April 28, 2014

Hospital Bag Essentials

One huge lesson I learned from my first pregnancy was that I way over packed for the hospital.  We were there 6 days due to a c-section and a little jaundice and I still brought much more than we needed.  So this time I am keeping it simple.  Very simple.

MOM:  The new mom needs more than the new baby - that is for sure.  Several pieces of loose, comfortable clothing, nursing tops and sweaters for layering.  The hospital gives you these amazing and totally unattractive underwear but you will want to bring some of your own large, cotton panties.  You will also want socks to keep your feet warm and slippers or easy to slip on shoes for walking around the room and hospital.  Of course you'll need your cosmetics and toiletries.  I fell in love with face wipes during my first pregnancy and following year.  Sometimes I was just too lazy to wash my face or I wanted a quick refresh.  The hospital will also have some of these but I like to bring my own nursing pads.  Lastly, I enjoyed having some hand lotion around.  My hands were so dry and I hated touching that perfectly soft baby skin with my scaly hands.  And of course you can't forget a camera and phone with all your chargers.

BABY:  The baby doesn't need much except you.  Mostly because the hospital provides so much.
I like to bring some cute, comfy newborn outfits.  Some hats or in my case A LOT of hats because I just cannot stop knitting and sewing and also one or two swaddling blankets since the hospital's are not that cute.  I also bring some socks and mittens for the baby although I don't think I used them that much.  Lastly, make sure you have the carseat and base installed and in the car.  

OPTIONAL:  There were several items we brought that I left in the car for Brandon to grab in case we needed it throughout our stay.  That way it was near by but not cluttering the room.  

Pillow - I never bothered to use mine.  The hospitals were just fine.  
Nursing Pillow -  Again, left it in the car - never used it)
Breast Pump -  I did pump a little in the hospital to help with the jaundice but I used the hospital pump.    
                        If you bring yours, the hospital staff will show you how to use it -a nice perk!
iPad/Computer - My husband probably enjoyed that more than I did but it was nice to stay connected
                           and have some entertainment.
Snacks - No need to go crazy but having a few snack options was nice for both of us. 
Photo props - Hats, headbands, special outfits etc.  Those first few photos are the most memorable and I 
                       enjoyed dressing Ella up in all the hats and headbands I had made her.
Bag for the new dad - Dad is going to need is own bag for the hospital stay.  Comfy clothes, toiletries, a   
                                    blanket, entertainment to help pass the time and snacks are just a few things I 
                                    would pack.

HOSPITAL PROVIDED:  There are so many items the hospital provides for both mom and baby.  Make sure to stock up on these!

Post-partum pads/underwear - The hospital had everything I needed to take care of the postpartum
                                                 bleeding, etc.  My hospital also made these amazing ice stuffed diapers 
                                                 I wore in my underwear.  They were the best!
Nursing soothers, ointments, etc. - The hospital also provided great items to help with nursing and all
                                                       the pain and tenderness that comes with those first few days.
Diapers, wipes and ointment -  I stuffed my bag with these before we left.
Newborn onesies and tops - The hospital kept our room stocked with little onesies and shirts.  She wore
                                              these a lot, especially as she was sleeping all swaddled.  I tended to dress  
                                              her up in the outfits I brought more for visitors.
Blankets and sleep sacks - The hospital gave us baby swaddle blankets and sleep sacks which she used    
                                           to sleep in for months after.  They are amazing.
Pacifiers - We also had a nice stock of pacifiers.  Of course, not all babies even need them that soon or 
                  ever and some are really picky so you may want to bring your own assortment. 
Baby toiletries (nasal aspirator/nail clippers/combs/etc.) - The hospital had it all.

I know I am forgetting so many things that the hospital provided.  Those days still seem a bit of a blur but I do know that our hospital was so amazing and the staff took such great care of us.  I cannot wait to experience child birth again and meet our sweet, little guy.  Just a few more weeks!

April 21, 2014

Knit Frog Baby Hat

There is a new pattern in the shop today:

 It is a quick and easy hat to knit and is so cute on both girls and boys.
It also is super fun with a big, wide smile embroidered on it.

Even though it is too small for Ella now (these were taken last summer), she still ALWAYS asks to wear it.

(Sorry for the terrible, blurry cell pics).

Can't wait for the new baby boy to wear it too!  I think I am going to add a big smile this time.

