Nov 7, 2018

Favorite Toddler Products at 15 Months


I'm slightly obsessed with finding the perfect baby items and gear. Researching and testing new products in general is a hobby of mine, as well as writing reviews, but I've taken it to a new level now that N is here. Owning a baby store and/or creating baby registries has now replaced "Becoming the Next Samantha Brown" as my dream job. So I thought I'd do some baby gear updates and talk about a few new things that we love.

No affiliate links used in this post. 

The Basics




We are still Team Pampers Pure diapers over here and I've started using their Aqua Pure Wipes too, which I like just as much. They remind me of Water Wipes, but at a more reasonable price. For hands and face cleaning, I prefer Honest Wipes. I was using Amazon Basics Sensitive Wipes for a while, but was getting a few super dry packs, so I made the switch and I think we are finally settled on a diaper/wipe combo that works best for us. So much trial and error! As far as overnight diapers go, I swear by Sposies Diaper Booster Pads, which are an insert you add to a regular diaper. N never leaked with Sposies, ever. But, I recently switched to Honest Overnights (super cute sheep print!) because trying to get a wiggly toddler in a diaper with an insert requires at least 6 hands. Honest Overnights work okay, but we have had leaks about three times a week, so not ideal. Might try going up a size for the next box and if that doesn't work, back to Sposie and diaper wrangling!

For skin care, I love Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion, Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment for redness and Triple Paste if she starts to show any signs of diaper rash, though that's rare these days. I recently discovered a bottle of Boudreaux's Butt Paste Natural in our stash of baby things and I really like it too. It has a simple ingredient list, but it works very well. I go back and forth between it and Triple Paste. Still swear by the Baby Bum Diaper Cream Brush.

I've hated all typical baby nail clippers and still am a fan of these nail scissors. They are the only ones I've used that haven't nicked her little fingers. We still use the Nose Frida when needed, Little Remedies Saline Drops and love the unscented Boogie Wipes.

Bath Time! 

N's favorite time of the day! We use Honest Shampoo and Body Wash in the sweet orange and vanilla scent (we get the two pack from Costco and it lasts forever) and we used and liked California Baby Super Sensitive body wash when she was a wee little thing. I also use CA Baby to wash her Woolino sleep sack.

For toys and bath gear, we love all things Skip Hop! We have the Moby Spout Cover, the Moby Waterfall Rinser, and used the Moby Smart Sling Tub until she was about 9 months old. Her favorite toys are the Skip Hop Zoo Count and Play Bath Puzzle and the Stack and Pour Buckets. I taught her how to flip them over and make bubbles and she has a ball doing this. For storing the toys, we recently picked up this Ubbi Toy Drying Bin and it works great and is easy to sanitize and clean. I accidentally broke our drain cover (sorry landlord), and replaced it with this Oxo Tot Silicone Tub Stopper. It's so easy to use.

On the Go


The Lotus is in the background if you aren't distracted by these ridiculously cute curls. 

If we could give one single baby product the GOAT award, it would got the the Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib. It has been a lifesaver for us since we do car and air travel on a regular basis. I talked about it in my last gear post, but I have updates! We had an unfortunate accident where N was sick all over this crib (it was so so heartbreaking) and not only is the entire crib machine washable and machine dry-able, but the company sent me a brand new mattress two days later. We swear by this crib and honestly attribute N's great naps and great travel sleep to it. We have recently purchased the plush crib sheet for it and N loves it. She is so cozy and comfortable in this crib and Brandon jokes all the time how he wants to curl up in there and nap too.

We use N's Uppababy Vista stroller daily and I still love it. We are fortunate enough to live by a grocery store and the storage basket underneath holds almost an entire week's worth of groceries. It's a fantastic stroller that was worth every penny and I still miss strolling her around in the included bassinet, which was another one of my favorite features. We recently added another stroller to the fleet: the Mountain Buggy Nano. It's perfect for travel and I keep it in the back of my car, using it probably 2-3 times a week. It fits in the overhead bin on flights and is only 11 pounds. I have only two minor complaints: it doesn't fold smoothly and I often hit my shins in the process and the canopy will sometimes come out of place, otherwise, it's a perfect little travel stroller that drives really well, has a nice recline, and a unique five point harness.

