Baby Gear Recommendations

After two babies of my own, it turns out that I’ve become opinionated about the acquisition and use of baby gear. Our family is of the philosophy that “enough is as good as a feast” and while we love our children, we do not want to live inside a primary colored, cluttered home with no space to enjoy the home as an adult. I’m also super Dutch (literally and figuratively) and abhor spending more money than necessary. I’ve come up with this basic list of (mostly) essential baby and toddler items that we trust to work well with a few extras thrown in to answer the question, “What do I need for this baby?” Realistically though, a baby needs food, shelter, diapers, and attention, and most baby stuff is extra but the right tool certainly does make a job easier! Clearly, I didn’t include clothes on the list because what you need varies so much due to seasons and climate. Start with one piece sleepers and white onesies and you’ll be set for newborn stage.

Bedding

  • Miracle Blanket (I thought these were overpriced until my first child peed through his at 3 days old. I ordered a second immediately)
  • Aden + Anais swaddle blankets
  • Crib with properly fitting firm mattress
  • 2 waterproof crib mattress pads
  • 2 crib sheets

Diapering

Play

Feeding

  • Breast pump (most insurance providers give a steep discount or provide a pump gratis. Check with your medical insurance provider before making a purchase!)
  • Milk storage bags (Lansinoh bags freeze flat!)
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple butter (lanolin-free for those that need it)
  • Boon Grass
  • Boon Twig
  • Formula dispenser
  • Bottles with different flow nipples
  • Sippy cups (different babies like different cups and bottles so my best recommendation is to have a few different styles around and fully buy into a system when you know what works for your child)
  • Infant soft spoons
  • Toddler silverware (1 pack of spoons, 1 pack of forks)
  • Munchkin snack catchers
  • Toddler dishes
  • Pacifiers (another item that can be child specific. We’ve had good luck with Soothie pacifiers but our boys hated Nuk, MAM, etc)
  • Pacifier strap
  • Pacifier holder (I swear, having one of these makes a pacifier so much easier to find in the dead of night)
  • Bibs

Health and safety

  • NoseFrida and extra filters (sounds gross, is amazing and a game changer when your baby is sick)
  • Saline nose drops
  • Temporal thermometer
  • Nail clippers
  • Baby Orajel
  • Baby dye-free Tylenol
  • Head-to-toe baby wash
  • Baby monitor (this one is the bee’s knees!)
  • Basic bath toys
  • Bath pillow

Travel

London, 2016

In a half-hearted attempt to clear out my drafted posts, I’m publishing them without much editing and tons of photos, starting with our trip to London in January. Enjoy!

Overnight flight Tuesday to Wednesday. I got about 3 hours of sleep on the flight due to a surprise wake up from a non life-threatening medical emergency. We were proud we were able to pull out cash, find the underground, buy Oyster cards, make it to rented apartment all by ourselves without a phone to guide us.

We arrived at apartment in Holborn at noon. Our host was very helpful with local restaurant and bar recommendations. We headed to Franco Manca for sourdough pizza for lunch. Delish and inexpensive! Bought sim cards with pay as you go data plans from o2 for our iphone 5ses. Both phones were up and running in about 5 minutes, so different from a phone back home! We overbought data but it was wonderful to have maps/directions, contact with each other while we were separated, access to social media, and the ability to contact our boys back home. We headed to Cittie of Yorke pub to meet up with WP folks. Too exhausted to think straight. Hit up Stainsbury’s for snacks, cheese and meat for dinner, and muffins for breakfast before watching HIMYM and crashing.

