how to be a good friend to a new momma (at least to this momma)

Being a new momma can be hard—even if it’s not your first baby.  Hormones, hospitals, and sleep deprivation can be a nasty cocktail but I’d venture to say it’s even harder to be a friend to new parents.  Sleepless nights and newborn cries are no joke, but there is a purpose in the chaos.  As a friend, it’s hard to know what’s helpful and what’s intrusive.  What’s thoughtful and what’s too much love.  So as a mom of two I’m graciously lavishing you with mediocre advice on what I appreciated the most.  Each family is different so what I thought was the best thing ever may not resonate with you (or your friend) so you might have to tweak things to suite you and your BFF.

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1) Don’t Use Her For Her Baby.  I know, new babies are just about the sweetest things ever.  The sweet smell of a baby’s head, the tiny fingers and toes and baby yawns.  Be still my heart.  But, as much as you can’t wait to hold that little bundle of wonderful, don’t be a user.  Keep in mind that your friend has battled (gladly) nine-months (3/4ths of a year, 40 long weeks) or nausea, weight gain and back pain for that sweet smelling bundle.  So as excited as you may feel to snuggle, imagine what your beautiful friend is feeling.  Most moms are happy to share the snuggles, even welcome them but few want “friends” who only show up for the sweet smelling part.  Avoid phrases like “I’ll come hold the baby if you need to get some laundry done.”  Some alone time might be what momma needs but after something of a traumatic ordeal I haven’t met a momma yet who’s chomping at the bit to jump off the couch to start cleaning.  She may want/need those things done but I doubt it’s her first choice to waste precious energy on scrubbing toilets.  After you hold sweet baby, try offering insisting to do some dishes before heading home.  She may turn you down, because she’s polite, but it’s doubtful she’ll be mad at a clean kitchen.

2)  Mommas Are Girls, Too.  Sometimes in the shuffle it’s easy (as a new momma) to forget you’re a girl. Before I was pregnant I imagined pregnancy and parenthood to be the epitome of being a woman.    I was wrong.  There are lots of times that pregnancy feels girly but the last weeks (month) and post partum I felt far from feminine.  Lady-like downshifted into zombie-like.  Josiah and I had a friend from his work who called me Momma Goose.  He came to our house on weekends to hang out with Joe and occasionally the three of us would go out to eat or to a baseball game.  When I was in the hospital with Noah he sent a bouquet of flowers.  When I was in the hospital with Hadley my in-laws brought a bouquet of flowers.  My parents bought me a pretty gown to wear at the hospital.  All were simple gestures but they meant the world.  Small symbols that I wasn’t lost in the chaos–that I was still a girl.

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3)  It’s Not A Race.  Ever been in a revolving door?  Sometimes, that’s how the first couple weeks can feel.  I’m not complaining at all, just keeping it real.  The first few weeks are full of loved ones coming to meet your little one, bringing meals and to see how you and your husband are fairing.  A girl could get spoiled to that kind of treatment, which is why I was more nervous about when Josiah had to go back to work than labor and delivery.  Crazy, I know.  That’s why I suggest waiting when possible.  I’m not talking about not going to the hospital or sending a thoughtful text.  But, if possible, delay your long(er) visit until week 3 or beyond.  Most of the time, the chaos as died down and new mommas can feel lonely.  It’s hard to imagine with a newborn but by then most people have resumed their daily activities and the visits start spacing out.  A lazy afternoon with a friend, and a premade lunch (or dinner) might be just what a girl needs.  Bonus: the fear of leaving baby alone might be subsiding and you can snuggle longer, or you may not have to share baby with other visitors.

gender reveal.

Back in October we went to my brother-in-law+ sister-in-law’s for a gender reveal party.  The day started like most Sundays, with us frantically getting ready for church.  It’s amazing really.  Sunday always seems to sneak up on us—as if we didn’t see it coming.  We’ve been faithfully attending our church as a family of four for almost a year now and we’re still getting the hang of getting out the door on time.  Anyway, after church Josiah had some work to finish on our fixer-upper so I headed to mom + dad’s with the kiddos (and Dexter).  A fairly uneventful afternoon came + went.  Talking, eating, playing in the floor with Noah + Haddie.  Is it just me or does doing nothing at somebody else’s house always feel better?  At home nothing sometimes means boring but being away nothing is oh, so relaxing.  Anyway, Joe and dad finished up their work and headed back in time to head to the party.  Being the overly prepared person I am, we made a quick pit stop on the way for Doritos to offer as a meager side dish.  Kiddos + dog in tow we arrived at the party fashionably late as usual.  Dinner + mingling went off without a hitch and it was finally time to see if we’d be welcoming a niece or nephew come March.  Allow me to backpedal for the backstory.  When my brother-in-law (Josh) proposed to my sister-in-law (Lynzie) he carved a pumpkin of a man down on one knee prosing, so sweet + creative.  The man has serious carving skills.  So, when Josh + Lynzie walked into the backyard carrying a pumpkin they were keeping with tradition.  When they turned it around a heart opening revealed a little pumpkin inside that was painted blue! A nephew!  Let me pause here to say that boys are running the board in our family.  So far I have two nephews with two more on the way, plus Noey!  Haddie’s flying solo in the girl camp—so far.  Anyway, everybody was excited and asking if they had a name picked out.  A few minutes later Lynzie walks up laughing.  “Noah just walked up to me,” she started. I started laughing too, half from fear. “His eyes got big and he said ‘You’re baby’s gonna be blue!’”  Over the next few days Noah has proudly announced that he’s going to have a new cousin…”and it’s a pumpkin!”  For your viewing pleasure, a picture of Noah with his new cousin, Blue Pumpkin.

