Sunday, December 21, 2014

Baby Gear: My Fave 5 For The First 6 Months

Last week while visiting with a soon to be mama, my overwhelmed friend asked me about my baby must-have suggestions. Now that Sylvia's reached 1/2 a year old, there are a few things I've been able to use quite a bit in the first 6 months with all 3 kiddos.

In a sentence, the 5 things that I think often fly a little too under the radar are awesome blankets, a baby carrier, toys that attach to stuff, easy to wear clothes, and Amazon Mom. In much greater detail...

1. Awesome Blankets. Note the word "awesome" - not the tiny kind that only work for the first few weeks, but there are numerous types of blankets we've gotten a TON of use out of. For starters, Aden + Anais brand blankets are the perfect swaddle size. They're also super light weight, so you don't have to worry about your baby getting too warm. Both of the boys loved these blankets, and now Sylvie literally can't fall asleep unless she's holding one. We went with the all white set 4+ years ago and they still look like new (thank you bleach). 
Aden + Anais Swaddles

You can also never have too many nice, soft large blankets or throws to lay out on the ground for your baby to roll around on. The whole fam can use these to cuddle up with in the winter time, you can toss one in the trunk for emergencies, use one as a nursing cover, or roll one out in the summertime for a picnic. I really want one like this from Pottery Barn!

Lastly, knit blankets are the best! My cousin's mother-in-law knit blankets for all 3 kiddos, and so far both boys still sleep with theirs. Carter's is so worn, it's now nearly disintegrated. I really love if they're a looser knit so they're more breathable, which the boys love too.

2. Baby Carrier or Wrap: I. Hate. Carseats. I love that they protect my children in the car, but otherwise I hate them. If you've ever carried your child in a carseat, you know it weighs something like 2,000 pounds. Even better, there's no graceful way to lug that 2,000 pounds from A to B. While it's nice to be able to carry Sylvie in the house if she's fallen asleep on the car ride home, there's really no other reason I take the carseat out (except to clean under it). Have you ever tried to grocery shop with a GIANT carseat in your cart? You can buy exactly 4 groceries.
Sylvie fast asleep in the Solly Wrap

All that to say, an awesome carrier is so convenient for those first 6 months when your baby sleeps a lot and can't really sit on her own. As soon as you have more than 1 kiddo, I'd say a carrier is pretty much a must as well.

I've used an array of carriers for different reasons, but my fave/easiest to put on is a structured carrier like the ErgoBoba or Bjorn. These 3 tend to be a bit more bulky and my babies rarely slept while in them, but they always kept them content and gave me free hands. The best carrier for the earliest months, and least bulky, has been a wrap. I really like the Solly Baby Wrap (as did Sylvie), but it's also the only wrap I've used. It's important to learn how to wrap it, which I know some find cumbersome, but for the cheaper price and extra cuddle time, I thought it was worth it. I typically tied the wrap on before I left the house, which saved a lot of time and kept it clean longer.

3. Toys You Can Attach: Each of my babies preferred different toys depending on the day, but the biggest thing I'd suggest is getting lots of toys that hook to things (like the Winkel), as well as lots of extra links. Sylvie loves to chew on the links, and I can also use them to hook toys to her carseat, high chair, and even crib. Seriously, so cheap and it saves you from fetching toys off the ground at a restaurant over and over. And over.

4. Clothes: It's no secret that I love dressing my kiddos (how fun are little people clothes?!), but regardless of their gender, I can tell you there are a few practical items I've used over and over for all of my kiddos.

Basic onesies. We love Carter's brand bodysuits, they fit my babies perfectly and held up well. In the summer they're perfect on their own, and in the winter they're a great bottom layer to keep your baby cozy. If they're neutral, they'll literally last for 3 children (or more)! I also really like Carter's leggings (much more practical for diaper changes & wiggly babies than jeans).

Zipper sleepers. While we always have an array of sleepers (button up, zip up, 2 piece, nightgowns), in the end the zip up sleepers are just the best! Not only are they easier to get on and off (especially in the case of a blow out), they keep your baby cozy on the chilly nights. While they tend to run a little small, the Children's Place makes some of my favorites. Also, my husband can attest to the fact that I never get the buttons aligned on the first try. Seriously, it's a problem. Zippers all the way!


Syl napping in her FPs
Shoes. All of my babies were born in the summer, so fortunately we didn't really need shoes until they were about 3 months old. While there's definitely no shortage of cute styles, I had the hardest time finding cute shoes that also stayed on their feet! It wasn't until the last few years that I discovered Freshly Picked moccasins. Game changer. There are tons of other moccasin companies out there, but so far the only ones I've tried are FP.

Basically if you can find cute shoes (like FP or Bobux) with either a good elastic closure (something that works for both chubby and skinny feet) or strong velcro (I've had good luck with Livie & Luca brand), I'd say they're worth the extra money. When dealing with all the other things a newborn to 6 month old baby needs, few things are more annoying then worrying about losing a friggin shoe!

5. Convenience: Before kids we'd make a run to Sams every so often to stock up on the necessities (paper towels, tp, toothpaste, detergents - you know, the glamorous stuff). After kiddos, that errand became such a hassle, so we started looking for a better solution.

Now we use Amazon's Subscribe & Save for allllll that stuff. As an Amazon Mom I get 20% off diapers, and free shipping on everything else too. So basically once a month we get a huge delivery of all the goods we used to go to the store for, and most of them are significantly cheaper. Such a win.

