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Saturday, December 30, 2017

making a baby registry: my favorite items after 3 kids

I started writing this a year ago and here I am finishing it just in the nick of time before we ring in a new year! That's what parenting does to you - makes you busier than ever and sidetracks you, just a BIT. :)

After three children, here are my FAVORITE things that I recommend you have on a baby registry. I'm sure I've missed a few things, but hope this is helpful. This question comes up ALL the time in the Mommy Stories! It's such a daunting and yet exciting task to complete a registry.

And while we're on the subject, let me say.... NO SHAME in putting a list together of things you want and then things you need. Babies are expensive, babies are difficult, and babies need everything it seems. Friends and family love babies. They love giving babies gifts. They like to be helpful, to contribute, so make a LIST! :)

My favorite places to make lists and registries are Babies R Us and Amazon.com.
HAPPY BABY SHOPPING!

NURSING & PUMPING
I LOVE Medela everything. They really are the go-to brand for nursing and pumping, in my mind. I've had great success with their products. I know many women who feel awkward registering for pumping supplies and nursing items, but this is a huge part of the first year with baby if you are nursing so go for it! People want to get you practical things you need, and there's nothing more practical than feeding your baby... so add these items to the list!
image from Babies-R-Us

Here are some favorites for nursing and pumping:
  • Nursing cover. I don't have a particular brand that's best, but I love having one.
  • Coconut oil. This worked well with sore breasts when nursing my third. I hadn't heard of it until lactation people told me in the hospital. Before that I'd used lansinoh cream. I love coconut oil better.
  • Lansinoh freezer bags. You'll want to register for at least 3 packs of these but will end up needing much more... so add them to the list! I've used these times three kids, they work great. I've heard though that Target brand bags are cheaper and hold up well, too. I haven't tried those yet but plan to.
  • Medela pump. I know people can get them free now through insurance and my friend gave me one of those as an extra, it works great! I had a pump in style backpack one that I take to work, it is awesome. If you are given a pump (which works totally cool even though they tell you not to borrow someone else's, I have times three kids, no issues!), you'll want to order the pump parts and tubing. Parts you can easily get on Amazon or at Babies R Us, tubing on Amazon, very cheap. The backpack one is awesome for work too!
  • Medela nursing bottles - 5 oz and 8 oz. You'll want many of the 5 oz ones, at least 4-8 of them for pumping. There are always some in my pump bag, freezer bag, in the fridge, and in the sink, and then some on the drying rack. 
  • Dr. Brown's small bottle cleaning brushes. These come with the Dr. Brown's bottle sets or you can order individually. They are tiny and usually blue brush parts. They are awesome for cleaning the small parts of pumps.
  • Cooler and ice packs. I'm currently using the Medela cooler that came with a pump, it fits 4 of the 5 oz bottles. It's good for pumping at work so far and fits into a small fridge at work. However, if you have an over supply and pump more than 20 oz in a work day, you'll want a larger cooler.

  • Vehicle adapter. These are awesome for on the go or on long trips. They are about $30 at Babies R Us and worth the money. 
  • Battery pack. Make sure you have one of these for your pump in case the power goes out. I had to use this several times! You will be glad you have it. 
  • Spare pump parts. Make sure you have a spare set of cones, flanges, etc. so that in case something happens you're never without what you need.
  • Medela spare membranes. These make no sense until you start pumping, but one time I thought I was all dried up and no milk was coming out but I was full feeling... it was a torn membrane piece, easy enough to replace. Buy one pack of spares. Apparently you're supposed to change these out every month, too! Never knew that the first two kids, now I'm trying to do that. 
  • Lansinoh disposable nursing pads. You'll want to register for at least 3 boxes of these. They are great for work.
  • Medela hands-free pumping bra. You'll want two of these. One to leave at home, one to keep at work. I LOVE them. I had no idea they existed with my first, who I exclusively pumped for- crazy! But now they make working pumping life MUCH easier. If you have a choice, get black... the white one is easily stained with milk dropping on it. They are sold by size. Sometimes you will need to get a size bigger than you currently are, because remember your body changes and grows in this region post-baby.
  • Nuk reusable nursing pads. I liked having a set of these (one box is typically good for awhile) to wear at home, on weekends, etc. I don't always like wearing them with clothes because sometimes you can see the circles through depending on the shirt you wear out, but wearing at home and with certain sweaters, etc. is great. They wash well in regular laundry.
  • Burp cloths. They aren't just for putting over your shoulder when feeding baby! I got a pack of these specifically for pumping. I tuck it into the bottom of the bra so that nothing spills onto me when I unhook the pump parts after pumping. I put one in the pump bag at all times too so that when I'm cleaning up after pumping I have something handy to help with that process. 
  • Boppy pillow. I LOVE this thing. It's lasted through three kids now. Get a spare cover for it because when baby spits up on it, laundry doesn't get done quickly! Totally helpful with nursing.
  • Nursing Tank Tops. I loved Target's Gillian and O'Malley the best. I have tons of these and they last a long time. They are so comfortable. I lived in these every night the entire year of nursing and pumping, but mostly during maternity leave, every day all day. So you'll want at least 6-8 of them I suggest. 
  • Nursing bras. I got some good ones from Target recently. I think everyone differs on their preference for these. You will especially want these for when you're returning to work, it makes pumping easier. You'll want at least a few of these. 
  • Soothie pacifiers. The hospital gave these out to us, so we just kept using them. They have various sizes. Buy one pack of the 0-3 months and then one pack the next size up if you know baby will take them. If you don't know if they will or this is first baby, just get one pack (they come in packs of two). 
Looks like a lot and expensive to nurse, right?! Yes, at first... but many women are given these items from friends, and also they keep on giving, you can use them for subsequent babies, too. And it's far cheaper buying this stuff and nursing than buying formula, I've done both, I know! If you think you're going to nurse, buy only a few essentials to start, and ask for gift cards. Don't buy everything, or at least if you're given gifts keep them in boxes at first. Nursing doesn't work for everyone... and that's OK! So just save receipts and boxes if you do get items.


