Sunday, July 17, 2011

7 Years ago Today...

I married an amazing man...who would become Gunnar's amazing Father.

I am so incredibly lucky to share this journey of parenthood with this man.  I didn't think it was possible to love him more...and then we had this beautiful baby...and I see how much he loves him and is so protective and adoring of him and I find myself falling for him more everyday.

Marriage is challenging and is a partnership and a spiritual journey. Every day is a new beginning and I look forward to starting every new adventure with him. The card John gave me today sums up my feelings exactly. It read: "I'd rather do nothing with YOU than anything with SOMEONE ELSE." How true.  Happy Anniversary to my dearest Johnny. I love you.

In Other News:

Book Club: Today we had our 2nd Bookclub meeting! Which was fabulous! This time we read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which was a hug hit! We had a great discussion and I highly recommend this book!!!

Diaper Update...I recently gave Nature Babycare Diapers another test run. I ran out of diapers before our Amazon subscription of Seventh Generations arrived and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to give these diapers another shot. And it almost seems like they read my blog and improved everything I disliked about them. [Original Review] This time we tried size 3...They've added adhesive to the tabs so they close a little better (not perfect, but much improved!) and we've seen excellent absorbency. Since these diapers are bio-degradable I am definitely considering switching my subscription to this brand.

Taking a Break...I just wanted to inform my readers that I'm going to take a mini vacation from my daily blog. Gunnar and I are taking a road trip with my parents out east (leaving poor daddy home working) and I have decided I'd like to use my time to catch up with friends, family, books and work on memorizing lines... I don't want to feel obligated to find internet or a computer everyday. So starting tomorrow my daily blog will be quite scarce for a few weeks. I will try to make a few updates here and there...but for the most part Gunnar's Mother won't be consistent again until August 4th. Thanks for your understanding...Love, Kirstin

Congratulations to...

...Christine who is the winner of the Something for Mom Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who entered! And stay tuned for the next giveaway from Mom's Blankies happening in just a few weeks.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Music for Baby...

So lately Gunnar has been super into listening to "tunes".  He doesn't pay much attention to "mom and dad" music but when I put in one of his "kid" CD's he does the little torso grooving, hand waving baby dance which accompanies his open mouthed grin and oodles of baby giggles and coos.

We have a couple of decent compilation kid CD's which all have the their own groundbreaking (read: sarcasm) renditions of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep"...but if you're looking for different and clever songs and lyrics Raffi might be a better choice.

But an adult can only take so much "Twinkle Twinkle" and Raffi in any given day.  Which is why I was so excited to find a children's channel on Pandora.  I just typed in the charming aforementioned baby crooner and wallah! Instant kid mix! It's so much easier to listen to "kid" music when you're not listening to the same 15 songs on repeat. And Pandora does a nice job of mixing in some tunes from the "adult" genre that is appeasing to young ears like Jason Mraz's "I'm yours" and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".  From listening to this station I've also learned that some of my favorite bands also have Children's The Bare Naked Ladies, Lisa Loeb and Jack Johnson.

Snack TimeCatch the MoonSing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George (Jack Johnson)

And if you don't like listening to all of those interrupting commercials on Pandora you can upgrade to Pandora One like we did....which gets you unlimited music commercial free for some crazy low cost like $12/year (don't quote me on that...I'm not getting paid by Pandora to tell you about this service...I just think it's great!)

In Other News: It's been my goal to try new things in the food department as mentioned in my July Goals.

So here's what I've tried so far:

Watermelon Gazpacho: Yum!! Will do again!
Halibut: I had to try it for the Hal-i-bit! Just a bite from John's dinner...not bad...not too fishy I might be willing to try ordering it as my own entree next time.
Roast Italian Beef Sub: Not a fan...I wouldn't order it again any time soon...too much bread. Didn't like the taste of the beef which made the sandwich bun soggy and gross.

 I'll let you know when I venture into other new territories!

Friday, July 15, 2011

8 months Old!

That's my future "Billy Elliot" practicing the splits already!

"What do ya think ma?"

Gunnar Miles is 8 months Old today! I can't believe how big he's gotten.

John and I definitely went to the midnight release of Harry Potter: 7 part 2 last night. We didn't get home until 3:45am...a special thanks to Ian, Emily and Wendy for a terrific evening and an especially HUGE thank you to Gunnar's Auntie Kerry who spent the night last night so we could go!!! And in case you're wondering...YES! It was the best movie of the series...go see it!!

Nana arrives today...John and I are off to see Cirque Du Soleil and then dinner to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary (which is actually on Sunday).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The 10 best things about living in Chicago...

