Monday, March 30, 2015

Must-Have Products for New Moms!

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Must-Have Monday is back with some of my favorite products especially for new moms!

1.  Nursing tanks.  Both of my kids are warm-weather babies, but nursing tanks are essential for any season.  I'm a fan of the tanks from Target for wear around the house and even to bed, but even if you're not a nursing mama, this Undercover Mama Nursing Tank Top is still essential.  The tank hooks to your nursing bra so you don't have extra straps to worry about and I don't know what it is about the material, but it has a slimming quality, which every new mom needs to feel better about her new body!  Wearing a nursing tank under your regular shirt allows you to quickly, conveniently, and discreetly nurse your baby while showing very little skin.  I have two, and even though my nursing journey is coming to an end, I wouldn't mind having a few more.

2.  The Wet Hair Brush.  This brush is seriously ah-may-zing.  My only regret is that I did not know about it sooner.  My hair is longish, and this brush gets the kinks out with very little effort or pain.

3.  LilyPadz Reusable Silicone Nursing Pads.  These nursing pads are the best!  They stick right onto the breast and they're not bulky, so even if you're wearing a nursing tank or a sleeping bra, they're pretty discreet.  They're also perfect for nursing in your swim suit at the pool.  They last for quite a while too.  I used them with both of my children, and I only needed one set per kid.

4.  Mommy Necklace.  I wrote about my love for Mommy Necklaces here.  They are stylish and safe to wear around your baby and/or toddler.  They keep a nursing baby from getting distracted and they are fun for baby to play with while they're in the carrier.  Don't worry about baby breaking the necklace, it has a special clasp that makes it very difficult for even me to take off!

5.  iBabyLog app.  This app is the best, especially for new, tired mommies.  You can track baby's feeding times (bottle or breast), which side (if breastfeeding), sleep times, play times, diaper changes, medications, etc.  The app is totally free!!! And, you can share information with other caregivers who have the app as well!

All of the products will make your life as a new mommy easier, guaranteed!  Should anything be added to the list?  Please comment and it will be featured in an upcoming post!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winner Winner!!

Rafflecopter has randomly chosen a winner for the Black & White Nourish Mommy Necklace and the winner is....

Congrats Mayla!  I appreciate all who entered and I hope you all will continue to read my little 'ole blog!  I look forward to doing more giveaways in the future!

It just so happens that Mommy Necklaces also reached 19,000 followers on Facebook yesterday and they are offering a deal on their website!  You can get two chic strands for $19!  It only lasts for a few more hours, so hurry over!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Must-Have Monday: Baby Toys for 6-12 Months

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Must-Have's back!!  I admit, I got a little bogged down with the must-haves.  To be honest, nothing is really a must-have.  I mean, food, water, shelter.  Those are must-haves.  Baby toys? Not really.  But, I like making lists.  And I like sharing my favorite things.  Call me Oprah.  Without the money.  Baby girl got a TON of toys for Christmas.  More than any baby needs, if you ask me.  She'd be happy with a box and a remote.  But a real remote.  Not one of those fake Fisher Price deals.  She knows the difference.  Baby genius.  But anyways, I thought I'd share some of her favorites.  If you can even call it that.  Do I really know they are her favorite?  No.  It's not like she's talking to me, telling me, "Hey, I really like that toy over there.  You should put it on your blog so other babies who have sucker mommies will buy it for them too!"  But, she does show some preference to some toys.  And there are some toys that I just really enjoy as well.

1.  Green Toys .  My sister-in-law found them in a specialty toy store, but I found them on Amazon.  I win.  First of all, they're made in the USA. Who doesn't love that?  Second, they're green.  Not the color green. Well, some of them are.  But they're made from recycled milk jugs!  We have these stacking cups and a little toy car.  So while you're teaching baby how to stack (they also nest for easy storage), you can also teach her about the environment and recycling.  Kidding.  Kind of.  They also have numbers 1-6 printed on them and they also are "volumetrically accurate."  Who knew volumetrically was a word?  I think I like it.  Anyways, as baby gets older, you can teach math concepts with these as well.  If you pour water in the cup labeled 1 and the cup labeled 2, together they will fill up the cup labeled 3.  Pretty cool, right?  I'm excited to make a water/sand table this summer and play with these.