FEEDING
It's so much fun to get to the stage of feeding your baby solid foods! And while that may seem so far away when you're pregnant, knowing babies don't typically eat solid foods until close to 6 months old, it's a good idea to add these items to the registry list. You'll be busy after baby is here and don't need to worry about getting these items, plus people like buying you these practical things, too.

Here are some of my favorites:
  • Bottles- I LOVE Dr. Browns! I've used them with three kids now, they don't fail me. They do have more parts to wash than other bottles, but I haven't found this to be an issue. Every mom I talk to loves these bottles. They have little parts that help the baby avoid more air and gas issues. I've found them to work well. We were gifted some glass bottles in this brand and they were great in the beginning. LOVE them for when you are feeding baby. Great to try out. I found we needed at least 6 smaller bottles, 4 oz ones, and we needed at least 6-8 of the larger 8 oz bottles. I also use these larger 8 oz bottles for pumping (around 3 months when I started pumping way more, after baby consistently slept through the night and in the morning I'd pump like 8 ounces from one side!). 
  • Bottle rack- There are lots of kinds, just pick one that looks cool to you. We've used several. Recently we have used the Dr. Brown's one and it works fine. 
  • Bottle washing brush- Same thing, pick one you like, they're similar. We currently use the Dr. Brown's one.
  • Dapple- So I got a sample of this in the mail and it's awesome! It's soap specifically designed for washing pump parts and bottles. It gets the fatty milky film off the bottles and smells good, it's natural, too! It is more expensive than regular dish soap, but you use it sparingly, a little each day, so it's great stuff. 
  • Burp cloths. There are so many variations of these on Babies R Us and other locations, you just choose what you like best. But at least get 8-10 of them. At least. You will always have a couple of them in the diaper bag. You'll have a few in the laundry. You'll want to use some for pumping... so just buy a lot! 
  • Small baby Bibs. You will want a few different versions of bibs. I like the Carters or Koala type small bibs, these are great in the beginning for spit up and drooling. You'll want at least 10-15 of these if not more, depending on what type of spitter your child ends up being. Again, you'll leave a few in your diaper bag, some are in the laundry, some go to daycare bag, etc. so I always needed more of these. 
  • Plastic feeding bibs. These are AMAZING for when you feed your child solid foods. They rinse off in the kitchen sink and can be thrown in the laundry. They're awesome. You'll want at least 6 of these.

  • Fresh Baby Food Making Kit and Trays. I LOVE this set! Making baby food is so much healthier than buying it, and much much cheaper. It's also fun, honestly. It's work, but not a ton more work. This kit is so great, tons of good ideas in the recipe book on how to go about making baby food, freezing it, when to serve certain types, etc. I found this on Amazon.com. 
  • Bowls and containers - You want lots of these. I know you are in baby mode right now, but add these to your registry so you don't forget to buy them or in case someone wants to get you a practical gift. You'll use them sooner than you think. I like the Gerber NUK 4-pack bunch-a-bowls and lids. So great for baby food, snacks, etc. I use them myself for work! We also bought Munchkin BPA free bowls, 5 pack, for cereal and making baby food. My kids still use these years later. We got the matching Munchkin plates too.
  • Spoons- white hot safety spoons are great. One pack is enough. Then get a few different types of sets of utensils, forks and spoons. 
  • Mesh feeders- My first two hated them, my last one loved it, especially in summer with fresh watermelon! These are super cool for their hurting teeth.

