Monday, November 24, 2014

Baby's first Christmas Presents

I participate in a few online mommy groups and one question that continually pops up is, what are you going to buy your baby for Christmas? It is a stumper since baby likely won't remember it anyway and doesn't need much at this age. However, there are a few items that I think make great gifts for tiny humans.

Kayne and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby this past week in search of something of the handmade nature. We came across wooden building blocks and a fun family activity was born.

Kayne and I got to work painting the blocks in our own signature styles. Our hope is that one day these blocks will get some good life with kid architecture and that Rayna appreciates the thoughtfulness and love that went into making them.

Soon after that, we went in search of a special box to put the blocks in. Which led us to find some matching artwork for her room, including a wall hanging with the lyrics to one of the songs I always sing to her. You are my sunshine. So, now we have a fun little cohesive look for her room, whimsical peaches, blues, arrows and chevron. Not too overtly girly or juvenile as I'm not a fan of princesses and frill. (This may be a gift that's more for me than her, but I couldn't justify the full expense unless it was a gift either way).

A few other ideas I have....Every year, I've purchased coin sets from the current year from the US Mint for Kayne. I plan to do the same for Rayna. This is a gift that they won't appreciate until they're older, but I think it makes a neat yearly present. Savings bonds, other handmade items like quilts, a special Build A Bear from the family, and personalized piggy banks and other treasures also come to mind.

What are some other good Christmas gifts for babies?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Maternity Leave Favorites

What I love most about maternity leave, of course, is adding a new family member to love. It's crazy how a person that's been rolling around in your belly takes human form. At first they're a complete stranger, but slowly morph into the person that you know and love most.

But there are other parts of maternity leave that are most special. I crave sundown, a time when we all nestle in, wearing pj's, catch up on new episodes of Big Bang Theory and old Christmas favorites, and eat dinner together. We have a great nurturing bedtime routine, with baths, lavender massages, swaddling, stories and quiet music. I just love that time with them.

Hot chocolate, popcorn and Wizard of Oz

I'm also beyond blessed to have a little girl that's pretty easy to please. She loves to watch me work out in the mornings and listen to the shower. See that? I'm actually able to work out and shower, a few luxuries I know I cannot take for granted since it know many mom's don't get the opportunity to do one of those things, let alone both.

She's content watching me do TurboFire

I'm also blessed with a pretty good sleeper. With such a content baby, I'm able to work on some projects that I didn't get to with a 40hr workweek. Like this plaid quilt for my little boy. Whenever the baby is content in her bouncy chair, I've been able to stitch a row or two. My hope is that it will be near completion when I go back to work. After all, tis the season for cozy blankets.

When Rayna fell asleep in her car seat the other day, I stuck around at the coffee shop to catch up on some reading for my personal training ceu's. I love our snuggle time, but I also enjoy those few moments when I can sneak away and work on something I'm passionate about.

It's all too difficult to think about returning to work in one short week, but I'm surely enjoying this little routine we have going here and these precious moments with our littlest family member.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rayna's Infant Photos

Boy am I one lucky girl. This beautiful baby is all mine and she's beautiful.

I tried to do a photoshoot at home and it just wasn't working out. And when I say it wasn't working out, it was really a disaster. There was sheet soiling and a screaming baby and bad lighting and everything else. Ugh. I try, but I just don't have the gift. I was in a panic because I thought we should really have some infant photos and time was running out for the new baby sleepy phase. It was kind of a dream to have cheesecloth wrapped around my baby and immortalized in digital form. Plus, I had bought this really rad snail photo prop and didn't want it to go to waste.

We took baby in for a photo session and came away with these gorgeous pictures. I might be biased, but she sure is special!

Getting this last picture was an art form! The photographer had her camera all perched and ready, Hubster was holding up the sheet in the background, and I took the nook out of her mouth. We had about 2 seconds to get the shot, and our photographer got it!!!! I'm so glad we decided to go with a professional, because I never would've gotten pictures anywhere near these.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Introducing a New Family Member


Rayna Elizabeth
8lbs 14oz, 21 inches
Born September 30 at 5:30pm

Here's Rayna's Story:

Rayna was due on September 23rd, but we went right past that date, as I was half expecting but half hoping against. On Thursday September 25th, the doctor had us come in to do a non-stress test to make sure that we were ok going past the 40 week mark. A non-stress test just means being hooked up to the heart rate/contraction monitor for 20 minutes and analyzing the results.

