Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fiona's Lullaby Playlist: Volume 1

We have a couple of long road trips coming up over the next few weeks. While I love Rockabye Baby! and Spanish Lullabies (for Ryan to sing), I need some more variety in my life. Plus, I'm horrible at remembering the lyrics to any of the traditional lullabies. Heck, I didn't even realize until we were setting up the nursery (at the ripe old age of 30) that Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the ABC song, and Baa Baa Black Sheep were all set to the same melody. Enter Fiona's first mixed tape (well, cd if you will). It's very random, but I like it that way :)

 Fiona's Lullaby Playlist (Vol. 1):

1) Be My Baby- The Ronettes
2) My Girl- The Temptations
3) Baby Love- The Supremes
4) Beach Baby- The First Class
5) All You Need Is Love- The Beatles
6) God Only Knows- The Beach Boys
7) Back Where I Come From- Kenny Chesney (This is Fiona's favorite Kenny our house, he's the baby whisperer)
8) She's Got It All- Kenny Chesney
9) It Won't Be Like This For Long- Darius Rucker
10) To Make You Feel My Love- Tamara Woodman
11) Baby Mine- Alison Krauss
12) Smile- Nat King Cole
13) When You Wish Upon A Star- Tony Bennett
14) Somewhere Over The Rainbow- Katherine McPhee
15) Goodnight, My Angel- Billy Joel
16) You Belong To Me- Carla Bruni (yup, Nicolas Sarkozy's wife)
17) When Irish Eye's Are Smiling (A favorite of my Dad's to sing to me when I was little)- Bing Crosby
18) Les Yeux Ouverts (Dream A Little Dream)- Emilie Claire Barlow
19) Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra- Rosemary Clooney (another my Dad sang to me)
20) Sou Gan (Welsh Lullaby)- John Williams (Ryan learned this one in high school and loves to sing it to Fiona)
21) Hallelujah- Jeff Buckley
22) World to Me- David Gray
23) Ho Hey- The Lumineers
24) I Won't Give Up- Jason Mraz
25) The Best of What's Around- Dave Matthews Band

p.s. It's kind of weird to think that she'll never have to sit around all day by the radio to hit the record button when her favorite song comes on. Kids these days... :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Letter to Fiona: Two Months

My Dearest Fiona,

Two months. 8 weeks. It doesn’t sound like very long, but I can’t remember what our lives were like without you in it. It sounds a bit cliché to say that, but it is so very true. You make every day better (even the difficult ones!), and every night we go to bed excited to see what the next day with you will be like. 

This second month has been all about awareness. You began to open your eyes up much more around weeks four and five, and now you are bright eyed and alert whenever you are awake. You can see that you are just beginning to understand cause and effect. You’ll touch a toy on your activity mat, and get so excited when the toy makes a noise. You don’t quite have enough control to create the noise intentionally, nor do you understand that you are the one causing the noise, but you seem to grasp the concept that something is causing the noise to happen. You’ve also found your hands (and endlessly try to get them into your mouth), and love to watch your feet move. I adore that such simple things cause so much delight and bewilderment.

You’re personality is beginning to shine through more and more. You are a fairly content and happy baby the majority of the time, and are becoming quite particular about what you like (eating, country music, bouncing) and what you do not like (burping, swinging, the cold air hitting your bum after a bath). I find it humorous that at this young age, you already have preferences. While you are fairly happy-go-lucky, you are also quite passionate and determined. Also amusing is the fact that you are already learning to be a bit dramatic with your reactions. When you are really mad and not getting what you want, you cry loudly and then look around for our reaction. When the reaction isn’t what you are expecting, you lock your left leg and stomp your right foot. We are surely in for it when you are a toddler and a teenager.

You have a very blasé attitude towards all of your toys…opting for human interaction as your activity of choice. You love to play a game where I tell you that we’re going for a walk in the jungle (or forest). I move your legs slowly while we’re “walking,” and then I’ll exclaim that we just saw a bear (or any of the other litany of random animals I come up with). At this point I’ll move your legs quickly so we can “run” away from said animal. The second I say that we’re going for a walk, your whole face lights up and you get so excited. You also love it when I have conversations with you. I’ll ask you about your night, your dreams, what you want to do today, if you want tea and biscuits…anything really, and you’ll just coo right along as though you are speaking back to me. I’m fairly certain I love this just as much as you do.

Perhaps the best thing that has happened this month is that you began to smile. It started out as a random grin here and there, but now you give us tons of smiles every day. There aren’t any words that could possibly describe the delight I feel when I see you happy. On the flip side, of course, you also started crying real tears, and have perfected a heart-wrenching lower lip quiver. I find it slightly ironic that even at two months old you have come to learn that joy and sadness are intrinsically intertwined. That one cannot exist without the other. It is a lesson that you will continue to learn throughout your life, but I hope that you are always able to find joy and happiness even in the darkest of times.