the learning curve

When Joe and I first got married we had a wide variety of home decor.  And I’m playing it fast and loose with the word decor.  Josiah moved in with his grandfather after he left college so he had a healthy assortment of bachelor pad and college…junk.  A mini-fridge shelf that was falling apart, an Xbox, and some John Wayne signs were the cream of the crop.  I had a hope chest room of things I had collected for my future home.  I had our kitchen well stocked (pots and pans, dishes, baking dishes…) but not much to hang on the walls other than a large collection of black and white posters.  The really cool kind that only has one thing in color.  Remember when that was cool?  Yeah, dorms are so much cuter now.  Needless to say, we had a way to go before finding our style. Let’s take a little walk down memory lane…

 

Elementary School:  Polka-dots, checks and stripes.  Yikes!

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(the only picture I could find of the gallery wall. Our first New Year’s eve as a married couple)

Our apartment was cute, pleasant and welcoming but a glorified co-ed dorm.  A mix-match of everything we had leftover, like an elementary school student who doesn’t care what they’re wearing as long as everything’s covered.  For Josiah’s first birthday as a married man, I gave him a gallery wall of reproductions of historic documents (the Constitution, Martin Luther King Jr’s. “I have a dream” speech, maps, etc).  It was cute but heavy and didn’t play nicely with anything else in our 900 sq-ft apartment. 

Middle School:  Trying hard but “bless her heart”

living room

Our first house was something like middle school.  You’re looking up to people who are older (more experienced) than you but you just can’t quite pull off their style, yet. I started trying to find our style when we purchased our first home.  We carved out a small budget and I headed straight to IKEA.  Yeah, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of IKEA. I love the place.  But you shouldn’t decorate your entire house from their showroom.  I remember when I was playing with design in our living room and a friend of Josiah’s (and me) walked in and asked if I knew the frames were empty.  Yes, yes I did.  But, I was too chicken to commit to the wrong thing—again.  Awkwardness abounds. 

 

High school:  Starting to get it together, but you still have some growing to do.

When we moved to our beautiful little blue house I finally started to hit my stride—ish.  At first Pinterest was like candy when you’re little.  You’re so excited you just grab (pin) anything you can get your hands on, even if you don’t love it.  When you grow up you save your calories for the good stuff.  I remember one afternoon when I was rocking Haddie I decided to start weeding out my Pinterest.  Then “Fixer-Upper” hit the scene.  I’ve always loved midcentury design but I didn’t want our house to look like a costume party.  Enter “Jo-Jo”. 

 

College:  A clean slate to reinvent yourself.

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Moving back to our first house was like starting fresh.  It was fun and daunting.  There is a vaulted ceiling that spans our living room and kitchen that is scary to a novice designer like me.  But other areas weren’t as intimidating as they were the first time around.  I’ve still got a ways to go.  Like working family pictures into the mix—hopefully finding room for a gallery wall.  But I’ve come a long way from married housing.

Grad School: Maybe someday…

I’m certainly not finished fine tuning my style.  Areas where I spend money on silly things or things that are cute at the store but don’t seem to find a place at home.  Ever done that?  It was awesome in the store but you bring it home and move it from place to place until you finally realize it isn’t meant to be?  It happens to me too often.  I want to perfect the art of finding the perfect sized rug.  Grouping things without them being too much (or not enough).  And the list goes on.  Ah, well.  One thing at a time.

sweet gesture.

maternity_hannah-1_thumb.jpgNoah’s gotten obsessed with the claw games at the grocery store.  Every time we check out we have to make a pit stop at the “arcade” (playing it fast and loose with the word arcade, but that’s beside the point).  I don’t know if it’s his recent obsession with Toy Story or all the lights and buttons but either way, he loves them.  He don’t normally actually play the games, just the demos and push buttons because that’s all he’s really interested in.  I was standing beside him while he “played” the racing game last night when a preteen walks up and blindsided me…”excuse me, ma’am”.  Yep, she ma’amed me.  She went on to offer Noah a stuffed Santa she had won from one of the games.  A very sweet gesture but it came at a price.  Mid-twenties isn’t old enough to get ma’amed, is it?  I wanted to go into a lengthy discussion with her about how I wasn’t really that old and she didn’t need to say ma’am but then it hit me. I’ve got two kids, a mortgage, a I’ve been driving for 10 years…maybe I’m flirting with the ma’am line after all.

 

(an old maternity picture courtesy of Rainwater photography because recent pictures of me are few and far between 🙂 )

fighting the frump.