So we've been living in Chicago now for almost 10 months...and the city is really growing on me.
It has it's ups and downs but so far I think we're generally smitten with the city.

So far...Here is my list of 10 favorite things about living in Chicago:

10. Trader Joe's: This is the first city we've lived in where we live close enough to utilize Trader Joe's. I love, love, love the rock bottom prices, organic selections, the friendly staff and the vast array of easy to make meals (especially for me...who can't cook to save her life!)

 9. The Shopping: Even though I'm not much of a shopper these days...I can't complain about what this city has to offer. From Miracle Mile to local second hand shops to Ikea to enormous shopping and outlet malls. Everything and anything I could possibly need is never far away.  

8. Chicago Public Libraries:  Though we haven't had a lot of success with going to the free programs offered at our library (that is literally next door) has been so nice to be able to have an endless supply of reading material to offer to G. And the FREE passes to museums, parks and zoos is one of the greatest gifts CPL have to offer! We even started checking out CD's...Gunnar is loving Raffi these days!

8.  Our Condo/Apartment: Seriously...I am so glad we found this place. It's amazing to think that we picked it out site unseen and it's been such a blessing. I don't know how we would ever be getting by without the laundry in our unit, or the convenient trash shoot just steps from our front door. There are plenty of wonderful neighbors in our building...and when it comes to grocery shopping the elevator is my best friend! And when the Blizzard of 2011 hit...we counted our blessings numerous times for our indoor heated parking...which also comes in handy when it's too hot, raining, windy, etc.

7. Lincoln Park Zoo: What a terrific little zoo. We've been 4 times since Gunnar was born. It's's beautiful. A great place to picnic and take the kids. A staple for bringing out of town guests or meeting friends. This is such a great gift from the City of Chicago!

6. The Food: There are so many incredible restaurants to try in the city...and we have hardly left our neighborhood...John and I were discussing how Chicago seems to really be a foody city. In Chicago it seems Chefs are as well known as the local celebrities.  Trying a new restaurant is rarely a risk in this town.  A few favorites so far: Bad Apple, Daily Bar & Grill, Ann Sather, Tre Kroner and Julius Meinl

5. The Neighborhood- Lincoln Square: Nothing wrong with a little German neighborhood. The square itself is one of my favorite places to's cute and quaint and feels like a small town's mainstreet. Complete with a fabulous Toy store, an insanely cool book store, gelato shop, bakeries, my favorite 2nd hand shop, kitchy artisan shops and great restaurants. There's even an incredibly unique Apothecary shop that is worth a visit to the square alone. We love going to the famous Brauhaus for giant pretzels, pilsners and goulash AND of course to polka with the oompa-pa band that plays every night! 

4. Public Transportation: Though I don't use it as often as I should. I'm so glad to be back in a city with many modes of transportation. I love riding a bus or a train and letting someone else take the wheel for once. It's environmentally great and makes going places a little more exciting! Gunnar turns into a total flirt with everyone in sight...which is also quite entertaining!

 3. The Theater Scene:  Though I've only been able to see a few select plays since moving here...I already know there is so much to offer in this city. From Big-Name Broadway-type houses to Regional theater giants to small independent store fronts. I'm so thrilled to be making my Chicago debut with a killer role in Akvavit Theatre's Red and Green by Astrid Saalbach mid September.

2. The Friends: I feel so blessed to have moved here with a small gaggle of friends close by. I don't know what I'd do without them...there's nothing that can make you love a city more than the people who live in it! Here's hoping that gaggle will grow into a heard!

1. Family: I count my blessings everyday that we live in the same town as John's sister and brother-in-law and my cousin Jessica and her family. It has been nearly 7 years since we've lived in the same city as any family members and it's been far too long. There is nothing in this world as important and valuable as having your family near by. And what a time too...I hope Gunnar knows just how special it is to be growing up with his auntie just a few blocks away. We couldn't be luckier.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I wanted to share...

I wanted to share a poem written by my beautiful and talented cousin Jessica Creech, who was a doula and calming presence for me the day Gunnar was born. Jessica shared this poem with me (that she wrote just a few hours after Gunnar was born) yesterday and it brought back so much emotion. With so few words she effortlessly captures the feelings we all shared in those moments after Gunnar arrived in this world. 