DIAPERS & BATHING
Oh, the diapers you will go through... diapers everywhere! First of all, stash whatever the hospital gives you. The nurse taught us this. They give them to you, so keep them! Those are the best anyway, those sweet soft swaddled ones. We tried buying sizes ahead of time. I'd suggest about 2 cases of newborn to start, then lots of size one diapers. Once you're in a size, buy extra, always have another case on hand.
  • Newborn- Pampers Swaddlers- These are the BEST diapers. They are more expensive and worth it at the start. They are super soft, and just feel like a newborn baby- fresh and sweet. We put these on our registry because that's what Babies-R-Us carries. List for at least size newborn and size 1. I had a 9 lbs 3 oz baby the first time and he was in newborn diapers only a couple of weeks. You never know! The yellow line that turns blue telling you the child peed- genius! Saves from undressing a baby who hates being undressed.
  • Size 1-2 etc Luvs- We love Luvs. We've used these times three kids and they work great. 
  • Seventh Generation & Earth's Best- I LOVE their diapers and wipes brand. Much more expensive, but organic and healthier for the environment. Someone gave us a ton of these that they had left over so we used them up, thankfully, and they worked great. I did miss the yellow line that turns blue when child pees from Pampers, so those were better for newborns, but then once you're on more of a diapering routine and you can predict the baby's changes, these are awesome. 
  • Pampers sensitive skin wipes- These work for us!
  • Tub- no preference on style or size, whatever works for you works for baby. I think we had a Safety 1st tub.
  • Washcloths- you'll want at least one pack of these. 
  • Wipes container for on-the-go- You will want at least one of these in your car and in your diaper bag.
  • Arm & Hammer diaper trash bags- These are perfect for when you visit someone's house but don't want to leave behind the stink! I put them in the diaper bag and in my car.
  • Butt Paste- perfect stuff for diaper rashes and more organic. 
  • Burt's Bees -diaper cream & body wash & lotion- This is great stuff, and much healthier for baby. One bottle of body wash for baby lasted us the entire first year of his life. It's more expensive than Johnson & Johnson, yes, but it's healthier and smells amazing and lasts a while.
  • Baby bath towels- I'd suggest having four of these because of the pile up on laundry. You don't need a ton, but they are sweet to use the first few months to wrap them up and cover their head.
  • Bath toys- don't forget you'll want these, maybe not at the start but add them to your list anyway! 
  • Diaper pail- These are crazy in the price ranges. There are fancy ones with bags that I avoided- I don't need one more thing to deal with or purchase. I wanted ones that fit my regular trash bags, so I got a cheap one.
  • Lap pads- These are AMAZING. I put these down on the diaper changing pad so that we didn't have to change that a zillion times, just took this little lap pad off if messy. I put it in the car seat so in case the diaper mess went through the clothes, same with the swing, baby seat, etc. They are lifesavers! I suggest you have at least 10-15 of them lying around, you go through them quickly!
  • Diaper changing pad and covers- You need at least 4 covers. We used these a lot in the beginning, washing them almost daily. 
  • Diaper bag- personal preference! 
  • Hygiene kit - hair brush, comb, nail clippers- you'll need these.



SLEEPY
    • Sleep sacks and swaddle blankets- Halo sleep sacks are awesome. Get all the different sizes you can. We've never had to purchase new on these- plenty of great condition used ones at consignment stores. Same with swaddle blankets, you'll want a few at the beginning. 
    • White noisemaker - These are a MUST. My babies all slept like a charm having these drown out other noises. 
    • Baby monitor- We have had a few different ones. Motorola worked ok for a while. At the time you go shopping, look at reviews and talk to real parents, as it changes so often. Get a video one!
    • Blankets- The Aden and Anais are my fave that I found with my third baby. Get a few of these, they're great for the car seat and swing, etc. 

