elephant all holding each other's tails!". . . then r
ealized I was mixing my animal terms because I was referring to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Clearly, in my mind, "mama bear, papa bear and baby bear" are universal terms to be applied to any creatures that appear in that order.

"Look at the tiger, Sus! Look at his big teethy!!! Is he scary? No. . . 'to the tiger at the zoo, Susie-Q just said "pooh pooh"'!" quoting from Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

What books have slipped into your vocabulary? Do you find yourself speaking "book talk" to your kids?

Check out the other recommendations at Silly Eagle Books!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

For book-y geeks like me

My boss sent me this article to read today and I was utterly absorbed. It's a bit lengthy, but if you are like me, and fascinated by the world of books -- writing, publishing, producing, retailing -- and if you are like me and have always had a bit of angst against Amazon, you might find it interesting. If not, perhaps you'd like to just read my quotes and thoughts on the article:

First, read this about independent bookstores: "
According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of independent booksellers has declined from 3,250 to 1,400 since 1999; independents now represent just ten per cent of store sales. Chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders account for about thirty per cent of the market, and superstores like Target and Wal-Mart, along with clubs like Costco, account for forty-five per cent, though they typically carry far fewer titles. As a result, publishers, like the Hollywood studios, are under enormous pressure to create more hits—more books like “Twilight”—and fewer quiet domestic novels or worthy books about poverty or trade policy."

OH! That is tragic!!! I remember when I worked at Blue Kangaroo Books, where w
e hosted popular book clubs for free to the children in our community. I had one mother thank me for leading the club and tell me that her daughter just LOVED that series of books. . . she bought them for her all the time at WALMART, where they were cheaper. Aghast, I checked on the price at WalMart, and discovered that this mother was saving about 30 cents per book, yet chose to buy them there over an independent store that offered this great service to her family! BKB had very little competition in town -- there was no "Fox Books" across the street, like in "You've Got Mail". But there was big old WalMart up the road, carrying a few of the most popular books, and apparently, stealing our business out from under our noses! What I love about independent stores, or Christian bookstores like the one where I currently work, is that the selection is greater, and we might choose to stock it just because we LIKE it!

Here's another good quote
about independent stores from "the senior vice-president and publisher of HarperCollins, says. “Independent bookstores are like a community center. We walk in and know the people who work there and like to hear their reading recommendations.”

Mmmm. . . yep, I'm a sentimentalist, as are most people who love bookstores. I loved that community aspect about working in an Independent store, and during my time on the sales floor at LifeWay, I tasted a bit of that, too. I remember a few days last December when I just had several amazing customer encounters and said "Some days I just LOVE my job!" Sometimes you just get a customer who would rather ask a person with a warm, audible voice, what book you should buy for your daughter, instead of just reading the reviews on Amazon.

Do you see the truth in this: "
'I think consumers, like publishers, are living in parallel universes,' Burnham says. 'Consumers are educated to have a multiplicity of choices. They still like to go to a bookstore, while they also want everything available online.' "? I know I sure do!

One interesting trend I used to notice was how people would come to a bookstore to look for a specific title. If we were out of stock, they would say "Oh, that's ok, I'll buy it online." But why? If your store (and most do) offers a free special order service, why not go ahead and order it from them? You already came in! You'd have to wait anyway, to get it from the online store, and most likely pay for shipping (Amazon prime doesn't count, because you DO pay for that at the outset!)

I'll spare you the rest of the quotes, but pose these questions to you: why do YOU read books (meaning, the kind with paper and a spine)? Why read them this way instead of electronically? I'll get on a bit of a soapbox and
suggest to you that if you choose to read real paper books, why not buy locally? I used to suggest this all the time to the students here at the Seminary. I know you want to save money, and clearly, that is a legitimate reason. But if a local bookstore tries to compete, or tries to offer you a specific service, why not go ahead and buy it from them (and in this case, support your fellow Seminary students employed at that store)?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Giving People Things

This is not a recipe post (though I will gladly tell you what is in this salad). It is a post about generosity. I made this tasty Asian-inspired salad for lunch and then took a picture of it because it looked so good. THEN I realized that almost everything in this salad were given to me by generous people. Not for any real reason, not out of need, just kind people passing on a bit of something they thought I'd like. Put it all together. . . and you have more than just a yummy salad for lunch.

It made me think about why I sometimes shirk being generous, or offering things to people. I come from extremely generous parents. My dad has always been a fantastic present buyer, and my mom was always on the lookout for something you'd like. I think all the time like they do: "oh, that'd be great for so-and-so" or "Wouldn't so-and-so be thrilled with this?" Why do I hesitate, then? Sometimes it's just out of selfishness ("but what IF I decide I need that later? Then I'll be sorry it's gone!"). Sometimes it's out of silly fear that the recipient won't want it ("no, that's dumb, she probably already has all she wants") or that someone else is sure to give the same thing to the recipient ("so-and-so's family probably has already bought her that").

