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As a first-time mom, I have a tendency to hoard things that have remotely anything to do with Nick. I kept his pregnancy test for well over a year after I took it (yeah… GROSS). I have his hospital discharge papers, his hospital bracelet, notes from his first pediatrician appointment, etc. etc. I KNOW that when he gets to preschool and starts making all those cute little projects, our house is going to become a veritable museum of all things Nick. Which is why I LOVE this new product! This is sooo cute, and definitely for all those so-proud-of-my-kid-I-can-barely-breathe moms out there. I almost want to “help” him do his first piece of artwork just so I can buy one!

Analiese, from Etsy, makes these gorgeous polymer clay pendants from your kids’ artwork. She can transform pretty much any drawing into a sweet little pendant you can wear around your neck. I think this idea is just inspired! I mean, not only are you getting an adorable piece of jewelry, but it just doesn’t get more personalized than this! Oh, and if you’re an artist yourself looking to get a little exposure, she makes adult artwork into these sweet little pendants as well. Talk about a conversation piece!

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When I first had my son, I was terrified of breastfeeding. Not that I felt like he was going to chomp my nipples off or anything, but I was just petrified that someone would SEE me breastfeeding. I know the current culture is to be gung-ho about it, and just expose them boobies, but honestly, I will never, ever be one of those women who can just whip it out in a supermarket. Me? I need my privacy. I would go to the car whenever my son needed to be fed. I remember one time Nick got really grumpy at the doctor’s office while we were waiting. We were in a private room, so I surreptitiously slid my nursing bra aside, then sneaked part of my boob out and quickly hoisted his little head up so no part of my boob was visible. Then I laid his burp cloth on my shoulder and over his head, just in case. And after his appointment, when the nurses asked if I’d like to stay a minute to feed him, I said, “No, thank you!” and bolted to the car as fast as my 1-week postpartum body could.

Now, I wasn’t always like this. Before I gave birth and actually had ANYthing to do with breastfeeding, I remember I had a very heated conversation with my husband, who asked what I’d do when my mother-in-law came to visit her grandson for the first time. She was flying cross country, and planned to stay a week or two. This is the rough reproduction of the conversation:

Husband: “So, when my mom is here, will you take Nick to the bedroom everytime you want to feed him?”

Me: “Why would I do that?”

Husband: “You know… because otherwise you’d have to breastfeed him in front of my mom.”

Me: –Steaming at ears– “SO?? You think that just because I want to feed my son, I should barricade myself at the other end of my own house??”

Husband: –Slowly backing away– “N-no… I just thought, you know, that you might feel uncomfortable…”

Me: “Uncomfortable?? If anyone should feel uncomfortable, it’s people who think that women who want to feed their children should isolate themselves away from the public! Why must I be punished for wanting to give my child the best nutrition possible? Do YOU want to go the bedroom everytime YOU eat?”

And on and on it went, with my poor husband likely wondering what he ever did to deserve a pregzilla for a wife. Anyway, now that I know that I really am not one of those women who can proudly breastfeed in public (and hooray for you if you are! You have to tell me how you do that), I have been on the lookout for chic nursing covers that don’t cost a fortune. I know I want something practical, but will I give up looks? Hell to the no! And I am definitely not wearing anything that resembles a sack, which is what I was finding when I went looking with a price tag of below $20 in mind.

Well, that is, until I stumbled upon Etsy. Have you seen the sheer amount of talent on that website? It’s enough to make one dizzy! I spent hours just typing in keywords and drooling over alllll the adorable, cute, haute stuff on there! And that is when I found it… THE nursing cover I had been searching for. There is no need to look further, ladies. This nursing cover has functionality, beauty AND an under-$20 price tag! So without further ado, here she is…

Doesn’t that look like a dress you’d find in an upscale boutique somewhere, rather than a piece of cloth you use to cover up your hooters? And I think the boning she puts in the top so you can see your baby (and so your baby can, um, breathe!) is just sheer genius. If you want to go check out her store – and other prints – click here.

So while you drool over all the fabulously talented women on there, I am off to order my new nursing cover!

Every mother needs…

… some peace of mind. Seriously, when was the last time you gave yourself the gift of some peace of mind? Like, really took some time out to do something you wanted to do? (And no, running out to the grocery store while your husband watches the baby doesn’t count). I am relatively new to Mommy World, but it seems to me that every mom I meet has Major Guilt Syndrome (aka MGS). You know, the kind where they feel like they’re not spending enough time with their kids/providing enough stimulation/buying them enough stuff. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a work-from-home-mom, or a work-out-of-the-home-mom. We all suffer from MGS. It’s almost as if, along with those extra ten postpartum pounds that you just CANNOT lose, and those bizarre things on your chest that have a vague resemblance to your boobs , someone up there thought it would be hilarious to give us moms a healthy dose of some hormone that contributes to MGS. We analyze our every thought, our every motive, and decide that if it doesn’t equate to our kids being totally and uncompromisingly happy, we don’t need to do it. Meanwhile, the stresses and pressures of our everyday lives build and build (being gorgeous, intelligent and fashionable takes work, people!) and we find ourselves in a go-nowhere-do-nothing rut. I know this because I found myself in this very same rut recently. I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for 9 months now, and started to get a little stir-crazy around 3 months, then again at 4 months, and then again at 6 months. At 3 months, I went on a job interview. On my way there, I saw a billboard advertising a mother-baby product (I don’t even remember what it was), and broke down in tears. I went to the interview, but decided I wasn’t ready to take on a job yet.

