Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gift Guide for Second Time Moms

Several weeks ago, I was spoiled with a baby shower for baby #2. I wasn't expecting a second shower, but my mom and sister sweetly put one together for me since this baby is a different gender AND came 6 years after my first (many things have expired or have been pruned from the attic). To double up on the surprise, the ladies at work also threw me a surprise baby shower. I was thrilled! I didn't have a registry made at all since these were surprises, which got me to thinking about how to buy for a second-time mom who may not have a registry.

After the first baby, moms typically have all the big stuff they need and know exactly what is necessary and what is superfluous. I hung onto all my furniture like our baby swing, bassinet, pack and play, crib and other big ticket items. Toys are probably already an issue in every momma's house, so it may not be advisable to go that route either. So, this gift-buying business could be tricky in some cases. However, from what I've been gifted and brainstormed, I've come up with some great solutions in case you ever find yourself buying for a seasoned mommy.

Aside from cash (always a winner), here are some great gift ideas for the second or third+ time mom:

1. Updated car seat. Depending on how many years are between children and how safety standards have changed, it may be wise to get a new car seat. Make sure you know which kind mom wants by asking or checking her registry first. This is typically a pretty personal choice. My mom offered to purchase our car seat as her gift to us, she just had us pick it out and she paid for it. Score!

2. Baby book. By baby book, I mean some way to record all the baby news and milestones in a non-complex way. I did this for a friend the DIY way. I made her one book with the supplies to write her daughter a letter every year until she's 18. The other was a milestone capture book. There are great school year baby books too that record all the major details of each school grade, with a folder to stash the most memorable projects. These are amazing gifts and are needed for each individual child. And of course, a fresh new scrapbook is something many moms can really appreciate. Here's the one I was given (already stuffed with some memorabilia from the party):

I also really love this gift from my co-workers.
It has a slot for pictures for each month of baby's first year.

3. Updated extras. New bottle nipples, bibs, crib sheets and burp cloths are great gifts for any baby. Baby #1 may have "soiled" all of hers or these items may have just plain worn out between pregnancies. Fresh ones are sometimes necessary, and really, you can't have too many burp cloths.

4. Breastfeeding supplies. If you know what momma uses or has requested, this is a great option. Nursing pads, milk storage bags, and other similar supplies are always in demand.

5. Photo gift card. Popular sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish offer gift cards for prints and photo gifts. Pictures will still be a huge part of baby #2's life.

6. Similar to the above, paying for an infant photo session is an excellent choice. Every child will have her own set of baby pictures, so this gift is very practical.

7. Handmade gifts: sewn quilts, hand-knit baby blankets, cross-stitched artwork, painted pictures and other personal gifts are some of the most treasured gifts a woman could ever have. I think handmade gifts are the best, no matter what occasion. We still have a hand-knit blanket and sweater set that Hubster's aunt made for Peanut that we plan to reuse with Baby Girl and then keep forever. Peanut also has a beautiful quilt from his late great-grandma that will also be kept forever.

8. Etsy gift card: even if you don't have a creative bone in your body, someone on this website does! And chances are mom already has her eye on special baby items. I know I do! Photo props, headbands, clothes, blankets, nursery prints and everything you can think of is on Etsy, with a personal handmade touch. Even better, if you can get a hold of mom's Wishlist, you can buy right from there.

9. When in doubt, buy diapers and wipes. I would suggest buying size 2 and up. Babies are typically out of size 1 so quickly, it doesn't pay to have more than a handful. I would be one perfectly happy momma if everyone showed up at my shower with diapers!

10. Freezer meals. This is another winner! Bringing family dinners or stocking her freezer with quick crockpot meals will save her sanity once baby arrives. You may want to check about dietary restrictions and allergies beforehand though so nobody gets sick and the food doesn't go to waste.

11. Birthstone jewelry. Having family birthstones set into a bracelet, ring or necklace is beyond thoughtful. This may be tricky though with due dates that straddle the month mark. The birth month could change if baby decides to come earlier or later than anticipated. You could go with a family charm bracelet and offer to bring that last charm after baby arrives. Here's a birthstone bracelet from when Peanut was born. It was part of a necklace/earring/bracelet set. We'll have to come up with a clever way to add Baby Girl's own stone to the mix.