GEAR
  • Chicco infant car seat, base and stroller combo - We LOVE Chicco! They've held up so well. The first set we had we bought for our first baby and used again with our second. Then bought a new set for our third child. These are great seats, our whole family has used these. Definitely an awesome feature to put the seat into the stroller and have the stroller grow with your baby, too. We had the KeyFit30 set recently. The staff at Babies-R-Us were SO helpful to me when getting this set! I did their fall trade-in event a week before baby was coming so I got a coupon for I believe 20% off toward a new set and they recycled my old set. Amazing!
  • Britax convertible car seat- We started with the Marathon and now have the Boulevard I believe, great car seats. We found the most recent ones on Amazon in their warehouse, much cheaper, and Babies-R-Us has deals all the time on these. Don't buy full price, wait for a discount, but awesome seats. Definitely register for this, my babies moved to this type of car seat at 9 months old, as the infant carrier gets heavier to lug around. Put on the list, you can at least save up gift cards and then use your 10% off discount at the close of your registry. 
  • Graco Nautilus high-back booster seat- Great for the last car seat, five-point harness and worked great.
  • Crib, bassinet, pack-n-play, swing, bouncy seat, sit up seat, high chair, etc.- These are all your preference and honestly whatever you can find used that's in awesome condition works. I got a very sweet bassinet for $40!
  • Car seat mirror for the back of the seat for infant- these are awesome!
  • Back of the seat pads to cover your seats from the kiddos feet!


TOYS & BOOKS ETC.
  • Whatever works for you! Pick out a few favorites though- teddy bears that make music, board books (Eric Carle and Susan Boynton are our favorite!) People like to know what you want though, so add these to the registry. Think of your child in the entire first year- think toys for the diaper bag, stacking toys, fine motor toys, etc. 
  • Teething rings- Sophie the Giraffe is awesome! The Nuby 3-step teether set is my FAVORITE, can't believe it took me three kids to find that set. It'll definitely be something I give every new momma from now on. It's a great thing to have, it really helped my little teether.
  • Baby record book- Whatever type of documenting you want to do, get a book on your registry. This is a good thing to have at the hospital with you.
  • Sign language book- Teaching babies to express themselves with sign language way before they can talk is so helpful. It's good to get a book or video to teach you to get started. 
  • Baby-Proofing things- You will need these sooner or later so definitely add them to the list.
Building a registry is overwhelming, but it's SO much fun also! I suggest you start it online, then go to the store to have fun. It's a lot easier. HAVE FUN picturing your little one!


Friday, December 29, 2017

Shop & Support Moms - Little Monkey Children's Store - Robyn Thompson

I am excited to feature one more awesome, hard working and super sweet mompreneur, Robyn Thompson, owner of Little Monkey Children's Resale store! I have yet to make it into this adorable place, but it's been on my list to do - without my kiddos bugging me so I can really focus and admire the cute items! I hear GREAT things about her shop. She posts new items all the time on Facebook, and seems to be very helpful. I've seen tons of Patagonia, Columbia, LL Bean, Lands End winter items for sale recently - at a fraction of the new cost! 

Win-win for the environment, for moms wanting to make some money on outgrown clothes items, and for new moms searching for clean, great condition clothes for their kids. 

Thanks, Robyn!


Photos by Robyn Thompson 


How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business?
I started my business, Little Monkey in February 2017, although there was a lot of prepping well before I opened the doors! I opened my store in a small space, not sure how much inventory I would be taking in and I wanted it to be manageable by myself, at least to start.   
Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family?
Opening a children’s store was my dream job and it became a reality when I got done at my previous job, managing a storage facility for 20 years and was looking for my next adventure!

What do you love best about working for yourself?
I have 3 children and a supportive husband and was fortunate in my previous job to have the flexibility of being around for my kids and staying local. Therefore opening my own store in the town we live in was what I was hoping for myself and my family. I have the flexibility to be a mom, my first job and run my business in our small town.
What does your shop specialize in?
Little Monkey has new and pre-loved children’s clothing, gear and accessories for children newborn up to size 10. I offer re-sale rather than consignment and offer store credit as an option.

Little Monkey also has some fun new toys, accessories, books, clothing up to size 5 and hand made items such as sweaters, hats, onesies, and bracelets made by local people.



What makes your store unique? What do you try to offer your customers?
I am a small store therefore I have to be picky what I take in, my used clothing is in like “new” condition that sell for a lot less. I have name brands that sell well like Mini Boden, Hanna Andersson, Tea, Janie and Jack, LL Bean and many more!
What is your success rate? What do you think customers would say about your work, shop?
I have met some really nice people and appreciate my customers that visit on a regular basis.  Although I am still learning and figuring out aspects of the business I have gotten really good response from my customers on the way my shop looks and the high quality of my clothing. I have been fortunate with “word of mouth” for growing my business as advertising can be very costly.
Why do you think people should shop in your store, and why should they support moms who work for themselves?
My hope is that when people come to my shop they see a well organized, fun place to shop with high quality products. I want to be the place they stop to get that cute unique baby shower gift or their winter snow gear to outfit their little one at an affordable price.

