Road Trips with Toddlers

We’re heading to Massachusetts next week so we’ll be in the car for several hours.  I’ve rounded up some ideas for entertaining my toddler that are affordable and quick to create…

  • Snack Necklace: This will keep Olivia occupied and cover a snack at the same time.  We’ll also have a variety of hearty snacks to keep her satisfied.  (by Design Improvised)
  • Cookie Sheet Fun: The cookie sheet can provide a flat surface for eating, coloring, puzzles, magnets, Wiki Stix, Play Doh molds, etc… You can place magnets on the back of items to hold them in place (puzzle pieces).  (by Playdate Crashers)
  • No Mess Paint in a Bag: Place paint in a large Ziplock bag and tape the bag down to the cookie sheet.  They’ll use their fingers to move the paint around in the bag creating different pictures.  I’ve done this before at home and it was a hit! (by Hippie Housewife)

  • I Spy Bottle: Place small items in a clear plastic bottle, filled with uncooked rice or sand.  You could have a list of different items that are in the bottle and tell them to look for it, or take pictures of each item and they search.  (by Apartment Therapy)
  • Calm Down Jars: Fill a clear bottle with water and glitter glue and the kids can shake it around.  (by the Realistic Mama)
  • Busy Wallet: Use an old wallet and fill with cards that you’ll never use.  I know Olivia will love this since she’s always getting into my wallet.  (by While he was Napping)
  • Busy Bags: Fill small bags with different activities or various small toys.  A favorite is having them place felt squares on the bendy straws. You can break the bags out along the trip. (by True Agape)
  • Deck of Cards:  Give them a deck of cards that you don’t plan on using and they can have fun shuffling the cards, bending them, and most likely, throwing them around… (by the Realistic Mama)
  • IPad: follow the link for a selection of toddler apps that you can download on your IPad. (by Moms Without Answers)
  • Audio Books Podcasts: follow the link for some great audio books podcasts. (by Picklebums)

If you have any other ideas, please share!

Going from One to Two Kids

Jack has been with us one month already, and so far we have survived!  Thankfully, the second time around seems a bit more natural with a smoother transition.  There are plenty of similarities when welcoming your second child compared to your first, along with many differences so I thought I’d share…

Smoother Adjustment: Of course, there are things you forget when caring for a newborn and there are great challenges at times but overall, it’s a smoother adjustment the second time around.  You’re already in the rhythm and on a kid-schedule, so welcoming another one into the mix isn’t as difficult.  They seem to just fit right in.  This makes the newborn phase seem a little extra sweet the second time around.

Requires More Prep:  Plan on it taking longer to prepare your things and make it out the door wherever you’re heading (getting in the car, running errands, playing outside…).  You have one more person to account for so this isn’t surprising.  And don’t forget to consider the time it’s going to take to breastfeed the baby before leaving.

Use Your Time Wisely:  You get very few hands-free opportunities, so when you do, use it!  Newborns are certainly time consuming! During naps I prep dinner, fold laundry, throw a load of laundry in the wash, unload the dishwasher, etc. I take about ten minutes each night to prep for the day ahead. This even includes setting out my morning coffee cup (important) and breakfast bowl.  The less I’m scrambling around in the morning with a little one in my hands, the easier it is!

Greater Helping Hand from the Husband: Having two kids requires the hands of both parents. This is a big difference with having a second child.  Since I’m breastfeeding, I’m usually the one caring for Jack, while Peter handles the reigns on Olivia.

Toddler is Challenging: The newborn may be time-consuming but they are not as challenging as a toddler (in our case)! With the change in the household, it’s common that the toddler will be more challenging at times as they are seeking attention and control. Truly a patience tester at times!

Slow Your Roll AND Keep It Moving: There’s a balance between slowing down your schedule to care for yourself and the family, BUT also keeping it active for the older child so they’re entertained and happy.  Typically, I plan one activity for the day.  We head out in the morning before Olivia gets stir crazy, then make it home for naps and take it slow at home in the afternoon.

Feelings of Excitement, Gratefulness + Sadness: In the beginning, there are feelings all across the board.  I was incredibly excited and grateful to welcome another baby to the family, and I found my heart doubled in size.  But seeing Olivia lose the one-on-one attention that she had before, hit me with sadness at times.  She suddenly felt so much older to us and would never be our little baby again.  Waaa! It hit me hard but then I felt so incredibly blessed to have given her a sibling, which is such a gift.


Friday Favorites

Here comes July!! Happy early 4th, everyone!  Here are some favorites from June…

  • Post App: This Social Print Studio app allows you to send a photo postcard for just $1.99.  You select the template, insert your photo, write a message, and then they print and send for you!  It’s such an affordable and fun way to send pics to family members.  Lately, I’ve been using this app to write thank you cards to my grandparents.  They love the all-in-one card and photo aspect of it.

