Posted on July 4, 2018
**UPDATE: So obviously we are already back from our trip but I completely forgot to post this before we left! And in retrospect, although some of this was excessive, my mom did find the medical sheets helpful when she had to bring Max to the doctor for a little cough.**
Ok, so- Ryan and I are going to Greece tomorrow- our first trip sans-kids, well….ever! And despite my snowballing anxiety about leaving- I’d say we are long over-due. Anyways, ever since I posted on my instagram stories about leaving behind a full-blown pamphlet for my mom who is watching the kids, I’ve gotten so many questions. I figured I’d tell you quickly about what I’m leaving for my mom.
First of all, I should start by telling you that my mom is the most trustworthy, capable human for the job. Not only did she raise three of us, but she also ran an in-home daycare for most of her/our lives. She’s been called “The Baby Whisperer” and it’s not even a joke. So, the job is not daunting to her in the least, it’s in her nature and she thrives with a household of children. That being said, I simply cannot control my OCD, Type-A personality and therefore am leaving her with a complete novel about the runnings of our household.
As crazy as you may think I am (and I well in fact may be!), there are some documents and pieces of information that should ALWAYS be left behind when you are leaving your children with someone-even an overqualified grandparent. Here is what I left my mom (I’ve starred the ones I think are crucial):
- DAILY LIFE: I leave a full blown schedule of the day: morning to night. This list includes meal times, meal ideas, bottle/nap times, camp pick-up/drop off times, activities the kids are and are not allowed to do while we are away (ex. No swinging from the dangerous gymnastics bar in the garage while Mimi is in charge), bath schedules, diaper size, locations of all shampoos, bug sprays, sunscreens ect. I discuss monitors, bedtime routines, including how to handle wake-ups in the middle of the night. Literally anything that happens from the minute they wake up to the minute the wake up the following day is included…you know, just in case! 😉
- Camp: I signed the girls up for camp M-F from 9-2 to give my mom a break and keep the girls busy (and get them super tired!) So I left a full page all about camp:times, address, directions, required attire, what the girls need to pack/bring each day.
- FOOD: Since my mom doesn’t live in the area, I left her a bunch of restaurant to-go menus and menus from restaurants that will deliver. I also gave her a list of meal ideas that I know the kids will eat without complaint, and a list of nearby drive-throughs. We also went grocery shopping for the week together and talked about things the girls like in their lunchboxes (for camp) and then created a big “snack basket” in the pantry with individual bags of snacks to make packing lunches super easy. I usually don’t give the kids lots of snack like this- so they think it’s SUCH a special treat!
- * MEDICAL:
- I walked through our medicine cabinet with my mom. Made sure it contained essentials and non-expired meds like: thermometer, tylenol, benedryl, etc. I also left a post-it note in the medicine box with each kids current weight for medicine dosing purposes.
- Next, I printed out a sheet with the name, number, address AND typed directions for the following: our Pediatrician, our “Pediatrics After Hours” Facility, Urgent Care ER, and Hospital.
- Another SUPER important thing you should always leave your caretaker is a CONSENT FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT. You can type one up yourself but I used this one from Rocket Lawyer and then just printed the draft because I’m cheap and didn’t want to pay for the professional docs. Don’t judge. If you make one yourself it should include a statement saying:
- “I (your full name) give (caretakers full name and address) consent and authority to obtain medical treatment for the following child(ren): (include name and date of birth of each child)”
- Include the dates the caregiver has this authority
- Include preferred hospital/doctor name and address
- Include full Insurance information
- Sign & Date
- *OUR ITINERARY: You never know when cell service will be spotty, so we left her a loose itinerary of where we will be traveling, hotel addresses/website and phone numbers, and all of our flight information so that she could ALWAYS find us in case of emergency.
- *LIST OF FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS: We lucked out in this department! We have the best neighbors and friends who all volunteered to help if need be. So I left my mom a page of my friend’s names, kids names, and phone numbers. I also left instructions/permission for which kids are allowed to have play dates, etc. (If you’re wondering I said only Q was allowed play dates, only with the people on the list, and that no sleepovers were allowed.)
- OUTFITS: Ok, this one, I admit, is my full-blown OCD kicking in, but I paired up and laid out enough outfits for each day we’d be gone. I put them all in Ardyn’s room so that my mom can use that as a sort-of “giant closet/dressing room” for the kids…since the girls sleep together in Q’s room most nights anyways! For camp, I made sure I had the girls daily camp attire (leotards, shorts, hair clips, flip-flops) set aside as well.
- *STROLLERS/CARSEATS: We walked through how to open/close all the baby gear she would be needing/using. Those contraptions can be tricky sometimes.
- ELECTRONICS: Since we have some tvs in our house that are kind of complicated to use, we have typed-up remote control instructions that we leave with any sitter we use. My mom will find this helpful so that she can maneuver apple tv, DVR, etc. in case she needs to put something on for the kids or wants to watch her own shows at night.
- BEHAVIOR INCENTIVE FOR KIDS: We talked a lot to each kid about behavior expectations and responsibilities. I then sat with the girls and created this pom-pom jar with their help (based on an incentive jar I used to use in my classroom). We did it quickly and it’s NOT perfect, but I allowed the girls to help set the rules so that they understand how it all works. We left lots of “incentives” and “goals” for them to work towards so I don’t think behavior will be a problem. They are already SO excited about filling that jar and earning some prizes. I’ll include the page I typed up, but again…it’s nothing fancy or perfect. Just the quick work of me and my 6 & 4 year old! 😉 Pom Pom Rules
That’s it…I think! Hope that was helpful and answered some of your questions!
I think I’m forgetting something though, I’m sure of it! 😉
Posted on June 19, 2018
We’re Baaaaack! I can’t believe our long-awaiting annual Caribbean trip is already over! If we didn’t have some other fun summer adventures planned, I’d be even more bummed. But, let’s get down to business: all about Nevis! You guys asked, I’m answering…!
First Stop, Miami:
It’s probably worth mentioning that we stayed a few days in South Beach, FL before heading to Nevis. It was a nice way to break up the travel time and get a few extra days out of our vacation. Since we couldn’t check in on Nevis until Sunday, we did Fri-Sat in Miami. We stayed at the 1 Hotel and I was SO impressed. I heard “swanky” things about this place and was nervous to show up with 3 kids in tow but let me just tell you- first of all, it WAS swanky…and gorgeous and incredible, but also SO kid friendly! I couldn’t believe how many children were there! Here’s my tip, for a less-crowded pool experience, sit at the bottom tier pool. It’s smaller, less people, but still has a bar/food access and cabanas! Lots of restaurants and shopping in walking distance and a Whole Foods only a mile away (where we stopped for some last minute Max provisions). I give this hotel FIVE fat ol’ stars. *****
“Nevis is a hidden gem. It’s not like other islands and we like it that way. It is quiet, small, and simple.” -Nevisian local
Ok, so we travel to the Caribbean every year- it’s our absolute favorite place to vacation! We used to hit up the Caribbean islands on cruises as kids and then started staying on individual islands as we grew older & became tired of the cruise ship “hustle & bustle”. So, we’ve been to our fair share of the US & British Virgin Islands and as much as I LOVE exploring new places, I find there are a few non-negotiables I look for when traveling to the Caribbean:
1. white powdery sand
2. crystal clear, calm ocean water
3. no giant crowds (aka, the cruise ship herd that I used to be a part of! Ha!)
I mean, throw in some rum punch, a few good restaurants, friendly people, and a tourist attraction or two and I’m set!
Nevis was a new island for us…and up until the planning of this vacation I had never even HEARD of it before! [If you’re like me, let me save you the google search: it’s in the West Indies, just south of St. Kitts.] It was a beautiful island: lush & quaint. It has a volcano at its center, winding roads, a Four Seasons Resort, and lots of roaming animals (including monkeys!). I do have to say, the beach was a little underwhelming. The sand was darker, volcanic sand and the water was a bit deeper, darker, and rougher than the Caribbean water I am used to. The island was very peaceful & quiet- lots of privacy (Apparently Princess Diana & the Royal Family used to vacation there, specifically for this reason!) and overall- not a whole lot going on. But, we certainly had a great time!
We stayed at a private residence in Paradise Beach Resort, via a vacation club we are members of. The house was gorgeous; it had a private pool and was basically ON the beach.