I’ve never been a fashion person.  Even in high school or college when I had hours to get ready I was a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal.  It’s not that I don’t care it’s just that cutting edge fashion doesn’t take priority of my time or money.  That being said, lately I feel myself on the slippery slope to frumpy.  A fitted t-shirt and jeans has downgraded to sweats and an oversized sports t-shirt.  Most days the kiddos are awake before I am, because who wants to get up before 5? Not I.  On those 5 am mornings, I find myself in my “comfies” well past lunch (ok, maybe more like 2p).  It’s easy to excuse the mom frump when you’re in the trenches.  When drool and snot become normal accessories.  But then again, I’m still in my twenties.  Not that it’s ever a good idea to submit to snot, but especially not now.  I’ll never be a fashionista.  My daily “uniform” will always need to be practical, which suits me just fine because I’m a practical person.  Dangly earrings and designer sweaters wouldn’t be on my radar even if I didn’t have a one year old ready to snatch the earrings from my unsuspecting ears or a three year old to wipe his PB&J off on my sweater. (For your viewing pleasure, some of my everyday glamour. You’re welcome.)

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baby gear. the good, the bad, and the never used.

I have several friends who are expecting their first baby or are new parents.  Being one step behind, as always, I thought I’d throw my unsolicited advice in the ring.  Let me start off by saying this, you will more than likely get conflicting advice.  What I’m about to say might be the complete opposite of what other people have told you.  As a new or soon to be parent, your head is probably spinning from the infinite possibilities of bouncers, rockers, playmates and strollers—mine certainly was.  The glorious thing about it is there’s no wrong answer.  One high chair won’t guarantee your child will grow up to eat his veggies and the crib sheets you chose won’t ensure a full nights sleep.  At the end of the day it’s about you, your baby and your budget.  Joe and I lean toward minimalists when it comes to baby gear.  I’ve heard some people advise registering for everything you could possibly need.  While I understand what they’re saying I can’t say I agree, and here’s why.  What you added as a last minute “like to have” might be the big thing you receive at a shower and you could miss out on things that you considered “must haves.”  We wanted Noah and Haddie to have everything they needed but we didn’t want to turn our house into the local branch of Babies ‘R’ Us.  We chose the things we absolutely wanted and decided we could always grab more things, if we needed them.  So here it is, a very unsolicited list of “must haves” to “I wish we hadn’ts.”

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Must Haves

1) A Crib (bassinet).  Hadley and Noah both slept in a bassinet in our room for about four months.  When we were ready to transition them to their respective nurseries they slept in a hand-me-down crib from my sister. It’s well loved but worked perfectly for us.  We didn’t buy bedroom suits for them for a couple of reasons.  First off, it wasn’t in our budget to spend hundreds (if not a thousands) of dollars on a brand new set.  Second, we didn’t know how our tastes would evolve over the years and didn’t want to be stuck with age specific furniture that didn’t fit our style anymore (and it’s a good thing we didn’t!)

2)  Diapers + Wipes.  Diapers and wipes are two things you can usually count on getting at baby showers.  We did, and we were so thankful.  Diapers can be expensive and you usually aren’t sure which brand will work best for your little one. We made a habit (starting at about week 20) to pick up a small pack of diapers each week when we went grocery shopping. It helped us stock up and it was was easier on the budget spending $8 at a time, same goes for wipes.  As far as brands go, Luvs have yet to let us down.  We picked them because they’re affordable and haven’t leaked for Noah or Haddie.

3)  Swaddle Blankets + Sleep Sacs.  They’re lifesavers—seriously.  We used our swaddles faithfully until about 3 months when they could break free.  They’re perfect for swaddling, a make shift nursing cover, and for quick clean up.  We went through them pretty quickly each day so I recommend having at least 5/6, especially with newborns.  We had a couple sleep sacs too for when baby gets too big to swaddle.

4) Onesies + Sleep&Play.  Unless there’s a super cute onesie most people will buy “impractical” outfits for showers.  I’m not knocking it, I’ve certainly done it.  Outfits that you want to show off when you go to church or to your first party as a new family; but jeans and button-ups just aren’t practical for everyday.  If I’m being totally honest with you, my littles stayed in their sleep&plays all day.  Of course I changed their clothes daily (especially when they were newborns and spit up like crazy) but I didn’t dress them up every day.  No matter how cute baby is you might have some sleepers you don’t want to put on Instagram, which is why those are perfect for nighttime.  I highly recommend focusing your attention on ones that have zippers because one little button could mean wrangling a  baby for twice as long as necessary.

5)  Crib Sheets.  We have some from Target, Babies ‘R’ Us,and Walmart and to be completely honest I can’t tell a difference in quality with any of them.  I know we paid $5 more for the one we got at Babies ‘R’ Us, and it’s super cute, but as far as quality is concerned I can’t tell a difference. 

6)    Car Seat.  We got a Chicco Keyfit 30 for each of our kiddos.  We picked it because it fit into our budget and had high safety ratings.  The reviews we read were accurate.  It was a little heavier than others we tried but overall we were very happy with it.