The Brians (husband and boss) had to get to conference by 8 but I slept until 9:30. Blissful! I enjoyed a quiet breakfast before heading out to the British Museum, a free history museum only a few blocks away. I explored Greek, Egyptian, and European artifacts and art before heading back to the apartment for Indian food and to be available while my mom took our baby to the doctor. Turns out he had an ear infection and while we didn’t plan on (or prepare for) our boys to be sick while we were gone, things went extremely well and Teddy started antibiotics right away. The conference was just on Thursday so I met up with Brian at the official after party at a pub just down the street from our apartment, a literal 3 minute walk! We loved being so close to everything!

img_8290
Ready to brave the cold, wet weather of a British winter
img_8299
The British Museum was established in 1753 and the current building was begun in the 1820s. It was incredible to see artifacts like the Elgin Marbles that I had read about but never imagined I’d ever see
img_8301
Inside the atrium of the British Museum
img_8325
This is a CLOCK! It was so beautifully intricate
img_8322
Carved coral bracelet, incredibly popular in Victorian times
img_8321
A gorgeous jet set
img_8254
Mosaic jewelry made in the 1860s
img_8316
Mummies in the British Museum
img_8310
Ancient Greek temple facade

Brian and I walked to Westminster Abbey on our first day of site seeing, about 35 minutes away from the apartment. The Abbey was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. We couldn’t take photos of the interior but it was definitely awe inspiring. For the two of us who love history, architecture, fascinating life stories, and learning, it was a gold mine! There’s a ton of great information at this site. Admission includes a free audio tour which really helped us make the most of our admission. We even ate lunch at the restaurant on site, the Cellarium Cafe. Not only did we not have to hunt for food, it was incredibly tasty!

img_8336
The north entrance of Westminster Abbey
img_8341
Abbey Courtyard
img_8347
The Abbey Cloisters

Westminster Abbey is very close to to the Palace of Westminster and it’s very famous clock, Big Ben. We had enough time to wander around the Palace building and across the River Thames to the London Eye. I am incredibly, paralyzingly terrified of heights and, desiring to keep this trip as inexpensive as possible, we happily skipped the Eye. We were able to make it back to the Abbey in time for the 5:00 pm Evensong service, sitting mere feet away from where the royal family sat for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We walked past Buckingham Palace after dark, which was a little disappointing since we couldn’t see much, but made up for it with an intensely delicious dinner at Wahaca, a Mexican restaurant, in Soho. I am extremely skeptical of Mexican food outside of Mexico but our meal was one of the highlights of our trip. We still talk about it 10 months after the fact!

img_8333
Palace of Westminster/Big Ben/London Eye
img_8262
A whole lot of London in one photo
img_8358
Big Ben next to the River Thames
img_8360
Up, up, up! I could never ride the London Eye and not pass out
img_8363
Buckingham Palace

The next day Brian and I walked 45 minutes the opposite direction down the Thames to the Tower of London. I have so many photos of our explorations on this day because the contrast of the very ancient buildings in front of the ultra-modern skyline of London was incredibly striking. The oldest building in the Tower (and my personal favorite) is the White Tower, which was begun in the 1080s. It is mind-blowing to experience to soak in the history of a place that existed hundreds of years before your country of origin was founded. After the Tower tour, my long-suffering husband waited with me at Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross station to get a totally necessary photo. To end the day, we met up with the other Brian and folks from Human Made for dinner and drinks before crashing.

img_8369
London Bridge is falling down, oh wait, its right there!
img_8383
The Beauchamp Tower was filled with etched and carved graffiti, some simple, some intricate. These were carved by the many prisoners the tower once held
img_8371
Guarding the Crown Jewels
img_8388
The White Tower
img_8375
The old and new existing together
img_8267
London Bridge
img_8269
Im a little older than 11 years but it was very exciting to see this train platform for the first time
img_8389
Im ready for Hogwarts!

Before we had felt settled, it was time for us to make our way back to the airport via the Tube for the excruciatingly long flight home. The flight from the US to London was 7 hours but the opposite direction was 9! We were very, very happy to get off that airplane in Atlanta! We barely had enough time to scratch the surface of all there is to see and do in London and want to return, possibly with our boys, to finish our tourist wish-lists.

Happy Halloween 2016

One of my favorite parts of parenting is introducing our boys to family traditions that date back to when we were little and trick or treating on Halloween is one of my favorites (possibly because I’ve always loved dressing up).

