Friday, March 10, 2017

The One Where Underdog Gets Away

AKA Frugal Mommy's way to Display Hair Bows

Adleigh has a lot of hair bows. I love them. She's worn all of them. I think babies look like babies... not necessarily boys or girls. And I want people to know she's my daughter not my son :) Although, just the other day a woman in the store told me how cute "he" was and wanted to know how old "he" was... even though SHE had a pink bow on HER head. Some people just aren't observant I guess!

When her bow collection was not quite so large I had a shoe box in her closet holding all her bows. One shoe box turned to two. And then it was just too hard to find the bow I wanted for the day. 

So, my very crafty and frugal mom (and I) set to create some storage space for her bows that was cheap, easy, and accessible. 

So this is what we (read: she) came up with:

We bought 2 small dowels from the hardware store for maybe $1.50 total - 1/4 inch by 48 inches. 

And we had command hooks and ribbon. Any ribbon/string will do but one that's relatively thin would work best. 

We cut each dowel in half (so 24" long each, 4 pieces). So each dowel would serve as our hanging area for the bows. 

We put two command hooks inside of her closet door about 6 feet up. 

Then we just started tying ribbon (by "we" I mean my mom :) ). We started on the left and tied a loop around the command hook then dropped it down an inch or so and then tied a knot around one side of the dowel.

Then we dropped the ribbon down about 10" and tied another knot around the next dowel. Repeated this around each of the 4 dowels.

 After the last dowel we dropped the ribbon down another 10" and tied a knot around an upside down command hook on the inside of the door.

Then we did the exact same thing on the right side making sure to get each dowel as level as possible.

Use clothespins to attach each hair bow to the dowel.

If you had none of the materials this project might cost you $5 (the command hooks being the priciest of the materials). 

So easy, so cheap, and now we are so organized!!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The One Where Nana Dies Twice

aka: 12.4.15

One year ago on this day, December 4th, David and I found out we were going to have a baby! This was the news we had been awaiting for 18 months. I remember everything about that day; I can see it all so clearly.

David and I decided to begin trying to start a family in May of 2014. We traveled to Birmingham to celebrate with one of my best friends as she got married and then we flew to Mexico for our annual anniversary trip. We were celebrating 4 years of marriage, had recently moved to a new city, and were moving into a new house when we got back from vacation. We had been praying about if/when to start trying to have a baby for a long time and the Lord showed us both it was time.

I was ecstatic! Over the moon excited. Couldn’t believe that this time next month I could possibly be pregnant. That in 9 or 10 months we might have a baby! It’s truly a surreal thought process.

Months came and months went. And month after month I wasn’t pregnant. I want to get real here – I KNOW waiting to get pregnant is one of the toughest times in a woman’s (and man’s) life. I understand this is very difficult for people struggling with infertility. But, by the grace of God, it really wasn’t like that for me and David. Sure, each month when I found out I wasn’t pregnant there was some disappointment, a little of that aforementioned ecstasy deflated, and I wondered when it would happen. BUT, my faith grew stronger each month, too. David and I just kept praying. We knew the Lord was in control and there was nothing we could do to change His timing. 

We talked about adoption and fostering to adopt. We prayed fervently through that. We even started the process to foster children. We knew we had so much love to give and we wanted to share that with a child. Though we were trying to conceive biologically, we were content with the possibility that it might not happen. Content by the grace of God.

I think us not being able to get pregnant was harder on our friends and family than it was on us. Because, you don’t really know what to say when your friend/daughter/son/niece/nephew is trying to get pregnant and it isn’t happening. “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to.” “The Lord’s timing is perfect.” “Maybe the Lord is protecting you from something and that’s why you aren’t pregnant yet.” “Whatever you do, don’t stress about it!” “Just don’t think about it.” FYI- NONE of those cliché phrases help.

The truth is, I WASN’T stressed about it. Really, I wasn’t. I DID think about it- often. I mean, if you are actively trying to get pregnant, you have to think about it due to, um… certain windows of time you must be aware ofSo saying “Don’t think about it” is about the dumbest thing you can tell someone in this situation.

Knowing David and I weren’t getting pregnant was tough on my friend who got pregnant with her 4th child. I think the only reason she told me is because I texted her and asked her when baby #4 was happening. I’m sure it was tough on my friend who got pregnant with her 1st. Both of these women started trying after we did – but that did not matter to me! Just because I wasn’t getting pregnant didn’t mean I wasn’t totally overjoyed for my friends who were! Truly. By the grace of God.

What about that rude family member or friend who has no idea what’s going on in your life and not so subtly drops the bomb, “Well, you know, MOST people your age already have kids!” I can’t make this stuff up. I realize those comments were made in jest, but comments like that should NEVER be made. David and I were not upset, or sad, or angry about not yet being pregnant. By the grace of God. But, what if we were? Those comments would have made us weep. How bad would the person saying that feel then?!

I remember the first time I actually read the word “infertility” on some of my medical paperwork from my pregnancy (it was actually after I already had Adleigh). It struck a chord because I never really considered myself infertile. By medical definitions I was, but I never, ever thought like that. We had faith that we were right where the Lord wanted us, pursuing Him, and doing our best to be obedient to Him. So, we just continued to pray for His guidance and wisdom as we continued to try to expand our family. 

