Must Ask Mama: Round 3

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Before we get started -- make sure to send over your questions to Lynzy at sparklingfootsteps (at) gmail (dot) com ASAP to get them answered next month!

ONE: "We started my son off in an infant seat then we transitioned him to a convertible car seat after he turned one. We kept him rear facing until only after he turned two (as recommended by AAP). While the convertible car seat is is still great for two year olds we were looking for an additional seat and came across the high back booster. Most of the manufacturers guidelines for the high back boosters say they are ok for two year olds (and 30 to 70 (or sometimes 90) pounds). My son falls well within this range but I am still skeptical about high back boosters for a two year old. He has weight on him but the high back boosters are so much less bulky than the convertible seats- I feel like there might not be enough protection in the event of a crash. There are a few high back boosters that come with a five point harness rather than just the belt positioning seats but I just feel like it might not be "enough" What would you do?"

Kilee: "Honestly I think you need to do whatever you feel best about. If your son falls within the range that the seat manufacturer describes, then I would be okay with it. I tend to trust what the car seat guidelines say and go with what I can afford that fits. I typically think that the more expensive car seats or the seats with more features will always try to make you to feel unsafe in any other situation because that is what sells their seats.  But if you feel like he needs added protection then keep him in the convertible seat for a while longer. If anything they are more comfortable!"

Erica: " I also have a two-year-old but she's on the petite side so I haven't reached this dilemma yet... but if your instincts are telling you that the booster might not be as safe in the event of a crash, I'd try to stick with the regular convertible seat for as long as possible. I think the only factor that might influence my decision in that sense is how happy/frustrated your son is in the carseat. If he's whining or screaming, it will distract you while driving (which will obviously put you at a higher risk for an accident). But if he's content enough in the convertible, I'd say just wait it out. :) "

Emily: " I think the bottom line is that it's important to follow your gut as a mother, and that usually your first instinct is the best! I have a new four year old that I still have in the convertible car seat because I just feel as though she has more protection and security, so I guess my advice would be to stick with what you have until you feel sure he's ready for the booster since that's what your gut is telling you to do!"

TWO: "I am expecting my second daughter in July and will be taking a year off work to care for my babies. This is a dream come true but what has me worried is how to transition my 3 year old from a 3 days a week preschool (my current place of employment) to a routine at home with a newborn. How do you fit in everything when caring for two kids under 3 and still be able to shower and have a clean house? Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, lovely ladies."

Emily: "boy I could go on way too long in answering this one, because having four kiddies in four years has definitely forced me to get organized.haha The best way to condense it would be to stress the importance of lists and schedules! I wake up before any of my kids, or when I'm nursing my youngest in the morning I'll write out a timeline starting with the things that have to happen like meals and nap times, then fill in the spaces things that should happen like chores and errands, and whatever time's left ovr can go to the things that you'd like to happen, like showering and pinterest time.haha"

Erica: "Unfortunately I'm in the same boat as you at the moment so I'm not sure how to answer your question! I have a daughter who just turned two and a son that will be arriving any day now. I can tell you how I've been trying to prepare, though. I've created a room in my house that is childproof and has different montessori-type activities for my two-year-old as well as a place for me to sit and nurse, set the baby down, check my e-mail, etc. This room will be my safe haven when things get chaotic. Other than that, I haven't quite figured out when I'll be cleaning the house, making dinner, taking showers, etc. I guess I'm just going to have to find my rhythm as it comes. My biggest hope is that I can figure out a way to get the two to nap at the same time so that I can have a break! Hah. Sorry I couldn't be more help."

Brittany: "Hi, congratulations on being able to stay home with your children! I don't have any expertise with having two children, but I have a lot of friends with two under age 2 and 3. For me (with just one baby), I take advantage of nap time on days when I need things done around the house or a shower. If I am in need of a shower and it isn't nap time, I usually put her in the exersaucer and give her a few puffs and turn on Daniel Tiger or Angelina Ballerina for 10 minutes while I take a quick shower. Most of the time I just shower at night when she is asleep. As far as getting things done around the house. I usually try to occupy my daughter in the room I am trying to clean with toys or other objects she is interested in. I typically just clean the room she is in while she is playing. Another thing I do is have a dry erase board on my fridge with a few tasks to do each day. This is helpful for my husband for when he is trying to be helpful around the house. My husband is a medical student, so he's not always to help out, but this is the way we communicate what needs to be done without having to ask, and it works for us. Good luck and enjoy every moment! I just know most mama's say the laundry can wait, so try not to stress over it :) "

Kilee: "I could write a few posts about how I run our home, but my best advice would be to feel confident, work out a loose schedule, and be patient. The best way I have found to get things done, keep our house together and be a good mom is to adopt an "I can do it" attitude. I have definitely had my overwhelmed days, but I am confident in myself and my ability to do it all. I am motivated and opptimistic when I wake up everyday because I want to have a good day, I have things to do and I can't let myself get bogged down by a messy house or unhappy kids. We just work together and my kids have learned to expect how things go. My kids expect that I will get ready everyday in the morning and usually that is when they are eating breakfast. Because you have one little one and a baby, I'd recommend doing as much as you can while the baby sleeps but don't stop doing what you need to do just because the kids are up. I get ready with my kids in the bathroom- I shower while the baby lays outside the shower on the floor. I clean while my kids play or they clean with me. I try to follow a simple cleaning schedule where I pick up in the morning and at night and then clean certain areas of the home on each day of the week. Also when my kids were younger we would do the library on Mondays, play group on Wednesdays and a music group on Fridays. Its hard to have a set schedule because you have to be flexible with little ones, but a basic schedule is essential. And last I'd say be patient. With the first year of a new baby, as you know, things change all the time.  You are always in a new phase so you'll have to be really flexible and just keep working at it. Also I guess the last thing is that you need a hobby. You need a hobby to work on after the kids are in bed or before they are up or during naps. A hobby will make you happier and give your brain a break from being a SAHM. You will love it!"

