Raising Vada: 9 Months in, 9 Months out.

IMG_3998I feel like the title of this post is only perpetuating the LIE that is being pregnant for 9 months, you’re not, you’re pregnant for 10 months, or 9.5 months, or 40 weeks. It’s all very confusing. And hell, if you go over due, you’re pregnant even longer.

Vada is now 9 months old!  I haven’t blogged much recently, because I worry it’s all a bit boring, but then I remember that this is MY journal, and that one day ill look back and say “hey look at that cool shit Vada was doing around 9 months” so without further rambling:

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MOVING:

This could be two topics, hell, its gonna be two topics! First is Vada being on the move. She started crawling the night before her 8 month birthday. We got it on camera, and you can watch it here:

Adorable right! Similar to the video of her laughing for the first time, this crawling business made us ecstatic! We just think she is so smart and so freaking cool. BUT then we woke up from our parenting wet dream and realized that HOLY SHIT OUR BABY CRAWLS and gets into everything! Every electrical cord, garbage can, pile of papers, dirty shoes, everything. And it all goes in her mouth. Its disgusting. I feel like I can’t keep my house clean enough, and the worst part is, I now have even less time to keep it clean because I’m too busy chasing after her. So yeah, its adorable and all, but hell its challenging. Let me be clear though, in no way has this development stopped me from taking a shower and getting dressed every single day. MOTHERS OF THE WORLD! STOP USING YOUR CHILDREN AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!  (unless you have 3+ kids, in which case I’m shocked you are even still breathing). Vada also loves to stand up. She pulls up to everything, and has even started “cruising” around furniture. She also likes to downward dog a lot, I’m thinking we have about a month until she stands up alone, and maybe 2 months until she takes her first step. It wont hurt my feelings at all though if it takes longer. PLEASE be A 15 month walker! She also loves to climb, crawl under things like tunnels, and break through any possible barricade I make for her. Shes sneaky like that. We have also mastered stairs and most playground jungle gyms.

Second part of this moving topic is our house. The bigger that baby gets, the smaller this house feels. Just to remind you all, we live in a 2 bedroom 1 bath 936 sq feet home. And we love it, we really do. We live in about the best neighborhood in town, we feel safe, we have a pretty great private yard, and the character of the home is divine. But its way too small. So small. Teeny tiny. Our living room is also our office, playroom, and entryway. We have no closets, so our stroller lives in the living room too, and the sewing machine, and the computers, etc. Its all a bit much. I just really need one extra room and a little more storage. I need a place to pile all my tax stuff where Vada can’t get to it. I want her to have enough room to have a large safe play area. I want a dining room where we can’t eat meals as a family. Our current house is just not cutting it, but we don’t have the money to live in anything bigger. Mr. Gaunt and I have continued to live just below our means, and part of that is because we drive old cars we own outright, we rent a small house (that is honestly priced way below market), and we don’t have any debt. There are so many days that I am able to look past the problems and see our personal success, our sweet home, and our lovely lives. There are also days where I drown us in “I want more!” and I let everything become and excuse for “its not fair” its one of my biggest character flaws. I know. The only thing I can do now though, is plan for things I want, and look for the good in the things I have. I love our home, I do, but it is not our forever home, which we are planning for. I’ve got a 5 year plan, hopefully more like 3, for us to increase our income, build our credit (funny story, no debt often leads to no credit too) and find the home we really want and can afford.

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BIG BABY & BIRTHDAYS:

Having a big baby (6+ months) is soooo much better than having a tiny baby. Despite the fact that I often act a little like this kid, when talking about Vada getting bigger, really it’s the bees knees, and I wouldn’t go back in time no matter what. BIG BABIES ARE BOMB. Now we can go places and Vada actually plays, like by herself, or with other kids! Its soooo cool. We have an indoor play place in town that we have started to frequent. They have a special area for 3 and under (although its more like 2 and under) and its filled with safe toys, books, furniture and benches for moms to sit on. It’s so fun to go and hang out and drink coffee (or wine!) with friends and let Vada crawl around, make a mess, and play for HOURS! Seriously, hours folks, its so great. ALL WE WANT FOR HER BIRTHDAY IS MEMBERSHIPS AND GIFT CARDS TO PLACES LIKE THIS FOR THE WINTER. Why buy toys to clutter my own living room when we can go somewhere fun with other kids and tons of toys and room!