We tried for a year. 12 months. That’s how long the doctors want you to try before you go in for more specialized discussions and tests. Because apparently ninety something percent of women get pregnant within a year of actively trying. So I scheduled my first appointment. I remember this like it was yesterday, too. David was out of town, so my sweet friend said she would go with me. Just for some moral support. I’m so glad she did, too, because this was probably the first day in those 12 months that I got really overwhelmed. This doctor was a-mile-a-minute, can’t keep up, I’m in a whirlwind, what is going on kind of gal. I’m an educated medical professional, I understood what she was saying, but it was all just too much. My friend had to walk me through it when we left. 

So, I got some bloodwork done. Then the doctor put me on some medication because I was not ovulating. Then the next month I got some more bloodwork done. And I continued the medication because I was still not ovulating. Another month, another blood draw. A medication dose increase. I took the medication for 5 months. Somewhere in there I switched doctors because the first doctor just gave me so much anxiety. We didn’t mesh. Again, I was not anxious or stressed about not getting pregnant – David and I were still okay there – but for some reason, my first doctor just overwhelmed me! My new doctor is wonderful. So the 6th month we added an additional medication. This was month 18 of trying to conceive.

My “start date” came and went. I did not get excited – I had been late many a time. On the third day after my start date I took a pregnancy test… it was negative. Fourth day… fifth day… sixth day… came and went uneventfully. On the seventh day I took another pregnancy test… it was negative. Eighth day… ninth day… more nothing. On the tenth day, I took yet another pregnancy test… it was negative. On the way home from the gym on day 10 I told David how late I was and that my pregnancy tests were negative. We just figured I was irregular- who gets 3 negative pregnancy tests and is actually pregnant? David went to work, I had the day off. So after lunch I texted my doctor and told her all of the above and asked her if I should get a blood test for pregnancy. She said she would send the order to the hospital. 

At 3:00 pm on Friday, December 4th, 2015 I casually rode up to the hospital and walked into the lab. The phlebotomist drew my blood and then I realized it was Friday! Would I have to wait until Monday for the results?? The phlebotomist said it would take about an hour to run the lab. She must have known what the test was for and that it would be torture to make me wait until Monday because she said she would rush the blood to the lab and I could come back at 4:00 pm and she would give me the results. 
I drove over to CVS, poked around. I sat in the parking lot at the grocery store. I played around on my phone. I watched the clock. I walked right back into the lab at 4:00 and the sweet, sweet, woman handed me a piece of paper with my results. I didn’t know whether I wanted to look at it there or walk out! Being the pessimist that I am and never wanting to disappoint myself, I kept telling myself “It will still be negative, Amanda.” I knew any # greater than zero would mean I was pregnant. I was fully anticipating reading zero and feeling stupid for wasting my time and the lab’s time. I told the woman thank you. I glanced down at the paper and it said 424 mIU/mL! I felt my whole body flush. I smiled to myself and walked out. Walked out of the lab, walked out of the hospital, and started balling. Pulled out my phone, texted my doctor and told her the results and asked if that meant I was pregnant. She confirmed.

I couldn’t believe it! All by the grace of God.

I drove to the store and picked up a couple small baby things. I drove home, in shock. I wrapped the baby things in a Christmas present and waited for David to come home. We chatted for a minute and then I told him I bought him something for Christmas but that he would want it now. Unsuspectingly he opened the gift and pulled out the baby items and said, “Are we?!??”

It was such a great day! I will never, ever forget it. 

This is the story of our journey. This is the story of how God moved in our lives throughout those 18 months granting us peace - a peace that truly surpasses all understanding in what could have been a very difficult time. May we never forget how the Lord gave us grace during this time in our lives. And may we never cease to be thankful for Him entrusting Adleigh to us. She is His first. By the grace of God. Praise God!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The One with the Blackout

aka The Cutest Little Clothes Ever - baby clothes

I have decided that I am really just writing these blogs for me. One day my daughter is going to ask me questions about how I raised her. One day my daughter is going to ask me questions about how to take care of her babies. And I’m not confident my memory will serve me well when those times come. So, while I hope others get some benefit from reading my thoughts, I realize these posts are mostly beneficial to me. I’m thankful I can record my thoughts throughout this process – a place I can revisit later when I want to reminisce. 

This post is about baby clothes. For someone so teeny tiny, babies tend to have a lot of clothes. People love to buy baby clothes – they’re typically inexpensive, thoughtful and super cute gifts. Did I mention they’re super cute?? It’s hard to pass by a rack of little baby clothes that are on sale for <$5 and not buy anything!

So, as I recently packed up all of Adleigh’s newborn clothes (insert sobbing), I took an inventory so I could get really specific in this post. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), Adleigh was so little, she actually wore her newborn clothes until she was 3 months old. Whereas most babies hardly get to wear any of their newborn size clothes, she wore all of them many, many times. Side note: this was also great because I got to take pictures of her in the same outfit weeks and months apart and see how much she had grown!

