Thursday, February 4, 2016

Zutano Review & Giveaway


(Please note: The three garments I have reviewed in this post I received courtesy of Zutano, but all opinions are 100% my own. Also, the giveaway featured in this post is sponsored by Zutano.)

As I mentioned previously (here and here), I came across the Zutano brand when I was looking for warm booties for Paloma, but I've stuck around for the company's ethical practices, whimsical prints, stylish basics, and Cozie fleece.

About Zutano
Based in Cabot, Vermont, you can read all about Zutano here, but let me just say I really admire their baby-to-work program. Basically, Zutano employees with new babies are offered custom maternity/paternity leave and then, during the first 12 months of the babies life, the employee can bring the baby to work. Isn't that great? Furthermore, all the factories that Zutano works with are WRAP-certified, which means they have to follow strict standards of "safe, lawful, humane, and ethical manufacturing." 

Whimsical, Colorful Prints

Paloma is wearing a "pretty pleats" dress in the Wide Awake print. It's made of a super soft interlock cotton that feels very luxurious. It washes well, and looks so cute on her! The bright colors are so cheerful. It runs true to size (she is wearing size 3-6 months, and still has a bit of room to grow). While I am not crazy about fastening actual buttons on a wriggly baby, I appreciate that the buttons are in front, since some of Paloma's dresses annoyingly have buttons on the back. (The tights are from Target, bloomers are hand-me-downs, and the booties are the Cozie Baby Booties by Zutano that I mentioned here.)

Some of the other prints I love: anything Ellas elephants, the cottontail dress (cute for Easter), the striped reversible hoodie, the campsite Cozie combo top, and the bicycle Cozie combo top.

Basics

Hunter is wearing the french terry zipper jacket in grey. I love french terry for its softness and light weight. This jacket is great for spring, and I like that it's an alternative to the ubiquitous hoodie. The durable zipper is great for a toddler who is learning how to zip up his own jacket. (I can't stand flimsy zippers on toddler clothing -- not only impossible for a child to fasten but it breaks easily in the process.) This jacket has a pretty loose fit but seems to run small. Hunter is wearing a 4T, but in most other brands he wears a 3T on top. Although I had to roll the sleeves on this 4T, the 3T is a bit small on him. The body is still loose, but the sleeves are slightly too short.

Zutano jackets, like this one, are perfect for layering because the waist is not totally tapered and tight like most hoodies. I can't stand when the stretchy waist on a hoodie is too tight because it looks really sloppy with an untucked shirt underneath. This jacket does shrink in the wash, the french terry more so than the stretchy material at the waist, so it ends up being very loose-fitting at the waist. I wanted Hunter to be able to wear this with dressier looks, but the loose fit really makes it very casual. Zutano also sent us the Terry Toddler pants (not shown), and they are perfect -- super soft, great construction, and wash well. (Cargo pants by Carter's and chukka boots by Cienta.)

Other basics I want to put in my shopping cart: these fuchsia stretch knit leggings, these striped skinny leggings, and this terry baby bodice jacket

Cozie Fleece

Henry (that's my sister's little boy -- isn't he the cutest?) is wearing the Cozie fleece baby jacket in pagoda. This garment washes really well and looks super comfortable for a baby to wear. It can be worn like a sweatshirt but looks more stylish than one. Henry is 13 months old and wearing a size 18 months (his regular size), and it seems to fit true to size with room to grow. I talked a bit about Cozie fleece in this post, but I will just mention again that this fleece is different from the 100% polyester fleece you are used to. While it is not as "fluffy" as polyester fleece, it lasts longer, washes better, and gets softer over time. This style is definitely gender neutral, so Paloma will certainly wear this as a hand-me-down. (Jeans are BabyGap and sneakers are Converse.)

More Cozie fleece to love: You already know that I love the booties, but check out these baby cuff pants and this hoodie.

Now it's your turn to win $75 to spend online at Zutano.com! Find details on how to enter after more photos of the cousins! (The giveaway is open worldwide.)






P.S. Want to start shopping now? I got an email from Baby List about an awesome coupon code for 30% off the entire Zutano site from now until February 29, 2016. Here it is: BABYLIST30.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Month's Resolutions: February


January was rough in some ways and great in others. There were some parenting moments that made me want to just hide in the closet and never come out. Then there were parenting moments of pure bliss that brought happy tears to my eyes.

