Tried and True Baby Must Haves

Like I've mentioned before, with baby number one you're so excited, probably have a baby shower and everything is new so it's easy to feel like you need all the things! Spoiler alert... you don't! Also a relief if you're a minimalist! Baby's do require a lot of extra things around the house, that’s true, but the simple necessities you really use and NEED are pretty limited!

- Crib: We got our first one from Walmart online and it has been so great! We used it with Huds and Riley, it has held up so well and it’s simple and modern. We did get a second one for this babe from Ikea, just the $78 one and I love it! Riley still sleeps in his crib in their big boy room for now and after two boys using it for almost six years now they have nibbled the top pretty good! That's another tip... don't spend a lot on a crib! There are less expensive options that are sturdy, beautiful and fit any style. All babies chew, jump and ding them up so save a penny where you can!

- Crib Mattress: We caved and got this one for Riley and it was a game changer for his sleep! Why didn't we do it earlier is my only question! Love the two sided feature, infant side is more firm and the toddler side is more cozy! 

- Mattress Protector: Because babies pee out and spit up a lot, grab two!

- Baby towel and washcloths: Sounds silly but I ordered a million different brands finding the best quality of this and these two are such winners! Soft, absorbent, beautiful, simple, can hang in any space and look great! I've tried the "baby" ones that are cute at Target and places like that but they don't soak up water amazingly well and they get nubby after a few washes which drove me nuts!

- Binky: We have used these for over two years with Riley, he got his first one like this in the NICU and we fell in love! They're simple, way smaller in size than most which is great for my little babies and 100% silicone which means hello dishwasher safe! Major selling points for us, the colors are cute and no sayings or anything. I ordered these and these for Taylor because Riley still uses his at nights so we wanted them to look different enough that they didn’t get mixed up! They also needed to be silicone too! These are my favorite of the two because they’re so soft and bendable so they don’t get knocked out as easily. I love the simplicity of them as well, it seems you love them too from all the comments and questions I’ve gotten!

- Swaddles: I have always used and loved the muslin cotton swaddles! I'm not particular to any one brand, usually I just go off the print I love. My mom made me a few for this babe and I love those! They’re plain neutrals and she can make them a little bigger which is nice! I did get a couple jersey ones from Mebie Baby that are super soft and snuggly too!

- Burp cloths: We have had super spitty babies and I have the most talented mom so she makes the prettiest cloths. I'll post some photos of them and maybe a DIY from her so you can make them too! They're amazingly absorbent and like I said, stunning! Taylor is our first (knock on wood) that hasn’t been terrible that way and it has been so refreshing!

- Onesies: Basic white onesies for under everything! Riley still wears a onesie under all outfits unless it's a jumper because while they're in diapers I love everything tucked in and held together so their shirts and tummies aren't hanging out all the time. Carters and H&M ones are the thickest best ones I've found at great prices. Targets "Carter" ones are different so don't fall for those and Gerber baby ones are also thinner and the snaps rip through. These are my go to for Taylor when I want it as the shirt tucked into pants. I LOVE that they have the hand cuffs so he doesn’t scratch his face, thick and amazing quality!

- Footed Pjs: Our babies live in these, there are so many cute options out there but these beat them all! The necks are actually small and fit, the cuffs for hands go all the way to six months, thick amazing cotton fabric and simple colors!

- Bottles: We’ve tried a bunch of bottles and these win hands down! They are able to switch back and forth with nursing, great for reflux babies, easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

- Wipes: Sounds silly to be so passionate about something like wipes but these are the best out there in my humble opinion! They don't tear while wiping, no rashes, no strong perfume to burn that sensitive skin and you only need 2-3 for even the worst diapers! 

- Carseat cover: I love the stretch cotton ones like Milk Snob, Covered Goods. I never use mine for the shopping cart, nursing or anything like that but some do and love it! I love that they're germ free, breathable, washable and super cute!

- Baby wash/shampoo: This has been our FAVORITE since Hudson was a baby! Never breaks my kids out in a rash even with the most sensitive skin they have. Also, clean ingredients so a major win win in my book!

- Baby tub: We had the ones with the cloth hammock attachment for Huds and Riley and I cannot tell you how much more I love this one! Easy to clean, if they poop in it… which happens unfortunately it is SO easy to wash out and he seems so comfy in it!

- Thermometer: We have this one and have loved it so much! You place it behind the ear and it seems to read quite accurate!

- Changing Pad: We use ours till they are out of diapers, I’m a big fan of changing diapers on here and not all over the house. More sanitary and more comfortable for them too! I love my Land of Nod covers but they don’t make them anymore so if you have any favorites let me know!

