Virgin Gorda


Well, friends- we’re back! Crazy to think that after all that planning and packing and prepping…the trip is already over. BUT- I will tell you, it was worth every second and every penny! Virgin Gorda *might* be my new favorite Caribbean destination!

I received so many questions via Instagram while we were away and with data roaming charges being so high and the internet connection being less than stellar, I figured I’d answer some of them here!

First off:

Q & A’s clothes & bathing suits: I almost ALWAYS tag the shops their outfits are from. Just tap the picture on instagram to see the shop names (I know this seems kind of obvious, but I still get lots ofย  “Where is that dress from?” type questions over in Insta-land. So, yeah click the picture for shop names.) If it’s NOT tagged its most likely an old piece or something that is no longer available. OR my shopaholic brain simply forgot where I got it! ๐Ÿ˜‰


(Ex: These blue rompers got lots of questions and I didn’t tag them because they were purchased at Old Navy last summer- or even the summer before, maybe! I loved it when I bought it and went back and got one in every size- thus the reason Q & A both fit into one this summer! Yaaaay for being a shopaholic!)


Travel Items: Ok, so I definitely over-packed for this trip (See Travel Tips post!) and I wanted to share a quick list of things I did NOT use while on vaca, things I definitely NEEDED and things I totally forgot to bring!

Did NOT use:

  • The MiFold carseat boosters. Most travel in the Caribbean is done by way of boat or open air taxis so these seats stayed in the luggage the whole time. Boo!
  • Polaroid Camera. The charger got lost early on, the battery kept dying on us, and honestly Q just had no interest. Waste of luggage space.
  • So many outfits! We had a chef come in & we ate at the house a bunch on this trip, so the girls went from bathing suits & coverups straight into pjs most nights. I think we went out to dinner twice. So basically aside from travel clothes, I used TWO outfits for the girls. T-W-O. I will not even tell you how many I actually brought!
  • So many SHOES! I bought the girls THESE slip on sandals by Igor and they wore them every single day. On the two nights they dressed up to go out to restaurants they wore their brown salt water sandals. I literally only needed two pairs of shoes for them. Same for me. I needed flip flops. The end.
  • All those airplane toys. I’m on the fence with this one because the girls mostly watched their ipads on the plane BUT they did play with their toys during down time at the house. So I guess they did come in handy.
  • The Monkey Mat. The kids played IN the sand and Max, wellll- never let me put him down. Never needed it or opened it once!
  • Water shoes for the girls. We brought them for The Baths but the shoes were actually slippery on the rocks and it was easier/safer to go barefoot!

 

Definitely USED:

  • snorkel masks
  • life jackets
  • alllll that food!
  • lots of bathing suit options…and lots of rashguards!
  • alllll that sunscreen
  • 6 packages of wipes! Thought I was over-packing here but, nope!
  • Boppy- for feeding, naps, airplane ride, etc. Used this every single day.
  • Breast pump, lots of breast milk storage baggies, and a small insulated cooler and freezer packs for toting that milk to dinners and on our travel days!
  • Extra bottles! We use glass and one shattered upon arrival…thank God for extras!
  • First Aid kit: children’s tylenol and thermometer were needed and definitely USED!
  • That Aqua Heat travel bottle warmer. That this is Pure GOLD, I tell you!
  • The mosquito net for baby boy. We put this over his rock n’ play every night and every time he was outside!
  • Mesh baby carrier! This thing was awesome for carrying Max out in the sun & water
  • Giant hat for myself. This served as protection for me as well as a tiny umbrella for Max while I was carrying him in the sun!

 

NEEDED but forgot:

  • More diapers- we brought 50 diapers and were running very low towards the end of the 8 day trip. Ohhhh newborn life.
  • Beach toys. We thought there would be a basket of sand toys left behind from the previous house guests (usually the case) but there was not. totally should’ve brought a small package of sand toys.
  • Meds- I always pack a first aid kit but I cleaned out some expired meds before the trip and totally forgot to replace them. Luckily I had children’s Tylenol (needed for when Q & A got tummy bug fevers) but I forgot and NEEDED children’s Benedryl and also saline spray and squeeze bulb for baby boy’s congested nose!

 

Next up, the trip itself! Here are the details, as promised!

Location: Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

House: Villa Aquamare,ย via our vacation club: Exclusive Resorts

Virgin Gorda was GORGEOUS and the house was equally as stunning. The staff was superb and all around the experience was a five-star one. Not sure how any other house or beach trip is going to compare to this one! Do me a favor, if you ever go…please hire Chef Mimi to come cook for you…and request her Key Lime pie for dessert. (I don’t even like key lime pie!) Trust Me!

