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Baby, Motherhood, Party

Avary’s Floral First Birthday

My baby girl turned O N E!  I seriously cannot believe it.  I know it is such a cliche because everyone says it, but time truly does fly!  It feels like not that long ago I was at the hospital getting ready to meet her.  It is hard to put into words how this past year has gone.  It has been incredible, eye-opening, life-changing; the most magical, sweet, FULL year of my life.  When I try to think of one word that describes Avary’s personality, the one that fits the best is sweet.  She is such a sweet little girl!  She has a quiet, calm spirit, an infectious smile, and a silly personality.  We chose to spell her name ‘Avary’ instead of ‘Avery’ because we wanted the name Ava-which means “life”-in her name.  Now looking back, it is incredibly fitting because our little Avary is so full of life.  She is like a little sunbeam that lights up the room.  She always has a sparkle in her big brown eyes.

I chose a floral theme for her birthday because it just seemed to suit her personality-pretty, classic, girly.  And I like a more simplistic style, not so much loud colors or “kid themes.”  You can find my inspiration board for her party on my Pinterest.  Since we live so far away from all our family, we didn’t celebrate with a large party, but just a fun-filled, family day together.

I definitely did Avary’s birthday on a budget this year.  I knew that she wouldn’t remember this birthday, and we didn’t feel like it made sense (financially or otherwise) to go “all out” when we didn’t even have our family there to join in.  I made her cake (just a boxed cake mix!  I attempted to make a homemade, healthy, sugar free cake for her and it did NOT come out right! haha) and made homemade frosting (delicious! Recipe, here.).  I went for the “naked cake” look, so it was rustic and messy but still cute!  Plus, I’m no professional cake decorator, so I needed easy!  I know it is not amazing, but I love the way her cake turned out!

SHOP AVARY’S PARTY:

Cake stand| Flowers| Tassle banner| #1 Onesie| White seersucker bow| Gold Moccasins


One thing I realized after doing this party for Avary is that you don’t have to break the bank to create special, meaningful, beautiful things for your family.  If you have an open-mind, get creative, and work with what you have, you can make anything beautiful!  So don’t ever feel like what you create falls short because it’s not as picture perfect as the party on Pinterest.  If you have created in love, that is all that matters.

 

Baby, How To, Motherhood, Parenthood

How to Choose the Best Carseat

This post contains affiliate links.  If you choose to use these links, I may receive a small commission for connecting you to the source.  You can read my full disclosure, here.

Parenting is full of really confusing choices!  One of those choices is choosing the best car seat for your growing baby.  It pretty much ranks up there as just as confusing as creating a baby registry (wayyyy too many choices!).  Before Avary was born, we chose to buy a travel system that included an infant car seat carrier that would attach to the stroller.  I do not regret that decision at all because we got so much use out of it!  However, as Avary has been creeping up on turning one, I began to realize that she was getting much too big for her infant seat and it was time to move up.  I had no idea where to start in looking for a convertible carseat!  So I did a bit of research, talked to other moms, and began formulating a list of potential seats.

The most important thing to remember when shopping around for car seats is that each car seat on the market has gone through the same rigorous crash testing and has met the federal safety standards.  While some seats may perform better in tests, the difference in price comes into play for reasons like, comfort, convenience, ease-of-use, style, quality, and brand/name.  Because of this, you will find that there are recommended car seats ranging in price from $39 up to $500!

What I recommend in helping you make a decision is to write out a list of your needs and must-haves for a seat.  Include things like:

  • Rear-facing and forward-facing: Do you want to do extended rear-facing?  How long will your little one fit?  What is the weight and height limit for forward-facing?  Will you have to buy another convertible seat when they meet the limits?
  • Size, dimensions & compatibility with your vehicle:  Get the measurements of the car seat and the vehicle you will be placing it in.  Will it fit comfortably?  Does your vehicle have LATCH anchors or will you be using a seat belt?  Will you have more than one car seat side by side and will they fit?
  • Ease of use:  Is the car seat easy for you to use?  If you will be transferring it between vehicles, is it light enough for you to carry on your own?  Do you prefer a “rapid-release” style?  Is it easy to anchor?  Are the straps easy to tighten and loosen?
  • Durability and washable:  Do you want a seat cover that can easily be taken off and thrown in the washer?  Is the fabric durable if you can only spot-clean?
  • Comfort for baby:  Is the seat comfortable for your little one?  Is there enough head support?  How much padding do you want?  What material is the padding made of (too hot, too thin, etc.)?  Does the seat have different modes for recline?  Will baby be able to sleep comfortably in it?
  • Safety and construction of the seat:  Is there adequate side-impact protection?  What materials is the seat made of?  How did it rank in crash tests?
  • Cost:  How much are you willing to spend?  Is the seat within your price range?  Will the seat last through toddlerhood or will you have to upgrade again?

