Baby Stuff You Need

7.17.2020


I really don't feel like talking about The Virus, and I have several friends who are pregnant right now, so let's talk about cute babies and some things you need for babies. Truthfully, you actually don't need a ton of stuff. But you do need some essentials and basics.

Probably none of these things are new, but several are new to me and so useful with F! Others are oldies that I've used and loved now with all three kiddos.

>> As always, I am using affiliate links where applicable because believe it or not these posts do take some time to put together, so yes, I'm that person right now. Clicking costs you nothing and gets me like ten cents ;) I'm thisclose to quitting my day job, wouldn't you know it.

Okay, in no particular order...

Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump - Definitely one of the greatest inventions for nursing/pumping moms everywhere. I have over 550 ounces of milk in our freezer, and most of it came from using this during the day. It also came in super handy when I had a work conference over zoom that took up the entire day. I may or may not have used it while running a virtual editorial meeting.

Breastfeeding Bar - I don't know if these have actually increase my milk supply, but they are yummy! I like the blueberry coconut flavor (and I don't even like coconut usually). A friend sent me some, and when I ran out I bought 2 more boxes for myself.

Baby Bum Brush - A friend gifted this to us when J was born, and it's been so handy. Diaper rash cream is so annoying to try and wash off your fingers, and this makes applying cream so easy. I love that there is also a travel size that I can carry in the diaper bag.

Oball Rattle - We've used this ball for all 3 kids now, and it's one of F's current favorites. I don't know why, but they have all loved it.

Infant Activity Toy - A friend gifted this to F, and it is his absolute favorite toy. He gets so crazy excited and loves chewing on it and holding it.

Sensory Crinkle Toy with Squeaker - I clipped this to F's carseat strap, and he loves playing with it. I think he likes that it makes that crinkly sound, and I like that it squeaks when you press the middle!

Compact Infant Bath - My friend was getting rid of some baby stuff and gave me this for F. It's been amazing! I'm so sad I didn't use something like this with the other kids. He's 5 months and will outgrow soon, and I'm sad because I've used this for the majority of his baths. It's foldable, dries quickly, and has been perfect for baths in the sink!

Baby Bath Seat - When he's taken a bath in the actual bathtub, we use this seat, which we got for R and have used for all 3 kids. Super basic, but it's been great, and I'd say we've gotten our money's worth considering it's really cheap to begin with.

Copper Pearl Burp Cloths - I've shared about my love for Copper Pearl fabric bibs on the blog before, but I'd never tried their burp cloths until we got some from a friend for F. LOVE. They are large and thick and my favorite burp cloths to use.

Copper Pearl Blanket - That same friend also bought us this blanket, and oh. my. word. It's stretchy and thick and super soft. This would make a fantastic baby shower gift or a splurge gift for yourself. Seriously this is my favorite blanket!

Cradle Cap System - Buy this! For your own baby, for a friend's baby. Everyone needs one. All of our kids have had cradle cap issues (are there babies that don't? Maybe this is not a thing everyone deals with), and I distinctly remember going to church with R and a friend telling us she had cradle cap, and Jordan and I being like, "what's cradle cap?" We thought her head was just scabbing from using the vacuum to get her out, but actually she had really bad cradle cap! J had it too, and finally with F I actually looked up what I could get to help and bought this scrub brush. It totally works and I'm going to recommend it to everyone forever. Don't be like us.

Love to Dream Swaddle - The. best. swaddle. Basically a sleep sack really. All babies are different, but F LOVES this. He's slept in it every night since he was a tiny baby. I randomly bought two of these off a buy/sell/trade page months before he was born, never thinking it would be so great for our little guy. I wish I had used this for the other two! He was in a size small for a while, is currently in a medium, and I'm about to buy the size large so he can transition to having his arms out. Get this!

Baby Memory Book - I've used a different baby book method with each kid, and this is the one I bought to use with F. It's definitely my favorite. Super simple, classic designs and not a lot of frill. They have a girl, boy, and a gender neutral. The online description says it's "LGBTQ friendly," which just means that it doesn't specifically refer to mom or dad anywhere. Only mentioning that because I sent this link to a friend and she texted back and was like, um, what does that mean? So that's what it means.

Baby Rocker - Everyone is going to have a different opinion about baby seats, loungers, rockers, etc. We've used this same rocker for all three kids, and honestly, it's not the cutest design ever, but it's been fantastic. It's easy to carry around the house, and it can rock back and forth or stay still depending on if you have the back legs down. The toy rack comes off (actually we haven't found it for F yet; it's somewhere in the attic). Personally, we have never used a big swing thing or activity seat. I feel like we wouldn't have used them enough to justify the cost or the space. A rocker like this can be used for a long time (R and J like to sit in it and pretend to be babies lol!), and it can be easily moved around.

We do have a MamaRoo, but only because I got one for free for a sponsored blog post several years ago. It is a really neat seat, but for the price I think there are other seats that serve essentially the same function for much cheaper.

Boppy Pillow - I would guess in the last 5 years since I had R they've come out with a new version of the original boppy pillow, but I've used mine for three babies and find it super useful. As F gets older, I don't use it every single time I nurse, but it is really helpful at the beginning, and I just personally like using it.

