Sunday, November 2, 2008

An open letter to our loved ones

It is with great joy that we announce the forthcoming birth of our son, Eirik Jon, who is expected to join our family sometime near the end of March. The birth of a child is one of the many events that draws us closer as friends and family.

One of the most challenging things we have found as we navegate the unfamiliar territory of "parents-to-be" is balancing our hopes and values that we hold dear and wish to pass along to our sone with those of the world around us. Sometimes, it seems there are miles of difference between those two sets of values. Take, for instance, the views as to what items are deemed "necessary" for the care and raising of our son.

We recently read an article in a magazine geared towards parent-to-be about how you can set up a nursery for your little one for about seven thousand dollars. We were shocked. Seven grand could pay for a lot of things: 2000 gallons of diesel for the truck, a decent used Honda to replace the truck, 89,000 miles worth of gas for the Honda, a good portion of Kelly's degree, the completion of many of Otis's "projects," or one hell of a vacation.

The kicker was that they $7000 was just for the "bare necessities," which, the article went on to say, were all needed for your little one to be properly cared for without the neighbors calling Protective Services on you for being a negligent parent. Want something better than the equivalent to steerage in the Good Ship Babyhood? Well, A-List parents could get a nursery with all of the things that a baby should have in order to become the next Nobel Laureate would run you a cool 10K.

Needless to say, we're not buyin' it. Literally.

In this world of deluxe wipe warmers, Diaper Genies, prenatal bonding sessions with certified baby gurus, Baby Einstein toys, all-terrain vehicle strollers with side impact beams and cupholders for Starbucks, and haute couture for newborns, the incessant voices of "Buy! Buy! BUY!" get to be quite scary for new parents. We start the maddening process of questioning ourselves: What if we don't get product X? Will our child be left behind with the rest of the unwashed masses? What about product Y? Do we really need that? What if we don't get it? Are we setting the stage for an expensive therapy bill later on? And on and on it goes.

We have been reading a lot of the new parent and baby magazines and what has really struck us is how our children, even before they are born, are being transformed from "just kids" to happy little pint-sized consumers. The baby gear racket is big business, and new parents are a huge cash cow that is happily susceptible to all kinds of hype. Businesses make big bucks on cashing in on the self-doubt of new parents and the desire that all parents have to give their children more than what they had, or couldn't have, as children.

As future parents, we are trying to be socially and environmentally conscious in a number of ways: in deciding what we really think is necessary for the care and raising of our child, in finding out what products are useful or useless, by reusing or buying used products when we can, by choosing to buy local, by making do with what we have and by coming up with new ways to creatively use products.

So what's this manifesto got to do with you? A lot! We are asking those of you who wish to support us in giving of your time, talent and/or buying power to help us reflect the values we are hoping to pass along to our son.

We appreciate those of you who wish to help us in the acquisition of items to help take care of our little one, but we are asking that you to consider the following things:
  • Consult the "wants" list. It's maddening to shop for another person, moreso if that person isn't even in the picture yet. We want to help you pick items that we will actually use, and not just return for something we really wanted to get in the first place. We also know that people pick things for weird reasons, and we wanted to give you some insight as to why we are looking for the things we have placed on the "Wants" list. We guarantee you'll at least be entertained by our comedic line of thinking.

  • Shop local second hand stores, resale shops, Goodwill, or Ebay. We really don't mind used stuff! Not only are the items cheaper, but as we know, babies grow so quickly that getting fashionista items at Baby Gap or Posh Baby just isn't practical. For the same amount of money for a trendy onesie at Baby Gap, you can purchase a couple of items at a resale store or off of Ebay. And you're supporting a local business or stay-at-home moms who resale their baby items as a way to supplement their income.

  • Don't be afraid to give us stuff that cost you little to nothing. As big fans of, we are big fans of getting something for ridiculously cheap or for nothing at all. Over 80% of furniture is from Craigslist, most things didn't cost us anything, and it looks great! So if you are fabulous on, a goddess at garage sales, a king of the clearance rack, or a kick-ass Craigslister, by all means, buy it cheap or get it free. You have our blessings on being a savvy shopper. You're also proving that saving money by getting someone's reruns helps everyone by taking stuff out of the waste stream, helping folks find new homes for things they no longer need, and having more green in your pocket in the end. Everyone wins!

  • Ask your friends. Kelly scored a big pile of baby stuff for free from someone at work who wanted to reclaim her garage. How many people do you know that may want their spare room, garage or den back from a huge avalanche of baby goodies?

