Baby Stuff: Must Haves

As our third child, June really shouldn’t need anything. I saved EVERYTHING from Reese and James’s baby days. Clothes, shoes, toys, bassinets, cribs, rockers, literally everything. When I was pregnant I was determined not to buy anything else, baby stuff has a way of slowly taking over your house until you are drowning in it. And baby instagrams, blogs, and advertisers make you think that you need EVERYTHING! I mean how did the pilgrims ever have all those children without an HD video monitor that could connect to Wifi so they could share snapshots with their friends?? Times were trying.

However, after our first sleepless night in the hospital (June had a marathon night where she was awake and fussing from 11 PM until 5 AM), Andrew and I would have paid any amount of money for any magic sleep suit, dock a kid, miracle bed, whatever! We have softened in our old age and one sleepless night had us Amazon Priming it up at 5:30 AM, in search of some baby sleep trick gimmick.

Since being home, there are a few things that have made these first few weeks easier, and a few that I could not have lived without.

Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

21543108

I know I am late to the party on this one, but this thing has been saving us at night. We got a hand me down rock and play from my sister and June has slept in it almost every night since we got home. She sleeps so much better in this than in the co-sleeper that we have. The co-sleeper was initially attractive to me because it kept the baby close to me and was also recommended for moms who had c-sections because you wouldn’t have to get out of the bed to get the baby. I didn’t find it easier though, I still had to completely sit up then kneel and reach into the bassinet to get her and lift her out. It was an awkward motion and after the first night I was in pain from all the moving. I don’t know if it was just our bed, but the sleeper never lined up directly with our bed, so I couldn’t just roll the baby into my bed and feed her, which is what I had imagined. The downside of the rock and play is that I did have to get completely out of bed to get the baby when she woke, but it cradled her, and she wasn’t just lying flat on a firm mattress like in a crib or bassinet. June loves it, and right now, she sleeps for 3 and sometimes even 4 hour stretches in it at night. I wish I had had this for Reese and James!

Swaddle Me Blankets
swaddle
I have used these with all of my kids and they are the best, especially in the first few weeks when the babies are itty bitty and still craving that womb-like feeling. Having their hands cuddled inside stopped their startle reflex from constantly waking them, and since you can’t use blankets, I never had to worry about them being cold. Also, the SwaddleMe brand was my favorite because the newborn sizes fit June perfectly and they never creep up around her face and mouth like some of the other brands do.

Reusable Nursing Pads
pads
I love reusable things. With the first two kids, I used disposable nursing pads, which were fine, but if I ran out of them I was screwed would have to stuff toilet paper in my bra all day long. I also hated how fast I went through them. This time I tried some organic bamboo nursing pads that I found on Amazon and I LOVE them. They are super absorbent and soft, you can wear them longer than the disposable ones and you can use them over and over. They are a little more bulky, so sometimes they can show through a thinner bra and shirt, but for the most part I love these. They are machine washable (I just throw them in with our regular laundry) and even come with a washing bag so they don’t get lost in the black holes that are my washer and dryer.

If You’re Nursing, A Good Pump
normalInsurance will now give you a free breast pump (holler!) but I still use the one that I got when Reese was born, the Medela Freestyle. My insurance didn’t provide a pump when Reese was born, but I was working at the time, pumping three times a day, and needed something that was easy. I bought the Freestyle and I don’t think I could have lasted a year of breastfeeding without it. It’s hands-free so I could continue working while I was pumping and the pump itself is small enough to hold in one hand and walk around with if needed. The battery life is long, so you aren’t tied to a plug the whole time you’re pumping, and the bag and cooler that are provided are small and make transporting everything easy. When I had James I got the free pump that insurance provided but ended up donating it because I just continued to use the Freestyle. This time, after hearing that my pump was 5 years old the nurses at the hospital basically insisted that I get a new one through insurance. The Freestyle isn’t covered completely, so you still have to pay out-of-pocket for a portion of it (I’m not exactly sure how much.) But because of that, I just got one that was free, the Medela Pump in Style. I still prefer the Freestyle though and continue to use it, and after two years of pumping it still works great. If you are working and planning on breastfeeding I would definitely recommend paying more for the Freestyle; the bag, the hands-free option and the small size make everything SO much easier. If you won’t need something every day, I would just use the free one through insurance; the Pump In Style gets the job done it’s just harder to tote around and doesn’t come with a bag to carry all that crap in.

