Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My "Must Have" List for Baby & Mommy

Let's start this post with an analogy that describes the past 3+ weeks of my life:  Cramming super hard for the hardest final of the school year only to walk into the classroom and realize you studied all the wrong shit. 
That my friends, is becoming a new mom.
You can ask a million questions, you can get advice from every which angle, you can read product reviews, you can peruse other "new mommy" blogs, but nothing, I repeat nothing will enable you to make all the right decisions.  And that's 100% ok.
But what can help is knowing some of the products that have kept other moms  from ripping their hair out because nothing will keep their baby from whaling their little head off.
Let's talk swaddling.  For the record, I frickin' hate swaddling my child.  I feel like I'm wrapping my sweet little angel in a frickin' straight jacket every night, and every night it breaks my heart a litte more.  But, while my heart breaks in half, my sanity remains in tact.  So swaddle we go, every evening around 8:30.  We tried several different products with Lara including different types of blankets and as of late, I even purchased the Ergo Brand swaddler that was around $30 for ONE.  Needless to say, we decided to stick with 'ol faithful below and returned the Ergo swaddler.  Our favorite thus far has been the Summer Swaddle Me Blanket Set.  Super soft and just lightweight enough! Note: When registering, pay attention to the sizes.  You only need one pack of each size.  Lara is a tiny little peanut weighing in at a whopping 6 lbs 15 oz, but fits into the small/medium just fine. Make sure to register for all the different sizes.
Since we're talking bedtime, let's talk nightgowns.  Lara has about 1000000000 nightgowns, and while they're super frickin' cute, they're just not that practical.  She's got the footie pajamas, she has the ruffle butt pajamas, she has the gowns, and the list goes on and on.  But, if you're baby is anything like mine, you'll be swaddling them every night so there's really not really a need for all the pj's.   What I wish I had more of are just your everyday, practical white Gerber Onesies.  These are what the babe sleeps in everynight under her Swaddler blanket, not the cutesy footie pj's.  Take my advice, and register for several different sizes of these bad boys. You'll thank me later.
Gerber Onesies Brand Newborn Baby 4-Pack Short Sleeve One-Piece Underwear
Let's talk farting. My girl can rip one with the best of 'em.
For the most part she seems to have no problem, shall we say, relieving herself.  But when bedtime rolls around, her gas pains set in.  We were given a few boxes of the Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops at our showers and I am SO THANKFUL because we use 'em almost daily.  We keep one on our nightstand and one in the diaper bag at all times.
Let's talk baby monitors.  This is one area that we did a TON of research on before purchasing, and I'm so thankful we did because we absolutely LOVE the one we chose.  Jon's family lives about 2.5 hours away, so the Wi-Fi capability was a must and a video monitor that provided great live streaming was also high on our list. I also wanted a large screen for my own personal use. This monitor ticked all of our boxes.  And honestly, for the $300 price tag, it should.  This system allows remote viewing from a computer or via the app you can download on your phone.  It also allows two way communication between viewers and the baby.  When Jon's at work, he can tap into the application on his phone and not only see Lara, but talk to her.  But, if we're talking most dedicated viewer....Jon's Grandma takes the prize.  She's definitely her #1 "fan."
Ok, moving on.  Let's talk spit up.  All babies do it, and their parents are lying if they say "my baby never spits up." So another must have would definitely be burp cloths!!  Thankfully we had a family friend make me about 10 cute little ones and they are literally all over my house.  You definitely want them in every room. Mine are pretty long and have a nice shape that covers my shoulder and chest nicely.  I find the 'ol standard rectangular ones aren't quite as nice as the oblong style. 
 If you can find these bad boys below in your local Babies R Us, scan 'em.  
Babies R Us Girls' 3-Pack Terry Burp Cloths - Babies R Us  - Babies"R"Us
Ok, let's talk bath time.  One thing I was not prepared for was how much my daughter would loathe getting a bath.  I mean, the girl despises it.  But what has made it a tiny bit better is our recent purchase of the Norwex Baby Wash Cloths.  This is one item you can't really register for per say, but for $14.99 it's not going to break the bank to pick some up on your own.  The thing I love about these is that they are super duper soft and they dry her off almost instantly! I don't know about you, but my least favorite part of the shower is getting out. 
My daughter is obviously no different, and I can't blame her. 
Norwex Baby Microfiber Set of 3 Body Pack Wash Cloths; Antibacterical, Antimicrobial
In closing, I want to talk about one last thing....for the mommies.  
Granny panties. 
Get yourself some nice, comfortable granny panties that can "handle" a maxi pad.
After you bring that beautiful little babe into the world, that last thing you're going to want to slip on is a tight lacy thong up your ass crack. There's no better way to say it my friends...the "sexy train" has left the station for now, and that's totally ok.  You just brought a beautiful life into this world, that's a hell of a lot sexier than any pair of undies.  If your husband doesn't agree, get a divorce.
Please please please, if there's one thing you take from this post, let it be this: 
 The higher cut, the better.
And for the record, my thighs do not look like this.  


