Monday, July 30, 2012

Favorite Baby Items

When it came to registering for baby, I had an inkling of just what I wanted. I chalk it up to 8 years of nannying and being surrounded by baby gear. I had experience behind me; I’d pushed 8 different types of strollers, carried multiple different diaper bags, and learned first hand what I liked and what I could do without. This I’ve come to learn was precious knowledge that has helped us stay away from unnecessary items. 

But at the same time, while waiting, I did what most would tell those waiting not to do; I made spreadsheets. I was comparing strollers, I watched multiple friends have their children and listened, and I often, in hopeful anticipation, wandered the aisles at Babies R Us just for fun. For me it wasn’t bad for my heart because there wasn’t a baby attached to the gear gazing! I also LOVED hearing from others on what they liked and didn’t like. But I’m here to say that at the end of the day, it’s an extremely personal decision on how to spend your money preparing for baby and how your own life, taste, and preferences come into play. Some people like this certain thing and others swear by another. Really THINK about your life and how you think the days will go. You can always buy something later.

So here I am sharing my top baby items that we have for Elizabeth. We couldn’t have made it through the first month without these!
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1. Uppababy Vista
This was a HUGE splurge and we were blessed to be gifted with it. As a nanny I pushed every type of stroller you can imagine and I knew what I wanted. I wanted a seat that could face me, shocks, all terrain tires, easy push, and one stroller that could do almost everything. This has it all. I didn’t want a running stroller because pushing one while running is HARD work and I’d rather run without her. But I wanted something that functioned essentially like a running stroller. Another look-alike I considered was the Britax B-Ready which has some really cool features especially if you are having twins or a second. We were about to pick this up half off when we found out it would be gifted but would have paid full price knowing down the line we could sell it and recoup at least half of the cost. The bassinet feature has been hands down one of my favorite features; it’s a great place for her to sleep, lay while on walks because the carseat is uncomfortable and makes for a great bed when we are out visiting with friends. There isn’t anything I don’t love about it and so far Elizabeth loves it too!

2. Hidden in My Heart Cd’s

We love these. I can’t say enough about them. I listened to them before she was born and we listen to them daily now that she’s here. It’s the word of God put to music and what’s not to love about that. We have both volumes and listen to volume 2 almost exclusively.


Tommee Tippee Bottles
Nannying and watching other peoples kids allowed me to use many a bottle. The main 2 I’ve used in the past were Avent and Dr. Brown’s. Avent leaked and Dr. Brown’s has a bazillion parts to clean. So when looking for something that would work for us we chose Tommee Tippee Sensitive Tummies. Alex and I knew going into to parenthood that we were going to do everything we could to get her to take a bottle so we could get some couple time without E. Week 3 we introduced it and it’s been going great. I love how compact they are and there are very few parts to clean and of course Elizabeth will drink from them. Win-win.

4. Swaddleme Swaddles
Elizabeth doesn’t love to be swaddled and yet when she was brand new she needed to be. She flails:) So we used these and loved them. She would scream when we tried the woombie but these didn’t bother her. We use them occasionally now but we’ve transitioned our refluxy baby to tummy sleeping (don’t judge) and swaddles would not be safe for that!

5. Jesus Storybook Bible
Oh my, this is one of my favorites! Do they make Bible’s like this for grown ups? Seriously at this point I get way more out of our daily Bible reading than Elizabeth does. Love the story format. I read this to her in the womb and now we read it together. I can only imagine that this will become a treasured time for all of us as she grows up!
6. Boppy
I use my Boppy every day and I know there are people so love it and those that hate it for it’s main purpose, breastfeeding. But to be honest, while I like it for that purpose, I LOVED it in the hospital and the days following as a seat cushion. Sitting after giving birth is painful and this definitely helped alleviate some of the ouch!

7. Little Lamb Bouncy Seat
Alex and I went back and forth between a swing and a bouncy seat. We didn’t want tons of kid stuff all around the house so we opted for the bouncy seat. In the end we decided what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. Might come back to bite us after she visits the church nursery, but until then bouncy seat it is. So far she loves it and we love that it’s portable for use around the house.


Motorola Video Monitor
Hands down this might be one of my absolute favorites. I never thought a video monitor was truly necessary…in fact if family wouldn’t have gone together to get this for us we may have resisted a video monitor. Good thing we didn’t. Elizabeth is a NOISY sleeper. In fact she moved right into her own bed on our second day home. That wasn’t the plan but she is SO loud! The video monitor is great in the middle of the night…otherwise I am sure I would’ve been up ALL NIGHT LONG! I can see that her little eyes are closed and she’s doing just fine. Also gives us peace of mind now that she’s  a tummy sleeper!

