Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mical's Must Have's for Baby's First Year

Well, we've made it through a year and a couple weeks with our sweet babe, and what an adventure it has been!  I'm sure all first-time parents say that ... and probably all second-time and third-time and so on parents as well.  Kids are so, so worth it, but man, they are a lot of work!!!!  I wouldn't trade our sweet Haddie girl for the world though, and I am so looking forward to meeting Baby #2 in a few months.

I've been thinking about this post for over three months ... it all started when I was putting away my portable changing table pad and thought ... "Mical's Must Have's for Baby's First Year!  It's gonna be a blog post, yo!" ... I thought something like that. ;)  So here it is ... a list of things I'm not sure how we would've lived without in raising Haddie this year.

Portable Baby Changing Table Pad
Umm, yeah.  This is a life-saver.  Thank you, Maggie Wade!  So many times I went out with Haddie this year, and although most places have changing tables, some places do not.  And it was such a blessing to have a safe place to lay my baby.  Get one of these, and all ya do is fold it up and stick it in the side pocket of your diaper bag, and it's super easy to wipe down too!

When I first bought this for $20 ... thank you very much! ... When I first bought this saucer, I thought, "What on earth is this thing?"  I bought it because I heard they were super nifty for helping your baby play by herself, but to look at these things, you might think, "Huh?"  But babies love them!  At least mine did.  It was so fun to watch Haddie learn how to play with the toys attached to this round, roly seat.  And on top of that, it's a safe place for her to play when I need to get some things done around the house.  Pair it with Baby Einstein, and you can call yourself one blessed AND spoiled mama!  Holla-lujah!  Haddie played in this while I cooked dinner and interacted with her.  She played in it (and slept in it) while watching Baby Einstein.  It's great for teaching independent play and for sustaining mama's sanity.  They can be pretty pricey, but if you can find one at a yard sale or on some local baby pages (I'll talk about those later), then do it!  You won't regret it! :)

Baby Einstein Videos
Our friends, Jared and Maggie, gave us a few Baby Einstein videos to try out when Haddie was pretty little.  I took them gladly and gave 'em a try.  The first 2-3 months, Haddie was just too small for these videos, but she started liking them more and more as she got older.  By 6 or 7 months, she was hooked and so was mama!  Haha!  Haddie got the whole collection for Christmas from my mom, and we use them every single day.  I'll admit that Haddie watches them too much, but ya know ... I don't feel guilty about that one bit.  I play with my baby, feed her, love her, read to her, keep her safe, teach her independent play, pray for her, rock her to sleep, call the doctor for her and take her to all her appointments, encourage her, comfort her, and make sacrifices for her everyday.  So a little Baby Einstein isn't gonna kill her ... and to be honest, it gives ME LIFE! :)  Haddie is a fabulous independent player; she is social; she is happy; she is smart; she is an explorer; she is learning from these videos.  And when she watches these videos, she allows me to get all kinds of stuff done.  These videos (along with her saucer and pack 'n play) have allowed me to spend extra time in prayer and Bible-reading, get the dishes done, put laundry in the washer/dryer, read a book, BREATHE, work at The Porch to provide extra needed money for our family without sending Haddie to daycare, write blog posts, take showers, have a few minutes to myself, and BREATHE some more.  I'm incredibly thankful for the creators of these videos and for Jared and Mags who gave us a few to try out!

Pack 'n Play
We have used our pack 'n play for pretty much all of Haddie's life.  This is the pack 'n play that we keep at my mom's cafe', but the one we have used at home this year has two levels built in ... one that zips up high in the pack 'n play for when Haddie was very tiny (under 15 pounds) ... she had lots of tummy time in here.  As she got older, we took the upper level out and just let her play on the "floor" level ... she STILL plays in the pack 'n play at The Porch on a daily basis.  It's a safe, contained space so that I can do office work or prep food at my mom's store.  I've also taken the pack 'n play with me to do house-cleaning jobs as well.  Couple it with some Baby Einstein, and you've got a safe and entertaining place for baby for as long as she'll stand it.

Baby Swing
We only used our swing for the first few months ... I think Haddie started enjoying it for short lengths of time around 6 or 7 weeks old ... all the way up until probably around 4 months old.  It was like a saucer for really tiny babies ... it was great for interacting with Haddie while I cooked dinner or got the dishes done.