But that's foolish! Who all have I deprived a "salad", just because I held back for a silly or selfish reason? Obviously, God is in control of all things, and he will provide, but I'm missing out on being the one who blesses!

Anyway. . . just a little food for thought. :) And for those who care about this sort of thing, my salad consisted of:

Mixed greens (from my friend Denise -- my co-worker's wife)
Yummy Sesame Sticks (from my co-worker Casey's mama in Georgia -- she heard I liked them and sent me a package)
Edamame (had it in the fridge)
Dressing I mixed up mostly from stuff my friend Pam gave me from her pantry when she recently moved (canola oil, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, scallions and 1 packet of mustard from a takeout chinese restaurant -- hey, you use what you've got. IT WAS GREAT!

To whom can you be generous?

Monday, April 19, 2010

What you read affects who you are

This article about what U.S. presidents have read and how it may have affected their policy was utterly fascinating to me! It should come as no surprise that the books we read become advisers, and the President of the United States is certainly not exempt from this. Truman's view on rebuilding Israel was especially telling. . . I love how he called himself "Cyrus".

Take thought to what you read! There are only so many days and so many books you can tackle. What will you choose? How best can you invest your moments to read?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Man looks on the outward appearance. . .

I've recently been convicted about my own materialism. It's been an ongoing mental struggle, and I decided to share it here on my blog so you can all hold me accountable. . . and maybe relate with me.

Since I became a mom, I have become OBSESSED with things. Primarily, I am obsessed with baby things, and chief among those, clothing. Now, if you looked in my daughter's closet and I could tell you how much I've actually spent on her garments, you would probably disagree with me. I don't buy clothes for her very often, and when I do, they are always always incredible deals. I was oh-so-showered with cute things at all my baby showers, and when I pulled out the "save for next year tub" I'd packed up last summer, I found a bunch of stuff for this s
ummer (thanks to you if you're reading this and you gave me 12 mo summer clothes! That was super considerate!!). I also have a VERY kind crafting friend who set Susie up with shirts and shorts for this summer. I also have an extremely generous mother-in-laws that buys her far-away granddaughter tons of cute things, and a sister-in-law who has lent me her daughter's hand-me-downs. Because of all that generosity,I could probably only list a dozen or so outfits I've actually purchased (not counting socks from the dollar store or whatever).

But regardless of my thriftiness, I think my obsession has still raged in my mind. I may not be falling into the trap of over-spending or hoarding, but I am still materialistic nonetheless. With Susie's first birthday coming up, I've been esp
ecially dwelling on EXACTLY what kind of birthday outfit I want her to have. Wait, I shouldn't say I started dwelling on this recently, I basically found a dress I adored LAST YEAR. . . thank goodness I didn't go ahead and splurge on the $50 lovely-but-overpriced garment. I bought a adorable vintage sailor dress for $6 on consignment, and socks and shoes are covered. . . now I'm considering a new hair clip and of course the important first birthday bib! I have not spent any money yet, but I've decided I'll let myself splurge on that if I can learn to sew her a bib myself. See? Thrifty! Clearly, I'm overcoming this battle with materialism.

No. . . I'm not. I was jarred awake when I received a recent World Vision catalog in the mail. I gave World Vision gifts at Christmas, so I guess that put me on their mailing list.
On the page where you can sponsor new clothes for 15 children for $35, there was an absolutely adorable picture of a little boy holding new shoes and wearing a new baseball cap, grinning from EAR TO EAR! It had this quote: "There is no one to buy me clothes. . . my clothes are torn and dirty."

It took my breath away. I about burst into tears. What has Susie ever worn but GORGEOUS and nearly BRAND NEW clothing?? Oh, how selfish I am to constantly be focused on the outward appearance! I must dig in and battle this sin HARDER before it begins to affect her as she grows up. I need to remember the gospel, and preach Christ to myself! I
must work immediately to get to the heart of my materialism, and stay out of shops, and off etsy and watch less television. . .

And I've decided to fight where I'll feel it. I'm giving the money I make this weekend at a city-wide consignment sale to World Vision. Maybe I'll buy new clothing for some children. Or support an AIDS orphan, or send a new mother a baby-care kit. It depends on how much I sell.

