A Much-Needed Date Night

Since Desmond’s birth in September of last year, David and I have been out alone ONE TIME. That’s right, one measly time in over 8 months. And do you know what we chose to do that time?

We went to the movies.

Now, we like the movies but it’s not exactly quality time. We couldn’t talk to one another and we didn’t even see something romantic. We saw Birdman (it was weird – but good – and not in the least bit romantic). Afterward we ate at a crummy Thai place and then went home. The night was more about checking a task off our list than it was about spending time with one another.

That was back at the beginning of February, so we have been in dire need of a real date night – with time to connect and be US! The problem was that we didn’t have a babysitter to call. Believe it or not, I haven’t actually used a babysitter since Jack was about a year old! I’ve always relied on friends or just stayed home. (Mostly the latter.)

Enter UrbanSitter. I signed up to become a member and was instantly able to search for someone who had infant experience, was CPR-certified (because Dez is putting everything in his mouth he can get his hands on!), and had a background check on the website (I’m a little on the paranoid side). I filtered the results further by searching for sitters close to my house and those that are known through my local parent networks (in this area, Berkeley Parents Network is a go-to for all kinds of things!).

When I connected my account to Facebook, I saw that some of the sitters in my area had been hired by my friends! Further, I got a personalized welcome email from a representative with the site who provided recommendations .

I searched and found a couple of babysitters in my price range that I wanted to interview, and I also posted my request for a sitter on the Jobs section of the website. Almost immediately, responses from sitters who were interested in the job started rolling in! I selected a couple more babysitters to interview from that pool of people.

The phone interviews were super easy to schedule – sitters plug their schedules into a calendar on the website and keep them up to date, so you can look directly at the individual calendars, find a time that works, and click to request the interview spot. The sitters then log in and confirm the time – then the site emails a confirmation with contact information. Easy peasy.

Every interview (four total) went perfectly. It was a tough choice and ultimately the person I choose had to cancel a couple days later when she got sick (which, I completely appreciate – we’ve had so much illness in our house already). By that time, the other sitters I had interviewed had all taken other jobs, but it was not a problem at all! I ran a search again with the date/time I needed plugged into the search parameters, and found a couple more sitters who were available on short notice. I scheduled two interviews and ended up booking the first person I spoke with right over the phone!

Meet Jane (yes, that’s her real name). She is a nanny, a former non-profit employee, and a future Waldorf teacher.

babysitter

Jane and a peacefully sleeping Dez

Dez took to her within 5 minutes of her (perfectly on-time) arrival. She was warm and friendly and started playing with him right away. We chatted and got to know one another for a good 20 minutes, then David and I took off for our date night. Dez didn’t even make a peep when we walked out the door – he was completely absorbed with the strings on Jane’s hoodie.

We had a blast! We went to a wine & tapas bar close to our house and treated ourselves to everything our bellies desired. We talked about anything and everything (podcasts, vacation, plans for our house and future), somehow managing to branch out beyond the topic of our kids. We were able to truly relax and enjoy ourselves for the first time in months!

Cheers

A toast to us!

After dinner, I checked in with Jane just to make sure Dez hadn’t turned into a monster while I was gone. He had fallen asleep and all was well. David and I then hopped over to another restaurant for dessert, Prosecco, and coffee. I will admit that I got a bit tipsy (but it was totally worth it!).

When we arrived back home, I thanked Jane, paid her with my credit card through the UrbanSitter app, and David drove her to BART while I snuggled with my baby.

MamaDez

Nighttime snuggles!

Dez slept super well that night and we couldn’t have been more pleased with our experience. UrbanSitter may have just saved our marriage, you guys (or, at least, our sanity)!

I highly recommend the site for your next date night or quick getaway. You can find all kinds of care for your child – in advance, last minute, overnight – and have access to wonderful caregivers who are reviewed by other parents or have a background check. If you use the code FORFREETRIAL when you sign up for your UrbanSitter account you can get a free month to try it out (normally membership is $14.95 per month).

When is the last time you went on a date night or had some precious personal time?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

An Uncommon Mother’s Day (Review)

Note: This is a sponsored blog post. In exchange for blogging about my experience with UncommonGoods, I received a free product to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Mother’s Day is coming!

I know you’re thinking, “Shut up, Crystal. It’s only April!”

BUT, Mother’s Day is coming fast – it’s on May 10th. That’s only 25 days away. And if you’re living a life that resembles mine in any way, shape, or form, then that feels like tomorrow. It is going to sneak right up on you if you don’t get on it now!

It can be a huge struggle to decide what the heck to buy your mom (or another special mom in your life) for Mother’s Day. She either has everything already or she is impossible to buy for or after a few decades of Mother’s Days, you’ve just plain run out of ideas. You want to get a gift for her anyway, though – even if it’s only a small token of the deep appreciation you feel for her.

Or maybe YOU are a mom and your kids or significant other are pushing you to tell them what you want. You want something unique and different but also useful because you have a hard time doing nice things for yourself. (Mmmm hmmm.)

Possibly it’s none of those and you just like to shop on the internet and find new things to buy.

