DIY Toy Box

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I think I officially have a toddler. I mean, when I spend the entire day either chasing the little munchkin or saying “No, Landon…no, no, no….Landon, that’s not to play with” that equals toddler, right?!?! When he first learned what the word “no” meant, he would usually stop whatever behavior I was saying no to. Now, he is testing the limits and repeating the behavior, over and over and over. The latest, picking food up off his high chair tray, holding his food-filled fist for me to see and dropping it while I tell him not to drop the food. Big heavy sigh.

Once Landon turned 4 months, we started accumulating toys at rapid pace so I needed a place to store them. I started searching for toy boxes and toy storage. There were some cute options out there but not a lot that really went with his nursery or my décor style. Baskets would have been the best option if I had a big shelving unit to store them on, but, space in the nursery was becoming limited.

I came across this unfinished wood toy box on Wayfair and decided to customize it to fit the style of the room.

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I painted the toy box white with Heirloom Traditions A La Mode chalk paint, 3 coats total, and then used DIY Big Top Aftershow top coat. I followed it up with a light sanding on the edges with 180 grit sandpaper.

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Next, I decided to add a padded seat to the top of the toy box. I added the hinges to the lid so that I could cut and attach the padding and fabric around them. Lay out your fabric on the ground (design side down), making sure that if you are using fabric with a pattern, you pay attention to the placement and angle of the pattern. Next, lay out a piece of 1″ foam on top of the fabric followed by the lid placed upside down on top of the foam. At this point, you can cut the foam and the fabric to the appropriate dimensions. Leave a 1″ border of foam around the toy box lid. Leave a 2″ border between the fabric and foam to allow for folding the edges over and attaching with staples.

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To attach the padding and fabric, I folded the edge of the fabric over on itself, the folded the remaining edge of the fabric over the foam and toy box lid, securing it with staples and my electric staple gun. When you are securing the fabric, work on one side at a time and secure only to within 2″ of each corner so that the fabric at the corners is loose. You are going to make some cuts and folds in order to tuck the corner fabric in. Also, when securing the fabric on the hinge side, staple everywhere except at the hinges, leaving the fabric loose there as well.

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To secure corners, you want to cut away the extra layers of fabric that were folded under, leaving only 1 layer of fabric. Take the tip of fabric at the corner, fold it over the lid and secure with a staple. You should now have loose fabric on either side of the corner. On each side, you will fold and roll the fabric under itself at an angle so that when you bring the two sides together they will meet at the corner. Secure with staples.

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To secure fabric around hinges, again, cut away some of the layers so you have just 1 layer of fabric, refold the fabric so that it fits around the hinge and secure with staples.

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Once I attached the lid to the toy box, I wanted to add a little more detail so I picked up some metal T strap and L strap angles , spray painted them black and attached them at each corner for a little industrial touch.

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That’s it! Totally customizable to your color and design! Just change paint color, fabric, spray paint and done 🙂

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Newborn Essentials Registry List

When I got pregnant, I had this vision of super chic baby gear, all matching and all coordinating with my home décor. Hang on one second….

Ok…sorry….just had to laugh at my pre-baby self for a minute 🙂

Here’s the reality, babies need stuff. Lots of stuff. And in the moment, you will buy just about anything to give them what they need to make them happy and keep them entertained.

Since Landon is my first (mom, don’t think because I said “first” that it means there’s another one coming anytime soon!), we were lucky to get a lot of baby gifts from the multiple baby showers that were thrown for me. I really didn’t have to buy much of anything, but this also meant that I had a lot of extra things that I didn’t need or get a chance to use because babies grow and move onto a new stage so quickly.

So this list contains my MUST HAVES, the nitty gritty, the things that we used day in and day out in the first few months of baby’s life, and still use most of it today. I’ve also included a few things that I didn’t necessarily use but other moms swear by, and I’ll let you know why I didn’t use or why they didn’t work for me.

Wardrobe

Sleepers w/feet: For the first month, Landon LIVED in his sleepers. I didn’t dress him in cute little outfits much, unless we were taking photos or going somewhere special. So we had tons of footed pajamas, like 15 to be exact. This may seem excessive but he was wearing them everyday, and, sometimes he would wear two or three in a day thanks to blow outs. Some of my favorite sleepers were these from Cat & Jack at Target, the zipper is inverted so it zips from the top down, so when you are changing a diaper in the middle of the night, you don’t have to expose their whole tiny little body to the cold air.
Onesies: Don’t go overboard with this one. I think I had 3 plain white onesies. I mostly used them for layering under his outfits because it was winter. Some people may use them under pajamas, depends on the temperature of babies sleeping situation. (If you’re unsure how to dress baby for bed, I used this chart and it was really helpful for me to feel more at ease.) Again, he was always in sleepers for the first month and after that, most baby outfits come in sets that include onesies so you will have plenty of those once you start getting or buying full outfits.
Daytime outfits: I wouldn’t buy an entire 0-3 month baby wardrobe. Besides, people LOVE to buy baby clothes so that is the #1 thing you will get as gifts, whether you register for them or not. I had so many 0-3 month cute little outfits that I ended up giving some away because I felt bad he wasn’t going to wear them all. Just get a handful of outfits for newborn photos, meeting family members or holidays, etc.
Hats: This may depend on what time of year your little one is born. Mine was born in November, so for the first 5 months of his life, we didn’t leave the house with a hat or hoodie on his head. Even if your little one is born in summer though, you may still want some lightweight beanies to shield from the sun or to keep their head warm if say the air conditioning is on full blast somewhere. Food for thought.
Socks: Just a few pair, to go with those few cute little outfits 🙂
Gentle laundry detergent: Babies have sensitive skin so you may not want to use a detergent with any fragrance in it right off the bat. There are plenty of fragrance free, gentle laundry detergents or those formulated gentle just for babies.
Wardrobe items commonly recommended that I didn’t use…
Scratch mittens: I put a pair on him on the way home from the hospital and that was the only time I ever used them. Their fingernails do grow quickly but I just clip Landon’s nails often. Plus, many sleepers and even newborn outfits have little built in mittens on the sleeves that you can easily pull down over their hands if you prefer.
Sleeping gowns: I had a few of these but never used them. I get the idea, easy to get in and out for nighttime diaper changes without dealing with snaps and buttons. I guess the snaps on sleepers never bothered me and I felt better about his feet staying warm in the footed pajamas than in a sleeping gown with socks that may or may not stay on. If you want sleepers but don’t like the snap situation, there are Magnificent Me sleepers with magnetic closures that basically close up on their own, pretty amazing, but they are a bit spendier. Just depends on what’s most important to you at 3AM 🙂