All of This Happened

img_7945img_6334img_6726img_7518img_7846img_7431img_7903

DSC_0346

DSC_0357

So, I haven’t exactly been hiding, but I spent much of the past 9 months looking like this, so there hasn’t been much time for blogging.

img_7325Our third born, June Powers, arrived on August 23rd, 2017 at 11 AM, one week early, via a scheduled c-section.

And she is just beautiful. None of us can stop looking at her. She came into the world kicking and screaming and weighing in at 7 lbs 3 oz, our smallest baby yet. She is quiet and gentle until she gets hungry. Then she is pissed. She seems to be unfazed by the screaming/yelling, non-stop talking, and tackling that goes on in our house, so I think she will survive here nicely.

Her first week here has been chaotic. James and Reese both started school and there were visiting days and orientations, not to mention dealing with the aftermath of a pipe that burst in our basement while we were in the hospital.

Meanwhile, June is straight chillin’ all day long. She sleeps at night. The first couple of nights home from the hospital I actually had to wake her for her feedings. For the record, when other people told me they had to do this with their newborn babies, I secretly never believed them. I know this may not continue, but it’s nice to have right now, while trying to recover from the c-section and get two kids up and out the door for school in the morning. Sidenote: I laugh a little inside when I say things like “get the kids up and out the door for school.” It’s so mom-ish.

I actually love the chaos this time around. Reese was born in November and because the weather was terrible, flu season was nearing, and she was our only child, her and I pretty much spent her first winter hunkered down in our living room watching Laguna Beach reruns. When James arrived two years later in March, the weather was better but we also had a two-year old who wasn’t in school yet, woke insanely early, never went to bed easily and could do very little for herself. Sicknesses ravaged our house those first few months and those were probably some of the hardest days of my life. I could remember feeling guilty just wishing that James would hit that 3 month mark and maybe start sleeping better. I felt like I was wishing his babyness away. So far, I don’t have those feelings this time.

Now, Reese is in school full-time, we have swimming lessons and soccer practices to go to and June will be dragged to everything. Much like any younger sibling, and I think she will roll with it.

Here are some glimpses of our first few days.

img_7937

img_7942CSC_0389

img_7999

img_7993

img_8074

 

 

Little Bird Creations

DSC_0978

April from Little Bird Creations sent me this adorable bundle of hand sewn bandana bibs, feeding bibs and a changing pad.

The first thing that surprised me about these bibs was the quality. Because the bibs are pretty affordable, I was expecting a cheapie bib that wouldn’t wash well, couldn’t handle much wear, and was mainly a fashion accessory. Not the case here! The bibs are incredibly soft and that softness held through the wash. They are also thick and handled James’s out of control drooling (teething) all day. No more cold, wet ring around the neck of all of his shirts! And they looked pretty cute too.

IMG_5087

IMG_5089

The bibs are customizable so you can choose the fabric, the pattern, and the type of closure that you want. Yay for snap closures that James can’t rip off himself and throw on the grocery store floor! The pattern choices are my favorite part. All the patterns  at Little Bird are adorable, but I love that there are a lot of gender neutral options. Take it from someone who didn’t find out the sex of either of her babies, gender neutral stuff is hard to find.

The changing pad was another great surprise, because it was better than the thin, crappy one that came with my diaper bag. I had actually ruined that one when I tried to wash it (yes, they gave me a changing pad that was not washable.) It has enough padding so baby is comfortable when you lay him down on those public restroom changing tables, its washable (!) and it is pretty friggin’ cute. Also, it can be rolled up so it doesn’t take up my whole bag.

