Top Beauty Secrets (Baby Edition)

I love beauty secret blog posts. Even when I was younger, perusing Seventeen Magazine or Teen Vogue, the beauty section was always my favorite. What tips did the stars have to share? Obviously, there must be some key, some secret, to achieving flawless skin and hair! There, in those magazines, they were finally going to share these well-hidden tricks, or so they said. I’ve grown up a little bit since then and realize that beauty is relative and the “secret tips/tricks” are just a matter of finding the best products and routine for your body. That doesn’t mean I still don’t love reading up on what works best for others, as well as trying new products here and there to find my own latest and greatest favorites. My current favorite places for these types of posts is Say Yes’s “Secrets of Stylish Moms” series and Cup of Jo’s “My Beauty Uniform“.

This post does not reveal all my personal grooming habits or tips (which are really not worth sharing), but rather dives into what I have found works best for my little man. Most kids with food allergies are also prone to eczema. We have been very lucky to avoid it thus far, with the exception of some small patches on a very rare occasion. I am proud to say (little pat on the back- don’t judge me) that every time we go to the pediatrician, she exclaims how great his skin looks, especially for an allergy kid. This leads me to believe that we must be doing something right! So, let’s break it down.

Baby bath products

Ricky’s cheeks have always been the driest part of his skin. They used to be so red and rashy that they were part of what triggered us to believe he had food allergies, prior to the frozen yogurt incident. Since cutting out his allergens, his cheeks have completely cleared up, but we still use Baby Aquaphor every morning and every night before bed. This is to keep his skin moisturized as well as calm down any redness from daily activity, be that a little too much sun or getting smooched up on the face from a daddy or grandpa with facial hair stubble. If you have seen Karl or I, you know that our kids are destined to have very pale, sensitive skin. We are not a tan bunch over here. So, we like to act proactively in caring for Ricky’s skin (I typed the phrase “tender skin” first, but figure if Ricky ever reads this later, he might be a little less mortified if I leave the word “tender” out of that particular sentence).

For the rest of his body, we use Cerave every night. This lotion is practically a miracle cream, healing even the driest skin. I prefer the type that comes in the tub as I’ve found it to be a little thicker than the pump bottle.

California Baby Calendula Shampoo/Body Wash has been my go-to since Ricky was born. It smells amazing and has never irritated Ricky’s skin. There are a lot of bath products out there that contain soy, but this one is completely safe for my little man! We also use the California Baby Calendula Lotion on occasion if the heavier Cerave doesn’t seem necessary or we just want an extra dose of wonderful baby smell.

My favorite diaper cream is Baudreaux’s Butt PasteI’m happy to say that Ricky never struggled with diaper rash, so we did not have to use this often. However, on the occasions that a red booty seemed to be irritating him, this cream cleared it right up as well as helped prevent any issues if he was having particularly frequent bowel movements. Too descriptive? Nah- I’m assuming if you’re reading this blog post, you are either a parent or about to become one, so poop talk is just a matter of every-day life for you.

Lastly, 1% hydrocortizone cream. The brand is not particularly important here, but let me be the first to say that this stuff works. On the rare occasions that Ricky has had hives due to an allergy encounter or extremely rashy cheeks, a little bit of this cream would clear it up in 24-48 hours (if applied a couple times a day). Our pediatrician recommended it when Ricky was quite small because of his red cheeks- letting us know that if we had pictures or a holiday coming up, this would be a quick fix. That being said, it is not intended to us frequently, only as-needed.

So there you have it folks! Ricky’s version of “what’s in your beauty bag”- I hope this helps anyone looking to revamp their baby’s beauty routine or start a new one if you are an expecting mamma!

