Thursday, March 27, 2014

Favorite Things: Baby Edition

Ok friends, so here is the deal. I realize that when it comes down to it, there is not much that you truly need to raise a baby, BUT there are some things that make life a lot easier. Let me preface this by saying that I understand everyone has their own opinions and preferences when it comes to baby gear. These are just the things that I really like and that worked really well for us. All of my pricing is from Amazon. In no particular order, here's my list of favorite things:

City Mini GT Stroller- $350 + $60 for car seat adapter
What I love about it- It is super light-weight and can fold with one hand! We knew we only wanted to have one stroller that we could use for walks around the neighborhood, shopping trips, the park, etc. This stroller folds up easily and fits nicely in the back of my Highlander while still allowing for plenty of luggage or other gear. From birth until about 5 months, we used the car seat adapter; however, he has been riding front-facing in it for several weeks now and loves seeing the world from this whole new perspective.
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat- $190 + $80 if you want an extra base
What I love about it- It's very easy to hook, unhook, tighten and loosen the straps as well as snap it in and out of the base. It is also fairly lightweight on its own (only 9lbs). Finn has fit very securely in it from day 1 and it comes with excellent safety records.
Baby Bjorn Travel Crib- $240
What I love about it- It is extremely lightweight and portable! This is not your traditional pack'n play. It weighs only 11lbs and is much easier to set up (in my opinion). It takes up less space when set up, which makes it nice when your sharing the same room as baby while traveling. The mattress is also thicker and looks to be much more comfortable.
KidCo go-pod- $50
What I love about it- It serves the same purpose as an excer-saucer but folds up so that it can easily be stored out of the way. It is very similar to a folding tailgate-style chair and even comes in the same bag which makes for super easy portability and traveling. It can easily be moved from room to room or is perfect for outside as well. I'm also excited to take it to the beach with us this summer. It does not come with all the light-up toys like an excer-saucer, but it does have 5 loops on it where I've attached our own toys. It's also got two cup holders for snack and sippy cups when that time comes. Finn is perfectly content sitting in and playing while mama gets to have her hands free for other things. When he goes to bed at night, I just fold it in and stick it behind a chair in the living room (I don't put it in the bag every night, but will when we travel with it).

Skip Hop Studio Diaper Bag- $70
What I love about it- All of the pockets! If you know one thing about me, it's that I'm a girl who loves her organization. This bag has 6 interior slide-in pockets, 1 interior zipper pocket, 2 exterior zipper pockets, 1 exterior slide-in pocket and 2 insulated exterior pockets that are great for bottles. I can carry so much in here without it looking bulky. I also love that it looks more like a crossover of a diaper bag and a purse without the designer price.
Skip Hop Activity Mat- $65
What I love about it- I love the design and Finn loves playing with the toys. I am not a huge fan of bright baby colors and characters that are so often on their toys. This one is cute without looking overly babyish.
SwaddleMe Infant swaddle wraps- $22
What I love about it- These are what got us through the night for the first 5 months! It is proven that swaddled babies sleep so much better, because they feel more secure. When your baby sleeps better- you sleep better! These worked really well for us, because they were so easy to use and he only broke out of them maybe 3 or 4 times total. He loved them so much that we had to wean him out starting at around 5 1/2 months because he was rolling over.
Nose Frida Snotsucker- $15
What I love about it- It's a super gross concept, but it works so amazingly well! I was never a huge fan of the nasal bulbs, because I always felt I could never clean them fully. The snot sucker is very easy to clean. Finn is not a fan of it, but I'm able to quickly clean out his little sinuses when he is congested.
Aden + Anais- $30
What I love about it- We have quite the assortment of A+A items and I love all of them!  The lightweight swaddle blankets are especially great, because we used them a lot in the beginning to swaddle him while he napped in the living room. We also used them to cover his car seat if we were out in public. They're also good to use for tummy time on the ground or really to cover anything baby is going to lay on. We also have A+A burp cloths, wash cloths, zip-up sleep sacks and a stroller blanket- all of which are fantastic!
Born Free Tru-Temp Bottle Warmer- $60
What I love about it- The detachable cooler feature that keeps two bottles cold for up to 8 hrs! I originally didn't think we needed a bottle warmer (warming a cup of water in the microwave works just fine!). BUT after about a week at home, those night-time bottle feedings seemed to be getting harder and harder in our two story house. We would have to go downstairs to warm a cup of water in the microwave for two minutes (which felt like an hour when you're standing there staring at the microwave at 2am). Then we'd grab a cold bottle from the fridge and pop it in and head up to his room to begin the diaper change and feeding. After a little research, I came across this genius of an invention. Before going to bed at night we would place two (and then eventually one) cold bottles in the cooler compartment and take the warmer+cooler up to Finn's room to plug it in. When it was time for that night time feeding, we would go straight to his room and take a cold bottle out of the cooler and place it in the warmer and turn it on. By the time we changed his diaper, it was done and ready to go. No more stumbling up or down the stairs in the dark with a cup of hot water! It is wide enough to fit a variety of bottles and warms both formula and breastmilk wonderfully. An added bonus is that you can also take the cooler with you to keep bottles cold on the go!
Summer Infant Folding Bath Seat- $15
What I love about it- It feels very sturdy in the tub and folds for easy storage. If you're noticing a theme here with me, it is the less clutter- the better! I really like this bath seat, because you can fold it in half and it lies flat for easy travel and eventually packing away once he's done using it. We do not have a ton of space to store our baby gear when he grows out of it, so this will perfectly fit under his crib or tucked away in a closet. We use it in the bath tub, but you can also use it in the sink.
The ErgoBaby Urban Chic Carrier- $135
What I love about it- It is super comfy and easy on the back. I also like the sleek style and the husband will also use it to carry Finn. I preferred the Ergo over the Baby Bjorn, because it fits babies up to 45 lbs while the bjorn has a 25lb weight limit (Finn is already at 17.1lbs). This means that we'll be able to get more use out of it when he's bigger and Dustin will be able to carry him on his back in it. This basically lives in my car for when I need it on the go.
Homedics Portable Sound Machine- $18
What I love about it- I'm able to hang it on his car seat for naps on the go (which aren't as frequent anymore). When he was little and we were out running errands, I would turn it on and cover his car seat with an A+A blanket and he'd sleep for hours. Another unexpected use for this was when our power went out one night and he immediately woke up to the silence in his room. I ran downstairs to grab this from the diaper bag, hung it on the side of his crib and he fell right back to sleep!
  Arbonne Baby Skincare Products- $16-$85
What I love about it- They are naturally derived with plant based ingredients. Yes, I realize that they don't have that Johnson & Johnson baby smell, but they also don't have all of the Johnson & Johnson chemicals (have you ever read the side of the bottle?). Finn had some pretty bad eczema on his legs and arms. Combine that with the cold, dry winter and his skin got to be pretty dry and irritated. I started using the bath wash and lotion and over a couple weeks it went away! I also use the diaper cream and am looking forward to using the sunscreen this summer. How's that for a client testimonial, Meagan and Andrea- my two fav sales reps :) I'm happy to pass along their info if you're interested in learning more about Arbonne.