Sleeping


Crib/cradle/bassinet/co-sleeper: Obviously you will need to decide what the sleeping arrangements for baby will be. We had a crib in the nursery, but Landon slept in a cradle in our bedroom for the first 6 months. It is totally personal preference and you may have one thing planned and then change your mind once baby is here. Whatever works best for you and your little one is what is right. I can’t give too much opinion here of which items are best, I used a 25-year-old antique cradle that my little sisters slept in. I have heard really great things about the Halo Bassinet/Co-Sleeper, listed as one of the top sleepers on Babylist’s Best of 2017.
Crib/bassinet sheets: Get a couple for back-up.
DockATot: By far, one of the BEST purchases I made for baby. (Click here to check it out and get $10 off if you purchase!) Because I was using the cradle that would only fit a flimsy foam mattress pad, I knew I needed something else to put in the cradle for baby to sleep on. A friend had the DockATot and said it was the best purchase she made, so I went for it, in hopes that it would work with the cradle. Boy did it! The dock sits right in the cradle and it gives baby a safe, comfy feeling while sleeping. Because it is so portable, it allows you to take baby’s bed wherever you go. We brought it out into the living room for naps and on trips, and Landon slept amazingly every time because it’s like he never left his bed. On top of that, when we transitioned him into his crib, the DockATot went right along with him and the transition was pretty darn seamless. PLUS! They are now making activity gyms that hang above the DockATot, eliminating a need for another item to clutter your home in those first few months. This wasn’t available when I purchased but I know it would’ve been a great add-on as we used our activity gym daily.
Halo Sleepsack Swaddle: You may have read that to reduce the chances of SIDS, you shouldn’t have any loose blankets that could cover baby’s face in their bed for the first year. This Halo Sleepsack Swaddle is INCREDIBLE, it solves the loose blanket problem AND it is super easy to secure without having to worry if it’s too tight or too loose and baby won’t break out of it very easily (at least not until they get a bit older). Landon slept so well from night one and I swear, this blanket is a big part of the reason why. Be sure to pay attention to the TOG factor, a rating scale that rates how warm each Halo blanket is. For most sleeping situations, a TOG 1.0 is going to be plenty warm, again, check out this chart on dressing baby for bed for guidance.
White noise machine: On night one home from the hospital, I remember not sleeping AT ALL! Babies make so many noises when they sleep! Noises that don’t sound normal or healthy but totally are. I’m pretty sure I jumped out of bed at least 10 times to make sure he wasn’t choking. Enter this white noise machine. Not only does it help the baby sleep by drowning out background noises, it’s gonna help you sleep too, new mama.
Video Monitor: This is one item that we had from the start but I didn’t take it out of the box until we moved Landon down to the nursery and for the life of me, I don’t know why!! Granted, he was upstairs with me, just in our room, instead of downstairs where he is now, but still. I was so paranoid that he would wake up and I wouldn’t hear him that I would leave the bedroom door open and just be SO quite during his naps. What was I thinking?!?! I could’ve gotten so much more stuff done and moved so much more freely through the house! Its a bit silly some of the things we do as new moms, no? Anyway, we have this Motorola Video Monitor and it works great. It uses Wi-Fi, and you can play music in the baby’s room or speak through the monitor to the baby…although I’m not sure why you would? My only negative about this one is that the battery life is not great, but I just leave it plugged in for the most part.
Pacifiers: My little guy didn’t take a pacifier until about 3 months old, but once he did, it was ideal for helping him self-soothe to get himself to sleep, especially while we were sleep training. I recommend getting a variety of brands because you never know which type your little one will end up liking. I kept trying to give Landon the Natursutten pacifier because that’s the one I had purchased and wanted him to use, not really thinking he wouldn’t like it. It’s just a piece of rubber, right? I probably tried 5 different brands before finding one he would consistently keep in his mouth, the Ulubulu Nip pacifier.
Sleeping items commonly recommended that I didn’t use…
Muslin swaddles & receiving blankets: I can’t even tell you how many of these I had. An entire drawer full of beautiful muslin swaddles and I think I used them less than 5 times. Maybe it was just my baby, or maybe it was my poor swaddling ability, but he just didn’t sleep well in those swaddles. The Halo Sleepsack Swaddle, mentioned above, worked so much better for us. As for receiving blankets, also had a ton that we got as gifts and never used a single one. This could be again, the time of year. Because it was winter, I got a couple of shearling lined blankets that baby loved and we just rotated between a couple of those as stroller/car seat/lounging blankets. So, again, if your baby is born during a warmer time of year, the lighter weight receiving blankets would probably be perfect for this.
Night light: This is probably just because of my middle of the night feeding practices but I never used a night light. You don’t want to turn on a main light because you want to keep baby as asleep as possible during nighttime feedings. However, because hubby was snoozing in bed and had to work in the morning, I would always take baby into the living room to feed. As I walked to the living room, there was a light switch for the kitchen that I could flick on and it provided the perfect amount of dim light for feeding and changing his diaper without waking him up. Not that a night light is a big investment, but figure out where you might be doing nighttime feedings and test the lighting options beforehand if possible.

Changing Station


Changing table/Dresser/Pack n’ play: Another decision you’ll want to make before baby comes is your diaper changing plans for the first few months. I know this may seem silly but hear me out. You will be changing diapers a lot. I mean A LOT, A LOT. Like 10-12 times a day in the first few weeks. So, you want a set up that is easily accessible and well stocked. A lot of this will depend on your nursery set up and whether or not baby will be in the nursery from the get go as well as if the nursery is close by. Example, Landon’s nursery is downstairs and our bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc. is all upstairs. I knew he would be sleeping in our room at first so it seemed silly to be going up and down the stairs every time I needed to change his diaper. I do have a changing pad on top of his dresser in the nursery that is our changing station now but up until recently, our changing station was the Pack n’ Play set up in the living room. We have the Graco Pack n’ Play Playard and it has been a life saver! It has a little changing area on top, as well as a vibrating chair, both of which are removable in order to use the play pen.
Changing pad: For those that are using a changing table or dresser, you’ll want a soft changing pad. There’s a lot of different brands out there and almost all have raised edges and a strap to buckle baby in for safety, so you can’t really go wrong.
Changing pad covers: You’ll want at least 2 covers, to have a back-up when there’s an accident.
Diapers: Diapers, diapers and more diapers! It will probably take some trial and error to figure out which diapers you like best. I, of course, started out with the super cute printed diapers and quickly realized that I needed function over aesthetic. We then moved to Pampers Swaddlers, which is what they used in the hospital, and I liked these but baby was having a lot of blow outs and he seemed to be soaking the diapers pretty quickly. Then we moved to Pampers Baby Dry. That was the jackpot for us. They are technically “overnight” diapers and are more absorbent so they worked out well for our little guy, hardly ever has blow outs and stays dry all night which helps him sleep better. As far as size, it will depend on how big your baby is at birth but they probably won’t be in Newborn size for very long and some babies can go straight to size 1. Landon was 7lb 14oz at birth and I think we were on to size 1 diapers within 2-3 weeks. I would say start with 2-3 packs of newborn and 4-5 packs of size 1 and then purchase as needed.
Wipes: Again, quite a few different brands so it’ll just be personal preference. I use Honest Wipes and love the thickness of them. I’ve also heard good things about Waterwipes. You will go through a lot of wipes at first because newborns poo A LOT! I think I stockpiled 12 packages and then purchased as needed. Amazon has been my best friend since becoming a mom, BTW.
Diaper pail & refill bags: Some people say this is an “extra” that you don’t really need. I’m not one of those people 🙂 If you don’t have a diaper pail, then you’ll be putting the dirty diapers, where? In you garbage? Let me say again, newborns poo A LOT! I guess if you take your garbage out daily then it might work out for you but we don’t, so the thought of leaving dirty diapers in the garbage can for too long makes me gag a little. We have the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail by Munchkin, which dispenses baking soda into the trash bag each time you close the lid. For the last 6 months, it’s been sitting in my living room next to the changing station and not one issue with smelly diapers here. Unless I just don’t smell it and my friends don’t tell me that my house smells like dirty diapers?!?! 🙂 Kidding.
Diaper cream: Baby is going to get diaper rash, it’s inevitable. I’ve tried a few different kinds because I had a few after all the baby showers. I know a lot of people love Bordeaux’s Butt Paste. I have used Honest diaper rash cream from the start and then tested the others from time to time but I always went back to Honest. I thought it cleared up the rashes almost instantly. Bordeaux’s works well but I hate the smell. If it worked immensely better than Honest then I would just deal with the smell but I don’t think that’s the case.
Ointment: Hands down…Aquaphor! I used this before I had the baby, it is amazing for cracked skin and chapped lips. I actually put it on my lips every night. And now, I use it on the baby whenever necessary. Any sort of rash, even diaper rash. He got a REALLY bad diaper rash after I gave him a little apple juice and not even the diaper rash cream would get rid of it. So, I mixed a little diaper rash cream with the Aquaphor and viola! Gone by morning. It’s also great if they scratch their face with those pesky little finger nails that grow so quickly. Put a little on the scratch from time to time to keep it from scarring. I used it after his circumcision to help the healing. Magic in a tube!
Baby nail clippers: Speaking of baby’s nails growing quickly…you will need baby nail clippers. Let me just say, I was TERRIFIED of clipping his nails the first time. I was sure that I was somehow going to injure his cute little fingers. I read about how safe and easy to use the Baby Frida nail clippers are, so I ordered them and when he was sleeping in his car seat after some errands one day (after putting it off for at least a week) I decided that was my shot. Success! I do suggest doing it when baby is sleeping the first time or two, just to get comfortable. Now, I know its basically impossible to cut him with these clippers so I clip his nails with him moving and shaking all over the place.
Nasal aspirator: Also from Baby Frida, I use their NoseFrida. There are different types of nasal aspirators and moms who don’t like this one, typically say it’s because you “suck the boogers out of their nose” 🙂 Yes, technically, that is true. However, anything that comes out of baby’s nose stays in the contained little area on one end of the tube and does not come near your mouth. I guess it does sound pretty gross but this puppy works!
Thermometer: So, I bought the fancy digital forehead scan thermometer. Don’t do it. They are not accurate, AT ALL! I can literally take the baby’s temperature 5 times within a 2 minute period and get 5 different readings. The best way to go is a rectal thermometer, especially for newborns. “We love taking rectal temperatures” said no one, ever. The Safety First Gentle Read Rectal Thermometer makes it as easy and painless (for both of you) as possible, takes only 8 seconds to get a reading and because of the shape, there’s no chance of inserting it too far. Also, while I haven’t tried it, I’ve heard the “pacifier thermometers” don’t work well either so I would steer clear.