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Miss Lara's Nursery

5 months.
150+ hours of labor.
4 gallons of paint.
Drills, saws, hammers, wrenches.
Nails, screws...more nails and screws.
AND COUNTLESS trips to local antique malls, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Michaels, her nursery was complete!
{The "L" letter was made from wooden letter from Michaels & white tissue paper roses}

To say that this space was a labor of love would be an understatement. 

Especially considering it started lookin' like this.

One hot mess of brown.
Brown walls, brown carpet, brown brown brown. 

Did I mention the room was brown?

So we primed, painted and painted some more.

Once we got the walls painted. We then had to paint the window trim, bedroom door and closet door trim ALONG with the actual doors themselves....because, you guessed it, they were brown.

We decided to do wainscoting panels on the bottom half to give it the "rustic beachy" look we
were hoping to achieve. 
Once the wainscoting was up, we got to work on the furniture. I had originally wanted to go with all white, but we quickly realized how expensive the white pieces can get, so we decided to go an entirely different direction which included a badass paint sprayer, a crap ton of time sanding and LOTS of paint.
My husband deserves a frickin medal for the COUNTLESS HOURS he spent painting the crib, dresser, cabinet, bookshelf and rocking chair. I was about 7 months pregnant at the time, so I sat my ass in a lawn chair outside the garage with an iced tea in hand, keeping him company.
But as far as actual labor help, I was worthless.
I love you, honey!!!!!

We did a lot of research on painting furniture to ensure it was for the baby. The big key was all in how you seal the pieces.  Be sure and choose a sealer that is non toxic.
Also, if you're thinking of taking on a project such as this, don't take short cuts. Be sure you sand and prime, you'll be so much more thankful you did!! The furniture turned out amazingly beautiful!!

This is the primer we used.  As far as the paint goes, we used the Walmart brand, Color Place, and were thoroughly impressed.  Color selections were plentiful and quality was top notch.

Once the sealer was dry, it was finally time to start putting the room together.
We were SO excited to finally see it all come together!!

Belle even helped. 

For the record, this was the ONE AND ONLY time I've seen this guy read instructions.

And just like that, crib was complete!! 
{Purchased crib from local consignment sale}

Now onto the rest of the nursery...

My dear Mom made ALL of the bedding, even her sheets!! Love you Ma!
We went back and forth on what arrangement to do above her crib.  I even purchased several different pieces, but nothing seemed to quite fit the look I wanted.  I wanted something original. Something I hadn't seen before.
We ended up deciding on the mermaid and were going to try to make it ourselves, but after the exhaustion I had already put my husband thru, I decided for the sake of our marriage that I'd just buy one instead.
 I found a gal on Etsy who designs and paints wooden mermaids. Who frickin knew, right?!?! 