I thought a lot about what my real goals are and how to achieve them. I made some big goals -- the kind that take a while to accomplish -- and each year I can take baby steps toward making them happen. I also decided I want my monthly goals to have more of a focus. I will be focusing on mind, body, and spirit. Mind -- what am I doing to keep my brain from turning to mush? Body -- how am I staying healthy? Spirit -- what am I doing to be a better person?

First, how did I do last month?

Walk or do crunches (or both) daily. As for walking, I got really motivated to walk and it felt really good to be outside with Paloma, even on "cool" mornings. As for crunches, I finally got some motivation to do them when I joined Krystal on an ab challenge she had mentioned in the comments. I discovered that having a set challenge like that really kept me accountable (thanks, Krystal!). After a couple of days, Isaiah joined me, but he reminded me that sit-ups aren't really that good for you (bad on your back). So I swapped them out for more crunches. Then I noticed that my back was hurting after doing the leg raises, so I watched a YouTube video on how to do them correctly. BUT THEN, Elisa clued me in on something that changed my life. She gave me the name for my ab separation (diastasis recti -- I failed to catch if my midwife even mentioned this name) and some resources on how to fix it. (Thanks, Elisa!) It turns out, traditional ab work is NOT the way to go when healing diastasis recti. I stopped the ab challenge and just stuck to walking the rest of the month.

Listen better. I am not sure I got a whole lot better at listening, but I am definitely more aware of it now. I will catch myself starting to multi-task when taking a phone call, so I stop myself, which is progress, no?

Finish Paloma's pregnancy book. Oops. So, February?

What's on my list this month?

MIND
Write, write, write. First, I need to finish Paloma's pregnancy book. Then, I would like to write an essay that's been floating around in my head. Even if I never submit it for publishing, I just want to write it.

BODY
Do core strengthening exercises daily. I am going to do the Tupler Technique workouts to help me heal my diastasis recti. Along with that, I want to keep up my walking, at least 3 times per week.

SOUL
Be a better mami to Hunter. Last month, I lost my patience with Hunter A LOT. Up until last month, I had been really good about not being grabby and really listening to him, but I need to get back on track with that. I need to bring back special time and really show him that I hear him.

I hope you all have a great month! xoxo

Friday, January 29, 2016

Big Goals


For a year now, I have been setting manageable monthly goals that I can more or less check off at the end of the month. Those goals are my "small" goals. Little tasks or things about my life that can be tackled in a month, or at the very least can carry over to the next month so I can keep working on them. I do have big goals, though, my dream goals. They are the things I hope to accomplish in the next 10 years or so. This list is now on my fridge, thanks to inspiration from a recent post over at Swiss Lark. 

Obviously, not one of these goals will be accomplished overnight. The stars would have to align in order for them to come to fruition, but instead of waiting for that to happen, I can figure out the small steps I can take each year to take us closer to those goals. 

The amazing thing about this list is that word AGAIN. See, I have been blessed to come across some amazing opportunities in my almost 35 years of life, and I have accomplished some great things already, but I kind of want a do-over. Not because I totally messed something up the first time around but because I want a second chance at them. Here's why:

1. Live abroad again. I was lucky enough to live in Florence for a semester while studying at NYU. We lived in Switzerland for 2 years as a newlywed couple. Now, I would like our children to have some experience living abroad. Not right away, but when they are a bit older. A Spanish-speaking country in Latin America would be great so the children could properly learn Spanish (I am failing them miserably), but I also dream about moving back to Europe. 

The baby steps: In order to live abroad, we need to be able to work abroad. Luckily, Isaiah's career is desirable internationally and last year I earned my AMI diploma, which is a Montessori teaching diploma recognized internationally. This year, we need to continue to keep our finances in check (stay on top of bills and pay off any debts). 

2. Own a house again. I know we are super blessed to have ever owned a home at all. The first time around, we got really lucky with the San Diego market. We bought and sold at the right time. We sold in the first place because we needed the cash. Plus, we always knew that was not our forever house. Now, it's impossible to buy here. The only way it would happen is if we were to leave California in general. It's too expensive here. We'd love to find a forever home that Isaiah and I could retire in, a place for our grandchildren to come stay with us. 

The baby steps: Start building up our savings again. This is impossible with one income, so by the end of the year, I hope to be back at work again.