Bathing


Baby bathtub: Ok, so could you get away with not having the things in this category, yes. But I will say, they made bath time much easier and much more enjoyable for the munchkin. A baby bathtub is going to be an insert for either your kitchen sink or your regular bathtub, or can sometimes be used on its own and filled with water, it just depends on which on you get. They are small and help cradle the babies body so that they stay put better than you trying to hold their slippery little bodies in a normal size bathtub. We have the Aquascale 3-in-1 bathtub. It has a built in thermometer and scale, which makes paying attention to babies weight gain in those first few months so easy. I, by the way, was obsessed with the baby’s weight, constantly worried that he wasn’t eating enough or wasn’t gaining enough weight. The scale on this bathtub helped eliminate that worry. The thermometer I didn’t really use because I used the one below, silly, I know. I just liked it better and it seemed more accurate.
Bath spout cover: You don’t really need a spout cover until later. Typically, they are squishy rubber animals used to protect kids from injuring themselves on the bath spout. We have the 4 Moms Spout Cover, which is also a temperature gauge, and takes the guess work out of too hot or too cold bath water.
Baby soap & baby lotion: No brainer I guess 🙂 Just choose something gentle and formulated for baby’s skin. We love Aveeno Baby wash and lotion. It is pediatrician recommended, tear-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free and made with natural oat extract which helps calm skin from rashes and irritants.
Hooded towels & washcloths: Not a necessity, but, come on! They are a bit too cute to pass up, don’t you think?!?! Both are usually softer for babies skin. I especially love these washcloths from Pottery Barn Kids because they are really thick. Many baby washcloths are super thin material and after a wash or two, the edges start to curl up and they start to fray.

 

Feeding


4 ounce & 8 ounce bottles: I’ve gotta be up front, I only got the basic bottles that came with my Medela breast pump and luckily the baby had no issues taking them right off the bat. I haven’t given him bottles too much so I also haven’t had to deal with any of the bottle feeding issues. If you are going to be bottle feeding, I have heard really great things about Dr. Brown’s bottles. They have a special vent system that keeps air bubbles from getting into babies tummy to avoid gassiness that comes from bottle feeding. We only used 4 ounce bottles for the first few months so you would be ok just stocking up on that size and then getting 8 ounce bottles later, usually around 3-4 months.
Nipple cream: If you are breast feeding, this is a MUST! I don’t think many breastfeeding moms get away with not needing any sort of cream or balm. The pain from nursing in the first few weeks is one of the toughest parts of breastfeeding but if you can power through it, it does get better! I used Honest nipple balm and it worked really well. I was healed and past the pain in about 3 weeks just applying this balm after each nursing session.
Nursing pads: Yet another downside to breastfeeding, you’re going to need to wear nursing pads because you will leak. TMI? You’ll get over it 🙂 Once you start breastfeeding, I swear, what you consider taboo or inappropriate conversation completely changes, especially with other moms.
Breast pump: Initially, I was going to be going back to work after I had the baby so I got the Medela pump in style advanced pump. It is perfect for the working mom because the pump is housed in a convenient tote and holds a mini cooler for the bottles you pump while at work, plus room for additional parts. I ended up not going back to work after my maternity leave, however, if I had to do it again, I would still get this model. It’s been great from when we do travel because I could easily take everything with me and the pump itself is great quality.
Milk storage bags: Most breast pumps will come with or have milk storage bags you can purchase that are compatible to that pump so that you can just pump into the bag if needed. My pump/bags have this option, however, pumping into them is a bit tricky and messy. For me, it was much easier to pump into a bottle and just pour the milk into the bags. But, if you are planning to return to work, these will be necessary to get your freezer stash started before you head back.
Burp cloths: Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, burp cloths are A MUST. Spit up, drool, boogers, just to name a few bodily functions you’ll need them for. But seriously, you want super absorbent, so skip the cutesy and go for function. I went with these basic white flannel cloths, they are super soft and soak up whatever you need.
Formula: If you are formula feeding, obviously you need formula. I researched a bit because while I wanted to breastfeed, you never know if it will be right for you and your baby, and I wanted to be prepared. While I can’t give personal experience advice, I read great things about Enfamil Infant Formula being the closest to breast milk as you can get, and it is recommended by many pediatricians. Now, I’m going to give you a #realtalk moment here. While I should have had some formula on hand, just in case we needed it, I didn’t purchase any before baby came. I figured, if there were some physical reason why baby couldn’t breastfeed, we would figure that out in the hospital and hospitals have formula on hand for newborns and we could deal with it then and send hubby to the store before we brought baby home. Maybe that was a rose-colored glasses approach but it made sense to me. In hindsight, I am SO happy I didn’t have formula in the house because breastfeeding is FRICKEN HARD! Like, really hard!!!! Up all night, exhausted, feeding round-the-clock, sore nipples, “I can’t do this anymore” hard! There were multiple times in those first couple weeks that I wanted to give up breastfeeding and if I had had formula in the house, in a mentally weak moment, I might have done it. But, because giving the baby formula meant having to go to the store to get it, thus making me actually think about and not make a rash, sleep deprived, hormonally charged decision, I talked myself down and just kept feeding. At the end of the day, do what feels right for you and know that, whether breast feeding or bottle feeding, each one has its upsides and downsides, and whatever is right for you and your baby is the best. Period.
Formula dispenser: Had I been formula feeding, HANDS DOWN, I would have purchased the Baby Brezza Formula Pro. With as often as babies eat, why not make bottle prep easier on yourself, especially at 3AM! It’s like a Keurig for baby bottles! 🙂
Feeding items commonly recommended that I didn’t use:
Breastfeeding covers: I’ll be honest, I don’t breastfeed in public. If you do, more power to you! I wish I wasn’t so hesitant about it. But, even with a breastfeeding cover, it’s just not my thing. My baby was also on a very predictable schedule from the start that made it easy to know when he was going to need to be fed and I could always plan accordingly (i.e. feed at home and then run errands, feed before leaving a friends house, feed in the mother’s nursing room at Nordstrom – I love that place! or just bring a bottle along). You get the picture. I had a few of those cute breastfeeding covers that doubled as scarves, they were just more trouble than they were worth. The are thin, flimsy fabric that hangs around your neck and certainly does cover you and the baby, but it’s nearly impossible to actually see what you are doing. And if your baby is like mine, they pop on and off multiple times, he didn’t just latch and stay put the entire time. Plus, I felt like the baby got so hot under there! I know there are a few covers out there that have a “propped up” effect at the top that allows you to see what baby is doing (Bebe au Lait and Balboa Baby both make them). If I did it again, I’d probably try one of those out. Just don’t spend the money on the cute scarf covers.
Breastfeeding pillow: Another item that I wouldn’t spend the money on. I got both the boppy and My Breast Friend and I didn’t use either one. Maybe it was just me but I felt like they were more work than they were worth. I know they are supposed to hold baby up higher so you aren’t hunched over, straining your neck and back…now that I type this, maybe this is why I threw my back out a few months ago…hmm. Anyway, it just never seemed comfortable for us. Most of the time I just wound up with a couch throw pillow under my arm to support the weight of the babies head.