  • Gathre Mat: This was my Mother’s Day gift!  The play mats are made from bonded leather, and they are wipeable, waterproof, and compact. They come in a variety of beautiful colors and sizes.  They’re great for the beach, at the park, in the yard, or in the house. It’s one of those items that is worth the money because we will have it forever and I’m sure we’ll find more uses for it than we even know right now.

  • Land of Nod U.S. Map: Liv’s a bit too young for this puzzle but I have my eye on it for when she’s old enough.  I had a U.S. puzzle growing up that I loved, so I’m drawn to this one.
  • Amazon Prime Pantry: We’ve always been a fan of Amazon Prime, and Subscribe & Save.  I love eliminating any trip to the store so Amazon is a hit in our house.  Since we’ve had Jack I’ve been using Prime Pantry for small items that I can’t get out our grocery store (Trader Joe’s).  There’s always a deal and it arrives in great time!

Happy July!

9 Must-Haves for the First Week With a Newborn

There are several products that have helped us survive this first week home with Jack.  If you haven’t already, head to my last post — Week One with Jack + Newborn Care Tips to catch some tips on managing the family + home during the first week home with a newborn.

  • Medela Slimming Nursing Cami: This cami is comfortable and supportive with removable pads.  I’ve been wearing them every day, all day so far.  I love that it’s form-fitting, providing extra core support.
  • Chambray Boyfriend Button-Down: If you make it out of the house, a good button-up is crucial since it can be easily thrown on, and allows for easy access when breastfeeding.

  • Jersey Robe: You’re probably noticing a trend — comfort.  Being comfortable really makes a difference during such a tiring time.  With a baby on you pretty much constantly, it’s nice to have clothing that can be layered — put on and taken off easily when needed.  Plus, it’s perfect for breastfeeding.
  • Bamboobies Breastmilk Pads: When your milk comes in, you’ll most likely need these to soak up the extra milk flow!
  • Boppy Nursing Pillow: During that first week you may feel like all you did was feed the baby, so it’s important to be comfortable in the position.  The pillow helps elevate the baby, giving some relief to your back and shoulders.
  • Halo Sleepsack Swaddle: This swaddle worked wonders with Olivia and so far, Jack is loving them too.  After his last feeding of the night we wrap him in the swaddle and he sleeps like a champ. 
  • Solly Baby Wrap: This wrap is lightweight, soft, and provides great support for the baby.  It comes in many different styles!  Oftentimes, Jack just wants to be held so the wrap allows me to comfort him while both hands are free to get things done around the house and help Olivia.
  • Convertible Gowns: These are great for nighttime diaper changes so you can easily access the diapers from the bottom.
  • Rock-n-Play Sleeper: Just like the swaddle, this sleeper was perfect for Olivia and so far, Jack.  The inclined position keeps their legs tucked, similar to the womb.  It has plenty of room for them to grow.  It has comfortable cushions that can be easily removed to clean.  The sleeper rocks back and forth smoothly.  Also, it’s portable making it easy to move around the house and travel with. Anyone have favorite products that got them through the first couple weeks with a newborn?  Please share!

Week One with Jack + Newborn Care Tips

Baby Jack has been here for O N E week, and I can’t be happier with his progress.  He’s eating like a champ, sleeping well, and I’m soaking up all the sweet newborn snuggles.  The newborn phase seems even sweeter this time around, probably because I’m more comfortable, and it all comes a little more naturally.  My recovery and breastfeeding has both kicked off a lot quicker this time.  Such a relief!

Olivia has been doing really well considering such a big change.  She’s been our little baby for two years and now she no longer seems like such a baby.  It’s truly a little heartbreaking — so bittersweet.  She’s always been fascinated with babies.  When we first introduced her to baby Jack in the hospital, it was incredibly heartwarming.  She ran right in the room yelling, “Baby Jack!” and looking all over for him.  She was busy taking him in, counting his toes, and laying his blanket around him.  Later that night, she called from my parents house to FaceTime him and blew him a kiss goodnight.  Such a sweet moment.  We were amazed that she was so aware that we were with her new brother.

Since we’ve been home, Olivia has continued to have sweet moments with some moments of frustration.  She’ll ask to see him, or help change his diaper, and then tickle his face with an added little poke.  She’s also been more sensitive so we are extra mindful in how we care for her. It’s nothing we didn’t expect and it will take time.  I’m looking forward to when I can spend one-on-one time with her but right now, it’s too difficult with a newborn so close.