Having 3 children of my own ranging from 5 years to 17 years I realized quickly how fast they grow!  I have so many items come to me with the tags still on them, that just simply didn’t get worn.  In this day of re-use and recycle I hope that people will check out my store and get great, cute things for their children without spending a fortune and shop locally.



What are your favorite items you sell?

Being a fan myself of children’s books I enjoy giving a cute book as a gift, which also makes a great keepsake.  I offer new books with matching clothing that is a fun alternative to a toy.

It is hard to pick just one of my favorite items I sell because I love all things kid related but If I had to pick one it would probably be infant clothes that are unique, cute and comfortable.
How does your business allow you to be a great mother?
I love what I do and that makes “work” not feel like working at all! I am thankful to have my supportive family, friends and great people I have met through my new business behind me and look forward to what the future holds for “little Monkey”.


https://www.facebook.com/Littlemonkeyyork/

preparing for a c-section: what you really need to know

People in the Mommy Stories Facebook group ask often about how to prepare for a C-section- what to pack for the hospital stay, how the recovery will be, etc. Sometimes you aren't prepared for a cesarean, you go into the hospital thinking you will deliver vaginally and then sometimes plans change. Other times, like me, you have had former surgeries that make it necessary for you to go in with a planned C-section. I've done that three times, so I thought it was time to share some tips with you mommas. Hopefully this helps!

First, it's scary, yes, I won't deny that. Being told they are going to cut into your belly while there is a baby swimming around in there, yeah that's frightening. BUT they do this every day, many times a day, for many years, that's what my husband reassured me over and over before every surgery. They do this every day. They know what they are doing. I'm in good hands. Repeat that to yourself if you need help calming down.


Things to buy ahead of time (or on your way home from hospital if you were not prepared for a C-section):
  • Stool softeners- you'll need these at least a few days to a week to soften things up and not have to feel the urge to push when going to the bathroom. 
  • Pain meds- Extra strength Tylenol and Ibuprofen are necessary. I alternated these. The first 4-5 days I took half the dose suggested of Oxy Codone, and then quickly tried weaning off those. They are necessary, take them. But after a few days, rely on the other pain meds. 
  • Iron-filled foods- You need your red meat, spinach, raisin bran, etc. the days post-surgery to restore your blood counts and iron. So important for your energy. Make sure you ask your doctor post-recovery visit to check your anemia levels.
  • Meals- You will NOT be cooking for a while. Standing up and moving makes your blood flow worse. You need to be sitting and resting as much as possible post-surgery so have some freezer meals ready or frozen pizzas- it's all good.
  • Pads- heavy duty ones. Lots. You will use these for weeks. 
  • Large water bottle- Keep yourself hydrated to avoid sickness and help restore your energy. Also you don't want to have to get up and down often from the couch, so a larger bottle keeps it filled longer.
  • Stool- You won't be able to get out of your bed too easily, especially if it's a high bed. Get a step stool or something to assist you at first.

Things to pack in your hospital bag:
  • Comfy, stretchy pants- I brought two pairs of comfy black maternity pants. They were what I wore in the hospital and what I wore home. Your incision is right above your bikini line, you don't want anything bothering it. No need for real pants.
  • Flip flops- Even if in the middle of winter! My son was born in early February, and on the way home my feet were so swollen that in the car I had to reach down to rip off my socks and shoes, and wore flip flops into the house. It was cold, but my feet hurt so bad! You will also like flip flops in the hospital when walking around, along with those comfy socks they give you.
  • Low cut underwear - So they don't bother your incision. 
  • Loose socks- nothing tight, you are pumped full of fluids with a C-section and your feet swell even more after surgery. Having loose socks or lower ankle ones will help to not cut off circulation on discharge on the way home.