  • Get clothing and toys not only for newborns, but for our baby as he grows up. Kids grow quick and we'd love to have a couple of outfits or items already on hand when our son goes through a growth spurt. Kelly scored a bunch of Halloween onesies in multiple sizes for $1.50 each on clearance - our kiddo will be spookliy attired all year round. (What is it about pagans and Halloween? *grin*) Besides, there's only so many newborn sizes clothes a kid can literally wear out before they don't fit anymore.

  • Make it yourself. A gift of handknit clothing, a stack of handmade wipes and bibs you made with leftover stuff, or a toy handcrafted in your spare time are gifts that mean so much more than a prepackaged gift quickly bought as an afterthought at Wal-mart. Handmade gifts are a reflection of the giver and will last much longer than their cheap, made-in-China counterparts.

  • Think reusable. As parents who are concerned about the environment, we want to be able to reduce the amount of waste our kid adds to the overall stack. Did you know that when parents have a baby, their amount of weekly trash is increased by more than a third? That's almost an extra half a year of trash! To combat this future bundle of trash, we are opting to breastfeed, using a cloth diaper service, using washable wipes, and staying away from as much plastic, disposible, non-recyclable and throw-away items and their packaging as possible.

  • Be careful of stereotypes in clothing and toys. As humans understanding our world, stereotypes help us form quick opinions that sometimes serve us well. Sometimes, they get us into trouble. Studies have shown that we treat newborns differently based on the clothes that they wear: Infants in boy clothes are seen as being more tough, rugged, are future quarterbacks or soldiers, etc. Infants in girls clothes are seen as being sweet, dainty, more fragile, will be heartbreakers, etc. As parents who like to throw gender stereotypes for a loop - Kelly was a race car driver, Otis is awesome on a sewing machine - please don't be afraid to get our kid things that are gender neutral. Horizons are meant to be broadened!

  • Don't be afraid to have a sense of humor. We love irreverant baby shirts, outfits and toys. The ability to laugh has served us well through good times and bad and we both have a wickedly wrong sense of humor that has allowed us to enjoy the finer things in life like rude t-shirts, fart jokes, and the holy trinity of Cook, Leary and Carlin. We're hoping our son can be just as funny because there's nothing like watching your kid laugh so hard that (breast) milk comes out of his nose. So feel free to help him get off to a good start with the laughter.
As an end note, we appreciate any help that you can give us - from wise words of wisdom on the phone, to gear that you can score, to making us laugh about the pregnancy and parenting process.

In closing - please don't go overboard buying us tons of stuff we don't need or want, whether its baby clothes or toys or that all terrain stroller. Don't feel like you're skimping out or neglecting your duties as good parents, friends or consumers. We'd much rather you give gifts of the heart or spend time with us. Money can't buy love - regardless of what the baby magazines say.

Thanks again,
Otis and Kelly

Baby Pictures

Here are the latest pictures of Eirik from our ultrasound today:

Our little guy definitely has mom and dad's irreverence - only 19 weeks old and Eirik is flipping us the bird already.

Eirik has a good start on his Wushu kicks on Kelly's bladder. He thinks he's Jet Li.

Otis and Kelly

Goodies we want

In an effort to quiet the masses that want to know what we want for our little one, here is a detailed, and hopefully, fun-reading list of items that we'd like!
  • The coolest diaper bag ever: We like being able to re-purpose items once their original use is over and done with. We also like to buy things that can survive a beating and keep on going. In our quest to find a diaper bag that can fit a ton of stuff as well as be multipurpose, durable, and most importantly, cool enough for Otis to wear, we found a spiftacular bag from a local company called Tactical Tailor, purveyors of mega-cool stuff for military people. Designed to stand up to the rigors of combat, we're pretty sure that this diaper bag will withstand all the joys of suburban hell.

    Hi-Vis Emergency Range Bag by Tactical Tailor - $23.16 - DIBS!
  • Jeeps may be cool, but not for strollers: There is something a little wrong with a stroller that's as large as an ATV and that's made for off-roading. Who are we kidding? The most exotic possibly off-road location parents are likely take their kids is probably the petting zoo or the pumpkin farm, not the Appalachian Trail or Macchu Pichu. In that spirit, less is better: we don't want to spend all day cramming something the size of a SmartCar into the back of our Honda. This is where the inexpensive, simple, yet features packed umbrella stroller comes to the rescue.

    Baby Trends Trendlite Stroller at K-Mart - $19.99 -OR- Look for a good used umbrella stroller! - DIBS!