The Birth of Gunnar Miles Hammergren  
a poem by Jessica Creech

I first saw two inches of your fuzzy head
A sign of hope in pain and suffering
Then I saw your skin grow dark when the doctors said,
“Wait—don’t push” as they put on their protective gear and arranged their instruments
Like they had time
While you waited, unable to breathe, with the umbilical chord wrapped around your neck
Then they said, “Push,” and you came into the world
Blue and limp
And we all held our breath as you struggled for yours
While they took you over to a little table and put an oxygen mask on your tiny face
Your mother said, “Is he okay?” and buried her face into your father’s chest
Your grandmother bowed her head into her folded hands and I saw that tears had streaked her reddened cheeks
And we all prayed
And then there came
A spirit of peace in the room
As we waited in seconds that lasted forever
And we all knew then that birth is dangerous
And life and death are much closer than it seems
How God could be present in both miracle and tragedy
We hung in between
Till your cry covered all our fears
And you proclaimed the victory!

finally...Gunnar's first cry

Jessica, didn't know it at the time, but she was pregnant when Gunnar was born (a surprise). She is just weeks, possibly days, away from welcoming her third child into the world. Thank you Jessica. You are such an inspiration. May your 3rd birth be both magical and complication free. We are saying a little prayer for you everyday. We love you so much!

Jessica holding Gunnar (3 months) with her children Ela and Ian

Jessica and her daughter Ela.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

so I have a little problem...

My husband told me I needed to write a confessional blog about my addiction to baby carriers.'s true.

I love baby carriers. I might have too many. And for a self professed baby minimalist that's a little embarrassing to admit...but that doesn't mean I'll be getting rid of any of them...oh no.
I love each one for different purposes and when you're a stay at home mom-on-the-go I think it's important to have many comfortable options for carting around that bundle of joy.

Now I admit...this isn't a frugal addiction to have. Many baby carriers cost as much, if not more, than a pair of diamond earrings. But there are inexpensive options out there my friends...oh yes...if you're hoping to have more than one, like me.

So here's what we have and why I like them:

 *Baby Bjorn This is the standard go-to in baby carriers, and the first carrier we owned. I love it because it's sleek and stylish and sporty (both men and women look great wearing this) and it's the least complicated carrier to put on. The fast clips make it super easy. This is my baby carrier of choice when heading into the city for quick trip or especially while boarding an airplane. Baby can face in or out--out is quite fun for baby and this is one of the few carriers that have this option...Gunnar does the happy dance when he's facing out!  Downsides: you don't want your baby to be in it for extremely long stretches as there have been studies that this kind of carrier might cause hip dysplasia when used too often (which is another reason why I have more than one), also when worn for too long this carrier puts a lot of stress on my lower back. It's also on the pricier side.

*Hoppediz This is our woven wrap carrier that we got when Gunnar was just a few weeks old. We went to a baby wearing class and tried on every carrier there is and found this to be the most universally comfortable.  There are about 10 different ways to carry baby in this wrap and it is extremely comfortable for both you and baby. When Gunnar was 4 weeks old I wore him around the mall all day long in this and (he slept like an angel the whole time) and I was able to get my Christmas shopping done easy-pa-cheesy! It can be worn with little or no clothing and it's completely possible to nurse your baby while wearing! Downsides: there is a learning curve on this...and I have to say it has prevented me from using it whenever there was a time crunch. Hard to store as it is very long (we learned a pretty knotting technique which condenses it somewhat but still quite big), and I wouldn't even think of wearing it in summer...too hot. There is a lighter version made by Hoppediz or the Moby Wrap is a similar lighter weight carrier (although I've heard it's not as strong a carrier and can stretch while wearing)

 *Infantino Ecosash Baby Carrier This is an inexpensive knock off of the Mei Tai Wrap which was another carrier we tried in the baby wearing class and loved (although if you're only going to get one carrier and you're all about being fashionable you can design your own Mei Tei which is pretty darn cool!). Anyways I was able to find this knock off carrier (an older version than the one shown) at TJ Maxx on clearance for $14.99!! This carrier is a semi structured carrier with padded shoulder straps which make it quite comfy. It's sort of a cross between the wrap and the baby bjorn. It's not quite as complicated as the wrap but not as easy as the Baby Bjorn. Babies knees are higher than his butt on this carrier so no risk of hip dysplasia. Can be worn on front or back. Downsides: There are instructions for how to face baby out in this carrier but I still haven't been able to do it. Getting baby on your back requires a second person's help. And for some reason Gunnar doesn't like this carrier us much as the baby bjorn...his view is a little restricted.

