Tottini & GGC Present: Must-Have Baby Gear and Giveaway!

*updated with winner, below!*
gear ye, gear ye!

I'm super excited to be teaming up with for the next few weeks both here on GGC and on, re: latest must-haves for newborn and baby. For those unfamiliar with Tottini, they're a small mom-owned and operated store + web destination offering the latest and greatest essentials for newborns and beyond. Brands and designers include Ouef, Monte, Stokke, Maclaren, bloom, Medela and more. Basically, Tottini is a one-stop shop for quality goods for baby, child and parent. And the owners (Hi, Melissa and Melissa!) are super rad.

As well as partnering with Tottini on this and other posts, I'm also a customer. Remember those hairclub for men ads? Yeah, that. The following post wasn't paid for, but Tottini did generously hook me up with some of my must-have gear items. (Noted, below.) Thanks, Tottini!


There are SO many things one needs when baby-rearing and even though this is my third pregnancy, I have little in the way of gear to show for hand-me-downs. I'm the opposite of a hoarder and tend to give everything away as soon as it's no longer in use, so I'm basically at square one as an expecting mom. Which is annoying but also kind of fun. Anyway! The following pieces are some of my must-have gear essentials for the soon-to-be newborn(s) in my life. Behold:

Treetop Activity Gym
I happen to love this Baby Gym because it's cute without being obnoxious. One of the few of its kind in the Baby Gym department, which for whatever reason, insist on being hideous. I love that it's gender neutral and isn't PINK FOR GIRLS! or BLUE FOR BOYS! Instead it's just cute for everyone. Dig.

Triumph Stroller 2011

When Archer was a baby, I knew nothing of strollers. For the first few months I pushed around a massive Graco Travelsystem. That was massive. After a few months of knocking people over, we took the Graco to my parent's house to use as a spare and snagged ourselves a Maclaren. It folded up like an umbrella (hence the term, "umbrella stroller", had plenty of storage and we all lived happily ever after. This time around, we're rocking a Snap n' Go for the first few months and then we're going double Mac. Because, even though we're upgrading our wagon to a Minivan, six people and two dogs will BARELY fit in that beast so the most packable stroller is kind of a total must. Also, one of my besties has one for her (Irish) twins and claims it absolutely fits through doorways and hallways, which, again... very important.

Twin Triumph

And speaking of strollers, Snap n Go's are my #1 recommendation for the first six months:

Clic it! Universal Carrier

The price is right and they're the most practical things that exist. I just ordered my double snap (via my search, Baby Trend is the only brand that makes them) and will use it exclusively in the beginning as not to be constantly pulling babes in and out of carseats. There are several fab "universal" carriers out there - make sure the one you order fits your carseat(s).

Go & Glow Audio Monitor Set

Anyone remember when Baby Monitors were just things you put by the crib to hear your baby cry from another room? Yeah, those were the days. Apparently, today, in the year 2011, monitors now double as television video-recorder-x-ray-vision-bomb-detectors. You know... just in case. The Safety First monitor is right up our WTF-is-all-that-really-necessary? alley. Besides, I'd rather spend the hundred-bucks saved on monitor devices and splurge on a really slick portable bed. Ahem... this:

Portable Bed: Phil & Teds Nest, $99


I haven't purchased this because I don't think it's safe for twins. It definitely maxes out its capacity at one human child, but how awesome is it? Especially for those of us who do lots of traveling and/or like to keep baby close. I never liked porta-cribs because of their humungousness. This "nest" is ideal for those with smaller spaces or those looking for a travel bed for babies. (Nest is for newborns to nine-month-olds.)

Wide Neck Baby Bottles

I've only purchased ten of what I assume will be 78928312893 bottles, but Green to Grow are some of our favorites. They're cute and they were Fable's brand of choice when she was drinking out of a bottle. And by "was" I mean "is". Because sometimes a lady needs a bottle before nap time.

