My Little Girl

My Little Girl

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's a whole new ball game!

Okay, I am SEVERELY delayed in reporting on the new things going on with Emma. I wanted to make sure I finished up my little mini-series uninterrupted and that put this on hold. But here we go:
  • Emma can crawl!! She started crawling on Wednesday, February 5th. Her Nonna was watching her and I guess they were practicing or doing tummy time or something like that. Anyways, I was pulling into their driveway when I got a text from my boyfriend. It was video of Emma crawling to a little duck. I immediately ran into their house and made Emma crawl again! haha  

  •  Emma got the flu. We noticed on Monday of last week that she was a little less active than normal, but didn't think too much of it. No, that's sort of a lie. She basically refused to sleep that night without me holding her--which meant I got ZERO sleep. (Not good when you have to go to work and you are still new). So I actually took her temperature and it was fine. So the next day I took it again and nothing. I dropped her off with her Nonna and Grandpa. Later that afternoon I get a text saying she tested positive for the flu. MAN did I feel terrible. But, I did everything I was supposed to do. And she seemed fine, not fever, no throwing up, none of that. And even after she tested positive for the flu, she still didn't ACT like she had it. She was really clinging, but that was the only real indicator she didn't feel all that great.
  • Emma is so in tuned to what is going on around her. She now looks for things when she drops them. And she remembers things. Like the doctor. Now Emma only sees her doctor when we take her for her shots--so not all that often. BUT, she had to go see her that Tuesday she got the flu. And--from what I've been told--Emma remembered the doc and did not like her! haha. They tell me she was playful with the Assistant and Tech person but when the doc walked in-BAM! Baby girl shifted and grabbed ahold of Nonna's hair and wouldn't let go. She wanted NOTHING to do with the doc!
  • We are having some very fun moments with her. She is so smart that she puts things together now in her mind. Like her bottle. She knows that when Mommy makes her bottle, I add water to a clear container, then a powder; shake and give it to her. Thing is: Matt makes his morning protein shakes the same way! And it's vanilla flavored! So whenever Emma sees Daddy make his morning shake, she gets all piffy! haha She starts "yelling" and batting her hands on the high chair. Her eyes start to bulge out even!

  • She is "talking" up a storm now!! She just babbles away. Telling us all about her day. What she wants. What she doesn't want. You just know there's a story going on and she's trying to get it out as best she can. I simply cannot wait to hear the stories she's got to tell. As smart as she is, I can bet there will be a few doozies in our future!

I have gone back to work. It's only part-time, and it's in the city; but I really am enjoying it. 3 days a week I get to go and interact with adults who aren't family. (My sister works there, but that's only one out of 10 or so people. As opposed to the vice versa being true when I am at home! lol) Anyways, I am doing what I was doing at the other office, but I get to take on a little more responsibility too. It's nice working with a smaller office and feeling like you are appreciated. Sure, there's stress to do a good job and go above what they are expecting, but that's true of all jobs. And yes, I have 3 long days (when you factor in the drive time). But it's only 3 days a week. I get 4-day weekends with my baby and my boyfriend every week.

I think Emma will be walking in the new few weeks, but not yet. Seriously. She now puts her hands on the ground and "walks them up" until she's in an inverted V. Then she's like: "Ummm, what do I do now?" haha It's really funny. And kind of sad. Because she's JUST learned to crawl and now she wants to WALK? Already?

Okay, well that wraps up this post. Sorry it took so long. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into the groove of things (or into a new groove with work and all) and can do better about posting.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Staying Organized: Mommy Must Haves

Alright. FINALLY wrapping up this little mini-series. I swear, when I started this, I had no clue it would take me this long to post 5 little (okay, maybe not so little) blogs about things I've learned and really wanted to share to my mommy and mommy-to-be friends. But as it wraps up, I am kinda sad to see it end. Okay, maybe only a teeny bit but still. I have a ton of things I wanted to post about that don't go with the series and which I was holding off on until I finished this. And this post is the one post I started off wanting to write but felt it needed to be saved for last.

Okay, stalling over. Now here we go. And these are basically in order of Greatness. Just so you know.

Mommy Must Haves: Seriously, go buy these things NOW!

There were a few things I tell every new mom to put on her registry before she puts anything on there. They are what I call my "lifesavers." These are the things that made life bearable when Emma was semi-colicky, not sleeping, brand new and we were still adjusting to being parents. These are the things that will save your sanity. And that's only a slight exaggeration.

