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baby gear hopefuls.

Over the last two years that I’ve been a mama, I’ve become a pretty big fan of baby products.  With a bazillion products out there, I love researching and finding things that make life easier, is comfortable for baby, and of course, look nice at the same time.  Sometimes I get really optimistic about a product only to find it’s not worth the money.  But then sometimes I end up loving a product so much that I just can’t say enough about it.

As the day of the twins draws closer, I’ve been on the search for some specific items that we’ll be needing.  I’ve compiled a short list of 5 products that I’m really excited to begin using, and I’m hoping to do a review on each one once I’ve used them for a bit.  I love reading/watching product reviews, so hopefully my findings may be helpful to someone.  Yay or nay — we’ll see!  Here’s my list:

Bumbleride Indie Twin:

I never thought I’d be the one with the double stroller!  So when we found out we were having twins, I began the search for the dreaded beast of a double stroller that would be good for our lifestyle.  First and foremost, I want a side by side stroller.  I don’t like having one child not being able to see past the other child’s head.  Some other things that I needed in a stroller — the ability to accommodate 2 car seats simultaneously, a BIG basket for storing diaper bag/misc items, seats that fully recline, narrow enough to fit through doorways, a cup holder for moi, and a stroller that looks more modern than the outdated double strollers out there.

The Indie Twin fulfilled all my requirements — EXCEPT the price tag ($700) — so began our search on Craigslist.  We ended up driving to New Jersey to purchase a brand new Indie Twin from a mom of twins for a much better price than retail. Sweet deal.  I love Craigslist!  She ended up being soooo nice.  She included additional accessories that wouldn’t normally come with the stroller.  This is one of those purchases that I’m feeling really optimistic about — so I pray that this stroller be good to us!  Thanks to Papa and Granmummy (my grandparents) who gifted this to us!

Hanging Cradle/Swing:

I initially registered for a Papasan Swing even though the very thought of it in my room irritated me.  While it may work great, it’s an awkward piece of equipment, and really not that pretty!  But I figured with two little babies to take care of, I would be in need of something to entertain/console one baby if I’m busy with the other baby, and vice versa.

After seeing the Papasan Swing, my mom wasn’t too enthused either.  She recommended a bassinet swing — which is what she used for her own three kids. She thinks it’s better for baby to lay flat, rather than lay in a semi-sitting position. Unfortunately, these types of swings have been taken off the market for some reason — there are not many like the one she used.  So we searched high and low and came across various hanging baby cradles/hammocks — a product used all around the world except in the USA!  I wonder why?

Anyway, my mom and I settled on this one from Nordic Bliss, a shop based out of England.  The young couple who own the shop are Scandinavian and love all things from the Nordic countries, so they started a shop that sells house wares and textiles from all over Scandinavia.  This particular hanging cradle hangs from the ceiling and swings — our bedroom ceiling is about 13 feet high, so this should be interesting.  Plus, I think it’s the most adorable thing ever!  Thanks to my awesome mom who purchased this cradle as a gift to the twins!  Thanks Mommy!

Lulu Wrap:

I love baby wearing.  I remember the first time I wore a baby — my cousin’s eldest daughter, Anna.  We were at the mall on a shopping excursion and wearing a baby just felt right.

Here is a post on the various slings/carriers I used with Dhara.  I ended up selling my Maya Wrap and Puj Sling on Craigslist because I wanted to try a stretch wrap.  I went with the Lulu Wrap — which is most similar to the Moby Wrap.  Here is a video demonstrating one, among many, holding methods with the Lulu.  I messaged the stay-at-home mama/designer, Elle Rowley, asking her how the Lulu is different from the Moby, and she said it’s “less bulky, lighter weight, more breathable, they come in nicer colors, no tacky labeling, and are handmade!”  I think the handmade sold me.  : )

I’m still on the search for a woven wrap — my most favorite being the Ellevill Zara Wrap (here and here) and the Didymos Wrap — but ouch, those price tags are scary!  But aren’t they beautiful?!

Puj Tub:

From the makers of the Puj Sling, here is the Puj Tub!  I’m really excited to use this tub for some reason.  I just remember bathing Dhara in the basic plastic tub we got when she was an infant and it being an uncomfortable experience for her.  The Puj Tub looks so comfy.  Here is a video demonstration of the Puj Tub in action.  Looks like a cozy bathing experience to me!