*images via google
Paradise Beach Resort, as a whole, was great: there was a tiki hut on the beach that served breakfast & lunch and had a full bar. The staff was amazing and attentive- bringing water and fresh towels to our seats, making the girls special juice drinks all day, and changing the menu to accommodate what we wanted (enter: ME, the resident picky eater!) As I mentioned earlier, the sand was dark volcanic sand and the ocean was different from the water I’ve experienced on other Caribbean islands. But, it was still very pretty. The resort had kayaks, stand up paddle boards, floats, and sand toys all available to use and the Four Seasons resort, which we had full access to, was just a quick walk down the beach.
*images via google
Just to give you a better understanding of what the beaches looked like- here you can see a picture of Paradise Beach that has been edited verses an unedited photo (neither photo is mine). I’m not saying it isn’t beautiful- it just definitely did not look like that first picture in person. Pretty nuts what some editing does, huh? 😉
*images via google
*Note: I’m not the best food critic as I don’t eat seafood or red meat. Let’s just say my options were pretty limited & overall, my stomach was NOT a fan of the food on Nevis. I ate a lot of french fries and bread. Hah!
Bananas– SUCH a cool location up in the mountains. The pathway was lit with tiki torches and twinkle lights and it was just so pretty! The grounds consists of a bar, a restaurant, a boutique, and a rooftop lounge. My suggestion- get there early, grab a cocktail, and head to the rooftop to watch the sunset before dinner! The food was pretty good, too. I had french onion soup and a salad for dinner. But apparently the lobster risotto was amazing. *note: don’t forget your bug spray…you’re basically in the jungle 😉
The Gin Trap– LOVED this place! The restaurant itself was very cool but the best part was the upstairs patio- filled with bright florals, turquoise couches and oversized umbrellas. It was the perfect place to watch the sunset and our waiter suggested we hang out up there and enjoy some cocktails and order our food. He came and got us when the appetizers were ready to be served and we moved downstairs to eat. I have to say- the power did go out while they were cooking our food. Like, I’m talking FULL power outage where we were sitting in a completely dark room with only candle light. It was kind of cool and added to the experience, but I believe it may have compromised the food a bit. I got cheese raviolis which are pretty hard to mess up…but, alas, they found a way. It was either the power outage or the fact that “Italian” is not the fortè of the Nevians, but those in our party who ordered seafood said it was delicious. So, there’s that.
Mangos– This restaurant is part of the Four Seasons and it was really simple, but pretty. It’s basically a covered patio right ON the water. The view and sunset were gorgeous! The food was pretty good, too. I ordered a salad (again) but it was by far the best salad I had on trip. 😉
Four Seasons Cabana– We walked down and ate here for lunch one day. It was pretty; an open air venue outdoors by the pools, overlooking the beach. I got a pizza and the “Nevisian Spirit” cocktail…which did not disappoint! Thanks IG friends for suggesting it! It sort of tasted like a passion fruit rum punch. Yummy!
Montpelier– Probably the coolest, most “touristy” place we went. It’s a 350 year old sugar mill located on what has been turned into an inn/resort (where Princess Di used to stay). The mill tower itself is still in tact and you can make reservations to eat inside. Warning…it’s dark…and um, warm and toasty, and pretty much in it’s original condition. Pretty cool if its just two of you & you want a very authentic experience. Otherwise, the main restaurant downstairs, “750” was by far the fanciest of all the restaurants we went to. The food was delicious and our Italian sommelier was the bomb! He even “seasoned” our wine glasses, which we haven’t seen anyone do since we were on our Honeymoon in Italy!
Private Chef in Villa
At Paradise Beach, you have the option to hire a private chef to come cook in your home. The convenience factor, after a long day of boating or at the beach, was great. We did this two of the nights and, honestly, I don’t know…it was fine. I just don’t think Nevisian cooking agrees with me. Like, at all. The non-picky eaters in our group enjoyed it though. Overall, NOTHING like Chef Mimi from Virgin Gorda who I tried to smuggle home in my suitcase last year!
*I must note: a handful of our servers/waiters during our restaurant outings were very nice, but we found most of them to be a bit rude and short with us, which was kind of disappointing. I sort of felt like a lot of the locals were annoyed that we were there. I don’t know, maybe it was just me!
Things to do/see:
- The Hamilton Museum– We didn’t get a chance to explore it, but did you know Nevis was the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton?! His father’s horse stables are still in tact…although they’ve been converted into something else.
- Mineral baths- We didn’t go here either, but our driver for the week, “Baba” (request him if you can!) told us all about this “ancient hot spring, turned baths” and how after 7pm at night you need to wait in line because the locals flock there! I have to say, I did a quick google search and I’m kiiiiinda glad we missed it. Not sure you could pay me to get in there. (See photo #2 above)
- Botanical Garden– Another family staying at our resort went and told us it wasn’t anything much to see, so we skipped it. but if flowers are your thing, check it out!
- Montpelier– Get a tour of the grounds at the very least. Such a cool historic place…and the drive up is pretty!
- Horseback riding on the beach- This looked fun but the girls weren’t old enough so we decided to skip it- next time for sure!
- Sunshines– This a local dive beach bar near the Four Seasons that we heard about from just about every local. We didn’t go, because…children. But apparently this place is known for it’s drink called the Killer Bee. And apparently you are only allowed TWO. I guess it’s a “thing” to go have a Killer Bee at Sunshines. So if you’re kid-free, maybe go check it off your bucket list!
- Funky Monkey Tours– a tour around the island in a little ATV-like car. We had it booked, but were told by numerous people that the kids would NOT enjoy it and that it wasn’t very exciting, so we cancelled.
- Paradise Beach Lobster Bake- Our resort hosted a fun beach party/lobster bake…only they didn’t have any lobster (not that I cared, of course). They had a huge bonfire, a live band, and all the resort guests were invited. It was super festive & fun (minus the missing lobster and s’mores -which the kids were bummed about) but the girls had a blast dancing in the sand to the music, Max fell asleep in my arms, and the starry sky was unreal! Such a fun night!
- Catamaran Day– We chartered a catamaran through Leeward Island Charters and that was a fun day. They brought us snorkeling and over to St. Kitt’s for lunch. Boat Days are always our favorites! If you rent from this company, request St. Claire to be on your crew. He was AMAZING and so so good with the kids! Even taught Q the Cupid Shuffle on deck! Hahaha!
“Road Trip” (aka St. Barth’s)
We realized during our stay that we weren’t too far away from St. Barth’s so we chartered a speed boat ferry to bring us over there one day. It. Was. AMAZING!!!!!! I felt like we were in the South of France: the shopping was incredible, the food was outrageous, and the beach we went to (Nikki Beach) was insanely beautiful (THE Caribbean experience I was waiting for!) It was kind of a trek though, so I would NOT recommend making the trip from Nevis to St. Barths with just anyone. We had our concierge hook us up with the most trusted charter company on St. Kitts and Nevis (Islander Watersports Nevis) and they took us out. The boat ride was a bit bumpy for me but everyone else was fine with it. The ride there was about 1.5-2 hours and the ride home was a bit longer because we had to stop over in St. Kitts to declare customs. As a “day trip” from Nevis, I’d say it was NOT worth the amount of travel, BUT it was worth it for us because we were dying to see the island and wound up loving it so much, we already booked a trip back!!
St. Barth’s is basically my mothership…
Baby Beach Gear
- Pop-up pool tent– Of course Max didn’t sit in here ALL day long- because he’s a one year old & a complete maniac… but he did play in here for spurts of time, so it was worth it in my book.
- Snorkel Masks- The girls LOVE these and I know they’ve gotten some bad press in the news lately, but I’ve done some research and feel safe using them the way we do. The girls use them for super short periods of time and are never, ever, ever out of our reach when wearing them. I think the “scare” in the news regarding breathing in too much carbon dioxide while wearing them and the inability to pull them off quickly in an emergency really applies more to people who are wearing them on solo, extensive snorkel excursions. I think it’s also important to buy a quality mask and not cheaper knock-offs. The higher end masks have passed all the carbon dioxide and other safety tests. One of the brands we like is Tribord .
- Regular Goggles- for the girls. We love our Bling2o ones!