Here is what we had for her (give or take a couple) – and it was much more than enough:

13 footie PJs
13 long sleeve onesies
14 short sleeve onesies
4 sleeveless onesies
12 pairs of leggings
9 outfits (something on a hanger that can be worn by itself as a complete outfit, i.e. a romper or a dress)

And, that’s what I pared everything down to! We received far more clothing than that! I was able to exchange some things for bigger sizes that we would need, or for items that we needed but did not receive. I rotated through everything so she pretty much wore everything once before she wore anything twice. And it was nice not to have to do laundry every day, or even every few days – I could, and still can, get by doing laundry once a week or even less than that. 

I keep her closet organized by size. When we put away all the clothes we got initially, we went through each size group to see what we had. 

Funny sidebar – my mom and I set out to do this thinking it was such a girly task and David would want nothing to do with it. Well, he walked by and insisted he wanted input on what we kept and what we returned. That’s when I knew Adleigh had him wrapped around her finger. 

So we sorted by size, and then by “type” of clothes – long sleeve onesie, short sleeve onesie, pants, dresses, one piece outfits, etc. Within each size and within each type I tried not to have excess. Honestly it was hard, because, like I said, little girl clothes are ADORABLE. So I really struggled with the desire to keep everything so little and cute, vs. the feeling that I was being wasteful having so many clothes that she could never wear all of them. 

I don't know what the magic number is for the "right amount" of clothes. Honestly, most of us live in abundance and would never have to worry about having just enough for our sons or daughters. We will all have excess. The good news is, because your child probably won't wear most things many times, you typically end up with hand-me-downs that are in pretty good shape for future babies, your friends, or children in need. 

Honestly, I let this stress me out far too much, and still do. Ultimately – if people have given you clothes (whether new or hand-me-downs) and you don’t want to think about it- throw them in the laundry, put them in your child’s closet and let that baby wear what they wear… then pack ‘em all up when he/she outgrows them. It’s not a big deal. Mommyhood has it’s stressors and struggles – why I let this be one of them, I don’t know. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The One with the Butt

aka: Navigating Through All the Baby Stuff Part 2

Sooo, my previous post was about all the baby stuff I feel like you really “need” (remember using the word “need” loosely). Part 2 is about all the stuff I have that I really enjoy, but COULD live without. Thanks to the generosity of so many of our friends and family we were able to receive all the things we needed AND wanted.

Most of the following things were graciously given to us – and although I don’t consider them a need, they either make my and David’s lives easier or are fun for Adleigh. So, I’m so thankful for them!

Rocking Chair/Glider: this is another item where there are tons and tons of options and it can get so overwhelming. Buying new you can find something anywhere from $100 to $1000+! The spread is incredible! I think the rate-limiting thing with the glider is not necessarily your style preference, but your budget. The wooden, fabric-covered gliders tend to be less expensive than the fully upholstered ones. And, sometimes the price you see doesn’t even include the ottoman, so beware! The glider wasn’t a top priority for us (for financial reasons) so we were super blessed when one of our family members purchased a beautiful used one and re-upholstered it to match our décor. If Adleigh is fighting sleep, throw her up on your shoulder, take her to the glider, and rock away…zzzzzzz…..

Bouncer: pretty much all of my mom friends said a bouncer was a must. Most people have a Rock N Play (and a lot of moms use this as the place for their newborns to sleep for the first few months). We were gifted something similar to a Rock N Play that gently bounces up and down, plays music and has a cute little mobile hanging above baby’s head. To be honest, I was a little discouraged at first because we put it together, had it out in the house, and Adleigh HATED it! And, I HATE having stuff around the house that isn’t useful. Thankfully, now, she really likes it so I’m able to put her in there to play or nap and I know she’s safe if I’m walking around the house getting other things done.  

Swing: another must-have for most moms. If this wasn’t given to us I would not have purchased one. I don’t think you need both a swing and a bouncer. And, again, Adleigh hated it at first and I was so upset every time I walked past it. But, now she’ll swing in it for a little while and seems to enjoy it. I will say that if you have a multi-level house you may consider having one of these type pieces on each level so you don’t have to lug it around (the bouncer is super portable, the swing we have is not so much). Otherwise, if your house is compact and all one level, I don’t think you need multiple baby swings/bouncers/etc.

Bottle brush: even if you are breastfeeding, there will probably come a time when you have to use a bottle. The bottle brushes make it easy to clean the bottle.

Baby carrier: I think it’s great to be able to wear Adleigh. Unfortunately, she isn’t one of those babies who always loves it - sometimes she likes it, sometimes she doesn’t. We have the ERGObaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier with Infant Insert – this is great for me AND David. I used this when Adleigh and I flew to Boston by ourselves. I also have a hand me down Moby. The Moby has a major learning curve. It took me several tries and lots of YouTube watching before I felt confident tying it on and wearing it and her – but I think I’m pretty good at it now. The problem with the Moby (or other long scarf-like ones) is it’s such a long piece of fabric it would be difficult to just throw on in the parking lot if I decided to wear her to run into a store. So, I also have the Beco Ring Sling which is so much easier to put on and off. It’s more compact, so it’s also easier to throw into your diaper bag if you think you might need it.  Do I need 3 baby carriers? Probably not... but they each serve a purpose and I use all 3. 

Stroller organizer: many strollers don’t come with any pockets or cup holders or anything. I got an external attachment that goes around the handle bars to accommodate.