Life Factory Glass Bottles:

I’m such a sucker for glass bottles.  When I had Dhara, I purchased the Medela Glass Bottles — and while I loved the shape and make of them, they always leaked! I’ve heard rave reviews about Life Factory Bottles, so I found a great deal on them and invested in 8 bottles.  The nice thing about these bottles is that they are compatible with my Medela Breast Pump, they’re adorable, and lastly, they are made of a thermal shock resistant glass which prevents breakage when put in the freezer, to boiling water, to even falling on the ground.

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a new thing.

We won!!!  Thank you all SOOO much for voting for our love story!  Winner gets a free photo shoot with Chelsea Hudson Photography — so we are ecstatic that we’ll be getting an awesome newborn shoot of the twins once they arrive!  Chelsea is such a wonderful photographer — and she’s Maryland-based for any locals who are interested in a family, children, or engagement shoot.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, I submitted our love story for a contest on Chelsea’s blog.  There were a total of 4 stories in the running, and our story ended up winning thanks to everyone’s votes via Facebook — we won with 88 votes!  So thanks again for all your votes!!!  Here’s our story if you didn’t get the chance to read it…

“A New Thing”

(based off of Isaiah 43:18-19)

“But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

As a first generation American born Indian, I never dreamed of marrying a non-Indian.  It’s not a common thing.  No one in my family has ever done it.  But with respect to me, the good Lord would have it differently.  It’s so hard to keep this story short and succinct, because I could literally write a book detailing the wonderful miracle of joining Susan Kurikeshu to one Gregory Smith.

***

Greg and I met in a college ministry group at the University of Maryland in the spring of 2003.  It was the first kick-off meeting of the semester, and I had been invited to attend.  (I was born and raised in a Christian home, but it never occurred to me to join a Christian group on campus until my third year of college!).  After the meeting that evening, Greg, a student leader in the group, walked up to me and we hit it off instantaneously — him being the gregarious person he is, was able to navigate around my timidity and got me talking like we had been friends for years.  And it truly felt like we were longtime friends.  During that conversation we learned that we lived a mile from each other for 10 years of our lives, went to brother/sister Catholic high schools, and went to the same Baltimore campus for our first semester of college before transferring to the same school which we were currently in.

He walked away from our meeting that night thinking, “Wow, I could marry that girl.”  I walked away from our meeting that night thinking, “Wow, he’s like the boy-next-door-friend I never had.”  You see, it never occurred to me to consider a non-Indian guy –- it wasn’t part of my upbringing or culture, so being “just friends” was as far as my mind would go.  Plus, I had always wanted a “boy-next-door-friend.”

Over the next 6 months, our friendship blossomed into something really special -– it’s so hard to explain, but the words that come to mind are: pure, childlike, adventurous, and FUN!  We were like kids who loved exploring together.  Our friends thought it pretty amusing.  The whole time we kept our liking for each other a secret.  Although it wasn’t much of a secret to our friends because our faces always lit up whenever we saw each other on group outings, or bumped into each other on campus, or had an occasional lunch together at the campus co-op — we just loved being in each other’s company.  But we never talked about our feelings for one another -– I for one would never have said anything due to my family background, and for some reason I was doubtful that he would say anything either.  I guess I thought it would just be a fun season in college to have such a dear friend.

It was that summer that I received an email from Greg telling me that he had feelings for me, and that he couldn’t go on hiding it from me if we were to be friends.  I was shocked that the truth had finally come out, but realized that it probably had to come out eventually.  The first person I told was my sister -– she started crying and asked, “Why are you doing this to us???”  She knew how hard it would be on my parents if they found out.

And hard it was.

The next 4 years would be a journey that my family, myself, and Greg never thought we’d be on.  My parents — immigrants from India — never imagined that their daughter would be interested in an American boy.  It was out of the question! They were already looking for good Indian boys to marry their eldest daughter.  When they found out about Greg they didn’t even want to discuss the idea.  In all their passion, they just said, “NO!”

I never gave up.  Because Greg and I were part of the same ministry and part of the same group of friends, it was hard not to see each other even if my parents didn’t want us to.  Trying to explain to Greg about my family background was also hard because entering into a relationship seemed so simple to him, but it wasn’t.  For me, culture and family play a heavy hand in who I am.