Lawn Drying Rack

We bought ourselves two of these suckers because, A. they're totally adorable and B. uh... yeah, we're going to need them. In the words of Hal, "I don't mind spending a few extra bucks on a dry rack when it LOOKS LIKE GRASS HOW COOL IS THIS?" Bonus? When we're done using them to dry bottles, they can TOTALLY double as Barbie's (eco-friendly) backyard.

Infant Dishwasher Basket
For the first time EVER we will be able to wash bottles in our dish washer which is very luxurious after living ten years (and two babies) without one so we bought a couple of these as well.

Harmony Breastpump

I used an electric pump ONCE and I haaaaaaaaaaaa(infinity a)ted it. Not only did I feel like a dairy cow, but it sucked. No pun intended. I remember calling my mom and being like, "Mom! I hate these! Nothing is even coming out and I feel like I'm hooked up to a machine and what is happening to my life!???" and she was like, "buy a manual pump! they work much better." So I did. With both babies I pumped with my own BARE HANDS and no electric sockets. Medela just happens to be my brand of choice. Highly recommended for those who don't have $500 to spend on a pump and/or prefer not to feel dairy-cowesque. Bonus: manual pumps are fantastic work-outs for lower arm enthusiasts.

Nursing Cover (more colors)
I still have my Bebe Au Lait nursing cover from the days of nursing Fable (score!) and I love it. Highly recommended.

Backpack Owl
Backpack Fox

Several of you commented on Fable's backpack when I posted about her first day of school. We purchased her penguin at a gift shop of a local museum but Tottini ALSO has them for sale, as well as the Owl & Fox (above) which I ordered for the twins to keep their things separate. Keeping a "baby pack" is really helpful for me. Beyond having a diaper bag (which I am still shopping around for) small backpacks I'm assuming will be ideal for twins with different needs, preferences in bottles, pacifiers, etc. This way I can keep their things separate (one backpack beneath each stroller seat). Plus, they're goddamn adorable.

Baby Carrier: Ergo Baby (organic) carrier, $145 c/o Tottini:


As well as pushing my babies in a Snap n Go + lightweight stroller for the first few months, I plan to wear one baby at a time as much as I can. This way, I can bond with the babies as individuals. I carried both Archer (Baby Bjorn) and Fable (Baby Hawk) on my bod for the first several months but have heard nothing but fantastic things about the Ergo and look forward to giving it a spin, soon. (ED: Don't forget the infant insert!)

Bare Naked Pillow

Regardless of whether or not you plan to nurse, Boppy pillows are awesome. They're supportive, comfortable and easy to clean, wash, love. We have two and I keep envisioning the babies propped up in their Boppys staring at each other, reading each other's MINDSSSSS! There are also a million fabulous Etsy shops with Boppy covers to fit your taste and style. So buy bare now and deck it out later.

Babysitter Brown & Beige

This identical bouncer was what Fable lived in her first six months. We didn't have a lot of room in our apartment, so we'd sit out on the patio and I'd write and she'd bounce and giggle and throw her rattle and I'd go chase it, pick it up, dust it off, give it back to her. We have one for now and will likely purchase a second, depending on how much either (or both) twins enjoy a good afternoon bounce. What I love about this bouncer? It's been passed around among friends and is still in amazing shape. Totally timeless and gender neutral and practical and yes.

Wait! There's more! Tottini has agreed to give one Baby Bjorn bouncer ($180 value) to a lucky GGC reader. To win? Tell me about your must-have baby GEAR items. I'll select one winner via next Friday, August 5th. Good luck and thanks in advance for sharing! Still in baby shop mode, so it's super helpful to hear what gear is near and dear to you.


P.S. Shop Tottini now through September 31st and receive 10% of your total purchase by entering code: child10 at the register. Happy shopping!


Congrats to commenter #46, Kelly! And thanks to all for participating in the giveaway! Many more giveaways to come, stay tuned!

