Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Infant Must Haves

As a follow up to my Newborn Must Haves, here are some must haves for that next stage in infant-dom!  Every stage we hit I am constantly researching or texting other moms for advice, so I wanted to put together what has worked for us to help others out, and so I remember for future kids!  Ha!

I know I post favorites on Instagram all the time, but here is a good go-to list, especially with Christmas around the corner!  Links are through Amazon because I am pretty sure we order something from Amazon every other day with our Prime membership!

See our favorite books here.

TOYS

Toys that are perfect for this stage are ones their little fingers can grab, lightweight, and usually fun for them to stick in their mouth! :)  Some easy to grab favorites are:

Sophie the GiraffeWinkelOBallNuby Teether (all seen below),


and OBall Football (still loves this thing).



Some of the attention-getting type toys we loved are Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, First Years Stacking Up Cups (he loved holding one in each hand and tapping them together), and Scout.

Of course, every baby loves a jumperoo, and this is the one we had.  My friend Lindsey calls them "the circle of neglect" but I prefer calling it Bradley's (former) favorite place to be! :)



USEFUL ITEMS FOR HOME/DAYCARE

We discovered Zutano Booties late, but for a future kid we will use these from day one!  Zutano booties are BY FAR the best booties/socks ever for babies.  They snap around the ankle so they are so easy to get on and off, and keep their toes so warm!  Anytime I posted an Instagram photo of Bradley wearing them I would get someone asking what booties they are.  We even got stopped at Disney by a mom asking about them! :)  And they now come in grippers so pretty sure I will be ordering some for Bradley as slippers since he is "walking".

Bradley didn't sleep in his crib really until around 4 months old, or once he grew out of the Bassinest.  Once we started in the crib, it wasn't awesome, but then I heard about these plush chamois sheets through my friend who designed them for Target!  Problem solved!  They are still safe, but are so soft to the touch and not cool like a normal sheet is.  We still use this sheet and I am sure will for a long time!


Once we stopped swaddling, we immediately went to Halo Wearable Blankets  (shown above) and haven't looked back!  Every few months we have to get the next size up, but it is SO imperative to not have extra blankets or soft things in cribs for safety, so these keep him just warm enough!

Once Bradley was reaching for his bottles, we started having him practice holding a sippy cup.  We probably have bought 15 different styles, but the one we have found works the best for us is ThinkBaby (thanks Julie!).  It still has the soft silicone spout that is necessary on their tender little teething gums!

Since we live in the frozen tundra (AKA Minnesota) staying warm is imperative!  But staying SAFE is even more imperative!  The 7AM Enfant Carseat Cocoon worked perfectly for us last winter while he was still in the infant car seat.  Never wear puffy coats or have any of these types of things UNDER the belts/straps - only OVER!  


And he was like this for a hot minute to snap this pic of his outfit to meet Santa - would never let him nap unbuckled like this!!  Just want to show how it unzips and opens.


Any tummy time mat will work, but we did love this Tiny Love one!  The little inner tube/pillow that he lays on was the perfect height to build up that neck and back strength.  And it has crinkly parts that he loved grabbing!


I didn't discover the Boppy Lounger until Bradley was in daycare (they had them) but man oh man, how did I survive maternity leave without it??  I tell every mom about this since I so wish I had it!  Basically it is just a nice squishy pillow for them to lay on, but so light and portable!  I could have actually had lunch or gone to the bathroom if I had this! :) 


I thought I was going to do a post on how we made our baby food, but of course never did.  We were obsessed with the Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kit (thanks for the rec, Nicole!).  It really is a glorified ice cube tray, but makes perfect one ounce cubes of baby food.  We would steam/cook whatever fresh/organic fruits and veggies we had on hand, blend in the NutriBullet, then freeze! We usually would feed him 3-4 cubes at a time.  We would try to plan ahead and have them defrost in the fridge the night before, but didn't always plan ahead.  You can either warm on the stove (which we did like twice) or microwave (we know not as safe, but what can you do when you are both working and need to feed your kid fast?).



Once I went to Thursdays off work (greatest thing ever!) I signed up for music classes to take with Bradley!  It was so fun to have extra bonding time through music and play.  I look ridiculous but we had so much fun in them!  I was super bummed that there wasn't a Fall class time that worked for us so I am praying Spring has one we can start up again!



So random, but we have to include Carters!  My coworker and I were discussing how much we love Carters and how comfy and adorable everything is.  And cheap!  If Bradley isn't wearing something from our second hand store, it is probably from Carters! :)


And the Nook Niche was STILL a must have for us basically until we stopped breast feeding at one!  Once he was sitting up it was a perfect safety net.


So emotional going through finding pics of Bradley with some of these items!  They grow so fast!!  I hope this list helps!  I know it will help me to refer back to someday with another kid!

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Holiday Photos

Since we started using Lindsey Koch Photography for our Christmas cards we have been so happy with the pictures!  Before 2012, I would just find random shots through the year and use a random Shutterfly template.  Nothing wrong with that, but I just felt like they could be cuter!  Lindsey solved that problem for us! :)  

We think Bradley will walk soon (however we have thought that for the past month...) which would be fun to get some pics of him running around!  So TBD on this year's pics.  Here are the past three years, all taken by Lindsey!