- Life Jackets– since we knew we’d be doing some boating, we opted for packing life jackets instead of swimmies or puddle jumpers. They are safer and more trusted life-saving devices. We love the O’Brien brand, plus they have a size small enough for Max.
- A few small water toys– Like THESE. We did not pack all sorts of pails and shovels. We figured we could buy from the resort once we arrived but it turned out the resort had a big basket of sand toys for us to use anyways!
- Hats- baseball caps for boat days and big floppy hats for beach days! We love our initial hats from Rey to Z!
- Sunscreen- see my favorite baby/kid sunscreens HERE
- Crib- A crib, highchair, and pack & play were all provided for us by the resort, so no need to pack those!
- Stroller- I covered travel strollers on THIS post, but our favorite for travel is the Pockit. We loved it so much, we upgraded to the newest version which has a bigger shade and reclines! It’s SO lightweight and folds up small enough to stow in the overhead compartment on the plane!
- Nanit Monitor- I talked A LOT about this monitor when sleep training Max and I still absolutely love it! However, ours is mounted on a tall floor stand that hovers over his crib so I was thinking of just bringing a standard baby monitor on this trip until I discovered that the Nanit now has a TRAVEL STAND! Yassss! You just unclip the Nanit from the tall floor stand and clip it right into the travel/table stand! Plus, you can obviously use this stand at home, when you aren’t traveling, if you prefer it to the overhead stand/wall mount. I love that it connects to your phone so we didn’t need to pack extra pieces (ie a camera AND monitor piece). I seriously love this camera system so much!
- Sound Machine- we always travel with ours. I use this one because it’s cheap enough to replace once it starts dying (using it every night, all night will wear these suckers out) and its small and light enough to travel with.
- Kids’ CameraKids’ Camera– My friend Liz posted this on her Instagram and I knew my girls would LOVE it! It’s an actual digital camera that you put a memory card in and can upload images to your computer…but it’s perfect for tiny fingers. My girls took so many pictures with this on our trip and I can’t wait to upload them all and see what they captured! I love seeing the world through their eyes! P.S. Don’t forget a memory card! THIS is the one we bought!
- Expendables- I’m talking about things we needed for our stay, but would be using up and not bringing back home (ie diapers, water diapers, wipes, formula, and snacks). For these items we pack (and check) a cardboard box. We load it up with any expendables and this way, when they are all used up and we are headed home, we don’t have an extra (empty) suitcase to lug home. We were able to order groceries for the house through the resort, so I just packed special snacks for Max that I didn’t know if Nevis would have: food pouches, num-num crackers, pirates booty, formula (I didn’t want to make the switch to milk before this trip since I’m a weirdo about milk and didn’t trust what the island would have!)
- Cinemood– We LOVE this little machine! The kids watched movies on it almost every night before bed. Totally took the place of the ipads that used to take over bedtime. Plus, it’s super small, making it perfect for travel!
- What are the sleeping arrangements when you’re on a trip like this? Our house had four bedrooms so my immediate family had two bedrooms to use as we wanted. Ryan and I took one room and put Max’s crib in our second room. The girls wound up sleeping one with my mom and one with us. We could’ve easily put the girls in our second room and Max in the room with us, but this was what worked best for us. 🙂
- How do we get the kids used to sleeping in new places? We’ve really never had any issues with this. We bring a sound machine, allow each kid to bring a “blanket” or stuffed animal that they sleep with every night at home, and the girls loved snuggling in bed with us and with their Mimi so it was never a problem. We also used the cinemood to help overtired kiddos fall asleep quicker. I also use a “sleep spray” at home made of essential oils and I travel with a small spray bottle of that to spray on hotel beds.
- How do you keep up with all the kids daily schedules while on the go? We go into vacation knowing that schedules will most likely be thrown out the window. For the girls that mostly just applies to bedtime, since their daytime schedules are pretty flexible anyways. We went out to a lot of dinners so they definitely went to bed much later than they do at home, but hey- it’s vacation! For Max we tried our best to get in two naps a day, as close to the times he naps at home as possible (9am and 1pm). For our beach days, this was easy. We took turns bringing him up to the house and sitting by the pool/reading while he napped (oh, twist my arm!). During boat days, we just gave him his bottle and hoped for the best. Most of the time he fell asleep on one of us. “Shoulder Naps” obviously don’t last as long as “crib naps” so he was extra cranky those days and we just tried to make the best of it. We made sure to always carry extra food pouches and snacks so that we could feed him if nothing he liked was available at meal time- you know, since he’s the pickiest eater on the planet…no idea where he gets this from!
- How did you decide on Nevis/book all the details? We are members of a vacation club, which is sort of hard to explain, but just think of it like owning a time share- only you can use it all over the world. We log in to the website, look at the destinations/dates that are available and pick a place! We had never been to Nevis and heard great things, so we wanted to check it out. We book everything through the travel club- down to activities and ordering groceries. We typically have a big family meeting to discuss all the activity options that everyone wants to do, and then start planning. Ryan is actually our “travel guide”. Ever since he single-handedly planned every detail of our honeymoon, he’s been in charge! 😉
- How do you get to Nevis? We flew Dallas to Miami, Miami to St. Kitts, taxi from St. Kitt’s airport to St. Kitt’s marina, then a water taxi from St. Kitt’s marina to Nevis marina, then a taxi from Nevis marina to our house. Not gonna lie to you- it’s a looooooong day!
- How do you handle long travel days with kids? Lots of snacks, candy for bribery, ipads (that they otherwise are not allowed to have- so it’s a total novelty), lots of activities in their backpacks, card games, coloring, blankets for napping, and a wish and a prayer! Ha! Honestly we just go with it! We get them food at the airport, and bring them a change of clothes/pjs so they can travel comfy ( Plain Jane and Alice & Ames are our travel outfit go-tos for the girls.) For Max we try our best to get him good and tired- let him run around the airport, and then give him a bottle once we board and hope he crashes. I think they travel well mostly because we travel with them so often- so they kind of know the drill. If it’s in the budget to get your baby their own seat- do it! We didn’t on this trip but luckily on one leg we had an empty seat next to us and having that extra space was a game changer!
- What cameras did you bring/use? Just my iphone and my Fuji camera. It’s my FAVORITE ever! I bought it specifically for travel so that I didn’t need to bring my big old Nikon, but now I use the Fuji even when I’m at home. I’m obsessed!
- What’s your fav place to book cheap airfare? We use points sometimes (Ryan flies a lot for work) or we sometimes use Expedia. Mostly we just book on American Airlines, but we typically book pretty far out in advance or when prices are lowest.
- Where did you get all the girls outfits? Honestly this one is so hard to answer because it would take forever to tag every shop. I’d say, head to my IG feed! I typically tag all the shops every time I post a picture! 🙂
- Best travel snacks for the kids? For the house we ordered lots of fresh fruit, oj, water bottles, and “safe items” like boxed mac & cheese, goldfish, and cheerios. For our cardboard box of “expendables” we packed pouches for Max, Pirates Booty, applesauce pouches, num-num crackers, yogurt drops, and small individual bags of snacks like pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers etc. We pack similar things for the flight- but always include apples, bananas, and try to buy a few “fresh” items once we are at the airport- like yogurt, cheese, or a fresh fruit cup to eat on the plane. Don’t forget a few lollipops and fruit snacks for when those little ears pop!
- What did you pack for yourself? I did a separate post with my fav products and beach pieces HERE!
- Where are you headed next? Hmmm…well we’ve got some fun adventures planned for this summer starting with our first ever kid-free trip to Greece in two weeks!! Eeek! But as far as the Caribbean goes…let’s just say we’ve booked our locations for the next two years! You’ll have to wait and see! Any guesses?
One of my IG followers told me: “If you’re looking for an island with lots of action, it may not be for you. If you’re looking for quiet & relaxation, Nevis is your island.” And she was absolutely right.
We ate at some great restaurants, rented jet skis, paddle boarded, chartered a catamaran, took a day trip over to St. Barth’s and had lots of relaxing beach time at Paradise Beach. We found plenty to do and overall it was a great trip!! I’m so, so glad that we went so that I can check it off the list and say we’ve been. But, will we be going back? Probably not. I feel like maybe, with Nevis: once is enough. For us, anyways.