As you can tell I’m already thinking about Vada’s birthday (November 12th), and boy do I have BIG plans. And for all you nay sayers who think “save your money, she wont remember it” well jokes on you because it’s not for her, it’s for me! Her party planning-loving mama! Its my party! If I were to list my top 5 superficial favorite things about being a mom, it would be this:

1. Decorating a Nursery

2. Dressing them

3. Baby Showers and Birthday Parties

4. Taking photos of them next to cats

5. Hanging out with other moms

See, doesn’t that all seem like a great time! So yeah, not doing a big birthday part was just out of the question! Ive got at least 10 years of big fun themed birthday parties (until she asks me to just drop her off at the mall with my credit card and her friends) so I’m not missing a single one! BIRTHDAYS FOREVER!

And in talking about how big Vada is, and since I didn’t do a baby book (aint nobody got time for that) here are some milestones we have met:

-At her 9 month visit she was 30.5″ tall and 22.66lbs! 95th percentile for everything.

-Dancing! Vada now rocks back fourth or shakes her booty when certain songs come on. She likes this song and this song the best. Check out her sweet dance moves here.

-FAST crawling

-Pulling up on everything, and quickly getting down. She also climbs everything.

-Some “cruising” along furniture.

-Downward dog (I’m thinking she’s getting ready to stand soon.

-2 teeth (and the top two are looking like they may show up this week)

-Clapping

-Waving

-Shaking her head

-Responds to her name

-Open mouth kisses!

-Gets excited whenever she sees people she knows (mama, papa, grandma, nana, nanny)

-“talks” back when we talk to her

-Can mimic mouth noises (tongue clicking, whistling, etc)

-Eats all foods (except peanut butter and honey at one year) and can drink from a sippy cup, straw or bottle.

-Good pincer skills, and other fine motor skills. Likes to pick at tiny things on the floor.

-Much better at riding in the stroller since we upgraded to the BOB stroller and have been using it more. I also still wear her in the BOBA, but only on my front.

-Takes 1-2 hour naps once or twice a day

-Loves swimming. Will “jump” off the edge into our arms, and holds her breath when she goes under water.

-Loves to swing at the park and to yell at other kids.

-Has started to listen to me. She knows when I say NO, and she will sit still while I put her shirt on. She’s got great balance.

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SAFE & CLEAN: or things my house is not.

Childproofing. We have done a very very small amount of childproofing. I have one of these on the cabinet under the kitchen sink so she doesn’t suck on a bottle of bleach, and we have a few of these in exposed outlets next to her toy basket. That’s about it, and honestly we probably wont do much more. I also bought one of these for our front door once she is big enough to reach the door knob. Last week I also broke down and bought this baby gate at Target. It was cheap and has a pretty easy arm to remove it. It’s not one of those annoying ones that falls to pieces when you remove it. I move it a lot, depending on what room I’m in, and what room I don’t want Vada in. If I’m in the kitchen, then I let her play in there, and block off the laundry room. If I’m in the living room I use it to block off the kitchen (and laundry room) and if we want the front door open, we use it to block that off. Downside is that Hula can’t jump over it, so it can’t stay up all the time or she can’t get to her litter box and food (in the laundry room). Overall though, I’m glad we got it, and I use it all day long. Otherwise I’ve started sweeping and steam mopping a lot more, so all of her pants aren’t dirty on the knees all the time. I’ve also just been slowly clearing out all the rooms of stuff she can get into. The livingroom lost a lamp, and the coffee table. The kitchen lost the little shelf I used for bills and printer paper, garbage cans all over the house have been moved on top of tables. Less clutter and less things for her to get into. And doors are closed more often now. It’s nice to keep things uncluttered, but its a full-time job keeping her alive…sheesh. If I had a bigger house (see above) we could have rooms that were baby-off-limit, as well as bigger areas that were just for her to play, someday. For now she likes to crawl all over the house, so the more space I can keep baby safe, the more time I get to do things like blog.