As for interesting facts:

-       You took your first trip to the beach (Sea Isle City, NJ)

-       You took your first trip to the zoo (Cape May Zoo)

-       You experienced your first Olympics (London)

-       You met your Aunt Colleen and Uncle Kyle for the first time on your Mama & Papa’s 4th Wedding Anniversary (July 26th). You’ll get to meet your cousins at Thanksgiving.

-       You’ve rolled over from front to back about 8 times, but not with any consistency. I’m sure that will be coming soon though!

-       You smiled for the first time on July 16th

-       You slept from 9:00 PM – 6:00 AM the first half of the month, and are now sleeping from 8:00 PM - 6:30 AM (we are so thankful for this!)

Keep on smiling baby girl!

We love you times infinity and beyond,

Your Mama & Papa

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Because A Day With Your Crying, Cranky Baby Is An Absolute Blessing

Yesterday was one of those days. Fiona was refusing naps from the get-go. She would either lay there wide awake, or would sleep for 10-15 minutes and then refuse to fall asleep again. This equaled an exhausted baby, and just perpetuated the no-nap cycle. There may or may not have been tears on both of our parts, and I may have (not so secretly) been counting down the minutes until my husband was due home.

I was frustrated and tired, but had promised an acquaintance from high school that I would volunteer for a gala that her non-profit workplace holds in April. I really didn't know too much about the organization, nor had I had time to really research it, seeing as how my baby has been keeping me on my toes. I may have gotten lost on the way to the meeting, and contemplated just turning around, and throwing in the towel for the day. But sometimes you get a push from God, and he reminds you of how lucky you really are.

Turns out, the organization that the gala benefits is for a pediatric nursing home. It is a place where babies and children that require 24/7 medical care can stay, so that they can live somewhere that offers a bit more of a "home" environment than a hospital room.

During the volunteer meeting, they showed the gala video from the year before. It highlighted a trip that the children (that were physically able to) took to Disney World, and all of the work that was required to take 8 kids with severe disabilities (many were on ventilators) to Florida. It was absolutely unbelievable what was needed just to get the children to and through the airport. One child had never been outside of the facility complex, and he spent 20 minutes enthralled with a fire hydrant in front of Southwest Airlines, just because he had never seen one before. And to see the children react when they got to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse (did you know Mickey can even do the theme song in sign language?!?)...well, lets just say it had us all in tears.

After the meeting, I was invited to take a tour of the facility. The organization is just fantastic, and what they provide for these children is absolutely amazing. But to walk through those hallways and see the rooms with the tiny little beds and cradles was absolutely heart-wrenching. Each of the rooms even has two closets. One for the child's clothes and another that acts as a nursing station, so that the parents don't have to see some of the scary medical equipment. There are even "emergency" rooms that are set aside for  children with disabilities that are taken into state custody, or for children that require end of life care.

While all of these things are great to have, it was a truly humbling experience that reminded me of just how good I have it. Because even though I may have hard days with a cranky baby, I have the privilege of getting to hold my baby. I get to feed my baby. I get to put my baby to sleep at the end of the day. I can kiss and cuddle her when I want to. I can read her books, and tell her tales. I can pick her up in the morning and tell her I love her over and over again. So no matter how hard I think some of the days are, I will always, always remember how blessed I am.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cuteness Overload: First (Professional) Family Pictures

Oh photography. It's one of my most favorite things in the world. I could read photography blogs all day because I love it that much (my 3.5 year stint as a wedding planner certainly didn't help this obsession). Thankfully my husband is as much of a fan as I am. For Fiona's first photo session, we hired Ryan Estes, a Philadelphia based family photographer. He was absolutely wonderful to work with, and I am so thankful to have these memories to look back upon. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves :)

p.s. the daddy/daughter pictures make my heart melt 1000x over

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Baby Gear: The First 2 Months

I remember how much I loved to read baby gear recommendations when I was pregnant, so I figured that I should go ahead and write about what has worked best for us the first few weeks. I'll be honest though...babies really do not need much their first two months of life. But these are the items that have made the days just a little bit easier. Also, since our house was built in the mid-1800s, and has close to no storage, a lot of the items we chose to register for or purchase work best in small spaces.


Side Snap Infant Shirts with Mitts -  We were given 3 of these at the hospital, and I used them everyday for the first month. I couldn't find any mittens that would stay on Fiona's hands, and the good old "sock trick over the hands" didn't work for her either. And goodness gracious do those newborn nails grow fast.  I would just put these on underneath her short sleeve onsie outfits. They also helped add a little extra warmth in our air conditioned house. 

