Family Portrait

I've been a bit MIA, just being more in the moment with my family and focusing on what is really important. I have been dying to get family photos taken since Kennedy was born and 8 months later it finally happened, not too shabby! We were fortunate enough to connect with the amazing husband + wife duo of Young Love Media (Jimmy + Dani) here in our little town of Cold Spring, NY and they captured some stunning moments of our family. They were absolutely amazing to work with and these photos will stand as a constant reminder that even when my world seems chaotic and overwhelming, life is in fact really freaking amazing and in the words of Jack "look how happy our baby is, we are doing good."!

Here are some pictures!

Feeling Good

I have been very vocal about my bad days because it's very therapeutic and if I can make even one person feel better by being relatable it makes me feel damn good. But I have been in a really good place lately and I want to make sure I have these memories jotted down as well. 

There is some irony behind this because I'm feeling overwhelmed about a few things (shocker)! I'm trying to find balance between my work and taking care of Kennedy, I want to make sure that my time with her is productive and well spent. We are finally playing with the idea of buying a home (jeez that sounds so damn adult) but are struggling because being self employed you need FOUR years of history and we only have two (ugh)!! I have some relationships that have faded after me holding on real tight for so long! So with all of that how is it that I'm deeming this as a very happy moment in time that I want to bottle up and remember forever? Am I crazy? Perhaps, but that's beside the point. My mindset is different, for some reason I'm seeing the positive in all of the above and it actually wasn't a conscious decision.

My trying to find balance working from home; I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to work from home doing things I love and care for my daughter! Difficulty getting a loan because we are self employed, dude we are bosses...maybe not balling but we are bosses and are creating a legacy and creating a lifestyle that works for us not one that we are forced to live. Lost relationships, shit sucks bad especially because of where I'm at in life. I want to share it with the world but the truth is, the relationships that faded were one sided and draining me emotionally; also, now that my energy is not being spent chasing folks I can invest more time in those that are equally invested. Basically, I'm creating the life I want and it's not always easy in fact it's pretty hard at times (no guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck, the pain that comes with  realizing people who you were so invested in aren't equally, etc) which is why I want to bottle up these feelings. 

I don't like to extend advice because come on what do I know, this thing called life is one giant learning experience BUT let me tell ya changing my mindset has been instrumental to my happiness! I'm not letting fear get in my way; fear of failure, fear of not being accepted, fear of not impressing, fear of making the wrong choice...F THAT, I GOT THIS, YOU GOT THIS! Life is too short to not do what makes you happy! 

There was a saying I remember hearing that now seems so relevant:

Grant me the SERENITY to accept things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and WISDOM to know the difference. 

 

Newborn Nooks

Umm so people really gave a crap about my newborn must have list, wow! That post triggered a few questions about the "nooks" I spoke of. This post is a break down of my nooks, both the nursery nook and the nook in our living room. 

NURSERY NOOK. 

We decided to create a nursery nook for Kennedy in our room instead of building a nursery in a separate room. As I've mentioned in the past we are simple minimalist folks, we still like pretty things but we don't like clutter and unnecessary items...a clean, simple, and practical space is what we were going for. From what we heard those early weeks and months would mean lots of middle of the night feedings and changes, we also heard that the baby wouldn't do much but eat and sleep during that time so we didn't need toys (other than the jungle gym).

Here's what the nursery nook included furniture wise:

  • Bassinet. This is where Kennedy slept every night, in our room but not in our bed.
  • Dresser. A plain white 3 drawer dresser from Ikea that also doubled as her changing table. We made it our own by purchasing knobs from Anthropologie. We also purchased drawer divider boxes in various sizes to organize the drawers which were especially helpful since her stuff is so tiny. On top of the dresser we have: changing pad, noise machine, hand sanitizer, humidifier, audio monitor and a salt lamp.
  • Wall Shelf. This helped us with additional storage and decor space without taking up actual space in our room. We put a woven basket on it to hold swaddles because we went through those DAILY.
  • Accordion Rack. This was another decor piece that also doubled as storage. This is where I hung her little headbands, turbans, bonnets, and an occasional "pretty outfit". 
  • Wall Mirror. 
  • Diaper Genie. Initially I didn't want this because it didn't seem like a "necessity" and I guess technically it isn't but I am glad Jack was persistent about getting one. There are so many diaper changes and since our kitchen is downstairs for the convenience factor the diaper pail was a huge help not to mention it helped with keeping dirty diaper funk out. 
  • Laundry Bag. Simply hung a laundry bag on our door for her dirty clothes. 

LIVING ROOM NOOK.

Our bedrooms are upstairs and the living room is downstairs so we decided to create a little nook downstairs since that is where we spend the bulk of our time. The living room nook has changed slightly now that she is 6 months but I will share what it was like from the day she came home from the hospital and the first 5 months. 