Summer Gear

What a beautiful weekend! We spent most of our time outside working on the yard. And by “working on the yard,” I mean Karl worked on the yard while I ran around with Ricky and supervised. Pregnancy has it’s perks 😉
We are in the process of removing an outdoor waterfall by our patio that hasn’t worked since we moved into the house. Over the last 3.5 years Karl has spent numerous hours attempting to find and remedy the problem, but to no avail. Even though we have never used it, I’ve always been averse to tearing it out because it was just so pretty and IF we ever got it to work, it would be even nicer! I realize now that holding on to such a large piece of landscaping that doesn’t function as it should is not actually a good idea, especially with an almost 2-year old that is very into exploring the outdoors. The last thing we needed was for him to climb up onto the uneven rocks and take a little dip in the nasty water that tended to accumulate in the “pool” portion of the waterfall. So- goodbye waterfall, hello wood chip play area for Ricky! My mom still has the Little Tikes play gym from when I was younger-  you know, the one that every 90s kid either had or had a friend that had, 4 different colored walls, one of which had a platform and slide attached. In case you didn’t grow up in the 90s, this is what it looks like:

90s little tikes

Excuse the blurry photo, but this is the best I could find online of a practically iconic piece of history. Anyways, we kept ours in the basement growing up, so it is in excellent shape and will be perfect for our new outdoor play area!

My mom was feeling extra generous and surprised us today with this water table as an early birthday gift for Ricky. She wanted him to be able to use it over the summer, so she (mostly) convinced me that 4 months before his actual birthday wasn’t too early.
We had a blast watching the little man splash and play in the water, which left me very excited for the next few months of summer heat. Ricky felt very ok about his new toy.

DSC_0519Just kidding, he loved it! What little kid doesn’t love playing in water? A few more adorable shots with his new favorite toy:

This kid LOVES playing with the hose!

This kid LOVES playing with the hose!

Playing with daddy

Playing with daddy

My mom doesn't baby him at all... oh grandmas.

My mom doesn’t baby him at all… oh grandmas.

A water table was one of the things I wanted most for this summer, but there are definitely a few more summer must haves in my book!
Summer Gear

1. A great take-along picnic blanket. I have an old one from Vera Bradley (pictured), but this one is similar.
2. Bubbles! Similar to playing in water, what kid doesn’t love playing with bubbles? These types of wands are super inexpensive and so much fun on a nice summer day.
3. Outdoor picnic table. Ricky loves having his own table to set his plate and cup in the kitchen, so I knew we had to get one for outside once grilling season rolled around. They are all pretty similar, but this one is my favorite.
4. Sunscreen. If you’ve seen my child, you know he practically glows in the dark. As soon as the nice weather started, this sunscreen became a diaper bag staple for me. I’m known to slather it on so thick he resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost even more than normal.
5. An excellent hat. If Ricky is outside, he is pretty much always wearing a hat (again, please reference his lack of pigment). Since he is going to be wearing it ALL the time, it was important to have a great, semi-neutral baseball hat. Karl’s brother gave us this hat for Christmas this past year and it fits him perfect right now. We get compliments on it pretty much everywhere we go and I love that he matches daddy!

Do you guys have any summer must-haves for littles? This is our first summer with a kiddo on the move, so I will definitely be learning as I go!

Favorite Baby Gear (0-6 months)

As I prepare for Baby #2, I’ve started thinking about our most used and loved possessions when Ricky was just a babe in arms (which seems like a lifetime ago). Luckily, I had several friends who were having their first babies several months after Ricky was born, so I have a nice little list of favorites that I created for them that I can refer back to for myself now.

Side bar- it is amazing having kids at the same time as your friends. Ricky is 3 months older than my best friend’s first child (boy) and 6 months older than my other best friend’s 2nd child (girl). When you are pregnant with your first child, that is literally ALL you want to talk about- pregnancy and baby stuff. It was wonderful having people in the same boat who shared my desire to talk about topics that made most people slowly back away and pretend they were needed elsewhere (ahem, breastfeeding and different styles of child birth are apparently not everyone’s first choice dinner topic). Not to mention, when the three of us girls get together, our kids are all around the same age and enjoy playing together. PLUS we get to compare notes about the different stages of development. Obviously, all kids develop at different rates, but it is nice to get a ballpark of what other kids of similar ages are doing.

Back to the fun baby products! Here is my list of registry must-haves from Ricky.