Long Sleeve bodysuits with Mitts- This link is just an example. They sell tons of affordable options at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby. Just like above, but without the step of having to put an additional onsie over top (however, most of the onsies we were gifted were short sleeved, so we used the above option more). 

Baby Gap Socks- Best socks ever. Stay on much, much better than any other baby socks we own (and Fiona is a crazy kicker/foot stomper). I pretty much use these socks exclusively. I can't find them online, but they do sell 0-3 month size in the stores. 


California Baby Calendula Cream- I love this cream. I've put it on every scratch Fiona has given herself and every rash she has gotten, and it always helps everything disappear quickly. It's a miracle cream in a bottle, and it smells yummy. 

California Baby Diaper Area Wash- Ok, technically we haven't had to use this for any diaper rashes yet, but sometimes baby diapers smell much, much worse than you can ever imagine. I like to spray this stuff on during those it is nice to have on hand incase any rashes pop up. 

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash- I use a lot of Burt's Bees products on myself, so I felt pretty good about using their products on our baby. Just a little bit goes a long way, so I feel as though it will takes us months just to get through one bottle. Again, I like the scent of this wash too...which is good, because you will smell your baby's head a lot (just trust me on this one). 

Gripe Water- Works awesome for hiccups and gas pains. 

Itzy Ritzy Wet Bag- I love all of the different designs for these bags, and plan on buying some of their reusable snack bags in the future. These bags are great for dirty clothes, wet swim suits or cloth diapers. 


Halo SleepSack Swaddles- Our hospital is a part of the Halo SleepSack In-Hospital Program, which is a great marketing scheme where your baby is given a Halo SleepSack to sleep in, instead of a hospital blanket. Essentially, your baby becomes accustomed to sleeping in a $25.00 piece of fabric with a zipper and velcro, leaving you to run out and and spend $75.00 your first day home, because one isn't going to cut it with all the messes newborns make. On the other hand, they are super easy to parents and siblings love them for that reason when they are babysitting. Also, Fiona especially liked them the first couple of weeks because she was breech and loved to have lots of room to kick her feet (she still sleeps with her feet in the air most of the night). 

Aden & Anais Muslin Wraps- At four weeks, we started the Moms on Call program, and began using their swaddling technique. I really like using these blankets (especially the extra large 47"x47" ones sold on Amazon). We have 8, and use them all throughout the week. They are just as awesome and adorable as everyone says they are. 

Aprica Haven Play-yard- I wanted a pack n play without all of the bells and whistles because:
1) We needed something that could we move up and down our extremely narrow staircase quickly and easily (esp. since I had a c-section).
2) We needed something that didn't take up a ton of room and was easy to pack in our mid-sized car.
This pack n play fit the bill, and I've loved it. I just keep any baby supplies in a cute 3 Sprouts storage caddy I was given by a friend at my baby shower. It folds up so easily, and we (well, the husband) literally brought it downstairs every morning and upstairs every night during the first 4 weeks. Plus it's nice and sturdy, and it looks good.

Summer Infant Rest Assured Sleeper- I registered for this because we originally planned on co-sleeping, and I wanted to do it safely. Turns out our baby girl really, really likes her own quiet space. This thing is awesome though, and we're still using it all of the time. We put this in the pack and play and in her crib, so that the space seems a little bit more confined. I also will bring it over my parents house so that I don't have to bring  the pack n play (though they will eventually get one for their house). It folds up really nicely, and it has a night light/sound machine/ vibration attachment. The night light feature alone made it worth the money because one of us could do diaper changes in the middle of the night, without having to wake the other up (Fiona slept in her pack n play in our room up until week 4). 

Homedics iSoundSpa Lullaby- I have a lot of friends and family members that love this product as much as we do. It is nice and small, and again, easy to travel with. Heck, it puts me to sleep. We even brought it to the hospital and used it there, since I knew how loud it would be. Plus, it's super affordable. Love, love, love. 

Moms on Call- I have no words for how awesome this program is at getting your baby to sleep. I remember other bloggers raving about it before I was pregnant, and was reminded about it when I read Annahita's blog Forever 88. So I bit the bullet and bought the program, and it has been a life-saver. I started it at 4 weeks (although I probably would have started it at 2, had I remembered about it at that point), and within four days, Fiona was sleeping from 9:30 PM - 6:00 AM. Even the last week and a half, when Fiona went through a tough growth spurt, and we had some major napping issues, she continued to sleep through the night. Worth every cent. 

