Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Handmade Holidays!

From our house to yours,
best wishes for peace, health & happiness,
the NannyGram family

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Last chance for Christmas

The boys are setting up the train set and I've done about as much wrapping as I can handle for one night ... So, I'm just popping in to remind anyone who wants a NannyGram delivered as a Christmas gift, that Monday, December 17 is the order deadline for delivery by December 24.

I've been doing well with my goal to support small, independent shops this season ... and so enjoying online shopping. I've had five gifts delivered, with two more due early in the week. So far, so good. No shipping delays and nothing has been back-ordered. Should I feel guilty that I didn't have to slog through the crowds at the malls for these beautiful treasures? nah!

May all your holiday shopping be stress-free!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Support Handmade!

Our mission at NannyGram is to provide quality, handcrafted baby gifts -- and while doing so, to support knitters like Nanny and our entire network of talented knitters throughout New England. Creating handmade, handcrafted, non-mass produced items is core to who and what we are. It's why we do what we do every day. We're passionate about it. And, it is absolutely inspiring to be part of this incredible group to support handmade.

"When you send a NannyGram, you send an heirloom."

Holiday Gift Guides Galore

I'm just loving all the holiday gift guides I'm finding online these days. They make it such a pleasure to shop -- I'm avoiding the malls and crowds as much as possible this holiday season. No, I'm not running around crazy, shopping at the malls or outlets this weekend ... instead I'm spending time with family at the lake house in Maine, playing Twister and Monopoly. Later, I'll be sitting down with a cup of hot cocoa to peruse a few more online guides.

Of course, it's just lovely when NannyGram is featured in one. Take a look at the guide Sarah's put together for BabyLuxe {daily}.

And, here are some other gift guides I'm recommending, check them out!
Cool Mom Picks Holiday Gift Guide
Indie Collective Holiday Gift Guide
Indie Shopping Holiday Gift Guide
MamaSpeaks Holiday Gift Guide
Skimbaco Holiday Gift Guide

Happy shopping!

MyRegistry: A Place for All Your Wish Lists

Gift registries aren't just for brides or babies anymore, with this neat, free online registry service -- -- you can register for Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or "just because" gifts ... from virtually any store, any where. How cool is that? I know some people think registering for gifts is tacky, but if someone's going to buy a gift anyway and they just don't know what to get -- isn't it better for those resources of time & money to be spent on something the recipient would like/need/want? Anyway, I think so. And, we're happy to give NannyGram customers the option to set up a baby gift registry -- for Christmas, your baby shower, or whatever -- on MyRegistry. More info here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Baby Gifts Tied Up with Bow and Ready to Give

I couldn't resist taking a photo of a Darlin' NannyGram being prepped for shipment over the weekend. Isn't it sweet? Every NannyGram receives complimentary gift packaging -- in this two-piece gift box are a pair of cuffed hand knit booties, nestled in sage green tissue. Each box is tied up with a grosgrain bow, with we attach a handwritten message on a notecard, if desired.

And, I just love our logo sticker designed by the awesome Cohen of Pacokeco. Check out her shop on Etsy, she's got lots of fabulous items to make your holiday packages extra special.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An Update in Bloggers ... and Time to Shop

Yes, dear readers, it's been quiet here on AskNanny. And, so, Nanny (my mom) has asked me to step up to the blogging plate. Nanny's been keeping busy knitting, which is the way she likes it ... but she's been feeling a bit guilty for not keeping up with the blog. Our hope is to have Nanny pop in from time to time to respond to AskNanny questions -- and in the meantime, I'll share updates on all things NannyGram, handmade, and baby.

NannyGram is all about promoting the beauty and value of handcrafted, heirloom baby gifts. But, we think everyone dear to us -- not just the babies -- should receive a gift this holiday season that has not been mass-produced. That's one of the reasons why we're keen to support independent artisans and crafters this holiday season. We've already begun our Christmas shopping at Indie Collective's Holiday Gift Guide (and, yes, we're a guide sponsor). If you haven't checked out this terrifc guide yet, give them a try -- avoid the mall and off-the-shelf gifts this year!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Summertime may be extended ... but we're still knitting!

Well, officially it's fall, but here in Massachusetts it's feeling like summer with hot, humid, 90 degree weather. Yet even with this glorious gift of summer-like weather, there are still hints of fall ... especially with the leaves turning a golden hue, mums bursting with color, and the sedum Autumn Joy blooming in the garden.