Sound Machine - We are DUMB. This is baby #3 and the first time we've used a sound machine. Wut. Yes, dumb. And actually, we've never even used this for F yet... it's in the room where R and J sleep. But anyway, this is the sound machine we registered for and got from a friend, and I recommend it. Pro tip: get your kids used to the "rain" setting, and then when it actually rains outside they aren't phased and wake up in the night because it just sounds like their sound machine.

Sound Monitor - You can get a fancy video monitor with extra cameras and all that jazz. But, if you just want a simple sound monitor, no frills or fancy gadgets, this is what we've been using since 2015. We've never used a video monitor, if you can believe it!
___

I'm sure there are lots of other things I could link to, but those are what came to mind. Babies are fun! Baby stuff, however, can be overwhelming (okay, babies can be overwhelming, who am I kidding); but like I mentioned above, you really don't need a ton of stuff. Hopefully this list is useful to get you started, and if there's something I missed that you love, feel free to leave a comment!

Wherein I Detail Our Exciting Lives

6.28.2020


*this post contains affiliate links. I get like 5 cents if you click, which adds up to one and a half chai tea lattes after approximately two years because I never blog anymore. 

**blogger updated their interface, and I'm old and don't like new things, so if the post formatting is funky it's because I don't know what I'm doing.

In my 10 years of blogging (yes, 10!), I have never skipped an entire month of posting. But, here we are. I can't quit the blog, but I also can't write on the blog either, apparently. I blame F for not going to sleep until 10:00 every night. It's currently 9:32, and I can hear him grunting over the monitor.

I know some people can blog from their phone with one hand while holding a baby in the other, but I'm not one of them. My iPhone FIVE from 2015 can't handle the sophistication of the mobile blogger template. I have five apps, 600 photos, and am 110% out of storage. The other day I had to delete one of my apps so I could reinstall Venmo to transfer some money. These are the days I'll look back on and say to myself, "Self, just get a new phone already."

Has anyone else had enough of 2020 already? GOOD TIMES. Just, wow. So many thoughts about all the things.

I bought the kids a few new books to diversify our library and include more images of children of color. If you're on Instagram and interested, I saved an entire highlight with some awesome suggestions. I started with this book and this book, and I recommend both! We also already had and love this book and this book, which feature a Black girl as the main character.

On a related note, I recently discovered a podcast called First-Name Basis, which has some really interesting episodes on race. I enjoyed this episode, talking about how to know whether to say "Black" or "African American." This is something I've wondered before!

For the past several months, our class at church has been going through a series on apologetics, and we've talked specifically about creation recently. Last week our teacher shared two videos with us, which go into detail about how we all came from Adam and Eve, why people have different skin colors, and what the term "race" really means. They are super interesting! The videos are on YouTube here and here.

In other news, F was dedicated at church over Father's Day weekend! I know things are opening back up at different rates depending on where you live. Our church has been meeting in person for a little bit now (rows taped off for social distancing, no passing an offering plate, etc), but we haven't felt comfortable going, so we are watching via a streaming service online. However, they had their normal baby dedication Father's Day weekend, so we got dressed up and went to church in person for the first time since the middle of February. R was SO excited, and it did feel great to be back in the worship center again. Watching church online is not the same. 

That same week, J turned 3, and it's like he grew into an independent boy overnight. He wants to do everything himself, is totally potty trained (still wears pull-ups at night), and talks up.a.storm. He's very into cars and trains and loves to sit and line them up over and over again.

We continue to get one Home Chef delivery box a month, and I've said it before, but if you are interested in trying out a meal subscription service, I highly recommend Home Chef over Hello Fresh. Here's my referral link if you want to try it for yourself. I'm only saying that again because  I see so many Hello Fresh ads, and none for Home Chef, but Home Chef is so much better. I'm just trying to do my part to get the word out ;) 

F is doing really well, and overall I still find transitioning from 2 kids to 3 not insanely difficult. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a mad house over here, but I'm not sobbing in a closet stress-eating chocolate like I was led to think I might be. Thank goodness! I think dealing with the Rona is overshadowing most everything else that might otherwise be stressful. I'm beyond thankful that I had F right before all of this really got going in the United States.

My office is open, but I'm still working at home for a bit. I go into the office a few times a week to check in, and I made sure to take an office bathroom selfie since I've done that with each of my kids! The lighting in there make him look like a bald alien baby lol.

We think he might have a slight dairy intolerance... he gets bad eczema flare-ups, and when I stopped drinking milk for a few days it got much better. Then I had milk with my cereal one morning and it got bad again. I'm still eating cheese and eggs and ice cream (you'll have to pry that from my cold, dead hands), but just cutting out milk seems to help. I had this issue with R, and I drank almond milk but didn't love it. I recently bought Oatly milk when I was at Sprouts, and it's kinda weird but I like it better than almond milk, so that's what I'll eat my Special K with for now.

Every time I blog, I think I can't get any more boring, and then I surprise myself by writing an entire paragraph about milk.

So anyway, we got out and went to the zoo last weekend. You have to make a reservation in advance so they can make sure there aren't too many people going in at once. These are such strange times. And it's almost July! Weirdest year to have a new baby ever.

Back to the zoo. The kids loved being somewhere other than our house, and Jordan rocked 3-kid dad life.

