Because I’m an Expert: Summer Baby Supplies

See my lists for BABY FAVES, and NEWBORN FAVES.

Summer is upon us! I’ve been dreaming about summer with Vada since the day she was born, at the very start of a long winter. I just think summer is the making of childhood memories. There are so many fun things to do, and see and experience. Mr. Gaunt and I always try to do lots of stuff in the summer, go outside, hit up happy hour, go to festivals. With kids, there are even MORE things to do. It’s our priority in life, we are people who like to spend time together doing stuff.

So before I get into items that you can purchase, I want to note a few other things that we are loving this summer!

-BABY SWIM LESSONS: We are on round 2 of baby swim lessons, we love it so much. We go at 5:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s a half hour class, and focuses on floating, blowing bubbles, kicking, splashing, chasing toys, and all things getting comfortable with the water. Vada LOVES it! Usually Mr. Gaunt goes with her, I have gone a couple of times, but I tend to be a distraction for her, and she can become fussy and obsessed with me. So I sit on the side and make videos of her (: We plan to continue lessons through the winter. We don’t have a pool available to us outside of lessons, and we really want her to be water comfortable.

-FRESH FRUITS AND VEGGIES: We do a local Organic Delivery Box,  as well as keeping the fridge stocked with lots of good stuff for the whole family, especially Vada. At home she still nurses/formula at least 5/6 times a day, plus breakfast and sometimes dinner of solids. Lots of organic scrambled eggs, fresh raspberries from the yard, yams, blueberries, zucchini, she loves it all. When we go out to eat we try to offer her little bits of whatever we are having too.

-FAMILY TIME: Lots and lots! We read books together, sit in the front yard in the evenings drinking wine and watching people stroll by. We hit up (baby friendly) breweries with friends, the park for playdates with other moms, garage sales, park concerts, and sunday mornings in bed. We are soaking up this sweet stage of baby curiosity and filling our days with all the family time we can. Sometimes we are too busy, sometimes we are frustrated with each other, sometimes we are poor, but we focus on spending time together and making the little joys in life a priority.

-CAMERA: We continue to love our Canon Rebel t3i, as well as our iPhones, to capture all the memories!

On to my Summer Must Have Items:

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1. SWIMSUITS: Vada has swim lessons twice a week, and we play in the baby pool in the back yard too. For a swimsuit I wanted something that was modest, simple (minimal ruffles, and flowers as these distract her), had good shoulder straps that stay on, and was affordable. The geometric shape suit is Marimekko ‘Polsku’ One-Piece Swimsuit (was around $50) which I LOVED but just couldn’t spend the money on. So we went with this cute bow suit from GYBOREE ($14.97), and I really love it! It fits so well, and although the teal has faded slightly from the chlorine, I think it will last a while. To be honest if you swim a lot, a suit really only lasts about one summer anyway.

2. REUSABLE SWIM DIAPER: We have an iPlay Swim Diaper  (from Target), and a The Honest Co. swim diaper. I don’t really know why people pay so much for the disposable ones? I can attest that a proper fitting reusable swim diaper will hold in the poop. Then just hose em out, toss em in the wash. So easy.

3. SUN HAT: We bought the Flap Happy Infant UV 50+ Floppy Hat in Eyelet, and LOVE IT! We got it at Kids Northwest (which we also love!!!). This has been such a  great purchase. It stays on (even if it comes untied) it folds up nicely to stick in a pocket, the brim ALWAYS stays up, and its way cute, and not dorky. It also WORKS so well. We have sat in the sun for 3+ hour with no sunscreen on the top of her head (it’s so hard with the wispy hair) and no burn. I LOVE this hat and wish it came in my size. Only downside would be that she does put the strings in her mouth so they are a little dingy. I kind of wish it maybe was velcro? but really I love it.

4. BABY ROMPERS: When the weather gets warm, these stretchy adorable rompers are our go-to outfit. They are cool, easy and don’t require me finding top/bottoms that match. Plus I find that they are roomier than just shorts for fatty-cloth diaper booties. I really like Baby Gap, Target and Old Navy’s styles, but honestly I do 90% of my clothes shopping at Value Village, so they cost me less than $5 a piece.

5. BABY ZIP UP HOODIE: Vada has a couple zip up hoodies and they are perfect for Washington summers. In the evening I throw one on over her romper, or tank top or swimsuit. They are easy and so cute. I definitely prefer a solid/adult style zip up over a really cutesy one with animals or flowers. A few of my faves are: American Apparel $18 (pictured) Old Navy $15, Andy & Evan $28.99, GAP $24.99.

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1. SNACKS Happy Puffs are our go to Organic fast-easy-mess-free baby snack. Plus I can get them almost anywhere, Target, Grocery Store, online, wherever. They are also really safe, Vada has crammed a bunch in her mouth and not choked (we always watch her though).  (from them): HAPPYBABY Puffs are nutritious and delicious organic finger foods that melt in baby’s mouth. Always organic, never any artificial flavorings. Our puffs are made with organic whole grains, fruits and vegetables. We support sustainable agriculture. No pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Our Sweet Potato and Strawberry puffs do not contain diary, corn, gluten or soy.

2. BIBS: I made the mistake of buying cheap bibs from a grocery store, and regretted it with stained clothes. That’s the whole purpose of a bid, right? Keep them from staining their clothes. Welp don’t buy cheap bibs. So far I really like the Skip Hop (love everything they make!!) Zoo Tuck Away Bib in CAT (duh).  Its lightweight but stays down, the velcro stays on tight, they are machine washable, they don’t have any fabric on them to get nasty, and they fold up into a tiny pouch that I can clip onto things. WIN! I also really liked our Now Designs Laminated Bib (which we purchased locally at Greenhouse) but the fabric trim gets a little gross, but otherwise they stay down great and collect all the food droppings like a good bib should. Plus these ones spray off and air dry really nice. I will probably buy more of both of these.