7)  Walker.  I remember walking down the walker/bouncer aisle wide-eyed.  Joe and I were starting to get overwhelmed by the choices when he looked at me and said “is there one that doesn’t have a transmission?”  It perfectly summarized how we felt. We didn’t want a walker that did everything.  Just one that would allow Noey a little independence and have a couple toys attached.  We ended up finding one at Kroger Marketplace that was simple and didn’t break the bank.  To be honest, when both of ours were finding their independence they weren’t really interested in the toys on the tray anyway.

8) Swing. Another Kroger find and again with not wanting one that had a transmission.  My main criteria was that it didn’t have an overhead bar (which most don’t).  I’ve heard amazing things about a Rock and Play but they weren’t on my radar when I had either of my babies.  Either way, a swing quickly turned into one of the most used baby gadgets in our house.

9)  Pack ‘N’ Play.  We didn’t necessarily need it as soon as they were born but we use the fire out of ours now.  The first time I really saw the benefit was when we used it for Noah on vacation (before Haddie was born).  Now with two kiddos, it’s handy when I have to run to the potty with Noah or switch out the laundry.

10)  A Wrap.  I didn’t have one with Noah.  To be completely honest I wouldn’t have used it because I didn’t lay him down until he was four months old—I’m only sorta kidding.  When I was pregnant with Hadley I started researching the best wraps so I could be hands free to play with Noah.  I read great things about the Moby wrap but the main negative I read was that it got pretty toasty.  That’s when I found the Solly wrap by Solly baby.  She’s a mom who started her own company (bonus), they were made with organic cotton (bonus) and they were cooler than the Moby wrap (sold!).  I used mine constantly and felt like I was still able to snuggle while I played with Noah.  I can’t recommend them highly enough.  And, this might be TMI, but you can even sit to pee while the baby is still in the wrap.  You’re welcome, you can file that under “never needed to know.”

11)  Highchair.  We didn’t have the floor space in the kitchen for a traditional high chair when Noah first outgrew his Bumbo (another must have).  We opted for a high chair that buckles onto an existing kitchen chair.  It’s easy to store and handy to use.  The only negative we’ve found is when we have guests over we are down one chair but lucky for us we have some extras stored in the garage. Bonus, it was $25 new.

12)  Bottles.  Even though I breastfed as much as possible there are times when bottles come in handy.  My sister used Dr. Brown bottles with my first nephew and loved them.  There aren’t any reviews that I trusted more than hers so that’s what we got, too. 

13)  Bottle Dryer.  It’s not essential, I suppose, but you have to have a way to dry the bottles and propping them up is a pain in the neck.  We got GRASS and it’s worked like a charm.  It’s small (although they have a bigger size), bright and isn’t an eyesore—which is why I chose it.  They also have accessories like this that we snagged for smaller bottle parts.  It’s also great for sippy cups and pacifiers.

14) Baby Monitor.  I read some horror stories about wireless baby monitors getting hacked and pregnancy hormones just wouldn’t let me get one that required internet access.  It turned out to be a good thing because there have been times (like now) that we’re without internet and we would have gone without.  That’s not to say video monitors are bad but this VTech audio-only monitor has worked just fine for us.

15)  Diaper Bag.  Our diaper bag was my big splurge.  It’s an Etsy find that’s made in France and I love it!  Stripes, yellow leather and lots of pockets, what could be better?  The only “negative” thing I have to say about it is that the opening at the top is smaller than the bottom so it can be hard to find things in sometimes.  It’s also a tight squeeze with two kiddos but I prefer to take two smaller bags than one enormous tote (but that’s a personal preference).

16)  Changing Table/Pad.  We heard from a lot of people that they never used their changing table.  We almost didn’t get a changing pad because we didn’t want to spend money on something we wouldn’t use.  We ended up snagging a used one for $10 to put on top of a dresser just in case.  We are so glad we did.  We rarely change their diapers (especially when they’re newborns) other places.  It can be hard keeping diapers stocked throughout the house without toting a basket around with you although we did keep a basket in our room (when they slept in a bassinet) for late night changes.

17)  Rocking Chair.  We were lucky enough to be given a recliner to use for both nurseries but this is something I would recommend splurging on.  The last thing you want is to be dead tired, rocking a crying baby, sitting in an uncomfortable chair.  Trust me.  Buy one that’s comfortable, reclines a little, and works for you height-wise.

18) A Bumbo.  They’re lifesavers when baby is too big to be content lying down but can’t sit up yet.  We used ours to sit in the middle of the table to eat or in the floor to play.  They’re super easy to clean, come in several colors and you can even get trays that snap on for finger foods.

 

So Glad We Didn’t/ Wish We Hadn’t

Because we tried to streamline our choices there aren’t many purchases that gave us buyers remorse, but we certainly had our share of first time blunders.

