Tuesday, May 29, 2012

a few new mama recommendations...

There have been a few things that we have bought or been gifted that have been extremely wonderful in this new world of parenting.  I thought I'd share some tips I've learned along the way and the products that have worked well for us.

1.  Chicco Cortina travel system (stroller, carseat, and base)

  • This carseat has been wonderful! Let's start with the base. I've had to battle putting the old school carseat bases in the car with those straps that you have to squeeze the hooks on and off and pull the straps as tight as you can.  And then getting them out to switch them was even more of a process--and it always resulted in me being hot, sweaty, and aggravated.  And I could never seem to get them tight enough.  This carseat doesn't have all that nonsense.  It's hook are formed like seat belt clasps--you just guide it toward the hook and it clamps itself.  To get it off is just as simple--you push the red release button and it's off!  So much easier than digging in to those seats searching for that dad burn bar to clip on, all the while holding open the hook on the seat...ugh. Just clasp those on and pull one strap to tighten both straps equally.   It also has a level built into it with simple squeeze adjustable height.  
  • The seat itself is just pretty :)  And it's not too heavy.  And like most other carseats of this day and age, it has the pull cord to loosen the straps uniformly, as well as the ability to snap and click into the base and the stroller.
  • The stroller is phenomenal.  It's lightweight; it handles well on most all terrains (it even has real shocks...ha!); it's easy to handle--folding, unfolding, and storing, one handle pull to do both; it stands on its own when it's folded.  We love it.
  • Many retailers carry them, just not in all of the colors they offer.  Target, Babies R Us, and Buy Buy Baby to name a few.

2.  Fisher Price's Rock and Play
  • This little gem is wonderful!  It served as her bed the first five months.  We can easily move it to anywhere in the house (including the bathroom while I took a shower--surprisingly, she took some of her best naps in there!) and it also folds up easily to take on trips with us.  She still sleeps in it for naps sometimes and is currently sleeping in it at night because she's congested.  It's tilted and deep so the can snuggle in and not lie flat.  The slant helps with reflux as they won't choke if they spit up.  It's legs are curved so when they wiggle, the rock themselves (or you can gently nudge them and rock them).  It's also the perfect place for me to lay her for her to take her bottle now that she can hold it.  If I lay her on the floor, she gets distracted and starts rolling around and playing instead of eating.  We love this little thing!
  • We found ours at Target.

3.  Stock up on diapers!
  • If you have family and friends willing to host a diaper shower for you, don't turn them down!  I used to think diapers were kind of a boring gift--they didn't require any thought, they weren't fun nursery decor or cute outfits.  But boy oh boy--now I think they're the best gift ever!  We were incredibly blessed to have a shower in which several of the guests bought us diapers (along with incredible parents who continue to shower us with a box here and there).  They are a huge cost to add in to all of the other baby expenses, and being able not to have to worry about them just yet has been a HUGE help.
  • My favorite diapers are Pampers Swaddlers.  We've also used some other types of Pampers and like them too, just not as much as the swaddlers.  They fit her the best and I love having that indicator line.  We also tried several different fits of Huggies.  They're ok, but they are smaller and they don't fit as well.  Also, when she started sleeping through the night--if she went to bed in a Huggies diaper, it had leaked all over her by the next morning.  We've never had that problem with Pampers.  We also tried the Parent Choice (Walmart brand) ones, but they broke out her bottom and didn't hold much.  So for the money we saved on the actual box, we were spending because we had to change diapers constantly.  So Pampers are our choice--swaddlers are our first choice.
  • Oh, and use the points codes!  Pampers and Huggies both have codes that give you certain numbers of points based on what the product is.  You can use those points to "buy" different items in their rewards center.

4.  Baby Swing
  • Oh this thing is a lifesaver.  For about a month and a half, this is the only place she would sleep.  And when you're that exhausted, you don't care where they are as long as they're sleeping.  Even still, at seven months, that's a place we can put her that she'll stay content for quite some time.  She still takes a lot of her naps in it even though we've transitioned to the crib at night.  We were blessed and lucky enough to get a hand-me-down that my mom had at her house from keeping my sister's kids.  However, we would have bought one if we had to--they are just that great.  I'm not sure what we're going to do when she outgrows it--which will be soon!
  • We have the aquarium one shown below and it works well.  Swings both directions, has a mobile that spins, has lights and music.