THREE: "Hi Ladies! I'm a stay at home mom to my beautiful 4 1/2 month old baby girl. I am wanting to update my wardrobe but I am at a loss of what I should buy that would work for playtime at home and play dates with friends, running errands, etc? I still want to look stylish and put together but I don't want to buy things that would be impractical or could get ruined by spit up and blow outs ;)"

Veronika: "Though I work outside of the home, I think the key to building a SAHM wardrobe is to focus on pieces that are versatile so you can mix and match a lot of different items together to create different looks. The other thing that’s important is to make sure you have the basics as a foundation for the new pieces you buy. By basics I mean a great pair of jeans, a basic white tee that you love the fit of, a jacket that goes with everything (neutral color), some great flats and sandals. I think you’re looking for clothes you can feel comfortable in but also don’t mind getting down on the floor with your kids. For spring and summer, I love J.Crew’s colorful chino shorts that come in a variety of lengths so you can choose what you feel comfortable in. I also love their vintage v-neck tees because they are so simple and comfortable but can be amped up with a long gold chain necklace.  In terms of clothes not being ruined--- make sure to check tags to make sure items are machine-washable and definitely buy some Honest brand stain spray. That spray has literally gotten blackberry, raspberry and paint stains out of my baby’s clothing (even whites!) and it’s all natural. Another thing that’s important to balances a look are accessories- a great watch, sunglasses, hats (I love fedoras and wide brim hats to protect from the sun) can all make such an impact. I also recommend a cute, cross body purse---it’s so easy to carry while running errands and looks great with any outfit- my favorites are by Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Rebecca Minkoff."

Denise: "I totally hear ya girl!  I am in the same boat with my 8 month old baby girl!  Let me just start off by saying I LOVETARGET.  I seriously find most of my casual tops there and they have comfy, easy dresses that you can run around in too.  I also love H&M!  I find jeans and shorts there mostly, at great prices (and their baby collection is adoraaaable!).  I love JCrew Outlet!  If you have one close to you, then you lucky dog you!  But if not, you can also shop online."

Emily: "wow that's a huge question! I think the easiest way to accomplish that would be to invest in regular items like jeans and t shirts that A, fit well and B, have fun prints! A print instantly dresses up an outfit so it doesn't look so 'boring mom' if you were to run out for errands without having time to change, but they'll still be comfortable enough and washable enough that you won't feel like you're dressed up for the dishes. Also as much as I like wearing brighter colors especially during warmer weather, I wear dark colors more and more these days with a 4, 2, 1, and 4 month old. they just hide everything!"

Lynzy: "My wardrobe has definitely changed significantly since I had Olivia! Most days I wear comfortable jeans (found some great options at H&M) and a tee with some espadrille canvas shoes (so comfy and more dressed up than sneaks!) In the summer I will mostly live in dresses - so comfy - easy on and off!"

FOUR: "What advice or encouragement can you give for the girl who literally knows nothing about babies (me..) and is considering starting a family. I wrestle with feelings of unpreparedness, embarrassment over lack of knowledge, and anxiety. What prepared you or at least made you feel more comfortable with impending motherhood?"

Lynzy: "Okay so let me first start off by are never fully prepared for motherhood. ever. There is never a "good" time to start a family because there will always be SOMETHING  -- whether it's "we need more money" or "we want to travel first". I can tell you that having Olivia is hands down the best thing that ever happened to me and my husband. There are definitely days where my patience is tried and I feel like I need a break, but we made this little nugget and she is ours and it is a beautiful thing. I haven't read many books or anything, I just use momma's intuition. It's a real thing ;) "

Emily: "That's tough to condense, but I guess what comes to mind is that everyone will have advice on how you should do things, and they'll always conflict.haha But in the end you just have to do what you feel is right for your babies and trust your own best judgement, because no one knows your babes like you do and no two are the same! I remember how scary being pregnant with and having my first baby was, and really it's not gotten any less scary.haha It's a wild, messy, silly, amazing ride so just make sure you don't spend to much time being sad that he or she never wore that one adorable outfit or that you never took 6 month pictures. It's the little tummy giggles and feeling their little downy fluffy heads that matter the most.haha Your babies will love you unconditionally, and if you have a question there's always google!"

Denise:"If you’re heart is being led to have children then you are as prepared as you need to be.  Honestly!  With that said, there are plenty of books to read during your 9 months of pregnancy and golly day thanks goodness for those million doctor visits you go too because they give you information!  And then, once that little baby lady or baby gent has arrived – their pediatrician will give you tons of information at every appointment.  So truthfully my advice, is that you are ready.  You are ready where you are right now.  You don’t have to have any experience with babies or any knowledge.  You will be scared to death with or without that knowledge but something kicks in when you become a mama called instinct.  Oh and thank goodness for Google J

Veronika: "I think no one is ever truly prepared for deciding to pursue parenthood and it’s a learn-as-you go process because every baby and every family is so different. A lot of the times it’s about trusting your own instincts and also turning to others you trust for support and encouragement. If you already know you want a child but are just nervous about motherhood, I will tell you that though it has many challenges, it is also the most rewarding experience and you may surprise yourself at how it all comes together as you learn and grow with your baby. I did read some books and I did work with children when I was younger, but nothing compares to the experience of having your own child so no matter how much experience you have (or don’t have) you just have to “go with the flow.” I know how difficult that sounds because my own personality is to plan things, but the truth is that you may have a really “easy” baby or a baby with colic (and that’s just one example) and you have to cross that bridge when you get there. The best thing you can do when deciding to become a mother is to be sure that your relationship with your partner is strong and that you can count on your partner to support you and provide the assistance you need with pregnancy and childcare. Having a child can really test even the strongest relationships so making sure that foundation is strong and based on mutual respect, love and trust is crucial."