*Traveling to Virgin Gorda? Click HERE to read all about our trip last year!
Posted on June 17, 2018
It’s that time again…
Each and every year I search the house for that same old blue and brown striped tie of Ryan’s, that old Tom Ford bowtie he wore only once, and the ratty old American flag hat that happens to be his favorite. Every year I promise myself that I’m going to hide these items away in a safe spot so that the next year I won’t need to have a panic attack and go hunting for them again. But, I never do. So every year, this year no different, I scramble to get this shot executed, edited, and ordered before Father’s Day. And every year Ryan pretends not to know what’s in the feather-light, cream colored box tied with a fancy brown ribbon. And then he pretends like his eyes are not tearing up when he flips open the tissue paper and see a full year of growth in a single snapshot. Every year.
It’s quite easily my favorite tradition of all times. I swear I’m doing it forever & ever and then I’ll cry when the shirts are no longer baggy and the hat fits Max’s head perfectly (which, let’s be honest, might be next year) #largeheadedchildrenproblems
Anyways, here is this year’s shot along with our collage of years past, for pinterest-ing (or bawling) purposes. 😉
Happy Father’s Day to all!
Posted on June 14, 2018
I feel like I got a collective “enough about the kids” sigh from y’all on instagram…and I know when to take a hint. 😉 Us mamas (and non-mamas) need to pamper ourselves, too. I totally get it! So, I went ahead and rounded up my 10 favorite summer products as promised… and then kept on going and shared some of my favorite summer wardrobe staples as well! Here it is- a glimpse into what’s in my beach bag…and closet!
Perhaps I should start with my love for this little company called Kopari! I started buying their tub o’ coconut melt, back when that was the only product they carried! Now they have a ton of products- all 100% pure organic coconut oil based; No sulfates. No silicones. No parabens. No GMOs. No toxins- EVER. Let’s just say I want every product this company makes! But here are a few of my favs for summer, along with some others I’m LOVING:
- Kopari Coconut Body Oil Spray – Use this in lieu of a lotion. I sprayed myself down with this after the shower every night on vacation and my skin just soaked it on up. Left the prettiest sheen on my skin! For an extra glow/shimmer, I added a layer of the Body Glow (below). And If you aren’t crazy about using oil as moisturizer, the Kopari Coconut Body Milk gives you the same “skin drench factor” but with a standard lotion base!
- Kopari Coconut Deodorant Stick I can NOT tell you how much I love this little stick. I know it is a deodorant, and I used it as that every morning before hitting up the beach, but I also used it everywhere and anywhere my skin needed some extra moisture. Don’t judge- but my favorite use for this product was to glide it along my bikini line (especially after shaving) so that I didn’t get that terrible bathing suit chafe/razor burn- y’all know what I’m talking about. 😉 It worked like a charm! And as far as underarm odor protection, it worked well. Obviously not as good as your typical/stronger (ahem, chemical-filled) deodorants/antiperspirants from the drug store- but I’m fine with that. I don’t do antiperspirants anyways…but that’s a whole different blog post! 😉
- Kopari Coconut Body Glow – This gives your skin the perfect amount of shimmer and glow, if you like that sort of thing. I applied it to my legs before dinner every night while on vacation and tapped a tiny bit on my cheekbones. The perfect summer “highlighter!”
- SuperGoop Glo Stick – This little stick is Fan-freaking-tastic! It has the same consistency of the Kopari Deo Stick but WITH SPF! I would apply it over my sunscreen base in the morning and throughout the day anywhere I wanted a little extra (protected) glow! I also love that Supergoop uses clean ingredients and is always oxybenzone, paraben and cruelty-free.
- Super Goop SPF Mousse – I recently was sent a sample of this mousse sunscreen and loved it so much I went back and bought the full sized bottle. It’s airy and lighter than a lotion and won’t leave your skin feeling dried out like lots of the sprays will.
- Supergoop Acai SPF Lip Balm– I use this lip balm ALL. YEAR. LONG. I love that it keeps my lips protected (especially after I started noticing some sun spots on my lips from my earlier/carefree years!) The Acai flavor is my fav!
- Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte– You guys, just click the link and BUY THIS PRODUCT! My sister brought it home from a charity event swag bag for me and now we are both completely hooked. It’s a lightweight, tinted SPF and I’m obsessed. I use it every single day! Also, you won’t find silicones, chemical sunscreens, sensitizing dyes, perfumes, or fragrant essential oils of any kind in Drunk Elephant products. I use their entire skin care line…but again, that’s a different post altogether!
- Dior Sugar Scrub– “One of these things does not look like the other…one of these things just isn’t the same!” Anyone else remember that Sesame Street song?! Ok, so this product doesn’t fit in with all of my other “synthetic free/all natural” products in this post but I unfortunately LOVE this stuff! It has grains of sugar that exfoliate your lips upon application and then melt away- leaving your lips super soft with the cutest tint of pink. I am not a big lipstick girl, so this slight pinch of color is everything for me! It’s such a great summer product!
- Dior Show Waterproof- My all-time, hands-down, favorite mascara ever (thanks to my bestie for giving it to me for my birthday a few years back)!! Only, a waterproof version, because…summer!
- Truffle Bags– And what does one use to tote around all of these amazing summer products, you ask? Truffle Bags! I was introduced to these through another beauty blogger and bought one to try it out…then want back and bought a few more. They are adorable, sturdy, slim, and come in all different sizes. I use them for all my travel/packing needs (Did I mention they are TSA approved?!)! They are a little pricey, so maybe start with one and see how much you love them. I’m fully hooked! Here are my favorite sizes for travel:
- Jetset Case: best for bottles, tech supplies, makeup brushes, jewelry, or anything with more depth to it- like your travel camera! ;)|
- Large Clarity Pouch: I use this one for my shampoos, toiletries, and sunscreen
- Small Flat Clarity Pouch: Think of it like a purse organizer- lipstick, mascara, loose change, etc. It also fits travel sized products.
- Large Clutch: perfect for concerts/games when only clear bags are permitted! But it obviously can be used as a organizer as well. I love putting my kindle & charger in this one!
- Floppy Straw Hat | Cheaper Version (in the past, my nice ones always get crushed in my luggage or wet in the water & ruined so I always buy cheapies!)
- Fun “Word Play” Wide Brim Hat Just bought this cute cheapie from Old Navy for our Nevis trip. Love the frayed edges!
- Straw Panama Hat I love a smaller brimmed hat for when my suit or coverup is a little more tailored/funky or to wear with non-beachy outfits when out exploring.
- Plain Baseball Cap (perfect for boat days- less likely to blow away!)
God, I just HATE swimsuit shopping! Luckily, I found a few brands that work on my body so I tend to just stick to them. Marysia is definitely my favorite swimsuit brand. I just think her pieces are timeless and beautiful…but they are super pricey so I get a new one maybe every year or two and fill in with lots of other fun/cheaper brands. This year I got the green one shoulder Marysia I linked below (#2). It’s so gorgeous and totally worth the splurge; I’ll wear it forever! I’ve linked a bunch of my other favorites below as well. Spoiler Alert…I’m a “full-coverage” kinda girl and I like to keep my suits pretty simple and classic so if that’s not for you, keep on scrolling!
- Marysia Black Scalloped Halter | Cheaper Versions: one | two
- Marysia Green One Shoulder | Cheaper Version: one | two | three
- SummerSalt One Shoulder | Cheaper Version: one
- Trina Turk Ruffle Shoulder (if most sizes are sold out, try HERE)|Cheaper Options: one | two | three | four
- J. McLaughlin Navy Halter
- Candy Strand Tankinis (I love the long flutter tops and the cinch bottoms! Check back often bc its a small shop & the cute colors always sell out!)
Ok, I’m a complete cover-up hoarder and am ashamed to say that I just bought a bunch of these for our upcoming Greece trip! Also, I love using kimonos as cover-ups and I’m obsessed with how light and airy 6 & 7 are!
Notice a theme here? Bahah! Ok so, there’s a method behind my “vanilla” madness: I like to keep my beach bags neutral so that I only need to pack one of each size and it’ll match everything! Sizes? Yep! I always pack three sizes: a large (for beach), medium (for day time activities) and small (for evening). I carry the large size on the plane and then only need to pack two smaller bags in my luggage! P.S. Colorful Poms are totally considered neutral! 🙂
- 1 I brought this one to Nevis and it held up through the entire trip of carrying everything but the kitchen sink! Plus the poms are removable.