2. Bright Starts Having A Ball Toys, Count and Roll Buggie.  This is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.  First of all, it teaches counting and numbers.  It also teaches hand-eye coordination, because babies put the balls into the bug to make it start.  Once all three balls are placed in the bug, it starts rolling around and playing music, then eventually the wings open and dumps the balls out.  My baby is not a crawler yet, but I'm sure she will have so much fun chasing them around.  Fair warning, it doesn't roll very well on carpeted floors, but everything else works great.

3. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Toys.  We have more Fisher Price Laugh & Learn toys than I know what to do with.  We have the medical kit, shopping tote, vanity mirror, and lamp, among others.  I actually just bought the Learning Home second hand on a local selling wall. Big time score!  Baby girl and her big brother LOVE to have tea parties though.  I dare say he enjoys it more than she does right now!  He was very disappointed when a little girl in his class had a tea party for her birthday and only invited the girls.  :(  The tea pot sings and counts.  It also teaches manners by saying, "please" and "thank you" and has sound effects as you tip the kettle to "pour" into the cup.  Of course, it's always fun to pretend to eat the yummy desserts.

4.  Cloth Crinkle Books Of course, books are always a great thing for kids of all ages.  Baby girl especially loves the touch and feel books right now, but the cloth crinkle books are also a great option.  My kid loves the sound of the paper at the doctor's office.  The crinkle books make the same sound, and she goes wild for them!

So these are just a few of our favorite toys right now.  The neat thing about these toys is that they really do grow with the child.  So if your child begins to get bored, put them away for a while and get them back out in a few months.  Just don't be like me with my first and put toys away and never get them back out again!  Anyone else have other recommendations for baby toys?  Feel free to comment to add to the list!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, but I was not paid for the review of any items.  I, or someone else who loves to spoil my kid bought everything on this list for her.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

What's Your Excuse?

The whole "What's Your Excuse?" thing started when Maria Kang posted a picture of herself in workout attire surrounded by her three young children. It bugged me then, it still bugs me now. Even moreso, I'm starting to see my "friends" on social media starting to use the #whatsyourexcuse hashtag. At first I couldn't pinpoint what exactly unnerved me about it. Was it because I have a million excuses? Was it because I wish I could find time to workout, but I really, truly can't? I really didn't think that was it. I finally brought it up to my husband. My husband does find time to workout. He goes to the gym about four times a week. So when I told him I was severely bothered by the whole #whatsyourexcuse movement, I wanted to know his opinion. Was I jealous of these friends? I told him I felt like it was an almost self-righteous statement. Like an "I'm better than you" sort of thing. He agreed. This coming from a same "friend" who posted the new commercial with all the moms judging each other's parenting and said "I'm sorry for judging my fellow moms." Really? Because I'm pretty sure every time you brag about getting up at 6am on a Saturday to work out with your trainer and say #whatsyourexcuse, you're judging. If we posted a picture of our nice car sitting in the driveway of our nice house with the hashtag #whatsyourexcuse it would be very distasteful, and something I would never dream of doing! Here's the deal. Even though you're asking, you don't care one bit about my excuses. I have a million of them, and a lot are very valid, but it doesn't matter. You're posting #whatsyourexcuse because you think you are better than me. You are judging me. Everyone comes from all walks of life and has different circumstances. Circumstances that you don't know about, and to be honest, are none of your business.  I workout whenever I can, whether I can sneak away 45 minutes to go to the gym, or do a 20 minute fitness video at home.  I don't feel the need to make a spectacle of myself every time I do so.  If you are a #whatsyourexcuse gal, good for you for working out and staying in shape!  I'm sure you feel good about yourself after every workout.  Just don't make others feel bad about themselves for not being like you.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Snow Day Fun! Snow Ice Cream!

I LOVED snow days as a kid.  And now, since I'm a teacher I get to enjoy them with my kids!  There's just something thrilling about getting that 5 am phone call.  I'm not even kidding.  It doesn't even make me mad to get woken up that early.  One of my favorite snow day traditions is snow ice cream.  Even if it's too cold to go outside to play, we still will go out long enough to fill a bag with snow so that we can make some delicious snow ice cream.