We kicked off our Halloween celebrations by bringing Ben and Teddy to my dad’s office on Friday afternoon to go trick or treating around the office building. It’s a big company with lots of stops but it works great for the little monsters and superheroes with short legs because there isn’t too much walking.

img_6561
img_6563

I felt a little bit like we were herding cats! Every time I tried to direct Ben and Teddy one direction, one would split down another hall or even start going back where we came from!

img_6558

Ben is an old pro at trick or treating but Teddy wasn’t too sure at first. It only took a few stops before he was grabbing treats with both hands while quietly chanting, “One, pick one.”

img_6565

In just an hour, the boys got more candy than they could carry. They were exhausted from all the running and Ben took his first nap in many months on the drive home!

img_6569

Instead of carving pumpkins, which takes a whole lot more parental involvement at this age, we broke out my collection of acrylic paint and let the boys go to town on their tiny pumpkins. They are incredibly proud of their creations.

ben-teddy-halloween-1515 ben-teddy-halloween-1524 ben-teddy-halloween-1526 ben-teddy-halloween-1531 ben-teddy-halloween-1535

For the first time in five years, Halloween wasn’t cold, wet, and miserable! We joke that costumes in Michigan are designed to fit over a snow suit and since I remember many times having to wear a winter coat and hat under my costume, that is a real threat. Happily, we had dry weather in the mid 50s this year. After a quick dinner of pumpkin shaped pizza (Papa Murphy’s for the win!), we met up with friends and headed out into the neighborhood.

fullsizerender-1

ben-teddy-halloween-1545

Ben wore his costume the whole time, everyone got treats they were excited about, and Teddy has a newfound, deep love of carrying things around in his Elmo “buckick.” I think we can call Halloween 2016 a success!

Teddy is 2!

teds-second-birthday-1334
Theodore John, age 2 years and a few hours

I’m pretty sure Teddy was this little squish yesterday and I blinked and now he’s 2!

IMG_4944
Theodore John only minutes old

Teddy has a whole lot of personality in a tiny body. He’s barely out of 18 month clothes but 24 month/2T are far too big yet. He’s 2 ft 7.5 inches tall (3rd percentile) and weight 22 lb 3 oz (1st %). He may be small but he is a bundle of jokes, sweet gestures, and funny words.

Teddy loves fruit snacks (we call them fruit candies because that’s what they really are), cookies, crackers, freeze dried yogurt drops, dried mango and raisins, yogurt, scrambled eggs, cupcakes and muffins, toast, grilled cheese and tomato soup, pizza, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, waffles, and any candy he can see. Basically, he likes all the typical toddler foods but few of the healthy ones. It feels like he got picky far earlier than Ben so we’ve been working on breaking that habit now rather than let him rule over dinner like a tiny dictator.

Teddy loves cars and trucks more than Ben ever has. He’s been making vroom noises since he was 8 months old and will sit and play cars for ages. He also loves things that aren’t toys, like empty children’s vitamin bottles and a PS3 controller. I’ve given up taking away his “mote” at bed anymore because of the meltdown associated with having to leave the controller behind! He’s Ben’s biggest fan and will follow him anywhere. Ben is fairly tolerant of having a little brother with him constantly and loves to have a playmate. They wrestle, play pretend restaurant or kitchen, watch shows, make piles of all the pillows in the house, and play Duplos or little Legos with Brian downstairs. When Ben and Teddy are not best friends, they are worst enemies, like most siblings. Teddy will do anything if it means he can go for a walk in the wagon or stroller and has quickly adapted to accompanying Brian to drop Ben off at school.

Ben has always been one to act first and learn lessons after the fact. Teddy is exactly the opposite. He will wait as long as it takes to study something before moving forward. He didn’t roll, crawl, or walk until later than normal but excelled at all of them right away. He has incredible fine motor skills and will carefully play with small figurines, setting up tiny tea parties so the animals can have a ‘nack. His patience as a tiny person amazes me and nothing illustrates how different our boys are than when asking for help. I attempted to teach Ben how to sign for help before he could speak but he refused to use it. He was capable but preferred throwing a toy or falling to the floor in anguish instead of asking for assistance. Teddy, however, is an expert, even without being prompted. “Hep peas” was one of his first two word phrases and the one that gets the most use. It never fails to amaze me when Teddy walks into the room where I am, hands me something, asks for hep, and responds with “gink oo” (or thank you for those who don’t speak Teds).