- 2 A smaller version of #1, again- poms are removable!
- 3 Totally in love with this one! Round bags are so in right now.
- 4 I got a similar one when we were in St. Barth’s and can’t wait to use it!
- 5 Ok, I LOVE that Target has put its own spin on this “IT bag” from last year. So cute…and cheap!
- 6 Ok, this one is a total splurge…but look how cute it is!
- 7 A Tory Tote, for the more sophisticated beach traveler…but, ummmm it’s 50% OFF you guys! Gah! I want it!!
- 8 How cute is this little pineapple!
- 9 I love the little poms!
- 10 Got this for Greece!
- 11 I use this one ALL.THE.TIME!
- 12 We’ve been collecting these Apolis bags from our favorite vacation destinations for a while now- love using them as beach bags and they’re so durable!
That’s it for now! Happy Summer!
Posted on May 17, 2018
Can you believe it’s time for a Summer Book post?! I feel like it was just yesterday I was posting my very first one of these…way back in October! I’ll be back again with a big old “Back-to-School” round up in August for you!
Since I’m crunched for time, I did not include in-depth book descriptions like I usually do. If you click on each link, however, it will bring you right to the Amazon item page and will give you a full description (and sometimes a peek inside the book) there!
And Then Comes Summer |Summer |Jamberry |We’re Going on a Bear Hunt |Her Right Foot (a longer book but a great read all about the Statue of Liberty) |The Watermelon Seed |Flora and the Flamingo (picture book- no words)|The Penderwicks (fantastic summer novel)|Is it Warm Enough for Ice Cream? |Goldfish on Vacation |The Night Before the Fourth of July |The Truth About my Unbelievable Summer |Our Great Big Backyard |How I Spent my Summer Vacation |Curious About Ice Cream (an non-fiction book of ice cream facts- great for older kids)|Wave (picture book- no words)|Roller Coaster |Fire Flies |Flotsam
Going on a summer adventure?! I highly recommend this travel journal for bigger kids!
Go! An Adventure Journal (comes in three cover colors)
Posted on May 15, 2018
The general idea:
- Chose a book for each child
- Ask child’s teacher to sign it at the end of each school year
- Present book to your child at a crucial point in their educational career (8th grade/high school graduation)
So I found this idea on Pinterest forever ago and, having been a teacher myself, thought it would be so cute to implement when I had my own children. I started when Q was in preschool and so far, I’ve kept up with both her and Ardyn’s books every year.
I recently shared this idea on my Instagram stories and got SO many messages about it, I figured I’d do a mini blog post with all the info!
Again, this was NOT my original idea and of course, you can tweak this little project to best suit you & your children!
Here is what I do:
- I chose to do a different book for each kid. I started with the quintessential Oh, The places You’ll Go with Q. But then I started seeing other amazing books out there and thought- why not mix it up?
- I found this instructional poem on Pinterest– I DID NOT write it. But I did go ahead and retype it out for you on standard white background (the one I found on Pinterest was on an Oh, The Places You’ll Go background- which doesn’t exactly work if you are using a different book!
- I keep these books tucked away in mailing envelopes so the kids don’t see them throughout the year. At the end of the year I send them to school IN the sealed envelope, addressed to the teacher (again, so the kids don’t see). I’m sure one of these years the kids will catch on…but for now I’d like to keep it a secret. (NOTE: Please do not wait until the last day or two of school to ask your child’s teacher to do this. Teachers are super busy at the end of the year and 1. You’ll probably get a rushed messaged 2. it’s annoying) 😉
- I plan on doing this as long as possible (goal would be through high school) and giving the book to each child at their high school graduation. Again, once I give Q hers- I’m sure the other two kids will figure they are also getting one…if they haven’t figured it out already. I’m not sure-I haven’t let my brain travel down that road yet. Right now, we’re just focusing on Kindergarten graduation! Ha!
- Add a small school picture from that year next to each teacher’s message. Someone on IG said they place the picture on the page they want the teacher to sign! One of Q’s teacher’s did this back in her 4-year-old class and it really is the sweetest touch! You can always go back and add a pic later.
- Maybe “reserve” a special page for yourself/the parents to write on. Front cover, perhaps? I just put a post it note on the page saying “reserved for mom & dad”. You can perhaps write a dedication note before you give it. It’d be super sweet to write a note the year you start it, and then a note the year you finish/give it! Ok…I’m not crying, you are!
- If your teacher forgets to write the date, make sure you do so, or add the grade level next to each note!
- It’s never too late to start this fun project so don’t feel like you missed the boat- just start this year!
Books That I Like:
Oh, The Places You’ll Go | The Knowing Book | Reach for the Stars |Wherever You Go | She Believed She Could, So She Did | I Wish You More | Whatever You Are, Be a Good One | Seuss-isms | Oh, The Thinks You Can Think | Dear Girl,
I like to print it, laminate it, and paper clip it onto the front of each book! (You Should be able to click and download the links below!)
I also LOVE this poem I found on My Sister’s Suitcase (via Pinterest) for an older student! I tweaked it a bit so it could be gender neutral…I hope the original author doesn’t mind! If you’d prefer, you can head to their website and download their his/her versions directly!
Posted on May 11, 2018
Here it is- finally! The Big Baby Favorites Post I’ve been promising!! I get asked lots of questions on Instagram about my favorite “this” or “that” or get asked to link an item Max is using. SO, I figured it’d just be easier to compile one, big, easy-to-navigate blog post with ALL the information I could think of! Now you can come back and reference it, or shop anytime you want!
A few things to note: this list is not a comprehensive registry check list, but instead a list of my personal favorite baby gear and products that I’ve discovered or used along the way! If I’ve left anything off, that you were really hoping for, please let me know! I did have some requests for favorite clothing shops and for baby toys/activities but I think for clothing just check out my instagram posts, I usually tag the shops I buy from! And I think “activities” apply more to older babies/toddlers and that’s going to have to be a separate post, seeing as how this one is already a full encyclopedia!
I’ve divided everything in categories below and you can shop/explore one of two ways:
1. By clicking the corresponding numbers under each collage OR
2. By reading the “details” section under each collage and clicking the links found there!
I hope you find this post helpful!
Boppy Covers- I love these beautiful linen covers by Madly Wish. The colors are so pretty and I never felt like my boppy was an eyesore when I left it out on the couch after nursing (which was always). They are soft and easy to clean. Max still uses his to drink his bottles! And guess what? They have so graciously offered to give you 20% off with code: JORDAN!!
Oxo Bibs- There are SO many cute bib options out there so let me tell you why I love these: The top is soft (so it’s not a big ring-o-rubber around babies neck) but the bottom (where the food falls) is the durable silicone, so it’s easy to wipe clean. Also, there is a little pocket down at the bottom of the bib to catch spills and crumbs. For the life of me, I can’t understand why all bibs don’t have these little pockets! Of course, I’m talking about bibs for when your baby starts eating food- not for just “milk bibs”. My fav cloth “milk bibs” are from Copper Pearl! Use code PEARL10 for 10% off Copper Pearl goodies!!
Spoons & bowls- Love Avanchy. I also love that they now have stainless steel options!
Bottles- I LOVE Como Tomo so much! We tried every brand of bottle for our fussy/colic babies and this brand has been our favorite we’ve found in 7 years! I love that they are silicone and squishy. They are super easy for baby to hold/squeeze and super easy to clean (the mouth is so wide, you can literally stick your whole hand in there to clean them!) I also appreciate that these bottles are only TWO pieces to clean as opposed to a million pieces, like many of the other “colic preventing” bottles on the market! (Stay tuned for a fun giveaway with Como Tomo coming soon!)
