Friday, December 8, 2017

Reliving Myspace, Christmas Edition

One time I saw Cady Heron wearing army pants and flip flops, so I bought army pants and flip flops. other bloggers doing this survey, so I'm doing this survey.

1. Real tree or fake tree?
FAKE, and preferably pre-lit. And then I burn my Bath and Body Works Fresh Balsam candle so we can still have that pine scent. Ain't nobody got time to vacuum pine needles all day and night.

2. Favorite Christmas cookie?
Tough call. I'll go with molasses cookies. Not gingerbread cookies...molasses. Like the round, crinkly, chewy kind. The spicier the better.

3. Home on Christmas morning or travel?
Normally, I much prefer to be home on Christmas morning. This year, though, we're flying to Seattle to be with my mom and sister on Christmas. Should be fun, though I can't say I won't miss our nice, quiet, calm Christmas morning at home in our living room.

4. Clear or colored lights?
This is a tough call, and I'm pretty sure the reason for divorce amongst many couples. My husband is firmly in the "clear lights only" camp. I could go either way, so clear lights are generally fine with me. The one time kind of colored lights I really, really love, however...those large-bulbed, retro ones. I could probably be happy with Christmas decorations strictly from the 50s and nothing else. Give me all the mercury glass ornaments/tree toppers, large glass bulbs, bubble lights, ceramic Christmas trees...I love it all.

5. Send Christmas cards?
Absolutely! We've done a photo card every year since we've been married. I usually post a screenshot of our card here on Christmas day so stay tuned if you want to see what this year's card looks like!

6. Favorite Christmas present received?
Everything Isaiah buys me. He always comes up with the most thoughtful gifts, half of the time things I didn't even know I wanted, or things I've mentioned I want but forgot about by the time Christmas rolls around.

7. Favorite Christmas present given?
I don't know if I have a favorite...I like giving gifts in general. Though this year Isaiah and I bought my mom a duvet cover she's been saying she wants for like a year now, and I'm excited for her to open it. We also splurged and bought Imogen a slightly expensive doll for Christmas this year. It's kind of a keepsake type of item, and dude...it has her name. We also bought her a doorway jumper and I'm super excited about that, too. Lately she's been alllll about jumping up and down while we're holding her under her arms, so I imagine the jumper is going to be quite a hit.

8. Stockings or no stockings?
Stockings! We never did stockings growing up for financial reasons, but Isaiah and I have always done them and we really enjoy it. I just ordered Imogen her first stocking and I can't wait for it to get here! Ideas for stocking stuffers for a baby who'll be almost 6 months old at Christmastime?

9. Christmas PJs?
Of course! Every year, I buy a new pair of flannel PJ pants from Old Navy, because they're usually dirt cheap and they have some fun patterns. I totally spaced it this year, though, with everything going on. And even if I were to order a pair right now, by the time they arrived (#alaska) we'd already be gone to Seattle for Christmas. Maybe I'll make a pit stop at Old Navy once we get there, who knows. So far, Imogen is the only one with new Christmas pajamas...

10. Favorite Christmas carol?
Hands down, O Come Emmanuel.

11. Favorite holiday tradition?
Since we do 95% of our Christmas shopping online (#alaska), on Christmas Eve Isaiah and I go into town, brave the crowds, and buy each other a Christmas Eve gift. We set a strict budget limit and see what we can find.

12. Early shopper or last minute?
Early shopper...again, 95% of my shopping has to be done online because again, #alaska.

13. Favorite Christmas movie or t.v. show?
I have a LOT of Christmas movies I really like (Elf, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone) but my two favorites have always been A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life.

14. Favorite holiday beverage?
This year, the drink of the season seems to be hot apple cider. I can't get enough of it.

15. Cookies and milk for Santa?
Santa, schmanta. Cookies and milk for ANGI.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

These Are My Confessions #2 (Christmas Edition)

+ I got a little salty this year toward people decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving even happened. I know it's a commercial thing for stores, so they get a half-hearted pass, but people...what's so wrong with Thanksgiving that we have to completely overlook it and skip straight to Christmas? Maybe I'm just annoyed with this giant effort on the part of half of America to get rid of any holiday that they consider even slightly offensive (Columbus Day, anyone?). It makes me want to celebrate those holidays even harder, so there.