There's a lot going on in our home and in the world right now. We are all doing the best we can. Sometimes things seem okay, and sometimes I'm crying for no apparent reason at all. But we are thankful for birthdays and fresh air, for family and our faith, which gives us the greatest peace even in uncertain times. I hope you all are doing well! If you check out any of the links I posted above, let me know! I'd love to hear what you think.

I'll leave you with a picture of the cake I made J for his birthday. Funfetti box mix with a star cut out of the top layer and filled in with sprinkles. Currently submitting my resume for pastry chef jobs ;)

currently: may 2020

5.24.2020


making: I made a batch of lactation cookies last night, which is really just my excuse to eat five cookies a day while tricking myself into thinking they are "healthy" and "good for me" because they have Brewer's Yeast, some ground flaxseed, and coconut oil. But also sugar and chocolate chips soooooo yeah. Just let me live in denial. thankyoubye.

missing: kind of everything, but mostly I miss casually hanging out with friends and family.
*we went strawberry picking at a local farm at the beginning of May! it's one of my favorite spring things to do. This was our third year to go!

learning: all about gardening! I know in my last post I scoffed at people who have time and brain space to pick up new hobbies right now, but after a year of talking about it, we finally put in a raised bed in our backyard a few weeks ago, and we have plants! This is huge for me. I've killed every green thing I've ever had, including two succulents, which I'm pretty sure can survive boiling under the desert sun. Looking back on it now, I'm pretty sure I watered them too much. Anyway. We planted green beans, zucchini, and okra, and even though plants have been growing out of the earth since the beginning of time, Jordan and I can't even handle how cool it is to watch. PHOTOSYNTHESIS. aka magic.

*we stopped at a wildflower field to take a few pictures. I want to take R here and take some 5yo pics of her, so hopefully we can sneak away soon and do that.

loving: besides our garden? I'm 100% loving having a baby around. Granted, would I choose to have a newborn during a global pandemic and quarantine? No. But this guy is bringing me so much joy and so many snuggles, and I don't hate it. I was really nervous about the transition from 2 to 3, since I've heard it can be rough, but honestly I still think going from 0 to 1 has been the hardest for us.
*we went to a local nature park one Saturday morning for a hike! It was so so nice to get out in nature for a bit. The kids had a great time.

watching: I wish I could talk about what I've been reading, buuuuut, I haven't been reading anything. So I'll talk about shows! Jordan and I are watching the ESPN documentary series about the 90's Chicago Bulls team called "The Last Dance." It's so good and like a blast from the past to watch. I remember watching those games! So fun.

I also just re-watched Back to the Future 1, 2, and 3 on Netflix. It's hilarious to see what they thought the year 2015 would be like. Hover boards and flying cars and jackets that automatically adjust to your size. Oh, and apparently in the future, everyone wears their pants inside out. LOL. I'm rewatching "The Office" as I listen to The Office Ladies podcast. Don't judge me. F goes to sleep super late despite my best attempts, and I end up just sitting in the recliner nursing and watching TV every night. Scrambling my already scrambled brains ;) 

what have you been up to currently? I hope you are doing well! Thanks as always for reading!
*we love making pizza! Flat breads from Aldi, Italian chicken sausage, turkey pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and pasta sauce. The kids get their own bread and bowls to make their own, and they love doing that!

i didn't mean to talk so much about clothes

5.07.2020


My last blog post was April 16, and guess what happened on April 17? I'll tell you because you'll never guess. My maternity leave ended and I'm back at work full time! Of course by back at work, I mean working at home by myself with three kids. Yay! IT'S SO FUN AND NOT AT ALL STRESSFUL.

See also: I'm actually feeling really stressed out.
I might be dying.

If one more person posts on social media about their quilt sewing or their bread making or their painting projects or asks what everyone's "quarantine goals" are, I'm going to freak out. I literally have one goal every day and that is to survive with everyone fed and alive and my sink only partially full with dishes.

I'm doing okay and not doing okay. Weirdly both are happening at the same time. I'm deeply grateful for this extra time with my kids and also wish I could lock myself in a closet as soon as I wake up. R started this thing where she pokes you on the nose while hugging you so hard you're choking, and it makes me feel like I might be actually going insane. I want everyone to stop touching me forever.

F is eleven weeks okay, and I'm sorry to say, it feels like eleven weeks. I don't remember him not being here. He's a dream baby and the actual sweetest thing. He cries only when he really needs something, wakes up just a few times at night, eats well, and gives the best tiny baby smiles. He's the only one allowed in the closet with me.

I make a scrapbook of the first 12 weeks for each kid, and poor F will have nothing in it. We've done nothing. Gone nowhere but the park to throw rocks in the pond. Seen next to no one except grandma. But I will say, I've had a ton of fun dressing him even if no one sees him but me. I didn't discover small shops and buy/sell/trade groups until a few years ago, and F is getting the full wardrobe exploration of my second-hand shopping addiction.

Speaking of clothes, recently I moved all of R's clothes where she can reach everything herself. Her shirts are in a dresser drawer, her pants are in a bin under her bed, and her dresses are on a lower rack in the closet. I haven't been saying a single thing about what she wears except "go get dressed," and I love seeing what she comes out wearing. She really has great taste and puts together such cute outfits! The only problem is that now she changes 85 times a day.