 

Traveling


Car seat: One of the top things on your list will be a car seat, and I recommend getting this and installing it ahead of time, like weeks ahead of time. The last thing you want is to go into labor early and not have you car seat installed and have to think about and deal with during the chaos. The hospital actually won’t let you leave until they have seen and inspected your car seat. At least ours wouldn’t. I think I installed mine about a month before my due date. It actually got me a bit excited too, every time I got in the car and saw the empty seat, it made me that much more excited for when there would be a little nugget in there 🙂 In terms of safety, all car seats on the market are rated for crash safety. This is one item that you should buy brand new, no buying used or at a consignment store because you won’t know if it’s been in an accident (they can’t be used after that) or if it is expired (I think 5 years is the maximum before safety features are considered out-of-date). So, you can’t really go wrong in this category. Biggest things to consider are if you want an infant seat that is removable and is compatible with and can be popped onto your stroller or do you want to go straight for the convertible car seat that stays put in the car and grows with your baby. I went with an infant seat that snaps onto the stroller. With an infant, they sleep ALL the time and taking them in and out of the car seat when they are tiny is almost more hassle than it’s worth because they wake up as opposed to just sleeping through you pulling the entire seat out and snapping it on the stroller. Of course, this means we will be purchasing a convertible car seat when he outgrows the infant seat, usually around 1 year old. You have to just weigh the pros and cons here. Infant seat pro: convenience and easy portability from car to stroller to inside home without waking baby. Infant seat con: Cost of having to purchase another seat around the 1 year mark. Convertible seat pro: Most come with infant inserts and grow with your child, making it the only seat you’ll need until your child is ready to be in the car with no safety seat at all. Convertible seat con: May make the early infant days a bit tougher, transferring baby to and from car seat to stroller to inside home and disrupt naps. If I had to do it again, I would still, most definitely go with an infant seat and switch to a convertible down the road.
Child safety mirror: The first time I had to leave the house by myself with the baby, I was terrified. I know it sounds crazy. With your first baby, everything is so new and you really don’t know what to expect and once you are both strapped into the car, there’s not a lot you can do if the baby starts crying. Add to that, the fact that the baby seat is rear facing so you can’t see what is going on or why he might be crying, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm for an anxiety stricken mama. A safety  mirror positioned on the head rest in front of the baby will do wonders to calm your fears. Something about being able to see that little face makes it SO much easier to handle.
Diaper bag: Now that you’ve read through this list, I don’t think I need to tell you that babies need A LOT of stuff. And when you leave the house, for whatever reason, there are certain things you won’t want to be without. A good quality diaper bag with functionality and lots of compartments will make being out and about so much easier. Look for one with lots of interior and exterior pockets as well as an option to wear it hands free (i.e. cross-body strap or backpack). Also helpful is one that comes with a removable changing pad, a case for holding some wipes and that the bag is made from an easy to clean fabric (think something you can wipe down with a washcloth or easily throw in the washing machine). And I gotta give a little shoutout to my friends who have designed some super chic, super functional diaper bags that even dads want to carry 🙂 Go check out Product of the North and show this cute little family owned, small business some love!
Stroller: You’ll probably want to shop for your stroller and car seat at the same time if you are getting an infant car seat, just to make sure that the two are compatible. They don’t necessarily have to be the same brand. Mine are different brands and for most, you can buy a little adapter piece so that the two can work together. But, many companies today do a stroller/infant seat bundle that you can purchase together for a slight discount compared to if you purchased them separately. Again, tons of options here, I would personally look for lightweight (for lugging in and out of the car) and some strong and sturdy wheels, especially if you like to go for walks outdoors. If you’re having trouble deciding between the many, many options out there, consult Babylist. Not only can you create a baby registry with products from multiple companies through this website, they also put out their “best of…” list on nearly every category and do a great job comparing different products, listing the pros and cons of each.
Baby carrier: Some moms swear by baby wearing from the start, that you can put baby on you in a carrier and move around and get all kinds of things done while they sleep. My baby was not that way, he hated the carrier until he was about 5 months old and now he only likes it when we are out running errands, he never sleeps in it, just loves to be able to look around at everything. I do think its worth a shot because I am definitely the minority here. There are a few different styles, Baby Bjorn, Ergobaby or Moby or K’tan wrap. Once Landon got to the point of liking the carrier, we have used the Ergobaby 360, super easy to throw on. We did try the Moby wrap, it is super comfortable but for me it was a bit of a pain to actually get on but that could also be because I hadn’t perfected how to use it or do it quickly.

 

Extras


Swing: A swing was a lifesaver for me, especially one that is a little bit portable. We had the 4 Moms Mamaroo chair and it became the only way I could get a shower in those first few weeks. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him in his cradle where I couldn’t hear if he started crying so I would bring the Mamaroo in the bathroom and strap him in while I jumped in the shower. He loved it too, most times he would just fall asleep in it.
Play gym: Not that baby is going to be playing with the hanging toys right away, but they love to just look up at them. It’s a great activity from the get go for those moments when baby is awake, just lay them under the toys, sit next to them and move the toys yourself to help them learn to track things with their eyes. Our little guy LOVES (yep, still uses it daily) this Fischer Price Kick & Play Piano Gym because once he started moving his legs, he kicked the piano to make noise endlessly. Now that he can sit up, the piano can flip up and he sits between the piano and toy arch and goes back and forth between both.
Books: I read about starting to read to babies right away but it seemed silly to me, how is a 1 month old really going to enjoy reading? Turns out, a lot! And it’s proven to help develop their speech abilities at an early age. At first, though, it’s more about the bright colors on the pages and the sound of your voice but Landon LOVED it from the start and it became part of our bedtime routine. Before long, he would “read” right along with us, making noise as we read the words to him.
Hand & foot rattles: In those first few months, it’s all about baby learning how to move his body parts and hand and foot rattles are a great activity to help them discover that movement. We had little rattles that would velcro around his wrists and little booties with rattles on the toes to wear on his feet. Once he figured out that he was making the rattling sound by moving, he had so much fun with it.

There are obviously so many other toys out there, these are just the ones we used in the first few months. Don’t worry, your home will be filled with tons of toys in no time 🙂

Nursery Side Table

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Landon is officially moved into the nursery! He has slept in his own room the last 3 nights. I’d like to say it’s going well but…not so much. His first night was amazing, slept 8pm to almost 7am, only waking up twice for his pacifier. The last 2 nights and now today, however, have been a bit more challenging. I’ve read about babies having separation anxiety when being moved to their own room. Is this really a thing? Any other mamas experience this? I’m pretty sure the little guy is just going through the tough part of his 5 month growth spurt but this separation anxiety thing was interesting to read about. Either way, I’m sure it will resolve in a couple days and we’ll be back on track 🙂

Almost done in the nursery!!! Just a couple more pieces to put in place and/or build, a little organization of clothing…how did he grow out of so much stuff already!!…and then some finishing touches, like crown molding and painting the door and trim. When I type it all out like that, it seems a little more daunting.

You might recognize the table I am using for the side table in the nursery. It is a matching set with my living room side table and coffee table. I didn’t really have a need for a second side table in the living room so I’ve just had this table sitting around for a while now. I’m doing mostly dark iron accents in the nursery so the rusty metal details on this cedar chest table worked out perfectly.

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What I really love about this piece is that the top opens up and you can store a lot inside. I think it’ll be a great place to store extra blankets in summer months. As with everything these days, I painted the table white. Surprised?? Yea, I didn’t think so 🙂 I kept it simple and really wanted to wood panel edges to show through so I did a lot of sanding to make those edges stand out. I used my Heirloom Traditions Chalk Paint in A La Mode (2 coats), followed by a coat of clear wax to seal it and then 180 grit sandpaper along the edges and seams.

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Just a cute little piece to finish up this wall! I added a few simple things on top for a decorative touch. This cute little soft blocks from Pottery Barn Baby, this faux sage plant from Ikea that I am OBSESSED with lately. I bought so many of them and they are popping up all over my house. (As if they are appearing on their own and not being placed all over by me 🙂 Haha!) And, this Edison bulb Cloche Lamp from World Market. I saw this so long ago and loved it, it was actually one of the first things I bought for the nursery. I have lighting pieces from World Market all over my house…it’s becoming a problem…in fact, just now when I went to their website to link this lamp, I found another one I want to get. Oops!

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Pretty basic transformation but I love how it turned out! And getting closer and closer to finally having a full room reveal of the nursery for you 🙂 Someday…if I can get my act together 🙂

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Landon’s Birth Story

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I started this blog almost 3 years ago, and what began as a home décor/remodeling blog has quickly turned into a lifestyle, but mostly baby related, blog. To those who started following me in the very beginning, I’m sorry if this has taken a different turn than expected, but if you’re reading this then hopefully you’ve decided to stay on this crazy, twisty-turny road with me. Fast forward to now, and nearly every post is somehow related to this little munchkin who has taken over every part of our lives, in the best way possible!

As a blogger, who then found herself pregnant, I had to decide if I was going to go down the “mommy blogger” road. I haven’t officially written any mom advice posts but may decide to in the future. We will see. One thing that certainly ran through my head was the thought of writing a birth story. I didn’t know exactly what writing a birth story meant so I researched a bit, reading a few birth stories from some of the mommy bloggers I had come to enjoy following. I’m still not sure that this is a blog-worthy topic but the more I think back to the days surrounding Landon’s birth, the more I realize, I have a terrible memory! Some of the details are already starting to fade but I want to remember those things forever. And so, my loyal followers, you’ll have to bear with me on this one. I’m going to be a bit selfish and share this story so that I can always look back on it and remember every little detail.