9. Bamboobies & Motherlove
Breastfeeding can be great but it can also be painful. So far we haven’t had too much pain to speak of but Motherlove is fantastic for alleviating some of the soreness. Love that it doesn’t need to be wiped off and it’s not goopy or sticky. And Bamboobies…oh my…LOVE! I use disposable nursing pads as well but these are fantastic and help keep costs down. They are soft and don’t soak through like my other cotton pads, and don’t get me started on the overnights. These wool pads work wonders…especially when little ones start sleeping longer stretches!


With all the apps available and what not, this was one I wasn’t sure would be worth the $15. But what can I say, it proved me wrong. This is fantastic. I really only use it for breastfeeding and keeping track of when she last ate and which side. But I’m sure as she wakes up more I may start using it for naps as well. It’s small, portable, and helps keep us functioning especially when sleep is a luxury!

11. Baby Wise
This deserves a post of it’s own and I plan on writing it soon. So much controversy behind this book and to be honest I’m scratching my head as to why. As a former English major, I read things critically…analyzing a text as I go along. I found certain parts to be very helpful; the section on keeping your marriage strong, breastfeeding, and getting into a routine. Most kids thrive with routine and even though we’re choosing to be very flexible here, a routine is something I enjoy as well. So all in all, I liked this and found it very helpful…again, post to follow.


White Noise Machine
Elizabeth thrives on white noise. In fact, I quickly downloaded an app to my phone for car rides and when we are out. Seriously puts her out cold:) This machine is inexpensive and runs on batteries or a power adapter. It’s fantastic. Personally we like the waterfall noise as it’s most like white noise but there are a few to choose from and I love that you can put a timer on it so it doesn’t have to play all night.

13. Avent Pacifiers
Pacifiers get a bad rap. I’m not certain I fully follow the reasoning but in the middle of the night while at the hospital in an attempt to get some sleep I called the nurse. I asked for a pacifier and as a breastfeeding mom I could tell the nurse was tentative to hand it over. But I insisted. And Elizabeth was happy to suck. One thing I knew going in…I would not be a human pacifier. So if she needs to suck, pacifier it is. They gave us a MAM in the hospital and I switched to these once we got home. They have a COVER! No more icky pacifier or needing a separate holder. These come all ready to go. LOVE IT!

14. Medela Pump in Style
What can I say, pumping was non-negotiable (see item #3). In order for bottles to happen, pumping needs to happen. I’ll admit, I was a little unsure at first. Pumping seemed daunting but once I did I realized it’s really no big deal. I like the flexibility and we got our pump for free through our insurance…make sure to check! If that wouldn’t have been the case, I’m not sure this would have been the brand we would have went with but so many people love it too, so it must be good!


Aden and Anais Blankets
Last but not least these would be tied for favorite item with our stroller and monitor. We’ve never used these for swaddling but they are the only 4 blankets we use at our house. They are soft, light, big and perfect for just about everything. Plus they are super cute and come in all sorts of patterns. We have For the Birds. And as an added bonus, A&A makes lovie blankets as well…which of course, Elizabeth loves!

So there you have it, our top 15 favorite baby items. We just ordered our Ergo so I’m sure that will become number 16! Again, these are things we have found so worth the money and work for us, but it’s all preference and every kid is different.

I’d love to hear, what are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dear Elizabeth,

There are so many words and yet I don’t know where to start. My heart swells with emotion whenever I look at you.

Your sweet face, your fingertips, your soft baby skin.

For right in front of me is tangible grace.

Mama wants to tell you the story of how you were born and yet I cannot without starting where it all began.

Before time was, your name was written in God’s amazing story of redemption.

The story of all stories, the one we pray you come to embrace wholeheartedly. He knew you dear girl, before time began. Your name. Your features. How your life would weave into the tapestry He created. Creator God chose the perfect moment for your entrance the world and into our lives.

We waited on Him. For you. He doesn’t always answer. We were prepared for no. And because your life was planned before time began, He answered with yes. Because you see, He always knew when you would be born.

There is Holy significance behind your life. 

It’s not chance. It’s Holy, glorious, meaning. There is a purpose for your life. A purpose because everything He creates is purposeful. “The LORD has made everything for its purpose…” Proverbs 16:4.

After 3 years, in mid-October He formed you. Within my womb. And after 9 long months of feeling you move within, wondering who would await us, you, Elizabeth, took our breath away when you arrived.