Teddy’s vocabulary has exploded in the last few months. He has words for just about everything but our favorites are guckle = buckle, moois = moose (which is pretty much every animal that isn’t a puppy, duck, or horse). He loves to take care of his baby doll, ask for snacks, drink (water, juice, milk), and tell us no at any possible opportunity. Asking him questions almost always generates a “yup” in response except for diaper changes and naps: “No map! No poop!” He loves his kitties: Skints (Squints) and Mogee (Mowgli). He’s been working on names for grandparents and has so far come up with Gramommy for Grammy and Memaw for Grandma.

messages-image1589285795
Teddy is, and always has been, very loud

We’ve been able to control his breathing through two colds with his steroid inhalers so we shouldn’t need to return to the hospital anytime soon. I still get jumpy when I see his nose start to drip because I know a nasty cough isn’t far behind. Thankfully, he puts up with the inhalers fairly well at this point.

Happy birthday Teddy bear! We are so thankful that you’re our #4!

Ben is 4!

bens-fourth-birthday-1060
The Birthday Boy

In the tradition we started last year, I asked Ben some birthday questions this morning. He did so much better focusing this year and had answers for almost everything. It is really fun to see how much he’s matured since his birthday last year (check out that post here).

What is your name?
Benny-Boy maybe?

How old are you?
I am 4!

What is your favorite color?
Green and blue

bens-fourth-birthday-1100
Play-doh is always a huge hit

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Um, 5?

What is your favorite food?
Hot dogs!

Who do you like to play with?
Mowgli [our cat]… and Daddy

bens-fourth-birthday-1088
“My own little Legos!”

What is your favorite book?
Woody and Buzz, my present

What is your favorite animal?
Sheep

bens-fourth-birthday-1108
Jake Duplos!

What is your favorite song?
Everything is Awesome!

What makes you laugh?
Tickles

bens-fourth-birthday-1117
The only thing Ben asked for was a basketball hoop – on repeat – and his reaction was exactly what we had hoped for

What do you like to do with your family?
Go play at the playground and give my family kisses

What does Daddy do for work?
Play. I don’t know what he does

What does Mommy do for work?
Post Status!

bens-fourth-birthday-1113
Birthday jealousy is real and alive in our house today! Little brother is having a hard time waiting until his birthday in 2 weeks

What is your favorite movie?
Everything is Awesome movie, the Lego Movie!

What is your favorite show?
Disney Shorts

What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Swim and play in the sprinkler

Where do you like to go on vacation?
To the pool and splash pad [Florida]

Happy birthday, Benny-Boy!

Ben’s first day of school

bens-first-day-1023

Today was Ben’s first day of school – ever – and he could hardly wait to leave the house. When we went to his open house last week, he was quiet, withdrawn, and told me that he didn’t want to make friends with the other kids. Today he marched into his class after greeting his teacher without any fear at all. He turned and gave me a hug at the last second to say, “I’ll miss you when you’re gone,” but happily went to play playdough. I think he’ll do just fine.bens-first-day-1035 bens-first-day-1041 bens-first-day-1050

The Magical, Disappearing Summer

This is rather awkward. I’ve meant to post, honest, but we’ve been having too much fun summering hard to worry about new posts or formatting photos or eating healthy dinners. Suddenly its July and I’m convinced the last few months have gone by at twice the normal speed.

In May we road tripped to Disney (another full post coming about that!) and celebrated Brian’s 30th birthday while we were there. Brian and I celebrated our 8th anniversary, I took a trip to Savannah with some of my dearest friends, and Teddy ended up in the hospital with RSV. By the time he got out and we felt sufficiently recovered, it was Memorial Day weekend when we did lots of yard work and my sister got engaged!