Things to enjoy while in the hospital:
  • Anxiety meds- I didn't need these, but I know many women do and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes they can give you something to calm you down before a surgery. If you need it, take it.
  • Mesh undies- These are the best part about having a C-section. Most comfy supportive thing ever. Keep these. Stock these in your bag to go home. Do it! You won't regret it. In fact, there will come a day where you are sad these no longer grace your presence. Enjoy.
  • Walking- Yes, so important to do as soon as you can, walk slowly around the hospital floor, pushing the baby in the bassinet if you can do that and holding on to your partner's hand. It's so helpful with moving things along with your intestines and gas, etc. Enjoy these small, quiet, slow moments.
  • Extra pillows- They give you about 6 pillows - just for you! It's amazing. You will need these to sit comfortably to nurse, hold baby, rest, and get yourself out of bed. Enjoy!
  • Belly binders- These are wonderful things. They hold everything tighter so you feel less pain. It's helpful to have one of these to go home with.
  • Milk of Magnesia- Nobody likes to talk about gas, but here we go.... The first bowel movement post-surgery is pretty challenging and takes a while... like you can't go home until it happens. They physically take out your insides and put them on a table while they deliver your baby - something my husband witnessed and didn't tell me about until months after my first C-section! Ah! So... they want to ensure things are back in good working order before you leave the hospital. They also pump you full of gas and fluids... it's a mess in there. So... to make things easier, a few hours before discharge on your last day, take Milk of Magnesia drink (yucky chalk tasting but not the worst thing), and it helps. Within an hour you're typically good to go... 
C-sections are scary, but they are routinely done. You should feel safe and secure in your doctor's hands. It's never something I'd choose, but after having to go through them three times I know now that they are OK and you CAN get through it. Stay positive- that's probably the most important part.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

whipping up the good stuff : homemade baby food!

I LOVED making homemade baby food. It's one of my favorite phases of having little ones. It's cheaper than buying baby food jars, it's easy to make, and healthier for your littlest. It's nice to have my babies go from being breastfed from me to having their first solids made by me also.

NO shame in buying jar foods - I don't judge at all! I refused to make homemade meat baby food, yuck, so I used jars, too. I just encourage moms to try making some baby food at home because it's easy and not a ton of extra to do.


So where do you start? I waited until my first was 5 1/2 months old and the last two were 6 months old before feeding them solids. There's lots of research out there about waiting until babies bodies are more developed in order to digest solid foods, that recommendation is 6 months old. I also personally saw no need to rush into adding one more thing to our busy days with a baby- once you start feeding you have to continue and it gets busy! So wait until you and your baby are ready, and consult with a pediatrician first.

For us, we started with rice cereal for about a month, about a teaspoon mixed with breastmilk, once a day. It doesn't matter if you start with breakfast, lunch or dinner. With my first we started with breakfast because I was home in the summer from work and it was easy for us. With my third we did dinner because I was working full time and wanted to be the one to give him his daily meal. Whatever works for you!

After about a month of rice cereal, we moved into sweet potatoes, then a week later we did apples. I did that for all three babies. I then alternated veggie, fruit, veggie, fruit, and kept track of what he'd tried on my phone. The first few foods I waited about a week between trying more, then after the first couple of foods we would wait about 3 days between foods.


To make homemade baby food here's all you need:

  • knife
  • peeler
  • food processor, Magic Bullet (this worked awesome and was super cheap to buy!), blender (used a blender with my first two kids, worked fine)
  • spoon
  • water 
  • ice cube trays 
  • ziplock bags 
  • bowls to steam veggies in microwave 
That's it! It's SO EASY.



How to make homemade baby food:

  1. Peel veggies or fruits.
  2. Cut up.
  3. Put into bowl to steam. Depending on what it is, maybe add a little bit of water (fruits don't usually need extra water, but something like green beans does).
  4. Process in blender, etc. until smooth consistency.
  5. Use spoon to put into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight.
  6. Pop ice cubes of food into ziplock bags, and label bags. Voila! 
At first I'd give my baby 1 cube at a time, sometimes half a cube, depending on baby's interest. After a few months, maybe around 7-8 months old, I'd give my baby 1 veggie and 1 fruit cube. For daycare, I'd send a small ziplock bag or tupperware container of a variety of fruits and veggie cubes for breakfast and lunch.



It's always best to get fresh fruits and veggies. With my first, he started solids in the summer, perfect timing for us to go to the farm store! With my third, it was winter so we had to get creative. There are great frozen options for veggies and fruits when you can't buy fresh.

We eventually moved on to things like yogurt, oatmeal, Mum Mums, puffs, pancakes, etc.

A few great foods to try making in the first couple of months of baby eating solids:

  • sweet potatoes
  • apples
  • white potatoes
  • bananas (don't freeze)
  • butternut squash
  • pears
  • carrots
  • strawberries
  • peas
  • blueberries
  • tomatoes
  • watermelon (don't freeze)
  • peaches
  • avocado (don't freeze)
  • cucumbers (don't freeze)
  • broccoli
  • yellow squash
  • kiwi (don't freeze)
  • mango
  • blackberries
  • pumpkin
  • corn
  • green beans
  • cauliflower
  • plums
  • prunes
  • pineapple
  • zucchini
  • spinach
  • apricots
  • cantaloupe (don't freeze)
  • raspberries 

For me, I'd make baby food one weekend a month. It would take a few hours on that weekend and then we'd have plenty of food for the month. I had to do this about 3-4 times, then they move on to more solid foods like table stuff we ate. It's not a huge commitment, but so rewarding and actually I found it relaxing once I got cooking.