Bottle Drying Rack– We found this one was small and sleek enough for the kitchen counter and still had lots of room for several bottles and tops to dry at one time. Bonus points- if you use como tomo, your bottles only have two pieces that you need to hang! 😉
Formula- I don’t want to start a debate or go into detail here but let’s just say- I’ve done my fair share of research on baby formulas. I had grand plans to breastfeed all my babes for a long period of time, but my cards played out differently for each baby and I had to learn to go with the flow & remember that “Fed is best”! We’re all just doing the best we can! That being said, when I had to go the formula route pretty early on with Ardyn, I did extensive research. I looked into ingredients in mass marketed formulas and made lists and spreadsheets. No formula is perfect, but these are the ones I have used. Baby’s Only is my favorite, but it is marketed as a “Toddler Formula” so it apparently has extra macro & micro nutrients in it. Be sure to check with your pediatrician before using.
- First Choice: Baby’s Only Organic (I buy mine at Whole Foods. They have several options so please look at the ingredients in each and determine which specific formula of theirs is right for your baby. I linked the one I used.)
- Second Choice: Happy Baby Organic (they have different stages for different ages, so make sure you buy the correct one!)
Food- I made all the kids’ baby food for the first few months. But, then I switched over to pre-packaged when good ol’ life got in the way of whipping up batches of pureed carrots every week. Here are some brands that I like:
- Happy Baby Pouches I love that the packages are clear and that the ingredients are organic and minimal. Certified USDA Organic; Non-GMO Project Verified; Gluten Free; Kosher; No added sugars or artificial flavors!
- Nurture Life is a weekly meal delivery service that sends you fresh, wholesome, organic baby foods with several different “stages” to choose from. Use code JORDAN for $30 off your first order!
High Chair – Bloom Fresco I know it’s (very!) pricey but we’ve had this same highchair for SEVEN years and it still looks good as new! The best part is- you can change out the seat cover color & buy spare parts off their website as things start looking like they need to be refreshed over the years. Plus it reclines & acts as a sort of “baby cradle” for those early months and then transforms with the baby as they grow. If this is your last babe, you may not want to make the investment, but if you are just getting started having babies- this high chair is highly recommended to last you through the years!
Binkies – I loved this brand so much, even though Max decided early on that he wasn’t a binky-boy. 😦
Gowns & Footed Pjs – Kickeepants will forever hold a special place in my heart and JUST when I thought it wasn’t possible to love them anymore, they went and came out with zippered pjs. Also, their newborn gowns are ESSENTIAL for those first few months. They make those middle of the night diaper changes SO much easier!
Sound Machine – My kids have always loved the “ocean” sound for their white noise at night and I love how compact this one is for travel.
Baby Shusher– This thing is AWESOME! We used it mostly as an on-the-go sound machine- on airplanes, in his stroller, carseat, etc.
Monitor– The Nanit is my favorite monitor we’ve ever used. It comes with your choice of a stand or a wall mount and it watches your baby from above. It connects with your phone and can alert you when there is sound/movement or when the temperature in the room is out of range. It tracks your baby’s sleep patterns and how many times you go in to soothe at night. It gives you a live feed as well as “recap” videos, insights, and activity summaries. You can sign up for a $10/month plan and get emails with full breakdowns of your child’s sleep habits and it gives you sleep training tips based on the activity it has gathered from the month. This thing is BOMB! My favorite part is when Ryan and I are out on a date night, I can open the app in my phone and watch a live feed of Max snoozing away! Also, the other night, our NEST thermostat went a little haywire and the Nanit alerted me immediately that the temperature in Max’s room had dropped below optimal temperature. We went in to check and his little fingers were so chilly! No wonder he wasn’t sleeping well!
Swaddles: Ok, I’m breaking this up into two categories, muslin swaddles and non-muslin swaddles. MY muslin favs are the “deluxe” ones from Little Unicorn Official. The “deluxe or bamboo” ones are the softest of the bunch and are SUPER lightweight- and the designs are SO cute! Max loves to snuggle with these and Ardyn still sleeps with all 500 of hers.|My non-muslin favorites, hands-down are the stretchy blankets from Copper Pearl. They are soft like butter and are SO good for getting a nice snug swaddle! We have quite the collection of these! Don’t forget to use code PEARL10 for 10% off Copper Pearl goodies!!
Sleep Sack- I’ve tried them all. These are my absolute favorite and I shouldn’t be surprised because they are by my fav pj brand, Kickee Pants. Max uses his every night and literally cuddles right into it the second we put it on him. It’s the softest thing I’ve ever felt and I’m working on getting them to make one in my size…
Bassinet – I loved this Monte Design Bassinet because it was sleek looking and was going in our bedroom. (Call me crazy but I’m not a huge fan of big plastic/brightly colored baby gear all over my house.) Also, the small Dock-a-tot fit perfectly inside and so did our Plum and Sparrow Moses basket. (I also always loved the Moba Baskets too!) Anyways, this bassinet was so great for those early months. I’ve passed it down to my sister because it’s just so beautiful and I NEED to see another baby in it! If you’re looking for a cheaper option- this Halo Bedside Bassinet is pretty awesome too! Or if you love the look of the rocker bassinet- THIS one is a really nice cheaper option!
Pack & Play – Loved this Nuna Sena play yard. We kept Max in our room beyond the point of him outgrowing his bassinet. This was a great transition crib. It has an higher insert for smaller babies and was super easy to fold up and put down. We still have it and use it if we are traveling to a friend’s house for dinner, or a day at the pool and we need a place for him to nap or play safely.
Air Sense Air Purifier This allows you to monitor and purify the air in baby’s room. “By detecting temperature, humidity, and harmful elements in the air—such as carbon monoxide, methane and ammonia—this smart air purifier releases negative ions and alerts you of indoor air quality using a free app. Two-way audio speakers connect to your Wi-Fi to play music or a recording of your voice to help soothe baby, while customizable light colors provide entertainment and sleep therapy.” This is by no means a “must-have” unless you are up all night worrying about baby like me. If so, this thing just gives you extra peace of mind.
Cybex Carseat & Stroller System- I can’t say enough about this car seat! My only complaint was that it was heavy- but in my experience most of the car seats with the highest safety ratings tend to be a bit heavier. My favorite feature of this car seat was that it can fully recline when hooked onto the stroller base or out of the car. Perfect for turning your upright car seat stroller into more of a bassinet stroller and I loved it for when Max fell asleep in the car; I could transfer him into the house, recline the seat and not worry about him being all scrunched up! Go check it out and read up on it yourself!
Side Note: Can I just say, even though we didn’t buy it, I’m slightly obsessed with the idea of the Doona carseat/stroller. It’s a carseat that transforms into a little stroller- it’s one piece, you guys. ONE!
Travel Stroller | cheaper version – I LOVE the Pockit for travel because it is so light & folds up so small you can put it in the overhead compartment of the airplane! They just came out with a new version that reclines and has a rounded hood! I’ve linked them both!
Nursing cover/ Carseat cover/ Shopping Cart Cover – Copper Pearl is my Favorite! I still use my covers for high chairs and shopping carts for Max ! Use code PEARL10 for 10% off any Copper Pearl goodies!!
Binxy Baby– Shopping Cart Hammock. Takes up so much less room than the huge carseats in the back of the cart..so you can actually fit, you know- groceries! I LOVED this, but unfortunately Max is too big for it now. I’d say this really only lasts until your baby can sit up and/or roll over.
Wagon- Carting around a whole family? Heading to the zoo, beach, or a million soccer games?! This Keenz wagon is LIFE! It folds up, has a fold down storage compartment that fits it’s very own insulated mini cooler, it has an attachable canopy that has fold down panels on each side, and even cup holders and phone storage! If you need to see more, go check out my “shop” highlight reel on IG. This wagon is life-changing! Totally replaces any “double stroller” needs for us! BONUS: Use code JORDAN18 for a discount! (They are restocking more colors next week!)
- Favorite Sling- Sakura Bloom super comfy & easy to get baby in & out!
- Favorite Wrap- Solly Baby (takes a minute to learn to tie but then its super easy!)
- Favorite heavy duty carrier- Ergo Baby wore this one for hikes or long hauls!
Play Gym- This is a fun little toy for when baby is still laying down but is grabbing and chewing on toys. It’s great for when you need a few minutes to shower, do laundry, etc. Max even played with it once he learned to sit up. I liked how it wasn’t an eyesore to have around the house and that you could strap different toys onto it! Max lost interest in this around the time that he started crawling.
Jumper- This was a big hit once Max could sit up on his own. It’s great for leg muscle strengthening . I prefer this kind, where the baby’s feet touch the actual floor, as opposed to the jumpers with the plastic tray bottoms. I think it gives the baby more control over the bounce & movement.
