Friday, August 25, 2017

Our Favorite Baby Essentials



Being a first time mom has been such a learning curve for me. You too? Please tell me I'm not alone!

I remember the last few months leading up to "the big day" was so nerve wracking for me. How was I supposed to keep this child alive? Would I know what to do? What if I messed up? Or...what if I didn't have the right tools for the job? 

I received the most comforting advice at one of our baby showers - something I'm eternally grateful for, even today. This new mama herself said: "Don't worry if it takes you 30 mins to figure out how to do something. Your baby doesn't know that you don't know." I get teary eyed even now just thinking about this. That piece of advice saved me and helped me through some really hard times in the beginning.

I still don't have everything figured out but I thought maybe I could share what's worked for us these last 6 months because when you're a new Mom everything is new - all.the.things and your baby! It was such an overwhelming experience to know that you needed "stuff" to care for this new little human but...what stuff? How was I supposed to know what worked and what didn't? Truth is...you just don't know. Motherhood is a wing-it-and-see kinda ride most times.
Now that I’ve had a chance to use all this new baby gear and have a few months of mommy-hood under my belt, I thought it would be fun to share what we’re totally loving and can’t live without in case anyone stumbles upon this blog and is feeling a little overwhelmed preparing for their little one. We moms have to stick together, don't we?

Feeding:
Dr. Brown bottles come with a million parts that all require washing but aside from that, they're the absolute best. We did receive 2 other types of bottles in those new-mommy sample packages they send you in the mail but they were a total flop - the nipples would collapse and stop the flow of milk which made for one angry baby!

Remember all those bottle parts I mentioned? You'll need this...or two (we have three). I love how you can throw it right in the dishwasher to quickly sanitize! I opted for an all white lawn because I'm totally OCD but they have a more realistic green one too if that's your jam. You'll probably need these and these to go with your lawn as well...plus they're cute.

Bottle Wash

We love this brand of bottle wash soap. It's a plant based, fragrance free soap that doesn't leave a milky residue or odor behind! If you like smelly soaps, don't worry, they have a yummy smelling Lavender fragrance too.

Dr. Brown Bottle Warmer

We love this no frills, easy-to-use bottle warmer. Even better - my Mom and Grandma can use it, no problem while watching our daughter during the week. No getting confused and frustrated with a high tech thingamajig while the baby screams in the background for more food NOW!

Soothing:
I never gave much thought about whether we'd give our daughter a pacifier until she had to stay in the hospital nursery for some jaundice therapy and they asked if they could offer her one. This is the one they used and hand out to all new parents - or at least those who are open to it. After reading about "nipple confusion", we chose this pacifier because the nipple shape is near identical to the nipple shape on a bottle or our own bodies. We haven't had any issues with Emie rejecting it or having latch issues because of it but I've heard it happens regardless...we've just been fortunate that we haven't had to deal with that and this is the pacifier that works for us. What I love about it even more is that it's a one piece constructed pacifier which makes easy to clean/sanitize and I don't have to worry about whatever is festering between the cracks.
Out of all the pacifier clips we received and/or purchased, we like this one best! Not only is it all natural, but she chews, chews, chews on this one more than any other clip so it must feel good on those gums! And yeah...it keeps the paci attached at all times too because that's super important too!

Boba Wrap

This wrap you guys!!! It's nothing genius - just a really, really, really, long piece of stretchy fabric that let's you get stuff done with baby in tow. It was a total game changer when I started toting Emie around in it because it allowed me to get things done - dishes, laundry, dinner! As she's gotten older, it's still really helpful too! If you have a baby who loves to be out and about like we do, the wrap allows her to be up and observing the world go by without being confined to a car seat or stroller - Emie's two least favorite things.

Gripe Water and Gas drops

These 2 items saved us so many times during those late night bouts with gassiness that hit hard right at 6 weeks when we had tried everything to calm our fussy baby and nothing seemed to help. It helped us, but helped her more.

Calming Vibrations Soother

We were gifted this cute little puppy that plays the most calming lullabies, humming, and gentle vibrations continuously over a 10 minute period. It worked so well, even I fell asleep listening to it.