Another chance to sit outside and knit booties! And, here are the Classic Knit Booties, fresh off the knitting needles ~ sunning themselves outdoors.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Baby Name Quandry

Dear Nanny,

I am expecting my first baby and my husband and I are anxiously awaiting his debut in another month. We have spent much of the past eight months deliberating over baby names and so far have not been able to agree. I’m worried that we’ll be calling this child “Baby” until he graduates from college! Our problem: As a first generation American, with Irish parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and an extended clan on both sides of the Atlantic, I am steeped in my Celtic heritage. I feel quite strongly that we should honor my family heritage in naming our child. My husband is a blue-blood Puritan and he opposes my desire for authentic, ethnic names because he finds them difficult to spell and pronounce. He wants to name the child Charles. Help!

--Celtic traditionalist

Dear Celtic traditionalist,

What a timely inquiry! The Flaherty clan is welcoming its newest member today, as my cousin’s daughter just delivered a darling baby boy into the world. New babies are such a joy! The little guy, however, is still awaiting his name and the topic of conversation around here has focused on naming babies.

As you can imagine, with our Irish roots, many of my grandchildren have very traditional Irish names (Cian, Maeve, Patrick) or Americanized Irish names (Kelly, Ryan). A few, however, have classic names with no particular tie to Ireland (Christopher, Peter, Nicholas). While many members of the youngest generation of our extended clan have very distinct Celtic names (Caileen, Sean, Caitriona, Aidan, Cormac, Daragh, Eamonn, Ronan, Aoife, Orla, Seamus); some do not (Helen, Sophia). I myself have a love for the lyrical sound of many Celtic names, but I also recognize that to American eyes and ears the sights of Irish spelling and the non-instinctive pronunciation are not always easy. Aside from the fact that your husband is uncomfortable with the sound and spelling of the names you love; unless you are raising your child in Ireland, you need to be prepared that many others will be as well. You can read an interesting article about this topic in Psychology Today.

Even the Wall Street Journal has jumped into the baby naming discussion and recently reported the latest trend for parents-to-be: hiring naming consultants and parents’ modern obsession with the “googleability” of their new baby’s moniker. Some recent studies have shown that resumes bearing ethnic names generate fewer interviews than those with more traditional names and comparable skill sets and years of experience.

I, however, do not believe hiring consultants and worrying about resumes or Google searches (in twenty years will we still be googling?) is the answer to your dilemma. I think the most important thing for you and your husband to do is to search for a compromise. Co-parenting takes a lot of communication and some degree of compromise because you and your husband will not always agree. Try to look at your ability to resolve this issue as a dry run for the many others you will face together as you raise "Baby."

The child is certainly going to have Celtic genes and will be gifted with your knowledge and love of that heritage. However, he or she will also share your husband’s “blue blood” and that will be his heritage as well. So on the naming front, perhaps you can pick a strong Celtic name with an anglicized spelling or a Celtic name that is easier to pronounce (a Caileen as opposed to an Aoife); or pair a Celtic first name, with a “blue blood” middle name. My point is not to abandon naming your child in the cultural and familiar tradition that is important to you, but rather to search for something within that tradition that appeals to both you and Daddy-to-be. Perhaps this site will help: Baby Names of Ireland.

Good luck and let me know what you end up naming your bundle of joy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Relief for a Teething Baby?

Dear Nanny,

Lately my baby seems to have lost her appetite. She has also been drooling a lot and is very cranky. I think she may be teething. Any suggestions?

--Drooler’s Mom

Dear Drooler's Mom,

Sounds to me like she’s teething. Most babies start teething between 4 and 7 months and the first teeth to come in are usually the bottom incisors (in the front of your baby’s mouth.) For most babies the first incisors and the first molars are the most painful; although how painful and disruptive the teething process is certainly varies from baby to baby. And in my family, it ran the gauntlet from a cranky afternoon and a new tooth the next morning to a month-long marathon of sleepless nights and heart-wrenching agony (for both baby and parents!).

In addition to the decreased appetite, drooling and crankiness you note, other symptoms of teething include:

Gum swelling and sensitivity
Biting behavior
Sleep problems
Red cheeks
Ear pulling

There's debate among experts over whether certain problems — like diarrhea, fever, congestion, body rashes, and vomiting — can be caused by teething.

You can't do anything to make your baby’s teeth appear swifter, but you can comfort your baby. Give her something to chew on. While many babies like teething rings, my grandbabies seemed to favor real foods. One granddaughter found relief chewing on a frozen bagel, while one of my grandson’s loved chewing on a whole carrot that had been kept in the freezer, and yet another liked frozen 100% fruit pops. The coolness was comforting and the counter pressure from chewing provided a welcome balance to the pressure the baby feels coming from the buried teeth below. My grandbabies all preferred food to gnaw on, but I have also seen wet washcloths or terrycloth toys fresh from the fridge or freezer work wonders with certain infants in the throes of teething trauma.