Then at 4 months, I decided to get a babysitter. We lived in a reallllly small town at the time (I mean, shooting whistle pigs was the officical town pastime), and the local mom’s group had about 5 people. Of those five, one of the moms said she’d love to babysit for Nicholas. She did that twice before I arrived at her door a little earlier than announced one day, to pick him up, and found him sitting in a diaper full of poop, in front of the TV. I vowed to myself that I would never again get a sitter! MGS was in full gear.

At 6 months, I wanted to get a job (again). However, by this time I was 3 months pregnant and I realized that probably no one would hire me. I decided to resign myself to a grim fate of changing diapers, picking up toys, feeding Nick, and rinse and repeat, for 8 hours a day, everyday. That was when it hit me – that there had to be reliable sitters out there… right? I mean, I refused to believe that all the sitters out there would let my infant watch daytime soaps while they talked on the phone to their long-lost cousin in Arkansas. The only question was, how do I find said sitter? Thus began my Yahoo! search. And the answer was simple… I needed a nanny agency.

We are now the proud members of Sweet Peas Nanny Agency. This agency, as most nanny agencies, does all the work for you. They recruit highly qualified sitters and nannies (part- and full-time), check references, conduct background checks, and compose profiles on their sitters and nannies. You can see what education your sitter or nanny has, how he/she plans to entertain your child, and how he/she defines him or herself as a person. As a member family, you can list your preferences for a nanny – what personality characteristics you would like your nanny or sitter to have, what experience, what chores he or she would have to do, how many hours you need a nanny or sitter per week, etc. etc. You can be as picky or as lenient as you like. Sweet Peas Nannies even sent us a “babysitting log” that the sitter has to fill out while she’s here. Basically, it lets you see how she spent each hour with your child. Sweet Peas also has a program called Learning Through Play, and each of their nannies and sitters are trained in this technique of child interaction. They teach the sitter/nanny that interacting one-on-one with a child is the best thing for the child (for stimulation and safety), which I feel, is a great philosophy.

This service cost us $50 (membership fee), and everytime we get our sittter to come over, we have to pay a $10 placement fee, plus the sitter’s hourly wage. If you get really comfortable with a sitter, and want your children to have the same sitter everytime, you can “Go Direct”, which means the agency will provide you the sitter’s contact information so that you can bypass the middle man and just call the sitter whenever you need him or her.

Almost every decently-sized city in the U.S. has a nanny agency. You can call the BBB and your state’s Attorney General’s office to make sure their record is squeaky clean. We did, because we are extremely picky and didn’t want a repeat of what I call “Dirty Diaper Sitter Situation”.

Here at Pretty, Witty and Functional, my aim is to provide you with hints, tips and products that will either (a) make your life as a mom easier, (b) provide you with some really pretty things or (c) both of the above. I hope this post has helped with (a), and with easing some of that MGS. Knowing your child is well taken care of so you can go out and pursue whatever it is that you want to pursue is so empowering. Tonight, the husband and I are going out to dinner and a movie to celebrate our 6th anniversary – freedom is a wonderful thing!

To inaugurate my very first post on Pretty, Witty and Functional, I will let you in on a pregnancy basic I cannot live without: black maternity clothes.

I recently bought this dress (yes, I realize it looks brown in the picture but it’s black, I swear!):

This dress:

And these cropped pants:

Why? Well, for several reasons. But first and foremost, because they are black. See, when I was pregnant with my son, I spent a few measly dollars on the maternity section on Ebay, looking for clothes that didn’t look too beaten up and that would fit me. The result? I ended up with quite a few hideous if-I-wore-that-I’m-pretty-sure-my-eyes-would-bleed-every-time-I-looked-at-myself pink floral skirt sets, a dress that made me look like a giant strawberry, and a seriously lagging self-esteem. Of course, that could’ve also been due to the almost-50-lb weight gain I experienced due to my disregard of all things healthy. Ahem, I digress.

So this time around, when I took the test and saw the little pink line, I decided that I would stay away from all things brightly-colored and all things with bows on them. The result has been me binge-shopping at Motherhood Maternity and Mimi Maternity. I’ve been buying things my size (the last time I ordered everything one size up, thinking I could get more use out of it… I spent about half my pregnancy with enough extra fabric hanging off my body to fit another hormonal pregnant woman into), and buying BLACK. It’s the perfect color for someone who has morphed into a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Black is naturally slimming, doesn’t cry, “LOOK AT ME!!!” when you really don’t want people to, and makes one look generally svelte.

So I urge you, if you’re pregnant, buy black! And then come back and tell me how very haute you feel.