Diapering:
Babies R Us Brand Diapers

When we were expecting the twins we started stocking up on diapers very early on in the pregnancy because we knew there was about to be a lot of dirty diapers in our future. Anytime we saw a sale on diapers or diapers that were on clearance, we snatched them up and packed them away - irregardless of brand. We didn't get to use the diapers with the twins but once Emie came along we already had a huge stash of diapers just waiting to be used. Out of all the brands we stashed away, we've loved these the most. I won't say they won't leak, because at some point, they all will, but they're by far the most absorbent and keep in what needs to stay in if you know what I mean.

Boudreaux Butt Paste Diaper Rash Ointment

We've been fortunate enough not to have dealt with diaper rash yet but perhaps it's because we've been using this almost exclusively for the last 6 months. Or maybe we've just been lucky. Either way I'm grateful and I'm sure our daughter is too. It comes in extra strength too.

Portable Changing Pad

Makes diaper changing possible almost anywhere without having to tote around the entire diaper bag.

Windi

Seems like such a weird (and gross) thing to do but guys...it works! When your baby is suffering from gas you'll do just about anything to alleviate the pain and this bad boy delivered in so many ways. Watch the video and stand clear. You've been warned!

Mom Gear:

What I like most about this bag is that it can pass for a purse, plus the waxed canvas makes it easy to wipe down and clean because let's get real...life with a baby is messy. It's also got a lot of great pockets on the inside and very roomy to carry around all those baby essentials.
Shit happens and when it does, you'll want one of these. I bought a set of wet bags - one large and one small - for the messiest of messes like ruined outfits from diaper explosions or volcanic spit-ups. You'll want a place to throw the wet clothes to carry home to wash. Trust. They work great for wet bathing suits too. I keep both sizes in the diaper bag - one for the wet clothes and the other holds extra outfits, hats, bibs, and burp cloths all in one neat bag.
It's like doggy bags but for diapers. The real bad (and stinky) diapers. The ones you're too embarrassed to throw away in your friend's trash can - these bags and this dispenser saves you from that embarrassment.

Bathing:
Infant Bathtub

A bathtub without all the bells and whistles because, really, all that hoopla isn't necessary. We liked this one for it's simple, to the point, design. Its soft touch on the baby's skin and allows the water to drain away so the baby isn't bathing in dirty water and the no slip bottom was all we really needed. It fits perfectly in our farmhouse sink or perfect size to pop right into the bathtub too.

Hooded Towel

Because all babies are cuter in hooded towels. Even better? It has ears and is silky soft!

Safety Swabs

It hard enough to clean a squirming baby's ears let alone having to worry about sticking the qtip in too far. These have come in handy for all those necessary tasks that our baby's hate having done in the first place.

Sleeping:
White noise machine

We actually use our Google Home to play white noise for all naps and bed time but this one has a ton of positive reviews so it must be good. It helps to drown out noise in surrounding rooms which has helped us a ton in our quest for getting Emie to sleep soundly.
Footed Pajamas

Literally the softest footed pajamas I've come across that just get softer wash after wash. The smaller sizes come with the arm cuff so your little ones don't scratch themselves. They're made of organic cotton and the solid colors are gorge! Who can resist a baby in footed jammies?

Halo Sleep Sack

The wearable blanket for ultimate sleep safety! I love that it zips open from the bottom for middle of the night diaper changes.


Play:

Step N Play Piano

We don't actually have this - but my Mom does and Emie goes bonkers over it! For a baby who loves to move around, this lets her slide side to side and spin around 360° all banging on the piano and making music! Probably a good thing it stays at Grandma's house.

Musical Mover and Shaker

This was our daughter's first real toy and she loves it! It plays a cute little melody while vibrating all over the floor and she loves chewing on the crinkly wings or crawling after it as it vibrates away.

Linking Rings

These silly things have literally saved my sanity. Our daughter has never been fond of car rides or the car seat but after using a bunch of these to hang toys and even a paci from the car seat handle, car rides are now a whole lot more pleasant because they keep the toys within reach and her entertained long enough for me to get where I need to go.