12. Mommy relaxation. Massages and spa kits for mom are amazing gifts no matter which number of child she's on, especially for the momma who has everything. Pamper her. You may even find her some luxurious slippers for the delivery room, a beautiful nursing scarf or a meditation CD (hypnobirthing anyone?). This type of gift will never go unwanted.

13. Free babysitting services. Sometimes the old "redeem this coupon..." trick is just what mom always wanted. Offering date night gift cards on top of that makes you a bona fide hero. It's tricky to leave the house when there's a new baby, so taking all the logistical details out of it for mom is very thoughtful.

14. New Clothes. If baby #2 is the same gender as baby #1, mom might already have a pile of clothes saved up. However, it's always nice for younger kids to have a few of their own clothes instead of only hand-me-downs. If I were buying, I would go with clothing in larger sizes, maybe 6-12 months and up since babies absolutely fly through the smaller clothes.

15. Hand/footprint kit: This is another item that is special to each child. Find a clay or ink kit so mom can record the teeniness of those precious little appendages before they're only memories.

16. Engraved treasures: We have an engraved Noah's Ark piggy bank for Peanut that I'm sure he'll keep forever. There are some really amazing baby gifts that you can pick out from places like Things Remembered. One memorable gift at a baby shower I went to was an engraved blue pin that the baby could wear for her baptism and later at her wedding (something old, something blue). Ah-mazing!

17. Write her a story: There are some amazing websites, such as Blurb, that if you have some artistic talent, would make crazy cool gifts. Writing and illustrating your very own story for the child, and then having it professionally printed, is such a neat idea. A lady at work wrote a story for each of her grandchildren one Christmas and had them printed, and I'm still so smitten with this idea.

18. Baby prayer book/cross: By far one of my favorite gifts was this beautiful prayer card set. The purpose is to pray over your child as they're sleeping. I just find this idea so touching. My mom also purchased Baby Girl her own cross for her bedroom. Peanut has one too, over his door. And Hubster and I were given a hand-carved cross from his pastor as a wedding gift. These are truly treasures and great reminders about what truly matters.

19. Savings Bonds: My mom has always done this for several of my cousins on their birthdays. One of these cousins in particular lives far away and the family is very financially secure (i.e. already has everything/hard to buy for), so this gift is both really practical and really beneficial down the road for the child. I love this idea and plan to steal the idea next time I need a gift like that.

I hope this list helps you the next time you're invited to a shower for moms that already have kids. It may also help you form a registry if you're a second-time mom being spoiled with a baby shower you weren't expecting. I love finding ways to give meaningfully to people that I love, so I'm always trying to keep these sort of ideas in the back of my head. Happy hunting!

I'll leave you with a few peeks from my baby shower. Perfect weather. Perfect company.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Three Best Prenatal Workout Videos

I'm very partial to the prenatal workouts that I picked out for this pregnancy. I did a lot of research and checked out a lot of Youtube clips in order to narrow down and pick the workout DVDs that would be best for me. I wanted workouts that were challenging enough for my already-conditioned body. It seems like a lot of workouts get "dumbed down" for pregnancy, when really, most of us are told that it's ok to do whatever you were doing pre-pregnancy (to a certain degree). I have slowed waaaaay down, but I still want to maintain some muscle tone for birth and after.

full-body prenatal workouts

So, I wanted some real strength workouts that would still challenge me, not leave me feeling like I just did a glorified stretching routine. Even some of the mainstream pregnancy magazines print workouts that are just too effortless. There's a time and a place for stretching and gentle workouts. I especially love the stretching ones right before bed, but I don't appreciate these easy workouts for my everyday routine.

That being said, here are the three I picked out and have used over and over again this pregnancy. They are tried and true.

Tracy Anderson Prenatal Workout Video

1. Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project:

I know there is a lot of controversy, and alternately, a lot of hardcore fans, of Tracy Anderson. I sometimes incorporate her workouts into my routines, but I don't wholeheartedly agree with her overall approach to exercise (girls get bulky with weights over 3lbs, say WHAT???) However, all that aside, I found her pregnancy workout compilation to be amazing. There are 9 DVDs, one for each month of pregnancy. This is fantastic since I tend to get bored, and each workout is tailored specifically for the nuances of each month. They're all completely different. I may just continue doing some of these workouts even after the baby comes.

