Marlow’s First Birthday: The Non-Pinterest Party

Marlow’s 1st Birthday: The Non-Pinterest Party
Sometimes I feel the pressure to make things “photo worthy.” You see all these adorable kids parties and think ” I can totally do that!” I have about a million party ideas pinned on my Pinterest page. I have entire boards dedicated to DIY decorations that fit the perfect beautiful party theme! And I would LOVE to be able to say I’m featuring some crazy cool handmade, one-of-a-kind party decor for Marlow’s first birthday.. but that is just not the case! Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😂 And the party was absolutely perfect and turned exactly how I would have hoped!

Instead I took the easy way out! I hit up the dollar area at Target and stocked up on some adorable birthday decorations! They had an entire section of pastel, polka dot themes party decor that was PERFECT! They had banners, signs, balloons, and tiny party hats. I also grabbed a few things for goodie bags. Each bag had fruit snacks, a glow stick, a kazoo, bubbles, a bag of Pure Growth Organics popcorn, and these adorable handmade bows from Ivy & Simone!

I also used Pure Growth Organic for the party snacks as well. I got a few bags of chips, snack mix, and popcorn! Then I added some squeeze apple sauces, a fruit bowl, crackers with cheese, and drinks! That’s it! Super easy and everyone was happy!

When I say I took the easy way out, I mean I did it with every aspect of the party. I picked one main present and bought everything to go with it. I found this adorable Retro Wood Kitchen from Teamson Kids and knew that it was something both Maddox and Marlow would love! Josh and Maddox put it together the night before her Birthday. Which, by the way, was a genius idea! Maddox felt so special having such a big roll in Marlow’s Birthday! He really took pride in “building Marlow’s present.” I’m so in love with her kitchen. Check out the cute little chalk board front door and little ice maker below. Then I picked out some cute food/kitchen accessories on Amazon and I was good to go! Here are the links for the Melissa & Doug kitchen accessories: UtensilsPots & Pans, Food, Sliced Food

      

Next was entertainment. I knew we’d have kids of all ages so I rented a bouncy house that turned into a water slide from Jump and Slide rentals. It was a BLAST!

 

About the only “pinterest-y” looking aspect was her Birthday Chalk board. And I didn’t even make that! I have an amazingly talented friend here in Georgia that created this for me! If you need a handmade sign check out her company Bear & Bubba Design.


My amazing grandmother made Marlow’s cake. I wasn’t stressed trying to make decorations, put together some crazy present, or plan some elaborate entertainment. I actually got to relax and just enjoy the day! It was perfect! My favorite memory from the party was when Maddox fed Marlow her first bites of cake! It was so sweet. Here’s a few more fun pictures from our awesome day! I may have taken the easy way out and it may not have been “pinterest worthy” but it was a perfect first birthday for us!

     

And yes, that last picture is how the party ended…with Josh carrying me over his shoulder into the water slide!

 

 

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Sensitive Skin: HUSH SoCozy

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SoCozy. All opinions are my own and not edited by the sponsor.

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Both Maddox and Marlow have very sensitive skin and I’m always afraid to try new products on them. Marlow has some eczema spots on her belly that flare up when I bath her too often or when she comes in contact with an irritant. Maddox has a sensitive scalp. He doesn’t really like having his hair washed or brushed because he has very thick hair! So I’d been searching for good products that would work for them. I decided to try SoCozy‘s new line called HUSH that is dermatologist and allergy tested. Just a heads up- I found SoCozy’s new hush line in the baby isle at Target and so far I love it! Since Maddox is super independent he wanted to try all “his” new products by himself.

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We got all 4 products of the Hush Sensitive collection to try:

  1. Hush Sensitive Scalp Serum
  2. Hush Sensitive Foam
  3. Hush Sensitive 2-in-1 Shampoo and Condiitoner
  4. Hush Sensitive Detangler- Ultra Gentle Leave-in

The 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner has been our favorite so far. We’ve been using it for both Maddox and Marlow and have had no flare-ups or irritations! Yay! It comes with a little brush on the end to help gently massage the scale while you apply it. Maddox really enjoyed doing this himself.

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We also loved the detangler. It made Maddox’s hair extremely easy to brush and didn’t leave any kind of weird residue like we’ve seen with other products we’ve tried. And though we’ve only used it a few times, Maddox loves styling his hair with the Sensitive foam. So far we are loving this new line! I’m so glad I found something that is safe, free of harsh chemicals, and gentle enough for the kids!

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If you want to try SoCozy’s new HUSH line head to Target asap!