Bounce Chair- Max loved this chair in his early months. I loved the sleek design and how it bounced itself with the slightest movement from Max.
Stuffed Animals- BlaBla & Jelly Cat ! All of my kids have loved these two brands. My girls still sleep with theirs from when they were babies to this day! And I’m SO excited to share that BlaBla has offered you guys a 15% off code!!!! Just use JORDANCO15 at checkout! K, bye…I’m off to shop!
Books – Even the smallest babies can be read to and BabyLit books are my fav because the pictures are bright and colorful and the text is so simple and direct. Max still loves to look through these books together!
Toys/Rattles Babies don’t really need a ton of “toys” but as they start gripping and chewing, I do prefer toys made of natural/organic materials for them to have in their mouths 24/7. The Tot and Banner Toys are two of my fav shops for finding fabulous and safe chew toys and rattles! Great News: Bannor Toys is giving you guys an exclusive discount! Use code JORDAN10 until 5/31 for 10% off! (excludes bannor boxes, limited toys, and furniture)
Wipes- I’ve been using these Water Wipes since the day they came out and I’ve never looked back! They are 99.9% water with a drop of fruit extract. Can’t get purer than that!
Babyganics Diapers- I’m all about the organic diapers. Diapers actually contain lots of junky chemicals and they are the one product that is touching your baby’s most sensitive skin 24/7. So, I go organic- just a personal preference. Another fav are the Seventh Generation brand. I waver between the two when I’m out shopping!
Diaper Cream- Honest brand is my fave because of the low EWG rating (1) and because it actually works. In “tough” rash cases, we use Baby Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Maximum Strength because of the high level of zinc oxide. I also love mixing coconut oil with a few drops of frankincense essential oil for a homemade rash salve.
Bum Spatula- If you don’t own one of these, click this link and buy 50 right now. Ok, maybe not 50, but enough for every diaper change station in your house. And one for your car and one for your diaper bag! These are diaper cream applicators. No more messy fingers…in places they don’t need to be! This little tool is washable and has a suction cup bottom so you can secure it in place without making a huge mess between applying cream and finishing the diaper change!
Hatch Baby Changing Pad AND Scale! I wanted this SO badly for Max but we just didn’t spring for it. How cool would it be to be able to track your baby’s growth at home!? This is from the website: “the smart scale records baby’s weight and sends the results to your smartphone app. The app also tracks how many diaper changes baby is getting, so you can share with your pediatrician and see if baby is getting enough to eat at each feeding!”
Dekor Hands Free Diaper Pail – I forget what we had before this one, but I felt like it always stunk! I’ve never had that issue with this one. So it gets a thumbs up from me! Don’t forget your biodegradable pail refills!
Gathre Changing Pad– We have one of these sweet little leather mats in the living room and in my diaper bag! I also keep one in the back of my car for emergency changes!
Baby Shampoo & Lotions – I’m a bit of a nut about safe ingredients in products- both mine and my kids! Tubby Todd has been my favorite for years now. The shampoos and bubble baths are gentle enough for the newest skin and they smell amazing as well! Their line has expanded so much since I first started using them, and now they have conditioner and detangler which I still use on my girls!
Bath support – I’ve tried all the bath supports- from the puj tub to the big flower cushion thing…and this one is my fav! I love it because it fit in my sink, was easy to clean (and dry!) AND once Max got bigger, I could also use it in our big bath tub!
For babies who are sitting up, but still slipping and sliding around a big bath tub, this Summer Infant anchored bath seat is pretty cool!
Baby Bath Towels- Can I just say, as a mom who has done this three times…skip the fancy hooded baby towels (or get one or two if you must), the regular towels you already own work just as good. Excess “baby specific” towels are just a waste of money. If you really want to get one for those early newborn days, I loved this Hands free Puj Infant Towel.
Bath Toys for Baby- They don’t need much when they are tiny, just a few things to grab and chew on. Toys for older kids will need to wait for another post. But in general I stick with simple, mold/mildew free bath toys. Here are a few of my favorites for babies: ducks | color changing bath book |boats
Drain Cover- I’ve used this Boon Starfish since Q was a baby. Works in the sink & tub.
Ok, this one’s a doozy. But, summer is upon us and there’ve been multiple requests for my favorite, most trusted sunscreens, so here’s my two cents:
There is such a great debate about sunscreen danger vs UV danger. I get both sides and am aware and have a healthy, respectful fear of the dangers of both. I guess it boils down to this- I try to use barrier protection (hats, UV rashguard swim suits, sunglasses, and shade) as my first method of protecting my kids from the sun. But of course, they also need sunscreen. So, by now we all know that I’m super picky about safe ingredients when it comes to the products I buy and put on my family. Amplify that pickiness by 100 when it comes to sunscreen. Sunscreen has some of the MOST dangerous and most toxic ingredients and reading about it makes my skin crawl. I try to follow EWG guidelines as often as possible with all products, but especially sunscreen. EWG (Environmental Working Group) rates each product on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the safest and 10 being the most toxic. It also gives you a list of each ingredient in the product, rates each ingredient, and tells you why it could be a potential toxin OR why it is safe. I love this site and actually have the app on my phone for easy access and for scanning products when I’m out shopping! I also always try to read up on the “Best Sunscreens of the Year” lists they put out annually. If you want to read a bit more about sunscreen safety, HERE is another article for you. But if you just want to know my favorites (based on the guidelines of both articles), here they are:
- Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, spf 30
- Blue Lizard Baby spf 30
- Babo BotanicalsClear Zinc Lotion, spf 30 and Sport Stick
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Lotion Sunscreen, spf 50
- Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+
- Kiss My Face Organics Kids Sunscreen, spf 30
- All Good Kids Sunscreen, spf 30 -I’m actually loving THIS package of All Good Products- it comes with four sun-care products and they are all rated a “1” (the highest safety rating by EWG)
And here’s the deal, we’re “not supposed to use sprays”. But let’s be honest…it happens. (With me anyways-especially on busy beach trips!). So here’s what I do. I look for the spray cans made by any of the above brands. Most of them are rated a “3” Which, in my opinion isn’t terrible for something you aren’t planning on using every single solitary day. A few of my fav spray brands with the best ratings that I’ve used are:
- All Good Kids Sunscreen Spray, spf 30
- All Good Sport Sunscreen Spray, spf 30
- Kiss My Face Bare Naked Body Mist, spf 30
Note: When using these more “natural” sunscreens it is KEY to apply generously and frequently- especially when you are out in the sun all day and/or swimming!
*And since this post is all about BABIES- Please make sure you check with your pediatrician to see when you are allowed to start applying sunscreen on your baby. Most doctors don’t advise slathering on sunscreen before 6 months of age. More on that HERE.
Monthly Marker Details:
- You ALL know my absolute number one favorite are the numbered onesies by my girl Jen at Swanky Shank. She does SUCH a good job and they are customizable so you can get them in basically any color felt/onesie you want! And Woo-Hoo, use code FRIEND10 for 10% off!!
- Another Fun option for monthly pics are these cool monthly milestone chalkboards by Chalk Designs by Me. Use the code JORDAN10 for 10% off!
- And I’ve always loved these milestone blankets from Batz Kids. They have so many different styles to choose from and they are just the sweetest! Use code JORDAN15 for 15% off- but HURRY code is only active for 48 hours!
Baby Safety Details:
Can I just start by saying that if it’s in the budget, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a professional baby-proofer to come do this job. I thought it was going to be insanely expensive but you can have them do as much or as little as you want. For us, we had him lock all the cabinets/drawers downstairs, secure a few pieces of furniture to the walls, and cover the fire place. (We already had baby gates on the stairs!) It took all the worry out of wondering if we had done it right or covered all of our bases! If you or your hubby are extra handy & want to do it yourself, here are some products we love & use!!