J is oddly picky about clothes, and although he's not fully able to get dressed all by himself, he does pick out his shirt, pants, and underwear and gets feisty when I choose for him.

I didn't start this post thinking I'd write so much about my children's clothes, but this is where we're at. I'm judging myself that I haven't blogged in 3 weeks and this is all I have to talk about. But think about THIS: F was born February 18. The few weeks before that we didn't go anywhere because I was super pregnant and uncomfortable and didn't want to do anything but sit on my couch. Then F came and we didn't go anywhere because I was recovering from having a baby + it was cold/flu season and we didn't want to get out too much with a newborn. THEN, just as I was feeling like, hey, I want to see people! everything shut down and no one was allowed to go anywhere. I've basically been quarantined over a month longer than the general population. I love my house but also hate my house right now.

I guess I'll go now... I'm rambling and saying pretty much nothing. But I wanted to check in. I'm alive! We are healthy and thankful to have jobs and a home. My kids have cute clothes, and I never take off my pajamas. I started running again! Unrelated but exciting,

We might not be thriving, but we are doing our best. I'm clinging to God's grace each day.

Just don't ask me if I have any goals. Because I absolutely totally do not.

Easter 2020

4.16.2020


Hello! How was your Easter? It was super weird and a super bummer to not be able to dress up and go to church and have a meal with extended family. F just turned 8 weeks old, and I'm still not on top of anything in life, so I didn't plan an Easter meal at home or buy anyone special outfits. I don't do Easter baskets (not because I'm against them but just because I didn't grow up receiving them so it's not on my radar), but I didn't want to be a total lame-o mom, so the last time I was at Walmart (also only the second time I've been to the store in a month) I picked up a paper tablecloth with eggs and flowers on it that the kids colored while we ate sausage biscuits from McDonald's for breakfast. #fancy We ate leftovers from earlier in the week for lunch, and then we tried to get Chinese takeout for dinner but they were closed, so we ate leftovers again. Our Easter food was basically a giant fail. I blame you, virus!

For the first time in my life I bought plastic eggs and filled them with candy and hid them! Usually I leave that to the grandparents, but I figured Quarantine Amanda needed to step up. We of course don't want the focus of Easter to be candy and egg hunts, but it is fun and something I enjoyed as a kid and want my kids to enjoy also! On Friday we talked about how it was Good Friday and what that meant, and then R woke up the next morning and said, "It's Great Saturday!" That gave me a good chuckle.

After our zoom call with our Sunday school class and after watching our church service live stream, we drove to my in-laws' house to hunt eggs. They live less than a mile from us and have a big backyard, so we drove over there and let the kids run around and hunt eggs. My in-laws wore masks and stayed on the porch, and it was nice to be "together" for a bit, as it were.  It's interesting to me that it's getting more normal to not really hang out with anyone. Like, it's still really weird and sad, but every day it's not quite to strange that we just don't see people. Does anyone else feel like that?

I had every intention of getting everyone dressed up and taking (or attempting to take) a nice Easter picture like I saw so many people post on social media, but in the end we stayed in our rain boots and t-shirts, and I don't hate it. Look at us with three kids. Three!

Adding a child to our family has been difficult each time for different reasons, but I still think going from 0 to 1 kid was the hardest. We knew nothing about anything, and everything was so overwhelming, plus you're just not used to getting so little sleep. I also am pretty certain I had undiagnosed postpartum anxiety. 

I feel much more relaxed as far as F goes, and I'm not dealing with huge sleep withdrawals because I'm used to the kids waking up during the night; also I slept horribly for the last few months of my pregnancy. So it's a blessing to have the perspective that comes from multiple children that it really is all a phase and that not everything is a Huge Deal that I need to freak out about. 

That said, having three kids has been insane, and having a newborn during this pandemic has been incredibly difficult. I am not a stay-at-home mom. I've always had a full-time job, and I'm not used to spending all day every day at home with any amount of kids, no less a newborn and two very high-energy toddlers. (One of whom is insisting on potty training! He peed inside a Lego the other day. What is life.) 

I'm grateful to have this time with them, and I've learned a lot about them from being around them so much. (Maybe a post for another time!) But it's also been lonely to not be able to get together with friends or go to the zoo or even the playground. This is just not how I pictured my maternity leave going. But! We are all healthy and together, and that's what matters. And we are thankful that construction hasn't been shut down and that Jordan still has a job he can go to every day. 

Easter was (as always) a wonderful reminder of the hope we have in Christ and how thankful we are for his peace in these anxious times. I hope you had a good one, whatever that looked like for you!

Link Love!

4.06.2020


Who is tired of being told to live your best quarantine life? Social media is annoying me right now. I do not have the brain space or energy to TEACH MY KIDS ALL THE THINGS or LEARN A NEW HOBBY. I truly have zero goals except to survive each day with everyone alive. Not because I worry about The Virus as much as I worry about one of my children accidentally on purpose stabbing the other one with a colored pencil. Oh wait, that happened yesterday. It's fine.

I assure you that I will not come out of this having learned a new skill, unless Circus Lion Tamer is a new skill... the circus being my living room and the lions being my children. That was probably obvious.