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6 Ways to AVOID going crazy as a stay at home mom

My 6 Ways to AVOID Going Crazy as a Stay at Home Mom

When I decided to stay home, it took me a while before I realized that I may go (or may have already gone) crazy! Being with the kids is great, but the isolation from other adults and other interests can start to wear you down over time. So here’s a few tips I picked up along the way!

1. Find classes. We first went to our local library. They do a weekly child’s story time. Best thing is, it is free! They also have free story time most Barnes & Noble and our local Kroger has a story time as well with Grandma Snazzy. We found a kinder music class at a nearby church. Then once Maddox was old enough, I started signing up for classes at our Rec Center. This is by far our favorite! He has done soccer, general sports (combo basketball, foodtball, soccer and golf) and gymnastics. They also have art, music, cooking, karate, etc. There are so many other options for classes as well like Catch air, Sky Zone (Alpharetta does a toddler time every other Wednesday), Little Gym, and All Fired Up (Ceramics Classes), just to name a few.

2. Meet other moms! The best way I found so far was through Facebook groups. If you are local to Atlanta, I would join The Mom Posse. I also meet other moms at some of the classes mentioned above.

3. Play groups. Find moms nearby and set some up or join some that are already established.

4. Go to playgrounds/indoor play areas. We LOVE the playground at Chik-fil-A and the indoor area at our mall. Northpoint Mall and Avalon have great ones! Northpoint also has a train the kids can ride for $4/ride and the Avalon has an indoor/outdoor climbing area. And as the weather improves, go to your parks and recreation areas. Lots of kids, moms, and fun and all of these.

5. Schedule time for yourself. I admit I’m terrible at this! My daughter is exclusively breastfed and rarely takes a bottle. So rather than leaving the house, my mother-in-law offered to entertain the kids at home so I had a little alone time for whatever I need. Usually I just get caught up on laundry, cleaning or shower but hey, it’s alone time! If you don’t have a mother-in-law who is retired and can come every week, I would definitely recommend finding a babysitter one day a week for a few hours. You could even exchange with another mom and take turns watching each others kids.

6. Find something you do JUST for you. This can be working out, reading, painting, shopping, hiking, etc. Recently I started blogging, which has honestly been a huge outlet for me! The most important thing is to find ways to get out and spend time with other people doing things you like, both for your kids and for yourself. I guarantee it will make you not just a happier stay-at-home but a happier person!

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Breastfeeding Continued

Nursing Aversion and Self-Weaning

15194530_700964844452_1314285736540861484_oFor me nursing was an amazing experience. If you read my previous posts about nursing, you know how truly special it is for me. Since I started nursing Maddox more than three ears ago, I have had only a few months between Maddox and Marlow when I was not nursing.  Even so, I have experienced something that many others have as well, and I wanted to tell you about it so that you know it doesn’t have to spoil it for you.

While Maddox was still nursing full time, I experienced nursing aversion. This term describes a period or phase when nursing can seem really annoying. For me, it was an overwhelming feeling of not wanting to be touched at all. By anyone! When it was time to nurse I felt instantly annoyed (for absolutely no reason) and had this feeling like my skin was crawling. It was a terrible feeling! For me, it only lasted for a few weeks off and on. It wasn’t ever time I nursed. It was maybe every 3rd or 4th nursing session. It was extremely frustrating for me.

I knew I didn’t want that to be my last experience with nursing because up until then it had been such an amazing bonding experience. I knew this phase would pass and it did. So whenever I felt those feelings coming on, I would do everything I could to distract myself. I would watch TV, play on my phone, read a book, whatever made me feel better. I would constantly tell myself that the feeling would pass, that it had nothing to do with Maddox, and that I had to think about something else. If I was feeling extremely overwhelmed, I would take a minute to myself. I would give Maddox to Josh and take a bath or go for a quick shopping trip because shopping helps everything, right? I don’t know how many other people have gone through this or if this is how their experience was, but this is how it was for me. And happily it did not last long.

I nursed Maddox until he was about 2 1/2. When he was almost 2, he stopped nursing during the day and only nursed to fall asleep at nap or bed time. Then a few months after that it was only at night. Then slowly he stopped completely. I knew I wanted to let him stop when he was ready. I didn’t want it be something that was taken away or that he missed. For many reasons, but mainly because I was pregnant with Marlow and knew he’d soon be seeing me nurse her, I didn’t want there to be any jealously associated with it. I was fully prepared to tandem nurse if he wasn’t ready to stop, but to be completely honest, I didn’t really want to. But I would have.