Tourist Spots:

On Virgin Gorda-

  • Hog Heaven-BBQ joint. This place is located at the top of the island and the view alone is worth the trek. We stopped here for a drink and a snack (french fries) before heading out to lunch. So I can’t speak much of the actual food, but it’s a total tourist dive spot. Aka: showing up in a bathing suit and cover up is totally acceptable!
  • CocoMaya-Asian Fusion. Gorgeous restaurant, beautiful scenery and yummy food! The girls loved the “back yard” (beach with corn hole, giant jenga, and fire pit) they could play on while we waited for food at our table.
  • Saba Rock. Tiny little rock island off the coast of Virgin Gorda. Good food, cute gift shop, and you can walk the whole island in about 10 minutes. Only negative- no walk-in beach access, since the island is basically a big rock. (Water taxi to get there)
  • The Bitter End Resort. Kind of dated, cute shops, good if you’re looking for some fun water sports. (Can get there by land taxi or boat)
  • Chez Bamboo– a local restaurant. We ordered take-out from here one night and were very underwhelmed by the food.
  • Rock Cafe– italian restaurant. Cute place, piano bar inside, we ate outside among boudlers (thus the name). Food was ok, atmosphere was pretty cool!
  • The Baths! This place was phenomenal! Probably wouldn’t recommend doing it with a baby… but it was worth all the “You guys are crazy” looks we got from everyone! The girls had SO much fun climbing through all the rocks and tunnels and the water and views were just beautiful. Plus, I’m convinced we spotted the Goonies…

Out in the BVIs-

  • We did two boat days with our favorite boat captain, Dana Paradise on the Take it Easy 2. We sailed all over the BVIs, stopping to snorkle at The Caves, The Indians and several other hot spots. We hit up Norman Island to eat at Pirate’s Bight, Saba Rock, and Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke. Boat days are kind of our favorite…and not just because of the rum punch! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Side Note: On our first day at sea, one of the boat crew heard the girls talking about their love for Moana. The second day we chartered the boat, she went out into the caves she knew we’d be snorkeling in and planted a special gift for the girls to find. When the girls went out snorkeling in the caves they found plastic bags with their names on them. Inside was a note “from Moana” along with handmadeย  island skirts and flowers for their hair. The girls were completely awe-struck and wore their custom made outfits from Moana for the rest of the day. THAT, my friends, is called quality crew! Miss Alicia, if you ever read this…YOU are the bestest ever! Thank you for making my girls’ day!!!

Any questions, send them my way!

Seriously…best trip ever!

Next up in our summer adventures…New Jersey!

In the meantime…extra vacation pics: ( Cause there’s always plenty of those! ๐Ÿ˜œ)

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Travel Tips

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Brave.

Crazy.

Insane.

These are all things I’ve been called after telling people that we are headed to Virgin Gorda next week with our three children- yes, newborn included. I guess they’re all probably pretty true, but here’s the thing: This isn’t our first rodeo! Ryan and I have always loved traveling and after having Q, we took the 8 hour flight over to Hawaii when she was only two months old. She racked up more frequent flyer miles in her first year of life than I did in my first 10! We figured out the best and worst ways to travel with a baby (some major bumps and “learning experiences” along the way) and we never looked back. Fast forward a few years to Cubby being born and we were cruising around the Caribbean with another 2 month old in tow. So yeah, we’re doing it again.  Because we feel like we kind of have this “traveling with kids” thing down pat by now, but mostly because mama needs to have her toes in the water, ass in the sand….and a cold rum punch in her hand! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyways, I’ve been sharing some of my packing over on my Instagram stories and I’ve gotten lots of requests for more info so I figured I’d share a little bit about how we travel with the kiddos, and the products that make it a little bit easier!