3. MUM MUMS: if you’re a Mum, then you have probably bought Mum Mums. They are the absolute best first baby snack. They are somehow both safe, and mess free. It’s like it just vanishes in their tiny drooly mouthes, unlike most baby teething-cookies that get all nasty and soggy. Vada can’t get enough of these. We buy Banana and Vegetable, and Organic. I’m not stoked on the ingredients though. While mostly just powdered rice and vegetables, there is also sugar in them, bleh, and they are from China, double bleh. I like this post that Kath did on making some, or not making some, but the comments are interesting to read. I wish that the Happy Family company would sneak into the Mum Mum factory and steal their recipe, make it organic, healthy and GMO free, and sell em!  Alas, we try not to do too many of these, but damn the babies love em.

4. MESH FEEDERS: There are a few different brands, we have the Munchkin Mesh Feeders, but I like the look of the Baby Safe Feeder brand too. We put organic frozen fruit (mango, strawberries, blueberries) in her feeder and it’s like a tiny baby popsicle. They are kind of messy if they really suck on them for a long time (which my kid does) but they are safe and way fun. I’ve read reviews that they are a pain to clean, but I’m use to washing everything by hand (no dishwasher) and these really don’t seem bad. I just use the sprayer to spray off all the food inside out. I also feel comfortable sending these with her to her nannies with a ziplock of frozen fruit. She can feel like a big kid when they get frozen treats. I kind of wish they had a cap to go over the mesh so I could load it up on the go. Get on it Munchkin!

5. SNACK HOLDER: We have a few of these Munchkin Snack Catchers, and we like em. Vada usually manages to hold the inside flap down and shake out snacks, but they also mostly stay in. They don’t spill in a purse either, and its kind of a toy for her. I would assume when she gets bigger that we will upgrade to something like the Munchie Mug,  (watch review here) which has a lycra-type fabric that you reach your hand into to retrieve snacks, eliminating the ability to shake things out, or crumbs spill in your purse. It’s on my wish list. Snacks in summer are a must. We are on the go a lot, and they keep her busy, happy, and entertained. I always offer a toy first, but if that isnt doing the trick, then a few snacks really help.

6. ORGANIC PUREE POUCHES: Let it be known that my husband would eat these…or has eaten them. At home we do mostly solid foods, not purees. We are doing the Baby Led Weaning route, so no spoon-feeding. However 4 days a week Vada goes to a nanny for 3 hours, and I like to send her with some food. I just don’t have time to cook her a lunch, and I don’t want to have to worry about her nanny having to prep any food for her (know what size and how soft food should be, but her nanny doesnt, so it gives me piece of mind), so I send a pouch with her. There are so many great organic baby food pouches out there, and they really aren’t that pricey, under $1.50 usually on sale. I tend to pick ones that are veggie heavy, as oppose to fruit (Look at the ingredients and make sure that APPLE/PEAR isn’t the first listed ingredient). So far I havent done any meat, grains or dairy ones, Id prefer we do solids for those items. I’ve read a lot about these pouches too, searching out negative reviews and articles so I have a rounded idea of what I’m giving Vada. My opinion is that these should NOT be used as the majority of babies food. Even thought they are organic and vegetables, they are convenience food. Not REAL food. I think it is so important that babies learn all about what REAL food looks like, how to handle it, chew it, squish it, everything. REAL food is not pureed, and although I know many parents start babies with purees, it’s completely unnecessary to continue purees once a baby is 9+ months. I especially think toddlers and bigger kids should not be eating these pouches very often, definitely not full-grown husbands. But like I said, we like them on occasion for trips to the beach or when she is being watched by someone else. They are very handy.

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1. BEACH BLANKET: We have an awesome quilt that came from Target a few years back. Its durable, washes well, is heavy enough that it stays down on the corners, it doesn’t really stain, and its large enough that all of us can lay on it, but light enough that I can fold it up and carry it while carrying Vada. It’s perfection. However I can’t seem to find a link to the one I have. This Skip Hop one looks pretty great too though! And it folds into a little pouch. It’s a bit small for our large folked-family, but would work great for kids. We drag ours in the front yard, lay it in the back of the car, at the park, the beach, anywhere. It’s a must have for summer.

2. HOODED TOWELS: We were gifted 2 of these adorable Pottery Barn Hooded Towels, and love them. Id skip any towel sized just for a baby, and do a kid size one. I’ve heard the baby ones are too little, and its nice to have a lot of towel to wrap them up in after pool/bath.

3. BABY SUNSCREEN: I’m paranoid about Vada getting a bad sunburn, so we do lots of sun protection. That being said, we also love to play in the sun. I read a lot about sunscreens and love this cheat sheet from SafeMama on which ones she recommends. We went with BADGER, and although its expensive $15 for 2.69oz, I LOVE the way it smells! It’s a little greasy but not too bad. I will say that you need to reapply it every 1.5-2 hours. The other day we were out for 3+ hours and Vada got a slight burn on her arms (I nearly cried) overall though I really like it. As for the price of safer-baby sunscreens, I think its worth it. I’ve blown $15 on all kinds of stupid things, and your baby’s skin is so important. I also think I have so rarely gone through a whole tube of sunscreen before it expires, so I HOPE I run out of this stuff! I will say thought that when my sister asked if she could use some I cringed….”sure…sparingly…its liquid gold!”

4. FOAM BATH WALL APPLIQUE: This was a fluke favorite toy. I bought a big bag of Circo Brand Jungle themed foam wall bath toys a while ago, and then one day I opened them and gave one to Vada. She’s obsessed, and I love that they are waterproof, safe, chew-friendly, washable, cheap, and there are a million of them in a pack! I think I might get these Boon Dive ones (also love this brand!). They are great in the tub, pool, car seat, anywhere.