To say I'm feeling panicky about the fact that my maternity leave is ending in two weeks, and I will have to work from home full time with a 4yo, 2yo and 8-week-old is an enormous understatement. I cry daily, but we will never know how much of that is pandemic related and how much is postpartum hormones. All I know is that I have feeeeelings that change by the hour, and I'm hiding pints of ice cream in my freezer underneath bags of frozen peas. That's a true story.

I've started dreaming insane scenarios about all of this. Last night I dreamt that Jordan and I took a European vacation and then flew home on our international flight and DID NOT WASH OUR HANDS and then came home and touched everything. Two nights ago I dreamt that there was a tornado, and I was with my kids and a bunch of strangers in a glass house. Once the tornado passed we came out and there were spiders everywhere. It's possible I'm a tad stressed out!

So let's move on to happier thoughts. I've been keeping a running list of things I've been loving lately, and since it's 4 in the morning and I am pumping and have nothing better to do like sleep, I decided to share them! What have you been loving lately? Please share! I need more positive things to think about.

As always, there are some affiliate links. I get a few cents, which is a fun surprise when it finally adds up to $25 after a year and I can deposit it into our account and buy a box of diapers ;)

FOOD

Home Chef - If you've never tried a meal service, now is the perfect time! It's food delivered to your door, contact free! ;) Jordan and I got one box a month from Hello Fresh for a year before they annoyed me with a customer service issue and we switched to Home Chef. It's SO much better. The meals actually take the amount of time to cook that the recipe says and it always look just like the picture on the card. You can get $35 off using this link

Daily Harvest - Similar to a meal delivery, this is a smoothie delivery! They also have overnight oats and protein bowls. Everything comes frozen, so you keep it all in the freezer and cook or blend as needed. I learned about it from a podcast and have gotten one box so far, but I want to get more. My tip would be to pour the cup into the blender and then add liquid. They say you can add liquid to the cup first, but in my experience it turns into an ice block and isn't as easy to blend. I love the fruit flavors, but they have a variety to choose from. Use this code for $25 off your first box. Cancel any time!

Fruit Leather Snacks - I bought these for our snack bin as a healthy alternative to fruit snacks. The kids and I both like them!

Mini Fruit Bars - Another recent addition to our snack bin. Nothing at all wrong with Goldfish, but I'm just trying to branch out ;)

Mini Larabar - Same as above! R in particular loves these.

Pinch of Yum 3-Ingredient Pancakes - I made these recently and actually liked them! The kids ate theirs also and said it was good. Super easy to make and truly used only three ingredients. 


KID/BABY STUFF

Baby Bum Silicone Brush - If you don't have one of these you need to rethink life. Diaper rash cream is impossible to wash off your hands, and this is a genius invention. We used it with J and now with F. They even make travel size.

Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump (amazon) / (target) - The best thing to happen to nursing mothers. I use this multiple times a day and have filled three gallon-sized freezer bags with milk so far!

LuLu + Roo Clothing - This is one of my favorite small shops. The clothes are so adorable, and they have great resale value if you're into that kind of thing. Just sharing because I know some people are wanting to support small businesses right now! Yes, it's insane to spend that much money on a sweatshirt for a newborn. And yes, no one sees him but me. It brings me joy! Let me live my life. You can also find this brand for cheaper secondhand from places like Kidizen and Mercari (links below). That's honestly where I buy most of the kids' clothes... there or the thrift store. It evens out!

Baby Book - This is the baby book I'm using for F, and I love it. It's super cute with a minimalistic design, which for me just means there isn't a lot of weird fluff. Just stats and open pages for journaling or photos. I looked at a lot of different books, and this is exactly what I was wanting. There is a girl version and a unisex version.

Kidizen - Most stores are closed right now, but kids are still growing! If you need clothes, shoes, or toys for you or your kids, consider shopping on Kidizen! You can find new or used items for cheaper than a retail store, and you're supporting the mamas who are selling them. Get $5 off your first purchase.

Mercari - This is another buying and selling platform I use. I've found great deals on pajamas, rain boots, holiday outfits, and R's twirly dresses. I recently bought the kids a brand-new Magnatiles set for cheaper than was listed on Amazon. Plus you have the added bonus of fast shipping! Get a $10 coupon for signing up.

Giant Foam Swords - It's rude that Amazon is not considering these an essential item. Someone is going to lose an eye with a colored pencil if we don't get these ASAP.

iSpy Books (amazon) / (target) - R loves iSpy books! I bought her a new one before F came because I knew she would need something to do while I was spending more time with the baby.

Puracy Baby Shampoo/Body Wash - I don't consider myself super intense about "clean" household products, but I do try to keep it in mind when I'm shopping. I think all the information out there can be overwhelming, but I like the idea of working on one area at a time and seeing where we can make healthier choices. I recently learned about Puracy cleaning products, and we've been using their dishwasher pods (linked below), but I also got their baby shampoo/wash and wanted to share in case anyone was looking for a clean option for sensitive baby skin. That link is for Amazon, but you can also see if it's available on their website, though note that it takes at least a week or more to ship right now.

Yummy Toddler Food Instagram Account - This is one of my favorite IG accounts right now. She offers suggestions for feeding hungry toddlers, and they actually seem like things I could do in real life!

Swaddle - We aren't huge swaddle people... R and J were never swaddled at home. But F seems to enjoy being swaddled, and he really loves this type of swaddle where he can still have his hands up near his face. In his ultrasound photo his sweet hands are up near his head, and I think that's how he feels most comfortable sleeping, so this swaddle has been great!