Sassy Play Gym

During the months when Emie was immobile, this play gym kept her entertained and happy! The bold and contrasting colors really kept her attention and the hanging toys really helped her work on her hand/eye coordination when reaching and grabbing. Now that she's on the move we've packed the play gym away because she won't lay down long enough to get any real use out of it but it was great while it lasted!

Foam Floor Tiles

These are a must for any home with hard wood, laminate, or tile flooring. It takes the worry away during playtime and gives those precious knees and cushiony surface to crawl around on. Comes in other great colors too here and here.

Infant Safety Helmet

Speaking of safety...I never thought I'd be one of these parents but here I am. Our daughter is sitting up but still a bit wobbly so after seeing her topple over from a sitting position and not being able to catch her fall we ordered this and now feel comfortable enough to leave her alone to play without having to worry she's going to topple over and bonk her head. It's adjustable and will grow with her through all her milestones until she's a little more steady on her feet and her butt
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These are all the things we've loved using over the last 6 months - please feel free to add your favorites to the comments below and I'll continue to add if I come across any must haves! I'd love to hear what keeps you sane and your baby alive!

Monday, July 10, 2017

DIY Cat Litter Cabinet

Aside from the new windows we installed late last year, another, more recent, addition we added to our sunroom is this cute little cabinet.


Before having the baby we attended an infant CPR and safety class where they encouraged all us soon-to-be-parents to baby proof the house before our little ones arrived. While we didn't go overboard and totally safeguard the house, we did take a few steps towards a safer home for little Emie girl. Along with adding outlet plugs, this little cabinet in the sunroom helped conceal one of the things I was most concerned about...our litter box!



We love our cat but we haven't ever loved his litter box - or the mess it makes and I always worried that one day in the not too distant future, I'd find our daughter using the cat litter as her own personal sand box. Now...not only is the cat litter out of reach of our almost-crawling-daughter but...I don't have to look at it either! #winwin

Inside we keep all our kitty essentials - food, along with a few rolls of plastic trash bags for poop scooping. A clear suction hook on the door works perfectly to hold the pooper scooper too! Everything thing we need fits right inside with room to spare.


DIYing our cat litter cabinet was super simple - just an extra large cat door - for our extra large cat - and this inexpensive Ikea cabinet - or any cabinet for that matter - is all you need!


We opted for this cabinet because it's dimensions worked perfectly for the small sliver of wall between the living room and the nursery but any cabinet big enough to house your litter box can work too!

Before putting the cabinet together, we cut out the hole for the cat door on one of the side panels using the template that was provided with the door using our Ryobi drill and jigsaw.







Once the hole was cut all we had to do was install the door. It really couldn't have been more simple and the end result is having me wonder why I didn't think of this sooner!


From the outside - no one would ever know the litter box was inside! Would you have guessed?



And in case you're wondering what that thing was peaking out from under the cabinet...

It's our robot vacuum - the Neato - or what we call her, Flo! I was able to plug the docking station into an outlet behind the cabinet and the docking station fits perfectly underneath with just enough clearance for Flo to make her way back home to charge.


This super simple Ikea hack really helped contain and conceal our messy litter box while also making our home safer for babe! Do you have something in your house that needs a little concealing - printers or electronics come to mind! Could an inexpensive Ikea hack help you too?

Of course it can!

*affiliate links used

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Our Most Expensive House Purchase Yet

This post has been sitting in my drafts since last September and I'm just now getting around to posting it. Talk about slow

I shared a little bit about our decision to replace these windows in our 6 month post purchase check-in but I finally found some time to throw a few pictures your way so you could see how the whole process unfolded last September.