  • Wicker Bassinet/ Moses Basket. This was her place to sleep, hang, and get changed up until 5 months. I placed a sheepskin mat from Ikea in the bassinet as well for additional padding. I still use the wicker basket and the mat just for something different now. 
  • Jungle Gym. When she wasn't sleeping or being cuddled we would lay Kennedy down under the jungle gym to work on her focus and grabbing.
  • Ikea Raskog Utility Cart. This is key! This cart holds it all and allows me to have everything I need for the baby downstairs in an orderly manner. I keep a diaper caddy in the top level but you honestly can do without and I keep: diapers, wipes, a portable changing pad (like the ones you find in a diaper bag) ointments, swaddles, hand sanitizer, a nail file and pacifiers in there. The middle tier had swaddles and breast pumping supplies. The bottom tier has Dreft cleaning wipes, one of those drawer dividers to toss any of her clothes in that we take off downstairs.
  • Foam Mats. I only got 4 mats and they were black, I didn't go with the colorful alphabet set...I simply don't have the space for that. The mats are great for floor time be it tummy time or on the back especially once the baby starts becoming mobile like kicking their feet, lifting their head etc. 
  • Woven Basket. I set this up initially for any clothes or any of her items that belonged in our room upstairs so again it wouldn't be all over the place. Now I use it for any toys that are not in use downstairs (you don't have to worry about toys until they're a few months).

*I put the wicker bassinet on a small area rug to give it the feel of it's own section. 

As always, we kept things simple and practical! These specific setups were for newborn days up until about 5-6 months, now we have started to make some changes to grow with our growing baby and I'll share that later on. Let me know if you have any questions via email or in the comments.

Must Have Newborn Products

I have not quite come to grips with folks actually turning to me for mom advice, it's still weird when I say "my daughter"! I always say I do not really have advice because every baby is different, every family is different, and every lifestyle is different; however, I love this community I would love to share what has worked for us so far. You'll notice that my suggested items are from all over which is why I created my registry on Babylist.com, it gave me the flexibility to really customize my registry plus they had a ton of guides which I needed!

Now a little background on us and our lifestyle: we LIVE in our house (meaning no "look but don't touch" here), we love simple and dislike clutter (I did not want a ton of UNNECESSARY baby crap, just because it was labeled "baby"), we wanted to try self soothing techniques, and we are out and about quite often.

Below are the products that have been my MUST HAVES in the first 3 months. She's using more things now but I want to focus on newborn essentials for this post because I remember feeling so overwhelmed when I was pregnant because I was so unsure of what I needed. The truth of the matter is you don't need much in those first few months, like a high chair and sippy cups for example! I hope this helps and again, this is what worked for us!

