Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Baby Gear Update

Hey guys!  I don't stop around these parts often enough, but today I'm back sharing some of my favorite baby gear.  Unlike my last post about traveling with small children, without having any small children of my own, I'm actually qualified to share this opinion!

Perhaps you've heard that daycare got a new baby?  Well, I'm thrilled to be his mama!  We surprised many with our news in September when Andrew arrived.  Keeping news of my pregnancy or his impending arrival off social media was harder than I realized.  The cat was a little out of the bag when I commented on a sneak peek of my maternity photos the photographer posted.  She didn't tag me, but lovely Facebook shared my comment, and yadda yadda yadda.

Anywho, while I didn't make a peep on social media, I spent hours researching what we needed when welcoming our little boy.  We attended all the baby classes our hospital had to offer, and one Saturday in August, after six hours of classes, we moved our oldest to college!  Sure, my husband is a seasoned pro, but with eighteen years difference, it's safe to assume that a few things had changed.

What has surprised me the most are the things friends with toddlers oooh and ahhh over!  How much could really change in just two or three short years?  Turns out, plenty!  Ashlen has even had parents comment on Andrew's gear.  So here's a roundup of some of our favorite things for the newborn to three-month age.

K'tan baby carrier - this soft structure carrier is my absolute favorite.  Ashlen liked it so much, she got one for her house!  As a newborn, we wore him in a cradle position, but now he sits upright.  My husband was the first to break out the carrier, and it has come in handy at restaurants, events where we needed to walk (baby's first band competition before he was one month old!), at events for the Chamber of Commerce, or just around the house while I'm trying to get stuff done.  In fact, I'm wearing him right now while typing this post!  It is cotton and washes up easily; we have a Tula for when he gets a bit bigger, but the K'tan will stay a favorite!

The Kiinde Twist System - Despite not sharing our news online, Facebook and Instagram were clever enough to serve me ads for baby gear.  During a 3am bout of insomnia, I saw an ad for a free starter kit of pump adapters and bottle, and after a dive down the youtube rabbit hole, I was sold.  The replacement bags can't be reused and come at a premium price, but they work fantastically for pumped milk, formula, and (eventually) purees/baby food.  The screw top doesn't leak, making it easy to pack a day's worth of meals for him without making a mess.  If you're freezing breastmilk, these might not be for you as the screw top takes up more room with other bags.

Speaking of feeding, if you find yourself using formula, consider getting a shaker bottle.  We supplement with formula, and it allows us to mix up enough for a few bottles with a little extra to top off when our guy is extra hungry.  Instead of dealing with clumps of powder in a bottle, this ensures everything is well mixed.

Mesh Laundry Bags -  Baby socks are TINY, so we keep one of these on his changing table and toss in socks, making matching them much easier.  I also started using one in the dishwasher for bottle nipples, pump parts, and pacifiers.  I have this basket designed exactly for this, but I found I had more pieces than could easily fit, and everything can fit in the laundry bag.  

Fisher Price Rock and Play - We scored a great deal on a Dock-a-Tot at BuyBuyBaby, but everyone suggested the Rock and Play for the early days and I am so grateful we listened!  Andrew sleeps next to our bed, making the middle of the night feedings as easy as possible.  This was such a hit, we grabbed a second one for my parent's house.  It collapses easily, which made it perfect for our trip to western Nebraska over Thanksgiving.  We picked the version with the motor, but found after the first month, he no longer needed it to fall asleep, but your mileage may vary.  

Swaddle - These make swaddling SO easy, and helps our little guy fall asleep quickly without waking himself up.  I also have some muslin blankets, but he quickly was just a tad too big for them to stay tucked, so we use those for tummy time.  

We got creative with our baby monitor situation.  Several friends raved about their video monitors, but it was almost info overload when picking which would work for us.  Our house is heavily in the Amazon ecosystem, so I wondered if we could find a monitor that would work with our Amazon Echo Shows in our kitchen and bedroom plus our Fire Cube TV.  I found that Ring would work (and we love our Ring floodlight camera) but so would Amazon's own camera.  So we've added the Amazon Cloud Cam for indoor to his room and can call it up on any of our Amazon devices, plus on our phones using the Cloud Cam app.  The Fire Cube TV is definitely my favorite while nursing or feeding Andrew, I can control Netflix, Hulu, the soundbar and more without needing the remote.  "Alexa, show me the baby monitor" shows me 60 inches of the baby's crib.  He'll be sleeping in our room for a few more months, but he's had a few naps in there and hangs out in there while I finish getting ready in the morning.  

Since Andrew is still sleeping in our room, I also wanted to get audio monitors to keep an ear out during nap time.  We picked up these at IKEA in Kansas City when getting his nursery furniture and they have been a hit.  Super portable, rechargeable batteries, and so simple to use.  We can send them to daycare or send them to grandparents' house without bringing cords and chargers.  Lasting over a month on a single charge, hands down, this has been a must for us.  Looks like IKEA isn't carrying them anymore, but these would be a great option!