When they are teething, babies bring their hands to their mouths precisely because the pressure on the gums brings relief. So, another great way to comfort a teething baby is to rub the gums firmly and gently with a clean finger.

The drooling can also contribute to or cause a chin rash or otherwise irritate your baby’s tender skin, so you may want to wipe your cherub’s chin frequently if she seems to be a heavy drooler.

If none of this helps, your may want to talk to your pediatrician who may suggest giving your baby children's acetaminophen to ease the pain and inflammation. The use of a topical pain relief gel is also an option, though most pediatricians advise against it: If too much is used, the gel can numb the back of your baby's throat and weaken her gag reflex.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Not just Swanky, Cool and Classy, too!

Well readers, July was a banner month for NannyGram. Not only did we win the "So Swanky" Award; NannyGram is also "Classy Mommy Approved" and a "Cool Mom Pick"!

Classy Mommies just love our knit hat and booties set and Cool Moms calls NannyGram a "wonderful source for hand-knit baby togs." I am constantly amazed by the wonderful emails and letters I receive from these modern moms who delight in dressing their sweet babies in all things NannyGram.

Check out my favorite review this month, from Urban Baby---they adored the so-soft cashmere and merino wool in our Nannygrams against baby's so-soft skin.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Garden Socks

Sometimes you need to stop and smell the flowers ... even when you're knitting baby socks.

Here, a basket o' baby socks enjoys a rest in my daughter's garden, beneath a volunteer cluster of Stella d'Oro daylilies.

Ah, and what have we here? A renegade sock making off for some solitary time in the window box.

And, here, the multi-tasking sock as flower vase ... :-)

Summer gardens, like a baby's first year, are fleeting pleasures that are past before you can fully enjoy their sweetness. So today, take a moment to stop and smell the summer flowers!


Friday, July 13, 2007

NannyGrams are So Swanky!

Well, dear readers, I am just BURSTING with pride! Our NannyGrams have won the So Swanky Award!

Now, you may ask, much as I did when I first heard the news: What is the So Swanky Award and why did NannyGrams win it? Is Swanky a good thing?

As my daughter happily explained to me, is a site where "hip" moms hang out on the web. They can chat with other moms, find the latest trends, get coupons from hip boutiques, and find cool products. The So Swanky Award is the Swanky Moms version of the good housekeeping seal of approval and it is awarded to a limited number of high quality baby products that meet the Swanky Moms high standards for quality, style and design! And yes, our sweet NannyGrams are officially "So Swanky."

I only wish they had a site for Swanky Nannies!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sing Sweet Celtic Lullabies?

Dear Nanny,

My grandmother used to sing such sweet lullabies to me and my sister when we were young, but her memory is not what it used to be. Any recommendations for lullabies or other songs for me to share with my baby? What songs resonant with infants?


Dear Looking,

What a sweet tradition to share with your baby! I spent many precious hours (many of them in the wee hours of the night) singing to my children and then, grandchildren, in turn. For most infants what you sing (and how well you sing) is not nearly as important as the sound of your voice and the bonding created when you communicate with them through music. For aficionados of Irish music or lullabies (like me) this is a good thing, since many Irish songs are tragic laments of loss and longing, with a fair amount of death and dismemberment thrown in. I know that one of my daughters-in-law looked a bit askew at me rocking her newborn son to sleep as I sang a slow, sweet melody wrapped around the graphic lyrics commemorating an Irish rebel’s violent death at the gallows in the 1700s.

Nevertheless, I am thrilled to share with you some of my favorite lullabies. The Stolen Child, is ensconced in our family legend for working its consoling magic on a colicky grandson who refused to sleep for much of the first six months of his life. This is a William Butler Yeats’ poem based on the Irish legend about faeries enticing children to leave this world to join them in the fairy realm. Fairy theft of children is a common motif in legends around the world and was a way for early cultures to explain the tragically high infant mortality rates prior to modern advances in medicine. (It served the added benefit of teaching children to stay close to home and not wander into the woods or forests---although, for many (myself included), I am sure it was the source of numerous unspecified night terrors.) The poem is one of Yeats’ most memorable early works and various artists have tried to capture its special magic by setting it to music. While the haunting lyrics may not be the most cheerful, the rhythm and music of the language touch a gentle chord in my heart

Other songs that have lulled generations of my family to sleep include the Skye Boat Song, a Scottish melody that is so compelling the words are nearly irrelevant; Down by the Salley Gardens, also a Yeats’ poem, but in this instance, Yeats put to poem an old Irish song he remembered fragments of from his youth; Wild Mountain Thyme, another ancient Scottish tune that instantly transports the listener to the Celtic countryside, and finally, the sweet classic, The Water is Wide, originating in the 1600s in England and continuing in popularity to this day.