2012


2013 - see more here.



2014 - see more here.



Anyone have any fun Christmas card ideas? Tis the season!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How I Breastfed For A Year

I hate that there always has to be disclaimers with this subject, but this is NOT a "Breast Is Best"/put myself on a pedestal post.  I saw a post on Instagram that said something like, "Breast is great, FED is best!"  Love!  This is a legit, "Oh, breast feeding is working for you, too?  Great!  Here are some things that helped me stick with it" since I have received quite a few questions.  I was once that person who texted my friends asking for tips, too!  And this is just what worked for me.  Every body is different, situations are different, lifestyles are different, and I am not a health care expert, just tips from mom to mom.  AND FORMULA IS AMAZING AND JUST FINE, TOO!!!!  Every mom is amazing with whatever you choose!  Enough disclaimers?  Did I miss anything? :)  

I see ALL the time people posting on mom posts/blogs saying, "my supply is going away!  Help!" For me, when my supply would dip I could almost always turn it around in a few weeks with changes.  So here are some ways I made it to a year!

1.  Pump longer and more often!  I always wanted a miracle cure, miracle pill, miracle lactation cookie but there wasn't one for me.  The SIL always told me this advice - pump longer and more often.  Ugh!  It's like someone telling you to cut sugar to lose weight.  Not what you want to hear!  But it works.  I ended up setting a timer for every single time I pumped because I am someone who has zero patience and is always on the go, so I had to!  My "magic number" of times/amounts to pump was 5x a day on workdays (plus breastfeeding 2+ times a day), then on weekends only breastfeeding but pumping morning and night.  But remember, everyone's number is different (good article here).  And my timer was set for 15 minutes minimum each time.  Even when nothing is coming out, it is telling your body it needs to make more milk.  Also, that last nighttime pump to clean out the cans (haha) really helped my supply and was so necessary, and to get a little more milk for his bottles.  I never had a good freezer stash (maybe 15 bags at the peak?) so I was always a little nervous about having enough.

A typical workday looked like this:

5:45AM Breastfeed
6AM Pump
9AM Pump
12PM feed at daycare (or past 6 months old I would pump at work)
3:30PM Pump
6PM Breastfeed
8PM Breastfeed before bed
9PM Pump before bed

2.  Supportive workplace!  This is a tough one because it is something you can't control.  To have a supportive workplace is an absolute must!  I am so lucky that my boss was super pro breastfeeding and supported me in whatever I needed to do to maintain supply and do what I needed at work. I can't even imagine having a boss that would be passive aggressive or not understand how much it helps a mom to breast feed.  The pressures to stop are coming from every direction so to have SUPPORT from work is invaluable!!  Thank you boss! :)

3.  Change those parts!  One time I was certain that I was just done for and wouldn't be able to keep up and was THISCLOSE to throwing the towel in.  The SIL (always the SIL) said "when did you change your tubing  and membranes?"  Ummmm...never?  I changed these and literally within a few days had newly engorged boobs because it got SO much more out.  You have to remove all the milk for your body to produce more, so that was a miracle cure for me!  From then on, I kept an extra set in the bag at all times so I wouldn't have to wait for shipping or find in a store when it was too late. Next time I might change the membranes every few weeks even!  They are so cheap and control the suction, so it can't hurt!

4.  Supportive hubs!  This one goes without saying, if your partner isn't on board with breastfeeding, you are screwed!  Ha!  Not screwed, but your uphill battle will definitely be steeper!  Nate was always so pro-breast milk for the benefits but also because it is free and formula is pricey!  I told him since I made it to a year and we never had to buy formula I want a prize for all the money we saved. :)  Still waiting...haha!

Since I was spending over an hour a day pumping and more than that breastfeeding, Nate's duty was to always wash and sanitize the bottles and parts.  We are dumb, and only had one set of Bradley's daycare bottles, so for kid #2 we will for sure get a second set.  But Nate never complained and only missed doing it a few times (and would hear about it in the morning from me!  Yikes!).  Such a good hubs!

5.  Get the Goods!  Like anything in life, buying some crap will help you.  :)  The Simple Wishes bra is a beyond must for any working/pumping mom!  You need to be hands free so you can catch up on your social media feeds! :)  Since we washed and sanitized every day, the Medela Micro Steam bags were imperative (for Nate more than me since he was washing them!).  And like I mentioned above, extra parts to replace really do help get more out!


6.  Breast feed when possible!  This also is something that most people can't control, but it was AMAZING to have Bradley's daycare close to my work, so from about 12 weeks to 6 months old I went every day over lunch to feed him at the daycare.  There is for sure something scientific with your cans (I am so unprofessional) getting cleaned out by a baby's amazing suction versus a machine.  Once he was more mobile, it was much harder to get him to breastfeed when it was convenient for me, so extra pumping would happen on those times.  But when possible, have your baby go straight to the source!