My parents — God fearing folk – had some time to think about the “predicament” their daughter was in.  While their minds wanted to say “NO!”, they knew they couldn’t unless God said “no.”  So they ended up saying they would pray about the situation.  They never gave me the “yes” I wanted so badly to hear, but they never again gave me the emphatic “NO!”

It was a journey of truly dying to what I wanted most — to be married to my best friend.  While the world was doing just that –- people marrying their best friends — I didn’t and couldn’t go against my parents’ wishes.  In the end, I determined there was no blessing in something my parents didn’t bless.  I needed their blessing with whomever I ended up marrying.  Even Greg eventually realized the importance of honoring my parents in this decision.

***

After graduation, Greg left for a yearlong campus ministry internship in Illinois. During that year my parents asked that we take a fast from each other and pray for the Lord’s will.  Greg and I may have spoken 2-3 times over the course of that year he was away.  It was so hard to not talk to the one I had grown so close to.  During that time my parents encouraged me to be open to what the Lord may bring -– they were implying another person.

The summer Greg returned, my parents asked that I take a trip to India to meet a “proposal” of sorts.  For those of you who don’t know, a “proposal” is someone to consider for marriage.  My parents had basically found someone of good family background, education, God-fearing, etc. that could possibly be a good fit for my family and I. So as confused as I was at the time, I went to India thinking, “Well maybe God does have someone different for me.”  The person I met in India was a great guy – modern, an awesome Christian, and someone who would get along with my family wonderfully.  It was also in India that I received a word from God from Isaiah 43:18-19, “But forget all that — it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

I came back home from India knowing God would do something, but I wasn’t sure what and with whom.  When Greg heard about the purpose for my trip to India he was heartbroken.  He did not want me to just get married to any guy for the sake of my family, but there was nothing he could do but pray.  I also prayed for God’s will concerning the guy in India, but the peace never came.  I told my parents that I could not move forward with the proposal.  Thoughts of Greg always came back to me — the way we looked at each other, the way we spoke to one another, the way we were like kids when we were together — it was this I wanted in a marriage –- a simple LOVE that makes your heart ache when you aren’t with that person.

To make a long story short, I told Greg that I couldn’t move forward with the Indian guy — that I just didn’t have peace.  And as the next summer rolled around (Year 3) my parents realized that Susan was not interested in other “proposals.” They came to realize that they either had to get to know this Greg Smith, or they had to answer questions regarding their unmarried daughter.  So they came forward and told me they wanted to get to know Greg.  They liked him, but as hard as they tried, it was still so difficult to come to terms with their daughter marrying a non-Indian.  They just couldn’t come to grips with it, even if they wanted to.

So during the summer of 2006, Greg and I met at an Irish pub in downtown Baltimore to end a sweet friendship that had begun 3 years prior.  It was a bittersweet day for us because it was the first time we actually went out to a restaurant alone together –- like a date — but we knew it would be our last time. As hard as it was, we both came to the conclusion that no matter how hard we pushed, prayed, and wanted — God was closing all doors for us to move forward in our relationship.  I left the restaurant that day not sure if I’d ever see him again.  I wept all the way home thinking that the last 3 years had been a waste.  Once I reached home, I ran straight to my bed and opened my bible.  God gave me Psalms 18 (so powerful!).  After reading it, I knew God was going to do a beautiful work in my life.  I wasn’t sure how or when or with who, but I knew He would.

Three days later, without me knowing, my parents asked an uncle (specifically a spiritual leader) of mine to meet with Greg to get to know him better.  They met, and my uncle came back and reported to my parents that they would not find another boy as great as Greg for their daughter.  And for some unknown reason other than GOD, they instantly felt the peace they needed to move forward with this American boy!  Don’t ask me why, when, or how, but God truly brought a peace that passeth all understanding to their hearts.  No longer did they care about what family or friends thought — they knew that God was at work.  (And folks, this is THREE days after Greg and I called it quits!  Three days after we died to our desires!  Three days after we completely let go and let God.  Talk about resurrection!).

On the flip side, Greg was ready to move on.  Don’t get me wrong, he stayed the past 3 years because he believed in it, but after three years of being tugged here and there with no real answer, he was ready to move on.  He compared the feeling to an engine that ran out of oil.  So while my parents were ready to move forward with a no-turning-back “YES!”, Greg was ready to tell us all he couldn’t do it.