  1.  Lists and Schedule: I’m an OCD nut so when we plan a trip the first thing Ryan and I do is sit down and write out a loose day-by-day itinerary. Sure, plans change once we are there, but knowing vaguely what we’ll be doing each day helps me with packing. Then I make a list, and then a list of my list and then a master list of all my lists. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Lists are your friend.) I make a page for each family member, Ryan excluded (cause he’s a big boy and can pack for himself) and I write down everything I need to pack for that person- even the most obvious things like “underwear” and “toothbrush” make the list, because you KNOW those are the things that always get forgotten!
  2. Pack in advance: Life is pretty damn crazy with three kids, I’m not going to lie. I get little pockets of “free” time each day when I can actually get things done before getting interrupted. So I start shopping/packing weeks in advance. I take out each family member’s suitcase and lay it in the hallway with their list on top. As I do laundry or shop or see an item I know we won’t be needing to use before the trip, I lay it in the suitcase. Then when the time comes to actually pack, most of what I need is already there, and I can use the list to quickly figure out what still needs to be packed. Packing in advance is key!! I’ve had so many people message me about the packing cubes I use to pack for the kids, so I’ve linked them HERE. They really are game-changers!!!

packing cubes

  1. Planning Outfits: So I’m a bit of a nut with dressing the kids. As in, I enjoy it and I like them to coordinate and look put together (most of the time). The only way this is possible for me is if I literally lay out every outfit- bow to shoes. Once I lay out coordinating outfits and suits, I stack them up together (meaning both of the girls’ “Monday” outfits are in a pile together) Since Max is so young and will mostly be wearing onesies and pjs, he’s excluded from the daily outfit piles…for now! ๐Ÿ˜‰ This helps SO much when we are there and the kids are sandy or dripping water everywhere from the bath, and the baby needs to be fed and we are late for dinner reservations- I can literally hand Ryan the “Monday” pile and he can get the kids ready without them winding up wearing two left shoes (which, let’s be honest- is Cubby’s favorite thing to do!)IMG_4369
  2. Plane Entertainment: We reserve ipad time for special occasions so that once on the plane, the kids are actually excited to use them. Before we travel, Ryan let’s the girls pick out a few new movies/tv shows/apps to download onto their ipads. They get really excited about this! Then I let each girl have a backpack. Here are some packs we love!  These are from Herschel and I LOVE them, except they were a bit too small for this trip. I linked them here: Herschel Survey Packsimage3Since this is a longer trip, I grabbed these bigger packs from Pottery Barn Kids. They were on sale for $12…TWELVE!! Since they were “the same” I let the girls pick out their own key chains to individualize them- they like to feel special like that. Aside from being cute and cheap- these backpacks are the perfect size and have cupholder slots on the sides for the girls water bottles (aka one less thing I have to carry!)image2
    I keep a cabinet in the house that I stock with small toys, books, magnet tin games, etc. that are specifically for travel/restaurant use. Target dollar section is my best friend for this! I let the girls “shop” the closet and decide what they want to pack in their bags. They LOVE doing this and again, it keeps them excited to play once they board the plane. Here’s a peek at some of the things the girls chose for their bags: ipad (obvi!), kleen kanteen water bottle (our fav brand), a school workbook for Q, sticker/coloring books, “Grab & Go” coloring Play Packs (Thanks Target Dollar Section!), Some marshmallow clay (this stuff is awesome), a plain notebook & fresh crayons (always a kiddo favorite!), a small pouch of figurines (Cubby especially loves to play figurines! Q packed some shopkins & Cub packed My Little Ponies), a mini Buddha Board (check this out- you paint with water & it dries and erases!), wiki sticks  (so awesome for travel!) and of course, some of the dreaded “surprise packs”! Most of these toys have passed the test of time- meaning they keep the girls occupied for longer than 30 seconds. Anything they get easily board with, doesn’t make the cut!image1
  3. Secret Weapons: Aside from their “quiet bags”, as we call them, here are the secret weapons for traveling with kids: snack, snack, and SNACKS. Seriously, imagine that you are going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month and then pack that much food for your several hour plane ride- trust me. I pack lots of different snacks in small amounts because it’s all about the novelty of “trying a new snack”…with my kids at least. And don’t forget lollipops or something chewy to help pop those ears during descent! I use the snack size ziplock bags and I ALWAYS pack a giant ziplock (or five) to use as my “trash bag” during the flight. It makes keeping our row not look like a stage-5 disaster zone a little easier.
  4. Travel Clothes: We usually fly super early in the morning so the key to getting out the door is dressing the kids in their travel clothes the night before. Crazy, you say? Not with Plain Jane Play Gowns! These adorable and cozy dresses function as a nightgown BUT are cute enough to pass for a dress! I put these on the girls the night before and lay out a pair of sandals and a jean jacket or cardigan to throw on in the morning. Then I pack an outfit in a ziplock that I carry on with me. At some point during the flight I get the girls changed into their real clothes and do their hair. Sounds like a lot of work, but in all reality- it kills a good 15 -20 minutes of flight time! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you have little girls and you don’t know about Plain Jane…do me a favor and click that link right there!!! IMG_4792
  5. Sunscreen: I linked a few of my favorite organic/mineral based sunscreen brands to use on the kids. I’ve used them all and find these brands are the cleanest (chemically speaking), the easiest to use, and work the best. Babo Botanicals, Babyganics, Blue Lizard, Alba  All of these brands have  a spray option (besides Blue Lizard) and I know we are supposed to “stay away from the spray cans”, but let’s be honest- practicality trumps all when dealing with wet, sandy kiddos! What I usually do is apply a thick coat of a lotion sunscreen in the morning and once again mid-day, then I use the spray can for all the in-between coverage! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  6. Items for the Trip:  I’ve been known to ship an item or two to our location in advance…especially when we have a teeny tiny baby. This time, since we are staying at a house, I went ahead and shipped a rock n’ play. It’s Max’s current favorite & the pack & play they had available just wasn’t going to cut it since it’s not what he’s used to. Plus, I figured the rock n’ play is so light and easy to carry, we can easily cart it down to the beach and then back up the house for naps/bedtime every day! Amazon Prime is my BFF, people. Here are some other items we are bringing. (Sidebar: Most of the time we like to pack any “extra items” (that we know won’t be coming home with us) in a box- this way we aren’t traveling home with extra EMPTY luggage- cause that’s just annoying.