This nook is my absolute favorite part of her room, Lara's Library. We found the row boat, fishing pole and rocking chair at a few antique stores in the area. I have to give credit to Jon for the bobber idea to hold the lettering for her name. I was really concerned they wouldn't look like little bobbers, but I have to admit, I love how they turned out. 

For my baby shower, instead of cards, all my girlfriends brought their favorite children's book with personalized inscriptions in each.  Because of the sentiment in each book, they are all SO special to me and I know they will be to Lara someday as well!!

{Wooden sign from local antique shop}
We scored this little cabinet from our favorite antique mall in Downtown Kansas City.  We removed the doors and used the leftover bedding fabric to panel each of them. 
{Letters from local antique shop}

I saw this mermaid lamp during our babymoon to Naples, but we were concerned about flying it back home with us.  When we got back to Kansas City, we ended up finding it online.  My parents purchased it for us for one of our showers.  The lamp shade that came with it was damaged during transit, so I bought a cheap white one from Walmart and attached this
adorable ribbon to it with my hot glue gun.  Love how it came together.
{Ribbon from JoAnn's Fabric Store}
We snagged this frame from a shell shop in Naples.
This photo is one I will treasure forever...the moment we found out we were having a little girl!!

Ahhh....onto the glider. 
This was one purchase we splurged on and now that Lara is here, I'm so thankful we did. We use it ALL THE TIME.  We researched hundreds of gliders and it was just too scary to purchase one sight unseen, or should I say, "seat" unseen.  We hit up Nebraska Furniture Mart over Memorial Day Weekend and ended up deciding on this one. I wanted one that was overstuffed so it'd be comfortable for just about anyone. Unfortunately the one we chose only came in ivory, so we had to get it custom made.  However, it was super fun being able to choose the fabric!
 I went with a light grey with a small swirl design imprint. 
And yes, it's gender neutral. ;)
{Link to view Glider on Neb. Furniture Mart Website. Ottoman does match but sold separately.}
{Glider brand is Best Home Furnishings. Visit Manufacturers website by clicking here.}
{Dressing table/dresser purchased on Craigslist}

The knobs were again Jon's idea.  He hand selected each of these shells during our trip to Naples. 

This seashell is another one of my favorites because it's a nightlight. 
I love having it for those middle of the night diaper changes!
Frame is from Hallmark, where thankfully, my Ma works.  :)
My Mom got me this frame this past Mother's Day. 
"Great women raise great women who raise great women"
Love it.

And yet another one of Jon's great ideas....a boat wheel converted to bow holder.
I had a totally different idea in mind for her bows, but one day we were strolling thru a local antique store and Jon convinced me to let him put this together.  I have to admit, I'm in love with it.
If there's one thing I learned from designing this nursery,
I married one creative (and super foxy) dude.

My two favorite quotes. I had a gal I found on Etsy design them for me in the colors I wanted.  
She did a great job and was super reasonably priced!
{Frames from Walmart}
These last two pics I wanted to share because they are a tremendous help in keeping me organized!
I purchased the foam hangers and sticker set both from Michaels.  I cut the foam hangers so they could slide onto her closet rod.  The Tupperware stackable containers are of course, from Walmart.
 Just an idea I thought I'd pass along.

And that's a wrap, folks!
This has got to be one of my longest posts EVER. So if you're still reading, thanks for sticking around.  We're pretty proud of the little home we created for our babe. 
I'm so thankful for all the ideas I find out here in the cyber world, so I'm happy to share how we brought our ideas to life.  If any of you have questions or want more info on how we did something, shoot me an email or leave a comment below and I'll be sure and get back to you! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lara Anne's Birth Story

It was 4:50 am.  We were on our way to meet our little girl! 
There is absolutely no words to describe the emotion we felt during that car ride.  Fear, excitement, anticipation, anxiety....but most of all, relief that the day had finally arrived.
August 15th, 2014.
Our little girls birthday.