Once you go through that list, you can better determine which seat is right for your little one and your family.  I strongly encourage you to research on sites like Car Seats for the Littles (list of recommended seats, car seat safety laws, recalls, and resources), Consumer Reports (ratings, recommendations, crash test results and comparisons) and The Car Seat Blog (reviews, ratings, comparisons and information).  You will be able to find all the information you could ever need!

 

After going through all the research and information, we decided to purchase the Graco MySize 65.  It met all the criteria we were looking for, we found it on sale on Amazon, and we got Amazon Prime free shipping-so we paid just under $150!  We are very happy with our choice, and I think Avary is too! 🙂

 

Here are a few popular, top-rated car seats:
*affiliate links*

Chicco Nextfit

Britax Marathon

Graco Extend2Fit

Graco Contender 65

Britax ClickTight Advocate

Graco 4Ever All-in-One

 

Happy car seat shopping, friends!!  And remember, do what’s best for your family!

Baby, Motherhood

How To: Create a Routine as a SAHM

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.*

When we made the decision that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom to our little girl, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I assumed that the job was pretty easy because all I had to do was take care of the baby, right?  Wrong!  Being a SAHM is much more than “taking care of the baby.”  A lot about being a SAHM is being a homemaker-making sure things stay cleaned and organized, planning meals, preparing food, doing laundry, running errands and just simply keeping the house running.  Not to mention, taking care of the baby involves a host of different tasks.  I’m feeding, changing, nursing, bathing, entertaining, comforting, and nurturing a little human being.  And now that my little girl Avary is at the age where she is crawling, pulling up, and cruising around the house, our playtime has to be more meaningful and teaching and SUPERVISED.  I have to teach her what is and is not safe to stand up on, what we do not touch, that we do not eat dog food, that we should not take the dog’s bed, that we cannot eat books or fuzz or the rug or DVDs. . . (ha!)

And what I have learned is, if we just wake up in the morning, with no plan for our day, the day is going to be very unproductive.  I won’t be able to get chores done around the house, we will miss running our errands, the baby will probably act out because she doesn’t know what to expect next.  It took me months to realize that what we needed was a routine and a schedule!  Once I added this to our lives, everything changed!  So I thought I would share with you my tips on how to create a routine as a SAHM + stick with it, as well as a glimpse at what our daily schedule looks like.  I would like to preface this by saying, in the first 3 months of Avary’s life, we did NOT have a schedule.  I felt that in those early newborn days, it was important for me to allow Avary to make her own schedule so we could get to know each other and she was giving me cues to exactly what she needed.  We really started carving out a routine when she was around 4.5 months old when we began transitioning her from co-sleeping to sleeping in her own room and crib.  Remember, you know your baby better than anyone, so experiment with routines and schedules and find what works for you!

Tip #1: Get a Planner

Get a planner, get a planner, get a planner!  I cannot tell you enough how helpful a planner is in staying organized and helping create a routine.  Depending on what you like, you can pick up a cheap planner from Target or if you want to get serious, you can get something like the Erin Condrin Life Planner or Lara Casey’s Powersheets.  You can use your planner to write down any important dates to remember like appointments, work schedules, meetings, playdates, birthdays, holidays, vacations, weekly cleaning schedules, to-do lists, goals, priorities, etc.  Basically, you want to write down anything and everything here so you won’t forget and so you can stay motivated to check tasks off your list.