Basically, every month you'll do a 30-45 minute workout consisting of an arm segment and a leg segment, and core is incorporated into the moves by default. You still won't use anything larger than a 3lb weight, which was definitely enough to work my muscles. And Tracy doesn't do her typical 50 reps per leg thing. You will do at most 20 reps per leg and 10 reps per arm.

prenatal pilates workout video

2. 10 Minute Solution Prenatal Pilates

Occasionally Pilates videos, especially prenatal Pilates, don't challenge me enough. This one does! Sometimes I find that I can't finish all the reps. You can choose among 5 total 10-minute workouts, either stacking them together or doing them separately. I loved how I could tailor the length of the workout to how much time I had to exercise. And on days when I was falling apart or sick, just the flexibility segment was enough for me. There is also a bonus post-natal core workout to get your belly back into shape. I used this video when I was pregnant with Peanut and eagerly busted it out again this go-round.

prenatal workout video

3. Summer Sanders Prenatal Workout

Oh my gosh, thanks to this video, I am now in love with labor lunges! (Basically, a side-to-side lateral lunge where you stay low). And I love Summer's personality. She's so cute and approachable on the video. The workout is great and can be adjusted to your workout level. For example, there are a lot of moves with exercise bands. You can use thicker or thinner bands or hold them with more or less resistance to modify the exercise. There are three workouts, one for each semester. From there, you can either do the full workout or the express version, giving you plenty of options. You work the entire body in these workouts, which is just what a fit momma wants.

Have you seen It has free prenatal yoga workout videos that aren't too bad either! I found this website late in the pregnancy game, so I didn't have a chance to preview them all, but I would also give this website a shot, if I were you:) There are quite a few non-birth-related workout routines too that I will be much obliged to try when I get the green light from my doctor.

Having this selection of workout options is paramount for keeping me interested in my daily workouts. By alternating workouts based on my energy level and mood, I was able to keep my workout schedule fresh and motivating. I bought all the videos above on Amazon. What are your favorite prenatal workouts?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Full-Body Prenatal Workout Printable

Just in case you would prefer to do my prenatal workout on your own or at the gym, I created a printable of the workout for you.

Full-Body Prenatal Workout Printable

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Full-Body Prenatal Workout

I did it! I finally uploaded my very first workout video!!! I'm so excited! It has been a huge goal of mine to start uploading workout videos for people to use for free. And I could see blatantly that prenatal workouts were a pretty lacking area. It's hard to find good prenatal workouts online for free.

Today, I'm sharing my very first prenatal full-body workout video with you.

Remember to warm up before you do this workout with at least 5 minutes of light walking, marching in place or something similar. Also, I would recommend a little more stretching at the end if you have the time. I know my body gets so stiff lately, it could use more stretching.

If you're feeling really energetic, you can do this workout twice through. If you don't have as much time, you can either choose the standing or the mat portions of the workout and just do those. During pregnancy, you generally don't want to work out too intensely or get too hot. You should be able to keep a conversation going. If you're huffing and puffing, you're probably working too hard. Always always always check with your doctor to see what's appropriate and recommended for you. By doing this workout you are doing so at your own risk.

Introducing my pit bull pup, Titus, where he video-bombed me at about 7:48. You can hear him whining a few times in there as well. The dangers of filming outside! Haha. And let me just share that it's Hubster's job to mow the grass and it's been growing like crazy! Don't judge...

What do you think? Leave me a comment on here or YouTube to let me know what else you'd like to see in the future.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wisconsin Dells Vacation (Part Two)

Read about the first half of our Wisconsin Dells family trip in Part One.

We saved Tuesday of our family trip for Noah's Ark. It was pretty quiet when we got there, which was perfect. Peanut started out with being reluctant to ride any of the big rides, but after being coerced a little, tackled them like a boss. Of course, like every other child in history, he said, "let's do it again!" He even did this Stingray ride that would've even freaked me out:

I couldn't do many of the rides due to the current state of sharing my body with another human, but I just loved finding a shady spot to read while Peanut and his Da spent some quality fun time together. I plowed my way through #Girlboss, btw. Anyone else read it? It's such an easy, amazing read.

On Wednesday, we decided to hit up Timbavati Wildlife Park. This brought back some interesting memories. As a child, my family and I made a yearly trek to a waterpark called Waterworld. As we were entering Timbavati, I saw the old, eerie overgrown Waterworld sign and the mystery of where that waterpark disappeared to was revealed. It is now Timbavati.