 So.. there you have it. Those are some of my favorite things so far. I'm sure there will be others that come along as he gets older and I'm happy to share any new findings I come across. What are some of your favorite things?

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Six Months

Baby boy, where has the time gone?? It feels like just yesterday that you were the tiniest of little guys hooked up to a ventilator in the NICU. Now you are our sweet smiling, giggling, squirmy little man that wants so desperately to be on the move. You are definitely not content with sitting still and once you start to crawl, I have a feeling that you are going to keep mommy and daddy on our toes. Speaking of toes- your new found fascination has been your pudgy little feet. You have been staring at them for some time now, wondering how you were going to reach those sweet toes at the end of your chunky legs. Well this is the month. You cannot. Get. Enough. of them. and you constantly sound like you are doing baby crunches to reach them. Another favorite from this month- eating real food. And lots of it. Squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, pears, peaches, bananas and rice cereal- we haven't found anything you don't eagerly scarf down. I have a feeling this may be a preview of your teenage years. You have become a champ at rolling from your front to your back and have just started to roll back to your front. You love to laugh and we will do just about anything to make you laugh. Sometimes you just burst into giggles when you look at daddy. It's OK- a lot of people do that. You love to bounce in your jumper and throw all of the toys off your play mat. You are mesmerized by music of all kinds- even mommy and daddy's singing. You really do have the sweetest of temperaments and are content just to look around the room and take it all in. Yes, this has certainly been a big month for you, little man. Here are some of our favorite highlights:

You went to your first Clemson basketball game and your face in this pic pretty much sums it up.

You passed out in daddy's arms once he took you out of the loud arena.

You woke up just in time for your first experience in downtown Clemson.

We have been spending more and more time outside as it warms up. It has literally been cold for your entire life and you seem to really like the much-needed sunshine.

You celebrated your first St. Patrick's Day.

And went to the gym for the first time with mommy. Can we say cankles?

You are so happy to see us each and every time you wake up- whether it's in the morning or from a nap. This was taken on your actual six month birthday before I left for work. I am so incredibly thankful that I only have to work out of the house two days a week. We have a very sweet nanny that comes over on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are days with daddy.

Here is an example what you get to do on your days with daddy...

We participated in the baby dedication service at our hometown church- the same church where mommy and daddy got married.

Here is a pic we snapped while trying to keep you entertained at your six month doctor's appointment. You are now 17lbs 1 oz and 26in long! This puts you in the 50% for both weight and height, but sweet boy, you are anything but average to us.

This seems a lifetime away from where you started six short months ago...

Yes, baby boy, we love you so incredibly much and are so blessed that we get to be your parents. We are going to soak up these precious months as they are starting to fly by faster and faster.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Recap

I know that this time last year, I was already complaining about how hot it was. This year, the warm days can't come soon enough! Our little guy has really only known cold weather since he was born, so we are just now getting to see how much he loves the sunshine. We are finally getting our first taste of Spring and are trying to soak up as much as we can in between naptime.Yesterday, Finn experienced his second trip to Clemson to celebrate uncle Seth's birthday and catch a basketball game. While it was a fun time with family, it may have been the most terrifying experience of our little man's life. He doesn't handle loud startling noises or too much over stimulation very well... you get the idea. Here are some pics before the meltdowns.

My matching boys.

These were taken with a phone, so the quality isn't the best.

Finn and cousin Colton taking in the game in between the tears.

Daddy took the little guy out of the game and he passed out.

As we walked back to our car through downtown Clemson, he got his first look at college life.

Today, we had a family picnic down by the river.

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