Maddox ended up basically weening himself.  I made a conscience decision to never say “No” because I think then they want it more. Maddox had always nursed to sleep so changing that habit had to happen slowly. However, I did do a few things to “encourage him.” We started distracting him around bedtime. We tried to tire him out by letting him stay up later, or by being super active, carrying him in his carrier (he often fell asleep baby wearing), or driving in the car so he would fall asleep without nursing. After a few weeks of distracting him at bedtime he stopped asking completely and would just snuggle right up to me to fall asleep. There were a handful of times at the very end he did ask (he called it going “night night”) and I would say “ok, in just a minute.” Or “please snuggle with me first.” And he would fall asleep.

In the end, I’m glad we let him do it himself with encouragement. I never had an issue with him once I started nursing Marlow. And I have not experienced any aversion with Marlow either.  Nursing can be such a great experience! If you are going through similar issues I urge you to work your way through them and know that in the end, it can be well worth it.

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Britax B-Ready Stroller

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When I was pregnant with my first, Maddox, we started asking everyone we knew with kids what brand they recommended for car seats. After dozens of recommendations and tons of research we decided to go with Britax. We originally bought their travel system which came with the B-Safe infant seat and B-Agile stroller. This set was absolutely perfect for us at the time. We continued to use this set when Marlow was born but quickly realized we need a double stroller as well.

I knew I did not want one of those side-by-side double strollers because I felt like they were too big to actually take to the places we often went. And I knew I wanted one that could convert between two seats and one seat, depending on what i needed.

The Britax B-Ready was perfect! Had I known what I know now I probably would have just started with the B-ready stroller. However, at the time we only had one kid so I wasn’t even looking at double stroller options. Why do I love the Britax B-Ready? Here’s my top reasons:

1. Seating options: It has 12 different seating options that includes multiple seats, a bassinet, or infant car seat. I also got the stroller board attachment for even more options! (See 5. below) Below are pictures of the 4 ways we currently use the stroller. And then below that is a diagram of all the 12 different seating options.

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2. Top seat: Not only is it my favorite double stroller but also my new favorite single stroller as well. One of my favorite features is the reversible top seat that allows Marlow ride facing forwards or backwards. The seat has a 4 position recline. Marlow prefers to sit up but often falls asleep in the stroller and once she’s asleep I can easily lay her back for a long nap. The fact that it reclines so smoothly, so she doesn’t wake up, is a huge plus for me!

3. Easily converts between a single or double stroller. It’s extremely easy to put on and remove the bottom second seat attachment.

4. Adjustable handle bar: I’m only 5’1″ and Josh is 6″. By pushing the buttons on each side of the handle bar I easily adjust the height depending who is pushing!

5. Stroller board attachment: I got the standing stroller board and the double seat attachment. Depending on where we’re going I knew there were times that Maddox would not want to necessarily sit in a seat and the stroller board attachment is perfect because he can easily hop on and off as he pleases.

6. Size: For a double stroller this stroller is extremely lightweight. I can easily lift it in and out of my car on my own (usually while holding Marlow). I have a Honda CR-V and it fits nicely in the trunk with room to spare. I would a take picture to show you but that would mean I’d have to clean out my trunk ?. You just pull two levers on the side of the handle and it easily folds in half to compact size.

7. Super Cute: If I’m completely honest I love how sleek it looks.
My only regret is that I didn’t get this stroller sooner to use with the car seat or bassinet attachment.

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I apologize in advance for my terrible video skills! I felt like some of the things I was describing need to seen, rather than read.

Some products provided by Britax but all comments and opinions are my own.

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Baby Shoes

When Maddox was a baby I had no idea how important baby shoes were, more specicifically, good fitting flexible shoes that support them learning to walk. We went out and bought Josh’s favorite shoes, baby versions of adult athletic shoes. We had no idea that the fact that the soles were so clunky and nonflexible was a bad thing. But first kids are the tester babies, right?! Kidding. Anyway, with Marlow I knew from the start I wanted to find shoes that would encourage her learning to walk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed recommendations  to help you find shoes that are helpful and not harmful as your baby learns to walk. The AAP gives three specific tips to follow when shopping for your baby’s first pair of shoes:

  1. Shoes should be lightweight and flexible to support natural foot movement.
  2. Shoes should be made of leather or mesh to allow your baby’s feet to breathe comfortably.
  3. Shoes should have rubber soles for traction to prevent slipping or sliding.

So I did some research and I found a few brands that I liked, but Livie and Luca really stood out. Not only do their shoes fit all the guidelines above, the quality of the shoes is amazing, and I found so many that were super cute.

