We’ve moved!

July 29, 2012

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been, well…Minimalist Mama Expecting is now Minimalista Mama! After a few months of moving around, we’re excited about our new name and final location. Come join us at the new site – we’re looking forward to seeing you there!

In the process, we’ve combined Minimalist Mama Expecting, her sister site Minimalist Mama (for already-parents) AND Minimalist Mama Gifts (for the lovely people who give presents to our adorable offspring). All the sites still have their own sections, so you can find your new home by just clicking on the category that’s right for you. Or you can see all the great stuff for everyone by just browsing around the home page. We really hope you like it!

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Minimalist Merge!

June 18, 2012

In a week or so, Minimalist Mama Expecting will have a whole new look and feel and a ton more content: we’re merging with Minimalist Mama and Minimalist Mama Gifts!

Keeping the three sites separate no longer made sense since a lot of the recommendations have been great for expectant parents, new parents and gift givers and I was posting some of the same content on all three sites. That’s just silliness – and we don’t want anyone to miss out! (If you find that you just want to see the posts for your track, the new site will still have separate areas for just pregnant mamas, just new mamas or just the lovely people who give them presents.)

I’m really excited and I hope you like the changes too! (If you want a sneak peak, check it out here. Otherwise, we’ll see you when we go live!)

Your baby will be very popular. Trust me. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends will want to come and meet your new bundle. This can be wonderful. It can also be difficult, depending on how much you like these well-wishers, how helpful they’re willing to be, and, in the case of new mamas and papas living in cities 0r small spaces, how able and willing they are to stay someplace other than your home.

(Those of you with large homes, a guest house by the pool or extra bedrooms that have not recently been converted into nurseries can disregard this post – unless you’re looking for a rock solid excuse to get Uncle Morty and his third wife off your couch and into the Hilton on their next visit!)

Having people on the sofa bed in your living room or an Aerobed in the front hall is not a recipe for a successful visit when you and your partner are up all night with little Tyler. Having them staying nearby in a nice VRBO or Air B&B rental is perfect. They can get some sleep, bring you coffee in the morning and, with all their well-slept energy, spell you with the baby.

You, in turn, will not be ready to send them home on Day 2 because your overnight routine is hard enough without having to navigate around sleeping guests (or cope with their crabbiness because Fuquan had a crying jag at 3AM that kept them up).

Trust me: it is time well spent while you are pregnant to locate a few reasonably priced rentals or hotels near your home and send out that list to everyone who offers to come and help or notifies you of their enthusiasm to meet your new little one.

Keep your guilt about being inhospitable in check by reminding yourself that you are being hospitable by giving them the gift of a good night’s rest while they are here and a visit with their new grandchild/niece/nephew/godchild that is not fraught with unspoken resentment and conflict.

Note: This will also be the case for all of your friends who have been super psyched to have a free place to crash in a city of over-priced hotels, e.g. my current home of San Francisco and former home of New York where many friends would not have been able to visit at all if they’d added a hotel onto the expense. Those days are over. At least for a while. You’re doing everyone a favor by communicating that gently but clearly when asked. It’s OK: they will still be your friends.

Good luck and happy hosting!

VRBO.com and Air B&B both offer a ton of options in most cities. 

Also check your local parents’ boards (listservs, Yahoo groups, Google groups). In my neighborhood alone, there are at least a dozen in-law apartments and rentals that other parents have posted that they don’t want to put up on craigslist because screening random people is more trouble than they want to take on or because the units are vacant irregularly. The rates for these can easily be $100 less than a hotel and even less than that if you’re looking for a weekly rental. If you’re in San Francisco and not on any of these parents’ boards, get on ’em and post a request for a short-term “visiting the new baby” rental. If you’re not sure how to find your local board, check out some of them here or send me a note and I’ll give you a hand.) 

Birth Announcements

February 17, 2012

You’re either the kind of person who sends birth announcements or you’re not.

Subcategory of the former: the kind of person who designs your own letterpress birth announcements and prints them at your local printing press, including a tasteful black and white photo, affixed by hand to the inside with understated photo corners and perfectly kerned names and dates. Alternate subcategory: the kind of person who has scrapbooking supplies on hand and enjoys a nice afternoon at a flat table with bric brac and glitter.

Let me be clear: I am the kind of person (second child, lacking in memorabilia from my own childhood, a little OCD) who sends birth announcements. I am not the kind of person who has any facility with a printing press or a glue gun or knows anyone who will hook me up with their own skills in that department for cheap. So I used Tiny Prints for our birth announcements (and Christmas cards and birthday invitations – oh, and shower invitations too) and I love them. They offer charming card choices and a meticulous process and, since they’re located in the Bay Area, their turnaround on my custom orders is ridiculous. Like, I have the prints in my hands in a week or less. But the main thing is that I love the cards themselves.