Anyone out there want to join me? 'Tis the season for rummage sales and consignment sales, and maybe you are someone who sells your stuff to make a little extra pocket money. Or maybe you make a little extra some other way -- a little "mad money" that isn't really essential, or really part of your family's budget. Do you want to join me in showing your kiddos how blessed we are here to have MORE than enough, and that it is a joy to bless others? Please at least click on the World Vision link and take a look at the faces of those poverty-stricken people. If you're like me, it might make your daughter's new hair bow seem less important.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Children's Worship Music: singable, memorable, or theological?

A friend posed a question on facebook about children's worship music: should it primarily be singable, memorable or theologically deep? Obviously all THREE is best option, right? What music is there out there that fits the bill? Here are some I like -- and I'm sure there are more!

1. Emu Kids music from Australia. Our children's minister gave these CDs to me and Susie as a Christmas gift this year, and I've really enjoyed them. I left "Very Very Very Big God" in Illinois for my niece Me
rcedes to listen to, and yup. . . she's addicted. She and my dad are ALWAYS singing the songs from that CD! I'd give these a 10 for singability, 10 for memorability and 7 for theological depth (they are perfect for preschoolers). J is for Jesus is my personal favorite.

2. Sovereign Grace Music for kids. Thus far, there are 2 albums just for kids by Sovereign Grace, and understandably, they score a whopping 10 on the theologically deep scale! There are songs on the Trinity, God's Sovereignty, his holiness . . . it really goes beyond the typical kid music. Now, each song differs a bit on the singability/memorability level . . . but I'd say they easily get 6-8. These songs are RICH. . . excellent for the whole family, and NICE and upbeat!! Emu kids is preschool focused, I'd say "Awesome God" by SG is more like tweens. Take a listen on their website!

3. Praise Factory Music by Connie Dever and co. ALERT! WE'RE TALKIN' FREE!!! Everything Connie has put up online is free for educational purposes, so help yourself. WHAT a blessing and a ministry!! These score a 9 on all criteria. She has done an excellent job writing 150 scripture memory songs and "big idea" songs -- here's what Connie herself says about them:
"I think you will find the songs useful and enjoyable--though humble--for use with the curriculum and with families at home."

4. "Songs Jesus Said" by the Gettys. Don't
let the cover fool you -- these songs are pretty conservative and fairly simple. They are mainly songs about Jesus' life as recorded in the New Testament, thus the title "Songs Jesus Said". Carl Stam (my church's beloved music pastor) says, “Kristyn’s Songs that Jesus Said are amazing.” I'd personally give them an 8 for singability, 7 for memorability and 10 for theological depth.

5. Michael Card's Lullaby CDs: "Sleep Sound in Jesus" and "Come to the Cradle". I have put my daughter to bed every single night listening to these precious, precious songs. I love how Michael Card freely expresses the entire range of human experience in his music, and these lullabies are like that. If you can snag the book that goes with the "Sleep Sound in Jesus" I'd say get it!!! Those lyrics and devotions were just honey to my soul when Susie was brand new, and I am frequently encouraged or comforted when I hear them playing in her room. You don't often find beautiful rich songs about tears, or rest, but are those NOT a part of each and every day in the life of a baby (and the baby's parents)? One of my faves has a line that says "so goodnight my forever friend", that just brings tears every time I hear it. I'd rank these with a 10 for depth, an 8 for singability (the tunes are super memorable), but just a 5 for memorability (for the LYRICS). Some are obvious, but there are quite a few lines that just slip by.

I have Steve Green's "Hide 'Em in Your Heart" for Susie, too, but we haven't had a chance to listen to it too much, so I couldn't really rank them yet -- but it seems pretty good!
Please feel free to post your favorites in the comments.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Baby Things that I Use(d)

Here's a post a bit out of the ordinary for me, but I wanted to make a list of baby items that I ended up using quite a bit for my firstborn, Susie. There are a MILLION blogs out there with similar lists, which is why I balked, initially, on making such a list. But, for what it's worth, this is what I found useful. . . for me. . . where I live and with my child. This is not an exhaustive list -- but these are items that have seen several months of use, and I forsee to continue in their usefulness for quite a bit longer.

1. Baby Trend Jogging stroller -- now, not everyone needs a jogging stroller. They look cool, but really, how many people actually jog with their baby? (I don't). But when we went to register, Josh really wanted a jogging stroller, and I'm so glad we decided to go for it. I use my stroller pretty often -- maybe not every day, but almost. Where I live, however, a stroller with real tires that you put air in, is WAY more useful than the traditional Graco (or whatever brand) plastic wheel travel system. I walk with Susie a lot -- to church, to the store, or just around the area, and we're going over curbs, along bumpy, over used city sidewalks (NOT smooth ones like you get in nice neighborhoods), and crossing busy streets (sometimes at a run). This is the most affordable jogging stroller out there, but I'm very happy with it. When Sus was little, I'd put her in her car seat, which is the same brand, and hook it on. I still use it that way sometimes because when I walk to church, I try to catch a ride home, and this way I've got her car seat with me. This info will be outdated in a few years, I'm sure, because the other stroller brands will have to make a good affordable jogging stroller to rival Baby Trend. Right now, though, I think it's the best out there. There are certainly times when I wish I just used a little umbrella stroller (say, when I'm carrying this large thing outside -- through 3 doorways and up 2 sets of stairs -- my apartment. . . with one hand. . . while holding Susie in the other arm), but when the terrain is rough, I'm glad for Susie's sake that her little teeth aren't chattering from being jarred so hard.