 

 

Monkey Mat

I haven’t used it yet- but look how small it is?! I think it’ll be a perfect beach mat!

monkeymat1

 

 

Kids Snorkel Masks

Ok, if you do beach trips and like to snorkel these are a MUST!!!

The girls absolutely LOVE these!

snorkel mask

 

 

MiFold Travel Booster Seats

Again, I haven’t used these yet but since we are going to be in the Caribbean and our “car time” will be limited, I thought these would be perfect for the girls in a pinch. Look how tiny they are!! (Although I have to say- they are pretty heavy!)

mifold

 

Netting and Foam Fan for Baby

Mosquitos, Zika, Heat…you know.

 

 

Mesh waterproof baby carrier

Max insists upon being carried at all times so  although I love my Solly Baby, I thought this one would be much better suited for a beach trip!

carrier

 

 

Cute floaties: Flamingo float, arm floaties

Because, hello photo opps!

Aqua Heat

The only travel bottle warmer I found that didn’t require you to boil water on a stove first or be plugged in for it to work. This one has a warming packet that you add to the water in the base cup. It heats the water and the stainless steel bottle that goes into it. Takes up to 2 minutes to warm the bottle. I am breastfeeding but I’m still kind of shy about breastfeeding in public and sometimes when Max is really sleepy he does better with the bottle anyways. So we will be bringing a few packs of breastmilk in a little cooler bag and this warmer will be perfect for on the plane/ on the go! But here’s a little warning: there are “hot” packets which will boil the water and “warm” packets- make sure if you get this for bottles that you ONLY use the “warm” pouches!

warmer

 

Yeti Rambler Bottle

Two Words: Rum. Punch.

yeti

 

 

Polaroid Camera

For my little budding photographer. But really, we all have fun snapping polaroids when we are away. I bought some cute little polaroid albums and Q loves collecting all of our snaps. ๐Ÿ™‚

camera

 

That’s about it, I think! What’d I forget? Let me know and I’ll add it!

Now, all that’s left after alllllll that hard work and planning is to sit back in the sun and enjoy a frosty beverage uninterrupted.

Bahahah! Well, a girl can dream…

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Happy Travels, friends! xo

Father’s Day 5.0

Well, it’s that time of year again…time for our annual Father’s Day portrait. We like to pretend it’s a surprise every year but it’s pretty much expected. This year might be my favorite yet…maybe because the picture is finally complete!

Can’t wait to watch these three grow together over the years…

Happy Father’s Day everyone, especially to the daddy of these lucky kiddos! xo

(PS scroll down for the fun flashback collage starting with our first pic in 2012! Q was just 10 months old!)

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Before & After

A month before birth and a month after.

Crazy- these tricks time plays on us.

How is it that the top photo was just taken yesterday ( I swear it!) and yet the bottom picture feels like the way life has been for as long as I can remember??

Must be the exhaustion setting in.

Regardless, I love this little group of tiny humans…

beforeandafter

Dear Max

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Sweetest Baby Boy of Mine,

I honestly cannot believe that you are here, and have been in our lives for one month already! It feels like life before you has already become a hazy blur and yet I can remember the day we first met like it was only just yesterday.