Baby Registry (0-6 months)

1. City Mini GT Stroller: comfortable for the little one, compact and easily folded (one pull strap and boom, folded in half!) and easy to handle. We also got the adapter that allows you to put an infant car seat on top
2. J Cole Bundleme Car Seat Blanket: this thing is amazing. Anyone in cooler climates that will have a child in an infant car seat during winter months needs to own one of these. This was such a time and hassle saver- this little car seat addition makes it so you don’t have to worry about bundling up the little one every time you leave the house in cooler months
3. Boon Grass Bottle Drying Rack and flower/twig accessories: This works really well for pump parts and bottles and looks cute on the counter. It is a basic design, but highly functional and aesthetically pleasing. If you are planning to pump exclusively, consider getting the lawn size, rather than the smaller grass version
4. Tommee Tippee Bottles: I did a lot of research before choosing a bottle because I was planning to breastfeed exclusively until I went back to work, and once I was at work, I wanted Ricky to take a bottle only when I was not available. I read a lot of great reviews for Tommee Tippee, especially for breastfed babies and for avoiding nipple confusion. However, I will also say that almost everything I read supported the fact that there is no best bottle for every baby- there are a lot of great options and one baby might take to certain bottles better than others. Other great brands to consider include Born Free, Dr.Brown’s, and Avent Naturals
5. Tommee Tippee Milk Feeding Bibs: these bibs are nice because they have a thick ring around the neck to catch milk dribbles, which is especially helpful when baby is just learning to drink from a bottle. Ricky was a hot mess the first few weeks because a bottle was so unfamiliar, so half the milk seemed to dribble out the side of his mouth!
6. Pack of cloth diapers to use as burp clothes: Cute burp clothes may have their place, but I am all about the cloth diaper. Those things will soak up an insane amount of fluid and you don’t have to think twice about using them because you aren’t afraid to stain or get them extra messy
7. Boppy Pillow: This thing was my BFF for pretty much the entire first year of Ricky’s life. Ricky was a really terrible sleeper and we did a lot of night time feedings, so this was especially helpful for a mommy that was having a hard time keeping her head up, let alone propping up a growing baby to nurse. This is also wonderful for tummy time and helping baby learn to sit up on his/her own. I prefer the Bare Naked version, purchased with a couple covers to change out when they inevitably get gross
8. Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo: Ricky liked to see what was going on around him, so he preferred the bouncer/activity seat over play mats
9. Aden and Anais Swaddling Blankets: I know you’ve probably heard enough about these already, but they really are deserving of all the hype. They are perfect for swaddling baby, but also great for throwing over a shoulder when nursing or laying on the floor for baby to play
10. Petunia Picklebottom City Carryall Diaper Bag: I love my diaper bag. It has plenty of room, plus it looks like a purse and has a changing pad on the front that is very handy and can be removed for washing
Bonus- Extra changing pad liners: You will need these, especially in the early days with a boy 🙂

Registering for a baby before you’ve ever had one can be a pretty daunting process- there are approximately one million options for most products. I did a fair amount of online research in addition to asking friends who already had little ones, which helped a great deal. So, hopefully this is helpful to anyone looking for real, mommy-tested suggestions!

Products for Baby #2

Baby #2 is joining us at the end of August, so we have more than enough time to plan….but since it is in my nature- I’m already brainstorming what we’ll need to purchase! We did not find out the gender for either Ricky or Baby #2, so we have quite a few gender neutral basics that we’ll be able to reuse for the new little one. Since the littles will only be 23 months apart, we still have everything from Ricky’s baby months packed away neatly (for the most part…) in storage. That being said, there are a few things I either want to upgrade or need adjusting to accommodate two tots.