#1-Rock N Play

When I found out I was pregnant with Emma, every one of my mommy-friends had recommendations. But this was the one common  thing. The ONE THING they ALL said I had to have. It was the first thing I put on my registry. And it really did save me many a night. And day too, honestly. We used this with Emma up until she was four and a half months probably. We had to stop when she could half-turn her body, grab the top, and almost pull herself out of it. Even then I kept it in out living room for a few more months-as a just in case for Emma and naptime.

My boyfriend's cousin just had a little girl about 2 weeks ago. She was telling me how her daughter wasn't sleeping that great. How she would wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Then she said the magic words: "She hates her crib." So, of course I asked if she had one of these. She said no and I was like "WHAM! There's your problem! Get one of those and she will sleep great." Check in a week later and all is well! :) So yeah, get one of these ASAP!

#2-Activity "Things"

Activity "Things." You might not think to get the jumperoo right away, but I say do it. If nothing else, you can utilize my Double Duty theory and use the links that come with it on the playmat you DO think to get right away for tummy time. Yeah, neither of those come with very many links, so you can double up early on. Emma was playing on her play mat all the time. But she hated tummy time, so she made herself roll from belly to back incredibly early. And she loved the jumperoo from the second we put her in it.

Oh, and while you're at it, just go ahead and spend the $4 on the extra links. Babies love these. Even if you double-duty the ones on the play/activity things, spending 4bucks on an additional 20 is completely understandable and worth it. 
#3-Customized Closet

You may not think spending $100-$400 on something for a BABY is smart. And normally I would agree with you. But this is an investment! Your baby's clothes are going to get bigger and bulkier. Things they need when they come home from the hospital are not the things they will need at 3 months, or 6 months, or a year, or 2 years, or 5 years, or 10 years, or 18 years--and then they head off to college and you can use that closet for other things and then it really will need to be rearranged. A customized closet is an easy way to make sure you can store the things you need now in a way that will make sense for now. And later, you can change it up for maybe an additional $15 for an extra shelf or whatever. So do it, Draw out how you want it to look, go to the nearest "construction" store, and pick out what you need to make it work. And make changes as needed.

#4-Baby Carrier
I don't care if you are one of those "earth mothers" or an urban mama on the go. Get one of these! Moby, Ergo, Baby K'Tan. Whatever. Get one. Done.

Seriously. Go get one! Emma was a little colicky in the beginning. This was because we had her on the wrong supplemental formula which was wreaking havoc on her belly and we didn't know it at the time. But it doesn't matter that you know WHY your baby won't stop crying. Just put them in one of these and... SAVED!! You can go about your day and comfort your baby. HEAVEN!

#5-Sleeping Arrangements

These are major decisions you have to make. I knew immediately I wanted a crib that turned into a toddler bed and then would turn into a "big girl" bed. I totally didn't want to spend that kind of money on a bed she would only be in for a little while and then spend that money again (and then some) on yet another bed later on. The one we ended up getting her turns into a Full for later on. 

Next is the Pack N Play. Now, they have all these ridiculously fancy ones with hide-away spaces for storage (kinda cool), or a little removable bassinet thing, or changing station. All fun doo-hickeys. I didn't want all that. Mainly because--well, where are you going to store all those extras once the baby is too big for them? No thanks. I wanted a simple place to lay her down when she was fussy or when we were at someone's place. Emma actually slept in her PNP by our bed for the two months between her RNP and when we transitioned to the crib in her own room. By the time she was 6 months, she was at the weight limit for the top-net thing. Basically, she can't be elevated because she weighs more than 15lbs. Anyway...

Another big thing I required? A detachable mobile. We don't use the Pack N Play as much now that she is in her crib. But we DO still use the mobile. From the beginning I would take the mobile off and put it on other things for her. I put it on her jumperoo, her highchair...even the Rock N Play. It gave her something to look at and play with. Hate to be redundant, but...DOUBLE DUTY!

And then there's the Boppy. This thing is amazing. You can nurse with it. Give the baby a bottle with it. Lay the baby in it to take a nap. Use it yourself. Just make sure you get an extra slipcover for when Baby decides to spit up all over it!