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Tuesday, October 18th
Landon’s due date was Wednesday, October 26, 2016. By most measures, I had an easy pregnancy. The biggest hurdle was being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, however, “hurdle” is probably not the right word since my numbers were the tiniest bit over the line of normal and the diabetes caused no problems other than Landon’s blood sugar dropping too low the night he was born and needing to be given some donor milk to get his sugars back up. What the diagnosis did lead to was extra testing and caution at the very end of my pregnancy to be sure 1) the baby didn’t get too big to deliver naturally and 2) that my placenta didn’t wear out as the due date approached, which could cause problems for the baby as well. At my 38 week check-up the week prior, the doctor mentioned a scheduled induction at 39 weeks. She wanted to put the idea in my head in case he started measuring too big and didn’t want it to be a shock if she brought it up at this appointment. As in, “SURPRISE, want to have your baby today?”. My uterus had been measuring right on track for the entire pregnancy so we weren’t really too concerned with Landon being too big. At this point I had finished working and was officially on maternity leave. I was feeling good and very rested so I was ready to wait the baby out and do as much as possible to avoid a C-section. After that appointment, I began having 2 ultrasounds each week to check baby’s movements, breathing and heart rate. While it was a bit of a pain to make the trek to the hospital twice a week…ahem…my own fault for choosing that hospital and for scheduling the appointments first thing in the morning during rush hour :)…I secretly loved being able to check up on the little babe so often.

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Thursday, October 20th
That evening, I was getting out of the shower and (sorry if this is a bit graphic) felt a gush of fluid. I stood there for a second collecting my thoughts. I was mostly dried off so I knew it wasn’t just water from the shower. Jeff was at work and wouldn’t be home for a couple hours so I got dressed, lied down on the bed and began to google. What did we do before google, by the way? That is all I ever do now! Especially with pregnancy and a new baby. Pain in your abdomen? Google. Baby won’t sleep? Google. Baby’s poop is a funny color? You get the picture.
I read that if you think your water broke, to lie down for about half an hour and see if it continues to flow or leak after resting. Your body will continue to produce amniotic fluid which will create a steady leak of fluid. (Sorry, this is even graphic for me and I went through it!)
Now, maybe this was just my anxiety, but I also started paying attention to the contractions because I was feeling tightness in my uterus. The fluid did not continue to leak but the contractions became slightly more intense and closer together so in my mind I thought, this has to be it! (Looking back, if that had been what labor pain feels like, there would be no need for drugs of any kind! Rookie mistake.) By the time Jeff got home, I was on the phone with Labor & Delivery, asking what I should do and if I was in labor. They said the only way for me to know was to go in and get checked out by a doctor.
So, here we go, 9pm at night, hospital bags in the car, thinking our little babe was going to arrive very soon!!
5 hours later…contractions had subsided and I am discharged from the hospital. That really shouldn’t be allowed, small gushes of fluid that don’t mean anything. I mean, what a head game for a woman who has never been through this and doesn’t know what to expect!!

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Tuesday, October 25th
At my 40 week check-up, 1 day before the due date. Baby is still measuring on track and the ultrasounds are all showing great breathing and heartbeat. Everything at the check-up looked great, baby was in head down position and sitting very low however I still had not dilated at all. It’s worth mentioning that a few years ago I had some pre-cancerous cells removed from my cervix, they call it a Leep procedure. Women who have had this procedure done tend to have trouble dilating on their own because of the scar tissue left behind. This had been one of my concerns all along, that I wouldn’t dilate and they would need to induce labor to get things moving. My fear with inducing, as well as any sort of medical interference is that it forces the process and leads to a higher chance of C-section.

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Thursday, October 27th
I had been having contractions for most of the day but they were maintaining their strength level, i.e. they were not getting more painful as time went on and didn’t get closer together than about 5 minutes. Then I got a terrible headache. No big deal. I get migraines and deal with the pain. Except, a severe headache at the end of your pregnancy can signal some not so good things. Same situation as the previous week, Jeff was working late so I lied in bed trying to assess the situation. I called Labor & Delivery again and they said because of the headache, they really thought I should come in to be checked out because if the baby was in distress, they would want to induce labor. Here we go again. Jeff got home, we gathered up our stuff and headed to the hospital. This trip didn’t feel as exciting as the first. I was in a lot of pain (mostly from the headache) and was more worried about what might be going on with the baby.
Fast forward about 4 hours…not in labor, test results came back fine and the baby was not in any danger. As a precaution, the doctor I saw wanted me to do a 24 urine collection (yep, that’s right, 24 hours worth of urine…in a large jug…gross…pregnancy is so magical, huh?) to make sure I didn’t have pre-eclampsia and to see my regular doctor the following morning.
Back home we go…

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Friday, October 28th
Over it…I’m pretty sure that’s how I would have described myself at that point. I was exhausted from being up most of the night and embarrassed from going to the hospital, twice, thinking I was in labor. I went in for a check-up with my regular doctor after the visit to Labor & Deliver the night before. I had been walking the hills around our house every single day for the past week in an effort to get my cervix to dilate so I was in pain because of how low the baby was sitting from all the walking. Nothing. No change in my cervix. I’m pretty sure the doctor could see it in my eyes, I sat on the exam table and was on the verge of tears. My doctor tried to comfort me by explaining why she thought I would be going into labor very soon. She decided to do a membrane sweep. I know, I know…the name sounds disgusting. If you don’t know what this is and want to know, google it, because I am not going to explain it. #sorrynotsorry and you’ll understand why when you find out what it is. Basically, something super painful that is supposed to jump start dilation and kick you into labor without the help of drugs. My only hesitation with this is that my doctor was going to be out of town over the weekend and I so badly did not want to go into labor when she was out of town. But, I mean, what am I gonna do if he decides to come while she’s out of town, hold it in for the weekend? Right.
My mom decided to drive down that day and spend the weekend because she too was convinced that I would go into labor very soon. We spent the weekend walking, walking, walking. Up and down hills, shopping, anywhere and everywhere. We finished up some organizing in the nursery. The whole weekend came and went. No baby. By Sunday, my mom headed home and the minute she left I collapsed on the couch and just decided to give up the labor inducing practices. Like I said…over it. I decided in that moment that when we went in for my 41 week check-up on Tuesday I would ask to be induced.

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Tuesday, November 1st
Back at the doctor for my 41 week check-up. I was rested and relaxed. When I figuratively threw my hands up on Sunday evening, a weight was lifted. I slept a bit better, I wasn’t worried about every little pain and feeling. I had come to terms with being induced and was ready. Everything at the appointment checked out just fine, and again…not dilated. Put me on the schedule doc! She wanted to do a membrane sweep again. Really? Ok, fine.
Jeff and I went home, he had the day off and we were prepared to just relax together, our last day as a childless couple. I was scheduled to be induced the following day, Wednesday, November 2nd at noon. We went to breakfast after my appointment, then to the grocery store to get something for dinner and finally home for a lazy day on the couch.
Literally, such a lazy day. I don’t think I moved off the couch much until around 5:00pm when I got up to make dinner. I don’t remember what we were having that night but we never ate dinner 🙂 As I walked to the kitchen, I felt a pain. Way more intense than the other contractions, actually painful, not just tightness around my abdomen. I brushed it off and kept walking. By 5:30pm I was doubled over the kitchen counter in pain. This had to be it!! Right?!?! I was second guessing everything, so afraid of going back to the hospital just to be sent home again. I thought back to all the things my friends had said or I had read about going into labor…
“the contractions will give you pause”
“you won’t be able to walk or talk during the contractions”
“sitting down will not make the contractions go away”
Check. Check. Check.
I guess the membrane sweep did the trick.
I started timing the length of each contraction and amount of time between each one. By 6:30pm I was at the “time to go to the hospital” level. Contractions lasting at least a minute and less than 5 minutes apart for at least an hour. At this point, Jeff is freaking out, head in his hands, “call the hospital, call the hospital, tell them we’re coming”, me being the stubborn thing that I am, was refusing. “Nope! I want to be absolutely sure. I’m not getting sent home a-g-…..”. What was I thinking?!?! I couldn’t even finish my sentence as I cringed in pain. Ok. Time to call.
As Jeff called Labor & Delivery, I remember thinking to myself, “WTF was I thinking the last 2 times?!?! That pain was NOTHING compared to this!! How could I have thought I was in labor before?”
All the rooms in L&D were full. The on-call doctor gave us instructions to continue timing the contractions and to wait for him to call us back in a few minutes, he wanted to make sure there was a room for us when we got there. Thinking back, that’s weird, right? I mean, what if there wasn’t a room? Was he just gonna call me and say sorry, can you wait until tomorrow? 🙂 30 minutes went by and the doctor hadn’t called back. Jeff is usually very laid back, goes with the flow and let’s me do what I want. This was not one of those times…when the doctor hadn’t called back and I was nearly crying from the pain, he put his foot down, got me in the car and off we went.
This was it! Baby was coming!
We got to the hospital around 9:00pm. The on-call doctor had called when we were on the way. There were no Labor & Delivery rooms available at the moment but there should be one within a few hours, until then I would just be in Triage. That’s fine, right? No big deal. Still a bed. Yes, still a bed, but no epidural.
I had planned all along to have an epidural but they can not give it to you until you are in your Labor & Delivery room. Until then, I could only have Fentanyl. This took the edge off for the first hour but as the contractions increased in intensity the Fentanyl proved ineffective. We got into our L&D room around 11pm and by midnight I had the epidural, one of the things I was MOST scared of for some reason but actually turned out to be quick and pretty painless. However, now that I’m sitting here writing this I’m thinking maybe it was painless because I had already had some pain meds? Hmm.