Decorative baskets for closet/changing table: I like having cute baskets in the closet to organize. We have a cube shelving unit in the closet with pull out basket/drawers. We were gifted a couple cute decorative baskets that I keep in the closet. On her changing table I have a small white, plastic container I got from Target for $3 that holds a bunch of diapers and her Flanders.

Laundry basket: I have a plain white, plastic laundry basket in her closet (it’s actually just one we were using for us before).

Boppy Lounger: even though I say I could live without this, I always mention this as one of my “must-haves” for new moms when I’m asked. This thing has been so wonderful for us. Adleigh has been lounging in this thing since the day we brought her home from the hospital. I think it states for babies up to 16 pounds. She is about 11 pounds now and already seems big in it, but she still loves it. We put her in it in the dining room while we eat, in our bathroom while we get ready, in our bedroom, anywhere! Side note: do have something you can put in/near the bathroom that baby can safely sit in while you shower/get ready.

Play Yard: we have the Pottery Barn Kids Animal Friends Classic Activity Gym and love it. It’s gray and white, much more muted and “décor friendly”. I don’t think Adleigh is quite to the age where she can appreciate the actual toys on the play yard, she just lays there and looks and sometimes accidentally hits the animals hanging over her head. But, play yards are great to lay the baby on and play for a bit. There are many different kinds to choose from. I actually just saw a SUPER cute pink owl one and reallllllly wanted to buy it for Adleigh. But, she definitely does not need it, so I showed some restraint. We also have a Kick ‘n Play Piano gym that I just recently opened because she’s been kicking her feet a lot more. I don’t think she really knows she’s kicking the piano and making it make music, but it’s so cute to watch her and one day she will know she’s doing it herself and will love it.

Boppy Pillow: the boppy pillow is multifunctional. Most women use it to help hold their baby while they nurse. Adleigh was so small when we brought her home that I didn’t need any extra cushion to support her, I just held her. And, I’ve kind of just gotten used to that, so I haven’t really used the regular boppy that much. I am getting ready to start using it more to help her sit and help with her tummy time. It is definitely multifunctional.

Bottle drying rack: another modern invention that we could totally do without but that I really enjoy. I have the Boon Lawn and Twigs. Before I got them I was just turning her bottles upside down on my drying mat that I use for my other dishes, but the bottles weren’t getting ventilated properly and weren’t drying quickly or well. This has totally solved that. I love it.

Car mirror: to attach to your back seat head rest so you can see your baby from the rear view mirror.

CarSeatCanopy: a friend of mine had the CarSeatCanopy whole caboodle and it looked so nice and cozy for her daughter when she was in the car seat. We registered for it and it was gifted to us. It was so great for her first few weeks of life because she was so tiny and it helped fill up the car seat. After that it got a little hot (summer in the south) so we had to take out the piece that covered the whole seat. We still used the head rest portion (until about 2 days ago) because it perfectly cradled her little head (read: no neck cramp). We also still use the part that attaches to the car seat handle and acts as a blanket covering. All in all, it’s a great product- but you could just as easily use one of your many blankets as a car seat cover.

Sound Machine: admittedly, I was totally against any “sleep props.” Many people told me to register for a sound machine and I thought “No way, I don’t want her to have to use that to sleep.” Insert foot in mouth. She was super fussy one day so I downloaded a white noise app on my phone, turned it on, and voila, quiet baby! We have found when she sleeps with it on all night, she sleeps better and longer. Hopefully I can phase it out at some point (I might try that this weekend, along with an earlier bedtime…. So, maybe I won’t be getting any sleep this weekend!). I just prefer her not be dependent on it – but, for now, mommy needs to sleep, too!

Crib Mobile: she loves this thing. We don’t use it when we are putting her to bed, but when I lay her in there either for naps or just for a safe place to be while I do a few things around the house, she is mesmerized by the mobile.

Bumbo: just took this out last week to see if she could sit in it yet. She did great! The Bumbo helps strengthen baby’s core so they can start to sit up on their own.

Pack N Play: there are way too many choices for this ol’ classic, too! Different colors and designs. Different features: changing table, napper/sleeper included for your newborn, etc. My parents bought a used one for $20, we’ve only used it once. Before Pack N Plays existed, moms found other places for baby to safely sleep while on the road (seriously, my mom told me she put us in drawers). There are also now smaller infant travel beds available if you do need something to bring on the road. I imagine we’ll get more use of the Pack N Play when she’s a little more mobile.

Pacifiers: I won’t discuss pacifiers because we have chosen not to offer Adleigh one. However, I’m sure many parents would put them on the “need” list.

Beebo: we actually don’t have this but I wanted to mention it because of a picture David sent me recently. I found this while searching through other people’s baby registries. It’s basically a bottle holder so you can be hands free when bottle feeding your baby before she can hold the bottle herself. I started to think it was a little silly, but then David sent me this picture:
Photo caption: "Gotta get creative when u have stuff to do" 

I guess the Beebo isn’t such a silly idea after all!

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things we have around the house for Adleigh, but I tried to walk around and go through everything to cover it all!

I think when you talk to people about having a baby one of the things you hear the most is “Babies have a lot of stuff!” This is true… but it doesn’t have to be. If you want all the best gizmos and gadgets for your little one and you are fortunate enough to be able to afford it all, that’s great! If you want to be a minimalist, or you just can’t afford much, that’s great, too! There is no right or wrong way when it comes to baby stuff – it’s all personal preference.