They hooked me up and we waited 20 minutes. The doctor came back in and said he didn't really like what he was seeing, so he wanted us to be monitored for another 20 minutes, and he warned us that we might possibly be induced that night. Hubster and I looked at each other like "holy ...!" The first 20 minutes, I was lying on my back (which a pregnant woman isn't supposed to be doing). The second 20 minutes, they put me on my side. The results of that test came back totally fine, just due to that simple adjustment. We were good to go into the 41st week.

With Peanut, I was 11 days late, but this time the doctor told us that we didn't have to wait that long. We could pick a day the following week to be induced. After discussing, we chose Tuesday since my doctor was on call that day and it just seemed like a good day (and still in September!)

We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 on Thursday, looking scared (I had this intense irrational fear that I would die in childbirth) yet ready to get the show on the road. Our wonderful nurse (I LOVE L&D nurses!) hooked me up to Pitocin right away. I've never had an IV before, so that was new. Since I was hooked up, I wasn't able to walk around or bounce on a yoga ball like I was able to with Peanut. The contractions started, but they were boring, dare I say. Up until noon, not much was bothering me and not much was happening. At noon though, since the baby was dropping a little, the doctor was able to break my water. Then stuff started to get real, and I realized that this was going to happen no matter what. They wouldn't be sending me home. Up until around 3:00, the contractions were bearable, but then they started to hit hard. I was only dilated to about a 3 thinking I had a looooong way to go, wondering if I should get an epidural.

Well, I ended up only getting a shot of Nubain in my IV, which took the edge off of about 3 contractions and made me feel dizzy and drunk for a short time. After that, they checked me and I was at a 5. About an hour later, the contractions were getting absolutely unbearable, and I said if I was still only at a 5, I was going to need an epidural. Well, too late, I was already at a 7/8 and in transition. My entire body was trembling and everything was really intense.

On a side note, since I was holding steady at a 5 for awhile, Hubster went out to order a pizza. He thought since I was only "halfway there," he had plenty of time. Once I hit transition, which happened much faster than he anticipated, he was nowhere to be found. The nurse went out to try and flag him down and almost had to page him. We will be laughing for years to come about the dang pizza. It was delivered early too, so he had to run out right after delivery to pay the man. Everyone was waiting on him to weigh the baby because we wanted to get that snippet on tape. He was so preoccupied with the dang pizza! With Peanut, our story will always be about how Hubster turned on Jaws while I was in active labor and the blood and gore almost made me throw up. Turn that channel!

Do you see the sausage Papa John's in the background?

Baby came after only 3 contractions. I've never screamed so loud in my life! I don't remember making any noise with my son, but this big girl was the real deal and she seemed to be stretched up into my ribs, so it didn't feel like I could even bend. Hubster was afraid to be in on all the action, so they gave him the oxygen mask and had him place it on my mouth between contractions because apparently I was out of breath. Go figure.

Our precious baby was laid on my chest and I kissed her among all the oh my gods and hi baby-s. She was/is perfect. The biggest surprise of all was her full head of reddish hair. I didn't expect any of my babies to have hair, let alone a color different from all three of our heads.

I just loved our stay at the hospital. All the L&D nurses are amazing. I just loved our doctor and all the help everyone gave us. Everyone from the lactation consultant to the pediatricians were so warm and helpful.

The first few days (weeks?) home were pretty emotional. Just like I did with my son, I cried on the way home from the hospital. First, this huge responsibility and life-changer was about to go home with us and we were leaving behind all the wonderful people and help at the hospital to do this completely on our own. Also, it was crazy trying to process the whole beautiful baby-meeting process and then realize you'd probably never see your doctor again, the person that had been beside you this whole time, let alone the wonderful nurses.

Then, the next few days, I had some intense anxiety flare-ups, I would just lay in bed terrified for no reason. That, coupled with lack of sleep, made me quite uncomfortable, to say the least. Thankfully, after my hormones evened out and they baby figured out night from day, I have been feeling soooo much better.

Now, we're home and getting into some sort of routine. Peanut loves his sister and we just adore our daughter. I get to spend 9 weeks home with her and I'm trying to soak up as much of it as I can. Just thinking about going back to work makes me teary-eyed, knowing this will likely be my last baby, my last maternity leave, my last chance to bond completely with a newborn. Rayna is a champ at nursing and we're just over here getting to know each other better. I can't believe she's all ours!!!

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