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EAT ALL THE FOOD:

Vada is still breastfeeding twice a day, in the morning after I get her out of her crib, and usually at night in the rocking chair. She also drinks about 25-30 oz of formula a day. On top of that we have been pretty good at doing breakfast and lunch with her most days (We eat dinner after she goes to bed, so dinner for her). Her and I are often home alone in the morning, so I try to make a good breakfast and sit and eat with her. She likes eggs, green beans, blueberries, peaches, potatoes, grilled onions and peppers, yogurt, pretty much anything I’m eating. For lunch I usually give her whatever I am having: sliced turkey, sweet potato fries, olives, string cheese, pretty much anything. I actually love feeding Vada, she has such an open mind about food, and seems to love nearly everything. I can’t wait for her to have more teeth so we can do more vegetables that require chewing. I have no qualms about giving her interesting “adult food” like sushi or ribs, or soups, she gobbles them down! Mostly she feeds herself (except soup, yogurt, and the very occasional puree) and has a great pincer grasp and is so good at gum-chewing. A few fun foods we have tried:

-Sushi (Avocado Rolls & California Rolls)

-Coconut Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

-BBQ Ribs

-Roasted Eggplant

-Salmon

-Beans and Rice (Mexican and Creole style!)

-Pork Belly

-Bruchetta

-Bread soaked in clam sauce

-Eggs Galore (poached, fried, hardboiled, scrambled)

-Meat Loaf

-String Cheese

-Roasted Vegetables

-Goat Cheese, grilled onion Pizza

The list could go on and on. The only food she hated so far was homemade Kale chips lol! I want Vada to have  a love and appreciation for all good food, and to be willing to experiment and try new things. I know this could change, but so far, she’s a little baby foodie, and I love it!

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WHATS NEXT:

Having a baby puts a lot of things on hold, and gives you a whole new set of stuff to do every day. I’ve stopped working a lot. I mean I still do a lot of little things for our restaurant (office stuff, taxes, bills, marketing, emails, ordering, and some cleaning and shopping), but I don’t work in the restaurant.  Mr. Gaunt got a new job, with longer hours, so I’m doing a lot more of the home stuff too. I have Vada go twice a week to a nanny right now so I can have a few hours a week of time to just get things done without her. Sometimes this is work specific, sometimes its home stuff. It’s nice though.

When Vada was born I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what I thought I wanted, what I would be able to do, and what would work for our family. I thought I would want to work more, I thought I would be able to do more with Vada, I thought things would be easier. But the truth is, I don’t want to work a lot, and I don’t want her in daycare full-time, and even if I did, my brain is full up right now. I’m on edge a lot when it comes to work, and problem solving, and feeling overwhelmed. A lot of these things made me feel desperate and depressed and anxious in the beginning. Now they make me feel angry and annoyed. My ability to multi task family and work stuff sucks. I’m hoping it gets better as Vada gets older, but only time will tell. I’m trying to accept it and to keep myself in check, but it’s always a struggle. I also have noticed that no matter what, unless you spend 90% of your day with a baby, you do NOT understand what it’s like, you just don’t. I’m not saying it’s bad, but the limitations with a baby are real, and other people may chose to have judgements about that, and I just have to remind myself that other peoples feelings are THEIRS and not mine. I know whats best for us.

Vada is on the peak of being able to do more big kid stuff like finger paints, reading books (we try to read to her, but it does not hold her attention and she just rips at the books) and actually playing with things (stacking blocks, pushing buttons, that stuff) so I think this winter will be lots of fun. I have a whole Pinterest board of toddler activities that I’m excited to start with her. Hopefully the “put everything in her mouth” thing will die down around 15 months.  We also plan to start swim lessons again in September, and we have signed up for a 10 week Mommy (and daddy) and ME Music class, which I am so excited about! I’m hoping to also get a membership to the children’s museum too.

The days of summer are coming to an end, and I genuinely feel sad. This has been such a fun and exciting summer for us, and for Vada. Getting to do all the fun summer activities with your kid, really makes things special, at least for me. This will be a summer to remember, really a year to remember, and I’m going to try to focus every day on living a good life and loving my family.