There are TONS of variations that you will find on the web, but this is our tried-and-true recipe.  I offered to add chocolate once and my son almost lost it on me.  We don't mess with the original snow ice cream!

You will need:

That's it, people!  No need for the sweetened condensed milk or any of the other crazy ingredients I've seen.  These are all things we always have on hand, just in case a snow day hits us by surprise!  Just kidding, we obviously have these things on hand for other reasons.  Like cookies.

So after you've gone outside to play in the snow, grab a gallon-sized bag.  Better yet, take it out with you so you don't have to traipse snow throughout the house and get everything wet.  There's nothing worse than wet socks.  Fill the bag with snow that you haven't touched yet and hasn't touched the ground, then come inside to warm up and get started on the ice cream.  After you're nice and toasty, fill the bag with the sugar, milk, and vanilla, then have fun mixing.  The kids love this part.  Shake, shimmy, turn on some music and dance.  Once you feel like it's well-mixed, you're done!  Serve in bowls or eat it right out of the bag!

Even baby girl got a taste!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mommy Necklaces-Perfect for the Nursing Mother!

Between my two kids, I have nursed for 21 months, and still going strong with the baby girl.  Because I worked with my oldest, he mostly got bottles of pumped milk during the week, but I always nursed him on the weekends.  Since I'm home with baby girl, she nurses exclusively.  Even with all my experience, I never realized how distracted the nursing baby can get!  As much as you can say, "I've been there, done that," kids will always surprise you.  When I found Mommy Necklaces, I decided I needed to get one.  I was so pleasantly surprised by how much both myself and baby girl enjoyed it that I decided to contact the company to see if they would be willing to giveaway a necklace to one of my readers.  And guess what....(drumroll..)..they said YES!

So what are Mommy Necklaces?

Mommy Necklaces are durable, yet stylish necklaces that moms can feel safe wearing around their babies.  My child has already broken one of my gold chain necklaces, but I don't have to worry about her pulling on my Mommy Necklace.  Mommy Necklaces come in several different designs.  The original, dangling donut strand is designed to catch the eye of a nursing baby.  The necklace can be worn with or without the donut charm.  They also offer teether donut strands, that I just might be purchasing in the near future!  The locked donut strands are another option, but the donut charm cannot be removed.  Flat facets and short strands are other Mommy Necklace designs.

The faceted rocks strand is what I purchased, and love.  It's trendy, and reminds me of the beautiful costume jewelry that you can purchase at parties, but for a whole lot more money.  Unlike the Mommy Necklaces, that jewelry is not safe around babies.  The standard length of the faceted rocks strand is 20" but you can pay a little extra for a longer length.  I wear a lot of v-neck shirts, and I do wish my necklace was a bit longer, both for style and for practicality.  My baby loves to play with my necklace, especially while nursing, and a longer strand would make it easier.

There are several color options to choose from as well.  So much, in fact, that it makes it so difficult to choose just one!  I went with Entice, which I think matches both my style and my personality.  I'm not into flashy, showy jewelry, and the light purple, cream, and light green beads are easy to match most of my outfits.

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For my giveaway, I chose the the Nourish Necklace in black and white.  It is a standard 34" strand, the perfect length for a fiddling, feeding baby!
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How do I enter?

a Rafflecopter giveaway This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (sorry readers in China!).  The giveaway ends on February 11, 2015 at 12:00 midnight EST.  I purchased my own Mommy Necklace and contacted the company for a giveaway.  They provided this giveaway necklace in exchange for an honest review.   

Friday, January 16, 2015

The No-Sippy, No-Straw Solution!

Baby girl WILL NOT drink from a sippy cup.  It's probably due to the fact that she has never really been forced to take a bottle, but now that she's eating solid food three times a day, she NEEDS to drink some water!  We've tried Nuby and Munchkin brands, both soft spouts, and all she wants to do is chew on the spout.  I'm guessing some eventually gets in, because her bib is soaked by the time we take it away from her.  We've also tried straws, and she will let me just pour some into her mouth from the straw, but actually drinking from the straw?  Forget about it!  I am starting to get worried for when she does eventually wean and needs to take liquids from something other than me!  After researching other sippy cups that might work for our stubborn little angel, I came up with a solution of my own.