5. BUCKET: We got this bucket at a birthday party as a favor bag (thanks Jen!), and its been an awesome summer toy receptical! I fill it with small toys to take outside, to the park, beach wherever. I can clip the handle of the bucket onto my diaper bag, and it becomes an easy toy travel case from car to park. It’s also safe, easy to wash and fun. Sometimes its the easy cheap things in life.

 

Well there yah have it! I’m sure we will discover more fun summer things, and we are working our way through BellingFAM’s awesome summer Bucket List.

We Did a Whole30!

whole 30 challenge copyHave you heard the craze about Whole 30? It’s kind of like a “diet” only not. Maybe more like a cleanse, more so a Food-Re-Set (read the rules here). I originally saw it on Instagram (I really LOVE all the different communities of IG!) and thought it seems super strict and scary. Then at the beginning of April I was finally so sick of feel like crap all the time. I had gained back some weight after the initial post-birth weight loss, and my stomach hurt all the time. My back hurt, my core felt week and yucky. None of clothing fit, I was super depressed. I was also going through some postpartum depression and anxiety, and was looking into medication for that. I just knew that a change was needed. So after a bit of research Mr. Gaunt and I picked a date (April 21st) and set out to do our first Whole 30!

Today we finished the Whole 30, so I thought I would answer some questions people might have:

1. Why did you decide to do a Whole 30?

I was having lots of intestinal issues. Since giving birth I felt like my organs never really settled properly and I was bloated and gassy and crampy all the time. My core felt so weak, and it was getting harder and harder to hold Vada, I felt sick and gross. My clothes were tighter and the scale was going up by the day. I was having terrible calf cramps every time I even went for a walk. I felt like I couldn’t work out because my body hurt. I was also battling depression, anxiety and major self-esteem issues. Mr Gaunt has had a lot of health issues since gaining a fair amount of weight this last year, Asthma, Sleep Apnea, skin issues, etc.

Vada also has begun eating solids, and I NEEDED us to change our food lifestyle. I need to be a good example, to eat things I would want her to eat, and to cook regularly. I needed something to force us back in the kitchen, something we had seriously lacked over the last year.

2. So did you lose weight?

This is the first thing people want to know, and the W30 people are quick to say that the point of the W30 is NOT to lose weight, but weight loss is an often positive side effect. So yes, we did. In 30 days (which you are never supposed to weigh yourself during, only at the end) I lost 18 pounds, and Mr. Gaunt lost 20 pounds (I know…men) . So yeah, that feels really good.

3. What about the other issues? Do you feel better?

-Mr. Gaunt has not used his (once daily) inhaler in 30 days.

-My calf cramps are gone.

-My postpartum depression and anxiety are 90% better with no medication and no counseling.

-My stomach bloat and intestine issues, gone.

-Headaches, gone.

-Heartburn (a daily issue for Mr. Gaunt, who would go through a ton of Tums daily). GONE!

3. Whole 30 claims to help all kinds of things (heres a long list) did any of these things change for you?

SLEEP: For me, maybe slightly better sleep. I think I fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. I mean we have a 6 month old so sleep is never perfect. I do feel a little less tired in the morning, but to be honest I didn’t sleep that bad before. Mr. Gaunt says his sleep is about the same, but he wakes at 4am, so his sleep is always a little short.

DAY TIME FATIGUE: I would definitely say I have energy from morning until night, which is saying a lot because my baby can be exhausting. Mr. Gaunt also says that he feels less groggy after he comes home from work, and I have noticed he seems to have way more energy for projects, and almost never wants to lay in bed all afternoon.We are go go go.

ACNE: I don’t have acne, I have perfect skin. Some people have perfect bodies, and congrats to them, I have no shame in claiming to have perfect skin. Mr. Gaunt does not, but I would say his face is way clearer. He still struggles with some body acne, that I don’t think got much better.

Allergies (food and seasonal): We really don’t have too much of an issue with either of these things. I will say though that I was able to pinpoint foods that upset my stomach way easier than before. For instance I have realized that my body does not digest Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower or Nuts well, and its best that I steer clear of large quantities of them. Who knew?

Cravings: Yup those have mostly gone out the window. As well as the need to eat between meals. We hardly snack at all now. I have kicked my sugar addiction almost completely. We are still battling our desire to be entertained by food (driving in the sunshine, get a frappacino!, Friday night Happy Hour, BBQ with cocktails…etc) but it’s getting easier.

Plantar Fasciitis: Before the W30 Mr. Gaunt was struggling bad with feet pain. He walked with a limp all the time, it had gotten really bad. Now he doesn’t limp at all, and although he would say it still hurts, before it seemed unbearable and now he never mentions it, so it must be slightly better.

4. Were you perfect on the plan?

Yes and no. The point of W30 is to follow the plain and NEVER EVER cheat. If you cheat you have to start back at day 1. The W30 plan gets some negative press about this strict rule, that it is unattainable and people would just binge before starting over. Here’s the deal, we as people all have free will, and we all know ourselves and our bodies, and we can do whatever we want with them. Do I think it’s important to follow the plan perfectly? Yes I do. If you go into the W30 planning to sneak little bits of cream in your coffee, or taking a day off for a celebration, then don’t bother, it won’t work.  Mr. Gaunt and I went into the W30 planning to be perfect, and I think we did really well, but we made a few slip ups. Once at the beginning I licked a tiny amount of guacamole (that had some sour cream in it) off the tip of my finger after feeding it to Vada. A similar thing happened to Mr. Gaunt in the first week, he was setting up a donut tray for his coworkers, and got a smudge of frosting on his finger that he licked off without thinking. We both came home and told each other what happened, but NO we didn’t start over. We knew what we did, it was an accident, it didn’t throw us of course, so we just moved forward. Technically this is wrong and we both should have started over. We also ate out at breakfast twice, and had bacon and sausage and did not ask them if there was possibly any sugar in the meat (which is HIGHLY likely). Since we only ate out twice, I decided to just not make a big deal out of it. We did the best we could in the situation, and we chose not to stress about whether there was small traces of sugar in our bacon (at home we bought sugar-free bacon, which is hard to find). I also kind of ignored some of the oils in packaged foods. We probably consumed some oils that were not coconut, olive or Avocado oil, and possibly some sulfites. I tried really hard and picked the most natural items I could, but I would be lying if I said I thought I did 100% perfect.