- Diaper bag: I’ve tried quite a few diaper bags over the last six years and hands down my favorites are this one from Petunia Picklebottom and this one and this one from Freshly Picked! They are all three more of a splurge price but in my opinion so so worth it!

- Slouch Headwear Beanie: Carl here! Emily always has me proofread her blog posts quickly and I noticed she didn’t give our Slouch beanies a shoutout. So because I care about her readers, I’m adding our Slouch beanies to the list so your babes can stay warm and stylish year round with one (or several) of our beanies! We’ll see if she notices this addition to the post :)

Hopefully this helps you, sometimes searching is fun and other times it’s nice to just know what works for others!

One week with Taylor and Healing

This whole postpartum and newborn phase has felt and been so different than all my others. Everything from pregnancy to postpartum has been a completely different experience than the other two and in the best kind of way. 

Hudson was born at 35 weeks and was in the NICU for a couple weeks for apnea then when he came home he was on small doses of caffeine, wore a chest strap to monitor his breathing for two months and had the worst reflux/colic. Looking back, I was exclusively nursing and never had enough milk for him, he was always hungry and I was stressed/anxious but didn't know how to fix it. Finally we started formula, he needed reflux meds and at four months things got a whole lot better! With Riley I was induced at 37 weeks like Taylor but I was so traumatized from Hudson's experience that they monitored him close and he was in the NICU for a few days to watch breathing as well. Then his lips would go bluish when he would nurse and we ended up at our children's hospital to monitor him again. I was so stressed all the time and scared that I missed out on just enjoying things. 

Not this time and oh my heavens it has just been magic. I was just holding Taylor and was overcome with so much gratitude. Happy tears just flowing and thanking my Heavenly Father for this experience, it has been a complete dream. Taylor's breathing is steady and calm, no blue coloring, he has the biggest sweet spirit that just fills our home. I am so so grateful that we have him and that everything has gone so well.

From the beginning of this pregnancy one thing I really watched was my anxiety, the foods I ate and the sleep I got. Sure I had a couple times of high anxiety but for the most part I was really able to watch and control those feelings, this was huge for me and I have no doubt that transfers to your growing baby. I relied on oils, prayer and meditation. Lots of breathing practice which is also exactly how I was able to prepare my body and be in the right headspace for natural labor. Watching my breathing, taking counting breaths and similar practices has become second nature now and I really want to teach the boys as well. One thing I remind myself all the time is I can do all I can for myself and my family to be careful and safe and teach them and help them grow then the rest is out of my hands and I give that trust over to the Lord. For me that is God, a higher being that feels so close, loves me and is there for me. This combo of doing all I can to calm and nurture then giving the rest to him and to trust has taken a huge load of anxiety off me. 

I can't seem to put Taylor down for anything, I just want to soak up every squeak, every little bubble and just stare right into his big eyes. The peace that comes from having him here fresh from heaven and our loved ones there is almost tangible this time. I used to say I wasn't a "newborn" person but oh my goodness can I have a newborn for the rest of forever now?? 

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Taylor's Birth Story

Taylor is sleeping on my chest while I write this and I just can't get over him! He is the perfect addition to our family and is just so so special. All those doctor appointments and worries were more than worth it!

We've known the day he would be born ever since we found out my due date. When we had our stillborn they found that my blood clots while I'm pregnant so he wasn't able to receive the nutrients he needed. Then I went into preterm labor with Hudson at 26 weeks and did 9 weeks of bedrest. By Riley they found the right mix of medications, shots, tests and ways to make it to 37 weeks, which is when my Perinatologist and OB/GYN doctor both feel it is the best for the baby to come out and for my health to avoid blood clotting for me or struggling for him. So we've known since December that August 24th I would be induced if I could make it there. I stopped my progesterone shots a couple weeks before delivery to give my cervix time to soften and prepare for labor. I knew I really wanted to have this baby without an epidural and pain meds because I wanted that experience and my epidural was a little scary with Riley. So the week leading up to my induction I was starting to walk more, stretch and roll my hips on my yoga ball.