#6-Bottle Basics

There are so many bottle options, it is definitely daunting. But do your homework. Figure out what you need. What you want. What you are going to use them for. Etc. Bottles are just for formula, as off as that sounds. Here's what I knew. I knew the pump I got with my insurance was a Medela one. So I figured I would ask for or get the Medela bottles. I figured "Well they will for sure work with the pump I have, so I shouldn't have any issues with going from the pump to the bottle." And I was right. The attachment was made for the Medela bottles. And it's not like they were bad bottles that I got. They weren't. But there were things I didn't think about. Things I should have. See, we had about 20 bottles. Half were  5oz bottles and half were 9oz bottles. I knew we would need the small bottles at first. BUT I didn't think about the nipple size. I didn't know there were LEVELS to them. And Medela didn't put the newborn size ones on the small bottles. It seems like they should, but they didn't and we ran into issues with them. Now we have a few different kinds. And they are all good for what they are designed for. I love that Tommee Tippees are interchangeable and I can use the handles or whatnot with her Tommee Tippee sippy cups. I have Playtex VentAir which are good for those feedings right before nap or bedtime. We have the Phillips Avent for when she is getting a large feeding, maybe even with rice cereal or oatmeal cereal. And we have the fun, cutesy, design ones just because I like her to have super girly bottles sometimes. 

I got a bottle sterilizer when Emma was first born. And I loved it. It made making sure her bottles were clean easy. I knew the ones in there were ready to give to Emma. BUT you can't really use them for the bigger bottles. Eh. That kinda stinks. BUT I will say this. I now can use the base to help me thaw out chicken and other frozen meats. haha Our sink doesn't have a stopper so I put the meat in there with the super hot water and BAM! Making sure I get the most out of my money! haha

I also went out and got a thing to go in the dishwasher to help me clean her bottles and stuff. It has a separator so I can differentiate somewhat. I and put her binkies in there. Straws on the side. Things like that. It makes cleaning her bottles easy again. I just break them apart and put the pieces in their "designated" areas. 

#7-Anything else I missed?

 A travel system. This comes with a car seat, a base, and a stroller that the car seat attaches to. There are a lot of options out there, so you just have to figure out what you want. I knew I didn't want one of those 3-wheeled ones. I like the four wheels. These things are designed to grow with the baby. I love the one we got. It is a little girly (Pink roses and the Eiffel Tower....yeah!). But our options were limited. The brand I wanted had 3 options: Pink, blue, or black. With Emma due in July, I did NOT want an all black stroller.

The Baby Bullett. I mentioned this in Feeding Post. So I won't bore you with all its redeeming qualities. But it has a lot. And if you get the set, it comes with the spatulas, and storage containers, and info booklets, and recipes... Very good deal.
 This was a life saver when I was pregnant. Towards the end I was miserable. My back hurt. My legs hurt. My neck hurt because I couldn't get it on the pillow just right. Sleeping was impossible! Then I received one of these. I couldn't believe how easy it became to get a good night's sleep. I still have mine in my closet. Just in case I have a night where I have trouble sleeping again. Or if I just want to cuddle up on the couch or in bed and watch a movie. Or if I want to put it on the side of the bed so she can't roll off when we are playing. *I put this on one edge and our two pillows on the other. Then she can roll and play to her heart's content and I don't have to hover; but actually get to relax and play with her.

So this is my list of Mommy Must Haves. And the end of my series. I hope you all enjoyed it. I hope you learned something or were able to take something away from it.

Share your thoughts. I'd love to hear what ideas or suggestions you all have. Thank you!

And. Goodnight!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Staying Organized: Feeding Time

Part four of (maybe) five in the "Staying Organized" mini-series.

Feeding Time: Making healthy easy and convenient!

In my "Double Duty" blog, I mentioned food briefly. The thing of it is, that section was originally going to be super long. I realized I had more to say on it than I thought and it would need it's own little post. So here are my tips for feeding time!

The thing is, when it comes time to eat with a little one, it can (and WILL) get crazy and messy. It really doesn't matter if you are making/warming a bottle, or mushing up some "solids," or actually cutting up real food pieces. You are going to feel like it takes forever! And a big part of that is because your baby knows what time it is and wants to eat NOW!

Before I move on, I just want to rant and clarify. I hate when people ask if Emma is on "solids" yet. Because no, she's not. She's on MUSH!! Seriously. There has to be a better name for this phase because, to me, solids are like chunks of chicken. Not this mush I'm giving her! BUT, in an effort to keep things simple for all other moms out there who may be reading this, I will continue to call the goop I give her "solids."

Okay, back on topic. Rant done. Now I *really* will give my tips.