5. Was it hard?

Like the W30 says, childbirth is hard, eating real foods for 30 days is not hard. I agree…kind of. It’s not HARD, but it’s not easy either. Kiss your social life goodbye for 30 days, because there’s really no point. If a holiday comes up in your 30, or for some reason you have to go out to eat, you can make do, but it won’t be that fun. I mostly missed alcohol, even though I don’t drink much. I also turned down all playdates and things where I thought I might not have control of a situation. We had Mothers Day during our W30, but it was fine.

W30 does take a LOT of time. I cooked more in the last 30 days than I have in the last year, seriously. I also spent a lot of time grocery shopping, meal planning, and making food for the week. This was a lot of dedication and time in the kitchen, but it was so worth it. We have such a great cooking/food routine, and I LOVE that Vada is watching us buy and make healthy food! It’s what I really wanted out of this whole thing.

Detoxing is another kind of crappy side effect. I had a headache all day on days 2 and 3. I also had diarrhea for about a week too. Once I realized that I was eating too many nuts, my digestive system got so much better. Mr. Gaunt strangely had no detox issues, lucky him. I also had a few days at the beginning where I just wanted to sleep, and a few days of appetite loss do to boredom. This is super common and listed in the Whole 30 Timeline (which was freaky accurate).

6. Was it more expensive?

Yeah, I probably spent $200 a week on groceries. Fresh produce and organic/grass fed meats can be pricey, but we also only ate out twice in the whole month, and consumed no alcohol or coffee, so that saved us a lot. We also hardly threw away anything we bought, which we have had issues with in the past. So I think its kind of a wash. If you are on a tight budget and buy mostly dry goods, then yes, this is way more expensive. If you eat out regularly and have trouble not letting stuff go bad in your fridge, then it won’t seem that bad.

I went grocery shopping probably twice a week. A big trip on Sunday, and then maybe a mini trip mid-week. We also get an every other week Organic produce delivery box, and a once a week produce basket. So LOTS of produce. I started buying Organic meats in smaller quantities so I don’t have to freeze it (If I freeze meat I am 10x less likely to use it) and once a week we go and buy a mix of fresh meats from our local butcher CARNE, which has been really fun and really delicious!

7. What about the good stuff? Snacks, Coffee, Drinks, Desserts, Condiments?

Welp yeah, that stuff isn’t as easy on Whole 30, but not impossible! Like I said above, the need to snack between meals really went down as the weeks went by, but we did on occasion do some snacking.

Snacks (for some people all of these can be a trigger food, and lead to over eating, so be cautious): Dried Fruit, nuts, fruit, Veggie Chips (like Terra brand), Lara Bars.

Dessert: We ate a lot of Monkey Salad (Almond butter, bananas, unsweetened coconut)

Drinks: Sparkling water (add a tiny splash of 100% juice and lime to make a “mocktail”. Small amounts of 100% juice. Unsweetened Iced Tea with lime/lemon. Pina Colada Smoothie. I gave up coffee because I like Vanilla Lattes, and Id rather drink unsweetened tea than unsweetened coffee. I did try a little coconut milk in my coffee, but I still wasn’t a big fan. This ALSO saved me $$$.

Condiments: We hit up our Organic store and bought unsweetened Ketchup. I thought about making W30 Mayo or BBQ but just never did, and it was fine. I did buy Coconut Aminos, and we started using Ghee (clarified butter). For salads it was olive oil and vinegar and salt and pepper.

8. So What did you cook?

A million new things! I really suggest looking at Pinterest, or better yet the #whole30 on Instagram for inspiration!

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9. Will you continue to eat this way or do another Whole 30?

I would love to do a Whole 30 twice a year, I don’t think its long-term sustainable and I don’t want us to have to forgo many social experiences because of food. That being said I think we plan to stay…gulp…paleo. I cringe when I hear that word because it’s so FAD-ey, but alas, my body has never felt this good. We are still in talks about how we want to deal with alcohol and sugar, and just day-to-day life. At this point I plan to continue to make the same foods we have been eating, and maybe just have a splurge day here and there. Tough to say. We have some big health goals by the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Vada: 6 Months Under My Belt

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Today Miss Vada is 6 months old. Which flew by, seriously, gone like the wind. Just to keep me up to date on all the fascinating stuff that is motherhood, here’s a few thoughts about the last 6 months.

1. Harder Than I Thought:

The first 3 months were real real hard. And really sad. And so un satisfying. If you ask me, women should give birth to a 6 month old, because that would be the REAL pot of gold at the end of vomit-filled-swollen-feet rainbow. A newborn is more like one final kick in the teeth to the “start of motherhood” in my opinion. It’s like, were you totally beat down and exhausted by pregnancy? Here’s a newborn to really push you over the edge! I mean seriously, who DOESN’T have a little postpartum depression? Uh but six months old…it’s a dream. Not only do I LOVE my baby, but I actually LIKE her now too! She’s funny as hell and about the best thing to look at. In the moment though, that rawness that is becoming a mother, drowning in newborn hell, you might not realize it’s that bad. You’re so overwhelmed that you just kind of roll with it. You look for the bright side: she wont be this small forever, she sleeps in my arms, she’s all sorts of exciting. And that’s what keeps you afloat. That and the guilt that…uh…you asked for this, right? By four months, when that personality creeps in and your slump of a baby blooms into a little person, THAT my friends is worth pregnancy….maybe….well, maybe some people’s pregnancies.  Also, seriously please add “Did you ever think you could love someone this much” and anything else that refers to the supposed “instant bond” that a mother has with her child to my list of FOOT IN MOUTH sayings. That shit is stupid, and I’m sorry, but it takes me a while to “fall in love” with someone, even if they did just crawl out of my vagina. Saying things like that to a new mom is just rude. You don’t know how they feel, and to set those high standards of instant love and affection can cause a lot of women grief. So yeah, I have no shame in saying it took me until probably 3 months to really feel like me and Vada were pals. Now I love her lots, and probably wouldn’t trade her for a million dollars (;