We got to the hospital Thursday night at 7 PM, checked in, got settled and my nurse checked my cervix to see where I was. I was barely a one three days before so I wasn't expecting much. To our surprise I was at a 3! With the other boys they have always given me a medication to prepare the cervix which also helps to dilate for a few hours then in the morning start Pitocin (a medication to intensify contractions and get active labor rolling). Because I was naturally at a 3 when I came in the protocol is to start Pitocin and skip the other medicine. So we were all sure I would have him by 1 AM or at the max 3 AM. Needless to say by 3 AM I was on the maximum dose of Pitocin through my IV, contractions had picked up and I was at a 4... yes you read that right, after almost 7 hours of Pitocin I had progressed one centimeter. HOW?! The nurses and my doctor were just as surprised as we were, so we started to get more creative with movement on the yoga ball, walking and using the peanut ball to try and move him down. Around 7 AM my doctor came in and broke my water, they were thinking this would really get things going. I was still only at a 5 at this point. My nurse came in and decided to go ahead and go past the normal max dose of Pitocin and bump me to a drip of 24... ouch to say the least. The contractions intensified and no water to cushion them at this point. I kept walking laps in the room, trying to sway and move around as best as I could, while Carl was pushing my back and hips to help relieve some pressure during contractions. By about noon I was checked again and was still only at a 7. I was starting to feel defeated by this point. I was just frustrated and started to panic that I'd have to have a c-section. I kept gearing up for a couple more hours then it would come and go with not much progress and just more and more pain. I asked my nurse if it was weird that I wasn't progressing faster on this high of a dose and her reply was "yeah, it kind of is". Not the most comforting answer. So we just kept on keeping on, Carl was the biggest help and support because unfortunately our day nurse wasn't helpful at all. So another hour went by and she came in, I was still at a 7 mayyybe barely an 8. At this point the contractions were on top of each other, the intensity was unreal like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. We asked the nurse her guess of how much longer she thought it would be and she said probably 2 to 2.5 hours. That felt like a lifetime! Looking back, I was finally entering the transition phase. I turned to Carl and said, "I really don't think I can do this anymore." Now I had been telling Carl for weeks that if I said this to talk me out of one. He was worried the nurses would think he was mean not letting me have one!  So he kindly just said, "let's get through another few contractions and see where we're at". After a couple more of the worst contractions, I told Carl I needed to push, like right then. So Carl ran and grabbed the nurse, who went to call my doctor but she also grabbed another OB doctor that was in the hallway because he was needing to come out. We were waiting for my doctor and I remember asking "Why can't he deliver him?!" pointing to the other OB doctor and my nurse responded with, "Well, your doctor would be sad." to which I replied with, " I don't care if he's sad"! The pain of the Pitocin and the contractions while my body was physically pushing him out was crazy, Carl was holding me and just reminding me to take deep breaths. Then in walked my doctor, what a relief!! He was calm as can be like always, gowned up in record time and he said I could push whenever (and that I could stay on my side to deliver because the back pain was too much by now.) I felt a contraction, instantly I pushed and he was here! I could not believe it!! When I pushed my natural reaction to the pain and feeling was to reach down and grab the doctor's hands away, he calmly gave my hand to Carl to hold and pulled him right out. It was unreal, an experience I will never forget. After 17 hours he was here, perfect and I was SO proud of Carl and I. Such an incredible experience to share together. After we were done the nurse told him what I said about not caring if he was sad and I said, "I didn't mean it!" then he turned to me chuckling and said, "yes you did and I don't blame you one bit!" Man we love that man. 

"Would you do it again?" is the question I keep getting. Honestly, I think I would but I would be sure to have my doctor check when I get there and make the call on medications and what we should do. My doctor and my pediatrician both commented on how most people if you have to use Pitocin they get the epidural because of the intensity of the contractions, they aren't like normal labor contractions and how impressed they were. I felt like a champ, was so proud of myself and my body and so thankful for Carl. 

So so happy he is here safe and sound, that we got to bring him home with us and that we can just spend time with all of our sweet boys at home! Huds has been SO sweet, helpful and just loves Taylor. Riley was more interested in his new train than his brother at first but now loves to wave to him and lay his head on his back when I hold him. They are all going to be the best of friends and it just makes me so excited for whats to come for our little family!

Finishing Touches

We're down to less than two weeks till baby time over here and while I've been preparing slowly to not have it all pile up there are a few last minute things OCD people like myself do at the end. Are you that way? Do you have to have everything perfectly put, cleaned, washed, organized and stocked up? I think I've learned to do things this way partially to distract myself, because I do love it and keep my anxiety at bay. Which has proven to be quite the task! My doctor has been out of town the past two weeks and my anxiety has creeped up to an all time high this past week, cannot wait to see him in a few days! Anyways back to getting everything prepped and ready! With Hudson starting school and the baby coming the same week, I've tried to tackle things like his backpack, school shoes, baby accessories and things like that mostly online and think ahead... like a month or so ahead! haha Thank heavens for online shopping, right? It has saved me the past little bit. 