Scarlett's First Easter Basket

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter will be the last 'first' holiday that we will be celebrating with Scarlett. Crazy how we've already celebrated some major holidays and we are onto the last! Lots of planning goes into holidays now since I like to make it extra special since we have Scarlett. It really makes it so much more fun to do these things with her. It makes everyone a little more cheerful when the house is decorated and we enjoy the holidays!

Easter is by far my favorite holiday, ever! I was so excited when I found out Scarlett's due date was right in the middle of spring and Easter time. Everything is just so light, airy, and pastel colored right now and I love it! I could decorate my house this way all year long!! And most of you know my obsession already with bunny rabbits, so you can just imagine how much temptation I go through on a daily basis during this season. I usually cannot resist! I've been collecting little things here and there for her Easter basket and wanted to share some things I've found so far :) Details on items are below. 

Basket Liner (last year on sale) - Pottery Barn  (on sale!!)
Basket- Thrifted for $1
Follow That Bee Book - Target $1 aisle 
Bunny Chalk- Target $1 aisle 
Bunny Tail- Target $1 aisle 
Peter Rabbit Bath Toys (from Lovie-my mom)- Walmart 
Bunny Pjs- Gap 
Jellycat (previous gifts from friends)- here and here  
Baby doll- gift from her friend, maggie 

Anyone else found any good basket 'stuffings' for their little one? I am hoping to find a 2-3 more little things to throw in there before this Sunday!

A Birthday Letter to Scarlett!

Monday, April 14, 2014

48 hours old! 

Sweet baby girl, my bug, my boo, my Scarlee, Scar, sweet girl, and all of the other silly names I call you… I love you so very much. I cannot believe how quickly a year has gone by. It fills my heart with so much joy to think about this past year and how much you have changed my life. Everyday is brighter with you around. I smile more, laugh more, and have become a better person all around because you. We have learned so much from you and you have learned so much from us. Each way is so rewarding and we can't wait to watch you grow even more. We love your personality! You are funny, sweet, very observant, a studier, and a compassionate baby who always wants to snuggle mama and dada. These little bitty stages are almost behind us, but the fun will continue. You are going to learn so much and do so many new things that will be scary, fun, exciting, and adventurous! We can't wait for them to start!

Many parents (most mama's) get all sappy when their babies turn one or get bigger, but I promise I won't have that outlook. Life is short, we know that. You blessed my life and came into this world 3 months after your uncle and two nephews passed away. I cherish everyday with you and know that each day is a true gift from God. I am so happy when you grow and make milestones. Sure, it is hard to see that it goes by too quickly and that you grow very fast. I miss that little newborn baby and holding such a tiny babe in my arms, but knowing that I got to even have those moments is more than I could have ever asked for. 

Scarlett, when you came into the world, I knew immediately that I was given the biggest blessing I could have ever receive. Your Daddy and I stared at you hours/days/months after you were born and saw so much love. You were absolutely beautiful. I saw God the day you were born and a little piece of Heaven. You restored my faith in the saying that 'Life is Good' and I realized my life was bright. 

Sweet girl, I look forward to all that is in your future! I pray you stay safe, healthy, and happy as you grow. I know you will be learning a lot in the next couple of years, but especially these next 6-12 months. Your Daddy and I are going to make sure you learn all you can and become such a beautiful little lady inside and out. I pray your personality shines and you continue to bless others with your sweet charismatic smile and love. You bring others so much happiness, and I love witnessing that. I look forward to watching grow into a lovely little girl! Thank you for filling my heart with love and making my days bright, I love you so much! 


Scarlett's 1st Birthday Party Inspiration!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

joel and i designed her invitation and we just adore it! i did the calligraphy and joel did the watercolor :) 

For Scarlett's 1st birthday I have a ton of things in mind! I couldn't be more excited about celebrating her turning one. This is such a special birthday, and I know I'll be a little sappy that she is already one, but at the same time, I am so happy she has grown so much! I love watching her grow, and it is my favorite thing to do. To celebrate the most wonderful year of my life, a party is a must :) I am really excited to share her party inspiration and hope I can fulfill my decor hopes and wishes!

Things I have purchased...

This collage is all of my inspiration that I love most for her birthday. I want to keep with a Peter Rabbit/Garden theme while keeping it feminine and girly, too. The Peter Rabbit accessories I purchased above are a little masculine, so I may paint over some things in pink paint to add a girly touch. As many of you know I have a bunny rabbit obsession and have taken full advantage of the fact that I can spoil Scarlett with bunny love, so no doubt I wanted to do a bunny themed birthday. I currently have made a garland with strips of fabric, in the process of making her 'One' banner for her high chair, and have given that cake photo to the baker for her smash cake. I want to incorporate garden/bunny food themed foods such as carrots, broccoli, and fruits. Serving silverware in pots is something I plan to do. The drink dispenser decorated with carrots is so clever, I adore that idea! 