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2. Pregnancy Hell Haunts Me Still:

Natural Childbirth, it was a breeze! I could do it a thousand times! Well, at least what I remember of it. It’s 100% true that you forget how awful it is and you think you could give birth any old day. People told me the same would be true of pregnancy, that I would forget the hell and remember it fondly once my bundle of love was here. I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT IS A LIE! I honestly think I have PTSD regarding my pregnancy. I got pregnant in early February of last year, so this entire spring I feel like I am constantly remembering last spring when I was in the THICK of despair. I remember last Easter when we told my Grandparents that I was pregnant, and I ate a bunch of watermelon, and I went home in such gut wrenching pain that I had to go to bed at 4pm to sleep it away. I remember not being able to work in my garden because I felt so awful all day long. I remember as the weather got warmer that I was stuck inside vomiting day in and day out. I have thought to myself over and over “thank god I’m not pregnant this year” dramatic, yes. The day we decide to have another baby is the day I STOP remembering how awful it all was. The sickness, the soreness, the tailbone pain, the indigestion, all of it. No babies any time soon for me.

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3. Teeth And Sleep And Eat:

I’m gonna be the first to admit that my baby is a DREAM when it comes to new stages. She sleeps like a champ from 7:30pm-7:30am every night, with only one or two wake-ups where I nurse her for a minute and lay her back in her crib. She got two teeth last week, and besides one day where she had a little rash on her hands and some red cheeks, there was no crying or drama. The teeth popped through and now she enjoys biting everyone who comes near her. Vada has also been going to a nanny once a week, and has been babysat by a couple of people, all with a stellar “she’s so happy” report card. We have also started her on some solid foods (I’ll probably do a post on just that soon) and continues to nurse great, drink from a bottle, eat purees, or eat solid foods just fine. We also recently took a trip 3 hours away to visit my friend for the night, and she was a star traveler. So yeah I believe the worse the pregnancy the better the baby. (:

6 month 2

4. Depression and Anxiety:

About a month ago I was feeling really overwhelmed, angry and sad. I felt like if any situation came up where we were rushed, running late, had to bring lots of stuff, forgot something, was letting someone down, that it threw me into a pit of despair. I melted and lost it. I was so angry at myself all the time. I knew I was fucking up over and over, that I was being unreliable and that people were annoyed with me. I felt like I was letting Vada down, that I was rushing her and depriving her of structure and comfort and stability. I felt panicked all the time. I also became extremely paranoid. I only thought people were judging me, my family, my friends, anyone. In my head I could hear everyone saying bad things about me, making judgements, criticizing who I was, and the choices I was making. I thought my friends and family were all talking about me behind my back. I KNEW that this was in my head, but I couldn’t stop it. I cried and cried to Mr. Gaunt, and he did his best to reassure me, but I couldn’t stop feeling the panic of failure.  I sought medical help from my doctor, a friend who is a counselor, and from close friends who have dealt with depression/anxiety/postpartum issues. Everyone assures me that therapy or medication would help and that I should look into it. My. Doctor offered to write me a prescription, and I really thought hard about whether that was something I wanted to do. I felt a little scared, but I also felt some relief that I had options. I also talked with my best friend Mallory about her life, and her family routines, and I realized I was seriously lacking any sort of routine. From there I decided I needed to be stricter about our family routines of dinner, cleaning, bedtime, etc. I also went to my mom (who is my business partner) and basically surrendered to my shortcomings. I declared that I was unable to meet her needs and the 50% of the business that she needed me to be. That I could not do it, that it was destroying me, and that the guilt and anguish I was feeling over failing at being a mother and business owner had become too much. My mom and I talked, and we are actively working towards being more accepting and zen about our business relationship. We both realize that we were hoping that the baby would fit easier into our business lifestyle, and that hasn’t been the case. We are working through this time as kindly as we can, and I think we both feel like this business relationship will continue to evolve, and grow and become more comfortable. As Vada gets older and I become more confident and comfortable as a mother, that my role in our business will evolve and hopefully I can one day be the other half, instead of the other quarter that I am currently only able to fulfill. I am thankful for my hard working mom who is making this sacrifice of her own time and energy in order to let me get my barrings. With all this talk and change, and routine, I began to feel slightly better, but the real change came 20 days ago when Mr. Gaunt and I started doing the WHOLE30. The WHOLE30 is a 30 day cleanse and “re-set” to the way you eat food. We still have 9 days to go, but I will say it has changed so much about us in 20 short days. It actually took me only about 2 weeks to realize my mood was significantly better, even Mr. Gaunt noticed.  Now starting week 4, I can genuinely say I feel 80% better. The anxiety is nearly gone. I feel a sense of purpose, I feel strong and clear-headed and genuinely positive about my day to day. I plan to write a lengthy post on all of this after we are done with the 30 days, but I will say that changing my diet has brought new light to my life. I still have rough times, but they are much more fleeting, and I no longer feel paralyzed by my emotions.