Wow!  Again ... what a blessing this little guy has been.  We used this as Haddie's high chair until she was almost 8 months old.  Heck, she STILL uses it at The Porch everyday!  Our specific Bumbo has a tray that you snap on to create the high chair effect ... or you can just push it right up to the table.  And even at 25 pounds and over a year old, Haddie can still use it on a daily basis, so we keep the Bumbo at The Porch and the portable high chair at home.  It's a safe place for Haddie to sit and eat or play with toys while I eat or do housework in the same room with her.  I remember when Haddie was younger than 7 months, I would put her in the Bumbo up on the table top so that she could play with toys and stay occupied while I worked in the kitchen ... she liked being able to see everything I was doing.  A great alternative to a high chair ... or heck, use it AS your high chair for as long as possible!

Portable High Chair
This baby is an awesome upgrade from our Bumbo seat.  Sadly, we haven't thought to actually take it with us when we could've used it while out and about.  Imagine that ... taking a PORTABLE high chair out to a friend's house for dinner or on a weekend trip out of town ... ha ha!  Yeah, we never remember.  But!  If we were to remember, this high chair would be perfect! ;)  Haddie got this for Christmas from Darrell's parents and grandparents, and it has been a huge blessing.  She can sit in it for decent chunks of time, eating, drinking a bottle, playing, or watching Baby Einstein.

Little People (Or toy of your baby's choice)
If you can, find a toy (or toys) that your baby really likes.  We started collecting the Little People princesses and superheroes long before we even thought of having a baby just 'cause we think they're cool.  And when she was 6 or 7 months old, she started playing with these all the time and loved 'em.  We think she liked 'em so much because they were the perfect size for her hand ... yet big enough that we weren't afraid she'd choke on 'em (bonus!).  She carried them with her everywhere and played with them in her car seat.  Although she has started playing with toys that make noise or music or talk much more often, she still enjoys playing with her growing collection of Little People even now.

I think I've heard a bit of controversy about pacifiers.  I know we heard some while we were going to breastfeeding classes shortly before Haddie was born.  If you breastfeed your baby, I bet what they had to say about staying away from pacifiers made a lot of sense.  But since we chose not to breastfeed (and it was the best decision we could have made for EVERYONE, by the way ... again, an opinion under much controversy! ;)), pacifiers have been a must have for us.  When Haddie was really little she had no use for them, but once she started teething (and continues to do so!), pacifiers became one of her best friends.  I say read your kid's needs and be open to trying something out that may save you and your baby a lot of unnecessary tears and anguish.  Although we don't want her using a pacifier well past the age of 2, pacifiers have been a friend to our family over the past few months. :)

Local Baby Pages on Facebook
I saved my favorite for last!  Oh. My. Word!  I'm assuming that there are Facebook Baby/Mommy Pages anywhere you live ... at least I hope so!  These Facebook groups have been the greatest blessing to us as parents this past year.  We figured out pretty early on that Gerber Soothe worked best for Haddie, and once our Target gift cards ran out, we were able to save so much money by using these groups to buy and sell formula (along with other baby items).  Thank you, Justine Basye, for hooking me up with these pages!  You communicate with other moms in your area to buy, sell, and trade all kinds of baby stuff.  I wish I had thought to keep track of how much I saved on formula this past year because I was buying Gerber Soothe from other moms for 35 to 50/60% off what I could find in stores.  Formula is expensive, y'all!  So what a huge, huge blessing!

Any first-time moms out there reading my blog???  What are YOUR must haves for baby?  I'd love to know ... I've got another one on the way! ;)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Books to Read Before I Die

So these books WERE my reading goals for this year.  I have probably a gazillion books on my to-read list, but I am a terrible reader.  Sure, I don't retain or comprehend the best, but what I really mean is, my attention span and busy schedule make reading pretty difficult.  And in this season of my life, I am learning a whole, whole lot about grace ... and maybe a little about simplifying my life.  So I've decided to keep these books on my to-read list, but instead of reading all of them by the end of 2016, which was my original goal, I will make them my reading goal for some time before I die.  Yep, you heard me right.  Before I die.  Sounds like the perfect goal to me!  And perhaps I can tell you a little about each book I read from here on out just in case it peaks your interest and you wanna read it too.  I usually pick pretty good reads.  I did read the entire Twilight Saga ... so maybe you'll disagree with me.  Hahaha!  Silly.  Probably a huge waste of time.  But those books were pretty entertaining for a single, sappy young woman (yes, I was at the time!).  I'm still sappy ... just not single. ;)

Anyways ... here's the book I have finished most recently.