5.  Bumbo Chair
  • These have become quite popular and I'm sure many of you have seen them and know what they are now.  They're a great tool to teach infants how to sit up.  They suck their little butts down in them so it's difficult for them to get out of them.  They also have a high back so they offer support for even small tots.  I use mine to feed AJ now so that she stays still and focused (for the most part...).  They are easy to clean and can be used outside, in the tub, and in restaurants.  Great little tools.
  • They can be found just about anywhere that sells baby things:  Walmart, Target, Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby

6.  Colic Calm
  • AKA the miracle drug.  By far, the BEST tummy medicine I have found.  It looks incredibly disgusting (it's black), but it works and it works fast.  When we were fighting all of AJ's tummy issues and trying new formulas, this is the only stuff that even touched her pain.  She calmed down almost instantly.  It's expensive, but I'll tell ya, it is totally worth it.  When you have a screaming baby, almost any price is worth it to provide relief--for your child and yourself!  
  • It's also homeopathic and all natural.  Check our their website for more details.
  • You can find it at CVS pharmacy.

7.  Boogie Wipes
  • These work so well for cleaning a wee ones face--and they smell so good!  They are especially helpful for those snotty noses that most babies don't like to have messed with.  AJ has never scoffed at a boogie wipe.  They're gentle and they work.
  • You can find them at Target.

8.  Closet dividers
  • These are small and may seem unimportant to some of you.  But they are really helpful!  All of those little bitty clothes start to run together pretty easily--especially after they've been worn and you go to put them back up.  These are a simple way to help keep that closet and all those clothes organized by size, making it easier to find what you're looking for and put it back up.
  • You can find them several places online, most stores that carry baby gear, or you can get crafty and make them yourself!

9.  Bathseat
  • We were able to borrow this one from my sister (the perks of having an older sibling who has kids before you are endless!) and I LOVE it!  Bella is sitting up now so we could start making the transition to the bathtub.  But as easy and convenient as this thing is, I haven't wanted to!  It fits sideways in our sink so I can bathe her standing up--something my back and knees greatly love.  With our little sprayer, bath time is so simple.  Before her cord fell off and we were having to do sponge baths, I set it on a towel on the counter.  It keeps her where I want her and gives her some support.  It can also sit in the tub to give them a little water on their booties to help keep them warm.  Plus it reclines to three different levels and folds up flat for easy storage and travel!  I actually prefer to use it without the headrest--to me, it just gets in the way.
  • You can find them at Target or Walmart.  

10.  Shutterfly books
  • Or any other site that allows you to create your own photo book.  I got several Shutterfly rewards from my registries that I just used them--and now I've used them several times over and have been pleased every time!
  • The fist book I made was of a few maternity pictures, us in the hospital, and our first day home.  I wanted to be able to have something of that special time and it would take up too much room in her baby book to give it the proper explanation I wanted to.  It's something I already cherish and know it will only become more invaluable as the years go on.  I also made smaller versions for the grandmas for Christmas.  
  • I plan to make one of these for each child we have.  I also plan to use these as their yearly scrapbooks, making one for each child for each year of their life.  It will be a great keepsake when they're grown.  I'm only seven months in, and I already love looking back on the one of her birth.  Below are a few example pages from the one I made when we had Arabella.

Other advice:  
  • Cook up several meals and freeze them--your baby will keep you busy and tired.  Having meals cooked and ready to go will be a huge help.
  • Don't refuse help.  Don't allow people to smother you--you need time together as a new family.  But don't let your pride get in the way either.  Let people watch the baby while you nap.  Let people cook for you.  Let people clean your house.  If they offer, be grateful and accept the help (as long as the person is a help not a stresser).
  • Ask for help when you need it.  Pride can be quite the obstacle.  But you have your limits.  Recognize them and ask for help when you've reached them.  It's much better to do this that to wait too long and everyone be on the verge of a breakdown.  
  • Set up a routine as soon as you can.  It will help you and your baby both if you know what's coming and what to expect.  It can be flexible, by all means.  Life isn't the same every day.  But if you have a routine set up, you will more easily know what your baby is wanting and how to calm him/her.  You'll also feel better knowing what your day holds every day.
  • Don't keep your house quiet.  Keep your voices the same level you would normally talk.  Leave the TV on at its normal volume.  If your baby gets used to sleeping in the quiet, that's the only way she'll sleep--and that can be difficult to accomplish sometimes.  We keep a box fan going in her room at night.  Everyone sleeps better with white noise, including babies and kids.  And during her naps during the day, she doesn't wake up when someone talks or if the TV or radio gets turned on--she's used to noise.  It makes me a lot less worrisome that she'll wake up if something out of the norm happens.  It also means she's able to sleep when we're out and about--and on days filled with errands, that's huge.
  • There's no such thing as too many pictures.  Take them all day every day.  They grow way too fast (I'm sure you've heard that somewhere before...).  Document everything.
  • Make sure your hubby helps out.  He's a man and he'll try to get out of things; plus they're just wired really differently and sometimes they just don't recognize what needs to be done.  Even if it's true that you do it better and quicker, make him learn and make him help.  It'll make him a more involved and better daddy, and it will put less stress on your relationship with him. 
  • Remember that you're the mama.  People all over will try to tell you what to do and what is wrong with your child.  Most of the time it's with the best intention, but it doesn't always come well received.  You know what's best for your baby.  Set boundaries and don't doubt what you know about your own child.  
  • Laugh.  Food will be spilled all over the floor, dog bones and toys will be chewed on, newly changed clothes will be spit up or peed on.  Just laugh about it and move on.  You're making memories.
  • Love your baby the best way that you know how
Enjoy your wee ones!  Hope this helps