We went through so very much to bring you into this world and you are our miracle baby for so many reasons. But most importantly, you are here and you are ours. We had some scares about your health before you were born, and we are certainly not out of the woods yet, but having you HERE, in my arms, makes it all much less scary, yet much more real at the same time. Seeing your little cherub face and kissing your sweet peach-fuzz head makes me feel as if it is all going to to be ok- because there simply isn’t any other option. But then my Mama Bear instincts set in and my stomach turns at the thought of doctors touching your perfect little body. So I guess it’s a Catch-22 or maybe it’s just what we call “being a parent”. But don’t worry, we’ve got you sweet boy and it’s totally going to be fine- even if mommy has to cry her way through  each appointment, test, and procedure- you most likely won’t remember a single bit of it. 

Anyways, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the day you were born; a day that is just as hazy as it is poignant in my brain- a day I will never ever forget as long as I live.

Your due date was May 11th and knowing you were going to be our last babe, I had my “birth plan” all laid out. I really wanted to let you come on your own time, to go into natural labor, no inductions or schedules. I wanted to experience it all- water breaking, contractions, the whole thing (I know, call me crazy!) 

Your sisters were both inductions and such easy births that I guess I took the whole birth experience for granted and thought of your birth with only thoughts of excitement and joy. Well, that all came crashing to a halt when we discovered your kidney issues at our 20 week anatomy scan. After several appointments with fetal care specialists and high-risk pregnancy doctors, we were told that I would need to induce to ensure all the proper doctors could be present at your birth and to try to control the situation as much as possible. I was also told that I was going to be delivering at a different hospital than planned because of the on-site surgical center (in case it was needed) as well as the excellent NICU unit, which we were also told would most likely be needed. I about broke down- but had to quickly remind myself that the most important thing was your health and safety. I can’t even lie to you, Little Man- it was a long and scary few months for us. But they scheduled our induction for May 4th and we braced ourselves for what lie ahead.

Cut to the night of April 26th. Daddy brought your sisters to Q’s last soccer game of the season and I sat home texting everyone about my doctor appointment earlier that day. I told everyone not to worry or rush to get here because I was only at 2cm and you were likely going to make it to your induction date after all. I finished writing in your journal, put on my pjs, and laid down on the couch to watch tv with Daddy. We were in the middle of watching a show when I felt a rush of water and gasped. Daddy jumped up and asked me what was wrong. I just stared at him in total disbelief and said, “I think my water just broke!!!” (Yep, someone up above must’ve been listening because I got exactly what I wished for.) The following 30 minutes would be hard to describe, but it was pretty much what you’d expect a scene in a comedy movie to look like…so much rushing and crying and packing. And water…SO.MUCH.WATER! We called your Aunt Britt to come over and stay with your sisters overnight and I just remember crying so hard that I couldn’t even see what I was throwing in my hospital bag. I kept saying that I wasn’t ready, but I think what I meant was that I was just scared that the time to face the music was finally here. Daddy was just running around smiling and laughing and calling your grandparents to tell them to change their flights and saying to me, “This is good! This is awesome! He’s ready! We’re going to meet our baby boy tonight!! It’s going to be ok!” …while I hyperventilated and waddled around the house in nervous circles.

We rushed to the hospital and arrived around 9:45pm. Once we were there we realized that Daddy was in such a euphoric frenzy that he left his entire suitcase at the house. Luckily, Mommy remembered hers…which was clearly more important! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I got my epidural around 11:30 even though I wasn’t feeling too much pain yet. Luckily I got it though, because the pain set in shortly afterwards…and was pretty intense- even through the epidural! Your Uncle Brendo went to our house to stay with your sisters so that Aunt Britt-Britt could be at the hospital with us.  It was a bit frantic trying to get all the right doctors there in the middle of the night! I remember around midnight the NICU doctor came in to talk to us and tell us what to expect. He said that based on my extensive notes from the kidney specialist  (yes, mommy is a huge nerd!) they were going to have the NICU team in the delivery room for the birth, where they’d assess you and decide what to do from there. Then there was a lot more waiting while Daddy and Aunt Britt-Britt entertained me with annoying music and crazy dancing.

And then, Little Man, at 2:46am, after just 3 pushes, I saw your precious face for the very first time. They laid you on my chest and suddenly the crazy, hectic room around us faded away and it was only you and me. I knew in that moment that it was all going to be ok and that you were exactly where you needed to be. You were 7.3lbs & 20 inches of pure perfection. The doctors checked you over and let you lay skin-to-skin with me for 2 hours before they took you down to the NICU.