I think gift guides are useless and I have never once been inspired by one. First of all, they're so stereotypical. Wives want makeup, purses, cashmere scarves and fluffy bathrobes. Husbands want flasks, ties, socks, and some sort of electronics gadget. Except not. Second, what are with these "stocking stuffer" gift guides where nothing is under $50? I'm sorry, but $500 watches and iPhones are not stocking stuffers.

+ Get your pitchforks ready...I think that the Elf on a Shelf is ridiculous, and kind of wrong. Maybe I'm a little too opinionated on this, but I think I would just feel so extremely weird flat out lying to Imogen and telling her an elf doll is alive, watching her (um, creepy), and reporting back to Santa. I know people who go all out with the elf and that's fine, whatever, but I will forever hate it. We also don't do Santa (cue the collective gasps and "you're ruining your daughter's childhood" comments).

+ I don't really like "new" Christmas songs very much. There are some artists who do newer songs that I would consider more of a winter song than a Christmas song (for instance, look up The Sweeplings...bomb!) and those are okay, but overall, just give me the classics. Remixed, just fine! But entirely new songs tend to be cheesy, and I don't love cheesy Christmas songs. Unless it's "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," in which case bring on the cheese.

+ I don't think I'm going to do my annual Christmas craft this year. Maybe I will. We'll see. But I kind of don't think I will. There's enough going on with remodeling bathrooms and keeping a 5 month old alive and making travel plans, busting out the hot glue gun and paint and whatever else just isn't at the top of my priority list. Again, we'll see...on a related note, I can't even believe it's been an entire year since we announced we were having a baby.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Life Lately #13

Reading: I've been on a little bit of a reading stall lately but I have two books started that I want to keep plugging away at ASAP...one is Eve in Exile which I've seen recommended by several friends/bloggers lately, and the other is The Devil in the White City. I'm excited to continue reading both!

Watching: Nothing much at the moment, but Isaiah and I just bought the final season (6) of Grimm and we're going to start it this weekend. Series finales are always bittersweet. I'm excited to see how it wraps up, but super bummed we won't have it to look forward to every fall anymore.

Listening to: Christmas music. I've become that person who listens to it before Thanksgiving. I wasn't going to, normally I try and wait until after Thanksgiving, but Isaiah was playing a Christmas album the other day and I got really into it and now it's been all Christmas music, all day. Anything new this year I should be aware of?

Wearing: My mom uniform: Jeans and a sweatshirt. 

Smelling: This pumpkin scented candle I bought from an Etsy shop. It's WONDERFUL. It's a little pricey, but so are Bath and Body Works candles if you don't buy them on sale, and they charge $20 to ship to Alaska anyway...basically the price of a full size candle to start with.

Eating: Angie's Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn. Only 70 calories per cup means I can eat like, five cups. For LUNCH, obviously.

Thinking: That it's safe to say Imogen has finally noticed the cat. She sat in her little activity center (Isaiah calls it her "command center," hahaha) STARING at him sitting on the kitchen table licking himself for a solid ten minutes. 



Loving: The cold but SUNNY weather we've been having the last week! I don't know how long it's supposed to last, but I'm refusing to look at the forecast so I don't get depressed when it tells me we're back to rain and/or snow soon. 

Annoyed with: My still-limited wardrobe. I'm trying not to buy too many new clothes while I work on getting back down to my pre-pregnancy weight but it's hard. I used to feel like I didn't have enough clothes. Now I look in my closet and I'm like, I HAVE SO MANY CLOTHES!!! And I can't wear 80% of them.

Creating: Does remodeling bathrooms count as creating something? I'm going with that. We wanted to do both bathrooms this past weekend, but ran into some snags with the half-bath downstairs (old house + people who didn't know what they were doing when they built the place = every project taking twice as long). It's done now, and hopefully next weekend we'll be able to knock out the full bathroom upstairs relatively quickly now that we know what we're up against and how to fix the problems we're sure to run across.

Nervous about: The fact that I just got summoned for grand jury from January through March. That means I have to report to court every single Thursday (possibly) for three entire months. I had to fill out a questionnaire online after I got my summons and in the comments, I requested to be excused on account of the fact that I will have a 6 month old baby for whom I am the primary caregiver and my husband is a police officer and cannot leave work last minute if I have to serve. I'm hoping they have mercy on me, otherwise I have no idea what I'm going to do.