Whatever the case, you need to check out Uncommon Goods. They have come up with a huge collection of gifts for Mother’s Day – you can browse by recipient or by occasion. The site excels at finding creative and unique items from individual sellers. They also strive to be environmentally conscious and socially aware. In their own words:

Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is an privately-owned retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We run all our operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including our warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage. We make it our mission to support and  provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. At the core of our company is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and the belief that it is our responsibility to use our business to impact the world in a positive way.

I’ve been a fan for years. They are my go-to site for housewarming gifts and for anyone who is tough to buy for. Many of the items end up on my Pinterest or just straight up in my house. I LOVE the fact that the company supports charities like RAINN and Women for Women International. They are just all kinds of good!

For this post, I’ve taken a look at the curated gift lists on UncommonGoods and pulled out a few of my own favorites  to create my handy-dandy Pinterest Board – Uncommon Mother’s Day.

Follow Ewokmama’s board Uncommon Mother’s Day on Pinterest.

UncommonGoods let me choose a gift of my own for Mother’s Day. It was so very hard to choose ONE thing I wanted, but I went with the set of 8 Bicycle Glasses. They are absolutely gorgeous – each has a brightly colored bicycle silhouette screen-printed in epoxy ink.

20905_bikesThey have a good weight to them, so they don’t feel too fragile OR too heavy in your hand – just sturdy and comfortable. And they are dishwasher safe, so they are still practical (satisfying the mom in me). I’ve already run them through the dishwasher a few times and I can attest that they came out looking as good as new!

Now, if you know me you know I do not exercise. At all. So a set of glasses with bicycles might seem like a strange choice, but bicycles have meaning in my house. When I met David almost seven years ago, he biked to work every day. Coincidentally, we worked down the street from one another, so he would ride by my office on his way to work, and I’d run downstairs to get a hug and kiss every morning. He also rode his bike over to my office at lunch so that we could picnic together under a tree we nicknamed Fred (Fred the Palm Tree). As an ode to our lovey-dovey early days, I’ve incorporated bicycles into our home decor in a few ways – we have a bicycle print I bought on Etsy hanging in our living room and our dishes have a bicycle chain pattern. Adding these bicycle glasses to the mix just made sense!

Now I just need these tall, customized tandem bike glasses to match. (Honey, are you reading this?)

So, look…I’m giving you a head start on picking out a gift for that special mom in your life for this upcoming Mother’s Day. Go forth and and find awesomeness at UncommonGoods.

And come back here to tell me what YOU are going to buy (or ask for) this Mother’s Day!

Disclosure: I was provided with the above-referenced product in order to provide my review but have received no compensation for this post. For more information on my reviews, please see my disclosure page and my summary of sponsored content.

Calm and Clean: Little Twig Review

When you wait eight years between kids, it’s likely you’ll be starting over again with all the STUFF. I had saved very little of Jack’s baby stuff – as I wasn’t sure that I would ever have another child – and my head was out of the baby game for a long, long time. So when I found out I was pregnant with Dez, I got to work learning about all the new things that have been invented since I’d first become a mother.

For those of you who have also been out of the baby game for a while, let me give you a little tip. Babies need even MORE stuff than they did eight years ago.

Or so they say.

In order to prepare, I attended MommyCon when it came to San Francisco last year, as well as a “baby shower” hosted by The Baby Ladies when I went to BlogHer, and an anniversary brunch hosted by Avent. Am I an overachiever, or what?) I learned about the newest bottles and breast pumps and nifty play yards and breastfeeding pillows and and and…

I learned a lot. It was pretty overwhelming, to be honest, even though I’d been through it before.

And then there is a whole other learning curve once the baby actually arrives. You then learn which products your kid will and will not tolerate. For instance, even though Jack was often lulled into a sound slumber with the vibrations of his bouncer, it was not so with Desmond – Dez got completely PISSED if we turned the vibrations on while he was awake. We learned to bounce Dez to sleep and then turn the vibrations on a few seconds after his eyelids closed. Dave got particularly good at it!

Something that Jack and Dez actually have in common is sensitive skin. They are prone to getting pink and rashy and dried out if bathed too often or with the wrong kind of soap or if you rub them the wrong way. Surprisingly, Johnson & Johnson Baby Wash was terrible for Jack, but so was the more natural California Baby. We went through quite a few products looking for a good solution back in the day.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember what we liked best. And half the products we tried aren’t around anymore. And there is no guarantee that Dez would tolerate the same products anyway!

I was excited when Little Twig reached out to me and offered to send their products for us to try out. I received their Calming Lavender Baby Wash, which has lavender and chamomile, so not only does it smell great but it has relaxing properties that make it perfect for a bath before bed. The baby wash is pH-balanced for sensitive skin, and I’ve used it several times now on Dez and his skin stays perfectly baby-soft and clear. Woot!

LTBabyWashI also got a sample of the matching Calming Lavender Baby Lotion, which has the addition of lemon to it and smells absolutely heavenly! It’s a lightweight moisturizer that rubs in well and doesn’t leave the skin feeling oily. I tested it separately from the baby wash to be extra safe and Desmond’s skin was perfectly happy with it.