Stop Motion

It was Archer's idea. One day he woke up and told Hal he wanted to make "videos" with his cars, their tracks and the cities he built to surround them. So for a weekend Hal sat with him and tediously filmed and edited the footage to create short vignettes of cars passing and crashing and stopping. Until one was finished and Archer returned to the living room to begin again, steering cars and camera, rebuilding roads, bridges, crashing and stacking and fixing and changing, with Hal in the kitchen waiting for the footage to arrive and Archer to narrate the story. The two of them an assembly line of stop and go.
In the final videos, we don't see Archer's hand. The cars appear to move on their own like magic. Like they created themselves. The life and times of a boy's imagination...
...with a little help from his dad.


Eat Well: Chinese Cabbage Persian Eggplant

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
Yesterday morning, just when I was about to roll up my sleeves and start writing about Chinese cabbage, the Babycenter "pregnancy vegetable of the week", two things happened. I picked the bounty (pictured above) from my vegetable garden and THIS cookbook arrived in the mail:
Suddenly, all desire to talk about Chinese cabbage flew out the window and I found myself searching for eggplant, tomato and green bean recipes in my brand new cookbook.

I don’t know about you, but when I get a beautiful new cookbook, my mouth waters as I read through the recipes and anticipate preparing them. For me, reading a new cookbook is like reading a really good novel. I love imagining how the different flavors will meld together and I relish in figuring out which recipe I want to try first. And low and behold, I quickly found the perfect recipe for my abundant harvest, replacing all thoughts of cabbage.

Vegetarian Traditions is an amazing cookbook filled with gourmet recipes from author George Vetetakis’ Inn Season CafĂ© in Michigan. All of the recipes are vegan or have vegan alternatives and many are gluten free or could be easily modified by using gluten free flour. Some of the recipes are ingredient and time intensive but many are not and Vetetakis’ Persian eggplant recipe is neither (I modified it to make it even more user friendly).

I am so thrilled with this recipe because I have been looking for a great “company meal” to replace my all time favorite pre-vegetarian recipe, Chicken Marbella, and this is it. The flavors are awe inspiring and the presentation, beautiful. I left out the sumac powder since I have never heard of it don’t have any in the house, omitted the persimmons since they aren’t in season, and replaced the cinnamon sticks with powdered cinnamon. (I also omitted the walnut crust as it added 30+ minutes to the cooking time. Instead, I sprinkled the finished dish with toasted walnuts tossed in cinnamon.)

Here is my modified version:

Persian Eggplant
(modified from Roasted Eggplant with Walnut Crust in George Vetetakis’ Vegetarian Traditions)

4 medium-sized baby eggplants or 8 small Japanese eggplants, stems on
6 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced (I used my home-grown tomatoes which weren’t Roma)
2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ripe fuyu persimmons, peeled and thinly sliced (OPTIONAL)
2 cinnamon sticks, or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups green beans, trimmed into 1 ½ inch long pieces
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sumac powder (I left this out)
1 t sea salt
½ t fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (can substitute ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice with ½ of a lemon rind
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (preferably blood orange) with ½ of an orange rind
2 fresh bay leaves (I used dried)

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Place the eggplants in a 9x 14 inch baking dish and puncture each one a few times with a knife or fork.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and pour evenly over the eggplants.
4. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until eggplants are soft and buttery.
5. Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a dry pan until golden brown.
6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and toss.
7. Set aside to cool.

If using Japanese eggplants, serve whole. Otherwise, cut eggplants in half, widthwise. Serve hot with basmati rice:

Almond Basmati Rice
(modified from Saffron Almond Brown Basmati Rice)
2 cups basmati rice
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 ½ cups water
2 bay leaves
1 t salt
¼ teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
¼ cup dried currants (or raisins)
½ cup slivered almonds (sliced work, too)
1 three inch cinnamon stick (or ¼ t ground cinnamon)

1. Rinse basmati rice 3 times and strain in a fine sieve.
2. In a 4 quart sauce pan, slowly toast the rice and olive oil for 10 minutes.
3. Add water and other ingredients. Bring to a boil.
4. Turn down to a low simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until the water is absorbed.
5. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves and fluff just before serving.