Back to the point of this post, can you tell my mind is everywhere these days? Have you seen that quote that goes something like, "My brain has too many tabs open" that is me. I wanted to share my must do cleaning tips before baby and things I do to prepare the house for my parents to stay here with the boys and help things to run as smoothly as possible!

Cleaning:

I LOVE a clean house, like really love it. Fresh sheets, clean counters, fresh smells it's my happy place for sure. Carl jokes that its my love language and I'd probably have to agree with that! So here are the things we've recently tackled that would drive me nuts with a newborn but I wouldn't have the energy to do them once he's here!

- Deep clean all blinds. Not just dust but soak with a cleaner and wipe each blind individually so no dust or grime is left. 

- Really scrub indoor and outdoor windows. I love a crystal clear window free of dirt and water spots.

- Pull out and clean behind fridge. I know you can't see whats behind there but I just know there's for sure dust bunnies so those are now gone too!

- Dust baseboards, wash high traffic area walls and scrub floors. I try to do this once a week or so but with busy boys outside a lot walls get fingerprints quickly so some weeks its a nightly thing!

- Deep clean and stock fridge/pantry with snacks you know your kids love and are healthy. That way when you're not around you know they're taken care of without so much pressure on whoever is taking care of them!

- Go through drawers/closets. Donate, sell whatever you'd like to do but get rid of everything that doesn't fit you, your husband or kids so that laundry is simple, everything works and theres no guessing. 

- Stock bathrooms with toilet paper/extra soap/razors things that are necessity but you won't want to give two seconds of thought to when you're home with a baby.

- Paint your toenails, because theres nothing more annoying than staring at chipped polish while you're in the hospital! 

- Stock of necessities for the baby and stop there. I had so many extra things with Hudson because with your first its easy to get caught up in all the fun baby stuff but just stick with the basics and add as you need over the new few months. This keeps things simple, less to worry about and honestly you don't need a lot! 

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to get your house in tip top shape for baby time and makes it extra cozy to come home to as well! I'll share my must have baby basics this week as well!

XO

DIY Industrial Pipe Shelves

We are so in love with how this shelf turned out! Despite Carl thinking it was a "wild hair" idea as he called it, he has been wanting to build some kind of a pipe shelf for a while now! The rooms aren't very big in our home so when we moved the boys in the same room their old bookshelf felt so heavy and crowded. It was smaller than this one and maxed out on book space which was an issue because you can never have too many children's books in my opinion! So we came up with this one after looking at a bunch of different ideas on Pinterest. There is never a shortage of great DIY tutorials over there! 

A few of the things we love so much about this design we came up with is how secure it is to the wall (we made sure to secure both sides into studs in the wall), that it is floating and off the floor (this alone opened up the room SO much being able to see the floor just felt so airy) as well as how much self space we gained with it feeling less heavy and closed in! I'm already brainstorming different rooms in the house that we could build another one in! It was pretty simple if you just take your time and have a strong husband to tighten and secure it all! Carl wanted to make sure I include that detail :) haha

MATERIALS

1/2" x 12" industrial pipes - we used 22 for the main shelving structure

1/2" x 6" industrial pipes - we used 12 for the bookends

1/2" flanges - we used 12 to attach the shelves to the wall and 8 to attach the bookends to the shelves

1/2" elbow connector - we used 4 for the shelves and 4 for the bookends

1/2" tee connector - we used 8 for the shelves

36" x 11 1/4" x 1 1/2" pieces of wood - we used a 16' piece of wood and had someone at Home Depot cut it into 3' pieces for us.

Wood stain

2" screws

1" screws

Degreaser 

1/2" pipe straps - I used 2 per shelf to fasten them to wood shelves to the metal pipes they rest on

Spray paint

Sander

Drill

Measuring tape

Stud finder

Latex brush

INSTRUCTIONS

1) Pick out what color you want your pipe, there are so many varieties and finishes so our advice is stick to one kind so all the pieces match!

2) Once you get home take all stickers off, remove any residue and degrease all pieces. This step isn't hard it just takes time making sure you have all the black grease off. We sprayed the pieces and wiped them down with an old towel really well.

3) Start hooking all the pieces together, we did one long "ladder" side and tightened it all well then the other side, same thing.

4) Measure the studs in the wall, this will determine your shelf length. Having them secured into the studs makes it so solid which was a must in a busy room with two boys!

5) Hold up one side of the shelving to determine how high you would like it. Once you find the height you want, drill the top screw into the stud. It can now hang on its own, making it easy to secure the other screws. Make sure it is straight vertically then screw the rest of the screws into the wall. Repeat with the other side, making sure it is lined up with the side you already mounted.