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Wednesday, November 2nd
I’ll be honest with you all. I did not have a birth plan. I read a bit about them when I first got pregnant but, for me, it just didn’t make sense. This was my first baby. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Other than the fact that I knew I wanted to deliver in a hospital and I FOR SURE wanted an epidural, everything else was a bit up in the air. I kept hearing that things very rarely go as planned and that birth plans tend to change once you are in labor due to unforeseen circumstances. I guess I didn’t want to be disappointed when things didn’t go how I planned (because I’m a control freak and I tend to get that way) and I wanted to be open to the advice of the experts. I absolutely LOVE my doctor and trust her opinion 1000% so I knew that whatever her advice is would be best for me. So, I kind of just researched a bit of everything so that I would have some idea about whatever might pop up and resolved to try my best to go with the flow.
By 1am, the chaos of the nurses, doctor doing a cervical check (still at 2cm btw) and the anesthesiologist in and out of our room had died down. Time to finally get some rest?
Nope. Turns out, the epidural wasn’t super effective for me either. The pain was at bay until about 3am, then the intensity of the contractions outweighed the pain meds. The anesthesiologist came back and gave me a bolster of medicine which took the edge off but by 7am that pain was pretty unbearable once again.
7am must be a shift change because my doctor arrived, new nurses and a new anesthesiologist came to introduce themselves. We chatted with my doctor a bit about what had gone on the night before, how I was feeling and what to expect. She performed another cervical check. 3cm. Ugh!!! That’s it?!?! We decide to move forward with a shot of Pitocin, the labor inducing drug, to move things along. Jeff asks if it is safe to go get breakfast 🙂 the doctor says yes, it will still be a few hours.
Between 8am-8:30am…
Jeff leaves to get breakfast
Our mom’s both arrive at the hospital
I get another cervical check…8cm!! What?!?!
Jeff gets back and is shocked by what took place while he got to stuff his face 🙂
I think I was allowed to have some chicken broth. Womp womp.
They continue to check me every hour, but by noon I’m still at 8cm. This is where the Leep procedure becomes important. The scar tissue on my cervix was keeping me from fully dilating so my doctor had to massage the scar tissue in order to break it up and hopefully release allowing my cervix to fully dilate. This did the trick! By 1pm it was time to push!!!
Everything from this point on was a bit foggy. Not because of the drugs, which by the way were still not working, but because of the exhaustion. I had been in active labor for 20 hours at this point and had been awake for 30 hours with just little cat naps here and there when the pain was tolerable.
I pushed for 5 1/2 hours, every 2-3 minutes, each time I felt a contraction coming, I mustered up all the strength I had to push. Landon was facing up (when he ideally should be facing down) and he was stuck above my pelvic bone. For 5 hours, at any given time, there were at least 5 doctors and nurses in my room, all standing around the bed waiting for a contraction and then intensely watching the fetal monitor to make sure the baby wasn’t distressed from the intensity and the pushing. My doctor and head nurse took turns trying to turn the baby once or twice an hour with no luck. The pain was so intense that I tried every position possible to alleviate it but the best option seemed to be sitting up in bed with a bar in front of me to grab onto during each contraction. I remember being, what felt like at least, in and out of consciousness. I would feel a contraction coming, I would move a bit and Jeff and a nurse would push me up towards the bar. I would push my way through the contraction and as soon as it was over I would drop back on the bed and close my eyes, hoping to sleep for 2 minutes until the next one came. In those 2-3 minutes, it got to the point that everyone in the room was just so quiet while they watched the monitors that I needed some noise, something to focus on or distract me. I asked Jeff to turn on some music. He asked what kind of music I wanted. I’m pretty sure I said, “I don’t care. Anything.” What do you think my comic of a husband played?…
Push It by Salt & Pepa
Everyone in the room started laughing. Including me. It was a welcome distraction. I can always count on Jeff for comic relief just when I need it 🙂 After that I think he turned on Brandie Carlile.
At this point it was almost 5pm. I was fading fast. I was running out of energy and I didn’t know how much longer I could push. My doctor had somewhere she had to be that night so she couldn’t stay much longer, but the on call doctor had also been in the room most of the afternoon as well as another doctor that she had called to be there for support as well, both were amazing! My doctor tried to turn the baby one last time before she left, she didn’t think it had worked.
I found out later, from my mom who had been sitting just outside my room, that my doctor and her colleague were outside the room discussing a C-section right before she left. Around 6pm, the on call doctor was beginning to mention C-section to us, they were mere minutes from wheeling me into an operating room and I was minutes from saying out loud “I can’t do this anymore”. In fact, I think I may have said that at one point. During the very next contraction, the nurse felt the baby drop down, and he was face down. He had flipped! Somehow 🙂
All of a sudden I got a huge burst of energy, I have no idea how. Adrenaline I guess. Pushing for that last hour seemed like nothing, I didn’t feel any pain.
At 6:30pm, on November 2nd, 2016, the doctor laid the most perfect baby boy on my chest. Landon was so wide-eyed from the very beginning. Moments after they laid him on my chest, he opened his eyes and looked up at Jeff and I. (I’m crying now by the way)
In the moments that followed, I forgot all about the pain, I forgot all about how exhausted I was. Jeff and I were both crying, just amazed at what had just happened. We spent 9 months waiting for this little guy to arrive and now he was here and I was overwhelmed with the most intense feelings of happiness and love I had ever felt. In that moment I knew that our lives would never be the same, that becoming parents had changed us forever in the best way possible. Every bit of pain and exhaustion was worth it. All the fears about what kind of mom I would be were gone, replaced with eagerness to just hold and cuddle this little baby, to love him and to teach him about the world.

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*All photos by Janine Soltman Photography

DIY Floating Shelves

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I am so excited to FINALLY share this project with you all! I have been working on it for what feels like forever. Wait…you mean…having a baby will drastically change the amount of time in the day you have to accomplish things?!?! Case in point, I’ve been trying to write this blog post for 3 days now 🙂

When I started placing the furniture in the nursery, I knew I wanted this corner to be the “play” corner or the area for all the toys. Landon already owns quite a few books so a book shelf seemed like the way to go but I also wanted room for some sort of toy box (a post on that to come in the future) so shelves up on the wall were necessary for space. Enter the DIY Floating Shelves from Shanty 2 Chic. If you haven’t checked out their site before and you enjoy DIY building, check them out. If you’ve ever searched for DIY building projects on Pinterest, chances are you’ve come across some of their work. Their projects are always really well explained and the plans are very detailed.

I did make some adjustments to the original plans because the plans called shelves that were 3.5′ in either direction and I only had room for 2′. So, my plans are for 2′ long corner shelves and the materials listed are enough for 3 shelves. If you follow the plans on Shanty 2 Chic, their plans are for 3.5′ shelves and the materials listed are for 1 shelf so make sure you double or triple the amount of wood depending on how many shelves you want.

So, here we go…step by step 🙂

Supplies
NOTE: Before purchasing the wood, see the note in step 6 regarding the 2×4 and 1×6 boards

3 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′
2 – 1/4″ x 24″ x 48″ plywood
2 – 1″ x 10″ x 8′
2 – 1″ x 6″ x 8′
kreg jig for pocket holes
drill
2 1/2″ pocket screws
nail gun
1 1/4″ brad nails
3″ screws (torx or dry wall, whatever you prefer, these will be to screws the support boards to the wall and into a stud)
stud finder
wood glue
paint
hardware (for decorative purposes, I’ll show you what I used when I get to that part below)

Step 1: You will need to determine the height placement of each shelf. You want to think about what you are going to put on the shelves and how much space you need in between each one. I wanted my shelves to take up the majority of the corner and knew I was going to be putting some taller items and books on them so here are the measurements I used…
Floor to ceiling, the room is 96″ tall. Each shelf is approximately 4.5″ tall. Based on that, I measured out equal spacing from ceiling to the top shelf, between each shelf, and from bottom shelf to the floor, which was 20.5″.
Ceiling
20.5″
Shelf #1: 4.5″
20.5″
Shelf #2: 4.5″
20.5″
Shelf #3: 4.5″
20.5″
Floor

You will also want to locate the studs in your wall and mark those as well as you will drill each wall cleat directly into a stud.

