Moving back to the Netherlands


Mod and Mint: Moving abroad from New York to Amsterdam

One, two, three, take a deep breath and say the words.
Type them and make it real.
We are going to move back to the Netherlands.
Remigrating after almost a decade in New York we’ve made the decision.
It is time.

In all these years i never thought about moving back. NY was home. Not a temporary place to stay. I worked hard to get my green card. I did not do that to go back. There were many tough times. NY definitely makes you pay your dues. But i got through, and grew stronger.
New York molded me. When i got here, i had just turned 30. Now i’m facing my 40th, and will do the whole move again in reverse. Only this time i’m not going by myself. I’m with a husband, a cat, and a baby.
We signed the contract to sell our home, now it’s a matter of waiting for closing and getting our tickets to get on a plane back.

Starting over again. It scares me and excites me. I’m looking forward to it and i’m dreading it.
There are so many reasons to stay in NY. And so many reasons to leave.
There are so many things i long for in the Netherlands, and at the same time so many things i wish were different.
Different? Do i even know how it is there nowadays? Will i fall victim to reverse culture shock? Of course i know how the country was when i left it. I hear stories how it is now. I know things have changed.
I have changed too.
The main reason to jump into all of this is my little boy. It is true that when you have a baby you look at life different. I started looking at my life in a renewed way. I started missing my family and friends stronger than i had ever had. I started to feel selfish being here, while he has a large circle of people who love him on the other side of the world.

Ask me today and i’m scared senseless if this is the right thing to do. Ask me tomorrow and i’m excited and eager to go. This rollercoaster is moving and i’m breathing through it.
Wish me luck.

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Baby almost 1, My 10 Best Essential Baby Products List


Mod and Mint: 10 Best Essential Baby Products List
I can hardly believe it, my baby boy is almost turning one. Just one more month to go.
Every mother knows, the first year of your first baby is one amazing roller coaster ride.
I have learned so much. Before he arrived i was already reading up and asking around which things i would need. I knew i would need a lot of diapers, but what else? I was such a rookie.

I asked every mother i spoke with the same question, what item was the best, and what things just didn’t got used at all. This way i learned to bypass the diaper genie and wipe warmers. And i learned about activity gyms and boppy pillows.
I also went through many online lists of best baby products. I frequented the Hellobee blog making notes on all the newborn essentials for baby’s first year. I was so organized and prepared, i had my checklist ready! Still i had a few items that i missed at first and a few that i didn’t really need in hindsight. Or not as much (everyone mentioned to have plenty of receiving blankets, although true, we used them a lot in the beginning, i went a little overboard and got way too many).
To return the favor, i’m putting my list out in the universe. Maybe it will be usefull for another rookie mom to be.

Mod and Mint: Baby's first year top 10 essentials list
1. Swaddle blankets. My husband practiced swaddling our baby almost continuously when i was still in hospital, asking every nurse that came in the room to show him how to swaddle with a regular swaddle blanket. I think he was a master at it, but he wasn’t too sure. Is it tight enough? Is it not too tight? Once home, we quickly moved to the special swaddler blankets, i think we tried most of them. We started with the Summer Infant and SwaddleMe swaddlers, moving on the Halo Sleepsack Swaddler when baby was ready for a little more leg freedom. At one point he did his Houdini and managed to get out of all of them. I bought a Woombie, which i think was the best of all, but we didn’t use it for long, since at that time baby was about ready to sleep without.
He is now sleeping in his regular Halo Sleepsacks at night which i am a big fan of.

2. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. You need diaper rash cream, but where to start. Yes, the name made me giggle. It also had a lot of great reviews. So we used Butt Paste. Look out for coupons and use them when the paste is already on sale if you are on a budget. Baby’s cost a lot of money, save those pennies wherever you can!

3. Every mother i spoke to in person told me to get a boppy pillow. Online i read reviews from mothers who swore by it, and some who barely used it. I got one and loved it. Used it for nursing, and later for tummy time and to prop baby up when he was learning to sit.

4. Not so much for the early days, but a favorite buy in the second half of the first year was definitely the Evenflo convertible high chair. I’m a big fan of items that are multi-purpose and/or last a long time (relative in case of a newborn). This high chair easily transitions to a toddler chair and table.