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Tip #2: Plan Out Your Day

Planning your day out is a great way to give your day structure, as well as productivity.  I have often found that if I have no plan for the day, I end up getting nothing done.  There is something to be said for predictability; it has its place.  Some people thrive on planning out their day down to the hour.  I personally am not that rigid.  But, I plan our day so I know when we are having mealtimes, naptimes, going out, cleaning, etc.

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Tip #3: Create a Baby Schedule

After you are past the newborn phase, babies truly do thrive on a schedule.  They need the predictability and stability that a schedule provides.  It helps them in their development to be able to learn their routine.  When we transitioned Avary to sleeping in her own room and crib, this was the time that we started shaping out her schedule.  One of the biggest things that I believe helped solidify her schedule was creating a stable bedtime routine.  For us, this looks like:

  • 5 pm:  Dinner
  • 5:30 pm: Playtime
  • 6:00 pm: Winding Down Play/Books; Clean Up Toys; Head Upstairs
  • 6:10 pm: Bathtime *(she doesn’t get a bath every night so on nights she doesn’t, our winding down play is a little longer)
  • 6:25 pm: Diaper, “Night Night” Lotion, PJs & Nighttime Nursing Session

Once you get a bedtime routine down, you can start incorporating when baby needs a nap into your daily schedule.  You also want to carve out times for play-whether structured (a planned activity) or free-play.  I have also found that with a baby Avary’s age, she needs to get outside a couple times a day.  As long as the weather permits, we do a playtime out in the backyard in the morning, we take the dog on a walk while Avary rides in the stroller midday, and go to the park or play outside again in the afternoon.  She loves being outside and fresh air is so good for babies.  If you want to see what our full daily routine looks like, a post on that will be coming soon!

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Tip #4: Create a Cleaning Schedule

I don’t know why I didn’t do this a long time ago; maybe because I was working and just cleaned whatever I could squeeze in that day, but since becoming a SAHM, I have realized the beauty that is a cleaning schedule!  I actually came across “Clean Mama” on Instagram, you can find her here.  She has created a simple cleaning and homemaking routine you can follow weekly to help keep your home clean and organized.  I love it because each day you have a different cleaning tasks.  It helps so much; because, you don’t feel like you have to tackle one hundred different things in one day.  It feels more doable with the one or two tasks to complete each day.  She also has printables to help you stay organized in your schedule.

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Tip #5: Take Care of Yourself

I am going to be honest, in the first couple of months of motherhood, it is so incredibly easy to lose sight of yourself when you are constantly taking care of another human being.  It is so easy to forget to shower or get dressed or make yourself some food or workout.  Every day looks different, but I learned that it is so important to take care of myself, my body, and my health.  If I am not taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take good care of Avary.  In this season of life, we just don’t have the luxury of paying for a gym membership where I can drop Avary off at the childcare and go workout.  So I had to come up with a way to exercise when I was home with her.  I was looking for exercises on YouTube that I could do from home, and I came across Moms Into Fitness.  These workouts are designed especially for moms for strengthening your body postpartum.  I absolutely love them!  They have really helped strengthen my core, my back, and my pelvic floor.  There are workouts anywhere from 5-40 minutes I have found.  Honestly, doing something to get your body moving and working-even if it doesn’t seem like a lot-is going to help!  You can find the Moms Into Fitness workouts on Youtube, here.  Or you can purchase full length workout videos here.

Also, when it comes to nutrition, try to make sure you aren’t skipping meals or forgetting to feed yourself.  I think us moms have our fair share of times that we forget to eat because we get so busy!  One way I’ve tried to alleviate this problem is by having easy meals or snacks ready to go.  I might make a batch of hard boiled eggs, which are great for breakfast or a quick snack.  I also love to make my own trailmix with almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, raisins, and chocolate chips.  I always have granola bars and fruit on hand.  Another thing I love is putting dinner in the slow cooker in the morning, so I don’t even have to worry about it all day!  Meal planning and meal prepping is another way to save you time in the kitchen and take care of your health.  This is an area that I am trying to learn and grow in.  Remember, when you take good care of yourself and your body, you will be able to take care of your littles much better!