1) Wish We Hadn’t: Diaper Genie.  I know these seem like the bees knees but I wasn’t impressed.  Our trash man comes on Wednesday mornings, which means we take our trash to the road Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning I start with a nice, clean genie.  By Thursday evening/Friday morning the genie is full again and the stacking starts or we throw the diapers away in the trash until Tuesday evening—and start all over again.  It’s not that it’s complicated to use but it’s just as quick, easy, and odorless (for me/us) to have a small trash can that we take out daily and don’t have to buy a special liner for.

2) Wish We Hadn’t:  Nursing/Carseat Cover. When I was pregnant with Noah I registered for a nursing cover.  I was so excited to use it, like it was a badge of honor.  Problem is, babies are squirmy and it never seemed quite big enough for comfort.  Same goes for a car seat cover.  Every time I picked up the car seat, it uncovered baby’s toes or head.  I realize you can custom make them bigger, thicker, add Velcro, etc.,  but that brings me to my next point.  I’m not big into single purpose items. While the idea behind them is often necessary I’m not crazy about toting around 3 or 4 single purpose items when I can use one for everything.  That’s why I’m so grateful our moms (yes, both!) made quilts for the kiddos.  My mom and mother in law made baby quilts (big enough to fit on a toddler bed) that we use constantly.  They’re the perfect car seat cover, nursing cover, impromptu changing pad and snuggle blanket for car naps and it keeps us from filling our diaper bag up before we have room to pack diapers.

3)  Wish We Hadn’t:  Overstocked On 0-3months Clothes.  The other day I was cleaning out the garage (read trying to find the sweeper) and came across TWO Rubbermaid totes of 0-3 month boy clothes.  I may have overdone it.  In hindsight I can see why, with store after store of adorable funny/punny onesies, but truth is you don’t want dirty onesies just hanging out/stinking up the laundry room.  I recommend 6-8 sleep&plays, 6-8 onesies/pants, and 6-8 swaddles for newborns.  If you’ve met your “quota” but see a onesie you can’t pass up, try sizing up.  Trust me, it comes in handy when you’re kids are 6 months old and have nothing to wear.

4)  Glad We Didn’t: Splurge On A Crazy Expensive Stroller (right off the bat).  Looking down my Pinterest list of “must haves” a stroller was near the top.  We started shopping around and just couldn’t justify spending hundreds on a stroller we weren’t sure we would use.  We ended up buying a used one for $40 to see if we used it or if it would collect dust in the garage.  Anyway, months passed with very little use except the occasional trip to the mall.  An expensive stroller just wouldn’t have been worth the money.  Now, a couple years later, we know that we love taking walks and that we go to the mall for family dates a couple times a month.  It would definitely be worth it to us now, but with all the other “up front” costs I’m so glad we didn’t splurge.  After all, you can only spend your money once and that just wasn’t a newborn necessity for us. 

5)  Glad We Didn’t:  Buy Everything New.  Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not opposed to buying new but sometimes it’s simply not in the budget.  I found several local kid sales (usually in the fall and spring) that we frequent every year.  I can count on one hand the big things in my kiddos rooms that we bought new (with the exception of toys and clothes that family purchased).  Most things are easily cleaned or washed and you can’t tell the difference, although we skip things with stains or bite marks.

baby gear. the good, the bad, and the never used.

I have several friends who are expecting their first baby or are new parents.  Being one step behind, as always, I thought I’d throw my unsolicited advice in the ring.  Let me start off by saying this, you will more than likely get conflicting advice.  What I’m about to say might be the complete opposite of what other people have told you.  As a new or soon to be parent, your head is probably spinning from the infinite possibilities of bouncers, rockers, playmates and strollers—mine certainly was.  The glorious thing about it is there’s no wrong answer.  One high chair won’t guarantee your child will grow up to eat his veggies and the crib sheets you chose won’t ensure a full nights sleep.  At the end of the day it’s about you, your baby and your budget.  Joe and I lean toward minimalists when it comes to baby gear.  I’ve heard some people advise registering for everything you could possibly need.  While I understand what they’re saying I can’t say I agree, and here’s why.  What you added as a last minute “like to have” might be the big thing you receive at a shower and you could miss out on things that you considered “must haves.”  We wanted Noah and Haddie to have everything they needed but we didn’t want to turn our house into the local branch of Babies ‘R’ Us.  We chose the things we absolutely wanted and decided we could always grab more things, if we needed them.  So here it is, a very unsolicited list of “must haves” to “I wish we hadn’ts.”

KarsnerFamily-33

Must Haves

1) A Crib (bassinet).  Hadley and Noah both slept in a bassinet in our room for about four months.  When we were ready to transition them to their respective nurseries they slept in a hand-me-down crib from my sister. It’s well loved but worked perfectly for us.  We didn’t buy bedroom suits for them for a couple of reasons.  First off, it wasn’t in our budget to spend hundreds (if not a thousands) of dollars on a brand new set.  Second, we didn’t know how our tastes would evolve over the years and didn’t want to be stuck with age specific furniture that didn’t fit our style anymore (and it’s a good thing we didn’t!)