Step 2: Build your wall cleats.
Using the 2″ x 4″ x 8′, make the following cuts
3 pieces @ 2′ (long wall cleat)
3 pieces @ 1′ 10 1/2″ (short wall cleat)
12 pieces @ 7 5/8″ (cleat braces)

When constructing each wall cleat, you will use one long wall cleat, one short wall cleat and 4 cleat braces, 2 1/2″ pocket screws and wood glue.
Using a kreg jig, drill for 2 1/2″ pocket screws into one end of each cleat brace then attach the cleat braces to the cleats as shown. I didn’t measure the placement of the cleat braces, just lined up the wall cleats (long wall cleat against the corner, short wall cleat against the long wall cleat) and then marked where the cleat braces should go so that they just met each other at the corner edge. The other two cleat braces went at the opposite ends of the wall cleats.

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Step 3: Attach wall cleats to the wall
Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the 3″ screws. Line up a wall cleat where you want it and drill a pilot hold into the wall cleat directly over the stud, check for level. Using the 3″ screws, attach the wall cleat to the wall in at least 2 different points.

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Step 4: Attach bottom panels to braces
You are basically going to wrap the braces in wood to build out your shelf. Using the 1/4″ plywood, make the following cuts (I made the cuts at home but if you don’t have a saw, you can ask some in the lumber department to make the cuts for you)
3 pieces @ 23 1/4″ x 9 1/4″ (long bottom panel)
3 pieces @ 14″ x 9 1/4″ (short bottom panel)
Use a wood glue, a nail gun and 1/4″ brad nails to attach 1 long bottom panel and 1 short bottom panel to each set of braces.

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Step 5: Attach top panel to braces
Using the 1″ x 10″ x 8′ make the following cuts
3 pieces @ 23 1/4″ (long top panel)
3 pieces @ 14″ (short top panel)
Attach 1 long top panel and 1 short top panel to each set of braces using wood glue, 1 1/4″ finish nails and a nail gun.

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Step 6: Attach the side trim
Using the 1″ x 6″ x 8′ make the following cuts
6 pieces @ 4 1/2″ x 9 1/4″ (side front trim)
NOTE: Because 2×4 are used for the wall cleats, it requires the front and side trim to be only 4 1/2″ wide which is not a width you can buy and will have to rip the board down to 4 1/2″. Again, you can have them do it for you in the lumber department. If you have a table saw at home then you can do it yourself. The other option would be to use 2″ x 3″ for the walls cleats instead of 2″ x 4″. By using 2″ x 3″, you will not need to alter the width of the 1″ x 6″ boards.
Attach side front trim pieces using the same method, wood glue, a nail gun and 1 1/4″ finish nails.

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Step 7: Attach front trim pieces
Using the remaining 1″ x 6″ x 8′ boards, make the following cuts
3 pieces @ 14 3/4″ x 4 1/2″
3 pieces @ 14″ x 4 1/2″
Attach using the same method, wood glue, a nail gun and 1 1/4″ finish nails

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Step 8: Finish with paint and decorate!
I used wood filler to fill in nail holes and the seams. Once dried, I went over the wood filler with 180 grit sand paper to smooth it out.

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I used Heirloom Traditions chalk paint in A La Mode to finish the shelves, topped with clear wax, and sanded the edges for a roughed up look.

Finally, I added some hardware to the corners to give the shelves a bit of an industrial look to compliment some of the other pieces in the nursery.

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I used metal corner braces similar to these from Lowes, and furniture tacks to attach them, spray painted all the pieces with black matte finish spray paint and roughed them up with some sand paper before attaching.

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That’s that! Then I decorated 🙂

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Nursery Crib

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Someone contacted me asking about some of the furniture details in Landon’s nursery and I realized that I never shared the finished crib! No time like the present…

I remember sharing a while back that I was having trouble finding a crib that I liked. I wanted white distressed wood. Everything I was finding in white was smooth finish and everything in a distressed finish was off-white or almost yellow. Of course, I have no problem painting a piece of furniture 🙂 but if I was going to put work in to it, I didn’t want to spend a lot. I searched some thrift stores but there’s not a lot of cribs out there. Enter Wayfair.com.

I went on Wayfair.com just to see what they had. I had purchased my office chair from Joss & Main, which is a sister company of Wayfair.com, and loved it so I thought I’d check it out. Turns out, there are a lot of options under $250! The crib I chose is by Viv & Rae, called the Rocco Kokopelli Convertible Crib.

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What I loved about this crib was the “shutter-like” look on the endcaps. I knew the raised edges would give great texture when I distressed it. Unfortunately, this crib is sold out 😦 However, if you go on Wayfair.com and search cribs, there is an option on the left side of the screen to select “cribs under $200” and there are lots of options to choose from.

My favorites, to get a similar look to what I did would be…
Camden 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Child Craft
Harbor Lights 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Graco
Watterson 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Child Craft
And, the first 2 options come in multiple finishes, in case you don’t want to refinish or paint.

To refinish the crib I used Heirloom Traditions chalk paint in A La Mode. Heirlooms Tradition, as most chalk paint, is non-toxic and safe to use on furniture that a baby may put it’s mouth on. You just want to make sure to let the paint cure for a few weeks before baby would have it’s mouth near the furniture. The thing you don’t want to use in this case, is the soft wax. I didn’t use the soft wax this time and it didn’t really affect the distressing. The biggest benefit of the wax is that it seals the paint, protecting it from chipping and stains.

*Quick tip: assemble your crib before you paint it!

There are so many nooks and crannies and areas that will not be visible and therefore don’t need paint, you will save so much time if the crib is assembled first.

Once painted, I used 100 grit sandpaper to sand the edges. I used a coarser sand paper because I really wanted the dark brown to show through. I didn’t sand any flat surface, just ran the sand paper along each edge.

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That’s all folks! Pretty simple transformation. And for those wondering, the crib bedding is the Vintage Ticking Stripe and Vintage Washed Percale Collection from Restoration Hardware.

Vintage Scoreboard was made by me and you can find the instructions here.

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Top Posts of 2016

Yesterday was the epitome of new motherhood. We spent Christmas weekend with family, traveling to and from different houses to celebrate. By the time Monday rolled around, I was exhausted and thought I was coming down with the flu. I think I was just very tired because it never turned into anything, thankfully. But I spent 2 days just resting, not doing much and not leaving the house. Then yesterday, I got up and got ready for the day. As I finished, I went to do what is always my last step of getting ready, putting on my wedding ring. Except, my ring wasn’t there. Since having Landon, I take it off regularly because I keep scratching him with it when he is feeding. It is always in 1 of 3 places, (so responsible, I know) next to my bathroom sink, on my nightstand or on the coffee table in the living room. I checked each of those spots…no ring. Then, I thought, I must have taken it off on our way home from Eastern Washington and put it in the diaper bag. Nope, no ring.

I spent the entire day searching the entire house, retracing my steps, panicking, being so hard on myself for how messy my house was (as if that was the reason I couldn’t find the ring), and all in between feeding and taking care of Landon. By the end of the day I was stressed, panicked and exhausted all over again. I had taken apart my bathroom sink after looking down the drain and convincing myself that I could see the ring down there. I called my mom panicking, thinking I had left it there when I put lotion on my hands. She even searched her entire house, including taking apart the bathroom and kitchen sink drains!

Then my husband came home from work and I burst into tears as I asked him not to be mad at me and told him what happened. Of course he wasn’t mad. He searched for a bit but found nothing.

All that was running through my head at this point was what a bad mom and wife I am. How disorganized my life had become. How I couldn’t get anything accomplished that I needed to on any given day. Obviously I was overreacting a bit, but I was so mad at myself for losing something so valuable. I decided to give up for the night and try again the next day, with a clear head, to search each room in the house very slowly and from top to bottom.

This morning, for some reason, I decided to search the diaper bag for at least the 4th or 5th time. Guess what I found. Yep. In the side pocket. That I checked each time before! WTH!?!? I was seriously ecstatic to find it. And then I started thinking about all the things that had run through my head the day before. Why am I so hard on myself? Why am I so critical of my shortcomings? I am not a bad mom or a bad wife because the dishes or laundry aren’t done.