  1. SWADDLE SWADDLE SWADDLE! Before Kennedy arrived we had so many swaddles (receiving blankets) and I was so sure we would never use them all BUT that is our most frequently used item. We use those blankets for everything: swaddling (game changer), a light blanket, car seat cover, on the floor for play time, burp cloth when I've forgotten a real one etc! We also have them EVERYWHERE...the car, the stroler, diaper bag, our room, her room, living room, grandmas house...EVERYWHERE! I use Aden and Anais; they're super soft, a breathable fabric, machine washable, and they have great prints (just saying). Link to: Aden & Anais Swaddle
  2. ALL THINGS FRIDA BABY. Everything Frida Baby is amazing, legit game changers. The Nose Frida is used religiously in our house (I'm crazy with boogers haha) and I even purchased an extra one for the diaper bag. It really is just so easy and more importantly it gets the job done (pair it with a saline solutions for babies, totally safe from day 1 but obviously check with your doctor). The Windi has been a real life saver, it has cured every gas issue and major fuss fest we have encountered..it is practically instant relief for your little one (and you). The Medicine Dispenser has made giving medicine a breeze and NO MESS, you have no idea how quickly Cherry Tylenol stains. Link to: Windi, Nose, and Medicine
  3. DIAPER BAG. For starters, I highly suggest a book bag style diaper bag because if you're anything like me shoulder bags constantly slip off and when you've got a baby in tow that is extra annoying. Up until a few weeks ago I was using a book bag I had already and just used a diaper bag insert which essentially turns any of your bags into a diaper bag, so if you still want to rock your favorite purse or be able to rotate bags this is a great option. (link to Insert:) Recently, I got an actual diaper bag (still back pack style) and it is GREAT. For starters, it stays open when open so you have full visibility of what's going on in there. It also has different compartments both inside and out which make organizing your diaper bag easy (an organized diaper bag is so key, I'm still working on it ha). I have the Citi Babies diaper bag (link to: Citi Babies Diaper Bag) it's also very affordable and looks good on both me and Jack ha. Also, make sure your diaper bag has a changing mat in it; most come with it (the two above do) if not throw one in there it is a must when you're on the go. 
  4. CHANGING PAD. I cannot stress enough how much I love my Bumbo changing pad! It is a wipe down changing pad; meaning no changing the cover. I'm actually not sure why the traditional changing pad and cover system still exists; seriously, Kennedy has pissed on the damn changing pad more times than I can count! I can't imagine having to not only change her but then change the changing pad and add something else to the laundry; again you simply wipe down the Bumbo changing pad if there is ever an accident. (I use Dreft wipes). The Bumbo changing pad is a bit more than the traditional pads but you don't have to buy any covers so they end up evening out in price. Link to: Bumbo Changing Pad, Dreft Wipes
  5. WHITE NOISE MACHINE. This was especially helpful in the earlier weeks and months but definitely still works now at 5 months. I have used everything from an app on my phone, to youtube videos of the shush noise, to actual white noise machines. I keep one in the car (on her car seat so it travels with us) and we have one at home near her bassinet. It is a comforting noise and it also helps her associate a noise with sleep which is helpful to wind her down. PS it doesn't have to be a new purchase, you can use a phone, a speaker, iPod etc. Link to: Whale White Noise Machine
  6. BABY SINK TUB. Before Kennedy was even born, bathing a baby freaked me out...they're so small and then slippery when wet...scary! A sink tub was perfect for the first few months (a little longer for most others, remember Kennedy was a big ol' baby). We used the PUJ, it's soft and sturdy, she fit perfectly in it and there was no chance of me putting too much water which gave me peace of mind. (Side note I only use Mustela bath products, amazing on her skin and smells so yummy. Also, make sure you have baby wash cloths.)          Link to: Puj Sink Tub
  7. BASSINET. For the first weeks AT LEAST (we lucked out with K) your baby is going to be eating pretty much around the clock which means good ol' middle of the night feedings. With that being said convenience was a huge factor here for me, if I was going to have to get up in the middle of the night A LOT for feedings I didn't want to have to go very far so we setup a bassinet in our room. I went back and forth with this idea because I was all "I don't want the baby to get used to being in our room, our room is our sacred place"...lol silly me, thankfully I stuck to logic and convenience! Also, our house is two floors so I set up a wicker bassinet (mainly because I thought it was so damn cute) which we used ALL the time for naps, to change her diaper, a place to hold her while we did what we needed to (that worked until she was able to rock herself lol), and now that she can sit up we have it on the floor for her to sit in or lay in...eventually it will hold her toys or blankets. Link to: The Snoo, Wicker Bassinet
  8. PACIFIER CLIPS. "Have you seen her pacifiers?" literally something we say daily. Maybe it's just us but pacifiers are like socks and bobby pins in this house; they always go missing. They sell the pacifier clips everywhere from big name stores to Etsy shops, I actually just purchased the metal parts (a pack of like 10) and just braided some string (AFTER I realized pacifiers disappear). Link to: Clips to DIY
  9. ONESIES. Onesies are life!  Kennedy literally lives in onesies; be it the only thing she's wearing or it is layered under her clothes...we use them every single day. Throw some socks in there while you're at it. 
  10. NAIL FILE. I dreaded the thought of cutting baby nails but it turns out in the very beginning they're too thin to cut so you just peel them then eventually you can file then cut. Once I found out I could file I stuck to that; it's easier, safer (for me), and they're not jagged like they are after cutting so less scratches. Link to: Baby Nail File
  11. BIBS/BURP CLOTHS. One of my friends mentioned that bibs and burp cloths are her go to gifts when she goes to a shower because everyone forgets about them since they're not "cute" or "fun" but they're such a necessity and boy was she right. Bibs and burp cloths are LIFE. I actually just registered for Plain Jane white cotton onesies, I'm pretty sure they're the ones people use at showers to decorate but they were clutch. First of all a bib gets DIRTY especially in the first few months when babies (or at least Kennedy) spit up and vomit A LOT! The burp cloths were great to put on our shoulders when burping and to clean up any messes on her or us. (The Burts Bee ones are soooo soft). Link to: Plain AF Bibs, Soft AF Burp Cloths
  12. DREFT TO GO SPRAY. Just trust me and put this in your diaper bag! Accidents happen and the Dreft spray is better than any Tide stick I've used! I actually have one in my purse, the car, and in the house! Link to: Dreft To Go
  13. JUNGLE GYM. I don't even know if that's what it's called but you know the thing that they look at and play with while on their backs. I got the IKEA one (I actually got quite a few things from IKEA) and I love it (she loves it too)! I learned that babies actually only see black, white, and red for a few months so that's why you're supposed to use high contrast like black and white and the IKEA "jungle gym" thing is wood with black, white, red, and blue dangly things...so it is simple and EFFECTIVE (my favorite), I do not like unnecessary bells and whistles. Oh and inexpensive...winning! Link to: Ikea Gym
  14. BABY CARRIER. I personally LOVE wearing Kennedy and so does Jack so we have a few but our top two carriers are the Solly and the Ergo. The Solly was great when she was a newbie because it's soooo soft and it's a wrap so you can get a custom fit and get the baby nice and snug. Also, Kennedy was a summer baby so the fabric felt very breathable (for her skin and mine). The Ergo is my go to for all things active, basically anything outside of a leisurely stroll or sitting down at a restaurant (again early months talk, I would wear her when we went out to eat in town opposed to lugging a stroller around). I use the Ergo for hiking and traveling for sure, it is by far the most secure carrier in my opinion and there are numerous ways to wear it which is nice (meaning she can face me or face the world). Carriers aren't for everyone, be it lifestyle or personal preference. It suits our lifestyle perfect though; the ability to be hands free while with the baby makes going for a stroll easy and getting on the train a breeze! Link to: Ergo 360
  15. POOP BAGS. Again no idea what they're actually called but they look like the poop bags you use for dogs. I always have one clipped inside my diaper bag in case I'm changing a diaper some place other than a bathroom. I toss the dirty diaper in the little scented bag until I find a trash and I don't walk around smelling like poop nor does the diaper bag get funky. Link to: Poop Bags, Poop Bag Carrier
  16. SEAT/ROCKER.  Like I mentioned in the intro of this post we were big on self soothing so we opted out of the oh so popular Fisher Price Rock n Play and went for the Baby Bjorn Bouncer.  Unlike most bouncer this one has NO power button eventually the baby will learn to rock themselves to soothe opposed to being dependent on the machine.  We plopped her in there when we need free hands or just so she could chill, especially as time went on and she didn't want to lay on her back in the bassinet for no reason ha. This again like a lot of my things is very simple in design and EFFECTIVE, it also has has a life of 2 years...meaning it goes from newborn to two years old...talk about getting your monies worth! And it folds and weighs NOTHING so it was easy to bring from room to room or when we would visit people. Link to: Baby Bjorn Bouncer 
  17. FOAM MATS. Tummy time is super important and when babes aren't on their tummy they're on they're back so you want to make sure you have a safe and comfortable surface for them. I opted out of the very bright and large alphabet mats (she'll learn her letters another way) and went for plain black foam mats that are firm yet cushiony and would just throw a blanket over it (if I remembered).               Link to: Mat
  18. SECONDARY DIAPER STATION. While our house is small, it is two floors with the living space being downstairs. We spend a majority of our time downstairs so we set up a Kennedy "nook" so that her stuff was in one place. We used an Ikea cart and a diaper caddy that held: diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, a foldable changing mat (like the kind that would be in your diaper bag). Link to: Cart, Diaper Caddy