2. Zolowear Sling -- I do use this every day. I have a kind friend
who sent it to me, so I'm sorry for recommending something that is pricey. However, I can't lie. . . this is a top item in my book. Now, I will say that I haven't used any OTHER slings. It's the only one I have. Lots of people love Moby Wraps, Ergo carriers, etc. I happen to have this one, and I like it a LOT. I think I like it more at this age than ever. It has been ever so helpful for me with Susie in her clingy stage, because I can just keep her with me nice and close as we do stuff around the house, or walk through Target or whatever. I can't think of the best way to decide what kind of carrier you would use, unless you just take recommendations or try out someone else's. But I think if you like your sling/carrier, you will use it more. . . and like I said, I use mine every day.

3. Robeez shoes -- I am a baby SHOEAHOLIC. Along with hats (more on those later), they are something I want to buy everywhere. However, I strongly dislike shoes that come off easily (which are a LOT of them). Enter Robeez. They are the BEST! I bought Susie a fairly neutral pair (white with giraffes) to wear with lots of things, and she wore them all winter. She also has the red dress-shoe type, and she wears them constantly, too. If you aren't familiar with these, I'll just tell you that they DO STAY ON, and you can have them wear them even when they're a bit too big. And they are sooooo cute, and also comfortable and supportive for their little feet. I think some baby shoes impede walking/crawling, but these are perfect for it. I think if you invest in Robeez you love, you will save money in the end, because you won't buy 12 million other pairs of shoes.

4. Circo crib sheets -- I'm glad I changed
my registry to these sheets. They are inexpensive and VERY nice. Many people will suggest you have a whole bunch of crib sheets, but 10+ months later, I will tell you I made it just fine with 2 sheets. And I don't have a washer and dryer in my apartment. So I'm thinking if you DID have that luxury, you'd be fine with 2 cute sheets, too. Now, some people like to get the bedding sets that come with sheets, bumper, etc., but I never found one I just LOVED and also I wouldn't have used most of those things that come in the sets (for example, diaper stacker). I didn't put Susie's bumper in until she was 6 months old, and I'll probably take it out in a few months, so I just got that on consignment. I got her crib skirt on the clearance rack at Target and my dad bought me a quilt for her from Pottery Barn. I've been really happy with everything I got separately like this -- I feel like I was able to hit the best of all the worlds.

5. Hats -- suffice it to say that Susie's hat collection rivals the shoe collection of any dictator's wife! Yes, I LOVE HATS on babies. She has way too many. She wore them constantly all winter, even if we went out for just a few minutes. For us, hats were essential, because she has a baldy little head and I want to keep the heat in in winter, and the sun out in summer! Here have been my 2 faves: she's worn them both 10x more than the others. The Modbonnet has been my fave for the sunnier months. Sus has sported this hat almost every day, and I feel confident that it keeps the sun off her face. In cooler weather, I most often reached for a little polka-dot beanie from Naartjie like this one. Hers had 3 points and was beige and white, and she wore it indoors and out. We constantly got compliments on how cute she was in it. This hat was very soft and comfy, but stayed on well, and fit her for a long period of time (I bought it last September, and she can still fit it -- and she has got a NOGGIN on her!!). Not everyone has access to a Naartjie store, but I think they have some really unique cute things. The hats were my fave, especially the 3 point jester hat.

6. Fisher Price Booster High Chair -- now unless you have your heart set on some beautiful chair, and the space to keep it in your kitchen/dining room, I would HIGHLY recommend this affordable little chair. For one thing, they don't really outgrow it until they're ready to just sit at the table without a booster at all. You can strap it to any available chair, or just strap your baby into it on the floor to eat! You can tote it along with you to restaurants, friend's houses, etc. I actually have this number on loan from my sister in law, so if she has another baby, I'll need to get my own. But for $20, I SURE WILL! I have NO complaints about this seat. It's all plastic -- so easy to wipe down, the tray is dishwasher safe, and the buckle fasten easily.

Please feel free to comment with your favorite baby things! I'm always looking for new faves. :)