I can’t say enough about how much I liked my Little Bird creations. Anything from the shop would make a great gift, and you wouldn’t have to feel ridiculous about how much you were spending on a baby’s bib.

Also there is this, which I just saw and now feel that I need for Reese. Girlfriend would lose her mind for a mermaid tail.

Here is Jamesie killin’ it in some of our samples

DSC_0986

DSC_0989

*I was not compensated for this review but did receive free products from Little Bird Creations.

 

James at 18 months

DSC_0634

18 months young.

Our boy is walking, running, jumping and CLIMBING like a maniac. The other day I found him standing on the kitchen table jumping up and down. Always with this grin.

IMG_3912

The current phase is beating the crap out of his sister and sometimes, out of me. He has discovered hitting and he uses it whenever something is taken away from him, or when he’s tired. So basically he is hitting 80% of the time. The other day at the playground another mother said “he is just so cute!” just as he started trying to climb up another boy. I picked him up and he slapped me in the face. So cute!

Despite this new fun phase, James is a snuggler, and when he’s being nice, he loves his sister to death. Often giving kisses and hugs. I think they are kisses and hugs; they are definitely more aggressive than one would imagine hugs and kisses should be, but they usually don’t end in tears so, yay!

He likes other kids and especially, older girls. Whenever we are out somewhere where there are other kids, he beelines for the girls who look to be about Reese’s age and either hugs them, or holds his arms up to them, asking to be picked up.

He is a sleepaholic. He still takes two, two-hour naps a day. He goes to bed between 6:30 and 7 and he usually wakes around 9. He has slept till 10:30 AM on more than one occasion. Please stay this way forever.

He is still big and beautiful. A big, beautiful beefcake with the most adorable curls. He literally has ringlets in the back of his head and I won’t get his hair cut because I’m afraid they will cut off the curls and his hair will grow back straight.

He likes most foods but favorites are graham crackers (when he sees the brown packaging he starts hyperventilating), corn, bananas, applesauce, Kix, pizza, chicken parm and sweet potatoes.

Jamers is ALL boy. He loves running and jumping and throwing and crashing stuff together. Trucks are his favorite, particularly tractors.

He has a few words, definitely not as many as Reese had at this age but he babbles all day long. He says, “tractor”, “car”, “mama”, “dada”, and “dirty.” All with a Boston accent, “tracktah!”IMG_4122IMG_3196IMG_4138

Bedtime is my favorite part of the day with James. After stories and some milk he puts his head on my shoulder and lets me rock him to sleep. This is something Reese never let me do, she was always trying to wriggle out of my arms. When we’re done rocking, he allows himself to be put down awake and sometimes sits up in the crib to wave goodbye to me. And everytime he does it, I just die.

DSC_0722

Transitions

DSC_0671_phixr FullSizeRender_phixr

I love big families. My sisters are my best friends. I want my kids to have the experiences I had growing up. Sharing bedrooms, road tripping  jam-packed in the back of a station wagon, always having a playmate, etc.

Before I had James, a friend told me that they had heard that the transition from 1 to 2 kids was more of a life changer than then the transition from 0 to 1 kid. At the time, this seemed impossible to me. When you have your first kid, it is no longer just you, and it never will be again. Now there is this little person who feels like they are literally a part of you. What bigger change is there than this?

Then came James. Then there were two little people who depended on me for absolutely everything. It felt like someone needed something ever single minute of the day. And night. And that’s because they did.

When one finally fell asleep the other would wake up. When one had a great night and slept till 8 AM the other would be up at 4. There was no “sleeping when the baby sleeps” this time around.

Instead of peacefully nursing my baby to sleep in a rocker, I was nursing him to sleep while making a sandwich for the other kid and shoving cold spaghetti into my own mouth. The ratio of kids to adults was equal, but somehow Andrew and I still felt outnumbered.

