Product Review: Nuna Sena

I’m not a baby gear expert but I am a practical mom. I do a considerable amount of research before making my purchases — a big thank you to the baby gear companies who answer my questions and all the other moms and baby gear pros who share reviews and comparisons that help me make my choice. I just hope to add more real world examples to help more moms make the right decisions for their families.

Early this spring, when W started crawling, we needed a solution to keep him safe. I had gone back and forth on purchasing a play yard. They were all made with materials that I didn’t approve of and I didn’t want more plastic taking up my living room real estate. We thought we’d be clever and we purchased a NorthStates Superyard from Buy Buy Baby. And there it was. A big piece of plastic in our living room…

superyard

We put blankets on the floor to cushion his falls when he tried to climb the sides, more toys than he could play with and attached mirrors and musical machines to the gates to keep him occupied. Well, none of it worked. Instead of letting him cry, we would just climb into the play area and sit with him.

Then it was time to go on vacation. We rent a house so there isn’t a concierge to call to arrange a crib in the room.

I was frustrated reading about all the toxic plastics, flame retardants* all over the entire structure and other undesirable aspects of the portable crib options. After so many months of searching, I finally came across the Nuna Sena. Dear Nuna, I hope you have improved your organic search rankings since then. Giggle is a big help for brand recognition and purchases!

Here’s why I went with the Sena:

  • Stylish design
  • Certified Oeko-Tex® fabric
  • Easy set-up and folds easily with one hand
  • Sturdy aluminum frame
  • Giggle carries the Sena in black (Me + Giggle = Love)

*As per Giggle’s customer service: The inside of the mattress for the Nuna Sena contains PU foam and fiber fill that is treated with a small amount of fire retardant, which is required in order for Nuna Sena to meet State and Federal flammability laws. But no prohibited Bromine-FR or Tris-FR are used.

The Sena fit in the rooftop carrier on the car along with the running stroller and some other beach essentials for our trip. I bought a standard size organic playard mattress pad and sheet from BuyBuyBaby and they fit perfectly. W hates being confined in any space but he slept peacefully in the Sena during naps and for part of the night.

We now keep it set up in the living room for when we need a quick safe place to put him or he needs some time to cool down. It’s convenient without being an eyesore. The Superyard now serves as a giant baby gate that (sometimes) deters W from the shiny things that are on our giant bookshelf unit. Hey, whatever works, right?

nuna sena

The Most Important Job in the World…

Have you read Catherine Deveny’s recent post, Sorry, but being a mother is not the most important job in the world, on theguardian.com? It is clear that she meant to ruffle some feathers. Any time you begin a headline with “sorry” pretty much means you’re not at all sorry for what you’re about to say.

I’ll start with the obvious. I’m a mother (hello, you’re on my “mommy blog”). And here is where I will make the daring statement that being a mother is the most important “job” in the world that I will ever have. I’ll follow up on that my saying that with I have a full-time job at a high-profile organization in a field that I studied at a prestigious school.

Here’s some context. As a mother, I developed and gave birth to a new life. I nourished and nurtured him through my pregnancy and every moment since he took his first breath. I am consumed with making the right decisions to give my son the best life I can. I feel a distinct responsibility as a mother and this goes beyond the snuggles, songs and sweet moments. I take this responsibility very seriously.

For some more perspective, this is about me and in respect to my life. By no means do I think that my being a mother is more important than anyone else’s motherhood, fatherhood or career. It is the most important thing that I do in my life, not in comparison to anyone else’s.

It’s really all semantics. The author’s interpretation and play on the word “job” would lead us to believe that mothers everywhere are marching around as if they were queen of the world when that is hardly the case. Being a mother is tough at times and we all need support. We need to support each other across the board — working moms, stay-at-home moms, dads, extended family members, and we need support from workplaces, from marketers, and yes, even from cynical authors.

“It’s time to drop the slogan,” the author writes. “It encourages mothers to stay socially and financially hobbled, it alienates fathers and discourages other significant relationships between children and adults.”