Once Sylvia hits a year old, which I know will come too soon, I'll attempt to list more of my faves. Or maybe I'll be too busy chasing all these crazy kiddos!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Design: Winter 2014 Projects

The last few months have been busy! Between design projects, home projects and family projects (including adding one babe to our crew), the year has slipped away! Here are a few of the things that have kept me busy just this month alone:
Decorating for Christmas! Important in our fam. Vital, really. 
Designing a logo and branding pieces for a new local property investment company in Springfield. The owner also happens to be my dad, so he's good news. I'm planning to start the website design soon, so I'll (try to remember to) share the link here once it's live. 


Business cards. Finally I designed my own!



Baby shower invites. This is only the top portion because the location of the party is top secret :) Invitations are some of my faves to design.



Photo shoot with my almost 6 month old. Ok this may not look like much, but this wagon was mine as a little girl and my dad refinished it and made it look new. Now I use it as often as I can in pictures because basically I love it! Here's a shot of me and my sis in it just a few years ago. Love.



I'm thinking about asking my 30-something year old sister to recreate this pic with me for my mom for Christmas. Or maybe not.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Events: Carter's 3rd Birthday

In July we'll celebrate Carter's 4th birthday, so before it hits the "1 year ago mark" I decided to share a few pictures from his Superhero themed party we held last summer. It's amazing how much changes in a year, considering then he didn't really have a single favorite superhero - he just loved them all. Now he specifically loves Superman, though from time to time he'll introduce a few others (depending on his mood).

For the invitation, I had a fun photo shoot with Super Carter on the front porch with a few of his favorite superhero items. At the time that was his Superman shirt, mask, and rain boots. It was a good look.
Invites were ordered from TinyPrints; I always really like their print quality.

Before the party, the entire family got superhero tattoos. We're hardcore.
I made the cake using cupcake wrappers & toppers from Amazon, along with colorful sprinkles. It was a hit.
Superhero photo booth props were from Amazon as well.
In addition to photo booth props, the kid station had blank superhero masks and colored pencils to entertain little ones before the party. Attendees also got superhero bracelets (you'll see them on the wrists of some of the littles below).
   
The tablescape had to be pretty simple since it was 95 degrees outside and we didn't want everything (or everyone) to melt. I still really like how it turned out!
After cake & snacks, all the kids completed a small superhero training course. Since most of the little ones were 3 years and under, we had to keep it pretty simple. 
The course included sliding, running through cones, jumping through hula hoops, climbing through a tunnel, and then lastly shooting the bad guys with silly string. It got pretty intense.
I loved watching my husband explain the course to the (not so) captive audience!
Carter chose the bad guys everyone would shoot: Syndrome (from The Incredibles), Lotso (from Toy Story 3), and Mr. Waternoose from Monster's Inc.
We ended the activities with an "evil" monkey piƱata. I really wanted something more scary, but I kind of struck out in that department. In addition, he proved to be a bit too tough for the little ones to crack open, but fortunately some of the older attendees were able to help save the day!
Since the boys turn 2 and 4 exactly 4 weeks apart, AND I'm also due with baby sister directly in the middle of that, this year I'm planning a joint party the 4th of July weekend that includes our neighborhood parade. Hopefully I'll get party pictures posted sooner than 10 months later! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

eDesign

Over the last few months I've had the pleasure of virtually designing several rooms for friends, an interior design trend known as eDesign. As a graphic designer who has always had an eye for interiors, eDesign is a perfect fit for me since it combines all the things I love. Also, it's great that I can work on projects for anyone across the country, any time of the day.

Soon I'll share some of my client projects, but since most are still in progress, I thought I'd share the one I created for 2 little guy's room earlier this year.

Here's the eDesign I created in Illustrator:


Here's the finished room (you can view additional pictures from the post I did about the project here):


I love that eDesign is an affordable interior design option that works especially for busy young families who need flexibility. In meeting with clients over the last few months, it's become obvious that most people have good ideas for what they want for a room (or multiple rooms), they just lack the time and energy to put it all together in one place. 

In addition to the eDesign above, I include a Resources List with product info and pricing, as well as hyperlinks to each item included in the room - this makes purchasing super easy. 

I'm excited to see where this trend goes in the coming year(s)!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Design: Sweet Sweet Sylvia's Nursery

After working on Sylvia's nursery on and off for the last 2 months, I can comfortably say it's complete! I'll always make little tweaks, but overall the hard stuff is done. The best part: I did it all MYSELF (prego and all)!

Disclaimer: Chris did help with the furniture assembly, and the boys did help demolish the room numerous times, so I guess I can't say it was 100% me. But painting, wallpapering, trim work, decorating, hanging pictures and even curtains: those were all me. And Sylvie was along for the ride :)

I'm so happy to share Sylvia's bright & cheery room. It turned out just how I'd envisioned!















I tried to incorporate a lot of old with new in her room. For example, the little pink & white flowery dress hanging on the wall was what I wore home from the hospital many years ago. The blue & white flowery quilt hanging on the crib was made by my aunt Ann, the pink blanket in the baby rocking chair was made by my cousin's MIL (she's made blankets for all 3 of my babies and they adore them).

I made the Sylvia banner hanging above the changing table from an alphabet banner I found at Hobby Lobby (good thing none of the letters in her name repeat!), and then used colorful tassels to add more dimension to it on the wall.

As a comparison, here's a before shot of the room taken the very first time we walked through our home in May of 2011. When we moved in nearly 3 years ago, it was a dark green color and decorated for a high school boy. Ew.


While we left the room green for Wesley, I was never a big fan of it. We were just too busy with work, babies, and the many other home projects that took precedent when first moving in! Here's a pano shot of how it looked in early 2012.


We moved the boys in together earlier this year and they seriously love it. The tour of that room is here.

My next task? Waiting for little sister, who could arrive any day now!