Cabinet/Drawer locks: Magnet Key | Push Latch Both have pros/cons. We wound up mixing it up in our house. Super “dangerous” cabinets (i.e. cabinets with cleaners or lots of products or medicines, etc.) and cabinets we don’t go into very often (aka the tv boxes and electrical av gear) all got the magnet locks. I thought I would HATE these and lose the magnet keys day one- but I actually love them so much- they were SO easy to install (I installed all of these myself!)…and here’s a little tip for storing your key….they stick right to your metal outlet covers! We keep our “kitchen key” right on one of the outlets on the kitchen counter! The push latches are great for drawers and cabinets that don’t have dangerous items and are places you need to get into 25 million times a day & don’t have time to grab a key to open (like kids dishes, cups, pots/pans, etc.) I call these the “annoyance factor” locks as opposed to “safety factory” locks! 😉
Furniture & TV securing belts: super important and something I think often gets overlooked in baby proofing! We secured any tvs that weren’t on wall mounts and extra tall or heavy furniture (think dressers and bookshelves…which kids see as ladders!)
Fireplace Cover: This was “the beaut” that our baby-proofer put over our fireplace. It’s ugly as sin but it keeps Max from grabbing the tiny (choking hazard) stones that are in there & it’s pressure mounted so super easy to remove if you have guests over or want to light a fire! Be sure to measure your fireplace opening first!
Toilet Seat Locks: I like these because they don’t require adhesive.
Stair Baby Gates: I think this is SUCH a case-by-case situation. For our house, we have dark wood floors and wrought iron spindles so I wanted a gate that was dark & would blend in. I suggest matching your spindles when selecting a baby gate for your stairs. Also, consider your stair opening. The top of our stairs is pretty standard, but the base of our steps is super wide. We actually found this gate: North States Super Gate that worked perfectly for the bottom of our steps. It comes in white as well. For the top we used a standard sized baby gate. Both are screw in…because you don’t want to mess around with stairs. Especially tall, hardwood stairs like ours! But if you’d rather not screw into your nice banisters, they sell these awesome ADAPTERS now! So cool!!
Here’s another tip: on the top of your stairs avoid the gates that have the bar at the bottom. These are SO dangerous and are such tripping hazards- both for kiddos and for anyone who may be carrying babies down the stairs. Instead, get a SWING GATE like THIS ONE that bolts to your walls/beams and swings open…no bar at the base!
Regular Baby Gates: For baby gates around the house (like to keep Max out of a certain hallway of our house) I go pressure mounted gate all the way! No need to put holes in the walls for something that isn’t going to be a permanent fixture! I love THIS ONE because the size is adjustable with extensions and I love the auto close feature!!
Chokeable Items: Ok, this is a tricky one because it’s two-fold process for us: it’s about controlling new toys/items that come into the house and also trying to sort through old toys/items that you already have lying around! So, for ALL new toys that come into our house, I go through the packaging and remove any choking hazards before giving them to the girls. These tiny pieces get tossed or get put in special storage (more on that below). It’s easy(ish) to control new items that come into your house, but it’s hard to sort through the massive piles & bins of toys that you already have! So here’s what I did: I trained my girls to find “chokeables” and bring them to me. I’m not kidding! Ardyn was doing it the DAY we brought Max home from the hospital! I swear, train your older kiddos and they will be your biggest helpers in finding random chokables around the house. If need be, keep little smarties or m&m candies and tell the bigger kids they get one every time they bring you a chokable they find. You’ll be shocked at what they find, ahem…what you missed! 😉
Of course, sweeping your house for choking hazard items doesn’t mean your big kids can’t play with their smaller pieced toys anymore- it just means (in our house, anyways) that these toys/games are stored up high and are items that the girls need to get permission before playing with…which isn’t a problem because they can’t reach them anyways! Ha! This applies to small legos, LOL dolls, Barbie shoes & accessories, games with small playing pieces, etc. When the girls come and ask to play one of those things, I take them down, set them up at a table where Max cannot reach and I supervise play. Here are some of our favorite storage bins for chokeable toys! ONE | TWO
Extras & Gift Ideas Details:
KiwiCo Newborn Pack – Such a cute and easy gift idea! All these sweet newborn items delivered right to your (or your recipient’s) door! Stay tuned for an awesome giveaway on my IG coming soon!
Paci Clips from Madelines’s Box are super cute for keeping those binkies clipped on to your baby! Use code JM25 for a discount, valid until 7/10/18
Don’t underestimating buying clothes/pjs in a bigger size (for your baby or as a gift item) There’s nothing like getting to six months and realizing your baby no longer fits in any of the newborn stuff you hoarded like a pack rat!
“First Bows” for baby girls – Zozu Baby and Ellia May Designs are two of my favs and they both have really cute “It’s a Girl” free bow gifting programs! ZoZu Baby even has little man bow ties for those baby boys! AND Discount codes for everyone!!! Use code JORDAN20 (at both ZoZu & Ellia May Designs) for 20%!!
Miracle Milkookies deliver yummy lactation cookies to new mamas. Right now they are local to Dallas, TX but they have a nationwide launch happening this summer- YAY! Use code JORDANANDCO for 25% off your first order!
A beautiful baby book- I ADORE this Birthday Letters journal. I do birthday letters for my babes in generic journals I picked up but I would’ve loved to have had them collected in a beautiful book like this!
Cute Organic Teethers are always a cute gift topper! Tip: When the sole purpose of an item is for a baby to put it in his/her mouth and chew on it…I always go organic/natural !
Beautiful Personalized Stationary from Shop Joy Creative. It may seem funny to give a tiny baby stationary, but I promise it will come in handy- for those early thank you cards and as they grow throughout their first year! I LOVE my stationary for Max and use it often! Use code JORDAN20 for a discount!!
Personalized Wooden Toy from Banner Toys are so beautiful AND last forever! Don’t forget about your discount code: JORDAN10 until 5/31 for 10% off! (excludes bannor boxes, limited toys, and furniture)
I love gifting a pair of Kickee Pants pjs with a cute stuffed animal or book. Kickee Pants now has their own stuffed animals, books, AND wrapping supplies based on their fabric prints. How cool is that?!!? Use the exclusive code: YAY for 15% off all Kickee Pants Press products- expires 5/13 so hurry, hurry!
If there are big siblings involved it’s always nice to get them a little something too. I’ll never forget how happy it made the girls when visitors brought even just a tiny something for them to say “congrats on becoming a big sister!” I love THIS Art Set for a gender neutral idea!
For a few other fun baby gifting ideas see THIS post!
Things we didn’t use but others swear by:
1| The Dock-aTot– As soon as Max could roll over he was a tummy sleeper, so that made the Dock unusable for us…even though we had one! I was SO sad!! Also, we travel a lot and didn’t want Max to develop a sleep dependency and then have to travel with it everywhere we went. That being said, so many of my friends SWEAR by theirs AND travel with them everywhere they go.
2 |The Owlet– We bought one and tried using it but it set off so many false alarms, I found myself to be a nervous wreck all the time thinking something was terribly wrong. We stopped using it and had Max sleep in his bassinet (and then a pack & play as he grew) next to us, in our bedroom, for probably much longer than we should’ve. But again, I have friends and doctors who absolutely swear by these monitors! 😉
3 |Baby Brezza- For those of you who don’t know, this thing is like a Keurig for Baby Formula. Ok, here’s the deal with this product: we had a friend sell us hers when Max started transitioning over to formula and it was GENIUS! I was hooked immediately. It mixes your formula one bottle at a time and serves it at room temp all at the touch of a button. Now, if you breastfeed you obviously don’t need this and I didn’t need it until recently. It really was a game changer & made the transition so much easier. BUT. It says to clean it regularly- which I did. However, one day I was trying to fix something that wasn’t working properly and when the insides opened up it was filled with mold. I threw up, I cried, I called the doctor immediately. I was thoroughly disgusted. SO. I’m not sure what went wrong here- because I’m a neat-freak/germaphobe and cleaned it regularly, per the instructions. It could’ve been a fluke, but I was completely turned off from this product so I won’t even link it here.
4 |The Beebo – We bought one. Don’t ask me why. But never used it once. Maybe you can try it and let me know what I was missing?
5 |Newborn Mittens and Pee TeePees (for little boys)- bought both, never used either! We opted for the Kickee Pants pjs with the fold over hand mitts instead.
6| Amber Necklaces for teething. I just never really got into these little guys. I think maybe the potential choking hazard freaked me out? I don’t know. I know LOTS of people who use them and say they are amazing but I guess my kiddos were just never really bad enough teethers to warrant getting one.