Okay that's what stood out for me as MUST HAVES (I even checked with Jack to make sure I wasn't missing anything). The above were things we used every single day in those first 3 months and even to this day. Below is a list of the more obvious must haves for a life with a newborn:

  1. Car Seat
  2. Stroller
  3. Bottles / Nipples
  4. Pacifiers
  5. Leak pads (for your nipples because you will leak!)
  6. Pump (all the pieces, bottles, etc)
  7. Hands Free Pumping Bra (optional but SUPER helpful, don't know why you wouldn't use it)
  8. Robe (for the hospital and once you're home)
  9. Diapers / Wipes 
  10. Baby Tylenol (I'm sooo not a medicine person and was pushing Kennedy in that direction as well but the day she finally needed it I wish I had it on hand instead of having to run out for it)
  11. Monitor. Honestly, we used a $20 audio monitor and really just used it as a walky talky system for us ha. I didn't see the need for the video monitor for a little baby...MY PERSONAL OPINION. However, now that she is mobile I will get one.

THINGS I DID NOT/HAVE NOT USED (EVEN RETURNED):

  1. BOTTLE WARMER
  2. WIPE WARMER
  3. BABY DETERGENT (we ended up using All Free Clear once we ran out of the Dreft baby detergent, although baby detergent smells so yummy...hmm maybe I'll pick up a bottle)
  4. TOYS. Newborns fresh out the hospital do not need toys, hell they are hardly awake and when they are they're eating. The jungle gym and Sophie (Sophie's the bomb, she should be up there) will take care of the toy category in those first three months. 
  5. BOTTLE SANITIZER. We keep it old school and simple...BOIL THAT ISH. Also, they sell bags that you put some water in then you throw the bottles or whatever in and pop it in the microwave to steam aka sanitize. I like that because I can toss it in a drawer when I'm done opposed to taking up a ton of counter space. 

I will work on an updated list for "must haves" you'll need in the months post newborn stage. But if you have any questions shoot me a message or leave a comment. If you're already a parent and think I've left an essential off this list please comment or message me so I can update this list.