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When we purchased the house we learned during the inspection that what we were calling the “sunroom” was once a covered patio that led out onto the massive deck. Someone, at some time, enclosed the patio in favor of extra square footage and an indoor laundry. It was at this time that the black sliding doors you see below (3 sets of them), we’re installed. 
The inspector wasn't sure when the conversion happened or how old the original windows really were. There wasn't a permit on file for the change but he was able to determine that enclosing the sunroom was definitely an alteration to the original builder plans because only one other unit in our complex has an enclosed laundry room like ours. So when we purchased the condo, all we knew going in was that the windows hadn’t been replaced since and that they were definitely showing signs of age. We loved it anyway.
Within the first few weeks after moving in one of the handles on the middle slider broke off completely and the one on the right was barely hanging on by a thread. We tried finding replacement handles at several different hardware stores and quickly realized that our handle size wasn’t standard. Awesome.
Another clue that these babies were old!
The other issue we noticed was just how bad the window fogging was.

We knew that the windows were foggy from the initial home inspection reports but I don’t remember it being as bad as you see in these pictures when we toured the house. I think a few damps nights/mornings made it worse over the short time we had been in the house and perhaps when we viewed the house during the day, it was less noticeable.

After living with the foggy windows for almost 6 months, and totally hating them, we decided to dedicate almost half our renovation budget towards replacing them. It took some re-arranging and re-prioritization of our to-do list but in the end we thought that having new (read: not foggy) windows was more important to us and to the resale value of the house.



Having never replaced windows before, we decided to cast a wide net and got 6 quotes. When we got the pricing back I was shocked at how widespread the range was...8k-34k - ouch that hurt!

Our original intention was to retrofit the sliding doors with new but upon further inspection, we discovered that the original sliding doors were never framed correctly and there was never any type of water barrier/flashing installed to prevent water leakage to both the inside of the house and to the windows themselves (another indication that this project was never permitted - it would've never passed!).

After discovering this, we were forced to completely re-frame / insulate from the studs which immediately tore our budget to shreds. Over time the window seals broke down and because the windows weren’t properly sealed water/moisture seeped in and forever fogged our windows. A crappy way to spend so much money! We settled on a contractor, gave them our left kidney, and endured a 2 month lead time…until our windows finally arrived last September.

The team was clean, courteous, and quick! They prepped their work area both inside and out with rosin paper and laid down drop cloths to prevent tracking any dirt/debris all over the house…something I was very grateful for!

After breaking away the stucco on either side (which was extremely loud BTW), they made quick work of the old windows – removing each door one by one with a giant suction cup.




And then they moved on to remove the tracks/frames...



Once the doors and frames were removed, it was crazy to have the whole backside of the house opened up to the outside! SO.MUCH.SUN.


With the old doors and frames removed, they began framing for the new ones. Just look at that view!



By mid afternoon, they were ready to install the first new window making sure to waterproof as they went along.


By the end of the day, all the new windows were in!
We chose to go with a white frame on the inside to make the sunroom feel larger and to not obstruct the view as much.

All this happened back in September. Here's the new, improved, and very expensive after:






 What do you think? Were the new windows worth the investment? 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Sweet Nursery | The Sources

I hope you enjoyed the nursery reveal from last week because today I'm back to share all the details on where everything came from that made this room such a special place for our special little girl. We worked hard over the course of several months putting this room together and it's easily one of my favorite rooms in our entire house!

By far the biggest transformation came from just a few gallons of paint alone - it's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for a space. For less than a $100 and a few days worth of work, we brightened up this room in a major way.

There are still some things I'd like to add (a ladder for blanket storage), change (a taller dresser), and tweak (I'm thinking a fun colored ceiling) but for now it's perfect for our little girl! Enough chit-chat...let's get down to details:









COMPLETE SOURCE LIST 

Wall Color - Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore | Juju Hat - Etsy | Bird Mobile - Etsy | Crib - Buy Buy Baby | Crib Sheet - Buy Buy Baby | Pink + Gold Pillow - HomeGoods | Heart Pillow -HomeGoods (Similar) | Lamb - Nordstrom | Grey Lumbar Pillow - HomeGoods | Love Pillow - HomeGoods (Similar) | Black Braided Rug - Rugs USA | White Shag Rug - Rugs USA | Antelope - HomeGoods | Gold Frames - Target | Animal Pictures - Etsy | Curtain Rod - Lowes | Blush Drapes - West Elm | White Pillow - H&M Home | Pink Lumbar - H&M Home | Clear Lidded Canister - H&M Home (Similar) | Grey + White Cup - H&M Home | Gold Mocs - Amazon | Black Moto Boots - Kate Spade | White Shelf - Ikea | Pom-Pom Garland - Etsy | Ceramic Lamp - Target | Wipe Dispenser - Amazon | Soap Pumps - Target | Basket - HomeGoods (Similar) | Dresser - Thrifted | Gold Lamp - Target | Glider - Buy Buy Baby | Mud Cloth Blanket - Flea Market (Similar) | Grey Throw - HomeGoods (Similar) | White Garden Stool - Home Goods (Similar) | Fox Tervis Tumbler - Bed Bath + Beyond

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Sweet Nursery | The Reveal

Wow!! It's been a while hasn't it? Did you miss me?

You might remember that the nursery was part of our 2017 House Goals list for obvious reasons so today...I'm really excited to share the room we made over for the newest member of our family.

Our sweet baby Emie arrived into this world quite clumsily on February 3rd (after being an unbearable 2 weeks late) + after a few delivery complications + a lot of figuring this parenting thing out (which I'm still doing), I finally had a few spare moments to throw a few words + pictures together to create this post for you. I hope you enjoy!

But before we dive right into the nursery reveal...let's see the before:




The previous owners used this room as an office which is how the room was staged to sell and + why there are no doors in that huge opening (which leads to the sunroom) in the 2 photos directly above. We eventually want to add french doors to this opening but for now it offers super quick access to the nursery for those never ending diaper changes without the hassle of having to open and close doors all day long.

Like a couple tornadoes, we stripped the room down to the bare bones. We removed the gross carpet, installed new laminate flooring, removed the dinky baseboard + trim in favor of substantial molding all throughout. I even removed the mirrored bypass closet doors + sold them on Craigslist because I have an odd aversion to mirrored doors.



What once was a boring all shades of beige room is now a room dedicated to the squishiest baby ever! Take a little look-see...



I wanted the room to be light + bright which is why I stuck with a mainly black + white color palette but added in touches of blush + gold. If you've seen the rest of my house, you know I'm a neutral loving gal plus the fact that babies can see in black + white, only made the decision easier.





If you saw on my Instagram stories a while back you already know that I was planning to wallpaper the crib wall. Well...I didn't. Not only was it going to be super expensive - I was never able to commit. 

I still would like to do something here but for now, I'm loving how fresh it feels!

On the floor I used a neutral black + gray braided rug that I already had on hand + layered over top the fluffiest white shag rug ever! Toss a couple throw pillows on the floor and even this old lady can get down on the ground + play with our babe! 

Plus the white shag rug, is perfect for our monthly photo shoots! Bonus! 




To the left of the crib is Emie's closet which we painted black + reconfigured. It still has a ways to go so this is all you'll see of it today. Oh...+ I definitely decided that I want to put doors back ON the closet. Just not mirrored ones 😁.

I totally thought I could be all cool + hipster living without closet doors but NO! My OCD got the best of me + I'm dying a slow death having to look at the contents of her closet every.single.day.



Directly across from the crib is the glider + dresser / changing table. This side of the room was by far the hardest to pull together because it had to serve so many purposes - a place to nurse, diaper, + house all those itty bitty baby essentials. 

After living + using this side of the room for almost 4 months, it's safe to say that we'll be making some tweaks in the future to make it work better for us. Until then - I want you to see it how it is today! 





The basket on the dresser corrals all our diapering essentials within quick reach (because when poo is involved - you need to be quick!) + the shelf above holds other often used items like cotton swabs + q-tips. Plus it gives us an area to show off her ever-growing shoe collection! Like those darling moto-booties Daddy bought her 😍.


How about a little side-by-side action?




Much better, right?!

If you love our nursery as much as I do - check back next week for all the sources! 

Now off to feed the turkey...