6 month 1

5. Go Play:

The best thing about 6 months old is that Vada can play by herself for a substantial amount of time. I mean not like HOURS, but like 45 minutes sometimes! Depending on her mood I can usually get tasks like cooking dinner, laundry, a craft project, even an episode of Shark Tank in while she entertains herself! This is MAGIC PEOPLE! We use to fight through making dinners, it felt depressing and rushed and so unattainable. Now I put her in her high chair in the kitchen and throw some sweet potatoes on her tray and couple of toys and we listen to music and I cook and she babbles and life is so much better. She also screams waaaay less in the car now. 90% of car rides are perfectly pleasant. She plays with her toys and yells along to the music, or takes a nap. Lastly we can now genuinely play with her. She sturdy enough that we can “baby-rough house” with her, and make her laugh, and play little games with her. She sees either of us and gets so excited and kicks her feet and flails her hands and screams in joy. Vada is now sitting up on her own, rolling over, and being a big girl as often as she can. We start swim lessons at the end of this month!

So that’s where we are at. It’s been a really fun, really sad, really frustrating, really adorable 6 months in our house. Every day has its challenges, and every day we get up and try do the best we can. Also we like to take a million photos of our baby and I wont apologize, I’m just one of those moms. (: So Happy 6 Months sweet girl. You can take your time with the next 6 months, thanks!

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Because I’m an Expert: Baby Faves

This is a follow-up to my Because I’m an Expert: Newborn Faves post, because babies change so quickly, and all that crap you needed when they were tiny newborns is hardly relevant 5 months later. I will say a number of things we LOVED at birth, we are still loving, or have found different uses for them, so check out the newborn list if you are on the hunt for what to register for.

I have a friend who is having a baby in July, that I was able to pass some stuff onto. I know you can sell or consign baby stuff, but it feels so much better to pass it on to a mom  you know. I was so lucky when I was pregnant and was gifted so many hand-me-downs, and I want to continue the flow of mama-karma by giving away things too! Today Mr. Gaunt and I went through all of Vada’s clothing and pulled out all 0-3, 3-6 and many 6 month clothing items. We donated the basic items and kept a handful of special items (for future babies I don’t actually plan on having). Vada is mostly in 9 month onesies and 12 month pants. She’s kind of tall and thin right now, plus cloth diapers make a big booty, so you have to go up a size in length usually. It’s bitter sweet how big my baby is.

Without further babble, here are some of my current faves:

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1. OsoCozy Flannel Wipes: The uses for these are endless. We have probably 75 of them. They are used for: Diaper changes, baby nose wipes, drool, spills, suck cloth, mom/dad nose blowing….everything. I toss them in the wash, and then distribute them all over the house. We have some in bed, in the car, in the kitchen, on the couch, we love em.

2.Space Saver High Chair: I was surprised that at 4 months Vada was easily able to sit in her high chair. We unfortunately do not have a dining room, and our house is small, so the space saver kind is awesome! Vada’s Nana even got one for her house in Colorado when we went to visit. I think I might get another one for our restaurant too. They are great for feeding and for just safe play.  I had originally coveted this beautiful Oxo Tot High Chair, but when my friend gave me this one when her daughter was done using it, I quickly forgot about the fancy one. I also like that this one has soft padding and a high back, to support a baby that can’t quite sit up on her own yet. Plus they come in a lot of cute gender neutral patterns. The tray comes off easily and everything cleans nicely.

Activity Mat & Toy Links:  We have a pretty basic one that my friend Jenny gave us. It doesn’t light up or sing or really have many toys. One of my favorite mom-blogs, Baby Kerf, recommended buying a  couple packs of these toy links, and they are great. We hang all kinds of toys from her play mat, as well as on her high chair, car seat, stroller, anywhere. It keeps toys from falling on the floor, and she loves them. The mat was one of the first “toys” we had out. We laid her on it at probably 2 months old, and she would just stare blankly at all the toys. Within a month she was reaching (the first time she ever reached for a toy! Watch the video HERE) for things, and now she’s a wild animal on her gym! Every morning I get her dressed, lay her on her mat and she plays by herself for almost an hour every single morning while I get ready. It’s SWEET! Couldn’t live without it.

4. Ikea KRAMA Towels: I’m really into these handy white wash cloths with loops now that we are eating some solids. I don’t want to use a new wash cloth at every meal, so I just ring these out with hot water and hook them on a kitchen cabinet knob, and they are ready for the next meal time. Plus they aren’t too soft, or too rough, and you can bleach them. It’s the little things in life.

5. Boon Grass Drying Rack & Tree : If you end of doing any regular bottles or breast pumping, you NEED one of these. They are great! We originally didn’t have the Tree, and I thought it seemed unnecessary, but it’s not, its excellent! Plus its cute and modern. We don’t have a dishwasher, so everything is hand washed, and we really could manage without this. We use Dr. Brown bottles and they have lots of little parts to clean and dry.Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 10.18.37 PM

6. Cool Mist Humidifier: Being a winter baby these have been really important to keeping our sinuses and skin moist. We have two of them (they went on sale at Mr. Gaunt’s work for $24 each!) one in our living room and one in our bedroom.  We try not to bathe Vada too often, which can dry out her skin, and I use saline drops in her nose when she gets a cold, but I also really think these help.

7.  Boba 3G Carrier: Now that Vada is a little bigger, I’m loving the Boba 3G even more (yes it was on my newborn list too!). I feel like it took us a while to get her little legs to fit right in the holes, and for her to stop being so obsessed with nursing while I was wearing her. Now she fit’s great, and enjoys looking around while I wear her. I use this mostly when we go grocery shopping, or any real errand running. I HATE dragging around the heavy infant seat, plus it fills up the whole shopping cart (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PARENTS STOP PUTTING INFANT CARRIERS IN THE TOP OF CARTS!) and really Vada doesn’t want to sit in a seat, she wants to be up and in on the action. I love our Boba!

Bright Starts Bounce Bounce Baby Activity Zone: (no photo)To some extent I actually hate these things. I mean they are big and ugly and take up so much room. They also only really buy you 20 minutes of entertainment, if you are lucky. That being said, 20 minutes of baby entertainment is like GOLD for a working mom. I use this while I clean, curl my hair, or do office work. She likes it well enough, and for the price, under $40, its worth it.  I would NEVER spend $75 or more on one of these things. This one is NOT fancy, but if you link a bunch of toys on it its kind of fun, plus its lightweight and I can drag it around the house with me where I need it. Like I said, 20 minutes is sooooo nice sometimes. 