Kinetic Sand - My sister got the kids this for Christmas, and I put in the garage unopened to save for a rainy day. If being quarantined for 800 days is not a rainy day, I don't know what is. I pulled it out last week, and I am absolutely not lying when I say that both my kids played quietly with this for over an hour. That has happened with a toy approximately zero times. F was napping, the kids were playing nicely, and I didn't even know what to do with myself. They play with it during quiet time every day and I'm convinced this is the greatest invention known to toddlerhood.


OTHER

Puracy Dishwasher Pods - Another cleaner option I've tried lately. We are almost finished with our first bag of 50 pods, and I just ordered a second bag. Our dishes come out clean, and there is no smell. We still have a bag with some Cascade pods, and when I opened it recently I could barely handle the strong chemical smell of it.

Maxi Dress - This is not a maternity dress, but it's what I wore for my sister's bridal shower. It could work for maternity or not! It's stretchy and soft with pockets. There are a variety of colors, and for the price I was very pleased. If we ever escape from quarantine I'll be wearing this again!

Fresh 48 Outfit - I looked all over for ideas for what to wear during our Fresh 48 photos at the hospital. I looked at robes and pj sets and tunics, and at the last minute I ended up buying this pajama set from Target. It was super comfy, especially considering I was very newly postpartum, and I felt like it photographed well. I'm extremely thankful we are able to take photos after F was born! I'm so sad for people delivering babies right now who are not able to have any visitors. 

Rotating Extension Cord - Okay this is random, but did you know there's such a thing as an extension cord with a rotating base???? I had a weird situation where I needed something in one spot, but the cord wasn't long enough to reach, and this rotating cord saved the day. I didn't even know this was a thing.

HOBBY

Smallwoods Wooden Frames - I see ads for Smallwoods all over the place, and I finally ordered a few several months ago. I LOVE them. I have one for R and J and need to order another for baby F. I also got one of our maternity photos for the nursery. Definitely check them out!

Persnickety Prints - I highly recommend this online print shop! Great quality, fast shipping, and I love the quality. Support a small shop during this time and order prints here! They have a variety of sizes, books, and even some special quarantine journaling cards and books.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles - I am loving this book so much. It's not super practical, but it's given me much needed perspective about parenting my kids in light of the gospel, offering grace, and dealing with heart issues instead of just discipline. 

So those are just a few things I've been loving lately! What new food, toys, or other items do you recommend? Let me know!



things have gotten super weird.

3.29.2020


Well, things have gotten super weird since I last posted. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I assume you've been taken captive by minions and locked in an underground freezer for the last couple of weeks. I don't know about you, but I daily bounce between THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD to It's fine. We are fine. This will be fine.

I told Jordan that God has answered my prayer about being a stay-at-home mom in a really strange way. I've been thrust into the SAHM life with three small children, and all I can say is that I'm taking it one day at a time. I would be lying if I didn't say that selfishly (completely selfishly, I know), I'm really upset that this whole thing has in one sense completely ruined my entire maternity leave.

Instead of lazy mornings cuddling my newborn, zoo trips, and mid-day playdate with friends--all things I cannot do during a normal work week--I'm trapped in my house, running around like a crazed chicken drowning in dishes and pretzel crumbs. I can't even go to the playground! So we are taking off our clothes and painting, and I'm trying to be calm, but this kind of activity stresses. me. out. Anyone else? No chill with messes over here.

There are a lot of sad things happening right now, and one of those is the fact that women giving birth are only allowed one support person in the hospital (their partner), and in some states now I'm seeing that they aren't allowing anyone at all. There is no right answer. I actually get why they are wanting to do this. With limited protective equipment such as masks, it really is important to limit the spread and the amount of people entering the hospital, both for the sake of the medical staff and any sick patients. But that doesn't change the fact that it's heartbreaking for any mama preparing to give birth, and I honestly can't imagine not being able to have even my husband in the room with me to witness the birth of his child.

I love the photos from our Fresh 48 hospital session after F was born, and I'm now even more grateful we had those taken since if I was giving birth now, it wouldn't be allowed! I printed a few on canvases for the nursery and hung them above the crib, and I am just so extra thankful to have them.

Another sad fallout from all of this (again, among so many sad things) is for brides who have been planning weddings for months that they are having to postpone. My little sister was nearly one of those! She has been planning her March wedding for over a year, and her Dallas venue was closed and the governor of Texas was implementing shelter in place. Long story short, they decided they weren't postponing and were going to get married one way or the other. In just under a week they moved the wedding date up, changed venues, cut the guest list, and got married! 

My mom called me at 2pm and said, "Your sister is getting married tomorrow, can you guys get down here?" I immediately put on a movie for the big kids (thankfully F was napping!) and ran around the house frantically for the next two hours packing and cleaning. Why does adding one small baby to the car mean adding 800 more bags? Good grief. At 6:00 we loaded up the mini van and took our first road trip to Texas as a family of five. 

The kids did great in the car and at the wedding. R was the sweetest flower girl, J wore the cutest vest, and I carried F in the Moby wrap and no one touched him all night. I'm so so thankful they were able to get married before all of this craziness really started spiraling.