Others have told me that the third kid is really no biggie. They have actually said this. People who have told me this are in agreement that the second kid can be a total shocker, but claimed that once the third comes it doesn’t really change much. Just another body. I can’t fathom this, I mean, when the third kid comes the mom and dad actually are outnumbered. The mom can grab one kid and the dad can grab another, but will the third run away and be lost forever?

So at this moment, I do feel like the transition from 1 to 2 kids was much greater than from 0 to 1 kid. Out first few months with James, I have deemed the “holy shit months.” Nothing could have prepared us for that. And I say that honestly, but with love. We were overwhelmed, tired, and a little scared.

But then he started sleeping, and he and Reese started interacting and playing together. They could actually entertain each other for a few minutes. Reese could occupy James at an age when I had never been able to keep Reese occupied long enough to do the dishes, or go to the bathroom.

So it is different this time around, but just like with a first baby, it has been more wonderful than anything else. Completely different, but still wonderful.

 

James Eli At One Year

019

The slowest yet the fastest, the most challenging and the most life-changing year of my life. All at the same time.

I spent a lot of James’s first few months wishing that he was just a little bit older. Just a few more weeks and he won’t be nursing every three hours. Just a few more weeks and he will be sleeping for longer stretches, and so will I. Just a few more weeks and he will be eating solids and maybe sleeping more. Just a few more weeks and I can set him down and he’ll be able to sit up on his own. Just a few more weeks and he’ll be sleeping more….. This all sounds familiar. Have I said this before?

Since day one, James has been a joy when he is awake. Easy going, adaptable, smiley. Sleeping has been a struggle and he is just now (like literally days ago) sleeping through the night. The sleep deprivation that I always pictured coming with motherhood came. And everything seemed harder.

And now he’s one year old and it won’t slow down. Tomorrow he will be asking for the car keys.

At his one year appointment he weighted in at 21.64 lbs, the 59th percentile, and measured 28.5, the 24th percentile. So he is definitely one of us.

James is a tough guy. He’s Jimmy Mac and he lives in the red house on the cah-nah (corner.) He doesn’t take shit from anyone. Including his sister. Ya heard?

He gets dragged to a lot of Reese’s older kid activities (it doesn’t end here James, take it from someone with 2 older siblings) but he doesn’t seem to know he’s the youngest one there and he will grab that train from the 4 year old like it’s no thing. Gangster.

He eats all of everything. Chicken parm is his favorite, and he prefers it with a side of pasta. Heavy on the sauce.

He loves to look out the window and watch the cars. If he hears a honk, he will immediately point to the window, demanding to be brought over and see what the fuss is about. On most days, when he wakes up from an afternoon nap, about 4:00 or so, we stand in the kitchen, moving from window to window until he’s seen it all.

His favorite thing to do is walk with his cart. He looks like a mad grocery shopper. He goes back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room, pausing only in the doorway, where he yells until someone comes and helps him over the little bump that separates the rooms. Reese relishes in this task and races over to him yelling (way too loudly) “I’m comin’ James!”

He crawls (a combo of an army crawl and a normal crawl on all 4s) at the speed of light. Any time a door opens, he bolts towards it, and sometimes I can barely stop him in time.

His life goal right now is to climb the stairs freestyle.

He says “dada” and “touch” and something that sounds like “this and that” but we aren’t sure.

Since Andrew and I went on vacation he has stopped nursing, and also started sleeping through the night.

His sister is the love of his life, but he is also very aware that she is the taker of toys and someone who needs to be dealt with with caution. Smart boy.

He loves banging things together.

He can clap and wave goodbye.

He has 5 teeth and I think he is one of the few men who can pull off buck teeth.

He is handsome as ever. I am his mom so I know I’m biased, but come on.

IMG_2874

DSC_0520935

 

DSC_0461

IMG_0231

DSC_0562

 

5 Days Away

DSC_0536

IMG_2698

Andrew and I went away, by ourselves, for five whole days.

In January, we found out that Andrew won a trip to Cancun for him and a guest through his work. It could not have come at a better time for us. I felt like I hadn’t slept in a year, and the minute I heard the word “vacation” I imagined a full 4 nights of glorious, uninterrupted sleep, that did not include a three-year old plastered to my back (sorry girl.)