How to Argue so your Spouse will Listen by Sharon Morris May

I started going to counseling last July for myself ... for my issues with self-condemnation.  It was the catalyst to start me on an awesome journey of discovering what God's grace truly means.  And one area in which I desperately needed to grasp grace was in my marriage.  I wanted to please my husband so much, but I beat myself up about every little thing that I didn't do perfectly ... which, as you can imagine, was everything, because I'm not perfect.  Ahh!  So I started bringing Darrell along with me to counseling, and it has empowered our marriage so much!  I thought we had a good marriage before, but now, we have a great marriage that is getting better with time.
Okay, so that's the back story.  During some of our counseling sessions, our counseling pastor had us read this book.  Honestly, I don't have too much to share about it.  I did read the whole thing.  I think it's a great book for every married couple.  It helps us begin to understand the mechanics of arguing and what causes arguments.  For me, figuring out where arguments come from in the first place is what I took away from this book.  Chapter Three: Dragons and Vulnerabilities ... The Hidden Meanings that Fuel our Arguments.  This chapter throws a lot at readers ... pulling personalities, past experiences and relationships that cause vulnerabilities, and current relationship styles all together to help us understand why arguments happen in the first place.  Sharon Morris May calls our past experiences or vulnerabilities our "dragons."  She explains that "when experiences in [our] relationships today are similar to the hurtful experiences [we] had over the course of [our] life, they trigger the same hurts, fears, and responses.  When a current situation touches or raises [our] old hurts and sets in motion [our] automatic way of reacting to those hurts, [our] 'dragons have been raised'" (pages 44-45).  I just know for me and Darrell, remembering that our hurtful responses come from events and feelings in our pasts has really helped us communicate better.  You will find plenty of great principles for marriage in this book, but learning about dragons was what impacted me the most.

And by the way, if you and your spouse are not in counseling, even if you think your marriage is great, I would consider it!  We have our whole lives to improve and grow and become more like Jesus in our marriages.  Take the time to invest in your marriage no matter what the season ... you won't regret it! :)

Dear Hadassah on your First Birthday

Dear, Hadassah,

My beautiful Haddie girl, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

I am so thankful that you are my daughter.  You are so beautiful, sweet, and strong-willed already.  It has been fun and challenging to watch you grow this year.  It's still amazing to me that you've been on the planet for an entire year.  And what a year of lessons and late nights and joys and tears and awesome times together it has been.  You are such an incredible gift in my life.  Ever since you were born, God has taught me so much about selfless love and grace and thankfulness.  Being your mom is growing me in amazing ways!  God is using you to bless and challenge my life and mind and heart everyday.  And I am so incredibly thankful for that - and even more so, I am thankful for you!

I am praying for you, and I am beyond excited to continue watching you grow and teaching you and loving you the best I can.  You are such a precious and perfect gift in my life.  I love you, Haddie!

Happy 1st Birthday, baby girl!

Your Mama :)
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Haddie Made it To One!

My baby girl has been on the planet for a whole year!  I can't believe it!

What Haddie girl is doing and learning these days ...
Walking ... a little.  About 6-10 steps at a time, sometimes less. ~ Giving lots of kisses ~ Loves exploring outside - it's her favorite thing to do currently ~ Drinking whole milk now!  Wow!  No more formula ... well, for a few months, then on to baby #2! ;) ~ Learning cause and effect - she recently started putting objects into other objects and taking them out and pushing buttons and levers and such on her toys ... so fun to watch! ~ Taking daily naps IN HER CRIB ... this is big, people! ~ Has moved up to the next size car seat ... craziness! ~ In the 97th percentile for weight ... just under 25 pounds at her 1-year doctor's appointment ~ In the 91st percentile for height ... we've got a good-sized girl on our hands ~ Throwing tantrums when she doesn't get her way ... yep, we're figuring out how to help her overcome that everyday ~ Bringing such joy (and a little exhaustion ;)) to her parents and grandparents every single day! ~ Growing into an absolutely beautiful and awesome little person every single day! :)

What Mama is doing and learning these days ...
Making progress with this grace and gratitude thing - HOLLA-LUJAH!!!! ~ Praying for my husband and babies ~ Still working at building my prayer wall ~ So thankful for a healthy pregnancy ~ So thankful for my daughter and what her life is teaching me ~ So thankful for my husband whose love is so amazing I can't fathom it many days :) ~ So thankful for Haddie's afternoon naps ... mama time, folks! ~ Realizing that I don't have to be a perfect wife and mama; I just do my best, and God takes care of the rest ~ Excited to be blogging more often again ~ Still going to counseling, and it is empowering our marriage so much and making me fall even more in love with my husband!!! ~ Excited to see what God is a brewin' and a bringin' to our lives this year and beyond ... it's gonna be good, people!  It already is! :)