Laughing at: This video. I have no idea how I even stumbled across it, but the line "it takes me ages before I decide what my dolls should wear" had me rolling. Is this a thing people actually do for a hobby!? ADULTS, I mean?? I had no idea, and I kind of wish I still had no idea.

Anticipating: CHRISTMAS IN SEATTLE...for the first time since 2008!! To say I'm excited would be an understatement. I love, love, LOVE our quiet Christmases at home, but Imogen will be almost 6 months old and I'm so excited to take her to look at Christmas lights and see her (hopefully) crawl around my mom's house.

Friday, November 10, 2017

I have thoughts #3

The last time I wrote an "I have thoughts" post, Imogen had just gotten her 2 month vaccines. As luck would have it, this time around she just had her 4 month vaccines. I was hoping she'd get through them unscathed, but good grief. It was so much worse this time around. Last time she had a low fever for about a day and a half and was really sleepy the day of the shots, and that was it. She was fine. This time, she started feeling feverish that same afternoon, and the entire next day and night. She was tired. She was fussy. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to be awake. She wanted to eat. She didn't want to eat. She has only had two dirty diapers since then (TMI, sorry, but it is Friday and her shots were on Monday and that's not comfortable for anyone) and both were really runny thanks to the Rotavirus vaccine. Yesterday she went on a feeding strike and it was all I could do to get her to eat the bare minimum for most of the day. Today she is refusing to nap longer than 30 minutes at a time. I don't know how much of this is vaccine related and how much of it is age-related, since she just turned four months, but good grief. I'm exhausted from this week.

I attempted to make homemade apple cider today, and it. is. DELICIOUS. I posted the recipe on my Instagram story but if you missed it, let me know and I'll send you the recipe. It's so stinking easy, I don't know why I've never tried it before. I used honeycrisp apples. I can't wait to heat some up later this evening.

I've been on a book-buying streak for the baby lately, which isn't weird or anything but I need your recommendations for board books. We don't have nearly enough (is that possible, though?) There are only two shops in town that sell board books and they're all overpriced; I can get them cheaper on Amazon. Problem is, then I can't look inside them to see if I like them. We like really good illustrations, and a cute story. Examples of books we have and love: The Quiet Book, Red Wagon, A Lullaby for Little One, anything Peter Rabbit-related, and so on and so forth. Send me your suggestions!

Speaking of Peter Rabbit, is it too early to start planning Imogen's first birthday party? Don't answer that.

I bought a chalkboard and chalk pens recently and I've been obsessed with changing it up almost every single day. More often than not, it displays either a Ron Swanson quote or a Michael Scott quote. Today I plan on surprising Isaiah with a hot apple toddy (hence the apple cider experiment) when he gets home from work, so here's today's board:


With my spiced apple toddy candle burning, of course.

Is anyone else already feeling the pressure of Christmas gifts? I think it's because my mom is already asking me for gift ideas, but I feel like it's much later in November than it actually is. Like, is it really only the 10th? Surely December is like, next week. Daylight saving hasn't helped. I know, it's "the thing" for everyone to complain about, but I really hate it. I hate that it gets dark at like 4pm now, I hate that I'm ready for bed by 6:30, and I really couldn't care less that it's light at 8am again. Yay, that'll last all of a few weeks before we're down to about 6 hours of daylight. Take your daylight "saving" and shove it, Benjamin Franklin.

We're going to remodel our bathrooms and laundry room this weekend. Lord, beer us strength. Both bathrooms and the laundry room are getting new flooring; the downstairs half-bath is getting a new vanity, faucet and toilet; the upstairs full bath is getting a new vanity, faucet, medicine cabinet, lighting, and toilet. I'm not too worried about the two bathrooms, but I'm d r e a d i n g moving the washer/dryer and the hot water heater so we can do the floor in the laundry room. We just replaced the hot water heater a couple months ago and it was a complete pain in the you know what, and I'm not excited to move the stupid thing yet again. At least it should be easier to drain this time...the old one hadn't been replaced since it was originally installed in the 1980s, and the bottom was so full of sediment that we had to rig a drainage system to one of the element holes using the hose from our ShopVac. It was an adventure, and not one I'm wanting to repeat any time soon. That said, once the bathrooms and laundry room are finished, our house is DONE in the remodeling department. Five years of projects...anything after this is just bonus points.