IMG_9231
Enjoying one of Savannah’s many parks with my travel buddies
IMG_9398
We watched *so much* Nemo at the hospital
IMG_9370
The benefit of having a room on the 6th floor is that you have an amazing view of all the vrooms and gucks driving around
IMG_9452
Ben’s favorite part of shopping for plans was the hot dog truck in front of the greenhouse!
FullSizeRender-4
Putting Ben to work
IMG_9442
She said yes so we’re planning on an October wedding

In June I turned 30, we took a short beach vacation to Ludington (potentially a full post here too) so we could enjoy Lake Michigan and attend my cousin’s wedding, Ben had an amazing dentist appointment, we enjoyed our back yard oasis as much as possible, and Teddy went back to the hospital with RSV again. We have an action plan now so there’s less of a chance that Teddy will have to be admitted to the hospital again this summer. I’d really prefer it to be never!

IMG_9508
Teddy hates the sand with the fire of 1000 suns but he’s all about playgrounds
IMG_9617
T had a big break through in June when he discovered that he does indeed like the baby pool
IMG_9625
Babies in the pool
IMG_9667
Teddy was more intensely sick for a longer time than in May so we have lots of droopy baby pictures
IMG_9672
Look, Ma! No Oxygen! Teddy did really well maintaining his oxygen level while he was awake but needed O2 while sleeping for several days

 

IMG_9675
The downside of being in the hospital, other than the bills and feeling like a caged animal, was we had to miss a friend’s wedding. The upside was that since we already arranged childcare, Brian got to come with us!

July started with a bang (both literally and figuratively). We host my extended family for brunch on the 4th so we spent a few days cleaning and landscaping before going all-in on celebrating the US’s independence. Brian built a play house into the bottom of the boys’ swing set, we finally hung some pictures and projects inside the house, and we’ve made nearly weekly trips to the local farmer’s market.

IMG_9789
Ben is so thrilled to have a house with a doorbell
IMG_9763
Mmmmm. Michigan strawberries
IMG_9749
Independence Day parade
IMG_9747
This was T’s first parade as a toddler and he loved all the trucks and loud things

What do you have going on for the rest of the summer? We have more short trips, wedding planning, house projects, and large road trips to look forward to in the rest of July and in August. Maybe we’ll catch up again in September?

Pending Post: Disney Recap

We went on vacation! We drove to Orlando for nearly two weeks of (mostly) computer-free family time. Once I pry photos away from Brian, I’ll write up a proper recap post. 

For now, I’ll leave you with these:

Tiny Teddy

IMG_8742
How big is Teddy? Sooooo big! Kinda

Teddy had his 18 month well-child doctor visit this morning. I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that Teddy is a really small kid. He’s 20 lb 10 oz (8th %), 31.75″ (25th %), with a giant 19.25″ (87th %) head. He’s shy and hesitant to meet new people but hitting all the important milestones, learning new words all the time, likes reading, roughhousing, and snuggling.

In fact, Teddy was so overwhelmed by having to meet with the pediatrician this morning that after his exam, when the doctor and I were chatting about our London trip and Teddy’s development, Teddy curled up against my chest and fell asleep. That was a new experience for me! At least I don’t have to worry about Teddy being too friendly with strangers unlike Ben, who thinks everyone is a new best friend.

 

Meet Me Monday: Obsessed

Good morning! Did the past weekend go by far too fast for you too? We got snow on Saturday which made the whole weekend feel weird. Snow shouldn’t happen in April!

Today’s Meet Me Monday question is, “What is something you’re obsessed with?”

I am interested in a fair number of things but incredibly passionate about very few. The closest I could come to a full-blown obsession is my feelings about Disney World. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved Disney music and movies and since our marriage almost 8 (whaaaaat?!) years ago, Brian and I have vacationed at Disney World in Florida every year. Each vacation has looked different; we’ve had short, long, on-property, off-property, extended family, just the two of us, indulgent, and thrifty trips over the years.

IMG_5741
Two-year-old Benny meeting his hero, Buzz Lightyear. He still talks about it!

Our trips look so much different now than they did before we had kids but we’re thrilled to introduce our love of Disney to our offspring. Ben is already looking forward to going back in May.

IMG_5790
(Low Res, my apologies) Our 2015 Disney vacation family portrait. We get our photo taken in the same place every year and I love that the photos show our family growing from just the two of us, to being pregnant with Ben and Teddy and now the boys as they get bigger.

How about you? Do you share my Disney infatuation? Do you love reading? Collecting stamps? What is your obsession?