6) Measure for the shelf length, remember to allow some length to hang past the pipes. We went with about 2 1/2 inches and I think it looks great!

7) We went with the 2" thick wood (it's listed as 2" thick but actually measures 1 1/2" thick), had Home Depot cut it to the length we needed then just sanded any rough edges when we got home.

8) I've stained a lot of different kinds of woods, used different stains and things and I've finally found a winner! This one is a stain with the polyurethane sealant all in one, SUCH a big time saver and it actually dries smooth! I wanted a mid century modern color to match their mid century dresser in there and this one worked perfectly!! Ours was pretty stinky so be sure to do it outside or in a very well ventilated area. We also left them out in the sun for a couple days to cure and air out.

9) Spray any hardware to match the pipes. Our pipe straps that we drilled on the underside so the shelves wouldn't slide off were more of a shiny stainless so we picked a Rustoleum spray paint to match the pipes better. Super easy and paid off big time in the over all finished look!

10) Mark and measure where to attach selves, have one person hold the shelf and the other drill the pipe straps on.

11) We knew we wanted to put mainly books on here so our next brainstorming was how to do bookends that wouldn't just slide off when they were picking books out. Carl was the creative brains behind this style bookshelf because we couldn't find any we loved and I'm so obsessed with how they turned out! We can easily add more to other shelves as well if needed which is great! Once again so solid and secure yet looks so polished and blends.

12) Admire your new work of art, you'll fall in love with it no doubt!

FINAL PRODUCT

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STYLING THE SHELVES

Because this shelf is in the boys room we wanted it to look great but obviously be very practical. That is one thing I love about living minimally, you really think through things like shelving and use the space for what you actually need vs just decor. We use an essential oil diffuser in their room every night. I am so in love with this one because it is a humidifier as well as a diffuser, meaning it puts out more moisture than a traditional oil diffuser, it is beautiful and you can turn off the light so it isn't distracting at bedtime. Can't recommend it enough, our air always feels so dry so a humidifier is key! Having a spot for their oils and diffuser was a must that Riley couldn't get to but we could easily access daily. 

Plants! Can you ever have too many plants? In my opinion... no! I love how plants warm up a space, the air benefits and there are so many plant varieties and pots that you can use them so many different ways! 

A lot of you wanted to know some of our favorite children's books, I'll link them down below starting with board books. My parents were both elementary teachers, 2nd and 5th grade so they've always had tons of children's books and taught us the importance of reading at a young age. Both our boys love to sit and read and will bring piles of books at a time, I love it!

Board Books

Bedtime Bugs - Such a fun interactive pop up book before bed

Little Blue Truck - they have a whole collection of these and they're all so cute!

Pout Pout Fish - Both boys have loved and still love this one so much, the rhyming is great!

Piggies - A classic

Robots Robots Everywhere - They both went through phases at about the same age where we had to read this book multiple times a day for weeks, its a winner for sure!

Giraffes Can't Dance - Such a cute book on finding out who you are and embracing your differences! The colors and story are great for even super young kids!

Steam Train Dream Train - If you have boys this one goes through the train cars tucking everyone in, great for bedtime!

Rhymoceros - Simple book of opposites with textures!

Non-Board Books

Tickle Monster - Rhyming, interactive, fun for all ages!

Doughnut Chef - Loveee this one, it's such a cute story!

Any Dr Suess book, the rhyming, make believe characters, colors and funny stories are all a hit! We have a whole shelf for Dr Suess Books!

The Monster at the end of This Book - Grover from Sesame Street is afraid of the monster at the end of the book only to find out, it's him! They boys laugh so hard at this one!

Monster Mess - Good book for kids who are afraid of monsters under the bed or in the closet. It goes through what monsters do while you sleep (he cleans the house) the plays with the boy when he wakes up. Both boys still love this one, also rhymes.

Mother Bruce - There is a whole series of these, we have three of them and all are great! It's about a bear who goes to cook and eat some eggs but they hatch and are convinced he's their mom and the struggles they face as he raises them!

Digger Dozer Dumper - Cute story, perfect for kids who love tractors!

If I Built a Car - This author has a bunch of books, pretty sure we have them all now. They are all really well done, great pictures and stories but this one is Hudson's favorite! 

Nibbles the Book Monster - Hudson thinks this book is SO funny every time! A little monster eats his way through different stories and they all get mixed up!

If you decide to make a pipe shelf like this one and have questions, just comment below and we would be happy to help you! If you try it, we'd love to see how it turns out :)