Being a new mom has been quite an adjustment. The biggest being the lack of time I have to do all the things I used to do. I’m getting used to it and slowly adjusting but every once in a while, I need to stop and remind myself and I’m doing a good job as long as my little boy is safe, happy and healthy.

Anyway! On to the top posts of 2016! I love that these are the top 5 because I LOVE every single one of them! One thing I learned while looking into this post…I didn’t post a lot in 2016, I think baby prep took over most of my time 🙂

Click the links to check out the original posts and here’s to 2017, not being so hard on ourselves and enjoying the little things!

#5 Crispy Coconut Kale, Roasted Salmon & Coconut Rice

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#4 Breakfast Nook Table

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#3 Dressing the Bump

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#2 Inspired by…Joanna Gaines’ Laundry Room

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#1 Nursery Closet Makeover

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Changing Table Organization

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The fourth trimester…I saw things on Facebook and Pinterest about this topic when I was pregnant but I didn’t really read anything about it until now. Essentially, it speaks to baby being in the womb for 40 weeks and how shocking it is to them when they are born to no longer have hunger & thirst needs constantly met, to not be rocked to sleep at every moment by mom’s movements and to not be constantly warm, “snuggled” and comfortable. It makes so much sense!

We are still learning so much about Landon on a daily basis and it feels like every few days, you master one thing and then something new comes up. Right now…we are working on Landon’s feeding. Meaning, for the first 3 weeks, he never seemed to have gas, never spit up and was never fussy while nursing. Then, all of a sudden, in the last few days, he is nursing at such a fast pace for the first few minutes that he gives himself a tummy ache EVERY TIME! Any tips that you mamas have on getting baby to slow down are much appreciated! So far, I am trying the following…
1. Anticipate baby’s hunger, feed baby at the first hunger cue or beat him to it and not let him go more than 3 hours without nursing to keep him from getting agitated.
2. Laid-back/Biological position or Football/Clutch hold with baby sitting up rather than laying for breastfeeding. Laid-back position means, mom is laid back in a semi-reclined position (I usually prop myself up on pillows in my bed) and baby lies on your chest/stomach. This is how the lactation specialist showed me how to breastfeed in the hospital and is also a great position for skin-to-skin time. When we got home, Landon seemed to do best in the football position, so we changed things up and I position him so he is more seated than laying flat and propped up against my leg. Basically, I just avoid keeping him as upright as possible so gravity is doing it’s job.
3. Burp baby every 5-10 minutes, especially if he seems to be eating ravenously. (Making sure to anticipate baby’s hunger can help with this though. He will eat slower and not need to burp more than once or twice). After the first 5 minutes, whether he stops or not, I pull him away to burp, as the first 5-10 minutes are when he nurses the fastest. Typically, I burp him after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes and end of nursing session.
If I can manage to make all of these things happen, he stays happy and there is no upset tummy or spitting up.

Anyway…on to my original topic for the day…changing table organization!
Not sure why I felt the need for an exclamation point there 🙂 This is my life now, getting excited about having time to post on the blog, no matter what the topic, and about getting a new shipment of diapers from The Honest Company. I’ll take what I can get these days… you know…when showering is no longer a part of daily life but rather a luxury that happens when dad is home and baby happens to be napping well. Ahh, mom life 🙂

My changing table is a 6-drawer dresser with a changing pad on top. I filled the drawers with all the essentials for diaper changing, nursing and bedtime. I really could have done with just 4 drawers, so if you’re trying to save on space you could get away with that, however, I still found stuff to put in those 2 extra drawers that would need a home somewhere else in your nursery.

Drawer #1: Diapers & Diapering products (i.e. Diaper rash cream, powder, ointment, baby body lotion. Note: Wipes are kept in the wipe warmer on top of the dresser (not pictured because it was added later) with extra packs of wipes kept in a bin in the closet. If you have room, certainly keep extra wipes here as well.)

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Drawer #2: Onesie sleepers and swaddle blankets

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Drawer #3: Nursing supplies (i.e. burp clothes, nursing pads, nursing covers)

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Drawer #4: Extra changing pad covers, diaper genie bags and scent fresheners

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Drawer #5 (Extra): Crib & cradle sheets, car seat covers, breast feeding pillow and sleeping cushion covers
Drawer #6 (Extra): Baby wearing & carriers (i.e. Moby Wrap, Ergo carrier, etc)

Hopefully this was helpful for all you new mamas out there. I know I was totally lost as to what to include and how to organize before I started researching so I hope this makes things a little easy, even if just for one person 🙂

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Nursery Closet Makeover

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I CAN NOT believe my baby is already 2 weeks old!! How did that happen already! We have spent the last 2 weeks getting to know each other, I’m learning all his cues and we are really starting to get into a good rhythm. Luckily, it seems he has taken after me in the sleep department and not his dad because he is a GREAT sleeper! We get a 5-6 hour stretch each night and then back to sleep for another 2-3 hours after feeding! Can’t complain about that! On top of that, he is eating really well and gaining weight 🙂 Happy mama!

In my haste to get tasks accomplished before Landon arrived, I failed to take any before photos of the inside of the nursery closet. Fail. I do, however, have the real estate photo from before we moved in of what the room looked like before, just to give you an idea. The closet was pretty simple before I started, just a single hang bar with a single shelf above it. Nothing fancy. It also had sliding doors on the front which I removed…haven’t really decided yet if I am going to leave the doors off or put them back on. I have a feeling his closet isn’t going to stay pretty and organized for very long so the doors may go back on in the future 🙂

Here is the room before…

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Pretty sure Landon had a few diapers that were that same color in his first few days 🙂 Just can’t really understand someone standing in the paint department at Lowe’s looking at this green and thinking…”yep, that’s the one!” SMH.

Anyway, first step was to remove the closet doors and then I removed the hang bar and shelf that were inside leaving a blank canvas. I painted the inside of the closet the same color as the walls, Valspar Lyndhurst Timber from Lowe’s.

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Next, I purchased and installed the closet shelving. I knew I was going to want and need room for hanging as well as room for organization so I needed some shelving as well and I wanted the unit to be white. I searched multiple brands and stores. There are quite a few different options out there, ultimately I went with this option (Allen & Roth Wood Closet Kit) because of price and because I liked how it had 3 hang bars which left room on the left side for the laundry bin (which is tall, to keep it off the ground and away from the dogs) and I liked the option to add on with other pieces and customize the look if I chose to.

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 Once the closet kit was installed, I added these cute wood grain boxes from The Container Store for organizing. On a side note, can we talk about how obsessed I have been with The Container Store these last few months. Granted, I’ve been nesting, but I could literally spend HOURS in that place! It’s not just baskets, boxes and bins! Pretty sure I’ll be getting my holiday wrapping paper from them.

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I ordered these dark walnut wood hangers from OnlyHangers.com to complete the look. There are a few different color options and I ordered some with and without pant clips.

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Finally, I finished the space with this cute antique wash tub that my mom gave me at one of my baby showers. I was originally going to use it for toys or blankets but then decided it would be perfect for dirty laundry because it was high up off the ground so the dogs wouldn’t be able to get to it. I don’t have the info on this one in particular but I found a galvanized version on Wayfair and linked it here. You could always spray paint and sand the edges if you wanted a different color and distressed look.

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That is the gist of it! Hope this is inspiring for you. It really was an easy update, the closet kit took me about an hour to put together and another hour to install and anchor to the wall. I plan to use the same kits when I redo our master bedroom closets. However, when that actually happens is anyone’s guess 🙂

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Maternity Photos

I thought it would be fitting to share our maternity photos the week baby is due 🙂 Only 2 more days until due date…not a whole lot of action so far…hopefully he starts making some moves soon because this mama is getting uncomfortable!

Of course our photos were shot by my amazingly talented friend, Janine, of Janine Soltman Photography. Literally, an INCREDIBLE photographer. I have never felt very photogenic yet I love all the photos she takes! Janine has such an amazing way of making people feel comfortable, laugh and have fun, and forget that they’re having their photo taken. Such a pro!

We decided to shoot the photos at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island. I saw a photo someone had posted on Instagram at this location in what looked like a field of sunflowers and instantly wanted to get the photos done there. Turns out, the “field” of sunflowers was more of a “row” of sunflowers…unless we just didn’t walk around the property enough. Nonetheless, I absolutely LOVE how all the photos turned out and we are going to cherish these photos and the memories of this time forever.

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