Happy 9 months you beautiful person!

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The $250 Bathroom Remodel + 5 Reasons Why We Put Money Into Our Rental

Mr. Gaunt and I recently decided to do some upgrades to our bathroom. Which is tiny folks, 3′ x 7′ (not including the tub), but it was just gross, and it annoyed me, and I was sick of looking at the gross flooring, and sick of leaning against the ghetto pedestal sink that was all wobbly, and wasn’t even big enough to hold a soap dispenser! Mr. Gaunt has been doing a lot of wedding DJing this summer, so we had a little extra cash. We had wanted to take a vacation this fall, but because he also has a new job, and no time off, that wont be happening. So we decided to go ahead and upgrade our tiny bathroom. Even though we probably could have spent a little more, we decided to put a $200 budget on this project. Well, with a few surprises, and some upgraded shelves, the project came out to be closer to $250, which is still SO cheap for a bathroom reno. Cheap however, is still more than a lot of people are willing to put into their rental. People are always surprised that we don’t own our house, because we have put a fair amount of work into it. Some of the work we have been compensated for (like if something broke) and some things (like the washer and dryer we bought) will come with us when we leave. But there have been a lot of cosmetic changes that we were not reimbursed for, so I thought I would explain why we think its OK to invest in someone else’s home.

 

5 Reasons Why We Put Money Into Our Rental

1. WE WONT BE BUYING FOR A LONG TIME: This is obviously the biggie. We don’t plan to buy a home for AT LEAST 2-5 more years. We don’t have the money to afford what we want (20oo-ish Square Feet in Bellingham), so we have made our long-term home in this rental. We are super lucky that our landlords really don’t care what we do. We don’t even ask them before we paint, or do anything. When we moved in, this house was in bad shape, so we have only improved it! We also have a long-term verbal lease, basically my landlords called me one day and asked “so do you think you guys will be around for a while” and I said “yeah, until you let us buy this house” which was met with a “lol, ok good because there’s a line waiting for it if you ever leave”. So yeah, of course they could decide to be jerks and up and kick us out, but let’s be real here, we BOTH have a good thing going here. So the point is, yes, of course we would love to be fixing up our own home, but until then, we are cool with fixing up our temporary home. Also if we one day we did decide to buy this house (if our landlords let us) look how much work we have already done!

2. ITS AN INVESTMENT IN OUR QUALITY OF LIFE: Some people are savers and some people are spenders. Some people are planners and some people are do’ers. We don’t go on vacations very often, but we have no problem dropping a little money to fix up our yard, buy some new patio furniture, because home is our vacation. When we are home we like to relax and hang out and enjoy our time together. The nicer our home is, the happier we are. Painting every room, replacing appliances, and faucets, and building closets. Laying patios, and repairing grass, all of these things make our home that much more enjoyable. A vacation lasts a week at best, a nice home is there 365 days a year.

3. ITS GOOD PRACTICE: One day we will own a home (God willing) and we will have so much experience with DIY projects and budgeting! Things we have learned through trial and error in this home will help us fix up our future home even nicer. If we sat in this house for 5 years and never did a damn thing, why would we think we could up and buy a home and fix it up? When you are learning to drive you practice on your parents car, if we all waited until we had our OWN car to practice on, we would never learn. So this is our practice home.

4. KEEPS THE LANDLORD/TENANT RELATIONSHIP HAPPY: We have a sweet deal. We pay $250 less a month than market rental rate. In the 3.5 years we have lived here we have never had to sign a lease, and our landlords have never asked to come over. When we moved in they had all new windows put in, a new furnace, a new roof and the exterior painted, and a new driveway laid. Once a year they have an HVAC person come in and check the furnace and replace filters. We live in one of the best family neighborhoods in Bellingham, many people would be quick to swoop in and pay hundreds more a month to rent this place. We are also good to our landlords. We keep the yard mowed and have landscaped it. We pay our rent on time, we ask very little from them. We contacted our landlords in the spring about replacing our back fence. We offered to do the labor for free if we could take the materials off the rent. They came over to assess the fence and commented on how nice the house was and how nice the back yard was, they agreed to our fence terms (which we haven’t gotten around to doing, maybe in September). So we all win. They have dream tenants, and we have sweet easy rental. There are many rental situations that would not make sense to do updates in, like a short term rental, or a property management type situation.