You can choose what advice you take from other people. Don’t give it a second thought when people tell you that you need to do or need to have something you just don’t want! Ultimately you do what is best for your family. Babies have survived for thousands of years without all the baby stuff available now.

I hope you enjoyed hearing my thoughts and preferences – take it with a  grain of salt and then do and get what’s right for you! 

Stay tuned for my next post about baby clothes! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The One with the East German Laundry Detergent

aka: Navigating Through All the Baby Stuff (Part 1)

Adleigh is 3 months old! I have had 3 amazing months of seeing my beautiful daughter face to face - talking to her, laughing at her, kissing her, enjoying her. I have had 3 amazing months watching her grow (like a weed!), watching her change, watching her learn and explore. I have had 3 amazing months to parent her alongside my husband (trying not to get my feelings hurt because she totally likes him more than she likes me!). And, I have had 3 months to accumulate baby stuff!

When David and I started talking about being parents, we often discussed all the STUFF that comes along with babies… and then toddlers… and then kids… and then before you know it, teenagers! We always said we would prefer to keep it all to a minimum (as a new mom, I will try not to use the word “never” – I wanted to say David and I will never let baby stuff overtake our home – but I have already learned…). Since I only have a 3-month-old, let’s talk specifically about baby stuff.

There are so many super cool things available for babies now! Honestly, I feel like I could easily have a house full of things for Adleigh to sit/lay/play in/on and just pass her around from thing to thing to keep her occupied. There are swings, bouncers, rockers, vibrating seats, play mats, Boppys, DockATots, bassinets, cradles, cribs… and there are so many different varieties in each category! To be perfectly honest, I think every single one of them is super cool and I’d love for Adleigh to have them all. BUT, as I constantly try to remind myself about adult “stuff”, she doesn’t need them, nor do I.

David and I tried to be very mindful of “needs” vs. “wants” when making our registry for Adleigh. If we are totally honest, she doesn’t need anything beyond me and David, a safe place to live, and food to eat (also me :) ). So, please hear me when I say I understand there are huge cultural differences between raising babies in America vs. other areas that have no “stuff.” So, note, when I use the word “need” I use it very loosely. Not knowing much about what babies like and need (turns out babies have preferences, so what my baby likes/needs, yours might not care about) we asked for a lot of help from our friends with kids to determine what we should and should not include on our registry, always keeping in mind that we want to try really hard to be minimalists (trust me, I’ve already failed at this – Adleigh has a shoe box full of hair bows, and I just ordered 19 more… yes, 19!).

Based on my “research” (i.e. asking mom friends) and my ENTIRE 3 months of experience – here are the things I think your house needs for baby, with commentary: 

Blankets: totally personal preference. My mom gave me the 2 baby blankets I had when I was a baby. My mother-in-law made a beautiful blanket for Adleigh. Several people gifted us blankets. But, you could get by with just 2 blankets (1 spare when 1 is in the wash).

Quick note about receiving blankets: I haven’t really found a use for these yet. The ones I got, which I think are pretty standard size, were too small to swaddle Adleigh. I keep one in the diaper bag, just because, though I have only used it once. Turns out, I do use them to cover the hassock in our living room because Adleigh is constantly laying on it – so it helps protect her from dirty germs and protect the hassock from dirty Adleigh spit up. Other than this, though, which most people don’t have, I don’t see the need for receiving blankets.

Swaddles: most babies won’t sleep well unless they are swaddled (I’m not sure when to transition out of this - Adleigh still gets swaddled every night, but not often during nap time). I tried to use a muslin Aden & Anais blanket/swaddle, but this chic broke free of that no problemo! So, we started using the ones with velcro (SwaddleMe). Those hold her pretty well, but occasionally she can also break free of them – either wiggling her arms to the top or, like this photo, somehow wiggling the bottom of the swaddle above her arm??? 
Now I just use the muslin swaddles as blankets, stroller covers, nursing covers, etc. 

Burp cloths: there are sooooo many to choose from. I chose strictly functionality (read: plain jane, not cute at all). Per my mom’s experience and recommendation I use Gerber Newborn Prefold Diapers as my burp cloths. They’re white (can bleach!!), super absorbent (ummm… made to be cloth diapers), and inexpensive. I have 20 of them and go through at least 2 (usually 3) a day – plus I keep one everywhere: by the changing table, on my nightstand, in the living room, in the diaper bag, and wherever she is at all times.

Towels: your baby won’t care if you use a super cute, hooded baby towel or one of your regular bath towels. Either is fine… just make sure you don’t care if it gets poop on it. We have 3 hooded bath towels we rotate through. We also use a towel more than once (assuming Adleigh did not poop on it, of course). 2 towels would be plenty.

Wash cloths: For a true minimalist, you can totally use your own “regular” “adult” wash cloths. However, because baby is so small and her skin is so soft, we do prefer using the really soft, small, square baby wash cloths.

Bottles: even if you are breastfeeding, there will probably come a time when your baby has to take a bottle. As with everything baby, there is a wide variety of bottles available. We went with the cheapest (literally 98 cents for a bottle) and she takes it with no problem. This is not the case for all babies. You may have to try a few different bottles before finding one your baby will take, or you may have to have a special one if your baby has issues with reflux or other medical conditions. Since I am mostly staying at home, we don’t need a ton of bottles. We really only use 2.