The bright side to being at home all day is that after almost a full year of "potty training," J has decided he wants to go to the potty on his own without me having to prompt him every 45-60 minutes all day long. I don't know what changed, but it's like a flip was switched and now he's all, "Leave me alone. I do it by myself." God bless him. He's still having a few accidents here and there, but in general I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the pull-up tunnel.

F is almost six weeks old and the sweetest ever. We think he looks more like R than J, but he does have a look all his own. He's not really on a schedule yet, mostly because I'm too preoccupied and busy with the older two to pay attention to what time he's eating or how long he's napping. But he's gaining weight and working on tummy time, and that's really all that matters. He weighed 8lbs 6oz at birth, and at his one-month checkup he was 10lbs 10oz!

When I was nursing R, I was obsessed with getting her on a schedule and keeping track of how long she was eating on each side. I had an app with a timer and a notepad and everything. I really appreciate the perspective and, in some ways, chill that comes from having more than one kid. I think back to those early days with R and LOL at my crazy self. I feel so much less stress about all of the baby things, and it's really nice, especially since these days I have so much else to stress out about!

Since we can't go the park or the zoo or science museum, etc. (and it's SO sad because R has started asking about why we can't go places; she currently thinks everything is "closed because it's being cleaned"), I've been trying to get outside as much as possible. It rained pretty much all day for over a week straight, which is very strange for Oklahoma weather, so that was a bummer, but lately we've been getting out for walks, and earlier this week I got our splash pad out of storage from last summer. The kids were pumped. Vitamin D really is good for the soul.

I honestly wish I had more time to blog because I have tons of photos I want to share, and I feel the hole in my creativity lately... unless you count trying to creatively think of ways to keep two small children entertained all day long or how to creatively use our food to minimize trips to the grocery store. I have just a few weeks left of maternity leave, and I'm honestly just trying to take one day at a time. The Bible says that each day has enough trouble of its own, and I don't know if I've ever felt that so strongly as I have the last few weeks.

I hope you are well, friends. 
Wash your hands. Hug your husband and your kids. 
Stay home.



The Story of F (Part 2)

3.15.2020


9:40 pm

Jordan and my dad went to get dinner at the Chick-fil-A that was inside the hospital. My mom stayed with me while I waited to get moved into an actual L&D room.

I was in a serious amount of pain at this point, with contractions coming every couple of minutes. There's obviously no actual way to describe contractions, but the best I can say is that it feels like the worst period cramp of your life, wrapping around your entire body and lasting for a good 45-60 seconds at a time. It's almost an out-of-body experience because it's like something is happening to you that's beyond your control.

My mom and I sat in the room while I laid on the bed and had contractions. By 9:50, I'd received almost an entire bag of fluids through the IV line in my arm and needed to pee so badly. My mom went out to find a nurse so she could unhook me from the monitor, and I was thisclose to peeing all over the floor by the time she finally came back (which was maybe a minute, but it felt like forever).

While I was in the bathroom I had an extremely painful contraction and decided I was asking for an epidural when I came out. We'd only been at the hospital 2.5 hours, and based on my labors with R and J I thought we might be there another 7+ hours and honestly wasn't going to be able to handle it. I came out of the bathroom, and just then the nurse came in to tell us that they had an L&D room ready.

10:00

My mom collected our things, and we slowly followed the nurse down the hall. I had to stop and have a couple of contractions on the way, and the walk probably took us at least five minutes. While we walked, I told the nurse that I was in a lot of pain and wanted to get an epidural but that I was nervous about not liking the feeling of my legs being numb and potential other side effects. 

She said that made sense and asked if I wanted to put a pain medicine in my IV line when we got to the room. I took a pain medicine with both R and J and knew that while it didn't take away all of the pain of contractions or pushing, it did knock me out between contractions, which was great, so I said yes please. (I'm pretty sure they gave me Stadol with both R and J, for anyone interested!)

The nurse (her name was Ivy) left to check with the doctor, and as we got to the room she came back and said, "I'm so sorry, but the doctor said it's too close to delivery and can cause respiratory distress for the baby. We can't give you anything."

I had another contraction and started to go into full-on panic mode. I was in horrible pain and I wasn't going to get anything at all???? 

*questions all life decisions that have led to this moment.* 

Just then, Jordan and my dad came walking up from the opposite direction holding bags from CFA. I waddled to the bed and was instantly hit with a wave of the smell of fried chicken. "You need to get out of here with that right now," I told Jordan.

The walk to our new room must have really gotten things moving down there, because as soon as I laid down on the bed, my contractions went next level. The doctor checked me, and I was at an 8. I asked how low the baby was, and when he said -2 station I was really upset because the baby was "way up there." (The baby has to get to -2, -1, 0, +1, then +2)

10:15

The nurse asked if I wanted the doctor to break my water to speed up the process.
"You might have a baby by midnight!" she said.
"Please don't get my hopes up," I replied.

I said the doctor could come break my water (they had to break my water with J too!), but my mom said we needed to get Jordan back in here before that happened because she had a feeling it was going to go fast. They also called the on-call doctor to come to the hospital for delivery (I had still been seeing the resident doctor).

Jordan says he ate his sandwich quickly and threw away most of his fries because he was too anxious to eat. He came back in the room, and they broke my water.