2)  Diapers + Wipes.  Diapers and wipes are two things you can usually count on getting at baby showers.  We did, and we were so thankful.  Diapers can be expensive and you usually aren’t sure which brand will work best for your little one. We made a habit (starting at about week 20) to pick up a small pack of diapers each week when we went grocery shopping. It helped us stock up and it was was easier on the budget spending $8 at a time, same goes for wipes.  As far as brands go, Luvs have yet to let us down.  We picked them because they’re affordable and haven’t leaked for Noah or Haddie.

3)  Swaddle Blankets + Sleep Sacs.  They’re lifesavers—seriously.  We used our swaddles faithfully until about 3 months when they could break free.  They’re perfect for swaddling, a make shift nursing cover, and for quick clean up.  We went through them pretty quickly each day so I recommend having at least 5/6, especially with newborns.  We had a couple sleep sacs too for when baby gets too big to swaddle.

4) Onesies + Sleep&Play.  Unless there’s a super cute onesie most people will buy “impractical” outfits for showers.  I’m not knocking it, I’ve certainly done it.  Outfits that you want to show off when you go to church or to your first party as a new family; but jeans and button-ups just aren’t practical for everyday.  If I’m being totally honest with you, my littles stayed in their sleep&plays all day.  Of course I changed their clothes daily (especially when they were newborns and spit up like crazy) but I didn’t dress them up every day.  No matter how cute baby is you might have some sleepers you don’t want to put on Instagram, which is why those are perfect for nighttime.  I highly recommend focusing your attention on ones that have zippers because one little button could mean wrangling a  baby for twice as long as necessary.

5)  Crib Sheets.  We have some from Target, Babies ‘R’ Us,and Walmart and to be completely honest I can’t tell a difference in quality with any of them.  I know we paid $5 more for the one we got at Babies ‘R’ Us, and it’s super cute, but as far as quality is concerned I can’t tell a difference. 

6)    Car Seat.  We got a Chicco Keyfit 30 for each of our kiddos.  We picked it because it fit into our budget and had high safety ratings.  The reviews we read were accurate.  It was a little heavier than others we tried but overall we were very happy with it.

7)  Walker.  I remember walking down the walker/bouncer aisle wide-eyed.  Joe and I were starting to get overwhelmed by the choices when he looked at me and said “is there one that doesn’t have a transmission?”  It perfectly summarized how we felt. We didn’t want a walker that did everything.  Just one that would allow Noey a little independence and have a couple toys attached.  We ended up finding one at Kroger Marketplace that was simple and didn’t break the bank.  To be honest, when both of ours were finding their independence they weren’t really interested in the toys on the tray anyway.

8) Swing. Another Kroger find and again with not wanting one that had a transmission.  My main criteria was that it didn’t have an overhead bar (which most don’t).  I’ve heard amazing things about a Rock and Play but they weren’t on my radar when I had either of my babies.  Either way, a swing quickly turned into one of the most used baby gadgets in our house.

9)  Pack ‘N’ Play.  We didn’t necessarily need it as soon as they were born but we use the fire out of ours now.  The first time I really saw the benefit was when we used it for Noah on vacation (before Haddie was born).  Now with two kiddos, it’s handy when I have to run to the potty with Noah or switch out the laundry.

10)  A Wrap.  I didn’t have one with Noah.  To be completely honest I wouldn’t have used it because I didn’t lay him down until he was four months old—I’m only sorta kidding.  When I was pregnant with Hadley I started researching the best wraps so I could be hands free to play with Noah.  I read great things about the Moby wrap but the main negative I read was that it got pretty toasty.  That’s when I found the Solly wrap by Solly baby.  She’s a mom who started her own company (bonus), they were made with organic cotton (bonus) and they were cooler than the Moby wrap (sold!).  I used mine constantly and felt like I was still able to snuggle while I played with Noah.  I can’t recommend them highly enough.  And, this might be TMI, but you can even sit to pee while the baby is still in the wrap.  You’re welcome, you can file that under “never needed to know.”

11)  Highchair.  We didn’t have the floor space in the kitchen for a traditional high chair when Noah first outgrew his Bumbo (another must have).  We opted for a high chair that buckles onto an existing kitchen chair.  It’s easy to store and handy to use.  The only negative we’ve found is when we have guests over we are down one chair but lucky for us we have some extras stored in the garage. Bonus, it was $25 new.

12)  Bottles.  Even though I breastfed as much as possible there are times when bottles come in handy.  My sister used Dr. Brown bottles with my first nephew and loved them.  There aren’t any reviews that I trusted more than hers so that’s what we got, too. 

13)  Bottle Dryer.  It’s not essential, I suppose, but you have to have a way to dry the bottles and propping them up is a pain in the neck.  We got GRASS and it’s worked like a charm.  It’s small (although they have a bigger size), bright and isn’t an eyesore—which is why I chose it.  They also have accessories like this that we snagged for smaller bottle parts.  It’s also great for sippy cups and pacifiers.

14) Baby Monitor.  I read some horror stories about wireless baby monitors getting hacked and pregnancy hormones just wouldn’t let me get one that required internet access.  It turned out to be a good thing because there have been times (like now) that we’re without internet and we would have gone without.  That’s not to say video monitors are bad but this VTech audio-only monitor has worked just fine for us.