Diapers & wipes: everyone knows you need diapers and wipes. The hardest part is determining how many. When we first brought Adleigh home I changed her diaper before every single feeding – partly to help try to wake her up and partly because I was a new mom who didn’t want any pee/poop to sit in her diaper for any length of time. So, we are talking 8 to 12 diapers a day for the first couple weeks to a month. After that, you start to become more comfortable as a parent in deciding when you need to change your baby’s diaper and when it’s just “a little wet” or “a little poopy”. Also, after the first few weeks, most babies start to poop less often. Note: I only have experience with a breastfed baby, I don’t know anything about potty habits of a formula fed baby. Wipes- assume an average of 2 wipes per diaper change.

Brands of diapers and wipes will be totally parent and baby preference. As a parent you will see which wipes you like best (are they too thin or too thick? are they too wet or too dry? do they come out of the container easily one handed?). We have already used 5 or 6 different brands. There are some I don’t necessarily love, but I could use any of them. Honestly, once I go through all those gifted to me, I’m sure I will determine wipe choice by price. Diapers can be partially your preference, but baby’s body type may also dictate which brand you want to get, and it will likely be trial and error. As of right now, we have only had issues with one brand of diaper, and I think it was just because they were too big. She does totally fine with generic store brands vs. big brand names.

Butt cream/paste/ointment: most babies will get diaper rash – some more often than others. I have Flanders (I believe it has to be special ordered either online or from your pharmacy), Desitin and A&D (have not yet used A&D). Personally, I think Flanders is the best! I’ve used Desitin (max strength) once when her diaper rash was so red and not getting better with a few applications of Flanders (that’s usually all it takes to clear her rash - 2 or 3 diaper changes with application of Flanders). Occasionally Adleigh will get a small spot of what our pediatrician called “erosive” diaper rash. It’s hard to explain, it’s usually just a little rawer than a typical diaper rash. When she gets that, I put some Mylanta (yes, liquid adult antacid) on a Q-tip and dab it on the spot. It needs to dry a little before putting the diaper back on (my pediatrician recommended using a blow dryer… but that would never work cause she would pee/poop all over her clean diaper if I did that) so I usually just blow on it for a few seconds.

Changing Table/Dresser or some form of a changing station: I am using a regular dresser as Adleigh’s changing table. It’s great because it’s full-size so I have all the drawers to keep everything organized (see later blog about organization with baby). Plus, she can use it forever since it’s not infant specific. If you REALLY wanted to minimize you can totally just use a flat surface and a blanket or changing mat - but that does become difficult when baby starts to roll around. I have found that Adleigh LOVES to be changed on just the changing mat because she can slip and slide all over it and she loves that! However, we do use a changing table with a changing pad when we are at home.  Most changing pads are standard. Changing pad cover is parent preference – they come in all different materials and colors, etc. I also recommend getting waterproof changing pad liners to place on top of the cover. That way when your baby has an accident you can just put the liner in the wash, replace it with an extra and you don’t have to take off the whole cover.

Diaper bag with changing mat: oooooh the diaper bag. Let me tell you, I went back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth again about our diaper bag. And, for the first 2 weeks or so I just used a tote bag (not a huge deal cause we hardly ever left home). Seriously, though. This is 100% parent preference. I will tell you how I landed on mine. I originally registered for a fairly expensive one that my friend had. It was super cute (didn’t look like a diaper bag necessarily, could be used as a travel bag post baby) and functional. But, as I said, it was expensive! Had someone gifted it to me, I would have kept it. But, as time drew nearer to Adleigh coming, I had not yet received it, so I started thinking more about it and asking my friends questions. The friend who had the diaper bag said she liked it a lot, but honestly did not think it was worth the extra money. Another friend told me to get something inexpensive and later in life buy a purse I like instead of an expensive diaper bag J. Ultimately I decided to go with inexpensive. I went to Target’s website (because I had lots of gift cards) and looked at pretty much every diaper bag <$50 and read all of their reviews. I also didn’t want a super colorful one or one with characters or anything on it. I found the Fisher-Price Fast-Finder Deluxe Diaper Bag. It’s plain black. It had good reviews. So I ordered it. It’s been great. Again, not the most fashionable bag, but it is SUPER functional, and functionality is key when you’re holding a baby in one arm and trying to find fill-in-the-blank with your other hand – bottle, blanket, burp cloth, etc. I’ll include more information about my diaper bag in a future blog about organization with baby.

Hangers: baby hangers for the tons and tons of clothes people will give you! I hang up everything except onesies, leggings/pants, and sleepwear.

Bassinet/crib waterproof mattress cover and sheets: I would suggest at least 2 sheets for baby’s crib and bassinet. A lot of mattresses now are made with a plastic top in order to be more waterproof. If this is the case for yours, you may not need a waterproof mattress pad. If not, you definitely need one to protect the mattress.

Baby book/calendar: you will want something to document everything going on with your baby. With technology now, you could probably get away without a physical book or calendar, but I love my baby calendar. I keep it hanging on the wall and write all her “firsts” on the days. I use it kind of like a scrapbook, too. I have included photos, ticket stubs (her first football game), hospital tags, etc.