I have pinned a ton of things lately, and you can find all of my inspiration here

And now the count down is on and we only have another week and half before she officially turns one! Mama's, what did you do for your baby's birthday 'day'? I am looking for fun activities to do on her birthday to make it special. I know there will be lots of celebrating on her party day, but definitely want to keep things special on her actual birthday, too! 

Bunny Boo

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I mean, seriously? Her face, her sweetness, her smile… it just makes my heart swell! Now that spring is here and I can pull out all of her cute outfits and bonnets I am surely going to be dressing her up every single day! 
Ahh, so we have been struggling over here. Friday night Scarlett was in the hospital for a short time due to a high fever from an ear infection. Talk about scary for mama and dada. Even though Joel is on his Peds rotation right now he still had not a clue what was going on. In these situations it is very hard to make a medical call for your child. So, we did the only thing we thought was right, and took her in. We wouldn't have slept and we would have worried all night if we hadn't taken her to be checked. Luckily we were sent home that night and could all get some rest. The rest of the weekend she did fine and showed no further issues but the normal symptoms. But, Monday and Tuesday so far have been exhausting. My sweet girl is in so much pain and my heart just hurts for her. She sits on my lap all day long and is so irritable. On top of the ear infection, yesterday she fell and hit her tooth, my poor baby! We called our pediatrician due to the new behavior and he switched her antibiotic, so send prayers that this little bunny boo feels better soon! It is her birthday "month" and I just want her better soon!  


Ps- if you are in birmingham, White Flowers is having their white tent sale! y'all i got some gorgeous things for Scarlett! Not to mention, i felt like i walked into heaven when i stepped into the store- it is just perfection that place! 

Baby Scarlett, 11 months old!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Scarlett is wearing her monthly stickers c/o the baby bump bundle

Here is Scarlett's 10 month update! 

Weight: Scarlett is somewhere around the 17 lb marker! We will know at her 12 month appointment. 

Health: Doing great! She had another little cold last month, but she did great and we got her well again in no time. We are becoming pros at this whole cold thing. I think we've gotten our money's worth with the humidifier and nose frieda.

Sleep: Scarlett is sleeping really well. She sleeps from 7:00- 7 or 7:30. It really varies. She wakes up early and late some mornings. She has two 30-40min naps per day. Were working on getting these to last longer and maybe even dropping the morning nap?

Our schedule is: 
7-7:30- Awake/Nurse
8:00- baby food
9:00ish- Nap (30-40 mins) 
11:45- snack
12:00- Lunch (finger foods and sippy cup) 
12:30/1- Nap (45 mins) and I give her a 6oz bottle to go to sleep. 
3:00ish- Snack (finger foods) 
5:45/6:00 Dinner (finger foods and sippy cup)
6:30- Bath
7:00- Bedtime/Nurse

Social: This month Scarlett went to Louisiana for a long weekend. I braved the 5 hours alone in the car with her, just her and I. She did really really great! She got to socialize with all of her family while she was in town. Scarlett is so friendly! These days she will go to anyone and not have a problem with it. It is so nice since around 8-9 months she definitely went through a tough attachment phase. She's also super independent and loves to venture off and explore on her own. 

Diet: Still doing awesome in breastfeeding department! We are down to two nurse sessions per day. I nurse her only first thing in the morning and before bed. We are giving one bottle of formula a day to get her used to a bottle/sippy and to make things easier on me when I decide to shut it down. She also is a little bit of a biter, so I've been dropping the nursing for that reason, too. 
As far as solids go, we are tapering off puree's since she much prefers finger foods. It is so crazy that when we go to a restaurant I can actually order her a meal. She pretty much anything and everything these days. We're waiting to do whole milk until she is closer to one. I think we will introduce it slowly in the next couple of weeks and then we will also do eggs soon, too! 

Clothes: 6-12 month clothes are what we mostly put her in. 12 months is starting to fit, which is crazy to me! I bought some of these outfits when I was pregnant, and it is surreal to think she has already gone through a year of clothes.   

Baby Gear Love: Scarlett is loving her radio flyer wagon, walker, activity table, and her outdoor swing. This girl is such a people person and wants to do what we adults do. Most toys don't entertain her long, she is happy just observing us.  

Crying: She only cries when she gets a bo bo or is sick. She is really a great baby. 

Likes: She likes to dance to her music, play in her kitchen, take apart puzzles, rip things off of the coffee table, dump toys everywhere. She is very destructive, ha. I think it is just her turning into a toddler :) She loves being outside more than anything. As long as the weather is pretty, you won't find us inside at all. It is really neat because we lay out our blanket, and she doesn't even really try to crawl off. 

Dislikes:  She still does not like diaper changes these days! 

Postpartum: Nothing new here. I still haven't started the couch to 5K app because the weather has been so bi polar. Looks like the warm weather is here to stay, so this week may be my week!  

Milestones: Scarlett is changing every single day. She is surely becoming a toddler! She has 4 teeth (two top and two bottom), can say bye bye, hi, she claps, gives kisses, distinguishes mama from dada, and is starting to stand up on her own. We are not pushing the walking thing, she will do it on her own, and I will chase her then :) I'm still relaxing! 

I really cannot believe we only have one more month of updates! I am just floored at how fast time has gone by. My baby is going to be one soon, and I am so happy for her. She is becoming such a big girl and is so fun these days. Every phase just keeps getting better and I love how interactive she is.
Scarlett, you are the light of my life and bring us so much happiness. I really cannot remember what life was like without you. You just make our days brighter and our hearts full of life! Keep growing healthy and strong! I love watching you grow, it's my favorite thing!