Introducing...the No-Sippy, No-Straw Solution!

Inspired by the spoutless cups designed for toddlers that I found on Amazon, I used a small square of Glad Press 'n Seal and placed it over a regular cup.  I then poked a small hole in the covering.  The hole in the picture actually turned out to be a bit too big and I will make it smaller next time.  Next, because I am dealing with an 8 month old, I held the cup for her and allowed her to drink from it.  The Press 'n Seal kept me from pouring a too-large amount into her mouth.  She wanted to try to hold the cup herself, but without handles it was a little difficult.  I think this is also the perfect solution for toddlers transitioning from a sippy to a regular cup.  I learned the hard way that kids need to learn how to drink from a regular cup before they go to preschool! 

Do you have a stubborn, no-sippy, no-straw baby?  What solutions do you have?  If you try this, let me know how it works for you!  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sensory Bags for Babies

I got "pinspired" this weekend and made a sensory bag for my 8 month old.  I can't even believe I have an 8 month old. Where the heck does time go?!  Yesterday was one of those days where it seemed whatever I did, I could not keep her happy or entertained for more than 10 minutes.  She got a TON of new toys at Christmas.  We worked our way through each toy until there were no more left.  Instead of rotating back through, I hopped on Pinterest and looked up "Activities for babies."  Of course, I got a million and one pins that I didn't have time to go through, but a sensory bag activity caught my eye and I decided to go for it.

My sensory bag was inspired by Plain Vanilla Mom but she used hair gel in her bag, and let's be honest here, I don't even dry my hair let alone put product in it, so I didn't have any hair gel laying around the house.  I did have dish soap, though, and that is what I used.  All you need is a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, some duct tape, dish soap, and little trinkets you can put inside the bag.  Everything I used I had in my house.

I first duct taped the sides of the bag.  Next, I dumped in the dish soap.  I used about 1/3 of the bottle shown here.  Then I scrounged up as many little trinkets I could find.  We had just cleaned the play room the day before, or else I probably wouldn't have had to look so hard!  I ended up putting in some plastic easter grass, a nickel, a penny, a square of bubble wrap, some plastic paper clips, some water beads, and (my favorite!) some glitter.  After adding everything inside the bag, I zipped it and sealed it with two layers of duct tape.  

Finally, I let baby girl have at it!  She loved it!  I had to show her what to do at first, but she loved smushing the dish soap around and feeling all of the different textures.  She had to be very closely supervised, though, because she does still enjoy putting everything in her mouth.  Those two teeth she has are very sharp and I didn't want her to puncture the bag.  A happy accident that occurred since I used dish soap is the more she played with it, it started to form bubbles.  That was fun for her (and my five-year-old) to see.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year

I don't think I've ever been so conflicted in my feelings before.  2014 was the toughest year of my life.  I was pregnant during the first months of 2014, and though I was very much looking forward to our baby girl's arrival, I was so very sick.  I was suffering from constant headaches, was under so much stress at work, and was beginning to deal with climbing blood pressure.  While my ob/gyn insisted I was fine, I knew differently.  We welcomed our baby girl in April, three weeks before her due date, and under very difficult circumstances.  After being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome and had to deliver her immediately, for both her health and mine.  Though small, she was perfectly healthy.  I, however, was not.  With extremely low blood platelets that wouldn't rise, and very high liver enzymes and a blood pressure that wouldn't decrease, I endured an 8-day hospital stay.  After an MRI and MRA, I was also informed that I had suffered several acute strokes at least two weeks prior due to my extremely high blood pressure for an extended period of time.  My daughter's birth will always be linked to this horrific time in my life.  Such a joyous occasion tarnished.  Thus, my conflicted feelings.  While I am so ready to bid farewell to 2014 and welcome 2015 with open arms, I can't help but feel guilty.  Is it right that I feel this way about the year my daughter was born?  Since I took a leave of absence from my job during this time, I have been very present in my daughter's first 8 months of life and we have an indescribable bond.  I don't want to just dismiss this time and say good riddance to this year, but on the other hand, I am very much looking forward to a healthy 2015.

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