* I was only able to breastfeed for five days before I was hospitalized with what my doctors believe to be a case of breastfeeding anaphylaxis. It was even more terrifying than it sounds. As soon as the shock and fear subside a bit I hope to write a post on this...especially since I strongly believe that it, along with postpartum hives, are not as rare as they are made out to be. Needless to say, Fiona is now a formula-fed, bottle champ. Most of these items reflect these needs. 

Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Bibs- These bibs are amazing for little babes, especially bottle fed ones. They fit really well around their tiny necks and catch all of the dribbles. 

Original Cloth Diapers- At this point in a baby's life there is a lot of spit-up and milk dribbles. This is definitely one area where practicality outweighs cuteness. Don't waste your money on cute burp cloths. Just buy a bunch of these.  

Boon “Grass” Drying Rack- If I had the counter space, I would totally use the larger "lawn" option. I love using this as our bottle drying station, and hope to add some of the fun accessories to it soon. 

Playtex Ventaire Bottles with Dr. Brown’s Preemie Nipples- This is a great solution if you have a baby that is a super fast eater and can down 4 oz in 5 minutes if given the chance (which of course results in all sorts of gas and spit-up issues). It took some playing around, but I found this to be the best combination for slowing her down. I believe that Dr. Brown's is the only brand that makes preemie nipples. 

Oster Electric Kettle & and Extra Large Mug (or Large Pyrex Measuring Cup)- I'm a huge tea drinker and became obsessed with electric kettles after being in England and Ireland last year. I purchased this one last summer and love it, because it has a feature that allows you to keep the water hot for hours after it has boiled. Turns out it makes a pretty amazing bottle warmer too. I just use the boiled water to make the bottles, which I then refrigerate, and then use the feature that keeps the water hot. Then I just pour the water into my large VT mug to heat up the bottle when needed. Serves more than one purpose, and doesn't take up any additional space. Awesome. 

My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow- I used this when I was breastfeeding, and still use it now that I am bottle feeding. It helps distribute the baby's weight, which helps alleviate some back and neck pain. I like this over the boppy for c-section mommas, because it has an adjustable strap that helps keep everything off your incision.

Avent Soothie Pacifier- Fiona has a crazy suck (as evident by her feeding habits), and loves some good pacifier time. I believe the majority of hospitals provide this pacifier, so just have some as a back up incase your little one takes a liking to it. 


Moby Wrap- Fiona loves to cuddle and be worn. The moby wrap was all the rage when I was putting together my baby registry. It serves the purpose, but honestly, I find it a pain to put on and wear...especially in the summer...because there is SO MUCH thick fabric. If I could do it over, I probably would have registered for the Baby K'tan, especially since they have a mesh version (although, it would be nice if this version was available in anything other than black (impractical for the summer) and white (impractical for a baby)). I have the ergo too, but haven't used it yet, as I didn't purchase the infant insert since it isn't ideal for summer babies. I can't wait to break it out in the fall though. 

Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym- I'm fairly certain that all activity gyms pretty much provide the same things. I chose this one because it wasn't obnoxious to look at, and I liked the way the rattles sounded (important things when you are using it 3 times a day). But seriously, I'm sure any activity gym will get the job done. p.s. this one wasn't out when I registered, but I think I like it even more. 

BABYBJORN BabySitter Balance- Our baby is more of a bouncer fan as opposed to a swing fan (which isn't that surprising since I worked on my feet up until I delivered). I got this on the recommendation of my old roommate Ashley and my blog friend Aliya. It is awesome, and grows really well with your baby. It is super light-weight and travels well, which makes me love it even more. 

Tiny Love Take-Along Arch- Once Fiona could focus a bit more, she obviously liked having fun things to look at. Because it is adjustable, I've been able to use it on our bouncer, carseat and sleeper. Plus it costs less than $20.00, which I think makes it extra-amazing.

Britax B-Agile Stroller with Britax B-Safe Car Seat & Diono Buggy Buddy- Lets be honest....I doubt that there is a perfect stroller, unless maybe you have a thousand dollars to spend on one. However, I love the Britax brand, and adore this travel system. I feel like it is the Apple brand of strollers with regards to the ease of use. The stroller is super light-weight, travels well, and has a one-handed fold (amazing!). It fits in our 2' wide (no lie) downstairs closet. The car seat has great ratings and fits right in. I feel like it just all works so well. I attached the diono buggy buddy, since it has better reviews than the britax attachment. Love that it holds my water bottle, along with another drink or bottle, and it has a zippered compartment to store your keys. 

DSLR Camera- We saved up before our little one arrived because we knew that having a kid = taking a gazillion pictures of said kid. Worthy investment. 

Amazon Prime- During the first few weeks of your baby's life, the free 2-day shipping will be a life-saver. Again, especially useful if you have a c-section. Once you have a baby, the savings definitely outweigh the membership costs. 

Hope this helps!