Books: put down the iPad and pick up a book! I love reading to Adleigh. She is starting to get to where I feel like she is actually listening to the story.

Nose suction: I just use the bulb syringe they gave me in the hospital. I actually really like it. I also have the Nose Frida, but have not used it yet.

Bath soap and lotion: we have a big bottle of each that we have been using since birth and they aren’t even ¼ of the way gone. They last a long time! So if you don’t have a lot of cabinet space for all the bottles you’ll get from your baby showers, return them for gift cards and buy something else you need cause 1 big bottle is going to last us at least 6 months, probably more.

Car Seat: you can go with a convertible car seat or an infant car seat. There are pros and cons to both. I think the majority of people choose an infant car seat right away. The convenience of clicking the car seat in and out of the car, in and out of the stroller, and being able to carry your baby inside your house, or stores, or whatever without removing her from the car seat is a huge advantage. Another advantage is 1 car seat for multiple cars if you just buy and install additional car seat bases in multiple vehicles. The advantage of a convertible car seat is its length of use. Many convertible car seats are approved for birth to 60+ pounds – so potentially the entire time a child needs to be in a car seat. So, that’s one car seat for your baby’s whole childhood. There are LOTS of things to think about when making this decision. Bottom line, you need one, so just pick what’s best for you and your family.

Stroller: if you choose an infant car seat, you’ll want the stroller that goes with it. Otherwise, find a stroller that meets your needs. I honestly didn’t research strollers that much (it was far too overwhelming to me). I went to the store with a friend of mine, she showed me the one she had for her daughter, we played with it, I registered for it, done!

Comb/Brush: I use the cheap black comb they gave me in the hospital.

Camera: whether it’s your phone, a small inexpensive digital, or a top of the line DSLR camera – have something handy all the time to document your sweet baby growing up!

Baby Monitor: another thing that was super overwhelming to me. I passed this to David since I consider it technology and that’s his department. We ultimately picked one that a friend recommended. You just want to consider your priorities. Audio, video, or both? High definition? Black and white or color? Night vision? Two-way communication? Ability to view from your cell phone while not at home? Size of the handheld monitor? Battery life of handheld monitor? Auto-off? Motion/sound activated lights? Etc. etc.

Baby Clothes: little girl clothes are ADORABLE. And, people LOVE to buy babies clothes! Needless to say, we got a TON of clothes at our baby shower. What you keep in the closet for your child is up to you – personally, I felt wasteful to have soooo many clothes for her. I wanted to have enough clothes per size for her that we could always carry an extra outfit with us just in case, and so I didn’t have to do laundry every day or every other day but also not too many where she only wore an outfit once before she grew out of it. I still haven’t figured out that magic number. See more information about her clothes in a future blog.

If you’re a nursing mom you will need a few additional things. I have so much to say about breastfeeding. Stay tuned for a separate blog.

So, baby stuff definitely adds up – but, if you truly get only the things you need, it’s not really that much. It looks like a lot in this blog because I put so many comments :) BUT, we still have a lot of other stuff that is not listed above in the “you really need” list.  So, part 2 of this blog is coming and I will discuss the stuff I have that I really enjoy, but could most likely live without.

Also, the following are some things I have that I haven’t used yet – so I can’t really say if they are a “really need” or an “enjoy but could live without”: (I plan to discuss all these things as she grows into them)

  • Portable high chair
  • Bath toy organizer (Munchkin Scoop, Drain, and Store)
  • Bath mat for inside the tub (Walmart InterDesign Pebblz Bath Mat)
  • Bath toys
  • Playyard: Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym, Baby Einstein Play Gym
  • Teethers
  • Safety Plug Protectors
  • Thermometer: note, I have used the plain oral thermometer the hospital gave me a couple times under her armpit. I have not yet used the fancier one – I don’t think it’s accurate until babies are a certain age.
  • Shopping Cart Cover
  • Loveys
  • Bibs
Please share your comments! What am I missing on the "really need" list? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The One with George Stephanopoulos

The other night I had a dream that I was failing miserably to study for a test in school… then I woke up and realized I would likely feel this way for the rest of my life trying to raise my sweet baby girl. Every day, every decision will feel like a test – in fact, it already does. Should I wake her up from that beautiful, peaceful sleep to feed her? Did she eat enough or should I offer her the bottle, too? Should she be awake now or should we be trying to put her to sleep? Should I feed her every 2 hours or every 3 hours? Should I call the doctor for this little rash? Is it too hot to take her for a walk? Can we go to the store with her? Literally, hundreds of questions go through my head everyday related to her. No doubt I’ll get some right and I’ll get some wrong – but at the end of the day everyday, I hope I can close my eyes (for my brief periods of sleep) knowing I did the absolute best I could to care for her.

Today is/was Adleigh’s due date. The Lord had other plans, and today she is 4 weeks old! I have been a mom for about 10 months now (since she was conceived), and for 4 whole weeks my baby girl has been out of the womb and in my arms. She is truly a miracle and David and I thank God constantly for giving her to us. I am in awe of the Lord’s provision and His miracles every time I look at her.
I have absolutely loved these past 4 weeks! Sure, I’m tired and can get a little stir crazy at home – but I have wanted to be a mom for a long, long time and I am certainly not going to take it for granted. I don’t love getting up in the middle of the night to feed her, but I do love her and I’m pretty sure she emits some sort of hormone that makes me not so tired and not so upset to have to do it!