I’m going to be honest. If I didn’t NEED to work, I wouldn’t. Even further, would I be willing to give up my professional career that allows me to live my current lifestyle to have been there when my son took his first step? To prepare his healthy meals? To help him learn ABCs and 123s? You can bet on that. Do I think that decision would result in me being “socially and financially hobbled”? Absolutely not. I weighed my options and wanted to stay at home to raise my son but ultimately wasn’t given a choice when my husband said I needed to return to work after my maternity leave ended. As an additional note, my mother stayed at home and raised me and my siblings. I was offended by Deveny’s statement.

To address her position on discouraging significant relationships with other adults: I, to a fault, try to encourage my husband to take a more active role in our son’s life. He’s beyond tired of hearing me tell him to close the computer and get down on the floor to play with our son but their relationship is so important to me. And I want him to feel as strongly about being a father as I do about being a mother. My son spends the time that I’m at work with my mother, his Nonna. I’ve always wanted that to be a valuable relationship. I’m proud of my child and I love that other people enjoy interacting with him. Contrary to what the Deveny writes, I find that going to work actually makes me more selfish about my time with my son. I can feel pangs of jealousy when I get home from work, wishing that my son ran to me with open arms when he actually runs in the opposite direction to my mom (good thing I love her!). And I want to spend our free time with just our little family so I can soak up as much of it as I can.

Despite the negative tone of the article, there are some things that I could agree with. Marketing is still very focused on the traditional roles of a woman as a mother/homemaker and a father, often nonexistent in the messaging, as the breadwinner. Mainstream marketing isn’t even addressing gay parents. That’s a shame. It’s time to embrace the untraditional aspects of the modern family. I just wish the author had been less critical in her execution.

All in all, it comes down to respect and support. As a mother, I do what I feel is best for my family and I know I’m not alone in that. The last thing we need is more negativity and judgment.

Meeska Mooska, Happy Halloween!

I’m not a big fan of Halloween but I hate to deny my child of an experience that so many children seem to enjoy. W’s first Halloween was a bit of a bust. No costumes, Sandy had just hit the east coast, we didn’t have power and we temporarily took our one-month-old and as much stuff as could fit in our car up to my mom’s house so we didn’t have to change diapers by flashlight.

This year was going to be different. Our town has a parade for the kids the weekend before Halloween so we thought that would be a fun thing to do. Now that W is walking, interacting, can identify characters and animals, loves pumpkins and is absolutely elated when anyone comments about how adorable he is, it was a good choice.

I checked all the shops and sites for Halloween costumes but just couldn’t get myself to spend money on some flammable goofy costume he was going to wear once before I put it away in a bin in storage.  I checked Pinterest for some ‘pinspiration’ but didn’t have the time, energy or desire to follow through (big sigh…).

W loves Mickey Mouse so we figured we could easily DIY a Mickey costume that could come from his existing wardrobe and pieces that we could buy and easily add to his dresser drawers. And a $4 pair of Mickey ears from Party City aren’t the worst thing to keep in the toy box. W already had red shorts from this past summer, so we picked up a long-sleeved black t-shirt and black cotton pants from Baby Gap. I cut out circles from adhesive white felt for Mickey’s buttons — outfit complete! He made the cutest, sweetest, happiest little mouse I’ve ever seen!

DIY Mickey Mouse costume

Visions of Happiness

I just had vision of my Dad still being with us.

I saw what it would be like for W to have his Poppa. I saw the joy in my Dad’s face when he’d walk in my home on a Saturday morning and I could hear W squeal because Poppa would mean hugs, silly faces and presents. It was beautiful and heartbreaking.

It’s this time of year when we found out just how sick he was. Today’s date was actually quite a painful one in the whole ordeal. And in what felt like the blink of an eye, my Dad was taken from us.

We talk about him often. We have photos of him on display at home. We talk to W about his Poppa. While the pain will never go away, I believe W was sent by my Dad (he was sure to pass along his stubbornness through my son) to help bring joy during times of sadness.

Baby’s 1st Birthday Cake

In all the excitement to post the “Pinteresty” party pics, I forgot to mention the highlight of a baby’s first birthday party — the cake!