8. TOYS VADA LIKES: Monkey, Wrecking Ball, Owl, Sophie, Giraffe Paci, Skwish Ball. She also loves any small fabric stuffed animal she can cram in her mouth.

9. Hey Bear -Baby View Classical Music- Soothe and relax your baby – High Contrast – Infant Visual Stimulation: DONT JUDGE ME, but this is the only technology “screen time” we let her watch, and oh my god she loves it! I figure it’s so similar to the books, and it has classical music. I put it on in the morning on our big screen TV while she plays on her mat, and it is a life saver. It’s an hour-long, no commercials or anything, and its so pleasant. Just black and white shapes and classical music. If that is some how rotting Vada’s brain, then so be it. 

vadas wardrobe

Value Village & Goodwill: 99% of Vada’s wardrobe comes from thrift stores, mostly Value Village, and some Goodwill. I love cute baby clothes, and I love dressing her up, but there is no way in hell I’m paying full price for ANYTHING. She has already grown out of an entire wardrobe in her 5 short months. I can get great brands: Hanna Andersson, Boden, Baby GAP, REI, cheaper than Carter’s Clearance! Not that there is anything wrong with Carters, I like their kids pajamas, and there basic leggings are pretty cheap, but in general, they aren’t my style, and I don’t love the quality. I love the hunt of thrift stores, and I love the unique vintage or handmade items you could never get in a regular store. I have also tried a few kids consignment stores, and although you can get some cute stuff, it’s usually more expensive. I know thrifting isn’t for everyone, but man I highly recommended it for kids clothing!

 

 

 

Raising Vada: Right On Schedule

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Vada is just shy of five months old. Seriously. Where did time go? The tiny infant stage flew by so fast, and although I am so grateful to be over those panicky exhausting days of nursing and sleeping, I honestly feel like I didn’t get enough tiny baby snuggles. She was big to begin with, and although her weight has leveled out (she’s only 15.5lbs, about 60 percentile) her height has stayed above the 90th percentile. She also just seems older than most babies. She’s strong and sturdy and so alert. She doesn’t nap, she sleeps through the night. She’s taken a bottle perfectly, she’s loving solid foods, and hasn’t met one she doesn’t like. She’s just an older soul. She’s ready for everything, and seems to take every new step with such grace and strength. She’s amazing. I know all moms say that, but for real folks. All this change and growth is so awesome to watch. It happens so fast, just days, weeks and she’s a different baby. We take photos and videos and do our best to watch and enjoy each stage, but in her 5 little months, it’s all gone by so quickly, and like I said, I miss a little bit of the tiny stage, but I love the bigger baby stage too.  I will never regret capturing and sharing all the joys of her life. She is so lucky (and DESERVING!!!) to have so many people who thinks she is so wonderful.

Things going on these days:

vada baby

1. Sleep Training:

Touchy subject. People have strong feelings on sleep training. I have strong feelings about LISTENING to my strong feelings, and doing what feels right to me. When Vada was born, and we went to bed that first night, despite having already decided I didn’t want to co-sleep, I had to bring her to bed with me. It was the only place I could trust, could keep her safe and watch over her. It felt right at the time, and it worked well for night nursing, and we all slept well. Vada slept 12 hours a night right from the start, only waking to gently squirm so I could nurse her for 10 minutes, and back to sleep. At three months things began to change. I woke up sore and achy from always sleeping on my side. My elbows ached from always keeping my arms above my head to make room for her. I felt like I was 9 months pregnant again, and sleeping like crap. Vada also began crazy arm thrashing, waking herself up by hitting her face, and making me feel attacked all night long. Shortly after she turned 4 months old I woke up sobbing one morning. I begged Mr. Gaunt to take her for a drive so I could sleep for an hour alone, and damn was it a glorious 2 hours by myself. That’s when I knew I was ready to get my bed back. We tried one night to move her to the pack n play next to our bed, but that really did not go well, and I couldn’t take the crying, it wasn’t right for us. I also wondered if simply moving her next to us, was only making the process harder, would we really want to add another transition into her route to her own room?

We went to Colorado for 5 days mid-march, and I told Mr. Gaunt that when we got back I wanted to get her in her crib, in her room. I prepared for the worst. I figure we would try as mild of a “cry-it-out” situation as we could. I figured there would be lots of nursing and rocking, and checking in on her. Maybe a few sleepless nights. We got back from Colorado on a Sunday afternoon. That evening at 7:45 we put her in her jammies, I nursed her until she got sleepy, laid her in her crib, gave her a paci, turned on her white noise machine and shut the door. She fell asleep instantly and didn’t wake up until 8am the next day (MY BOOBS ALMOST EXPLODED!). It was the best night sleep I had in over a year. Everyone said it wouldn’t last, that it was a fluke night, and I prepared again for the worse. It’s been 12 days now, and my baby sleeps every night, (almost)all night in her crib. She was obviously just as ready as I was! She does occasionally wake up, somewhere between 11 and 1am, and I go in and silently put her paci back in her mouth, restart the white noise, and she falls asleep. Then most mornings between 5 and 7am she wakes up to nurse, I bring her into bed with me for about a half hour, and then when she falls asleep I put her back in her crib to sleep until 8am.  I’m sleeping and she’s sleeping, and we all couldn’t be happier. I know teething and illness may affect this later on, but for now I’m thanking my lucky stars. She’s such a big girl, and I really hope that she knows how much we love her, and that she is safe, and that we will always come get her if she needs us. The best part of this whole thing is that now Mr. Gaunt and I get at least 2 hours of quiet time to eat dinner and watch a TV show alone together. It gives us the slightest glimmer of our old life, and time to snuggle Hula. It’s splendid.