15)  Diaper Bag.  Our diaper bag was my big splurge.  It’s an Etsy find that’s made in France and I love it!  Stripes, yellow leather and lots of pockets, what could be better?  The only “negative” thing I have to say about it is that the opening at the top is smaller than the bottom so it can be hard to find things in sometimes.  It’s also a tight squeeze with two kiddos but I prefer to take two smaller bags than one enormous tote (but that’s a personal preference).

16)  Changing Table/Pad.  We heard from a lot of people that they never used their changing table.  We almost didn’t get a changing pad because we didn’t want to spend money on something we wouldn’t use.  We ended up snagging a used one for $10 to put on top of a dresser just in case.  We are so glad we did.  We rarely change their diapers (especially when they’re newborns) other places.  It can be hard keeping diapers stocked throughout the house without toting a basket around with you although we did keep a basket in our room (when they slept in a bassinet) for late night changes.

17)  Rocking Chair.  We were lucky enough to be given a recliner to use for both nurseries but this is something I would recommend splurging on.  The last thing you want is to be dead tired, rocking a crying baby, sitting in an uncomfortable chair.  Trust me.  Buy one that’s comfortable, reclines a little, and works for you height-wise.

18) A Bumbo.  They’re lifesavers when baby is too big to be content lying down but can’t sit up yet.  We used ours to sit in the middle of the table to eat or in the floor to play.  They’re super easy to clean, come in several colors and you can even get trays that snap on for finger foods.

 

So Glad We Didn’t/ Wish We Hadn’t

Because we tried to streamline our choices there aren’t many purchases that gave us buyers remorse, but we certainly had our share of first time blunders.

1) Wish We Hadn’t: Diaper Genie.  I know these seem like the bees knees but I wasn’t impressed.  Our trash man comes on Wednesday mornings, which means we take our trash to the road Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning I start with a nice, clean genie.  By Thursday evening/Friday morning the genie is full again and the stacking starts or we throw the diapers away in the trash until Tuesday evening—and start all over again.  It’s not that it’s complicated to use but it’s just as quick, easy, and odorless (for me/us) to have a small trash can that we take out daily and don’t have to buy a special liner for.

2) Wish We Hadn’t:  Nursing/Carseat Cover. When I was pregnant with Noah I registered for a nursing cover.  I was so excited to use it, like it was a badge of honor.  Problem is, babies are squirmy and it never seemed quite big enough for comfort.  Same goes for a car seat cover.  Every time I picked up the car seat, it uncovered baby’s toes or head.  I realize you can custom make them bigger, thicker, add Velcro, etc.,  but that brings me to my next point.  I’m not big into single purpose items. While the idea behind them is often necessary I’m not crazy about toting around 3 or 4 single purpose items when I can use one for everything.  That’s why I’m so grateful our moms (yes, both!) made quilts for the kiddos.  My mom and mother in law made baby quilts (big enough to fit on a toddler bed) that we use constantly.  They’re the perfect car seat cover, nursing cover, impromptu changing pad and snuggle blanket for car naps and it keeps us from filling our diaper bag up before we have room to pack diapers.

3)  Wish We Hadn’t:  Overstocked On 0-3months Clothes.  The other day I was cleaning out the garage (read trying to find the sweeper) and came across TWO Rubbermaid totes of 0-3 month boy clothes.  I may have overdone it.  In hindsight I can see why, with store after store of adorable funny/punny onesies, but truth is you don’t want dirty onesies just hanging out/stinking up the laundry room.  I recommend 6-8 sleep&plays, 6-8 onesies/pants, and 6-8 swaddles for newborns.  If you’ve met your “quota” but see a onesie you can’t pass up, try sizing up.  Trust me, it comes in handy when you’re kids are 6 months old and have nothing to wear.

4)  Glad We Didn’t: Splurge On A Crazy Expensive Stroller (right off the bat).  Looking down my Pinterest list of “must haves” a stroller was near the top.  We started shopping around and just couldn’t justify spending hundreds on a stroller we weren’t sure we would use.  We ended up buying a used one for $40 to see if we used it or if it would collect dust in the garage.  Anyway, months passed with very little use except the occasional trip to the mall.  An expensive stroller just wouldn’t have been worth the money.  Now, a couple years later, we know that we love taking walks and that we go to the mall for family dates a couple times a month.  It would definitely be worth it to us now, but with all the other “up front” costs I’m so glad we didn’t splurge.  After all, you can only spend your money once and that just wasn’t a newborn necessity for us. 

5)  Glad We Didn’t:  Buy Everything New.  Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not opposed to buying new but sometimes it’s simply not in the budget.  I found several local kid sales (usually in the fall and spring) that we frequent every year.  I can count on one hand the big things in my kiddos rooms that we bought new (with the exception of toys and clothes that family purchased).  Most things are easily cleaned or washed and you can’t tell the difference, although we skip things with stains or bite marks.

i wanted to be martha.