Being the health conscious mommy that I am, I didn’t want to give W a processed, sugar-laden, high-fat confection — even if it was organic and vegan — so I started scouring recipes from like-minded mommies so I could bake something special for my birthday boy.

There are many great options out there and so many clever moms whipping up healthy goodies in their kitchens so if there is something specific that you have on mind your mind, a few Google searches and some browsing on Pinterest will result in a list of options to try. My goal was to get as close to a whole foods, plant-based, organic, no sugar added “cake” as possible.

I was inspired by this post from Wild + Wee, but decided to make a few recipe changes based on the fact that I haven’t given W any wheat yet. And then I made a few more changes when the first batch turned out tasting more like cardboard than carrot cake. I’m glad I took the time to experiment with the cake before the party!

birthday cake

Vegan, No-Sugar-Added, Carrot Cake

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups organic oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon. I didn’t measure! I added until I could see and smell it.
  • 1/2 tsp fresh-grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup organic carrots, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup organic applesauce (no sugar added)
 Baking Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Fold in the grated carrot and applesauce.
  3. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until done.
  4. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

Frosting:

  • 2 bananas
  • About 1 cup of frozen mango
  • Mix in the blender or food processor until smooth
  • Spread on cake and enjoy! *You will have more than enough for one cake. Save the remaining frosting, W enjoyed eating his “frosting” with a spoon!

I have to give credit to my mom for the frosting. I bought India Tree natural food coloring and was going to dye bananas but her idea of mango and banana created a pretty yellow frosting that tasted yummy and didn’t need any additions!

I also made muffins for the party and instead used whole wheat flour, and added raisins and maple syrup for a slightly sweeter version in case anyone else wanted a healthy option with a little extra sweetness. We did have real, guilty-pleasure cupcakes on hand (you can see them behind the cake) — it was a party after all! Everyone who ate the cake enjoyed it — even the adults!  W loved it. And I didn’t have to feel bad about giving him “cake” for breakfast for the next few days. :)

Ahoy! for the birthday boy!

The long-awaited, much-anticipated party post (at least for me)!

A baby turning one is a call for celebration. The first year is full of, well, firsts, for the baby and the parents. First time rolling over, first food, first steps, first words, first sleepless night, first time you know your heart will forever be outside of your body. It’s definitely worth a party.

I started planning months ahead. Inspiration was easy. I was going nautical (natch!). I found my first project through Pinterest and it took off from there. I became a regular at my local craft store, stenciled like a champ and spent hours (and hours) creating a 25 minute slideshow of W’s first year. By the end I was getting carried away so it’s a good thing it was time for the party. I hope W appreciates the photos one day!

ONE!

This post is a week late. I was swamped with work last week and consumed with Pinterest projects preparing for the big birthday party —  party details post is coming soon!

One second is all to took to know that he were perfect and I was the luckiest woman in the world. And one year later, it just keeps getting better. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by.

In my inbox last night, the weekly update that I’ve been getting since he was born arrived. But this one read, “Week 53: What’s Up With Your Toddler.” It used to tell me what was going on with my baby. My sweet little baby is officially a toddler. A TODDLER! I’m not sure I’ll ever stop referring to him as my baby though.

This little boy amazes me every single day. Each milestone he reaches fills me with pride and joy. I am so excited for him to have all these new experiences and to watch him grow. I cherish all the memories, the snuggles, the stories, our walks/runs in the stroller, even the sleepless nights.

I remember reading an article while I was pregnant that said parents are happier and more satisfied with life than people who are childless. And at the time, I couldn’t believe that generalization could be true. But it totally is. It’s a different kind of happy but it’s the best. W is so full of joy all the time. His little giggle can instantly snap anyone out of a grouchy mood (I’m looking at you, Dada!).

I can barely remember life before we became a a family of three, although, I do remember getting much more sleep. Regardless, this has been the most wonderful year. And I am a better person because of it. I’m so delighted to be his Momma.

Happy birthday to my beautiful boy!

w