Love List

Friday, March 28, 2014

floral image source 

First, happy Friday friends!! I am super excited about this weekend because it is Joel's last weekend on inpatient Peds, so he will be so much more free after this weekend! We've got a fun weekend planned, and I can hardly wait to get it started! But, in the mean time here are a few things I am loving right now….

1. OPI Strawberry Margarita: Loving this color on my nails! My arms and hands are bit tanner these days thanks the the pretty sunshine, so this color looks great on my skin!

2. Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage BB Cream: This will be covered more in a beauty post to come next week, but I am obsessed! It's the best BB cream I have found and it covers blemishes and dark spots perfectly. I am eying her pressed powder, too. 

3. Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby: Ahh, Scarlett is just amazed at these black and white learning cards. I want more in every category. Thank you Citrus Lane for sending these in our box this month :)

4. Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy: Thank you Scarlett for throwing everything on the ground these days! But, fear no more, we got these straps a few weeks back and we are now able to hook these to her high chair at restaurants and on her stroller and don't have to worry about losing those precious toys! I am ocd, I know, but I seriously love all her toys and don't want to lose any.

5. Loving this Rash Guard Vitamin A swimsuit! I love the vintage and sexy mix. I want this for our beach trip!

Ps- remember when this was a link up? I keep saying I'm going to bring it back, and I really really want to. What do y'all think?

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

A Day in New Orleans City Park

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A few weeks back I traveled home and had lots of family and friend time in Louisiana. On one of my free days my parents and I traveled to the south shore to have some fun in New Orleans for the day. It was so beautiful. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed the gorgeous sights. Scarlett loves animals, so the ducks were a huge hit! I talked about how hard it was to be home in this post, but all in all I had a wonderful time with my family. We took updated photos, ate beignets (which I'll have those pics up soon), listened to music, went to the playground, and walked around the park. If you are thinking of traveling to New Orleans with your children, you must visit City Park. Story Land was closed the day we went, so we will have to catch it next time. But, it is the sweetest place to bring you back to your childhood. All of the storybook characters you can think of have a tiny exhibit to walk around, and it is beyond adorable. There is just so much to do there.
New Orleans, you have my heart and you always will. I miss this city so much. 

Must Ask Mama: Round Two

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Remember to email your questions for next month to 
Lynzy (sparklingfootsteps at gmail dot com)!

1.) What are the essentials needed (or just great items) for a birthing hospital bag?  - Katie

Kilee: "Packing a hospital bag sounds much more overwhelming than it should be.  Really it is just packing most of the things you would want to take to a hotel for a few days. I've had three babies and each time I have found myself packing more and more like it is a short overnight getaway. Ok, ok, so it isn't quite so relaxing as a vacation, but I am one who LOVES my stay at the hospital. Just me and my baby, food delivered to me and meds on call- it may as well be a vacation!

My list of recommended items would be: comfy lounge clothes (such as leggings, an big cardigan and a comfy tee, socks and slippers), shampoo, conditioner, hair products, hair appliances, makeup, basic toiletries like face wash, moisturizer and a toothbrush, a laptop, your camera (with the charger and SD card), and your cell phone + charger. You will want to look like a cute human again after you are up and moving so don't feel bad doing your hair and makeup and putting on real clothes. As for baby, bring a cute hat, a coming home outfit  and a blanket or two. Just don't bring a blue blanket- it makes the baby look super red in photos!

Honestly don't stress about it- your hubby will be going home anyways and can bring you anything you forgot."

Veronika: "My favorite thing I brought was a Victoria's Secret supersoft sleep shirt. I seriously lived in it my entire hospital stay (and at home!) It's long, so soft and comfy and it makes breastfeeding so easy.
I really didn't need to bring much because the hospital provided most of the things I needed (like pads, mesh underwear, bath supplies, etc.) I also brought and wore a nursing bra and a pair of Lululemon stretchy pants to wear around. Their "still pants" are great because they are looser than the other fits, perfect for postpartum."

Erica: "Great Question! I'm nearing the end of my second pregnancy and plan on writing a post about this soon, but here are the first things that come to mind:
Toiletries: Travel-Size Conditioner, Face Wipes, Deodorant, Make-up, Lotion, Hairbrush, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and everything else you would pack on a weekend trip. Last time I packed giant maxi pads, but I found the underwear-like pads the hospital provided to be more effective.
Electronics: Cameras, extra batteries, an extra SIM card, cell-phone chargers. I also brought my Bose portable speaker system so that I could play some motivating music (Pennywise) during my delivery. Some hospitals have something like that for you to use already.
Clothing: Comfortable, loose clothing (sweatpants, v-necks, etc.), a few pairs of the biggest underwear you have that you don't mind possibly getting a few blood stains on, and socks. Last time I packed a Maxi dress for my "going home outfit," but I ended up staying in my sweatpants and v-neck instead. One thing I'm packing this time that I didn't pack last time is my own delivery gown. The one the hospital provided was so gross and call me superficial but I was not stoked about how I looked in pictures.
Snacks. They'll tell you you can't eat during labor, but I went in without eating dinner and felt like I had no energy to push a baby out of me. I was so glad to have a pack of gummy bears on me... I ended up sneaking them when the doctors and nurses weren't looking. I also had snacks packed for the recovery period, which came in handy when I didn't like what was on the hospital menu.
For The Baby: A nursing pillow, a receiving blanket (some hospitals won't allow you to take the ones they provide), a "going home" outfit, a beanie, socks, baby wipes (some only provide dry paper because they don't want you using real baby wipes).
Other: A copy of your birth plan."