April 16, 2014

my little easter bunny


Ella has discovered her empty Easter basket and eggs.  She carries it everywhere so I monopolized on this and spent the morning following her around with my camera and occasionally trying to get her to wear bunny ears.  Now that she is an opinionated, stubborn toddler it is almost impossible to get her to cooperate for a little photo shoot.  I don't blame her though.  I would rather play and run around then sit and have my mom dress me up.  Fortunately for me there are certain items that Ella will always play dress-up with and this skirt and easter basket just happens to be at the top of the list.

She spent a fair amount of time trying to sit on ALL her eggs.  She has no idea how appropriate this is. My little mother hen.

And then we went right back to climbing.  One of her favorite activities.

If I would let her, she would climb all the way to the top and stand there triumphantly.  I've seen it.  It's scary.  So we aren't usually allowed to climb on this anymore but I made a slight exception for the sake of super cute photos.  I will regret this decision these next few days.

I always say it because it's true but what a difference a year makes.

April 4, 2014

DIY: Easter Coloring Book/Pages

Ella may not be able to "color in the lines" yet but she does love scribbling all over the page (and table).      I use to just give her plain paper for doodling but found she had more fun when there was a pretty picture for her to add some color to.  Using Microsoft Word I even added a few pages customized just for her with her name. 

Most of the pictures I found online or I made in Microsoft Word with clipart.  She has been having so much fun coloring these.

So much so that I've made several different theme books.  Her favorite seems to be the Ella Rose coloring book full of different roses and flowers.  What little girl doesn't love flowers!

You can download and print some of the images on my flickr page here.

April 3, 2014

Baby #2: 30 weeks

Well by now we are actually at 32 weeks - just two more months!
I am so ready to meet this little guy.

I love being pregnant and I always miss it when it's over but with a toddler to care for (and carry) I am ready to say goodbye to the expanding bump and hello to our little boy.  Of course, that just means my hands will be twice as full but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

This pregnancy in many ways has been very similar to my first but I can definitely tell that this little one growing inside me is very different from his sister.  I haven't met him yet but I have a feeling he will be a chill kid.  Ella was a mover!  Non-stop, spastic movements.  The doctors ALWAYS had a hard time getting a heartbeat because she wouldn't stay in one place.  And she has lived up to that.  She is a high-energy, fun-loving little girl.  This guy doesn't move nearly as much and when he does, it is one or two VERY STRONG kicks and then nothing.  Even on our ultrasounds he just seems to be hanging out (or sleeping).  I just cannot wait to meet him, see who he is and watch Ella become a big sister.

I hope these next two months go by very fast!

April 1, 2014

Baby gear for baby #2

We are two months away from meeting our baby boy and becoming a family of four!  It is hard to imagine what life will be with two kids but we are busy preparing as best we can.  Part of that is hauling out the baby gear and cleaning and prepping the items we loved and relied on and upgrading the items that didn't quite serve us well with the first.