The biggest thing with making homemade baby food is to pace yourself, have fun and realize there aren't any rules to follow, just try. If you search my blog under "baby food" you'll find great books I've read about making baby food. My favorite Web site is wholesomebabyfood.com.

Happy eating!

visiting the American Girl Doll Place store!

If you have a little girl and haven't taken her to the American Girl Doll Place store, you MUST add it to your list ASAP! This was one of my favorite days in my daughter's entire life.

We went to Massachusetts for her 5th birthday, along with my mother. It was so nice dressing up, dropping the boys off so we could have a just us special girls' day. I did her nails and hair and we brought purses and her American Girl doll she already had at home - in a dress of course, she needed to dress up, too! She was beyond ecstatic. I plan to do it again each year until she doesn't want to anymore... which I hope is a very long time from now!




There are tons of little exhibits in the store where kids can play with their dolls or the dolls from the store - things like restaurants for the dolls to eat, chairs and strollers for them to sit in. My daughter stood at these little exhibits for ten minutes at a time just playing. It's not a huge store, we were there maybe two hours total, but it was just enough to slow us down and really pay attention to my little girl taking all the doll-ness in!



There were dolls and strollers throughout the store that kids could play with. That was a fun part!



Lots of kids brought their own dolls - we did! I had told my daughter we were going to buy an outfit for the doll she already had. When we got there, the Bitty Babies were on sale and we had some gift card money given to us, so we ended up letting my daughter pick out a Bitty Baby to take home. My mom bought her one too, so she picked out a white doll and a black doll and told us they were twins, she had to have them, they were the same. It melted our hearts. So she won and got both :)

This place is super awesome - you'll want to buy everything - and so expensive! Be careful and prep your child ahead of time that you are buying one outfit or one doll or one book or something, so that you reign it in. You can certainly go to the store and not purchase anything but lunch if you want to. It's super fun to walk around and look at the toys.




The hair salon for dolls is SO FUN! It's a must-do when going to the store. It's really the main attraction. It's expensive ($20 something for a doll's hair style!) but worth it. My daughter had so much fun watching this process, seeing her dolly pampered like she does to her at home.

Tip: Right when you arrive to the store, go upstairs to make a hair salon reservation. We did this and got one in an hour after we got there, so if we'd waited until after seeing everything on the first floor first, it would have taken forever. You can't make the reservation for hair ahead of your visit.


Make a reservation for lunch ahead of time, online. It was a lot easier to do this ahead of our trip, but also I saw people who were told the wait time was 2-3 hours before they could get in without a reservation! We made our reservation for an hour after we were there, so that gave us enough time to shop around, eat, shop some more if we wanted. Their cafe food was DELICIOUS! Yes, there's a Cheesecake Factory right next door to the store... but I really think eating in the American Girl Doll Store Cafe is special- it's MADE for little girls and their dolls, where else can you say that?



The doll high chairs and place settings were too much! We got to keep the cups and plates for the dolls, as well as the napkin rings- they were hair ties for my daughter!



We had the best day! I highly recommend doing this with your daughter. It was a smaller store than I expected and not tons to do, but PERFECT, it's enough for a special afternoon just the two of you. It's one of those things where I remind myself, she'll only be little so long, she'll only want to play with dolls so long, so DO it and smile the whole way.

What joy on her face!










Sunday, December 10, 2017

Addisyn's 5th Birthday Wonder Woman Party!

My daughter turned 5 this past April (yes, super behind in posting!). Of course she needed a Wonder Woman birthday party! She is a super girl, thinks she has real super powers, and tells me how strong she is all the time. I love this about her, so wanted to pull off a party that celebrated all of her awesomeness as she turned the Big FIVE!

Five is a big deal for sure, especially when you're a super girl. I got to work on Amazon and other sites online searching for all the wonder-ful Wonder Woman gear I could find. I went a little crazy with the red and yellow wings, I will admit, but how fun is it to have my only daughter turn FIVE? We needed a big celebration!


I always make a batch of cupcakes for kids parties, as they are so easy to do, simple, and kids love them. That way I don't have to spend a zillion dollars on bigger cakes to feed everyone, most kids want the cupcake because it's already cut and ready for them. I got these cute ring toppers on Amazon.