Britt: "I wrote a whole post here about what I packed, but some of my favorite must have items were: yoga pants, a robe, slippers, medium sized maxi pads, granny panties/mens boxer briefs, flip flops, and your own personal toiletries to make you feel more like yourself. I wish I would have packed lighter colored tops to go with my dark pants because there were many pictures and I felt like I looked washed out in my pictures. "

Denise: "First of all, I wanted to pack EVERYTHING!  But in reality, here is what worked for me!
For baby, I packed two cute outfits for pictures and about 4 sleepers!  Truthfully, sleepers is what the babe will be in most, but I wanted to have a cute going home outfit for her other than a sleeper and one more option for possible photo ops.  I also packed about 3-4 of my own swaddle blankets.  You will be swaddling your baby like a burrito for a while so these are a MUST.  Not only was it nice to have her own stuff, but we had the nurses show my hubby and I how to swaddle using our blankets so when we got home it wasn’t so much of a learning curve.  My favorite swaddle blankets are Aden and Anais (we use them for everything swaddling, burp clothes, light blanket in the summer). 

For the mama, my essentials included anything that made me feel COMFORTABLE and slightly pretty.  I mean after you give birth, pretty is probably the last thing you feel, but you are so overwhelmed with joy that it really doesn’t matter.  However, a good shower and a little tinted cheek stain can go a long way when you are posing for tons of pictures.  So I packed my essentials – just some good shampoo and body wash and like I said, cheek stain.  I didn’t bother drying my hair or fussing with makeup really but as long as I felt clean, I felt good.  As far as clothing, I opted for comfort.  I wore yoga pants the entire time – including on the way home – and nursing tanks.  I got some great nursing tanks from Target as well as a nursing bra or two (although I never actually wore a bra when I was wearing my nursing tanks – probably the only plus side to not have big ta-tas!).  Other than nursing tanks, I packed some comfy wraps and cardigans to throw over my tanks because it gets cold in those hospitals rooms! 

As far as other necessities, a good pillow for the hubs is a must (the hospital ones are not so great), a nursing pillow of some kind, your camera (duh), possibly an iPod or something to provide you with some music when you aren’t trying to sleep.  And honestly, that is it in my opinion!  I’m sure I am missing a few things in this list but that really is the jist of the important stuff! 

Some other hospital tips – take everything you can before you leave – I mean extra granny panties, feminine products, diapers, samples of nipple cream and those amazing socks they give you!"

Lynzy: What a great question! I did a lot of research about this when I was packing my own bag! My friend Mallory did a guest post here that I really loved. So ultimately, the biggest things I used and loved while in the hospital was: Comfortable PJs (You will still want lots of room because your belly still looks 6 months pregnant after birth!) -- Comfy underwear ---nursing bar (although I never wore mine, I just wore the button down front pajamas and unbuttoned to feed her---Mints/gum for during the labor process---Your favorite shower/beauty products (that first shower you get after birth is amazing and you will love putting on your favorite lotion and it helps you to feel at home) ---one baby outfit for home (I brought more than one but she lived in her swaddle that the hospital gave her!) -- Going home outfit - yoga pants/Tee -- Toiletries for hubby ---all electronics (camera, videocamera, phone, etc) --- ipod dock (I made a birthing playlist!) --- birthing gown (I ordered mine- you can see it here) --- slippers!

2.)  "I'm 18 years old and in the middle of my first pregnancy, I feel like there is so much I don't know and I want to know a few top tips  that really helped when you first became a mother" -Jenny from Diary of a Dreamer

Veronika: "Hi Jenny!  Congratulations on your pregnancy!  I read a lot of books, but the best advice I can give you is to skip reading tons of pregnancy books and to read the ones about babies and the infant stage. I also looked to friends for advice and reassurance when I didn't know if something was "normal."  Be sure you have a network of other moms you can call or text if you need support.  I also recommend not being too hard on yourself during recovery. You will likely be emotional, exhausted and hormonal. It's okay to cry, it's okay to wear your pajamas all day, it's okay to sleep when the baby sleeps (and it's okay not to).  The last tip is to take it all in…take lots of photos and videos, they are only this tiny once!"

Erica: "I guess the most important thing I can tell you is to follow your instincts. I don't think anyone is ever really ready to become a mother until they are one. You'll be amazed at how many things will just come naturally to you. But if they don't, don't be afraid to ask for (or accept) help. One thing I remember someone telling me is to go on as many outings as you can when your baby is still a newborn (if you can). For most babies, this is the easiest time to do it. If you live an active lifestyle, they'll be used to outings right from the get-go. I found this advice to be true and I was so glad I followed it. I wrote a blog post with similar tips here - if you're interested. :)"

Britt: "I felt the same way when I was pregnant. My husband and I decided to take some birthing classes at the hospital that we were delivering at to learn some basics. I didn't know how to swaddle and learned in the class. It was a nice overview of what to expect, and the best thing about it was that the instructors were labor and delivery nurses so they answered a ton of questions we had. For the actual delivery part, I tried not to know much. I wanted to be as naive as possible so that I could just enjoy giving birth and keep in mind that every delivery is different and that I didn't need to stress about every possibility. A few tips I have is to take others advice with a grain of salt. Some people will really help you and others will cause you more stress. Every baby is different and you just do what works for you and your baby. As tired as you will be in the newborn days, enjoy them, because they go by so fast and you will miss that tiny newborn. Good luck :) "