If you aren’t into lavender, Little Twig offers “Happy Tangerine” scent as well as an unscented, extra-mild line of baby skin care products for those that are even more sensitive than my kids. All of their products boast the following:

  • Safe for the entire family
  • Comprised of the most effective organic and botanical ingredients in a simple recipe for pure and gentle personal care
  • Completely free of phthalates, sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, nuts, soy or wheat
  • pH-balanced and ideal for sensitive skin
  • Pediatrician-tested

If you want to try the Little Twig products out before investing into full size products, they offer travel size packs of their products that would be perfect! There are some adorable gift sets for the new parents in your life, too. There are babies coming every which way this year, it seems!

Does your baby have sensitive skin? Have you tried Little Twig?

Disclosure: I was provided with samples of Little Twig products in order to write this review; however, all opinions are my own. Please see my Disclosures page for more information on my sponsored content.

Save the Date with Minted

Note: This post is sponsored by Minted.

End of treatment is approaching for Jack and we have our eyes on the prize. We’re working on planning a few things in honor of this long, hard journey coming to an end, including a party to celebrate! We’ve have a few talks with Jack about it and so far he knows he wants to eat chicken on a skewer, mashed potatoes, and apple pie.

We’re a little food focused in this family.

He has a vision for making monsters that travel around on little motorized wheels, as well. I am not very mechanically inclined, so I’m going to leave that up to David to figure out! (Tag – you’re it, David!)

I get to work on the menu and invitations, mainly because I’m the mom and I didn’t ask for other volunteers.

This might come as a surprise to the other tech-savvy bloggers out there, but I’m a little bit old school and I LOVE paper. When I heard about the new Save the Dates at Minted, I got super excited. I already have some of their Mommy Calling Cards and the quality of the cardstock and printing can’t be beat; I get compliments on them all the time. So I hopped on over to their site to find something just right for Jack’s End of Treatment Party.

The problem is there are too many awesome choices!

Should we go with a British theme (for the Dr. Who lover)?

 LondonSaveTheDate

Or maybe something that showcases the sheer elation we feel to be DONE?

YesSaveTheDate

Or how about something with a photo to show off that handsome face?

PhotoSaveTheDateLuckily I get to play around on the site and personalize the different versions to help me make this decision. I may have to order a few different designs, though…

Disclosure: I received compensation from Minted in exchange for this post, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. Please see my Disclosures page for more information on my sponsored content.

Google Shopping Express Pretty Much Rocks

Note: This is a sponsored blog post. In exchange for blogging about my experience with Google Shopping Express, I received a free trial membership and a credit to use the service. All opinions expressed are my own.

With the gazillion appointments we have to manage Jack’s health and this year’s addition of prenatal check ups for me (in addition to the regular life stuff like work), my time and energy have become even more limited as of late. Thankfully I live in an urban area where convenience is highly valued. And since Google is practically right in my backyard, Google Shopping Express recently launched in my area.

From Google:

Available throughout the Bay Area, from San Francisco to San Jose, Google Shopping Express is a same-day delivery service that allows you to conveniently shop from stores like Target, Raley’s, Nob Hill Foods, and Toy “R” Us in one online location. Whether you need a last minute pack of diapers to get through the weekend or a few forgotten ingredients to prepare dinner, Google Shopping Express can help fulfill any new parent’s shopping needs.

They have been focusing on parents but let me tell ya, this service is fantastic for any city dweller!

Last week both David and I were battling a horrible cold and Jack’s health started to decline, as well. We needed a few things that couldn’t be bought within a 10 minute drive of our home (even if we had the time and energy to make it to the store), so I looked to Google Shopping Express to help. I was able to place an order for a few things from a couple different stores and choose to have it delivered to my office in San Francisco. From Target, I picked alcohol prep pads, ZonePerfect Kidz Nutrition Bars, and a new screen protector for my iPhone. At the same time, I ordered a Snoogle Body Pillow from Babies R Us (side note: if you are pregnant, get a Snoogle! I have been sleeping SO MUCH BETTER!). Everything was delivered to my office in lightweight packaging within the 4-hour window I’d chosen. It took less than 10 minutes to place the order and to grab it from reception at work – a HUGE time saver over driving to the two different stores, locating the products in the store (and hoping they were in stock), waiting in line to make the purchase, and driving home again.

Maybe you love the whole shopping experience, but I DO NOT. I would much rather nap than go to the store.

The prices through Google Shopping Express are exactly what you would find in-store and you can input your membership number for the stores (like Toys R Us) in order to get your loyalty rewards when you order. If you’re buying commonly sold items like groceries, you can compare prices from different stores (Target vs. Whole Foods vs. Smart N Final vs. Costco – yes, they even have Costco!) so you don’t have to worry about paying more just for the convenience of having the items delivered and you can save a bit of money without trekking to a whole other store.

The whole experience made me SO HAPPY. The only thing that could have made it better would be if they delivered to my home in the East Bay – hopefully that option will be available in the future (especially by the time my new baby is born!).

So go, try it out! Google Shopping Express is currently offering new users $10 off the first order as well as 6 months of free, unlimited same-day delivery when you sign up for the free membership. You can order online or download the iOS or Google Play app.