We switched out N's infant carseat for a convertible carseat around her first birthday and went with the Nuna Rava in the Slate color. The LATCH system in my car isn't the easiest to use (they are buried under the seats and hard to access), so the appeal of having a secure and easy seatbelt install won us over. And this carseat delivers. It's so easy to install and only takes a minute to get a super tight installation and thus, very safe. We've found this to be really useful for travel. Most importantly, N can ride rear facing in the carseat until she's 45 pounds (or reaches the height limit), so it's a very safe seat that will stay with us for years to come. I would say the only thing I dislike is that the cover is hard to put back on after washing (it is machine washable, but needs to air dry) and Nuna's customer service isn't great, but those are not deal breakers. We bought this bag to use with it through the airport and it was worth it since it's such a heavy carseat (there's also extra room in there for blankets, pack of diapers, etc.).

For airport diaper changes, I love the Skip Hop Portable Changing Station. It's super handy in those tight airplane bathrooms. Other things we love when out and about: these PBnJ SippyPal cup straps, Huggies Clutch and Go (when you don't want to cart around a whole pack of wipes), and the Chicco Pocket Snack Chair Booster Seat.

Clothing




Most of N's clothing comes from Old Navy, Baby GAP, Target (Cat and Jack and OshKosh), Carter's, and Primary. I don't believe in spending a ton of money on kids' clothes, so I shop deals or use gift cards when I can. I'm not too picky about her clothing as long as its soft and looks comfy.

But I am picky about her pajamas. We got a bunch of hand-me-down Kickee Pants pajamas from a very generous friend and those are my favorite jammies, especially for summer. I wish I could afford to buy them all the time for her, but at $37 each, nope! For winter, I love Primary's pajamas. In my opinion, they are better than Hanna Andersson's famous PJs...much softer and nearly half the price. I just stocked up during their recent baby sale. We are still using the Woolino Sleep Sack and still love it!

For shoes, I love Freshly Picked mocs and Zutano fleece booties with grippers.

She's not walking yet, so despite obsessively cleaning my floors, her clothes take a beating each day! Puracy Stain Remover has gotten out about 95% of her stains - berries included! It's basically magic. I also bought the travel sized bottles.

Little Foodie




Still love our Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair and it's been fun to move the foot rest down as she gets taller. It's holding up very well, easy to clean, and we love that it's going to be her big girl chair as she grows.

For sippy cups, we use Camelbak Eddy Kid bottles for water Take and Toss Straw cups for milk. After going through many cups, these turned out the be the winners for us in terms of leaking, easy to clean, and durability. The straw cups are super super cheap too, so I don't care when we lose a straw or two.

I love the Grabease Utensil Set for teaching her how to use a spoon and fork and we use the Munchkin Snack Catcher for Cheerios. We used to love the Bumkins bibs, but they started to acquire an odor that I couldn't get it out, so I now use these pullover cloth bibs from Target. They are great!

Toys and Books




N prefers really simple toys and some of the ones she's had since she was a baby are still fan-favorites around here such as these stack up cups, farm finger puppets, Mula stacking rings, Melissa and Doug Latches activity board, wooden giraffe puzzle, and Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano. One of the biggest hits in this department is a little felt memory game that a friend got her from the Dollar Store. It's perfect for teaching her object names and she loves to stack them, lay them out in rows, put them in containers, and learning about matching. Etsy has some really cute ones, but check the Dollar Store! Highly recommend a Memory game for this age!

Books! Oh my. I need to do another post on books. N loves her books. In fact, she sometimes insists on holding a book to fall asleep with. She'll toss her stuffed animals, but cling and hug her books. A few favorites right now (it changes weekly) are: Llama Llama series, Have You Seen My Dragon?, Go, Dog! Go., Are You My Mother?, and In a People House.


Okay, that was fun. For me at least. Love to hear your favorites and get some ideas for Christmas gifts.

Oct 6, 2018

Let's Talk about October


Is is too cliche to talk about how October is my favorite month of the year? It is? Oh well. I love everything about October: cool mornings in pajama pants sipping tea with a toddler on my lap reading Llama Llama for the 20th time, the trees changing color, the anticipation of the holiday season without the stress of it being too close, and it's my birthday month. If only all of you were fortunate enough to be born in the best month of the year. I kid.

This post is a jumbled mess of my thoughts and hastily written during naptime, so don't expect any award-winning prose and please do expect grammar mistakes, because it wouldn't be my blog without those.