vada baby 2

2. Nursing:

I had planned on doing a long post about this subject alone, but really, who cares but me? Long story (kinda) short: Vada didn’t gain any weight between 2 and 3 months, not a pound. Her breastfeeding style also changed, and she became increasingly frustrated at the breast. She would cry a lot, pull off, whine, and hit me while nursing. I could tell my supply had changed too. I no longer ever felt engorged, I didn’t leak, and I went from being able to pump 4-5oz every morning, to only getting 1 oz. I felt sad and scared and really discouraged. I cried a lot, and finally turned to the online mom group I was a part of and begged for advice. A few mom’s recommend I talk with a Wallgreens Lactation Consultant, so I got a recommendation from my doctor, and they sent one over. The LC was very kind. She weighed Vada, and had me nurse on one side, then the other, then weighed her to see how much she was getting. After looking at all the numbers it was determined that not only had Vada not gained any weight over the previous 3.5 weeks, but she was also not getting nearly enough food from each breast. The LC recommended I begin immediately supplementing 8-10 times a day using an SNS (a long tube that runs along your nipple so you can feed a baby formula at the breast. This allows for stimulation which helps produce more milk). She also recommended using a Hospital grade breast pump for 10 minutes after each feeding, and taking a lactation extract like Mothers Milk, drink lots of water, and take my placenta encapsulation pills. Long story short, the amount of sadness, stress, money and anguish this whole process caused me, felt wrong. It took me two weeks of non stop feeding, pumping, and stress to finally stop the madness and re-evaluate what I was doing. I did feel like the SNS was helping, and the formula began to feel like friend instead of foe (I was VERY reluctant to even use formula), but how long could I do this? A month? 6 months? I just couldn’t keep it up, so I stopped pumping all together. No more. I would never pump again, as it never worked, and it made me feel like shit. I also switched from the SNS to a larger bottle of formula. Over the last three weeks the stress has melted away, and I stopped feeling like crap about my abilities to feed my baby, I just fed her as best I could. My supply also felt like it had picked up a little. Now we do only one or two, 4oz bottles a day of an organic formula, and the rest straight breastfeeding.

I know they say BREAST IS BEST, but sometimes just feeding your baby is best. Sometimes the guilt and stress that other moms put on each other over stupid things like the ability to breastfeed is way more detrimental than a little formula in a bottle. I wish that before Vada was born someone would have told me that it was ok if I chose not to pump. That if I needed someone else to feed my baby while I was at work, a little formula was ok. That EBF (Exclusive Breast Feeding) is not an award given to the best mom. A happy healthy baby is the award! So yeah, we have found a good rhythm for our feeding, and I feel so happy that all of this came to light at 3 months, instead of torturing me until 9 months or longer.

3. Eating Solids:

Over the last week or so we have started some solid foods. We are doing Baby Led Weaning (aka larger hunks of food, not purees) and Vada loves it! We have done banana, hardboiled egg yolk, avocado, blueberries and some Mum Mums. I’m probably not being as diligent about waiting x-amount of days before trying new things, but I’m being cautious to watch for any allergic reactions, and we are really keeping it super casual. “Food Before One is Just For Fun!”

vada baby 3

4. Social Media:

I chose to leave the mom group I was a part of on Facebook recently. I realized that it was way more toxic than entertaining. I can’t even explain why it felt so bad, but it did. Too many opinions, too much information being passed amongst moms. It was helpful, it was just frustrating. It gave me a bad view on motherhood, and made me fearful of judgement and opinions. With that I chose to delete anyone on my Facebook page that I was either “hate-reading” or trying to impress, or just plain didn’t need to have as part of my life. Not in a drama-way, I really have no drama in my life, but I like Facebook, and I like to keep my Facebook page positive and caring and a little more personal. I like to share things with people, and be supportive and generally happy with my FB profile. I have a very private Instagram Account as well. I really only follow, and let follow a select few people who I trust and feel comfortable with. Lastly I left a number of other online groups, where I felt there was too much mom-cliquey-ness. I have no need to give myself an excuse to feel bad about myself, so if it felt bad I got rid of it. Believe me when I say that deleting all that toxic-ness from my life was a breath of fresh air, and I don’t regret any of it!

vada baby 4

5. Working Life:

Vada is currently going once a week to a nanny for 3 hours. This is so I can attempt to get office work done for the restaurant. This has been one of the most challenging things, finding time to get things done. A baby demands constant interaction and stimulation. They want to be held and cooed at and walked around. They don’t want to sit and watch you work. They don’t want to sleep for hours on end (well, not my baby) nor should they be expected to. It’s my job as her mom to make sure all of her needs are met, and her needs involve exploring and interacting with the world. So it’s my job as a new mom, to figure out how to make it all work. To adjust my priorities, to let things go that don’t matter, to create new schedules for our life. I want to be a present mom, to help her grow and feel good about herself, and take in all the knowledge and experiences she needs. It’s also my job to keep myself sane, and to keep feeding my own soul, my own heart, my own dreams and passions. I think what I’ve realized is that like so many times in my life, now is not the time for me to have a perfect balance. Right now is just a time for struggling. It’s a time for sweet baby kisses, and late taxes. It’s a time for flabby mom tummies, and easter bunny photos. It’s a time for swim lessons, and being broke. It’s just where I’m at, and in a year, or two, I won’t be here anymore, and things will feel better in ways, and different in ways, and sad because my baby isn’t a baby anymore. So I’m trying to be patient, and remember that although it all feels so encompassing and so important right now, it’s ok to struggle and its ok to fail, and its ok to fall way way way behind. Mom life is so fast, and so slow.

It’s important for me to get it all out. It’s important for me to accept all my feelings about motherhood, and process them, and cry about them, and brag about them. I wish I had more time to blog, to chat with other moms, to just live in the moment. I’m not perfect, never have been, never will be, but for now I get the lucky life of being Vada’s mom, and I’m trying to be an ok one.