Denise: "Congrats Jenny!  Becoming a mother is one of the most special things in the world and you are in for an amazing journey!  Here are three top tips if I had to narrow them down 
1. Ask for help!  Don’t try to be superwoman after your give your birth.  People will ask to help.  Let them!  They want to help, so delegate.  And if people don’t offer – ask!  Seriously!  Don’t fuss with the laundry or dishes if you don’t have to.  Focus on you and that baby of yours for that first month or so.  You will have enough on your plate with carrying for your newborn, resting, breastfeeding, learning how to change a diaper (I kinda struggled ya’ll!) and nourishing your healing body – so get help for all the other stuff.  I struggled with this at first, but once I released control and welcomed the help, I felt so much better.  Go ahead and plan ahead too.  Ask for help before the baby.  If your parents are available ask them to plan on helping out right after the baby, or find some friends who are willing to help.  Trust me.  It makes all the different. 
2.  Remember this very important thing – YOU ARE NOT A CRAZY PERSON.  After giving birth, your hormones are kinda like a rocket ship.  I mean really.  Throw in literally NO sleep, and you could possibly think you have gone mad.  Well, just remember you have not gone crazy.  It’s normal to cry.  It’s normal to feel a whirlwind of emotions – both highs and lows – those first two weeks or so.  Cut yourself some slack and take a deep breath.  You are doing a great job. (I will say that I, thankfully did not suffer from PPD, and if you are ever seriously worried about your emotions – call your doctor and just ask!  It’s very common and totally normal too!)
3.  That leads me to my last tip.  When you want to call your doctor, call them.  When you want to call your pediatrician, call them.  Who cares that you’ve already called them 6 times beforenoon?  No one.  A mama’s peace of mind is so valuable – especially in those first few weeks.  I took my daughter to the doctor every week for the first two months of her life.  Looking back, I was totally crazy and paranoid.  But I’m so thankful my husband never questioned me or made me feel bad about it.  If you are concerned or worried, just call.  It is way better to spend the $20 copay for a visit to the doctor than to worry your sleep-deprived, hormonal self all night."

Lynzy: Oh my goodness! First of all, congrats - you are embarking on such an amazing journey and you will love it! You will want everyone's help in the first 4 weeks. It is a blur (even to me now...) and you will want all the snacks/prepared food/hands you can get. If someone comes over tell them what you need - dishes cleaned, food prepared, change the baby's diaper- whatever. Put them to work! :)     Being a mommy is the best job in the world, but that doesn't mean it doesn't come with very difficult, trying times. Olivia had colic for the first three months and literally screamed day in and day out. Talk about frustrating. I wanted to give up so many times. STICK WITH IT. You are the best momma for that lil babe and one day it will get better. It did for us - she woke up at 3 months and hardly ever cries now. Breast feeding is HARD. I stuck with it and we are almost 6 months going strong, but do whatever is best for your baby and you. If you formula feed, there is nothing wrong with that. Do what YOU think is best, not what anyone else tells you. Listen to you. People love to give advice (I mean look at use giving you advice!) but you always know what is best for your baby.    Finally, take time for yourself. Even if it's 5 minutes. Regroup. Take a shower -- a long one. You will never feel better than when you take a break. Do it. Often. 

Kilee: "My tip would be to read a lot. Read a lot of different parenting books and don't be afraid to ask questions to the moms around you that you  admire. Having the knowledge base from reading many different perspectives will put the information in your head and your heart will help you figure out what advice is best for you and your child. There is no best way to parent, but there is a best way to parent your little one and you will know what that is if you put the effort into finding out and learning."

3.) "How does one dress little ones in a chic / cute way while on a limited budget? I just can't afford to but BabyGap clothes on clearance. And I'm tired of Target!" Leanne from Being Jane

Erica: "One of my favorite stores for cute and affordable baby clothes is Old Navy. They always have awesome coupons and sales, and even clothes that aren't on sale are pretty affordable. I tend to buy most of my baby's clothing online because it's so much easier to compare prices and find the best deals. Every now and then I "design" my own baby clothes. No, I can't sew to save my life, but I'll take a white Gerber onesie and create my own design on it. There are a few tutorials I've found on Pinterest that show you how to make cute stamp prints on plain baby leggings as well."

Britt: "Having a baby girl is really challenging when it comes to clothing. There are way too many cute things that I could spend a fortune on, but that is not possible for us. When I was pregnant I was gifted enough play clothes for my daughter, but I wanted some nicer smocked or nicer brand items. I buy a lot of my daughters clothes on sale for the next year. I cannot afford regular priced baby gap, but they do have amazing sales. In the back of baby gap there is usually a clearance rack, and if you go during a time when there are additional sales, you can get already marked down items for an additional 40% + off. I bought so many play clothes for this winter that were $4-8. It was so reasonably priced I couldn't resist stocking up. Another thing I just recently got hooked on is consignment sales. In my area local churches have big consignment sales that have gently used clothing for very cheap. I got a kissy kissy outfit for $4 and other really great brands of clothing for just as cheap. This is one of my favorite ways to shop these days."