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Growing up I didn’t like Mary.  I know as a Christian you’re probably not supposed to say that, but it’s true.  She annoyed me.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the story can be found in the gospel of Luke (chapter 10, verse 38).  Five short verses that I’ve wrestled with for a decade (or more).  I sympathized with Martha, even associated myself with her.  She found herself host to a houseful of hungry, tired men.  People she invited into her home but that didn’t make the preparations any less pressing– at least to her.  She worked herself into a tizzy trying to make sure everyone was comfortable, full, and content.  Meanwhile her sister could be found sitting at Jesus’ feet.  I, like Martha, was annoyed.  Who does she think she is?  Can’t she see that Martha needed help?  If she would’ve helped Martha could have been sitting down, too.  I’ve felt myself in her position so many times.  Bustling around making sure everybody has clean clothes or dinner to eat, that the floors aren’t collecting too much dog hair and the kids have had baths this week.  Then I hear Jesus’ words, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Jesus didn’t say Martha chose something “bad” or that she was selfish, but she was focusing on the wrong part of the story.  I find myself, more often than I care to admit, fighting my way back to the main part of the story—the most important part.  The part that is worthy of my time and attention.  The part that, if I allowed myself, would quiet my soul and replace chaos with peace and confusion with order.  Thursday I decided to try it.  I left my phone in my bedroom all day and only checked it if I heard Joe’s ringtone.  I replaced “just a minute, Noey” with immediate action and I told the dishes to wait.  Josiah came home to us in sweats, dirty laundry, and messy floors and you know what?  The Kingdom is OK.  Some days, of course, the house needs attention.  There are chores to be done and errands to run, but I chose what was better.  And it was glorious.  It’s an uphill battle, at best.  But a battle I’m choosing to fight, one tizzy at a time.

roses are red, violets are blue, zebras make cake too.

Noah hasn’t officially started school yet but we try to work learning into everyday.  Mom picked up a couple workbooks for us from Costco back in the fall and he got more in his stocking.  Magnetic letters and numbers and educational apps round out his current “curriculum” (and I’m playing it pretty fast and loose with the word curriculum).  Anyway, as things come up in conversation I try to take advantage of the opportunity.  Noah has entered the where, why, what phase.  “Where’s that twuck goin’, Mommy?”  “What makes the cwouwds (clouds)?”  “Why we bwush ouw teef?”  It’s so fun to see the wheels turn in what has become everyday things but let’s be real, it’s also exhausting.  I never considered looking up the science behind why exhaust comes out of our car or why red means stop–but Noey does.  Sweet little analytical thing.  The other day I was cooking and trying to keep him engaged while he waited for me to come play.

Me:  “Buddy, did you know eggs come from chickens?”

Noah:  “Wow…dat’s so coow, Mommy.”

Me:  “And milk comes from cows”

Noah:  “It does? Mommy, can I pway waters?”

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From his level of interest I assumed he didn’t really care or had lost interest.  Either way I had bought enough time to finish dinner and we were off to the next thing.  I had forgotten about our little food lesson until we were walking through the grocery a few days later.  We were cutting through the snack food aisle making a mad dash for the checkout (before everybody lost their patience).

Noah:  Mommy!

Me (half distracted):  Yeah, bud.

Noah: Did you know cake comes fwum ZEBWAS?!

He grabbed my hand and showed me proof positive—it’s hard to argue when he’s pointing straight at the zebra cakes.  We might need to revisit the food pyramid sometime but for now, cake comes from zebras if anybody needs to know.

girly-girl.

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1)  Lately Haddie has been mean-mugging everybody.  From grocery store cashiers to my granddaddy.  It’s super fun.  You’re standing in the grocery holding a blue-eyed beautiful baby, an unsuspecting person walks up to compliment her eyelashes and BAM!  Sweet smiley baby makes Oscar the Grouch look like a social butterfly.  “She’s teething.”  “She just woke up.” “It’s naptime.”  All solid excuses but I think they see through me.  Hadley is typically a sweet happy baby at home but when we step foot into unfamiliar territory or somebody comes over—game on.

2)  When Hadley grows up I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she decided to be a stunt double.  When crawling became the norm I broke out the pack ‘n’ play to help corral her when I needed to leave the room.  At first she was content but now she uses whatever toy is the biggest to stand on while she holds onto the sides, typically the box from her sorting toy or a ball.  She also loves to stand up in the seat of Noah’s power wheels truck while she holds onto the steering wheel or wiggle until she’s upside down while you’re holding her.  Nice skills to round out the ol’ resume.

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3)  Mid-December we started giving Haddie cupcakes so she could “practice” for the cake-smash at her birthday party.  We needn’t have worried because the girl’s got skills.  She starts dancing when she sees a cupcake coming and destroys it in 10 seconds flat.  Only three test runs and she’s party ready, I’m one proud momma.

4) The other day I was sitting in the floor with Haddie and Joe was in the kitchen.  I saw her chewing something but I had given her puffs earlier and assumed she found a stray.  Joe came in and asked if I knew she had something in her mouth so I decided to double check.  Nope, not a puff.  Chalk.  I’m going for mom of the year.