5. Zip up sleep & play one pieces. No messing around with snap buttons that don’t align when it’s the middle of the night and you are totally sleep deprived. Zip and done.

6. After baby’s first night home with us, i sent hubby to the ToysRUs first thing in the morning for an emergency pick up of a Graco Pack ‘n Play. Night one, baby in his crib in his room, one cry, mommy and daddy running, bumping into each other on the way to the nursery! We needed to have baby close to us. At least for that first period. Life saver. We had baby sleep in the pack ‘n play next to our bed and transitioned him to his regular crib later. Currently the play yard is in the living room and baby can play in it during the day. We don’t have any gates in the house, so this is perfect if we need to do something and can’t keep a close eye out on him. We are lucky baby can entertain himself very well, so he doesn’t mind playing by himself sometimes.

7. At the time baby was born we were living in an apartment with stairs, no elevator. Getting out of the door with a baby is time consuming even without having to haul a stroller down the stairs. So i loved my baby carrier. I researched and went for affordability and positive reviews. I used the Infantino carrier. Not the rolls royce under the carriers, but it worked well for short walks around the neighborhood. I used it a lot until he got a little heavy for me (it carries up to 25lbs so he could still be in it technically, but my back won’t be happy), and we moved to a new home in a building with elevators. Hello easy stroller rides!

8. Before the baby arrived i wasn’t even sure if we would need a monitor at all. Maybe a sound monitor? Our home doesn’t have multiple floors, so we would hear the baby when he would be crying right? But then a very dear friend told me, girl, splurge on this, you will not regret it, get a video monitor. Till this day i’m happy we took her advice. It is so nice to be able to look at the baby without having to tippy toe into the nursery. We got the Jena monitor by Levana. I really like the ease of use, sound quality and the screen visibility. They could have done away with the music, a few times we turned on the music by accident while the baby was sleeping and uhoh.. how do you turn it off again?

9. For a rocker i went with the Fisher Price infant to toddler rocker. To be honest, mostly because i liked the print on it. We used it a lot in the beginning. Baby liked taking his naps in it sometimes. He really didn’t care for the vibration mode, but as a regular rocker chair it worked perfect. Currently it’s just standing pretty in the corner of his nursery, i think he will use it again when he’s a little older, in the converted chair mode.

10. If you bottle feed or breast feed and pump, you will be using a lot of bottles. And they need to be cleaned. I started out with el cheapo dollar store bottle cleaners. I thought this was an item easy to go cheap on. But in no time the brush part broke off. I went one step up, a disney brand bottle cleaner, lasted a little longer, but this one too couldn’t handle actual cleaning of the bottles too much. Again the brush part broke off. Thinking about having to buy a new one every couple of weeks, i had to move on and spend a few extra bucks. Still not one of the most expensive items on the baby essentials list, and not the most exciting, but definitely one that is being used daily. We now have the Munchkin bottle cleaner. Months and months of usage, still going strong. Bypass the others and go straight to Munchkin.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. All these are my personal views.

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10 Tips from the 1960’s for new Mothers


Mod and Mint: 10 Tips from the 1960s for new Mothers
Being a new mom there is so much to learn. Some times i have the feeling i’m just one step ahead of my baby studying up on what i can expect next and what to do now. Once you figured something out, baby is already moving on to a new phase.
This little promotional vintage book from the 1960’s is chock-full of tips for new mothers.
Published by Hedstrom, makers of baby and childrens products. Besides the Priceless Pointers, it also has a number of pages showing their line of cribs, strollers, and nursery furniture.

Full disclosure, the cover of this vintage book had the number 202 above the title. “202 Priceless Pointers for new Mothers”. I edited out the number. Why? Well, if someone happens to pin the image onto Pinterest (feel free to do so), it would be a little misleading. New mothers would click thinking they would come to find 202 tips and then, not so much.

Mod and Mint: 10 Tips from the 1960s for new Mothers
I have picked out a few of the new mother tips, some of which i think might come in handy in the future, and some that just made me giggle.