Last thing: Thank the Lord it's Friday. Isaiah has been working a crap ton of overtime lately, and I am looking forward to a few days of family time. I may even have a spiked apple cider tonight, myself.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Baby recommendations: 1-3 Months

So, I never thought I'd be the type of person to write a post like this, but then I discovered how much I actually really liked and appreciated recommendation posts when I was pregnant and figured I'd throw in my two cents. You don't even have to be pregnant to like posts like these - all of these would make great baby shower gifts as well!

I know there is a crap ton of gear and recommendations out there, and a lot you really don't actually NEED (though some things are nice to have) - but these truly are some of my favorite things from the first three months of having a baby. I hope it helps if you're either having a baby or trying to buy for someone having one!

Oh - and, as always, none of these links are sponsored because mama don't play like that.

Feeding

+ Boon Grass drying rack. I didn't originally intend to mostly bottle feed Imogen, but out of necessity, it happened. At first, I just had a towel laid out on the kitchen counter to air dry bottles, but it was an eye sore and didn't work that well. Enter the Boon drying rack. I know it's kind of quirky looking, but I like it, and it works well. It's dishwasher safe so I run it through every few days, and it holds a lot more than you'd think based on its size. Even if you aren't bottle feeding and just have pump parts, or other baby items you need to air dry occasionally, it's a nice item to have.

+ Dr. Browns Options bottles. Along the same bottle train, these are the bottles we have been using and I really like them. They're a little more of a pain to clean because of all the parts, but Imogen was an extremely gassy baby and these are the only bottles we tried (and we tried several) that seemed to really actually help her gas issues. It's possible she just happened to start growing out of that phase when we finally bought these, but we're still using them and I still really like them.

Bedtime

+ Little Unicorn muslin crib sheets. I know, I know everyone raves about Little Unicorn products and they're basically the new Aden and Anais, but it's for a good reason. Their stuff is bomb, that's why. Aside from their muslin swaddle blankets and their diaper bags, I absolutely love their crib sheets. We have this hedgehog one and it's probably my favorite crib sheet we own. It's soft, it washes really well, it fits the crib mattress perfectly, it doesn't cost fifty dollars, and it's darn cute. I want ten more of them.

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine/night light. I won't go into excruciatingly long detail about all the features this sound machine/night light has, but we love it. You can connect it to your phone via Bluetooth, you can program favorite light color/sound/volume combos, and the metal ring on top is the on/off "switch" (there are buttons on the bottom, too) so in the middle of the night when you're feeding your infant for the 15th time all you have to do is tap the top to turn it on instead of fumble with finding the on/off switch. It's not fugly like so many other sound machines are, and it even has an "OK to wake" feature for older kids. You can buy patterned covers for it, too, but I like it just plain white.

Bathtime

+ Puj Flyte baby bathtub. There are a TON of options for baby bathtubs out there, but I really wanted one that would fit in our kitchen sink to make bath time really easy. This Puj bathtub has been perfect - it's great quality, rinses clean and folds flat so we can keep it in a closet when we aren't using it. Imogen is in the 90th percentile for height (not sure where she got that) and at 4 months, she is just now starting to look pretty cramped in there. We'll probably be able to use it for another month or two, and then we'll have to graduate to something that fits in the actual bathtub.

+ Shower caddy tote. When I started accumulating baby bath items, I wasn't sure where I was going to store them all. We have really tiny bathrooms and very few closets and I needed something I could cart back and forth to the kitchen from Imogen's bedroom. This shower caddy has been the perfect size to hold her baby shampoo, lotion, hairbrush, Nose Frida, nail clippers, a few washcloths...basically everything needed for baby spa time.

+ Bamboo baby washcloths. Don't get me wrong, you do NOT need to buy special washcloths for bathing your baby. Regular washcloths work just fine. But these are some of the softest washcloths I've ever felt, and for sensitive baby skin, they're wonderful. They wash well and stay just as soft, and they aren't expensive.