3. Publish a book again. Very few people know about it, but I wrote an ESL textbook for a Taiwanese publisher during my second year in Switzerland. It was a random job I found online and took up a lot of time to write (and only paid pennies, really). I researched everything from black holes to phantom limb pain. The target audience was college-age students studying English at the intermediate level. I wrote all the articles and following exercises (reading comprehension, vocabulary, etc.). While it was a definite learning experience, it wasn't my dream book. I want to write something on my own terms.

The baby steps: Narrow down what I want to write. I have some ideas for a young adult novel, but I have always wanted to write a picture book. Figure it out!

Here's to a fabulous 2016 and baby steps toward my big goals!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Zutano Booties Review & Shopping Guide




(Please note: Except for the grey booties, which I purchased myself and mentioned in this post, I received these booties courtesy of Zutano. I will explain why in this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.)

I had been on the hunt for some warm booties for Paloma to wear on our cool morning walks. After a quick search on Amazon, I came across the Cozie Baby Booties by Zutano. In general, when baby is in a stroller or car seat covered up with even a muslin blanket, you can't go wrong with any of the Zutano bootie styles, as they do a great job at keeping baby's toes cozy. For our walks, however, I wear Paloma in a baby carrier, so her legs and feet are dangling in the cool air. When I tried out the Cozie booties, I was a bit disappointed with the warmth factor. I even tried them inside out thinking the fleece being closer to her skin would be warmer. 

Another thing I had issue with was the sizing. I bought these when Paloma was 2.5 months old and ordered the size 6 months thinking they would last a few months and she would have some room to grow. That is not the case. They fit her perfectly now, but will probably only last a few more weeks. I reached out to Zutano with my feedback, and they wanted to make things right, so they sent me three more styles to try out in their next size up. 

Over several days and outings trying out different combinations of these booties with and without socks, I conducted a little "warmth test." I went out for walks in "cool" San Diego morning weather, which is in the high 50s or low 60s Fahrenheit. I will share my findings here, but let me talk a little about the material Zutano uses for its Cozie line.

One thing you should know about Zutano fleece is that it's 80% cotton and 20% polyester. The designers at Zutano believe in using natural fibers when creating children's clothing, so they created this unique fabric with just a bit of polyester. Most performance fleece garments are 100% polyester, which makes them warmer, but they also make baby sweaty after trapping all that heat. Zutano's Cozie fleece is actually breathable. With regard to wearing the booties with cotton socks, since cotton absorbs moisture rather than wicking it away, it does not make for a good layer underneath fleece. When warmth outdoors is a concern, I found in some cases the booties worked best without socks.

Outdoors Warmth Test

1. Cozie Baby Shaggy Booties: This pair is made with Cozie fleece on the outside and lined with 100% polyester faux fur. These ended up being the warmest booties when worn without socks. After my test, Paloma's feet were super toasty. Now for our cool morning walks, I reach for these booties.

2. Double Cozie Baby Booties: Just as the name suggests, Double Cozie booties are made with Cozie fleece on the outside and lined with more Cozie fleece. While not as toasty as the Shaggy booties, they provide moderate warmth, especially when worn with socks. These will be great for cooler days in spring and fall. 

3. Cozie Baby Booties: These are made with Cozie fleece on the outside and lined with 100% cotton interlock. During my outdoors test, I still found the baby's feet to be a bit cool. On the other hand, these are currently my day-to-day booties since Paloma is usually indoors or bundled up when it's chilly out. They are also good for outdoors when we have our warm winter days -- probably spring and fall, too.

4. Super Stripe Baby Booties: This 100% cotton pair is made with a striped cotton interlock on the outside and lined with pink cotton interlock. I tested these out on an afternoon walk during a warm day (70 F) rather than a cool morning walk. At the end of the walk, Paloma's feet were not cold but also not warm, which is perfect because when it's warmer out, I don't want her feet overheating. These will be great for spring and summer.


Sizing

I really wish that Zutano had a 9 months size between the 6 months and 12 months sizes they currently offer. The 12 months is huge on Paloma, but at least she can now use them for longer with lots of room to grow. Also, the booties feature two snap buttons to adjust the tightness around baby's ankle. Once you decide on your baby's size, there's no need to fasten and unfasten the booties each time you put them on the baby. Just slip them on and off as you would regular booties since there is elastic around the ankle.

I hope this review was helpful for anyone on the fence about trying out Zutano baby booties. They make a great hand-me-down, by the way. Stay tuned next week for a Zutano giveaway!