Before we left the house that morning, we snapped a picture, the last
picture as a family of three.
Once I wrapped my head around the fact that I'd have to have a C-section, I was finally able to see the many blessings & perks that come from having a "scheduled" birth.  One thing I'll forever be thankful for, was being able to prepare (as best you can) for what's to come.  My last day at the office was Wednesday, August 13th.  I said a teary goodbye to my team and hurried out the door before the waterworks really set in.  It was actually much harder than I ever thought it would be, to walk out the office door on that last day. That just goes to show the amazing people I work with day in, day out. 
That evening Jon and I had one last date night at our favorite Thai restaurant where we've celebrated many relationship milestones.  Before leaving, we snapped my last bump pic.

The next day was spent cleaning the house. I've heard of "nesting" but honestly, I had no idea how powerful that feeling actually is.  I mean, I scoured the inside of my microwave. The inside, folks.
After I'd cleaned my little pregnant butt off, my Mom and I hit up Target one last time and enjoyed a much needed mani/pedi session. 
We both walked out of there with shiny pink nails, of course the only appropriate color choice.

The next morning, it was GO time.
When we arrived at the hospital, I began contracting which was a bit terrifying.  They finally subsided once we got settled into the suite outside the operating room.  I slid on my adorable pink & white polka dot hospital gown and settled in for the two hour wait.
It was 5:30 am.
Shortly after Jon and I arrived, both sets of parents joined us in our suite.

I was SO THANKFUL all four of them could be there to "distract" us during the scariest 2 hours of our lives.  We laughed our ass' off, joked around with the nurses & then laughed our ass' off even more when Jon came out of the bathroom all prepped for surgery.
Oversized scrubs tucked into his cowboy boots. 
Sexy, I know. 
At around 7:00 am, lots of people started coming into the suite including the anesthesiologist, nurses, a med student who would be shadowing my doc during the procedure, more nurses and then finally my doctor arrived.  We were still holding out hope that she may have possibly flipped within the past few days, so we did one last sonogram to make sure. 
Of course, our feisty little girl remained sitting on her booty, head up, just comfy as can be.
I thought I would be emotional in that moment, realizing the finality of what was getting ready to happen.  Realizing that a vaginal delivery was absolutely out of the question. 
But you know, I really wasn't. 
I was so ready to meet our baby girl, that nothing could bring us down.
.......and then I walked into the operating room. 

I have never been more overcome with emotion than I was in that moment.  I remember climbing up on the table.  I was shaking all over.  Shaking so hard that you could visually see my entire body convulsing. Jon stood there by my side, solid as a rock. 
Strong and calm.
 The wonderful nurses brought me a warm blanket and wrapped me up in it. 
I began crying a few moments later.  A quiet cry as I was hopeful no one would notice. 
Tears were just streaming down my cheeks. 
I remember feeling so fearful I would cry thru the entire birth of my daughter.  A sweet young nurse, fresh out of school, tried her best to console me but she just wasn't cuttin' it.
Right then, an older female nurse cut in and I remember her just grabbing my hand.  She began talking to me in the calmest voice I've ever heard.  She asked me what I was afraid of, to which I replied, "everything." 
I know, I really gave her something to work with, huh?  ;)
She began talking me thru., step by step, exactly what was happening to me. At the time, they were administering my spinal epidural. 
My anesthesiologist looked like Santa Claus, and I have to say, he gave me the gift of relaxation like I've never felt before.
The next 10 minutes were a blur, but what I remember most were the sweet nurses wiping the tears from my cheeks.  I felt my legs begin to tingle which meant the epidural was working thru my blood stream.  I immediately felt a wave of calm take over my body as they laid me down on the table.  The fear began subsiding allowing the feeling of excitement to sweet over me.
I realized my daughter would be here in just a few short minutes!!!!!
Jon sat right beside me, holding my hand the entire time.  I remember just staring at him as we talked about what was getting ready to happen.  The experience was so peaceful....and quite honestly, beautiful.  Later we talked about that moment, me laying on the table and looking into his eyes.  Those moments, the conversation we shared right before our daughter entered this world,
we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
I told the doctor to tell me everything that was happening. 
I was draped heavily so I couldn't see anything but the anesthesiologist and my husband.  
About 10 minutes later she began bringing our daughter into this world!
"Her legs are out!  Oh, there's her butt.  She just pooped and peed! 
 Her arms are out!  And she's here!" 
I remember the next minute feeling like the longest minute of my life.  She didn't make a noise for what seemed like an eternity!  I was getting very anxious and (yelling at) asking the doctor what was going on.  She told us that Lara had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.  Less than 10 seconds later, the doc lifted our beautiful baby girl up over the drapery so we could see her and right then, she let out one mighty scream!  It was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard!!
It was 8:13 am when our little 6lb 13 oz, 16.75 inch, tiny bundle of joy entered the world.
They quickly whisked her away to the other side of the room where they began cleaning her up.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I lay there listening to our baby girl cry her little lungs off! We knew in that moment that we had one feisty little girl!    