The BIG Nap Transition

Speaking of naps. We are slowly making the transition to one nap a day. Ah! It's exciting for so many reasons: we can go on longer errands/playground trips/walks/lunch dates throughout the day, one less time that I'll need to wrangle a certain spunky someone into a sleepsack, and just more one on one time with my tot, something I could never have enough of. But, this transition is a doozy, I'll admit. I'm having a hard time figuring it all out. Here's what the schedule currently looks like on most days:

6:30am - wake
9:30am - 11:30am - nap
7:30pm - bedtime

Yes, that's a huge chunk of time for her to be awake, but she absolutely refuses a second nap and she seems relatively happy the rest of the day. I've tried waking her up early from her morning nap in an effort to save the afternoon nap, but that backfired and I had an angry and tired toddler on my hands for the rest of the day. I'm trying my best to slowly push back the morning nap, even if it's just 10 minutes here and there, so hopefully, over time, we'll get there. This is also messing with her night time sleep (which is most definitely from being overtired) and she wakes up at least once every single night (one time it was 12:30am and one time it was 4:30am - neither of which were a picnic) and I have to coax her back to sleep. Some nights it has taken a minute to get her back to sleep and some nights, I'm coaxing her for an hour.

I also heard that sleep interruptions happen when they are working on big milestones, so maybe that's the culprit? She's increasing her vocab and starting to cruise.

Veteran moms: any tips?

Toy Rotation



I don't think any mom ever intends for their home to be overcome with toys and children's books, but it happens despite our best efforts. At first, right after Christmas, this was a major stressor to me. Our home is pretty minimal, with only the necessities and I'm not a huge fan of lots of decor or knicknacks. So having baskets of toys that get strewn on my living floor every day is definitely new. After Christmas, I decided to embrace this chaos. This is our new way of life and you know what? Even I get bored of playing with the same toys with her, so let's welcome any new toys that come our way (we have probably only purchased 10% of what she actually has and everything else has been gifted)! Please note that we are super grateful for the generosity of our family and friends for the gifts. There have been many toys she's received that have brought her so much joy and that's pretty priceless. But, I don't think we are doing her any service by overwhelming her with too many choices.

So enough is enough. We need a handle on this situation before it reaches hoarder level. My goal in the next few weekends is to sort through all the toys. I'll put away the ones she's outgrown (tear), donate anything that didn't get a lot of play, and separate everything into three bins that I'll rotate through every week or every other week. There are many benefits to this set up that you can read about here, but honestly, I'm mostly doing this for my sanity and happily welcoming the added benefits.

As for her books? I know should be doing the same with those, but I cannot bring myself to do it. I love her books and as of right now, I don't see a huge issue with keeping them out. I probably could do a better job of putting away the ones she's too young for, but she always surprises me and enjoys most of those too. So, we'll see.

In addition to this project, I'm also going to sort through all of her clothes, donate what we didn't use, and try to sell a few items that are really nice, but not all that useful (aka, dresses for a baby - not very practical). I already have my Container Store order placed and ready for pick up tomorrow!

Travel




We recently embarked on a two week East Coast trip with N and I'm happy to report it was mostly a success (besides Florence ruining our beach trip plans, but we are grateful we were safe and out of harm's way). The idea of traveling with a 14 month old cross country with a lot of long road trips thrown in was a bit stress-inducing, but she handled it all pretty well. We were in Raleigh, North Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, and then drove up to visit our families in Central and Northern Virginia. N had two more birthday parties along the way and a lot of priceless time with our extended families. It definitely sparked an interest in moving back there...but that's to be continued. I think my new favorite thing about traveling with a young toddler is coming home! Yes, it certainly gives you a great appreciation for home. I could have given my house a big bear hug if it were possible.

Our next trips are local: an annual weekend visit to Apple Hill in Placerville and we plan to spend a day at the beach going pumpkin patch hopping. Yes, our pumpkin patches are right beside the ocean!

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I actually don't have too much else going on right now and that's a great feeling. I have plans to make N's costume this year for Halloween, which I'm pretty excited about and I'm already getting a head start on homemade Christmas gifts (hint: they involve kid photos).