For the kids, however, it probably could not have come at a worse time.

James was still nursing and still not sleeping through the night, and I had never been away from either of them for more than 1 night.

Our parents volunteered to stay at our house while we were gone and the kids were thrilled about this, which made it a little easier to leave.

I pumped breast milk to leave for James and started introducing cow’s milk in the hopes that he wouldn’t mind not nursing while we were gone. He didn’t (at least that’s what they tell me) and I have now returned to a child who is 100% weaned. So that’s my advice for weaning your child; go away on vacation for a week and leave some other poor soul to handle it. Because that is basically what I did.

As stressed as I was about leaving them, when we arrived at the white, sandy beaches of Cancun and I got a mojito in my hand, I forgot I had kids.

Just kidding family!

This was unlike any other vacation I have ever taken. Not just because of where we stayed  (Le  Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun, which was amazing), but because I appreciated literally every single second of it. When we sat on the tarmac for 3 hours (!!) on our way there, I was pretty much ok. I mean, reading my book in peace for three whole hours? That right there is kind of a vacation.

We did everything you can’t do with kids. We sat (like literally sat and did not get up) on the beach all day, slept late, worked out, lounged (once again, without getting up) by the pool, stayed up late, danced, sang karaoke, went on a catamaran, did I mentioned slept?

For me, five days was the perfect amount of time to be away. By the end of the trip I felt like I was aching for that little three-year old to be in bed with me again.

I know not everyone can do this (we normally can’t either) but looking back, it was something we needed. Yes, it seemed like a huge pain to get ready for this, yes, I always feel a little guilty leaving the kids and yes, there were many times during this trip when I thought, “I wish they were here to see this.” But, Andrew and I reconnected in a way that we hadn’t since before we had kids. I hate myself for that cliché sentence right there, I really do, but it’s true. Being able to just hang out together, alone, uninterrupted for an extended period of time is a rarity now a days, and we know this, so everything seemed extra special.

I will say though, that coming home to our babies was one of my favorite parts of this vacation.

DSC_0541

CSC_0563

IMG_2720

2015-02-27 15.39.572015-02-27 11.46.32

A Note About Cloth Diapers

We are on round 2 with our Bum Genius cloth diapers and we are still pretty happy with how they are holding up. Reese wore them for almost 3 years and James has been in them for about a year now and in terms of leaking and fit, they still work as well as they did on day one.

One problem we had been experiencing though, was staining. After about 2 years of using them with Reese I started to feel like they weren’t getting as clean as they used to. There was some staining that wouldn’t come out, and sometimes the diapers still seemed to smell after a wash, resulting in me having to strip them more often, and sometimes having to do multiple wash cycles. I read a lot of different articles on washing cloth diapers, and most articles said the same thing; strip the diapers more, assure you are using cloth diaper safe diaper ointment, and just do more wash cycles if you have to. Ugh.

Then I received this helpful article from a friend.

Before this I had been washing the diapers using Bum Genius detergent and Borax, and would start with a hot rinse, then a wash cycle with an extra rinse. The Bum Genius detergent was expensive and I always had to order it online because it’s not sold in any stores near me.

Since reading this article I have started using Tide Free and Clear and Borax to wash the diapers. I still use the same process; a rinse, followed by a wash with an extra rinse and I swear the diapers are cleaner and never smell anymore. I also have never noticed any irritation on James since switching to regular detergent.

Maybe I am the only person who believed the instructions on my diapers when it said that I had to use special detergent but in case I wasn’t I thought I would share here.  I just wish I knew about this three years ago.

 

 

 

Mommy Wars

Similac’s new ad campaign is hilarious, poignant, and in my opinion spot on.

Since I stopped working (outside of the home that is, calm down) and started socializing more with other moms, I have learned that “mommy wars” is a true story. Moms be crazy.

Bravo to Similac for reminding us what it’s really all about.