Here are some things that have helped this week go smoothly…

  • Teamwork: Peter and I have worked as a team managing both the kids.  He has primarily handled Olivia, while I’ve cared for Jack.  It’s important to communicate your needs and what you’d like/need from one another.  This can be such a tiring time so clearly communicating your needs will help the flow of the week.
  • Support from Family + Friends: We are so lucky to have such supportive friends bring us food and generous gifts for both Olivia and Jack. We’ve spaced out our visitors so that we are comfortable each day.
  • Meals: Like I said, we’ve been lucky to have supportive friends bringing us meals.  But it’s also helpful to have prepared food in the freezer.  If you missed my recent post, Bringing Home Baby Recipes, check it out!  They include recipes that are freezer-friendly, easy to make, healthy, and will feed the family for multiple meals.
  • Light Laundry Loads: I can’t tell you how many times Jack has peed on himself, soaking his clothes each time we change his diaper.  Changing boys is a little different than girls!  With that said, we’ve had a lot of laundry.  It’s helpful to put in a small load of laundry each day.  Then it doesn’t seem overwhelming when it’s time to fold and put away.
  • Accepting Help or Hire Help: Being open to help from others is a great way to catch a break.  This is particularly great for the older kids.  Keeping them active and doing what they love will entertain them and give you a break.  We’ve had friends take Olivia to the park and playdates.  Jump on the opportunity!  Also, consider hiring help — mother’s helpers, babysitters, cleaning ladies…
  • Favorite Advice: Whichever phase you are in, it will pass.  If you’re completely rundown from a fussy baby, or he’s not sleeping, or all you feel like is one big feeding machine — it will pass.  Just hang on!

Potty Training Journey

Potty training is not fun, takes time, and is a total trial-and-error experience.  What works for one person might be the total opposite for another.  Here’s what worked for us, so you can consider it in your own experience…

  • Begin by Talking + Showing: Expose your child to the potty and talk about it.  You’ll begin to see that they’re interested in it — maybe with flushing the toilet, watching others use it (other toddler friends is a good one!), or wanting to try it themselves.  Reading potty books helps too!
  • 3-Day Method (or so they say): Begin panty-less on the first day (we did this for the first couple days), then move to panties the next (Liv thought this was exciting.  Training panties are awesome because they absorb so much!), then move to panties with pants/shorts on.
  • Pull-Ups During Nap + Bedtime: Save yourself some sanity, and don’t feel bad if you put them in Pull-Ups during nap time and bedtime.  Some studies/people will tell you to do without them and others won’t.  Do what works for you and rest assured that they’ll be out of diapers all together one day!
  • Have Cleaning Material Ready: Prepare to use lots of paper towels, wipes, and bags to clean up the messes.
  • Choose a Warm Weekend: Olivia could run around outside wearing a large t-shirt, panty-less, and we didn’t have to worry as much about cleaning up big messes around the house.  We brought her toilet outside and played there most of the day.
  • Keep Them Hydrated:  The sooner they are successful on the potty, the better.  Making sure they have enough fluids will increase your chances of getting them to have to even use the potty.  Olivia was really good at holding her pee from the beginning so it took us a while before she’d even have to use the potty each day.
  • Stay Positive: Your patience can certainly be tested but you have to stay positive so that the kids don’t get overwhelmed and discouraged.  Take those breathers when needed!  Don’t be too hard on yourself either. It takes times and probably more time than you’d like, but just know, it will click!
  • Give Rewards: With Olivia, we started with marshmallows, then moved to chocolate chips, and ended with pieces of jelly beans and gummi bears. She’ll still occasionally ask for a treat after going potty and we give them to her.  We would give her a treat even when she’d attempt to go to the potty. When she was successful, we’d sing and clap like crazy, and that would make her proud.
  • Activity for Potty-Time:  Reading, puzzles, singing songs, and watching some TV helped to occupy her while she sat on the potty.
  • Offer Options: We offered either the floor potty or the potty on the toilet seat.  It ended up that if we sat her on the seat on the potty, she was more successful because she couldn’t step down from it herself.  She didn’t love this at first but once she went completely and was successful, it became easier.

Just remember it may take time, be open to explore some options, and GOOD LUCK!

Friday Favorites

Woah!  Where did May go?!  Here are some favorites from this month…

  • Coté des Roses: The bottle is beautiful + it’s an excellent, affordable rosé!  There’s a rose imprinted on the bottom.  Try it!  I’m looking forward to many evenings with some of this after the baby arrives.
  • J.Crew Wide-Brim Straw Hat: This is my new favorite sun hat for spring + summer.  It’s the perfect size!
  • Bumbleride Indie Twin: If you’re in the market for a double stroller that you use daily, than I’d 100% recommend this stroller.  We use our stroller just about everyday since we live in the city, and I get excited to go outside just to use this one (#mom).  It’s comfortable, turns on a dime, can be used one-handed, offers plenty of shade coverage, has lots of storage below, fits through doors, doesn’t require a newborn bassinet, and I LOVE it!

Happy June!

Bringing Home Baby Recipes

It was such a relief to have hearty meals already whipped up that we took from the freezer and popped in the oven when we first brought Olivia home.  Feeding myself was often the last thing on my mind, so having meals ready was so helpful.  It’s important that you’re eating healthy to keep your energy + milk supply up!  I’ve compiled a list of recipes that are delicious + healthy, and I will hopefully have time to make before the baby arrives…

Crockpot meals, casseroles, and soups are easy to make, freezer-friendly, and allow you to make plenty for leftovers.

I will be making these two snacks again as well…