On the eave of your birth, the Lord moved.

He was ready, awaiting this moment, upholding the universe all the while. When water burst, the trumpet sounded, announcing that your entrance into the world was at hand. The angels rejoiced, the Lord of Hosts smiled down. It was all planned Elizabeth. And at 2:18, on June 22, He moved the universe, and you were born. Though we didn’t know it and we were not quite ready, He knew it was time. His perfect timing.  “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born…” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

But you see Elizabeth, it’s never about us, it’s about Him.

For He knows all things and the timing of your birth was perfect in all ways. It was not as we planned; it took us a minute for it to sink in. 24 hours. You would be in our arms. As our minds comprehended,  our hearts overflowed with childlike giddiness. We would be meeting our daughter soon!

We were amazed at what was ahead but we had no idea the impact it would make on our marriage, on our individual hearts. You see, we were unknowingly getting ready for our hearts to swell with gratitude, burst at the seams, for our Creator had given us you. And we were so unprepared for the love that would flow for Sovereign Lord and for you, Elizabeth. You make our hearts overflow in gratitude for Almighty God, to give glory.

”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

To be continued…

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Elizabeth week 4

Well, 4 weeks have passed and I’m not quite sure where they went. When I look at Elizabeth I can hardly remember that tiny little baby that arrived just 4 weeks ago. She’s growing up before my eyes and I know Alex and I are soaking it all up! In just 1 day she’ll officially be a month old…seems so surreal—where did the time go?
DSC_0035Illustration #1 that she’s growing up…it’s getting awfully difficult to get her to cooperate for the weekly pic. I’m thinking I ‘m going to have to switch it up a bit for next week! Also this will mark the end of weekly updates…she’ll still make the blog every now and again, but I’ll be tracking her weeks on my own.
This week has been quite interesting to say the least. We’ve had moments of everything; grumpiness, sleepiness, cry fests, gassiness, as well as a happy and content baby. We’re finally starting to figure her out a bit more and I’m sure as soon as I say this she’ll change her ways! We’ve spent the week enjoying some time with Grandma and sadly saying goodbye when she went home, walking, and hanging out at home a bit more.
DSC_0064The one thing we learned this week: how to best get Elizabeth to sleep. At the beginning of the week it seemed she was boycotting sleep in general and getting really mad when she was overtired and now she can’t keep her eyes open! Glad we made some progress here (bassinet was the answer) as we’ve all slept better as a result. Note to self: she HATES being swaddled, unless it’s in a swaddleme and that only works 1/2 the time. I have 2 unused, new woombies, any takers?

Weight: She’s 10.5 pounds! What a chunk:) Last week I was way off as she was just pushing 10 pounds.

Sleep: Like I noted above sleep has been the topic of the week. We finally have a great system down. She sleeps in the bassinet part of her stroller with the white noise machine in there by her head. And she loves to sleep on her side with her lovie blanket by her head. This has allowed us consistent 3-4 hour stretches at night!

Eat: She took another bottle this week right before bed and to be honest, it was fantastic. For the first time in 4 weeks I was able to be free of a baby for 5 straight hours! Not something I want to do all the time, but it was still nice.

Likes: She FINALLY liked bath time. Maybe it’s because Daddy did it? I LOVE watching them do bath time…makes my heart skip a beat. Also loves her lovie and her pacifier. Found her pulling it in and out of her mouth this week!

Dislikes: Being overtired, tummy time (seriously…must keep trying!)

Firsts: hmmm…nothing new here:)

Momma Update: I’m feeling great. After one month of recovery I’m ready for my 6 week appointment as I would love to step up the exercise a bit and just know that everything is as it should be. After one month, I’m down 29 of my 35 pound weight gain but I have about 12 to go. When we got pregnant, I was around 6 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight due to the miscarriages. So whenever I get there is fine by me EVEN if it NEVER happens! I look in the mirror almost every day and LOVE  how I look. I personally think I look better as a mother:) Plus, I honestly can’t imagine being 12 pounds lighter…but I would love if my excessive amount of denim in my closet would FIT! If not, get ready for a big sale on some amazing pieces!