So a few days later, Greg was ready to stop by my work to give me the unfavorable news, when all FIVE of his spiritual leaders gave him a call at different times during the day without him contacting them –- (to this day, Greg says something like that never happens!) They all felt that he shouldn’t give up on the dream, and that it wasn’t God’s will for him to give up on the dream.  So instead of stopping at my work that day, he drove right by, and said to God, “Lord, I’m ready to do this again if You are in it.”

And God surely was in it, because the following year was all about Greg and I becoming best friends again –- and with my parents’ blessing!  Greg proposed in the spring of 2007 after a quaint picnic and prayer walk around campus he got on one knee in front of the campus chapel.  We got married in a beautiful wedding surrounded by family and friends who fully supported us in the fall of that year. And we can truly, wonderfully say we know for a fact that it was all God.  I see my family and extended family and how they love Greg, and it just makes my heart so full to know that waiting patiently upon the Lord only leads to an abundant life.

When trials and things come our way, we can put our full assurance in Christ knowing that He is the one who let an imaginative American born Indian girl walk into a college ministry that one fateful night, so that she could meet an amazing man of God who waits on the Lord, and who won her over with his childlike faith. Nine years later, (5 years being friends + 4 years married), with one darling little girl and twin boys on the way, we look back and can’t believe the journey that God took us on, and that we get to be married to one another.  It’s a gift.  It really was “a new thing,” as God promised!  It all feels like a dream now.  But we know it will only get better!

whale softie rattle.

There’s something about handmade toys that just make you feel safe, and loved.  I wanted to make a couple handmade toys for the boys, but was searching for the right pattern — so I was overjoyed when I came across this adorable pattern.  I decided to make each of our little guys a whale softie.  The pattern doesn’t call for it, but I added a little bell inside each whale turning them into cloth rattles.  I used block printed fabrics and embroidered eyes onto the whales with red embroidery floss.  This is no doubt a quick and satisfying project!  Each whale only took about 30 minutes!

After I was done making them, Dhara wanted a little playtime with the whales — I watched as she showed the whales to her toy bear (which she lovingly named, “Fency”).  She goes on to say, “See Fency, mama made this.  Be gentle.”

handmade wet bags.

As I get farther along in my pregnancy I’m really feeling the urgency to make things.  For starters, I need a travel wet bag for when we cloth diaper outside of the home.   A wet bag is a convenient on-the-go-solution for storing soiled diapers and wet/dirty clothes because it’s lined with PUL (a baby safe vinyl) on the inside which keeps in moisture and stink, and also makes it safe to put right into your diaper bag.

So I dug into my secret stash of Kokka fabrics that I had purchased a year ago (I’d been saving this special stash for our next baby, or babies!), and chose prints for a couple wet bags.  I’m not the biggest fan of “baby prints” — I’m actually not a fan at all, but Kokka makes the most beautiful vintage prints that come off looking nostalgic of days gone by.  Like this one, titled Far, Far Away Snow White Meadow, or even this titled, Sunday Dress — so darn cute, I just love it!  The Japanese sure do have a handle on textiles and style.

Kokka fabrics are almost always a cotton/linen blend which give the fabric a more mature, modern and stylish look.  The linen fabrics I ended up choosing caught my eye with their vintage appeal — they reminded me of vintage flour sacks for some reason.  I ended up making two wet bags — the first being 12″x18″, and the second being 14″x18″.  Each bag can hold around 8-10 diapers.  I just might have to whip up a batch of these in block printed Indian fabrics for the Susie Mey shop!

30 weeks pregnant with twins.

Today, I am officially 30 weeks pregnant with our twin boys.  Twins are known to come earlier than singletons — which makes me wonder how much more time I have with my little family before our lives change forever.  I especially think about the time I have with Dhara.  She knows about her brothers, but she doesn’t really know what’s coming!  I pray she embraces the change!  Anyway, I’m hoping to make it to 37 weeks, at least.  Dhara arrived at 40 weeks on the dot!