I wanted to get fall family photos this year for Christmas cards, but the idea of it sounds daunting: choosing outfits, finding a photographer (our usual one is on maternity leave!), and crossing fingers that N would somewhat cooperate for them. So, I think this year might involve the tripod and our Christmas tree! And I'd be impressed if even that happens. I mean, it does require me actually blow drying my hair, so I'm already tired thinking about it.


And that's a wrap for now. Laundry and dirty floors await. Happy October, everyone!



Sep 2, 2018

Foodie Baby: The Toddler Edition


The last time I wrote a post about N's transition to solid foods, I had a lot of optimism she was going to become this champion eater of all things. Haha. While things aren't terrible on the solid food front, she is a toddler and she's had her fair share of ups and downs regarding eating. Some days she'll eat very little, some days she'll eat a good amount, and one weird day she ate so much she puked in her sleep. Oh joy. But I'd say for the most part, she's not a huge eater. She doesn't get excited about food unless it's in berry form.

I've read the French parenting books about food and I strongly believe in The Division of Responsibility when it comes to feeding your child, but I've also been going a lot off instinct lately and I'm most comfortable with that.

That being said, we are in a food rut, as you'll see from all the pasta photos below! I'd love to get some of your ideas regarding new meals I could introduce to her. Because Brandon doesn't get home until 7pm most nights and N still needs a close eye on her (you can only babyproof so much), family meals during the week are difficult. If Brandon gets home by 5:30pm on an odd day, we eat a normal dinner together as family, but most nights during the week, we don't. That's fine. It's just how it is, but I've gotten into a cycle of feeding N the same, quick and easy dinners during the week. I'd love to get ideas for some variety or for things I can prep during nap time and heat up later. Side note: working moms who get meals on the table are some kind of super human.

Here's what is currently in the rotation:


The go-to: steamed broccoli with butter, pasta with olive oil and parm cheese (or Annie's Mac and Cheese - no shame here), fresh blueberries, yogurt smoothie (whole milk + flavored whole milk yogurt). I cannot live without our microwave veggie steamer. I was using our pot steamer for months before I discovered this. Insert face palm emoji.


Whole wheat quesadilla, filled with Instant Pot black beans, cheddar cheese, and spinach, peas (frozen - she likes them), mandarin oranges. I make a pound of black beans every few weeks and freeze them in one ounce cubes in the baby food tray. She loves them and they are probably one of her top three favorite foods.


Fresh strawberries, cucumbers, deli honey turkey, pasta with butter, cheddar cheese


Instant Pot sweet potato and turkey chili, cheddar cheese, blackberries, cucumbers


Strawberries, steamed broccoli with butter and lemon pepper seasoning, Instant Pot black beans, mozzarella cheese


Homemade sloppy joes (family recipe), pasta, peas (not pictured: avocado and fruit puree for dessert)


Whole wheat quesadilla filled with deli turkey, black beans, and cheddar cheese, cucumbers, blueberries.


Oh and here's a typical breakfast: scrambled eggs with spinach, whole wheat toast with butter and blackberry preserves, mandarin oranges

We also do frozen waffles or pancakes with a side of chicken apple sausage for breakfast. 

For snacks, I offer: yogurt smoothies, yogurt pouches, peanut butter crackers, Once Upon a Farm pouches (new find that she loves!), and Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. 

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Any ideas of what else I could add? She does like fish (I get the lightly breaded frozen strips from Whole Foods), but isn't big on chicken nuggets, pizza (I tried whole wheat English muffins pizzas), or bread in general. She'll pick at her toast and waffles. She likes rice, so I've been making this Cheesy Broccoli and Rice, but she only seemed to enjoy it the first time I offered it to her and prefers plain white rice over brown. With winter coming, I'm thinking I'll be making a lot of soup recipes and doing a lot more sheet pans of roasted veggies. Other meals I've made that have been somewhat of a hit are turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes, spaghetti, and Thai basil chicken, but they are bit more labor intensive and hard to do when it's just me at home. 

Keep in mind that while I enjoy cooking, making meals every single night is a huge transition for me and I do have to motivate myself sometimes to get into the kitchen. I used to work until 7 or 8pm every night and just grab something random from the fridge, pick up a sandwich, or eat a large enough lunch at work that I would skip dinner (I know...terrible). That seems like a lifetime ago!

If you don't have any ideas, let's just talk about how it's a full time job to feed a kid! Parents who make this look easy, you have my respect. 

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