Denise: "First and foremost, I hear ya Leanne!  I constantly battle with my slight obsession with the adorable-ness of baby clothes coupled with the nagging reality that I don’t need to spend $$$ on one measly outfit that Georgia will grow out of in months!  My solution?  SALE BABY SALE!  I first of all love Carter’s.  I think they’re clothes are adorable and they are wonderful about having great sales – especially end-of-season sales.  I plan ahead too.  At the end of last summer, I stocked up on ADORABLE dresses (that look very Lilly Pullitzer-ish) from Carter’s.  I got them in 12 months so G could wear them this summer too and they were crazy clearance (think $2-$3 a dress!).  The best thing about Carter’s is that if you save your receipt you can return it no matter how long ago you bought it.  So I buy in advance and if it doesn’t fit her, I can return it – even a year later!  I also loooove Zulily.  They have sales that last for about a week and have heavily discounted baby and children’s clothes!  I am a sucker for anything smocked and Zulily is great for having those at reasonable prices!  Also – H&M.  They have such cute things for babies and children and at amazing prices.  I’m kind of obsessed with everything H&M lately (I just got my fave pair of jeans from there for $9.99), and am seriously wondering why it’s taken me so long to embrace this amazing brand!  Lastly, I reuse and recycle!  When my daughter grows out of a dress, usually it’s because it’s a little short.  It usually still fits her in the neck – so then I use it as a top for her!  That way you get more wear out of your clothes too!  So there ya have it!  Those three stores are wear we get most of our baby clothes from!  I hope that helps!"

Lynzy: Okay. I am so bad with this. I want to buy my babe EVERYTHING. The best discovery for my was finding "Instagram shops". These are mamas who are selling their barely used/gently used clothing. Seriously babies wear things maybe once and then grow out of them so these items are in great (if not new condition) and I just wash everything once i get it. I got SO many of Olivia's clothes from the Instagram shops. I have great suggestions of some if you want the names. You can get things for SO much cheaper than in the stores. 

Kilee: "I am all about this question! I don't spend a lot on my kids' clothing - it just isn't my nature or in our budget. I am all about buying second hand. I have good luck thrifting in the nicer parts of town and you can find great name brand items on eBay or Thread Up. I also really shop the sales at GAP and Old Navy (like the extra 40% off of clearance sales!). H&M is hit or miss for me although it is priced well. For shoes I often shop and find great deals on name brand items. TJ Maxx sometimes has cute things on clearance and so does Ross or Marshalls."

Veronika: "Hi Leanne!  I am a big fan of sales. I like to shop at Baby Gap but I wait until things are 35-40% off---I never pay full price.  Something you might look into are instagram accounts and websites that sell gently used baby clothes for lower prices.  I love Target for baby clothes but I've noticed they don't get new stuff as often as they used to, so I can see how that can be frustrating when you're wanting to buy cute, inexpensive baby clothes. Carter's, OshKosh and Old Navy also have fantastic sales (up to 50% off).  I also think Marshalls has some really cute baby clothes for a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere. The last place you can look is etsy. There are so many great shops with affordable pieces and a lot of them can be customized too. I also want to mention that simplicity is really appealing to me when it comes to baby clothes. A simple tee with some printed leggings is absolutely adorable. It doesn't need to be embellished or ruffled or extravagant (often meaning it's pricey!) to be cute. There are also lots of great tutorials online about how to make cute headbands with knots and bows if you have a girl and want to add some accesories on the cheap.  Happy shopping!"

The Choices You Make

Friday, March 14, 2014

Have you ever made a big life decision and never looked back? Well, I/we did. Almost 3 years ago my husband and I chose to move to Birmingham, Alabama which is 5-6 hours away from our family and friends. We were excited, nervous, and scared. We did not know a soul and only had a few months to move, find a place, and start our lives. In the midst of our move we graduated college, got married, went on a honeymoon, and my husband began medical school. We've since made lots of friends, moved out of a teeny apartment and into a house, had a baby, and I began life as a stay at home mom.

While I was visiting home this past week I had a pretty emotional moment where I realized everything I had given up. It was during a stroll in uptown New Orleans' City Park where we fed ducks, let Scarlett swing, strolled in the park, took pictures, listened to a live jazz band, ate beignets, and most importantly did all of this with my parents. I went to use the restroom and on my way there I had a moment and the tears just started flowing. I was in the stall just so upset thinking how this would be my life right now. I'd be taking Scarlett to this park, meeting my parents for lunch, feeding these ducks all on a regular basis. I got back to the table and tried to keep it all in, but it was hard. I was enjoying the day and didn't want to upset anyone else. New Orleans is my home, and there really is no other place like it. The sense of true southern hospitality, live talent in the streets, good food, and sense of community is unwavering compared to other places I have visited. That is exactly why our transition was so hard in the beginning.

I texted Joel immediately and let him know about the battle I was facing and he made me feel better. We are truly happy in Birmingham, and since having Scarlett we've adjusted to life here in such a wonderful way. Before she was born we often felt disconnected, but doing family oriented activities and meeting friends with babies has made our life here much more enjoyable. We are so grateful for new friends who we've even become inseparable with, and they have made us feel like family.

It was a moment of truth, maybe a moment of weakness, and it was hard to go through those tough emotions. For a second I wanted to tell Joel, "Let's go back home for your residency" but I had to snap myself out of it and remember what our goals and dreams are as a family. We have no idea where we will be in a year and that is scary. Thinking that we may leave Birmingham, a place we've started a family at, and start all over again in a new state/city. I chose this life with Joel, to support him and carry him through his medical career, but it is not an easy road and I am still learning.

I know that God has a plan, and it is far better than the one I had in mind. I know we are here in Birmingham for a reason and wherever we go next will serve a purpose as well, but at times it is very hard to see, especially when you are strolling through your hometown on a beautiful day with your family who you miss everyday.

This was on my heart today and I felt inclined to share since it happened. Does anyone else have a relatable story? I am always inspired by other stories of people who are going through similar things.
Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!! 

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