We’ve had some difficulties with breast feeding which has made me feel totally inadequate – but then I reach out to my community of friends/moms and learn that these difficulties are super common, and will likely resolve in time. I’m so thankful for all my friends who have kids who are so willing to answer my continuous stream of questions I throw at them all day every day.

I love this girl so much. It’s truly indescribable. I can’t imagine not having her in our lives. I have great hopes and dreams for her; so many things I can’t wait for her to be able to do… yet I want her to stay little and not grow up, ever! The post partum hormones and emotions are crazy! Being a mom is the greatest job ever. I know I will fail her every single day, make a wrong choice, accidentally hurt her while cutting her nails (yup, that’s already happened), not soothe her quickly enough – but, thanks to the grace of God, she’s still mine!

David and I pray that we will be good parents… that we will lead her to Jesus and she’ll grow up to love the Lord with all her heart and live for Him. We pray that our family will bring glory to God and give the world a picture of His love. We are 4 weeks in… trying to figure life out as a family of 3, walking around doing life with a piece of our heart now living in someone else.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The One with the Thumb

It’s been about 4 and ½ years since I blogged! And, by “blog” I mean, shared 2 posts with the world 4 and ½ years ago. Clearly I’m very good at sticking with things I start…

Well, with baby on the way and modified bed rest ordered by my (wonderful) doctor, I have kind of run out of things to do… “Modified bed rest” – basically means take it easy. I can still work (since I can sit the majority of the day as a hospital pharmacist), I can still do normal activities of daily living (shower, make food, walk around the house a little, etc.), I can drive, I can go run some errands if necessary (well maybe, that last one is a liberty I take, but I promise I don’t push it!).  

Really, my list of things I cannot do is shorter, so far. I canNOT work out, at all, zero! No taking walks, no jogging (who wants to do that anyway), no jumping jacks, sit-ups, and definitely no CrossFit. This has been a really tough adjustment for me, and for David. We started CrossFit Feburary 4, 2013 (yes, I just went through all my tweets and instagram posts to find that day I posted my 4:57 am alarm clock picture). So since 2/4/13 CrossFit has been a part of our lives basically 5 days a week. When David and I were living in Anderson the drive to and from CrossFit at 5:00 am was some of the sweetest time in our marriage. I could go on and on about CrossFit, and I probably will, in a later post, but even though there really is no point to this blog, or this specific post, CrossFit is not the point. Regardless, having to stop CrossFit at 30 weeks pregnant has been tough – I miss the adrenaline, the sweat, the accomplishments, the community and camaraderie. And I know my husband misses having someone get up with him at 4:35 am. It’s a lot harder to keep going when your spouse is snoozing away in bed next to you while your alarm is sounding off.

I’m super thankful that I was able to keep working out as long as I did. I know it made a huge difference in how I felt during my pregnancy, and definitely helped keep away some of the extra lbs that can easily accumulate during this stage in life. I really wanted to be able to say I did CrossFit until the very end – but I have recognized that as a pride issue. My doctor spelled it out for me when I was told I had to quit, “You are no longer Amanda; you are now an incubator.”

So, here I was at 30 weeks pregnant being told I was no longer Amanda. Basically, I was “Mom.” I was not mentally prepared for that. I knew changes were coming and in about 10 weeks I would have to somehow become “Mom” but I thought I still had 2 and 1/2 more months to be selfish Amanda just casually growing our baby inside me. Reality check!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I have or will lose my identity. I realize I am still “Amanda” and that was the doctor’s extreme way of saying, take care of baby now above yourself – but at only ¾ of the way through my pregnancy, I just wasn’t ready to hear that it was time to slow down. That’s when “modified bed rest” was ordered.

So, when I get home from work and on my days off, I’m not really doing much. This has been difficult for me because I am a “goer” and a “doer.” If at home I’m usually running all over the house doing chores, constantly trying to keep up with the cleaning (believe me, I KNOW this will all get worse/harder when baby comes) and tidying. Now, I have to sit on the couch or lie down and “take it easy.” I have been reading my Bible (I’m attempting to read through the Bible in 2016, so far I’m right on track), reading other books, watching TV, writing thank you notes, trying to pick out baby names, getting paperwork done for maternity leave…. And that’s about it. I scroll through Facebook and Instagram more times than I’d like to admit – but really, there’s only so much you can do at home!

I cannot say enough good things about my friends and family during this time. Great friends have offered to come clean the house for me since I shouldn’t be doing that now (and probably because they know how neurotic I am about having my house clean). My parents came and stayed with me while David was away – they cooked, they shopped, they did the nursery – mom pulled everything out of the closets into neat piles for me to easily go through – and, as if that wasn’t enough, dad cleaned the whole house before they left, down to the baseboards. I know the transition hasn’t been easy for David either – he is definitely an equal (if not more) contributor to the house chores and duties, so I understand having to pick up my half isn’t fun. He is definitely in support of keeping baby inside of me right now, so he has been such a blessing picking up my slack. I’m so thankful to have him as my lifelong partner – we make a great team.

I make no blog promises, but I’m hoping to continue to post. It’s therapeutic – and let’s be honest, it gives me something to do!