So if you’re looking to have a place lined up to print your happy announcements, consider them. They rock.

(You can pre-select designs you like before the baby comes and save them in your account. Once little Herkimer is in your arms, you can just drop in the appropriately adorable photo and voila!)

Tiny Prints, birth announcements starting at about 80 cents each, envelopes included 

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2012

Apologies for the prolonged holiday hiatus! I was felled for nearly two weeks by a respiratory thing and then immediately got the flu. That plus the holidays took the wind out of my writing sails, but all’s well that end’s well: healthy and back on the beat, so onwards towards your baby’s arrival, yeah? Hooray 2012!

 

 

I just – finally – pulled together a list of San Francisco parents’ groups for some pregnant friends of ours, so I thought I’d share the information for those of you local to our city by the bay.

First, there’s Golden Gate Mother’s Group. It’s the most formally organized of all the ones I’ve joined. They started several years ago and are very professional and well-established – which means well-moderated forums, a snail-mail quarterly magazine (quite good), and hosted events year-round. (They use the word “moms” a lot but I assume it’s fine if dads join too.)

GGMG has a $75 annual fee, which I balked at but got over when I realized that they’re a deep resource for finding both gear and help (nannies, babysitters, doulas) and they offer discounts at places like Recess (indoor playground in Potrero), Peekadoodle (ludicrously expensive play and teaching space in Ghiradelli Square) and a number of baby stores in the city.

They also help set up local, age-specific playgroups for working and non-working moms/kids. (I went to one of those organizational events and it was super well-run but definitely skewed towards new moms, so you’ll have a wider array of moms and options if you go before your little one is six months old vs. when she’s 9-12 months as I did.) There’s also a lot of conversational advice and support on the forums (which I haven’t taken much advantage of since Astrid was born).

The main reason to join GGMG in my opinion is to have a wide and deep resource for finding childcare. We found our excellent postpartum doula, Caroline Kerherve, on their message boards, and the site has a dedicated recommendation board for nannies and babysitters, so you can read references and notes before you even talk to a candidate. (The site has recently standardized all submissions looking for or recommending childcare professionals. All posts are reviewed before going live and only first-hand recommendations and requests are considered, so it’s much more organized and reliable than the free-for-all on craigslist or even the neighborhood parents’ boards.)

The more local, more bare bones and free option are San Francisco neighborhood parents’ boards. The ones I belong to are all hosted on Yahoo and are message boards only. The sites do have “owners”, so you need to send a note requesting access, and the boards are usually moderated, albeit a little more passively than GGMG. You can get immediate email notifications of all posted messages (overwhelming!) or a daily digest (more reasonable) or just check the boards on the web site (you probably won’t, so if you want to keep up, get the daily digest).

The posts range from “I’m looking for [fill in the blank: a car seat to borrow for a week, a stroller bag, a wipes warmer, a high chair] does anyone have one to buy/borrow/give away?” to, “I’m selling/giving away _____ – does anyone need one?” to, “There’s a [kid-related event] everyone should know about,” to, “I need advice on [potty-training, kid-friendly holiday locations, brunch spots, switching to a toddler bed]!” to, “There’s a helicopter over my house – what is happening?”

You should definitely join at least a couple of these boards near you. Babies are expensive and go through their initial stages quickly, so buying or borrowing gear from other local parents is a great decision. I haven’t had a bad experience yet.

I belong to Noe, Potrero, Mission, and Bernal’s groups. Noe isn’t that active, Potrero and Mission are pretty active and Bernal is so insanely active I had to unsubscribe because of the volume. (I can still search or read online.) You can join by sending a note to the address listed on their home pages:

Mission
Potrero Hill
Noe Valley
Bernal Heights

I’m sure there are other neighborhood local groups as well, and sometimes they’re difficult to find by just searching online. If you’re a member of GGMG, post on their boards asking about a group local to where you live or – maybe faster! – ask a neighbor mom if she knows where your ‘hood’s is online. They’re a fantastic resource.

(Berkeley also has a very active parents’ group at Berkeley Parents Network. It’s a great source of information for non-Berkeley parents too on general subjects like flying with kids and so on.)

Fruity

August 31, 2011

When I was pregnant with Astrid, I signed up for weekly emails from Fit Pregnancy that updated me on the baby’s development and size.

Increasingly, towards the end of the pregnancy, the size analogies veered from nice, apt foods like oranges to oddly disturbing ones like pot roasts. TheBump.com has put together an all-fruit (olives? sweet potatoes? well, almost) table to keep you up-to-date on your baby’s size. Thanks for nixing the weird meat comparisons, guys!

(I’m not sure about the progression from cantaloupe to banana. Maybe the writers buy steroidal bananas…and anemic melons…?)