Those are my 5 tips on how to create a routine as a SAHM.  Being a stay-at-home is much harder than I thought it would be; because, it truly is a job and you have to be organized and productive the same as any other job.  Creating a routine saved my sanity and made me feel like I was running our home well.  I know everyone’s routine will look different, but what is one thing that helped you when you became a SAHM?

sean (1)

 

 

 

Baby, Fall

Fall 2016 Baby Capsule Wardrobe

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*Disclaimer:  This post is NOT sponsored, I just really love these clothes and companies!  If I ever do a sponsored post, I will disclose it at the beginning of the post.  I do not own the images of these products, they are property of the online retailers-which you can find at the below links.*

Capsule wardrobes seem to have become a “trend” lately-and rightfully so-because it is such a great idea!  When it comes to dressing my little girl, it is pretty much necessary for me to have pieces that will mix and match together, as well as core pieces that will build her wardrobe.  Also, I am always looking for a good sale!  That is why I do the majority of my shopping at Old Navy, Carters, or Target.  Most of these pieces are from Old Navy because their fall line for baby girls was on point!

I love shopping at Old Navy because they have adorable, on-trend fashion for my baby, they have affordable prices, and they are ALWAYS running great sales!  I feel that Avary always looks put together and trendy without breaking the bank.

As far as accessories go, like bibs, scarves, bows, and headwraps, I like to shop small!  I always find unique, cute pieces this way.  If I could afford to shop small for all of Avary’s clothes, I totally would-it’s just not in the budget right now.  So if you need a little inspiration on how to shop for your baby girl, shop the links included below!  All links follow the order of the pictures from left to right.

Also, for your reference.  Avary is 8.5 months old and wears a size 6-9 months or 6-12 months.  She is on the petite-side and has room to grow in these sizes, which will be great to transition some of these into wintertime, as well.

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Floral Swing Dress. | Gray Cardigan. | Cream Cardigan. | Striped Swing Dress.

These swing dresses are so cute and easy to build an outfit around!  You can pair them with flats at the beginning of fall when it is still warm, or pair them with tights and boots once it starts getting chilly.  And these cardigans, oh!!  I love them so much!  They are dainty and sweet and look great with jeans, leggings, or dresses.  They are knit, but surprisingly warm.  I wish they had them in my size!

Pink Ruffled Leggings. | Pom Pom Beanie. | Kishu Baby Bib. | Striped Ruffled Leggings.

Old Navy’s leggings for baby girls are ADORABLE because they have ruffles on the bum!  Who doesn’t love a ruffly baby bum?!  A beanie is essential for any fall wardrobe, as well and I love this one with pom poms.  Also, these bibs from Kishu baby are amazing!  I love them because they look more like fashionable baby scarves than bibs so they make a great accessory + drool-catcher for a teething babe.  They are made of cotton muslin so they are super soft and breathable.

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LOVE Bodysuit. | Fringe Booties. | 6 Pack Socks. | Gold Moccasins. | Pink Graphic Bodysuit

Bodysuits are just essential for my baby.  I like putting Avary in regular shirts, but they inevitably ride up and her belly and back are always hanging out.  When it is chilly outside, I just prefer having some cute, graphic bodysuits!  These ones are great and inexpensive.  Old Navy has the cutest baby shoes! (I am probably saying ‘cute’ and using exclamation points way too much, so I apologize-but I can’t help it).  I love these fringe booties for everything and their moccasins are great, as well.

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Strappy Black Ballet Flats. | Kishu Baby Bib. | WildSunshine Threads Headwrap.

More shoes and bibs. . . I just LOVE.  This headwrap from WildSunshine Threads is so classic.  If you love big bows, you will love this.  Go follow them on Instagram-you won’t be disapointed!

Roll-cuffed Jeggings. | Fox Knee-Highs. | Cable-Knit Tights. | AWESOME Graphic Tee.

When I say Avary lives in these jeggings, I am really not exaggerating.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they look great!  They have a great stretch-just like a legging, they are cuffed at the bottom which I like so they don’t drag on the ground, and they have the stitching of pockets and seams to make them look realistic.  Score!  Every little girl needs a pair of fox knee-highs.  Enough said. (HA)  The graphic tee that says Awesome is from Carters and it is a great basic and layering piece.

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BEAUTIFUL 2-piece Pajamas. | Utility Jacket. | Floral 2-piece Pajamas.