I yelled across the room and asked if she had 10 fingers and 10 toes. 
Because, you know, that was the most pertinent information at the time (NOT)
I could tell the nurses were a bit caught off guard, but I heard them quietly begin counting. 
They hollered back to reassure me that, yes, she did in fact have all her fingers and toes.

They called daddy over to get his first glimpse.  Jon yelled across the room, telling me how beautiful she was.  In these moments, I was a blubbering mess.  I had the sweetest anesthesiologist stationed right by my head who was extremely comforting in all that she did. 
A few minutes later, Jon brought her over to see me for the first time. 
 I could literally feel my heart expand in my chest as it began filling with love for this little girl. 
A love I could have never prepared myself for.



The moment captured above is a moment I'll cherish forever.  The first time I got to kiss her sweet little cheeks....and smell her beautiful little face.  The anesthesiologist held her there, right by my head.  I remember kissing her over and over...and over again.

About 30 minutes later, I was stitched back together and they wheeled me into the room next door for recovery.  They swaddled up our little bundle and let her rest right there beside me. 
That afternoon was somewhat of a blur as I was in and out of sleep most of the day until around 5 or 6:00 pm.  I remember wanting to hold my baby so badly, but with all the morphine in my system, my arms felt like 150 pounds each. I just was not strong (or conscious enough) to really hold her until later that day.
Which meant that this handsome fellow was on diaper duty for the first 24 hours.  He was also my camera man  that day, and I cannot tell you how thankful I am for all the candid shots he captured amidst all the chaos.  These pictures are ones I will treasure forever!!
As the day wore on, the medication began to wear off. I remember feeling very itchy all over, which was a side affect of the morphine working it's way out of my system.  I became quite nauseous mid-afternoon, however our nurses were on the ball.  She immediately got me some medication and later that day, I was able to get down a nice liquid meal for dinner, with a side of ice chips. ;)
I thought I'd be just starving, but honestly, I really wasn't. 
I was consumed with so much emotion that food was the last thing on my mind. 
Our family spent the entire day with us, and even though I was in and out of sleep, it was so comforting to drift off to the sound of them loving on our sweet little girl.
When everyone left that evening, we had some alone time with our Lara Love. 
 And love on her we did!!

Around 1:00 am, we let her go sleep in the nursery so we could get some much needed rest
after all the excitement had that day. 

That next morning was one I'll remember forever.  I was going thru withdrawal from having her gone all night.  When Jon placed her in my arms that next morning, I remember looking down at her in awe of this tiny little being we created. 
I just stared at her for a very long time, feeling a happiness I've never felt. 
I'm a wife.
I'm a daughter.
I'm a friend.
I'm a sister.
I'm an aunt.
And now.....
I'm a mother.