+ Tom's of Maine baby lotion. There are tons of baby lotions out there you can choose from, but this has been my favorite by far. You can get fragrance free if you desire, but I really love the lightly scented one. It isn't terribly greasy, it hasn't caused any kind of a reaction on her skin, and it's extremely moisturizing. After I put it on Imogen, I rub the rest into my hands and elbows.

Diapering

+ Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm. Every baby needs a good diaper cream, right? I really like this one. It's cloth diaper safe if you're going that route, it has a really nice herbal smell, and it's all natural. We've not only used it on Imogen's booty, but on her cheeks when she gets a little bit of a breakout, on the inner creases of her elbows when they get a little bit red (from sweat? I have no idea) and underneath her chin/between her neck rolls when she got a tiny bit of a rash in there. It clears all of the above up within a day or two.

+ Munchkin waterproof changing pad liners. I know some people scoff at using a changing pad and sheet for diapering, but I really like using both. Our changing pad sits on top of the dresser, and I honestly like keeping it covered with a sheet just so it's not so ugly to look at. These waterproof changing pad liners make it so I rarely have to change the actual sheet. I will let you know that they need to be washed in COLD water and air dried, otherwise the plastic backing WILL melt. I found that out the hard way, but thankfully they're cheap to replace.

+ Be Bundles snap flip lids. Our favorite wipes are Water Wipes. Unfortunately, the packages don't come with an actual lid, they come with one of those sticky sheet things that after a few times opening and closing the wipes package, lose their stickiness and you end up with dried out wipes. These plastic flip lids have been awesome for getting rid of that problem. They're not too hard to "install" and they seal nice and tight so your wipes don't dry out. I don't know if other brands of wipes have the same type of sticky sheet instead of a lid, but for those that do, I highly recommend getting some of these snap lids.

Things to Wear

+ Zutano fleece booties. These aren't the cheapest baby "shoes" on the market, but I would recommend them a thousand times over if you live somewhere cold. Here in Alaska, I really needed something I could put on Imogen's feet that she couldn't kick off, and so far these are the only things that actually stay on. We have the gray with the pink lining and Isaiah calls them her "elephant shoes." Word to the wise - the sizing is a little different. "3 months" means 0-3 months, not 3-6 months. Imogen is 4 months and I'm going to have to size up very shortly because I bought her the 3 month size a month ago thinking that meant 3-6 months and they'd fit at least until Christmas. Nope.

+ Carter's folded cuff socks. I have a crap ton of socks for Imogen. These are by far my favorite, because they're some of the only ones that (again) she can't kick off. I can un-cuff them and pull them up almost all the way to her knees, which helps them stay on. And, they're stretchy enough that they will likely still fit her when she starts learning to walk, and the little grippy things on the bottom will be nice in a house that is 95% laminate wood flooring.

Playtime

+ IKEA Leka cat rattles. These rattles were perfect when Imogen was first starting to show interest in toys but wasn't very coordinated and had a hard time actually grabbing them. They're small and soft and easy for an infant to grip, and she also loved sticking the tail/feet in her mouth to chew on them. The rattle isn't loud, either (bonus).

+ Skip Hop Activity Mirror. Imogen hated tummy time for the first few months. Like, literally HATED it. She would do well for about thirty seconds and then she would just smash her face into the ground and cry. We tried everything - laying on the ground in front of her, putting small toys in front of her to distract her, propping her up on a pillow or rolled up blanket...nothing worked. Finally, out of sheer desperation (and paranoia that my baby would be the only one in kindergarten unable to hold her head up) I ordered this mirror, knowing that she loved looking at herself in the bathroom mirror, and it worked. She still didn't last a very long time, but being able to look at herself was enough of a distraction to at least get several minutes of tummy time out of her instead of several seconds. Of course, the mirror is an unbreakable one so it's not super clear and everything looks really distorted, but it's not like she was trying to do her makeup in it.

Other Gear

+ Fisher Price Rock and Play. If there's one thing you splurge on, I would highly recommend this. I had more than one person tell me I needed one when I was pregnant, and did I ever. Imogen loved the cradle-like feeling vs. laying flat on her back, and she even slept in it next to our bed for the first three months of her life. I still use it, too - she lays in it and plays with toys in the doorway of the bathroom every day while I shower. We didn't spring for the auto-rocking version, but if you don't mind the cost, there's that option as well.