I thought I'd throw in one quick Chinese cabbage recipe (also called Napa cabbage) in honor of Rebecca’s bulging body. This salad is delicious and refreshing…and actually would make a great accompaniment to the eggplant!

Asian Coleslaw
(from Clean Food by Terry Walters)

3 cups thinly sliced bok choy, pac choy, or tatsoi
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1 carrot, julienned
2 cups julienned snow peas
1 cup culienned red bell pepper
2 T toasted black sesame seeds
2 T toasted white sesame seeds

1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T toasted sesame oil
2 T ume plum vinegar
1 T tamari
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1. In a large bowl, combine cabbages, carrot, peas and peppers.
2. In separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.
3. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat evenly.
4. Refrigerate 10-20 minutes to help flavors blend. Before serving, toss again and top with toasted sesame seeds.
Serves 8.


Woody Allen via The Paris Review, 1995

"One deceptive appeal of being out there with other people is that it gets you away from the job of writing. It’s less lonely. But I like to stay home and write. I’ve always felt that if they told me tomorrow I couldn’t make any more films, that they wouldn’t give me any more money, I would be happy writing for the theater; and if they wouldn’t produce my plays, I’d be happy just writing prose; and if they wouldn’t publish me, I’d still be happy writing and leaving it for future generations. Because if there’s anything of value there, it will live; and if there’s not, better it shouldn’t. That’s one of the nice things about writing, or any art; if the thing’s real, it just lives. All the attendant hoopla about it, the success over it or the critical rejection—none of that really matters. In the end, the thing will survive or not on its own merits. Not that immortality via art is any big deal. Truffaut died, and we all felt awful about it, and there were the appropriate eulogies, and his wonderful films live on. But it’s not much help to Truffaut. So you think to yourself, My work will live on. As I’ve said many times, rather than live on in the hearts and minds of my fellow man, I would rather live on in my apartment..."

-Woody Allen

Twenty-Eight Weeks

First, I'd like to start by thanking Taryn and her husband, Chad for hooking Hal and me up with a much needed date night to see Ben Folds last Thursday, who I love always and forever. Chad not only snagged us seats in a standing crowd, but AMAZING seats, down below, so we could see and rock and sway and sing along and in my case, cry... (Chad plays in the band and kills it on drums, guitar and tambo.) Because, it just so happened that Thursday was Mr. Folds' son's birthday: the first born of his twins. He spoke about his babes, how they were actually born on separate days, his son born first and then his daughter, just after midnight. Hal and I had discussed that weeks ago - how crazy it would be to have twins with different birthdays, birth months, years...

His children were at the show, he said. And then he played the songs he wrote for them:

And he cried as he sang and I cried as I sat and I'm pretty sure Hal cried, too, even though he tries to deny it because he's so incredibly tough.

Because, HELLO! It was a sign! Because twin birth story/serenades aren't the usual concert fare. Because there are people like Taryn out there who are awesome and generous and go out of their way to offer pregnant grumps like me a night on the town. Because the last time I went to see Ben Folds play the Wiltern I was pregnant with Fable and WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE!?? Because twins. Everywhere we go, it's all about twins. So thank you, Taryn for your awesome. And thank you, Chad for making us feel all cool and VIP like. I have the coolest readers ever of all time.
As you may know by now, every few weeks Babycenter hooks it up with a "peek inside your pregnant belly" shot of twins in utero and lucky for you, TODAY is the day! Behold, a twenty-eight week cartoon replica of my anatomy! One of these days I'm going to get one of these images screen-printed onto a t-shirt. Very chic.
Twin babies, fetuses at 28 weeks - BabyCenter
And can I just say, THANK you, Babycenter for labeling Baby A's "eye" because I was like, what is that thing on her face? And now I know.