When Bradley lost some of the interest in breastfeeding as he got a little older and we were at home without Nate, I would have to get his lunch/snack/dinner/toys ready and strap him in the high chair with multiple options and pump right next to him.  I would usually be sweating by the end of each of these times because he wouldn't want to sit still through the full timer and I would be on full entertainment mode.  Again, where the hands free bra is a must!

Hopefully one of these tips will help if you are needing some tips as well!  When in doubt, meet with a lactation consultant!  And as long as your baby is getting fed with something, you are doing just fine. :)

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Bradley's Favorite Books!

Some of our favorite presents to give and receive are books!  Every day we read Bradley probably ten or more books!  On week nights after his bath, we sit and just read until he looks tired enough for bed.  With the holidays coming up, I wanted to put together a list since I have received some questions on Instagram and here for suggestions.  He has SO many favorites, but here are just a few!

Lindsey Koch Photography
Little Blue Truck was one of Bradley's first books!  My sweet neighbor Andrea brought it over when Bradley was born, and it is such a favorite!  We read it so much that we know it by heart, and if Bradley is squirrely in the car I will start reciting it and it makes him smile. :)

We have been reading Bradley Pajama Time every night, probably since he was a few weeks old!  And by read, I mean sing. :)  We received this book as a gift from Kristin at my first baby shower and it is such a special book to us!  Clearly Bradley loves it, too!


Another Sandra Boynton book we love to sing to him is Snuggle Puppy.  I like hearing Nate sing. :)

My SIL suggested the Bizzy Bear books when Bradley was super little for good baby books as well.  He LOVES Bizzy Bear and now tries to slide the pages himself!  These pics are when he brought it to daycare for "bring your favorite book" day. :)


Another board book that Bradely gets excited when we start reading is Pout Pout Fish.  Nate makes good "Blub blub bluuuuub!" noises at Bradley and makes him giggle.  Too cute!

Some sweet classics that help Bradley wind down are You Are My I Love You and Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.  Such sweet books that speak from the heart about love!


An Instagram suggestion we received was I Love You Through and Through and it is one of my personal favorites!  It talks about loving "top side, bottom side, fingers, toes" and everything it says we tickle, and Bradley loves!

Since flap books are so fun for Bradley at this age, Dear Zoo and Where is Baby's Belly Button? are must haves! Our neighbors hosted a book shower for three of us who were all pregnant at the same time and everyone brought a book as a gift!  So sweet!  That is how we received Dear Zoo.  It is so cute to see him work on getting the flaps open and how excited he gets once he gets it!


Eric Carle books are so popular for kids, and our personal favorite is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  Bradley loves flipping the pages for us. 

Me and You, Peekaboo is a cute book with basically life size baby faces going "Peekaboo!"  Bradley's new thing is kissing all of the babies when he flips the page! :)  Cracks us up!


We are always on the hunt for new books!  What are some of your kids favorites?

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Spooky Time!

Our house is finally ready for Halloween!  My project this weekend was to get the front door in order.  My favorite mermaid helped me out!


Bradley has been rocking the Halloween apparel and read books with Dad while I decorated the door. :)


My nails have gotten spookier, too! :)


But back to the door.  I love hanging this wreath every year.  It is still one of my favorites!  


I stored the garland with the deco mesh still connected from last year so it was a breeze getting this all set up!  I just had to tie in the pumpkin lights, pumpkin buckets, and fluff mesh.


We are ready for trick or treaters!


The inside also has the usual touches here and there. 



This table runner is still one of my favorite Halloween pieces. It is just too perfect!


We have some mini pumpkins on the mantle to add some color.


Bradley found this witch hat in the Halloween bucket! :)  Funny little man!


You probably already saw on Instagram, but the newest addition to our Halloween decor is the Starbucks Halloween house I got through a Facebook swap and shop!  Such a great find!


It definitely ups my spooky Halloween game!


And don't you fret, I have definitely been thinking about Christmas! :)  Finally got my paws on this little friend.  Yesssssss!!


Hope everyone has been feeling as festive as us! 

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Orchard Love

We love Fall weekends!  This past weekend we hit up Minnesota Harvest and Peter's Pumpkins/Carmen's Corn.  We just love going to orchards and pumpkin patches!!  And we have had the most amazing Fall weather!


Bradley was so excited that his Auntie Amy joined us!



He wasn't a very big fan of the tractor ride so that lasted all of 2 minutes...


We let him crawl around on the ground to see what he would do...


He went straight for the dirt!  Typical boy. :) 


So in went the paci! :)


Heart bursting!


Picking apples with Dad.



He went right for it!



Wheeeeeee!!


So happy!



Checking out the animals!



We have never been to Peter's Pumpkins and Carmen's Corn but we will probably still go back this Fall!  It is smaller but free to go to, see all the pumpkins, ride a hayride, and get amazing produce!  We bought a ton of veggies and I am totally craving more!




This kid loves pumpkins!



Making funny faces!


Hope everyone is having an amazing Fall!

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