Livie and Luca’s baby shoes were the prefect “first” shoe! They are incredibly soft and flexible! Since Marlow had never worn shoes up until that time,  I wasn’t sure if she was going to find these uncomfortable or not. The second I put them on her feet, she took off around the living room as though she wasn’t even wearing them. Marlow has very wide, chunky feet and so far these fit perfectly! They have a really wide base with lots of toe room and they are so easy to put on! They are also really light weight (totally unlike the first pair we put on Maddox)!  And most importantly, they are SUPER cute!

Go check out their adorable shoes and use the code: KIRAMARIE to get 15% off your order!

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Baby Led Weaning

IMG_6807 When Maddox was young and it was time to introduce him to solid food, we started him on purées. I made all of his food and we introduced one new food at a time. Maddox loved baby food. I couldn’t shovel it in fast enough for him. However, Marlow was a different story. I started the same way and made her purees. She would take maybe a bite or two and that was it. I quickly realized I was wasting a ton of food. Then Marlow went on an antibiotic that was really hard on her stomach and hard to get her to take so I had to hide it in her food. That’s when her eating habits really changed. She went from eating a bite or two to complete refusal to eat anything I tried to give her. She would eat things that she could feed herself but didn’t trust me at all anymore. She was sure I was hiding medicine and about to force feed her ?. That’s when I decided to try baby led weaning.

“Baby-led weaning allows babies to control their solid food consumption by ‘self-feeding’ from the very beginning of their experiences with food. The term weaning should not be taken to imply giving up formula or breastmilk, but simply the introduction of foods other than formula or breastmilk.”

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I started to give Marlow small bites of food she could pick up. We started with small pieces of soft fruits and cooked veggies. However, because she is only 9 months old, feeding herself purées did not come easily to her. So I did some research. I needed something that would allow Marlow to feed herself. I tried with the baby spoons I already had from Maddox, but by the time she got the spoon to her mouth the food had all fallen off and then she was mad.

A quick google search for “baby spoon self feeding” helped me to find NumNum! I bought their pre-spoons on Amazon but you can see the link to their website and read more here. I can’t say enough about these pre-spoons! The spoon has a textured, dimpled surface that helps grab the food so it doesn’t fall off while its on the way to the mouth, and it’s completely flat so there’s no “right” way to hold it and no upside down. What I really love is that they are “designed to introduce the concept of utensils to kids eager to learn, reduce frustration and encourage independence.”

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While I was ordering the spoons, I saw that NumNum also makes a beginner bowl. The inside of the bowl is small and sloped so the spoon can easily find the food. The base is broad with a no-slip grip, making it hard to tip over. Once the bowl and pre-spoons arrived, I was able to give her yogurts and purées that she can feed herself. Just an example of some of the things I give her either in puree form or cooked/cut up into tiny pieces:

Fruits: Bananas, pears, strawberries, blueberries, melons, pineapple. Veggies: avocado, sweet potato, pickles (she LOVES them but doesn’t chew them so I cut them extremely small), butternut squash, asparagus, peas, carrots, zucchini. Others: Yogurt (specific for babies), hummus, cheerios.

Marlow is loving feeding herself. With her NumNum pre-spoon and bowl for the soft foods and her fingers for the small pieces she can pick up, she is willing to try almost anything I give her. Of course, I am introducing foods one at a time to watch for allergies or reactions, but I could not be more pleased with our progress. This weaning process is not just baby-led; it is baby-loved.

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Becoming a Stay at Home Mom

FullSizeRenderI never thought (or if I’m honest, even desired) to be a stay at home mom.

Growing up I always thought of myself as a an independent, take-charge, feminist, ready to stand up to any man and take on any challenge! I wanted to break glass ceilings and shatter stereotypes. All the women in my family worked full-time outside the home, and as far as I knew, they always had. (I didn’t realize at the time they had almost all stayed home when their kids were little.) So I just assumed that I would have a full-time job as well. Even when I got pregnant with my son, Maddox, I fully planned to return to teaching after a short maternity leave.

Josh brought up the idea of me staying home, but I quickly shot it down. I considered us a non-traditional couple who shared roles and split everything. I hung pictures, he did laundry, I built things, and he cleaned WAY better than I did.

To be completely honest, I had a terrible perception of being a stay at home mom. I thought of SAHMs as some 1950’s stereotype woman who’s only aspiration was to be a stay at home wife and mother. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned for myself. I was a “career women.”

Then when Maddox was 4 months old, as I was preparing to return to work, it all hit me at once and I called my mom bawling! I realized I had completely changed my mind about everything! I couldn’t imagine leaving him for an hour, never less a full day! It was then I knew I wanted/needed to be a stay at home mom. It took another year with Maddox in day care before I was able to make it happen, but I am beyond greatful that I have the ability to stay home now!