  • How not to have your stroller get more frequent flyer miles than you: Ah yes. Home is where Uncle Sam sends you. Right now, Sam says we're pretty far away from our family so the odds of us having to fly at some point with our kid are pretty good. And to make sure our stroller meets us when our plane lands, gate checks will be our friend.

    Gate Check Umbrella Stroller Bag at Target - $12.99 - OR - Make a cooler one yourself! - DIBS!

  • Tit's OK, have a bottle: While we are hoping to breastfeed, there are going to be times when the Kelly's Snack Shack might be closed. In doing our research on which bottles are better for breastfeeding babies, we decided on two kinds: one that can be prepared singlehanded with kid in arm (Adiri - top bottle) and one that works for suckers of all stages (Second Nature - bottom bottle). The Adiri bottles have different flow rates, and savvy shoppers can be pick them up in a 3-pack with all of the flow rates. The Second Nature bottles have nipples that can be used throughout the nursing stages, so they need to be replaced more frequently - so like in Playboy, the more nipples we can get, the better. (Please note, as we are trying to breastfeed, these items are DIBS-able in the quantities listed.)

    Adiri 3-pack - Click to find a store near you or purchase online at - DIBS x 2

    Second Nature 3-pack Bottles and replacement Nipples - purchasing information available shortly - server is down. DIBS - Bottles x 2, Nipples x 4

  • And don't forget to clean the corners: Nothing's worse than tasting something the second time around, whether it's puke or something left on your cereal bowl by the dishwasher. We're going to guess our kid is going to agree with us on this point. To our rescue comes the handy-dandy bottle brush with nifty nipple cleaning attachment. After all, who wouldn't want clean nipples?

    Bottle brush - available wherever baby stuff is sold! - DIBS! - Cuz we only need one.

  • Belly up to the booby bar: Positions: from "moving furniture" to tactical advantage on the battlefield as well as in the new territory of breastfeeding, it has come to our attention that getting the right position from the start helps in avoiding pitfalls. From what nursing moms have told Kelly, a nursing pillow can be a big help in getting kiddo a good seat at Hooter's. The niftiest pillow we have seen is a smooshable pillow made out of buckwheat hulls (sort of like a baby Sobakowa pillow) that went for an astronomical amount. The cheap goddess in Kelly had a heartattack and offered up this suggestion instead: How about a pair of buckwheat pillows and some flannel pillowcases to go with?

    Buckwheat pillow and pillowcase - Sources coming soon for pillow - or check out Amazon! Flannel pillow cases available all over - OR - make your own! DIBS - Pillow x 2. We can always use more pillow cases.

  • It's dirty work, but someone else is going to do it: As part of our commitment to cutting down on the amount of bundles of trash our bundle of joy will produce, we are planning on going with cloth diapers from Sound Diaper Service. Not only is it cheaper than disposables, it's better for the environment: for $69.00 a month, someone else does the dirty work, washing in bulk is better for the environment, and we keep plastic wrapped poo sacks out of the landfill.

    Sound Diaper Service Gift Certificates - all denominations welcome!

  • How not to get a bum (w)rap: Cloth diapers do tend to get the bum rap when it comes to leaking. Enter Bummis Wraps - today's answer to yesterday's rubber pants. Bummis are cloth diaper covers that make using cloth diapers much easier while providing a solution to puddles of baby byproducts all over. While it would be fun to dress our child like an inmate at Western State, we're opting for a nicer version of leaving the world a drier place!

    Bummis wraps - Newborn to Medium size - Click here to find a store near you - OR - Get them used! DIBS - 7 per size

  • Always have back-up plan: The military has shown us how important it is to have an alternate exit strategy. As in combat, so in poo disposal. Keeping in mind that our first choice is cloth for our little one's exit strategy, we are also asking for a package or two of eco-friendly disposable diapers while we are getting settled in and waiting for our diaper service to start up. While they aren't biodegradable, Seventh Gen diapers are fragrance free and might come in handle to clear up a nasty bout of bum rash.

    Seventh Generation Diapers - All sizes - Click to find a store near you or purchase online from Sound Diaper Service for $14.09

  • The Swiss Army Knife of Soaps: You have to admire a soap that says that it has at least 18 different uses with only 8 ingredients. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps in Baby Mild have been cleaning both hippies and urban hipsters alike for more than fifty years. Made out of organic, fragrance free, biodegradable ingredients, it's simplicity in a bottle. A squirt for the bath, another for reusable wipes, some for mom's hands, and let's not forget the copious reading material on the package! It's truly magic!

    Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Soap in all sizes
    - available online in many places or at your local health food store or head shop

  • How not to get bummed out on bum rash: You've got to admit, Burt and his bees are pretty spiffy. Not only do they make kick-ass chapstick, but Burt's Bees makes some great stuff for moms, dads and babies. A friend recommended this diaper ointment to Kelly after her girls had problems with the occasional bout of bum rash. Not only does it smell nice, but it gets the job done with 100% natural ingredients. The diaper ointment can be purchased separately, or is part of Baby Bee Getting Started gift set or the Baby Bee to Go gift set.

    Baby Bee Diaper Ointment from Burt's Bees - Click to find a store near you or purchase online!

  • And don't forget to WIPE! To go along with avoidance of plastic poo sacks, we're also wanting to avoid the highly fragranced, non-recyclable wipes. To that end, (or at least, for somebody's end) we'd like to use reusable cloth wipes. The nifty thing about these are that you can make them yourself if you're handy with a sewing maching or serger. And it's cheaper! Considering a yard of 60" wide cotton velour or terry cloth will yield about 28 - 8" square wipe, for about $20 and your time, it's a great deal.

    (No, Jimmy John's doesn't make cloth wipes. But they do make great sandwiches for hungry parents and have gift certificates available.)

  • Same shirt, different day: Remember how we said we were totally up for irreverent baby clothing? We'd be doing you fine readers a disservice if we didn't give you a source for our source of naughty baby attire. Be forewarned: T-Shirt Hell is not for the easily offended - and guaranteed, there's something to offend just about EVERYONE. Take heart - snarky baby gear can be had just about everywhere these days from Target to Walmart to your very own Sharpie and pack of onesies. Here's one of our favorites:

    Snarky T-shirts - Baby Hell - $13.70 - OR - Make a cooler shirt yourself! (Kel can't be the only snarky creative person out there)

But wait! There's MORE MADNESS to be posted! Check back frequently!

The DIBS list

It's great to get more of what you want -Burger King seems to embrace this concept. And like Burger King, sometimes, more is not always better.

Although Otis would like 3 or 4 awesome diaper bags (they are range bags, after all), we don't think that would be the best for everyone. So that we don't receive multiple high-ticket items and then have to return them, we've created the DIBS list. (DIBS - Dude, I'm Buying Something!)

The DIBS list is just that - you post what you want to purchase in the comments section. The first post down in the comments section for an item in the DIBS list post has "purchasing rights" for that item.

Items that that you can call DIBS on are noted in our "Stuff We Want" list with a bright green DIBS after it:

Some items, like consumables and diaper service gift certificates, don't have the DIBS tag on it because we don't mind getting a lot of them! It's not like we won't use soap or diapers!

Please take time and read through the comments after this post - not only do we not wish to waste your time, but we want to make sure we're getting stuff we need. And we promise not to look, either. After all, that would ruin the surprise :)

Thank you!

Stuff we have

AS OF 11/2/2008:

This is a list of all of the goodies that we already have received, and after this initial posting, dates received, and who got it for us!

Thank you to all who have given us goodies for our little one!

  • Pack-n-play bassinet playpen thingy: great for coralling toys and the kid! - Thank you Jennifer B!
  • Baby jumper thingy: builds leg strength and provides entertainment - Thank you Jennifer B!
  • A huge haul of maternity clothing: the gift that keeps on giving! - Thank you Jennifer B!
  • Assorted noisy toys and fun stuff: one emptier garage for a haul of cool toys! - Thank you Jennifer B!
  • Baby sling: an over the shoulder baby holder! - Thank you Otis!

  • "Major Cutie" onesie: camouflage is always welcome in our place! - Thank you Erin!
  • "Happy Bunny" maternity shirts: for those days when Kel just does not feel like a Happy Mommy - Thank you (Grand)Mom Julie!
  • Nifty bassinet thingy: one part playpen, one part sleeper - Thank you Erin & Tod!
  • Feeding spoons, toys and other assorted stuff: More used items find a home! - Thank you Jennifer!
  • Halloween onesies in multiple sizes: Why can't Halloween be everyday? - One of Kel's bargain shopped items

Your suggestions for "Must Haves"

Been there, done that?

Well, we haven't. So we're opening it up to you - loyal readers and experienced parents - to weigh in on indispensable baby gear that you had and couldn't do without!

We'll be reading suggestions and adding ones that seem like a good idea to our Wish List!

Thank you for all of your suggestions!