10 Tips for new Mothers
1. If your toddler screams about being taken from the tub after his bath, simply pull the plug and let him continue to splash until the water is gone. When he sees the fun is over, he’ll leave willingly to be dried.
– My baby loves bath time and would stay in as long as we let him. But so far he also doesn’t mind it when we take him out. He knows he will go into his warm room to get a baby massage rub down and into his warm pj’s followed by some reading and cuddle time.
Maybe in the future i will need a tip like this. Mental note. Don’t forget bath tub plug tip.

2. Next time after you polish your baby’s shoes, spray them with hair spray to prevent the polish from coming off on everything.
– Uh? Was i supposed to polish my baby’s shoes? I don’t think his cute crib shoes will take to polish too well. 2014. No more polishing baby shoes.

3. To pep up soft drinks at a child’s party, place a marshmallow in each section of your ice tray, add water and freeze.
– This could be an instant hit on pinterest. Or am i late to the party and is it all over there already? I’ll check. Maybe this summer i will have a marshmallow ice cube post on the blog.

Mod and Mint: 10 Tips from the 1960s for new Mothers
4. When a child is past the baby bath stage, but too small for the tub, a plastic clothes basket, the kind with holes in it, can be used to bathe the baby! Run several inches of water into the tub, place the basket in it and sit your baby in the basket. He’ll love the water swishing through the basket and there’s no change of the child falling on the slippery tub or being frightened by too much water.
– My baby started out in an upright WashPod (think fancy bucket). He loved being in it, supposedly it feels somewhat similar as to being in the womb. Unfortunately he outgrew it pretty quick, big boy baby. So now he is in the big tub with me or daddy, or splashing in his inflatable whale tub. Which he will outgrow soon as well. So maybe i should get an extra large clothes basket. With holes in it. Because he might be frightened by too much water. I had never thought about that possibility. Will baby be afraid of too much water? Back to tip 1, pull the plug.

5. When teaching a baby to drink from a cup, wash a baby food jar, put the top on and punch a small hole near the edge. The little jars are easy for baby to hold, the top stops spills and it’s only a skip to a regular glass after this.
– Ooh another possible pinterest hit! How to make your own sippy cup tutorial! I just don’t have any baby food jars. Proud ‘i-make-and-freeze-my-own-baby-food’ mother here.

6. Children love talking on the telephone to grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins. To help them visualize the person to whom they’re speaking, keep a small snapshot photo album near the phone for these “pretend visits”.
– That’s so 1960s… FaceTime. ‘Nuff said.

Mod and Mint: 10 Tips from the 1960s for new Mothers
7. For those assorted bugs and insects that all children want to keep for a while… any jar can be topped with a piece of nylon stocking held in place by a rubber band.
– Hold up, wait, what? My baby boy will want to keep bugs and insects? I can’t even start thinking ’bout this.

8. To avoid a mess at feeding, stand your toddler in his playpen. Since he must hold onto the sides, he’ll not be putting his hands in his mouth or hitting the spoon.
– I like this. Baby started standing up not too long ago. Now he wants to stand all the time. He also likes to eat all the time. Eating while standing? That must be his favorite thing to do. No mess feedings? Mommy’s favorite thing.

On that note, 9. When your baby reaches the age where he wants to feed himself, let him practice with dry cereal and a spoon, you can let him go at it alone on everything. This method will save a lot of messes.
– Sounds like a good tip. Baby is feeding himself, for now just finger foods. But he is starting to grab the spoon and hitting his bowl with it. Now only to find out when and which dry cereal baby can eat. I don’t think dry rice or oatmeal baby cereal will make for a yummy meal.

10. When your boy or girl brings home each final report card at the close of the year, take a snap shot picture of the child and attach to the card. Years later you can see how they looked during each grade and you’ll have a permanent record of your child’s school days.
– So far ahead still. Nonetheless this is a very cute idea. I’m thinking, take a picture each year of the child holding his report card. With a big smile for all the good grades. My baby is smart. Obviously. My baby. My little hero.

So there. 10 Tips for new mothers. I’ve just read through all 202 of the tips in the book. I feel like an expert. For now. Until baby wakes up from his nap and throws me a curve ball. Tip 203 anyone?

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