Baby Carriers

Baby Carrier Standoff

I have a Moby wrap and Baby Bjorn Original from Ricky. I loved my Bjorn for when he got a little older (5+ months), but he was such a little nugget for so long, that it didn’t seem overly  comfortable for him when he was younger. I really like the concept of the wrap, but didn’t use my Moby very often because it was so bulky. So, I’m on the hunt for a baby carrier to use, both at home and on the go, when I need to be hands free in the early days after Baby #2 arrives (and Ricky is inevitably demanding mommy’s attention). My top two contenders are the Solly Baby Wrap and the Sakura Bloom Sling. The Solly wrap is a less bulky, lighter weight version of the Moby and the Sakura Bloom Sling is, well, a sling. I know I like the feeling of wearing a wrap from my experience with the Moby, so a lighter-weight version could be the solution, but I also love the idea of the ease of a sling. My biggest concern there, though, is feeling secure enough to do things around the house and with Ricky. Do any of you have experience with either?

Double Strollers

Stroller Standoff

The double stroller debate. Side-by-side or front to back? WHO KNOWS! They both have so many upsides and downsides. I like that a front to back stroller seems relatively easy to navigate in stores and through doorways, but I think I would miss the kids being able to converse and interact side-by-side. We live in a subdivision with lots of nice sidewalks, so we would probably use the stroller most frequently for walks outside, but I also don’t want it to be unusable should I decide to take it to the mall or any other store. Right now we have the City Mini GT (love it!) so I’m strongly considering the City Mini GT Double. I have read a couple of reviews that say the seats are so separate that the kids can’t really interact anyway, which eliminates my main goal for a side-by-side. There is also a bit of a concern with this one about storage. The City Select Double is front to back and is a strong contender if we decide to go that route. Again, help and suggestions please! I’m also very open to other brands and models.

Hands-Free Diaper Bag

Yes, please!

Yes, please!

I LOVE my current diaper bag. Seriously, cannot sing it’s praises enough- it is both beautiful and functional. That being said, I feel like it will be helpful to have a bag that is either cross-body (love this one) or can be worn as a backpack, as sometimes an over the shoulder bag can get in the way when carrying a little one, let alone juggling two! I should mention that my current bag has an optional long shoulder strap, so this is not really a must-have, more like a really want. I have never really worn a backpack purse, because taking it off to get anything seems like a bit of a hassle. #firstworldproblems #dopeoplesaythatanymore? I’m also thinking a cross-body bag may not work if I plan to wear baby often when running errands. Any suggestions on well-designed diaper bags or purses that are roomy enough for baby gear, but resemble a normal woman’s purse more than small luggage?

Are there any other products that you found necessary or helpful when your family grew from one to two (or more) little ones? Any feedback or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

SAHM life, here I come!

Today was my first day as a stay at home mom. It was wonderful.

Deciding to stay home full time was a much more difficult decision than I ever anticipated. For as long as I can remember, all I wanted was to stay home to take care of my kids and husband. Then, when we were finally in a position to consider me quitting my job, questions started forming- am I going to like it? Am I really prepared to be at home, without adults, all the time? What if I lose my identity and become only “mom”? What if I’m not motivated enough to do the things SAHMs are “supposed” to do? What if I can’t teach my children enough? What if they become too dependent on me because I’m around all the time?

The answer is simple… sort of. I am the best mom for my kids and we will figure it out together, in time. This blog is my outlet- following my journey of figuring out how to be a SAHM as well as a woman, wife, friend and all those other roles I’m lucky enough to fill. Every family has to decide what is best for them, but for us we know it is best that I stay home to teach and care for our littles. I transitioned to working part-time after my son was born, and although having that extra time home with him was wonderful, it was still difficult to balance home life and work life. My family was always my number one priority, and it became difficult to continue a career where it was obvious that I was not going to progress any further unless I rearranged my priorities. That wasn’t going to happen, so along with several other factors, this career stagnation spurred the thought- do I want to stay part-time, not getting the best of either world (home or work) or take the leap and stay home full time? Around the same time we were considering this, we found out we were expecting Baby #2! This helped make the decision much easier and we felt as though God was letting us know the timing was right.

I am SO excited to be able to spend every day with my son, Ricky! We will have the summer together and then Baby #2 will join us in late August. We took a walk this morning in the perfect 70 degree weather, then sat on the front porch and watched as a storm started and the rain came pouring down. Ricky was enthralled and I felt utterly blessed to share it with him.

Morning walks > Staff meetings