Emotionally good, though some days have been harder than others, but I’m feeling pretty lucky that she’s a pretty good baby and sleeps quite well at night. If I can get in a few 2 1/2 hour stretches, I’m good to go for the day. Being a mom is the only thing after being a wife that I’ve ever wanted to be. In college, my dad would ask what I would want to do afterwards and in my heart the answer was always be a wife and a mother. I can’t imagine doing anything else…though, one day I may be called to do otherwise. But until then, I’m soaking it in and enjoying these moments as a family!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shutterfly’s “long Live Summer” Photo Contest

There’s only one way to capture summer…through a picture. And now you can enter those fantastic summer pics in Shutterfly’s Long Live Summer Photo Contest. The contest launched July 9th and goes through the 12th of August. Perfect time to submit those photos at a chance to win some really great prizes!


Long Live Summer – Facebook Photo Contest details

Grand prize is a trip for four to The Bahamas and a professional photo shoot so you’ll remember your vacation forever.  All you need to do is upload your favorite photo and caption based on the theme of the week.  Get a gift from Shutterfly just for entering! You can enter at any point during the 5-week sweepstakes period.


Week 1(7/9): Americana

Week 2 (7/16): Great Outdoors

Week 3 (7/23): Water Fun

Week 4 (7/30): Sports & Activities

Week 5 (8/6): Parties & Celebrations


-Instant win prizes just for submitting a photo!

-Weekly prizes (contestants can enter one time/week)

-Weekly featured photos: up to 5 weekly entries will be selected from the gallery and featured on the Facebook fan page and awarded a $500 gift card on Shutterfly and a copy of the new Lonely Planet travel photography book.

-Grand prize: trip for 4 to Bahamas, 4 nights, family photo shoot

Shutterfly Sweepstakes - Official Rules

*I have received product in exchange for this post.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Elizabeth Week 3

I promise when life evens out this will be more than just a record of Elizabeth’s life. But until then, that’s just what it is because I don’t want to forget these precious little moments. Hard to believe that in just 6 days she’ll be 4 weeks. Experienced moms, does that mean she’s a month old at that point or is she a month when she hits her birthday in the next month, like July 22nd? I’m confused:)


She’s getting so big…barely fits on the pouf sideways. Might need to get creative next week:)
DSC_0057DSC_0008 (2)

Weight: I’m thinking around high eights or right at 9

Sleeping: This week I’m certain she had a growth spurt. She’s been eating non-stop and sleep has been consistently between 3-4 hours at night.

Eating: This week I tried pumping for the first time and the effort paid off because Elizabeth took a bottle really easily. I’m excited to keep giving it to her 1-2x/week in hopes that we can get out sometimes without her. She drank 2 oz. and wanted more. So I’m thinking she’s eating right between 3-4 ounces.

Likes: Bathtime is making her less angry so maybe she’s warming up to the idea. Otherwise she likes laying on her tummy (on someone), doing baby aerobics with daddy, listening to her lullaby cd and eating:)

Dislikes: Tummy time on her own

Diapers and Clothing: She’s so grown up. This week she leapt into 0-3 month clothing and size 1 diapers. Breaks my heart a bit.

Firsts: Time taking a bottle, being left home with grandma, visit to Crate and Barrel, 36 hours of pure grumpiness (thinking gassy baby and growth spurt), time to Bethlehem to hear her get announced:) She squawked of course and we needed to run out and calm her down! 
DSC_0006    (this is how she sleeps most often…we call them her John Piper moves)

Overall this week has been one of the more challenging…so thankful my mom is in town to help around the house and keep Elizabeth company while we try to nap and stay afloat. Her 2 days of grumpiness were hard but we made it through and I’m happy to say she’s back to her happy self.

                                          (I’m so strong I can lift my head)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Elizabeth: Week 2

Another week has passed and I already feel like she’s so grown up! Every day with Elizabeth is a new adventure. Getting to know the little nuances that make her, her; discovering new ways my heart can love.  It’s been the best 14 days for Alex and I as we walk down this new road.
DSC_0008 (2)Keeping it quick this time, here’s the updates on Elizabeth:

Weight: 8lb. 6.8 oz.

Longest stretch at night: 5 hours; in her own bed

Likes: Snuggling with mommy and daddy, sitting in her little lamb vibrating seat, eating, getting her hair washed, and people watching

Dislikes: Having a gassy tummy, diaper changes, bath time

Pacifier: Yes, since day 2 at the hospital/no confusion:)

Diapers: Newborn size. After trying 3 kinds, I’m leaning towards Huggies Pure and Natural, they’re soft and the cutout was much bigger…wish we had used them more when her cord was an issue

Clothing size: still in NB, 0-3 still a bit big

Firsts: Time meeting Grandma and Grandpa Winter, visit to a restaurant, shopping at the Farmer’s Market, time to Culver’s

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