5. IT GIVES ME PURPOSE AND PRIDE: I love our home, and I love to do home projects. It keeps me entertained, it helps keep boredom at bay, and provides hours of entertainment. It also is something I can proud of, which I struggle with sometimes. My home is a good representation of me. Making DREAM HOME boards on Pinterest only goes so far, some time you have to put your money where your pin is. (;

 

So that my friends is why we are happy to put money into our rental. Onto the bathroom project!

Here are some (kinda crappy, its such a small space!) before & after photos. Please note the following issues:

-Pedestal sink was not attached to the wall (and the wall was all rough and yucky), as well as was not properly attached to the base. Just a hot mess of nasty wobbly-ness. It also could not safely hold a soap dispenser, nor anything else.

-Garbage can out in the open. My baby likes to eat trash, enough said.

-Toilet in need of a new wax ring (you can’t see this)

-Flooring hideous and horrible to get clean

-Shelving and art behind toilet was off center, unfinished, and left little to be desired.

-Crappy Storage for toilet paper, cleaners, and plunger (again my baby likes to lick plungers)

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bath 2

bath 3

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bath 5

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BREAKDOWN OF WHAT WE DID:

$30.00 – Flooring. We replaced our yucky sheet vinyl with Peel and Stick tiles. They are affordable and come in neutral colors, and are way easier than tile. If I owned, I would have probably done real tile, but not in a rental. This we easy enough for me to install, some trial and error, but not too bad. I may do my laundry room and kitchen this winter.

$124.00 – Vanity Cabinet. We bought this Special Buy Glacier Bay stock cabinet with top and integrated sink, plus medicine cabinet (that wouldnt fit between the lights). This is cheap stock cabinetry, but I actually like the way it looks and it doesn’t feel too cheap. We bought the floor model, so they knocked off $25, which made it super affordable. Removing the pedestal was tricky, and part of it had to be broken. Installing the plumbing was easy, but we have a slight leak that I will need to fix with some putty this week.

$30.00 – Shelves. We bought these White 24″ Floating shelves, that are cheap and super easy to install. They are also a little deeper for holding baskets with toilet paper. All the accessories and art we put in the bathroom we had around the house.

$7.50 – Knobs. We replaced the stock Oil Rubbed Bronze knobs on the vanity, and the old knob on the wall cabinet with these chrome geometric ones. We have a few chrom details that we didnt want to replace (faucet, mirror, towel rack, lights) so this helped tie that finish in.

$25.00 – Shower Curtain. This was a little splurge that I thought would change the room a lot. I decided NOT to paint the bathroom, so replacing the shower curtain helped finish the look. This soft neutral curtain is really nice. It lets light in, and it matches the geometric pattern of the knobs. It also goes well with the flooring and the cabinet. All earth tones. We kept the Denver curtain, because we love it, and will probably use in a future bathroom.

Other miscellaneous things we bought:

-Kitchen and Bath Caulk in White

-Toilet Wax Ring and Flange

-Plastic Shower Curtain Liner

In total right around $250!

 

Freshly Picked Moccasins REVIEW & GIVEAWAY, and why I love Shark Tank

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Do you watch Shark Tank? You should, seriously. It’s the best show! its smart and interesting, and actually quality reality TV! Plus in my opinion, it’s family friendly. We watched a ton of Shark Tank when Vada was super tiny and just wanted to nurse all evening long. Shark Tank was my savior. I’m Team Lori or maybe Team Mark, I like em both. There are lots of cool products on Shark Tank, and the people are so awesome, its like the American Dream! While watching we always look up the products to see how much they cost, and how the business is doing. One of my favorites was actually a product I had already seen on Instagram. I LOVE INSTAGRAM! Seriously folks, Instagram is so freaking awesome. I don’t even have a love/hate relationship with it like Facebook, Its pure love with me and IG. One of the best things on IG is all the cool kids stuff/fashion, there are so many great kids fashion accounts that I like to peruse. Which brings me to FRESHLY PICKED! Their IG account is filled with adorable kids in cute clothes and their super cute Moccasins! You can watch their founder Susan Petersen on Shark Tank here! Long story short, Freshly Picked so kindly sent me a pair of their Moccasins to review, and even BETTER a pair to give to one of you!