 *Munchkin Jelly Bean Reversible Sling I totally bought this carrier on a whim at Target for $20.  It was cute and stylish and reversable and I figured I'd give it a try (after all I have an addiction...might as well feed it...right?).  This carrier is sort of hit or miss. Baby can sit facing out (as shown), on your hip or on your back. It's hit or miss because you really have to take the time to adjust your baby to make it most comfortable for both of you...and sometimes Gunnar's legs just won't do what I need him to do to make it comfy. But sometimes we get it just right and it is super snuggly baby cuddles folks. What I love about this sling is it packs up really small (can fit easily in my diaper bag without taking much space), It washes well and is extremely light. Downside: This carrier is not intended for babies under 18 lbs. Gunnar isn't quite 18 lbs yet so I think that's why it's not always comfortable yet. If worn for too long it can put a strain on the carrying shoulder. 

* Infantino Ergonomic Carrier So many friends have highly recommended the Ergo or Beco Butterfly carriers which was the only carrier recommended at our baby wearing class that they didn't have available for us to try. Well this is another knock off of those brands. The lower padded belt helps to support your lumbar muscle (which prevents that lower back pain some carriers give you). I'd say this carrier is great for longevity...when you're taking baby on a hike or for a long day to the zoo...this will keep baby cozy and you comfy all day long. I recently found this carrier at Marshals for $39.  Baby can be worn tummy to tummy or on your back like a backpack. This is the only carrier, other than the hoppediz that Gunnar has taken a nap in. I love the pocket in front for my cell phone! Downsides: It's tricky to put this carrier on by yourself. I am able to get it on without help but not in the most comfortable position...the snap on the upper back is just hard enough to reach.  When baby is riding tummy to view for baby.

And I'm afraid to say I still would love to get a Maya Wrap ring sling or a Moby Wrap and I certainly wouldn't refuse a gift of a name brand carrier of any of the knock offs I currently own. Yep...that's addiction folks. Are there support groups for this?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Well that was unexpected...

I was in the middle of flossing my teeth before bed last night when I tomorrow...ugh.  I stopped flossing and looked into the mirror and exhaled "Tomorrow is going to be a bad day" I said to my already exhausted face...just to prepare myself. 

So when I woke up this morning to a power outage...I laughed. Of's going to be a bad day so why not make it worse? It was incredibly dark outside from the storm that had passed through, making it hard to see much of anything in the apartment. I called our power company only to hear a recorded message that over 90,000 customers were without power and those numbers were still climbing..."it could take days before power is restored. We are doing the best we can." Gunnar  had gone back down for his morning nap...and since I couldn't see anything I decided he had the right idea.

When Gunnar and I woke up at 10:30am I decided we needed to venture outside. I don't keep really any non-perishable foods in the house, and since I didn't want to risk spoiling our food by opening the fridge, I needed to find some other way to get some food in my stomach.  So I got us dressed and G loaded in a carrier and we felt our way to the stairs. There was absolutely no light in the stair well as the emergency lights had long since burned I used my cell phone to guide us down the stairs.  On our way down I ran into a couple of guys trying to move a couch up the stairs using only a tiny flash light and a terrified older woman who was trying to make her way up the stairs.  Luckily someone had managed to prop open the building's garage door...which meant our car wasn't trapped as I thought it would be...we were free!! So I strapped G in his carseat and decided we'd leave until the power came back on or it was time to go to the Dentist...whichever came first.

Once we pulled out of the parking lot I was able to see what I was wearing. Let's just say that no one should ever have the misfortune of having to choose their outfit in the dark...but oh well.  We spent the day at Starbucks, Babies R Us and Target (finding some awesome bargains!) and around 12:30pm I learned that our power had been restored...but by then Gunnar was already taking his midday nap in the carrier so I decided to keep on shopping while he slept. 

Gunnar's fabulous aunt Kerry came over to babysit while I went to the dentist...which wasn't as terrible as I expected. The deep cleaning only lasted 20 minutes or so and I hardly felt a thing...Dental technology must have improved in the last 9 years.

My bad day wasn't turning out to be nearly as bad as I was about to get better. Shortly after returning home from the dentist I checked my email to find...that I was offered the role in the play I auditioned for on Saturday!!! Ahhh! So exciting!! Chicago Theater here I come! So it turns out...I will get to sit in that rehearsal hall after all...I will get to discuss this play and dig further and explore! I am so thrilled!
The standard look of disappointment (circa 1985-random I know)
And to top it off I made a sale on Etsy and heard from the buyer in Georgia who wants to buy another lot of my shirts! AND...I got to watch the Bachelorette (guilty pleasure) AND my sister and brother in law are spending the night because they didn't get their power back (sad for them...yay for us getting to spend time with them!) wrong I was about my bad was GREAT!! AND I HAVE CLEAN TEETH.
Thankful (circa 1983) grateful (7-11-11)!!