love, angie

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mother's Day

I know I'm a couple of weeks late.  But if you look back at my post about how crazy our lives have been lately, you might understand.  Mother's Day fell in the midst of all of that craziness...  So I'm posting today.

My mama.  She's a pretty special little lady--and she really is little :)  There hasn't been a time that I can remember when she wasn't willing to give up her plans, stay up late to help with something or just to talk, chaperone our school trips and cheer us on.  Mother/Daughter relationships can be tricky sometimes--the bickering and boundaries get in the way.  But the love never moves.  Mom and I had our fair share of arguments and tiffs growing up--as every mom and daughter do (I'm sure mine and AJ's will start any day now...).  But now, as an adult, I'm proud to say she's one of my closest friends.

Becoming a mama this past year has also taught me how much my own mama must love me and my sisters.  It's a feeling that can't be explained--you can only understand by experiencing it yourself.  

Those countless nights of staying up with a crying baby; changing diapers and clothes; bath time, bed time, nap time; sickness and snotty noses.  Mamas clean up the mess and kiss away the troubles.  Their being holds the definition of patience.  They also hold one of the truest forms of love.

They're heroes...

This past year, I also became a mama to a beautiful little girl.  Every day is my mother's day as I'm able to take care of her, provide for her, play with her, and love her.  She is such a precious gift.  I hope I make her proud to have me as a mama.  

No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother's love.  It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.  
~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

Memorial Day

I had the amazing privilege during my teaching career to organize and chaperone two trips to Washington DC with my students.  Visiting the home of our nation's beginnings; witnessing invaluable documents; standing in the places where our brave and incredible founding fathers once stood; walking through memorials dedicated to those who gave everything they had for this country...  It was absolutely incredible.  One of the most amazing experiences of my those trips and my life so far was touring Arlington National Cemetery.  It is truly humbling and awe inspiring to walk among the resting places of so many who gave their life for me.

This country by all means has its faults.  But I am proud to belong to it and beyond grateful for the life I'm free to have here.

Thank you seems so inadequate for all our service men and women have done and continue to do for us.  The ultimate sacrifice is given by them and their families.  We are forever indebted.

Korean War Memorial

WWII Memorial
WWII Memorial--Here we mark the price of Freedom.

WWII Memorial--Each star represents 100 soldiers who died or were missing in the war.
Iwo Jima Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Entering Hallowed Grounds
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

A fallen friend, laid to rest in a true place of honor.  We'll see you again soon, Dustin.

Thank you for paying the price of earthly freedom.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

American Idol!

I never was much on the American Idol bandwagon.  Until Casey Abrams came around last year... Hunter and I fell in love with him and he got us hooked on the show.  Now, we're tried and true riders on the AI train...

Loved us some Casey Abrams!
This year has been the first time we have watched it all the way through, starting with auditions.  We've really enjoyed it--although some of our favorites got cut way before we thought they should...

Johnny Keyser--I thought he was going to be in it for the long haul for sure during his audition.
Lauren Gray--loved her Norah Jonesesque style and sound 
Reed Grimm--he was just a cool cat and oh so truly talented
I also really like Elise.  Her voice was so smooth and she has such power in it.  

love this song, love both of them, loved this duet!

She KILLED this performance!

One thing that was really awesome about this season was that Josh Ledet is from Westlake--which is in the Lake Charles area where Hunter and I are from!  We loved seeing our home on national TV, getting a glorious spotlight--and seeing the support that our people will pour out on one of their own.  Not to mention, he is an incredibly talented singer/performer!  We were bummed when he got voted off last week, but there's no doubt we'll be buying his CD when he releases one :)

He gets after it and we love him!
Oh Joshua

Good ole Calcasieu Parish...Home Sweet Home

That leaves the finale...Jessica and Phillip.  

Jessica just plain annoys me.  The girl has got some pipes--don't get me wrong.  But her immaturity and personality, plus her song choices and stage presence just don't bode well with me.  

Phillip on the he makes my heart sing right along with him!  He has a pure, authentic style all his own, and despite the attempts of the producers, stylists, and public, he has not changed who he is for any amount of fame or glory.  He has a bluesy swoon to his voice that just carries me to my happy place.  Man oh man...I hope he wins!  (I was REALLY hoping for it to come down to Joshua and Phillip--then it would be a win/win for me no matter who took the title!)

Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.  Love that Phillip Phillips! 
I get so excited when he gets in his groove!  Oh, love him
Not to mention, Jessica would be home long ago without the judges' save--and Phillip has never been in the bottom, ever!

Here's hoping for Phillip Phillips!

LOVED his single!

This performance gave me "goosies"!  Melts my heart every time...

Can't wait for tonight!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Simple Man

I've always loved this song--both for the music and tune as well as the lyrics.  They serve as the basis of the lessons I want to teach my son if the Lord blesses me with one some day.  Bask in the simplicity of life and enjoy the little things that are big blessings.  It's the kind of man I married--the best kind in my opinion.

I actually prefer Shinedown's cover to the original by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Simple Man

My mama told me when I was young
Said sit beside me my only son

And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it'll help you some sunny day
Oh, yeah it will

Oh, take your time, don't live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You'll find a woman and you'll find love
And don't forget that there is a someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
And be something you'll love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can

Don't get your lust from the rich man's gold
All that you need now is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby if you try
All that I want from you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
And be something you'll love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can

Oh, don't you worry, you'll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby if you try
All that I want from you my son is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you'll love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can
So baby be a simple, be a simple man
Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can?

Monday, May 21, 2012

I love this crazy life.

Wow--it's been a while!  And while I was away, blogger got a I have to figure this all out again!

We have been SO busy this past month, it's just about been ridiculous.  May 3, we left dark and early for my sister's in Kansas City.  Between then and yesterday afternoon, we had been home about 60 nonconsecutive hours (and that includes the very few nights we were able to sleep here!).  We were quite the little roadrunners, adding about 4,000 miles traveled to our log...and praise the Lord for a well behaved baby because she did great through it all!

Here are a few clips of our crazy busy month of May:

Had to have a little Jack Stack while we were in Kansas City.  And Bella learned how to sit in a high chair like a big girl while we were up there!

Daddy built Aunt Chelle some shelves so she could have a pantry.  Bella was the sweetest little spice on the shelf!

We were able to squeeze in a family photo shoot--great birthday present!  This is just a tease.  I'll post some more another time; they are great!  Cherish Anderson Photography is fabuloso!

We got home from Michelle's Wednesday night just in time to pull into the church parking lot for services.  We went in and taught our youth group class of kiddos and then had a committee meeting.  We had stopped to get dinner and just walked in the door at 10 when Hunter's mom called to let us know that Hunter's grandpa had passed away.  He had been sick for a while, but the news never comes easy.

Richard "Dickie" Courmier
April 7, 1942-May 9, 2012

Racing wheelchairs with their Pop during one of our visits a few weeks before he passed.

Pop and Arabella
The service was Saturday.  Sunday, Hunter and I unpacked and repacked, celebrated a very quick Mother's Day, and then headed separate ways--he went to San Antonio for work and I went to Alexandria to keep my best friend's son while she went back to work.

My sweet Mother's day card from my boy and my bug. 
A glimpse at my week with Hudson (3 months) and Arabella (6 months) :)  

Two babies in a buggy!  Mamas had to go to Walmart--they squeezed into one cart :)
Future Tech Bulldogs right there!
Melissa, Rachel, and I with our wee tots.  Three best friends with three adorable babies.  I love that we all started our little families around the same time so our kids can grow up together!

Our sweet babies--they'll be a handful together in a few more months!  Peyton (7 months), Hudson (3 months), and Arabella (6 months)

We got home late Friday night from our separate trips, unpacked and cleaned up a little, feel into bed, and headed to Houston the next day.  Our best friend, Clay, ran in the Memorial Herman IronMan triathlon this past weekend.  He's always dreamed of competing in one and we always promised him we would be there to cheer him on if he did.  Well he did, and we were there.  He finished and now holds the title of IronMan!  We are so incredibly proud--it's just unreal what he accomplished.

For those of you who don't know what the IronMan is--it is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race, and marathon (26.2 mile run).  They start at 7am and have until midnight to complete it in order to qualify and earn the title.

Had to make Bella a onesie to support him!  Go Uncle Claybird!

The back--IronMan 2012 (thank goodness the M dot is an easy symbol to artistic abilities are slim)

AJ with the FINISHER!!  He was worn out, but had to sneak in a photo op with his little cheerleader :)

And then we got home at about 2:15 Sunday morning, got up and went to church followed by our Senior banquet for the graduates.  Hunter was one of the presenters/speakers and I had been working all week/weekend working on and finishing up the slideshow.

Needless to say that night, we had NO trouble falling asleep!

We were crazy busy, but we got to spend time with so many friends and family and make some incredible memories.  Hopefully we're home to stay for a while though...

love, angie