There were a lot of baby animals to feed, pet and coo at.

And a few big cats to watch. I felt a little bad though, cuz these pretty beasts only had a small sandy cage to spend their time in. (I always have these ethical conundrums at zoos).

We watched some comical pig races. 

In the baby nursery, they allowed us to bottle-feed the baby goats and sheep. This is the kind of thing Peanut lives for. He's got a huge heart for animals.

We even got to hand-feed giraffes and camels.

After the wildlife park, we found another miniature golf place that was mostly in the shade (thank God!) and had some more competitive fun. Hubster and I both like to gloat a bit when we're in the lead.

On Thursday we indulged in a little bit more mini golf at our campground before packing everything up and heading home, wondering, of course, where the time went.

Peanut's picture of our camper

My favorite part of the whole trip was when the three of us snuggled into our bed after dark and put a movie in the portable DVD player. Our nights got later and later as we all hunkered down and read and watched movies. Pretty sure we traumatized Peanut with All Dogs Go to Heaven (huge heart for animals, remember? He once cried inconsolably when he saw a squashed seagull in a parking lot and just about died when he witnessed a neighborhood crow pick up a baby bunny for lunch). But it was so much fun to relive Ferngully and a few other Oldie Goodies with him.

Next time we head back to Wisconsin Dells, we will be a family of 4. I wonder where we'll go/stay next.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wisconsin Dells Trip (Part One)

A few weeks ago, we planned our last family vacation before baby, while it was still manageable to do so without an infant, while we're still just a family of three. We decided to head to Wisconsin Dells after finding a great camping deal there and wanting to spend more time in our new little toy. We got 15 total attraction tickets, which amounted to 5 different attractions for the three of us: Noah's Ark, Timbavati Wildlife Park, Pirate's Cove Miniature Golf, the Ducks, and the Deer Park. More than enough to keep us busy for an entire week!

We took a Saturday through Thursday trip in order to avoid some of the weekend crowds at these places. In the Dells, many things are cheaper Sunday through Thursday, so it's helpful to know that. That time span also left the following weekend open for lounging at home. You know, the whole vacation from vacation thing.

Anyhow, we left on Saturday, after Hubster got done with work. It was quite later than expected. After getting settled in, I took Peanut down to the play area that the campground provided, including a giant blow-up jumping pillow. Peanut could hardly be torn away from that contraption. If I wasn't so preggo, I would've been right up there with him:) After dark, we heard a bunch of loud booms. After investigating, we got treated to a fireworks display from a nearby racetrack that was pretty darn good.

On Sunday we got up and took a Duck tour right away. It's amazing how they make those vehicles to drive on the road and the water. It's like something out of a movie that's totally a real thing. Peanut was quite enraptured by the phenomenon.

After the Ducks and a quick bite to eat, we hit up the miniature golf course. Pirate's Cove has some great golfing, and they take the best care of their grounds than any other I've seen. I think this year's theme for our family is miniature golfing. We've done it quite a few times now and can't seem to get enough. Peanut is getting pretty good at the rules and lining up his ball. And he loves it!

Pirate's Cove also has a Family Play Center that we indulged in for a little bit. They had a huge playground, giant jumping pillow, giant chess and checkers, a racetrack, and trampoline basketball.

Pedal Go-Karts

 Giant Chess

Giant jumping pillow

On Monday, my parents came to visit for the day and we treated them to the Deer Park, one of our favorite Dells attractions. You get to hang out with deer and feed them out of your hands! We always take our time there and buy lots of animal food because it's so rare to get to experience that experience with deer. Later on, we took mom and pops to our campground for hot dogs and S'mores and a little pool time. Poor dad had chemo scheduled for the next day, so they couldn't stay overnight.

After all that fun, the whole family hit the campground pool for a cool off.

It always amazes me that we keep going back to Wisconsin Dells. It's such a touristy town, but it's also totally insane. It's one of those towns that is so unique, you just have to go there. Where else can you drive down the street and see an upside-down White House, miles of snaking waterpark tubes, rides and roller coasters of every kind, piles of neon summer clothing and weird statues of all kinds? And if you only live 2 hours away, you might go there every year cuz your kids are enraptured by it all.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our family vacation to Wisconsin Dells.