It took me a while to admit I wanted to stay home and even longer for me to tell others. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did. I feel extremely lucky that Josh’s job makes it possible for me to stay at home for now.  I plan to return to work when they are older, but for now, being a stay at home mom is exactly the right thing for me and for my family. I know moms who work outside the home, moms who work inside the home, and moms who stay home with their kids. I feel so lucky to be able to stay home and there’s no place I’d rather be. I never thought I would be a stay at home mom, but now that I am, I can’t imagine doing anything else!

Did anyone else have weird feelings about staying home? Like it wasn’t “good enough” in some way? I’d love to hear how other SAHM felt about their decision to stay home.

 

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One Big Happy Wonderland!

My family has always loved Christmas! A time to give, love and celebrate family. One of my favorite Christmas memories, although it drove me crazy at the time, was from Christmas morning when my mom would make the entire family wait on the stairs while she took a family photo before we could go down and start opening presents. As a kid, I swore it took her 3 1/2 hours to take the picture! It was like she was torturing us! Haha! But the waiting and anticipation somehow made the present opening even more exciting!
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A few years ago my mom started a new tradition of matching family pajamas! At the time, once again, I thought she was crazy. Then, when I had my own kids, I totally understood and I’ve carried on the tradition with my own family. Every year we pick a new set of fun holiday pajamas. Even though Josh whines every year, I KNOW he secretly loves his pajamas! This year I let Maddox help me pick our matching pajamas and he chose these adorable holiday bear pjs from Gymboree! For 10 days, from December 1 – December 10, across stores nationwide, Gymboree is helping customers add wonder to the season by gifting them with a holiday memory in the making. When customers visit the store, they’ll give them a scratcher at checkout. The scratcher might inspire family game night with a Mattel Prize Pack of Uno, Apples to Apples and Pictionary plus $50 to for Gymmies to outfit the evening! Or perhaps, a gift basket of Mrs. Fields Cookies – sweet treats for Santa! Or, a mid-holiday shopping trip treat with a Free Auntie Anne’s Classic Pretzel. Two lucky customers will be treated to their next holiday vacation, with a Club Med all-inclusive family vacation. Every scratcher will reveal a special surprise, One Big Happy Wonderland!
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What are some of your favorite or most memorable family traditions? Every year we add new ones. Be sure to visit a Gymboree store near you (between 12/1/16 – 12/10/16) to outfit your favorite holiday moments and pick up a scratcher for a chance to add more wonder to the season!
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Nursing in Public

If you are nursing your baby, what do you do when you are out and about?  Do you try to find somewhere private? Do you use a cover? Or do you just nurse and not worry about it?  I do a mix of all three.

With Maddox, more often than not, I went somewhere private to nurse him. I completely support a woman’s right to nurse her baby anywhere! However, as a first time mom, I wasn’t as comfortable nursing in public all the time. There were many times I nursed Maddox in the bathroom. And I have to admit I hated it. I felt so isolated, left out, and dirty (public bathrooms are so gross)! Trying to nurse a new baby while not touching anything is incredibly hard! When Marlow was born I was tired of going to the bathroom to nurse. While I have done it on rare occasions, I decided I was tired of leaving dinner, missing conversations and searching for nursing room while shopping.

I have a love hate relationship with nursing covers. Maddox absolutely hated having his head covered, so nursing covers were rarely an option. I spent more time fighting to keep the cover on him and I usually ended up exposing my boobs a lot more than if I’d left the cover off completely. Marlow doesn’t mind the cover as much but since it’s summer I get so hot I rarely want to use it myself!

With Marlow, I have mastered the art of nursing in public. Feeding your baby is the most important thing. You shouldn’t have to worry about how much of your boob is exposed. Let’s face it, the baby’s head covers most of it and you are really showing less boob than most low cut shirts. It really shouldn’t matter at all, but I do prefer (for myself) to nurse discreetly. I find I’m completely able to do this if I wear a nursing tank top and another shirt layered over. The tank top provides access and the shirt provides enough cover to keep me discreet. With this method I’m able to easily nurse anywhere and have virtually nothing exposed.

I also seek locations that make it easier.  For example, in a restaurant I find I can sit in a booth, turn slightly toward the wall, and be totally comfortable. One more consideration for me is who else is present. Depending who I am with can sometimes dictate how I nurse (covered, uncovered, or in a different location).  I’m not trying to make a statement. I’m not “looking for attention” while nursing. And I’m not trying to tell other mothers how to nurse in public. I’m just feeding my baby. I do what feels most comfortable for me at the time, and I encourage  other mothers to do what feels most comfortable for you and your baby!

*Photo above features my go-to Bravado nursing cami.*

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