Meanwhile, I think I solved the puzzle as to why people are so nice to pregnant women. There is nothing less threatening than a woman with four feet of mass attached to the front of her body. Especially one who hobbles, hunched over to keep from cramping.
It's kind of amazing how fast the sidewalk parts these days. I think everyone expects I will go into labor right there on the curb so there's this, like, "uh, uh, uh... what do I do?" dance people do. Awkward smile meets freaked-out speed walk. At first, it made me feel uncomfortable but now I think it's kind of funny, especially when I stand spread-eagle over strange women's designer shoes...

Remember that scene in Sex and the City when Miranda's water breaks on Carrie's new sandals? Pregnant women are like hot potatoes no one wants to have anywhere NEAR them when the music stops. Ahem.
The babies are... bigger this week. I have no idea HOW much bigger but I'm pretty sure they gained two pounds this week as I have gained my usual weekly-four. At this rate, I'll have put on a healthy ninety pounds by the time this pregnancy is over, to which everyone always responds, "but there are two babies in there!"

Totally. Which means I'll only have about 78 pounds to lose, come October.

This week I grew out of half my Maxi dresses because my belly is sticking out at such an incredibly impressive angle that even size large Jersey dresses cannot handle the force that is my nature. Hence what I wore yesterday. Which looks insane, but will likely be the only thing left in my closet I can wear for the next TEN WEEKS OMG:
It's supposed to be a "house dress" aka "pajamas" but I've decided to wear it as a proper tunic-y thing and stop caring. Which is incredibly liberating, let me just tell you. I've been caught at least a dozen times in the last three days picking my nose in public. Because, eh, whatever. Bodily functions are a pregnant girl's best friend. I'm like the dog your husband blames his farts on, and the thing is? I'm totally cool with it.

Now that you're completely grossed out (and/or inclined to pick your nose), here's some really good news (if you're me): I think I found a way to cure my acid reflux! After months of trying 78979231 different homeopathic methods (including apple cider vinegar which made me puke!) I decided, the other night, to eat half a watermelon while watching House Hunters International and GUESS WHAT! Cured. Seriously. I have now done the exact same thing three nights in a row and I kid you not, NO REFLUX. I haven't slept this well since I was able to sleep on my stomach. It's a Christmas miracle is what it is. A Christmas miracle in July. (ED: It HAS to be House Hunters International. House Hunters domestic just makes reflux worse.)

So being that I actually got some sleep this week, I've been in much brighter spirits! Of course, that doesn't mean I can't get in an argument with a bike cop at a gas station, after being pulled over for DRIVING WITH MY CELL PHONE IN MY LAP, which I now know you can get a ticket for. Especially while stopped at the La Brea/Beverly intersection, which is where bike cops hang out and stare at people's laps through non-tinted windows.

One hundred and seventy dollar fine? Of course I was pissed! Of course I raised my voice because, "I WASN'T EVEN TALKING ON MY PHONE, BIKECOP."

Which apparently is NOT what bike cops like to be called. Bike cops prefer not to be reminded that they're on bikes. Bike cops are in denial about being BIKE COPS.

But you know what's worse than being a bike cop? Being pulled over by a bike cop! They don't even have sirens! They're wearing helmets and shorts! And Oakleys! I'd rather get pulled over by a Segway cop! Or a rollerblade cop! (Do those exist? Probably not.)

Anyway... I'd like to end this post on a high note, because this really was a red letter week, traffic violations and questionable fashion statements aside...


Back to Ben Folds. So we're at the show and we're listening to Ben Folds' twins' birth story, huddled together with our hands on my belly in the darkness, strobe lights illuminating our tiny teardrops like tiny diamonds of nostalgic blissful woe and all of a sudden, who should appear on the stage for an impromtu cover of Snoop's "Bitches Aint Shit"?

BOB SAGET, you guys! As in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's television dad! As in, twinny-twin-twinsy-twins-a-rama-twintastica! Twins!

Well. It certainly seemed serendipitous at the time. And these days I'll take what I can get.