10:25 

The doctor told me to move up to the end of the bed so the water could drain, and that's when they realized I was in a postpartum bed and not a labor & delivery bed--the huge difference being that the bed didn't break down at the end for stirrups and all the delivery things.

There was a bunch of commotion and discussion between the doctor and nurses about whether or not they could leave me there or why the wrong bed was in that room in the first place. Meanwhile, I was having contractions upon contractions and was the absolute picture of calm serenity (lol).

There are people who sign up for "natural" childbirth and come into the labor experience with essential oil rubs and calming mantras and positive phrases to create an atmosphere of an empowering and confident delivery. Things like, "My body was made to do this" and "Every contraction brings me closer to seeing my baby."

And then there's me repeating, "I'm going to die. I'm dying. I'm going to DIE," while the nurses kept telling me that I was okay and that I was not, in fact, going to die.

There was a bit of hubbub while a few nurses wheeled the proper bed into the room right next to the one I was lying in. The doctor told me that after the next contraction I was going to have to move over to the other bed, and I sobbed, "I can't move." I honestly felt like I was possessed and totally outside of myself. I told the doctor that I was shaking all over, and he said, "That's normal. It means the baby is coming."

They told me to raise my lower half up just a bit, they put a sheet under me, and then Jordan and several nurses helped pull me from one bed to the other. The doctor asked if I'd ever given birth without an epidural before and said, "So you know about the Ring of Fire?"

I honestly must have blocked out this part of my other two deliveries, because I truly do not remember the shaking or the ring of fire being as pronounced as it was during this experience with Baby F. My entire body was shaking, and it almost felt to me like when your arm or foot falls asleep, and you try to move it and experience that painful tingling sensation, expect it was way worse and like that all over my entire body at once.

At this point I said I was going to die a few more times. Add that to your birth affirmation signs, just saying ;)

He checked me again and said I was 100% effaced and there was just a tiny bit of cervix left until I was completely dilated. I felt extreme burning and squeezed Jordan's hand until he said he thought I was going to pop off his fingers. (Where is this strength when I'm alone at home and trying to open a can of pickles????)

The nurse said I could push whenever I felt like I wanted to, and my body was definitely pushing almost on its own. They had to remind me to hold my breath while pushing instead of breathing out like I had been during contractions. I pushed and then asked the doctor how low the baby was, and he said the baby was at a Zero Station.

I pushed again and asked how low the baby was. He said. "Still at zero," and I was like, "HELLO EVERYONE THE BABY ISN'T GETTING LOWER AND YES I'M GOING TO DIE."

My mom told me later that she heard the doctor tell the nurse that the baby was going back up after every push instead of getting lower, and I guess I must have really seemed panicked about the baby not going down because during the next contraction a nurse stood near my head and pushed down on my stomach while I pushed. Then they told me to sit up like I was doing an ab crunch, hold the backs of my thighs, and push with my chin to my chest. Someone counted to ten while I held my breath and pushed.

10:42 

I felt a ton of pressure, and the baby's head came out. The doctor told me to hold on, but I said, "I can't!" and he came the rest of the way out on the next push. My eyes were closed, and as soon as the baby was out everyone was shouting, "Open your eyes! Look!"

Because of the way I was sitting upright to push, the baby was super close to my face and his bottom was facing me. I saw boy parts, but it wasn't processing fully at that point, and I said, "What is it?" and Jordan said, "It's a boy!" 

Just then the on-call OB came flying into the room shouting, "I missed it!"

I kept saying, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh," while Jordan cut the cord. I didn't realize that I was accidentally holding the cord, and the doctor had to ask me to move my hand so Jordan could cut. We immediately did skin to skin, and the OB helped the resident doctor stitch me up. I re-tore everything from giving birth to J, so that was horribleness all over again, and stitching hurt so bad. I don't want to talk about it. 

I went from an 8 to a 10 to baby in less than thirty minutes, and F came so fast that his entire face was bruised and looked black and blue, almost gray, and I asked a few times if there was anything wrong with him. 

He wasn't covered in anything and was pretty clean for initial skin to skin. They didn't end up giving him a bath until the next day, and I declined the eye treatment, which was totally not a big deal at all, and all the nurses and my doctor acted fine about it. Definitely look into that if you're interested in why it's used and what it's supposed to protect from!

We still weren't 100% on a name and had even been discussing name ideas during our drive to the hospital just a few hours before. It wasn't until the next day that we officially decided. I never thought we would be those people, but we had such a hard time agreeing on a boy name! We had two girl name options we were set on, so it would have been one of those, but we struggled with boy names.

I had booked a Fresh 48 photographer when I was about 8 weeks pregnant, so Sara came to the hospital the next day to take some family pictures and photos of baby F. Although the idea of having a lovely image of my baby being born appeals to me, I'm not totally sure I really want to see myself in all my labor glory enough to book a birth photographer. But I am so glad we did a special hospital session after he was born, and I love our photos so much! For the first time, I actually brought makeup and a hair straightener to the hospital ;)

Pregnancy is such an anxious time for me, and I can't describe how thankful I am that Baby Bum 3 is here and healthy. We praise Jesus for his little life and addition to our family. Thank you all so much for following along, for praying for us, and for celebrating his birth with us!

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