Prep ahead. Whether it's formula or solids, feeding times can be a little easier if it's already ready.
  • Formula: We got a glass jar from a dairy place we use. I can mix up about 48 ounces of water and 24 scoops of formula powder. That usually lasts about 2 days. 
  • Solids: I mix 1/4 cup rice cereal or oatmeal cereal and 1 container of baby food puree. I split this in two bowls & put one in the fridge for later; then I just have to heat and go. 
  • Homemade Prep: I also went the route of homemade baby food, which is even more time consuming. But worth it. So when Emma was around 4 months old, I spent an entire morning just getting her future food ready. I steamed or baked peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and baked potatoes. Then I pureed them (separately), set them in ice cube trays and other single-serving-size containers. Froze them. Now I can pull out one or two cubs as needed, leave them in the fridge to thaw, add her cereal, mix and go. It's good to know that she is eating REAL FOOD and not something processed all the time. I think it will only help us to keep her on that path.
  • Other liquids: I always keep 1-2 sippy cups of water in the fridge. 
Invest in a food processor. Yeah, I know the Baby Bullet can run upwards of $60. BUT you can use it for your food too! It is so worth it. I did the whole "making my kid's own baby food" thing. But you don't have to do all that to justify buying one of these.

Yes, I decided to pre-make a lot of Emma's baby food. But you don't have to. If you are one of those mom's who wants to get your child on the path of "we all eat the same dinner," then this is perfect for you too. Are you having carrots for dinner tonight. Just pop some (unseasoned) ones in and Voila! Baby dinner made the same time yours is cooking! As they get older and can be introduced to new things, you just plop them all in the little processor and done. I actually used mine when I was making Chicken Tortilla Soup a while back. My guy isn't a fan of beans, but I love the smell and taste of them. So I cooked some, put them in our Baby Bullet, and pureed until smooth/chunky (that almost smooth, but just not quite stage). Added it to the soup and he couldn't even tell they were in there.

Go ahead and buy those travel cups, sippy cups, and other "big kid" things you don't think you'll need yet. Seriously, there's nothing worse than seeing that you need something you don't have. I hate that feeling. So I registered for one or two sippy cups for Emma. I knew there would come a time when I would have to give her one, and having one on hand--at the back of the cabinet, mind you--just made me feel better. Same thing with those travel containers. I REALLY wanted those for her. They have a soft plastic top the baby can put their hands in and get those puff things or whatever. But the baby can't get too many, and if it gets dropped it's (probably) not going to make a mess. Cups, plates, "big kid silverware"... just go ahead and get one or two of each. That's all you'll need in the beginning. And feeling prepared for anything just makes you feel more calm. At least it does for me.

Have a cabinet JUST for baby food-stuff. It can and will take over your kitchen if you aren't prepared for it. This was something I QUICKLY came to realize as I unloaded the bottles and accessories from Emma's baby showers. Right then and there, I just moved everything around in the kitchen so she would have an entire cabinet for her stuff. It's really great to have that all together so if I have to send her Daddy in to get something, he doesn't get frustrated by not knowing if her puffs are with the snacks or cereals. They are just all together. Now, when she gets to be a little older (18 months--2 years or so), I plan on moving things around AGAIN so that she has her own cabinet where she can help set the table and learn "chores" but they are manageable and at her level. Right now though, I need that cabinet up high and all food things at arm's level.

Okay, I think that about wraps up "FOOD" for now. I have one more blog about what I think are a new mommy's Must Have's. I promise this will wrap up soon. I just started a new job and love it. But it does mean that some things are getting pushed to the weekends or wee-hours of the morning. Thank you all for being so patient!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Staying Organized--Double Duty

Sorry I didn't continue on with my little "mini-series;" we've had some pretty awesome things going on around here that kept me from getting back to my computer. But here we go.

Double Duty: Make sure everything you buy or get can pull it's weight; everything should do more than the one thing it was specifically bought for!

I have so many cases of this around our house, it's crazy! The fact of the matter is, if you only ever use something for it's intended purpose, you will never really get your money's worth out of it. Especially "baby-things."

The "baby market" isn't stupid. They know that unless they are selling diapers, wipes, or formula/food; a majority of their consumers are first time parents--or those BUYING for first time parents. And first time parents honestly believe their baby needs every little thing! I'll be honest: I wasn't immune to it. But I quickly (and luckily before Emma got here) learned I needed to make my things work FOR ME instead of me working for my things.

Changing Tables: Now I will say this was something I was ADAMANTLY against from the beginning. I truly never understood why someone would buy a piece of FURNITURE they can't use after the baby is out of diapers. Furniture isn't cheap! So right away I knew we would be using the top of our baby's dresser as the "official" baby changing station. I got a fairly inexpensive changing pad and a cute cover which works amazing. I had some leftover shelving liner (the mesh-like stuff you put on the shelves so things stick), so I put it under the changing pad and it never moves. Emma is getting to the wiggling-fight-mommy-and-the-diaper stage, and still the changing pad stays put!