Here's more on some of my favorite lullabies:

By William Butler Yeats, 1886
The Irish group The Waterboys set the poem to music and their rendition is a compelling compilation of music and spoken word. Loreena McKennitt also recorded a wonderful version.

words and music Sir Harold Boulton, 1884
Many, many wonderful recordings of this beautiful song are available---both with and without lyrics. My favorite is Phil Coulter’s lyricless recording, with a close second going to Moira Kerr’s Celtic Soul rendition (which does include the lyrics).

words and music by Francis McPeake
Although many have recorded this classic Scottish tune, my favorite is by the ever versatile and talented Cheiftans.

This classic song has been recorded innumerable times. Modern
renditions, include among others, versions by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez,
James Taylor, Eva Cassidy, Carol Noonan and a collaboration by Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, & the Indigo Girls. My favorite versions are by: James Taylor, Mae Robertson (who has a number of wonderful CDs of lovely lullabies) and Orla Fallon.

Readers do you have any favorite lullabies you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let me know!


Monday, June 4, 2007

Distressed grandmother seeks advice

Dear Nanny,

Perhaps with your many grandchildren, you can help me! My daughter and I are quite close, and when her first baby, my first grandchild arrived 8 months ago, I was ecstatic! I loved being with my granddaughter! I saw her almost daily: fed her, clothed her, bathed her, sang to her, and held her close. I even took her for a number of overnight visits. When my grandbaby was 6 months old, my sister, who lives out of state, became ill and I spent the next month caring for her as she recovered. When I returned, my granddaughter wanted nothing to do with me!! I am heart broken and don’t know what to do!

--Confused Granny

Dear Confused,

It certainly sounds as if you have had a challenging time! What a lucky family you have to be the recipient of so much of your tender love and care. As luck would have it, one of my grandbabies, when just a bit younger than your granddaughter, went on a trip with his parents to Ireland and I missed him sorely for the two weeks he was away. When he returned, he certainly was a bit reticent about staying with his Nanny. You see, babies normally form strong attachments to one or two adult caregivers. These attachments give them a feeling of safety. If they are separated from their attachment figures (such as a beloved parent or, in this instance, a granny), babies may actually experience psychological stress. A month long separation, which probably felt quite short to you while caring for your ailing sister, can feel like an eternity to a young child.

Give your granddaughter time to get used to having you back in her life. It may take a little while for her to trust that you won’t disappear again, but soon your granny-grandbaby bond will be as strong as ever!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to get grandmother not to smoke around baby?

Dear Nanny,

My mother-in-law is a darling woman and I feel so fortunate that my baby has such a caring, loving grandmother to dote on him. My problem is that my mother-in-law smokes and I hate to expose my little one to second hand smoke. Any suggestions?

--Anti-smoking mom

Dear Anti,

Good for you in recognizing what a special gift a grandmother’s love is for a child. May yours enjoy his grandmother’s love and care for many, many years to come! As to the smoking, a gentle comment that the pediatrician has advised you not to take the little one into an environment with smoking may elicit an offer by his doting grandmother not to smoke when her darling baby boy is around. If your gentle sharing of medical advice doesn’t do the trick, a sweetly worded request, wrapped in admiration for her many positive traits, may. After all, if your little one’s Nanny is as adoring as I am of all of my wonderful grandchildren, she most certainly does not want to endanger his little lungs! Just remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and a gentle approach is more likely to achieve your desired result.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How do I launder a hand knit baby sweater?

Dear Nanny,

My sister gave me a delightful Nannygram (the knit sweater) for my baby girl and I absolutely love it.
The only problem—the baby spit up and I am afraid it will stain!
What should I do?

--Emma’s Mom

Dear Emma’s Mom,

Not to worry. First, the yarn used in our Nannygram sweaters is completely washable. But as I have learned over the years, the primary rule in stain removal is stain prevention. So, try to rinse out the spit-up, dribble, baby spup, or what have you, as soon as it happens. If, however, that is impossible (for whatever reason: sleep deprivation, feeding crisis, crying jag----yes, these things happen when a new little one comes to town), the following has always worked for me. Take about a ¼ of a cup of Snowy Bleach (the flakes) and dissolve it in a basin of luke warm water. Submerge the sweater in the water. Gently rub the stain. Leave the sweater soaking for anywhere from 1 to 24 hours, depending on how set the stain is. I generally check it after about an hour and then leave it soaking, if needed.

Good luck with the stain removal and Emma!


p.s. Feel free to send in a photo of little Emma in her stain-free Nannygram! We’d love to add her to our photo gallery!