Snuza Hero SE - I'm the first to admit that I tend to be anxious.  I remember when I babysat in high school, I'd army crawl across the baby's floor to make sure I could see his chest rise with a few breaths so I could rest knowing the baby was still okay.  Knowing sleep would be a premium with a newborn, I knew I'd want a way to monitor Andrew as he slept so that I could actually sleep.  The Owlet is a popular option but requires the base, so it can't be used away from home.  The Snuza flashes with each breath, and if it has been more than fifteen seconds since the baby's last breath, it will beep to alert you and vibrate in an attempt to rouse the baby.  If the baby doesn't take a breath in the next five seconds it will alert you louder and louder until it is shut off.  We've had just a few false alarms (slid off his diaper when we were holding him at an angle), and one real alarm as he slept in the Dock-a-tot next to me.  It woke me up and he took a breath, and I was SO grateful to have it.  The Snuza is lower tech, but will try to wake the baby, and comes in at about a third of the price.

Ashlen's bouncy seat has a built-in mobile and Andrew adores, and I didn't want to purchase a second seat for our house, so I found this clip-on activity arch and it has been a total hit.  It clips to the 4Mom's Mamaroo that I purchased second hand (the mobile was missing) and the Rock and Play. It's a bargain, and many other toys can clip to it, so we can rotate out his toys.

Burp Cloths - My husband refers to these as baby shop towels, from spit up to burps to anything else, these are worth their weight in gold.  They wash up easily and I think it's impossible to have too many.  I prefer the prefolds for their thickness,  while he likes the gauzy texture of the flatfolds.  

So there is my list of things we've loved.  I hate the regular "must have" or "must skip" lists - many think the wipe warmer is a waste of money, but the little scream he let out the first time I used a cold wipe on his tushy in the middle of the night proved that they are a must for us.  Like everything we say, know that while I love this stuff, you should do what's best for you and your family.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

It's Not All Picture Perfect

I like to be real with our life. It's not all fun and games and adventures. Even the last week has been quite hellish between a minor fender bender (luckily nothing serious and it's all being taken care of easily, phew), too busy schedules, and Hubs getting sick leaving me to experience being the full time parent for 3 days. I've had to remind myself to breath A LOT. 

Thankfully our Saturday was warm. Compared to earlier in the week when it felt like -50 degrees, 45 degrees felt like a heat wave. I was super excited to enjoy some time outdoors despite fog and light drizzle. That's never stopped us before. So, the minis and I headed to Grays Lake for our 2+ mile walk around the lake. I love getting shots of the Des Moines skyline in the background and was excited for some exceptionally good pictures of my three.

The minis had a different idea. They felt content in trying to kill themselves, or each other, or me, every step of the way.

Our adventure began at the van, when I asked them all to put their boots on and make sure their gloves were in their pockets just in case. We started on the trail and I realized the middle mini never changed his shoes and the oldest left his gloves in the van. Directly following this realization I had to yell "watch out for the dog poop! Don't step in it!" I also spent the next 45 minutes reminding the middle one to stay out of the snow because he failed to put his boots on.

All I really wanted was one nice picture of the three. This is what I got.

Me throughout this entire time: 

"Do not hit your brother!" "Keep your hands to yourself!" "Don't push!" "Open your eyes please!" "Is anyone looking at me?" "Don't eat the snow!" I can only imagine what the other people on the trail thought of us....

The youngest (far left) wasn't watching where she was going and nearly took out two runners head on. The oldest was stomping in his boots so loud that it made the dogs on the trail jump. The middle one kept trying to step in aaaallll the puddles, while I continued shouting at them. Parenting is special.

The oldest decided to stick his head through the railing and nearly got it stuck. Twice. He's 10 1/2. 

Our one decent picture.

The most special moments came when I saw my boys walking like this (pictures above and below). Harrison was seeing if he could walk like this (top) without tripping and Max was walking on the side on his boots just for funsies. I asked them if they were trying to break their own ankles or fall on their faces. They gave me the look (that look that says 'omg mom! How dumb are you?') and responded with "what are you even talking about?" 

It was at this moment that I had that fear that parents get. That fear that screams 'how the hell are they supposed to be effective members of society someday??!!?' 

The highlight of the walk (also known as when I really nearly lost all my shit on the oldest) was when I offered him a tissue and he said he didn't need it. I glanced at him only to see snot running down his face. I shoved a handful of tissues at him and said, "blow your nose NOW!" He did as I asked and then tried handing the very full tissue back to me AS WE PASSED A TRASH CAN.

"Here mom," he said nonchalantly.

My response: "Max, take a look at your surroundings. Now, next time I blow my nose I'm going to bring it to you. Ok?" He got the point rather quickly. *I make my sarcasm work for me parenting-wise. 

Guys, this kind of stuff happens a lot. It's far from perfect.I feel like I spend a lot of every outing correcting my children's behaviors or slapping my forehead as I watch them, but I've got to admit, once time passes things like this become hilarious. As I look back on our many adventures I laugh about the imperfections of each. I'm not sure what I'll remember most about this particular afternoon in the future, but I do know that as happy as I was for our adventure to be done after 45 minutes, not a bit of me regrets having done it. All of it. Even the side boot walking. It just makes me really thankful for all of those things that could have happened that didn't.