You are probably going to think I am ridiculous, but the first time I put Avary in 2 piece pajamas, I about cried!  I mean, zip up jammies mean your baby is little, right?!  At least, to me it does.  When I put her in 2 pieces, it meant she was a big girl!  I don’t know why, I am just weird (LOL).  I love these ones from Old Navy, though, because they are super soft and snug fitting.  I use them when I put her in a sleep sack for bedtime if it is chilly.  Last but not least, this army green utility jacket is everything!! It just screams fall and I love it.

Let me know in the comments what YOUR favorite stores are to shop at for your baby!  Or do you have a small shop?  I’d love to check it out, so let me know!  Happy shopping, mamas!

sean (1)

 

 

Baby, Favorites

4-5 Month Favorites for Baby

*This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you choose to use these links, I may get a small commission for connecting you to the source.  I only share links to products I love and use, and that I believe will benefit you.  Thanks for supporting my little growing nest.*

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It’s time for another favorites post!  I decided to combine months 4 and 5 because not much changed between them, and the products we were using were relatively the same.  Avary did change a lot during these months, though!  I think the biggest change was that she started sitting up independently!  This definitely changed the way she played.  My little baby does not want to be a little baby, so any products and toys that allow her to play independently or be a “big girl,” she loves.

Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System, Lilla.  When we were registering for baby items when I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a travel system because of the convenience of them.  I also wanted something that was safe, good quality, but also affordable.  We love our Chicco travel system, and we purchased it in the Lilla print, which is gray with small little polka dots.  I think it is cute and definitely neutral enough to reuse for another baby.  Around 4 months, we started going on walks daily because the weather was gorgeous (not to mention Avary loves walks!), and I love love love my Chicco stroller!  It can be really windy where we live since we are by the ocean and the Chicco system is so adjustable, I can cover Avary completely with the canopies.  This is also great when she is napping!  If you’re looking for a travel system with a base, car seat and stroller–I highly recommend!

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Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder.  Avary started teething at 4 months old (crazy, I know!).  As a mama, when your baby starts teething, you really feel at a loss for how to help them!  I didn’t feel comfortable just pumping Tylenol into her-especially during the day-so I looked up some natural ways to help relieve her pain.  We had frozen teethers on hand, but she didn’t seem to like them.  I don’t think she liked holding that cold, frozen thing in her hand (poor baby!).  Nursing typically solved all problems, but while she was teething, the sucking was painful for her little gums!  I found the idea to make “breastmilk pops,” and she loved it!  All I did was freeze some breastmilk in an ice cube tray, pop it out and put it in our Munchkin fresh food feeder.  It helped to numb her gums and also gave her the comfort of mama’s milk!  The gripped ring on the feeder was large enough for her little hands to hold onto, so it was perfect. Look out for an upcoming post all about my baby teething essentials!

Baby Einstein Activity Jumper.  I couldn’t wait to try out Avary’s jumper with her!  I know a lot of babies love to bounce, and I was hoping she would, too.  Not only because it would help mama get another task or two done, but it is just so darn cute seeing a baby bounce away!!  Avary loves her Baby Einstein jumper, and it entertains her for quite some time.

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Fisher Price Shape Sorter Blocks.  Around 5 months old, we really started to notice that Avary was getting bored with her toys.  She just needed something new and a little more challenging!  We bought her this little block (super inexpensive!) and she loves it!  She obviously doesn’t know how to actually sort them-she will figure that out later-but she loves picking up the bucket and dumping them all out.  Also, we will stake them all up for her and she likes to knock them down.  These have definitely been one of her favorite toys lately.

Taggies blanket.  When we started transitioning Avary out of being swaddled (somewhere near the beginning of 4 months), we knew we wanted to replace the security of swaddling with a “lovey” item.  Someone had given us this blanket as a baby shower gift so we tried this first.  She LOVES it!  She loves having something soft to hold onto when she is falling asleep, and she loves rubbing the silky fabric tags.

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Fisher Price Smart Stages Laugh & Learn Puppy.  Avary loves this thing!  I don’t know if it is the fact that it sings (she loves music) or if it is the face (she loves toys/dolls with faces), but she laughs every single time we get it out.  It is also fun watching her try to find all the different buttons to press to play the music.

sean (1)