I love seeing a decorated table ready for kids to sit down. It's what I remember most from parties I attended when I was younger myself- having a place setting and knowing that you got a grab bag with your name on it. It's so fun! I got the pack of colored bags on Amazon, enough for both my kids' parties. The paper plates and trinkets inside the bag all came in a party pack for super girls on Amazon, too.


Not fancy, but made it fun: I printed out pics of the super gal herself and taped them onto the bags. The kids toss the bags in a matter of minutes, so I don't go crazy with decorating them, but it does look cool on the table to have a little something on them.



I don't remember all the food ideas, it was mostly her favorite snack items- strawberries, veggies and dip, crackers, chips, Pirates Booty, etc. We did heavy on snacks since it was afternoon and the kids were in the bounce house most of the time!


Her first official adorable handmade cake! I love how it came out.





Of course I had to match my sweet girl - Converse and all (we already had those!). What a fun party celebrating this amazing girl. Cannot believe she's FIVE!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Shop & Support Moms - September Lane Soap Co. - Kirstin Parenteau

I'm LOVING featuring all of these incredible mothers who are creating beautiful works of art and supporting their little families by doing so. Our next feature in the Shop & Support Moms series is one of my ALL-TIME favorites! Kirstin Parenteau of September Lane Soap Co. has become like a friend - although we have never met! I follow all her work on Instagram and am ALWAYS looking for a reason to purchase her soaps to support her business - but mostly because I feel so luxurious when I open the gorgeous packages and know that I'm using something so much healthier for my body and my family. 

Recently Kirstin filled me in on what she's been up to in the last couple of years since we featured her on the blog. She's definitely a dedicated and inspiring momma who is working hard to support her family - and helping other families - LIKE MINE! - stay healthy with organic ingredients for the shower and tub! I love it and adore her work, and hope you find it just as awesome. PLEASE consider supporting this awesome momma!

Check out her first feature here from 2015: 
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2015/11/shop-support-kirstin-parenteau.html

These are the ONLY soaps I use the last few years. It was one small thing I could do to improve my health - and avoid extra hormones and yuck from some regular soaps. One bar of soap lasts me at least a month, so to me it's an investment that's worth it! AND I love every single time I receive one of these sweetly wrapped packages - oftentimes with a little extra something like a chapstick or honeycomb soap - I'm supporting a mom, who is supporting her family. 

My personal favorites: grapefruit splash, baby soap, honeycomb soap, and a facial bar that I've used for the last few years. 

Great Etsy shop suggestions that Kirstin favorites are listed below, as well as a sweet discount for this holiday season! Happy shopping, moms!

Thanks, Kirstin!

I already ordered my coworkers and my kids' teachers (and a few for myself!) the assorted soap combo box (see below). These make GREAT gifts! 


Images shared by Kirstin Parenteau 


1. How has your business grown the last couple of years? What might you be doing differently now than when you first started out? It took off!! I have been crazy busy making soap for wholesale accounts, personal orders, and different vendor opportunities that have come up. I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I am a huge believer in learning from mistakes or growing from challenges. Everything I have been through has made me a better business owner in the end. 2. What have you learned about being a busy working mom in the last couple of years?
You can not do it all. Sometimes you have to say no or slow down. It makes you a better mom and employee /business owner.

I took a new pharmacist job this year in March; which for a few months was time consuming. I had to put some things on hold while I prepared for this new job and juggled it with my old one. I did it because I knew in the end it would make more sense for our family life and my soap business too. 3. Favorite Etsy shops you follow? TravelingTot, TwoLittleBeansCo, CrookedByDesign, BrimmerBoys, TheButtercupHouse. 4. How do you use organic, homemade body products for your kids and family? What are your favorite go-tos? Why do you think it's important to use healthier options for our kids?
I love to shop small and local whenever possible (I love farmers markets!). My business started because I wanted to use more natural, organic soap for my family and share that passion with others. Being in the pharmaceutical industry, I see a lot of chemicals that I don’t think are healthy for us, and I don’t want my family to be unnecessarily exposed to them if at all possible!


5. Please share pictures and ideas for teacher gifts that you offer? Baby shower gifts? Coworker gifts? This year I will have some gift boxes and gift sleeves full of soap available for gifts. These are perfect, practical, healthy, and luxurious gifts for teachers, friends, family, and kids! The snowflake soaps are perfect stocking stuffers for 2017.

One of my personal favorite go-to gifts is a lemon-poppy seed kitchen soap paired with a tea towel and/or a soap dish. I feel with any of the arrangements you can’t go wrong!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SeptemberLaneSoapCo

https://www.facebook.com/septemberlanesoap/?ref=br_rs

@septemeberlanesoap

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