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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Halloween Season is Coming!

I've counted down to Halloween even before it was my anniversary and my child's birthday. It's just a fun holiday and I love the creativity of dressing up (and the candy, of course). This year will be especially fun -- sibling costumes! I'm pretty sure I hated it when my parents would dress my sister and I up in a theme, but too bad - its freaking adorable. I've got a few ideas pinned and they're all Disney themed since we'll be going down there in October and they celebrate Halloween all month long.

So far I'm thinking Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, Jake and Izzy (a la Jake and the Neverland Pirates), and/or Snow White and a dwarf or prince.

Charlie has been obsessed with Jake lately and I think he'd get a big kick out of dressing up. The trick is going to be finding time to put these things together before we go! Because of work August and September fly by, so I need to keep an eye on the clock and get working. Thankfully, I think I can pull them all off without buying patterns since for most of the pieces its either regular clothing of a specific color or pretty easy to figure out.

Who else is thinking of Halloween already? Or am I the only crazy person?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Rockin' & Rollin'

Someone figured out how to roll from back to belly...

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Baby, New Favorites

It's so funny how things change. I did a lot of research on baby gear when I was pregnant with C and while I found some really awesome baby gear, this time around we've traded in some brands for some new found loves. Most of these changes came down to cost. When C, we were a little more strapped for cash and I as looking for the least expensive quality item I could get my hands on and while none of these things are cheap or bad, I've definitely found that spending a little more yields some fabulous results.

Receiving blankets vs. aden + anais Swaddle Blanket

I thought people were absolutely out of their minds spending so much on a blanket. Then I got two on clearance and I totally get it. The typical cotton/flannel receiving blanket is definitely handy, but you can't really swaddle with them and they tend to fall apart after the 1,000th spit up and wash routine. The aden + anais cotton muslin blankets only get softer as time goes on and their size makes for easy swaddling. Ginny wasn't a big fan of swaddling, but regardless, this is already her lovey.

They are light enough to use during the summer as a blanket or car seat cover, you can fold it and lay it down for a diaper change or to play. It is soft enough to wipe boogies or spit up in a pinch and washes well and dries super fast. These are absolutely worth the money!

Swing vs. Mamaroo

For Charlie, we borrowed a Fisher Price popasan style swing from friends of ours. We didn't have the money to buy a $100+ swing, especially when we didn't even know if he'd like it. Turns out, he LOVED it. Problem was, it ran on batteries and its movement was on the jerky side. Once he got heavier, it slowed down to a crawl. It did its job and helped him sleep during his crazy colic phase, but I wish we'd known about the Mamaroo!

Yes, the 4moms MamaRoo isn't cheap, but there are alternatives to buying new - there's always consignment or borrowing it from a friend. I'm incredibly fortunate we were able to borrow this awesome piece of baby gear from my friend Mary (check out her Mommy blog at CherryBlossomLove!) who swore by its aforementioned awesomeness. Ginny absolutely loves this thing. She happily naps and plays in it daily. It has an adjustable incline, various speeds and motion settings, the movement is smooth and quiet, and it plugs in! No batteries! You can also plug in an iPod to play music, which is nice. Knowing what I know, I'd totally buy this thing if need be.

Munchkin drain rack vs. Boon Grass

Even though we are breastfeeding, there are still plenty of dishes to wash between bottles and pump parts. For Charlie, we got the Munchkin drain rack and while it did hold a lot, there was no drainage in the bottom so water pooled up. We have such hard water that the iron and other minerals would get gunky and stained the whole bottom red. Yuck. Even though the top prongs were clean, it just didn't look clean overall. We needed something new.

Boon makes two different sized drying racks - grass and lawn. Already being short on counter space, we chose the "Grass" size (9.5" x 9.5") and holy moly does it hold a ton!!

On this one rack is...

Two sets of pump parts (connectors and horns)
Two bottles (bottles, nipples, rings, and covers)
Eight Medela breastmilk bottles and covers
A Nosefrida
And a few medicine syringes

That's a lot of stuff! And it all dries quickly. If water pools in the bottom of the rack, you pull out the grass part and rinse the tray. Its fabulous.

Boppy Pillow vs. My Brest Friend Pillow

This one actually comes out to a tie - I love them both for different reasons. The Boppy is an old favorite - its soft, comfortable, and perfect for propping up my elbows while nursing in the glider. On the couch or in bed, however? Not so supportive. Its much flatter than the My Breast Friend pillow and make you hunch forward, especially with tiny babies. Extra points go to MBF for the back rest, which helps when you're nursing somewhere with little back support, and pouch for holding baby supplies.

I keep the MBF pillow in the living room to get great support while sitting on the couch and the Boppy in her nursery for the glider. Its a great combination.

Both companies make beautiful washable covers and have excellent customer service. One note about the MBF - they make cotton covers and "deluxe" minky covers. Spend the extra and get the deluxe one. Trust me! It is sooooo soft!

Cheapie baby monitor vs. AngelCare Baby Movement and Sound Monitor

When we purchased a cheap $15 baby monitor for Charlie, it wasn't for lack of caring - obviously. Our thinking was that we had a little apartment and would surely be able to hear him if he cried. No big deal, right? We hated the stupid thing. It was fuzzy, quiet, and when it ran on batteries, it would lose signal constantly. We ended up getting rid of it after a few months and leaving his door open so we could hear him; it wasn't worth all the static.

Thanks to several recommendations and a fantastic sale at Target, we chose the AngelCare movement and sound monitor for Ginny. We knew that with Charlie running around, we wouldn't be able to leave her bedroom door open for naps like we could with him. Our bedroom is also much smaller in our current apartment and we couldn't fit the pack and play next to my side of the bed like I did with Charlie, so Ginny would be in her room earlier.

We LOVE this monitor. LOVE IT. Did I say love? LOVE. Its crystal clear, easy to use, tells us the temperature in her room, and best of all - alarms if it doesn't sense movement in the crib after a few seconds. There is a motion sensor plate under the mattress that can sense even the tiniest baby breaths.

There is also a video option that we didn't opt to get, but it would have been pretty cool as well.

In addition to changing up some baby gear, I also completely redid our stash of cloth diapers, selling off our bumGenius diapers and  buying up several new brands, but that's a whole other post!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What I Learned

Life has this funny way of teaching you lessons that you don't think you need. When my Mom passed away suddenly, I was 15 and most certainly didn't need any lessons. As an adult, however, its easy to see just how valuable my experience has been in influencing who I've become - regardless of how painful it was at times.

You never know.
The obvious one - you never know when your time will come. If you died right now, how would you feel about your the day? The year? Your life? What is the lasting impression you left on those around you? Its hard to carpe the diem, but you just have to. Life is a magnificent blessing and frighteningly short.

Whoever said "time heals all" is a flippin' liar.
Its been 14 years and its not healed. Why would it be? A person is taken from your life, leaving a hole. It doesn't heal, but do you learn to live with it. It reminds you, saddens you, comforts you.

Take pictures with your kids.
My Mom was a great photographer and documented our entire childhood with boxes of 4x6's, but looking back, she wasn't in many of them. There are very few pictures of just me and my Mom and while I cherish every single one of them, I wish there were more. I know she was there, but now these are all I have. It doesn't matter if its not "a good picture." I don't want to deprive my kids of memories because I was wearing a shirt I didn't like or hadn't showered yet. Take pictures. They will thank you one day.