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Aren’t they so cute! I got the blush color, because they were out of coral. But OMG guys the watermelon ones are so freaking cute!

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Here are my thoughts on the moccasins:

PROS:

Colors/styles/branding: I love everything the Freshly Picked company puts out. The colors are amazing and so on trend. They aren’t boring or tacky colors like a lot of kids footwear. I actually had to consult a few of my stylish friends to help me pick a color, I love them all! I also think they get an A+ in marketing. Their logo is adorable, packaging (the cute bag and button!) and their photos and styled shoots are simple, modern and perfect. This goes a long way with me. I love a stylish brand. I’m a sucker for anything by Boon, Oxo, Skip Hop, because they are on top of their game for staying modern, simple and making beautiful functional baby items. Add Freshly Picked to these top brands, because style-wise they are doing it right!

Fit: These booties stay on, they really do. You can also buy up a size and they STILL stay on. My friend Lori bought her son a size 3 when he was just tiny, and he was wearing them every time I saw him, and they never fell off. She finally got him a  bigger size about a month ago and passed the little ones onto Vada. The size 3 fit prefect on Vada, and she has to tug REALLY hard to get them off. I went ahead and got a size 4 for her (shown above) and although they are big, they too stay on perfect. They will be great this fall for when she learns to walk!

Crawling & Walking: These shoes are made from durable leather, so they are soft and just slightly “sticky” for babies to crawl on hardwoods or carpet (I’ve heard that the suede version can be a bit too slick on hardwoods). They also are great for wearing indoors to keep feet clean and safe when real shoes aren’t great, almost like stylish socks. We have an indoor play place in Bellingham called Perch And Play, and they have a sock rule, but these would work great there too! Size wise they go all the way up to a 10! I also love that they can be worn with pants, or shorts without socks. We really have avoided socks with Vada, but will probably have to start buying some this winter.

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CONS:

Alright, here’s the big one, PRICE. At $60 a pair, these shoes are totally out of the budget for most people (not the Kardashians though). I will say though, that we bought multiple pairs of another brands booties when Vada was a baby, and she wore them a ton, and I would have happily spent $60 on them. When you find a good, long-lasting product that your kid wears every day, and most importantly that you can buy a little big, and that will still stay on, its worth it. I have also seen lots of people selling gently used Freshly Picked Moccasins on IG, which can also be a great way to try these out. Would I say these are a MUST HAVE, not really, but if you have a grandma who wants to splurge on something special for her new grand baby, send her to Freshly Picked!

WEAR OUT: Another thing I have noticed is that the leather also wears down. The ones Lori gave us are bright blue, but the toes are all scuffed up. This is totally normal wear for leather, and Freshly Picked addresses this on their site here. But if that would big you, you may want to think twice about which color you get. A bigger turn off for me with the rich colors, is that the dye can literally dye your babies feet. Each time Vada has worn the bright blue ones, her feet turn blue. I don’t know exactly why this is, or if its common with other colors, but it made me pick a light color when I got ours. Lastly, you can’t put these in the wash, only wipe them down.

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On to the fun stuff! Freshly Picked is giving one of my readers their own pair!

To enter please leave ONE comment below (if you leave more than one comment I will be forced to delete both) stating which moccasin color you like best!

To win you can not have won any other giveaway including a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins within the last 60 days. You MUST be a US resident. The giveaway is open until August 10th! Good luck!

“Giveaway ends August 31st at 11:59 PM EST. Open to Legal Residents of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winner will be selected by Random.org and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that For The Love Of Skinny Blog is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. I have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. I will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you in obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you. The product provided for the review was free of charge from the company. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.”

 

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.