These past couple weeks I’ve begun to feel more preggo.  I feel like a waddler.  I’m having more and more back/hip pain if I stand or walk around too much — shopping excursions with Dhara are becoming more difficult.  I usually like to save all my errands for one day of the week, but these days more than a couple hours on my feet means pain.  I feel pretty sore turning in bed, and getting in and out of bed must look pretty hilarious.  And every hour or so (maybe even more) my tummy tightens up like a basketball from a Braxton Hicks contraction — I don’t remember having them as often with Dhara.  I’m feeling a whole lot of movement — these guys are definitely trying to get comfortable in there, but it must hard due to the lack of space.  I do feel more movement than I feel kicks; although once in a while I’ll feel a strong kick which really takes me by surprise!  Even more recently I’ve begun to feel little hiccups which fondly remind me of Dhara, she used to get them all the time.

I still can’t believe there’s two of them in there.  I can’t wait to meet them, see what they look like — if they look the same or if they look different, if they look like Greg or look like me, kiss their little feet, snuggle close, give them soothing Indian oil massages, and tote them around in a comfy wrap.  So exciting!  Let’s hope they turn in the right direction come delivery time!  Next week I hope to post some of the baby sewing projects I’ve been working on — some cute stuff, stay tuned!

meal planning.

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I’m horrible at making a meal without a recipe — it’s like I’m not creative in the area of food — I need something to inspire me, (Pinterest, how I love thee!).  I’m also horrible at eating breakfast — I can usually scrounge up something like a fried egg sandwich, or some cereal, but I’m also great at skipping breakfast altogether — not a good thing, I know.  But give me a recipe, and I’m set!  I love finding amazing recipes that I can stash away in my little red recipe box — adding a tried and true recipe to the mix always makes my heart happy.  I love cozy meals, a sweet place setting, homemade bread, a piping tea pot of Greg’s chai, and making things that taste good — whether it be nutritious, or calls for a little too much butter!

I also feel bad because I know I could make Greg something special for breakfast every morning before he’s off to work — but I’m pretty slow in the mornings, so he usually walks out with a mug of cereal and a spoon — although, I must say, the boy could live off of cereal — he loves it that much.  Yet, I still feel bad as a wife because I could be giving him something more — something made with hands and heart.  When it’s time to give Dhara breakfast every morning, I’ve been resorting to toast with jam, yogurt, cereal, or the occasional simple egg sandwich.  This makes me feel bad too because I’m home, and I have time, and I really do enjoy cooking.

Sooo, last week I decided I would work on a weekly meal plan that incorporated a good breakfast and 1-2 dinners a week.  (We live in my parent’s house — so we split up who cooks dinner every night.)  And lunch is usually comprised of leftovers or a sandwich.

The way my mind works, I’m an organizer at heart — almost in an OCD way — so a meal plan really gets me excited to be in the kitchen because I know what I’m making on any specific day, and I know I have the ingredients for whatever I’m making because I went to the supermarket the week before in preparation for the following week’s meals.  Yes, it’s a good thing, at least for moi over here.  Moreover, it helps my family eat alot more healthier.  So here’s what last week looked like:

Monday:  Fried egg, bacon, avocado, and tomato on wheat toast (sooo good!) with an enzyme smoothie (coconut water, strawberries, blueberries, mango, banana, kale, orange juice concentrate).  Homemade ginger honey cheesecake for dessert.

Tuesday:  Cereal with a probiotic smoothie (kefir, plain whole yogurt, blueberries, mango, banana, orange juice concentrate).  For dinner, I made a simple burrito bar with whole wheat tortillas, seasoned chicken, black beans, onions, cheddar cheese, cilantro, jalapenos, sour cream and salsa.  Mama’s Red Raspberry Brew before bed.

Wednesday:  Wheat waffles with syrup and strawberries.

Thursday:  Cream of wheat topped with strawberries.  For dinner, it happened to be my mom’s birthday, so my sister and I cooked up a meal of onion bhajis with cilantro chutney, chicken tikka masala, Szechwan green beans, naan, and mango lassies topped with a dash of crushed cardamom.  Mama’s Red Raspberry Brew before bed.

Friday:  Yogurt and cereal with an enzyme smoothie (coconut water, strawberries, blueberries, mango, banana, kale, orange juice concentrate).  I was supposed to make buckwheat pancakes as per the meal plan, but something came up!

This week, my meal plan includes: breakfast bran muffins, homemade granola, gluten free sandwich bread, fish soup, and a homemade iron infusion.  Meal planning, hmmmm, yes.