Another reason we decided to forgo the additional piece of furniture? Space. The fact of the matter is, there is only so much space in any given room. And when you have a crib, a dresser, a bookshelf, a rocking chair (a personal must), the diaper genie, and a few other things-well space becomes prime and I didn't see the need to take up space with a changing table.

On the flip side? I have a friend who bought a changing table for her first daughter. She used it for daughters 1, 2, & 3. But after daughter 3 was about a year old (still in diapers), she decided to use it as a bookshelf for her girls. She was lucky hers was able to be converted, and so she ultimately made it pull double duty. I just didn't see too many out there now that would look like a bookshelf and not like a changing table with books on it.

Wall Art: Now this might seem silly. I get that. BUT. You really need to make sure the things you are putting on the wall can pull double duty too! My personal cases?
  1. We painted a tree (a gorgeous, realistic but still artsy tree) on a wall in Emma's room. Well, in one corner. How can I make this pull double duty? Here's how. See, right now the theme for her room is "Oh the Places You'll Go." Dr. Seuss did a lot with trees. When she's maybe a year old, I can start hanging pictures from the "branches" of her throughout the year. Pictures we can interchange as she gets older. Later, if she decides she wants a princess-themed room or something along those lines, we can easily make the tree into a magical, fairy inspired tree or something. So, instead of using a Seussical tree with the orange and pink and yellow leaves, her tree is more natural looking so we can convert it later.
  2. Pictures. I have two types of pictures hanging in Emma's room. Both are over her dresser. The first type is a set of 4 brightly colored frames with Dr. Seuss book cover prints in them. These pictures and frames were a deliberate decision--as was their placement. I knew as Emma got older, it would be harder to keep her attention while I changed her diaper or outfit. So I put bright, colorful pictures where she would see them. And it works. Whenever she starts to get uber-wiggly, I just go "Ohhh" and look at the one by her and point. She stops what she's doing to look too.  The other type is a collage picture frame. I knew I would want to have up-to-date pictures of Emma up in her room all the time so I went to my favorite store and chose one which would allow me to take up some wall space, but also allow me to mix up the images when I wanted to. Before she was born I had our maternity pics in there. Then her 1 week pics. Then her 3 month pics. Next up is her 9 month pictures in April. So this picture frame collage is already pulling its weight!
  3. Curtains. These may not seem like "wall art," but I think they should be. As I mentioned earlier, Emma's room is inspired by Dr. Seuss. You would think I would go and buy the curtains and valances to match. Which--yeah, okay, I did (the valances, I mean). But I also went back to my favorite store and bought shear white tiered curtains. When I hung them up I realized I didn't need or want the ones that "matched." Now we can easily use these super girly curtains to go with any theme in the future! 

 Toys: Kids toys can be so expensive. So unless the toy can pull "double duty," don't get it. For me, there's two ways they can do that.
  1. There's the obvious way: Toys that convert. Those "sit to stand" toys--they go from being toys that lay flat on the floor when the baby is just learning to sit to becoming walking aids--are great for this. You definitely get your money's worth from them. We also have the play mat which came with "links." Since Emma doesn't use the play mat as much anymore, I took the links and attached them to her other toys. Because, let's face it, the jumperoos only come with maybe 3-4 links and that's no where near enough! Or I attach them to her high chair to give her something to play with that she can't (easily) drop on the floor.
  2. Toys that add to the decor. Sometimes it's nice to have a toy that also enhances the look of the room. I alluded to this earlier in my post about diapers. Emma received a stuffed dog at one of her baby showers which was signed by those who attended. I keep it on the dresser in front of the tub of diapers and what not. This keeps everyone from having to stare at those diapers, keeping the look of the room. This dog also gives me something to keep Emma occupied when the pictures on the wall don't cut it.
Clothes: I won't delve too much into this again, but I will say you need to make sure your baby's clothes can pull their weight. Spend the money on the nicer clothes. Emma's grandmothers have bought her some "name brand" clothes...and they hold up a lot better than the inexpensive items. Be sure to find ways to transition clothes from season to season.

Food: Again, not an obvious one. But you will find or have already found, that feeding a baby can be kind of a struggle. And time consuming. I never thought about it before Emma, but it takes a long time to feed a baby solids or mushy food, especially when you compare it to giving them a bottle! So here are a few tips I have about food and feeding time.

Containers. We have containers of all sizes. They all have lids. Very Important! Then you can use them for travel OR at home. I also kept a few of the formula containers to use for traveling. I even kept one to store some of her bagged baby food.  The bags tend to get lost in the cabinet, so this really helps me know right where to go to get them.

I'll go more into food in another post, too. About when I started prepping

Emmaleigh Grace

Emmaleigh Grace