1. We loved the SleepSack for Ella.  She pretty much resisted a traditional swaddle from the beginning so I loved having the option of swaddling her with her arms restrained or removing that attachment and allowing her arms to be free while still keeping the rest of her warm and cozy.  She slept in this until she started rolling over so we got a lot of good use out of it.  
2. I started with the Puj tub but didn't love it.  Mostly, I hated that it only could be used in the sink.  With a small house and bathroom I also resisted the plastic tubs so when my mom bought this little, cheap bath seat for use at her house and loved it, I immediately went out and bought one for us.  It was perfect for use in the tub, comfortable for Ella and easy to fold up and store.  I actually stuck a command hook on the wall of the shower and just hung it there making it so easy to prep and clean bath time.
3. I LOVE our Ergo carrier.  We tried the Bjorn, Moby Wrap and Sling and the Ergo was by far our favorite.  I have to say, I don't hate the Bjorn but the Ergo was more versatile for our lifestyle.  It was easy to use for household chores, outings but especially hiking and more vigorous outdoor activities.  
4.  I didn't try any other bouncers and to be fair, I think it is hard to get a "bad" one but I do like our Bjorn bouncer.  It doesn't vibrate, make noises or any other "special" features but we didn't seem to miss them.  It is light, easy to carry from room to room or store (unlike the swing) and made taking a shower and other tasks easy to do hands free.  
5. I cannot say enough good things about the Inglesina travel high chair.  I know most restaurants have high chairs but in my opinion they are aways filthy, sticky things that I don't want to touch, let along set my kid in.  That really isn't my only reason for thinking this a necessity.  We used this so much when traveling whether on a vacation in a rental home, visiting friends or heading to the lake house.  We also used it in restaurants when Ella was too little for traditional high chairs but wanted to be sitting up and part of the family.  It's light, easy to clean and fold.  I keep ours in the car with the stroller so its always handy.
6.  Ella has always loved the sound of rain.  I can't blame her, it is soothing.  That is why we love this sound machine.  It has several didn't nature sounds, including rain.  We use it for bedtime and nap time.  Generally we keep it very low and time it out unless we are having company over - then I turn it up a bit and let it run all night.  I probably would weaning her off it about now with the introduction of the big girl bed but since she will sharing a room with her baby brother I think we will keep it going awhile longer.
7.  I am so thankful that I registered for this stroller and included ALL the attachments like the second seat.  We are completely ready to stroll around with two kiddos.  I picked this stroller because I liked the toddler/older child was in front and had a view rather than tucked along the ground at the parent's feet staring at the back of a seat.  The second seat is also the same as the single so it is strong, sturdy and made for larger kids.  In some of the other brands, the second seat was smaller and more flimsy.  Lastly, I liked that whether single or double it still had good storage underneath.  It is easy to grab my diaper bag and other belongings which I can't say for my BoB (although I do love that stroller too).
8.  I have to admit that we didn't really use the video feature of the monitor in first few months.  With an infant that didn't move too much a sound monitor would have been plenty but as she got older and more mobile we used it more and more.  And now that she is a toddler, I almost rely on it.  I can't compare our monitor with any others but I can say that I have no complaint with ours.
9.  I really struggled when it came to finding a highchair.  To be honest, at first I really only cared how it would look in my house.  All the ones that I loved were $200+ and I am sure that those are wonderful highchairs.  But for $80 I LOVE ours.  The thing I love most about it is that the little leg/crouch barrier is on the chair and not the tray.  I don't know what to call that thing but it annoys me that most are now on the tray making it hard to set the tray down on a flat surface and making me paranoid about those 2 seconds in between setting the tray down and getting the kid out.  I also love how easy it is to clean, that it reclines, folds and the height adjusts.  It really is a great deal for the price.  Definitely not top of the line but I think it will last through multiple kids.

There are a few items I quickly learned that did NOT work for us and the way we live.  The Bumbo was one of the items that I was excited to use but realized I did not need at all.  By the time Ella was old enough to sit in it (3-4 mos.) her legs were already almost too big for the openings.  Now granted Ella was a perfectly plump baby with the most deliciously thick thighs but I was still hoping to get a little more use out of it.  Either way, the only time I used it was when I started to feed Ella solids.  It was easier to feed her in the Bumbo since her high chair was still a little big for her.  I'm still debating but if I am going to replace the Bumbo I am getting the Mamas and Papas chair.  Friends have this and Ella could sit in it when she was a year but it also worked well for their infant.  It is the same size and serves all the same purposes.  Another item I decided to upgrade was our swing.  I considered registering for the MamaRoo with my first pregnancy but didn't think it was necessary so I just went with the smallest swing I could find by Ingenuity.  It worked great and Ella loved to be in it but with a small house, two kids, a dog and all the stuff I don't know where I will fit a swing.  That is why I decided to get the MamaRoo.  It is small, compact, easy to install, light and easy to move from room to room.  I just hope the little guy loves it as much as I and Ella's baby dolls do.  One item I definitely do not care for was the  Crane Drop humidifier.  It collected mildew and residue so easily and quickly, was difficult to clean and not that effective.  I got it because it was "cute" and I wanted only "cute" things in the nursery but quickly realized that the humidifier we already had (Vicks Warm Mist) was the best option for the nursery.  Another item I was excited to put to use was my Moby Wrap and while I didn't hate the wrap effect and wearing Ella I did hate how THICK it was.  It was such a heavy fabric and you wrap it around yourself so many times that it was heavy, hot and uncomfortable.  With a summer baby I decided to try the Solly Baby Wrap since I don't want to give up on the wrap so easily.  The fabric is SO much lighter and softer.  I think I am really going to like it.  I also didn't care for the Balboa Sling.  Mostly because Ella hated to be in it but it too was big and heavy and more of a burden than a help.  This time around I am using the Ergo and the Solly Baby Wrap exclusively!  

Well that is a lot more information than I originally intended so for those with the patience and need to read it all I hope you found it helpful.

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