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To tell you the truth, the period of time between them taking you and me getting to see you again was all a blur. I know we moved rooms and that Aunt Britt left to go be with the girls when they woke up at the house. I know there was some face-timing and lots of phone calls. But mostly the spinning didn’t come to a halt until Daddy and I finally got to go to the NICU and hold you again. I’ll never forget the sight of your tiny little body on that bed. I wanted to scoop you up and run away with you, but I knew you were in excellent hands and it was for the best. 

Within the first few hours you stopped eating and needed to be given a feeding tube, which was no fun at all for any of us. The other part that wasn’t fun was that your sisters weren’t allowed to come see you…and they were so so excited to finally meet you.
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Within a few hours your grandparents arrived from all over the country and got to come in one-by-one to meet you. Unfortunately, only four adult visitors were allowed in the NICU, so your Uncle Dan, who drove 4 hours to come see you, had to wave at you through the waiting room window. I felt so very sad that we couldn’t just have you in the room with us with your sisters and all of our family members, but I also felt very lucky that you were here and doing so well. I had so much to be thankful for!

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The next day you started latching and eating again and we were able to remove your feeding tube. (yay!) Then they ran a series of tests on you to assess your kidneys. The tests pretty much just ruled out several options but didn’t really give us any answers. We were left knowing there was a big problem going on inside of you, but having no idea what was causing it or  how & when we were going to fix it. That was something your urologist would have to figure out once we left the hospital. With no further tests to be run and you eating again, they finally released you to our room on the final night.

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Your Toey and Papa took a video of me & Daddy cheering and crying as we rolled you out of the NICU. It was one of the very best moments ever! We had your tiny crib set up right in the front of our room so that it would be the first thing your sisters saw when they walked in that night to visit. Oh, Max…if only you knew how loved you are! Your sisters’ faces lit up when they saw you for the first time. Q literally squealed with clenched fists and Cubby just kept smiling and trying to pet you like a puppy dog.

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The next morning, before we were discharged, we had our amazing friend Liz Labianca come in to take some hospital pictures. It is something I will forever be grateful for! The whole experience was such a blur that even when I saw these pictures a few short days later, they seemed like snapshots of a dream I couldn’t quite remember all the details of. Such a gift to have these, to cement in time these moments I never want to forget. Ok, and now I’m getting all emotional again…

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Your birth, my sweet boy, from my water breaking to us arriving back home again WITH you (complete with blue balloons and cheering family members in the front yard) was the most surreal experience of my life. I don’t think there will ever be adequate words to describe the frenzy and excitement; the fear and the pure joy that encompassed your arrival. I cried the day we left the hospital, because I knew we were closing a chapter of our lives- a chapter that I’ve so cherished for the past six years. I cried because I was sad to see my child-bearing days come to an end and I cried because I was so excited that our family was finally complete- because of you. Your birth was a pure whirlwind, Mr. Max- a whirlwind of people and travel, of unknowns and setbacks, of emotions and exhaustion. And these photos along with the memories I do have, as blurry as they may be, will be cherished forever and ever…just like you.

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So, welcome to this crazy world of ours.

We love you, our handsome little man.

Our tiny miracle.

Our Max.

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*All photos in this blog post are courtesy of Liz Labianca Photography. 

 

 

 

My 20 Newborn Essentials

I can’t even believe I’m sitting here typing this…with sweet Baby Max right next to me! I’m still in complete shock that he is actually here and that my list-making and planningย  for his arrival are now over. Of course, with his birth comes a whole new set of lists and must-haves- that’s right: Newborn Essentials!

Now that I’ve had two weeks to adjust to having a newborn back in the house, I thought I’d share the MOST important items that have made the transition easier and let’s be honest- have kept me from losing my sanity!

  1. Hospital List: I know this isn’t technically a “newborn” item but, I have to say, my OCD planning wound up coming in very handy, when, two weeks before my due date, my water broke unexpectedly late at night. It was a mad rush to get to the hospital and I was SO glad that my bags were basically packed and that my list was laying on top of my bag so I could see which “last minute” items needed to be thrown in. I highly suggest doing this…”just in case”. If you’re interested in my list, just click the link above!
  2. Care Baskets: Again, I was SO appreciative of my OCD planning when I got home from the hospital and had newborn care baskets planted all over the house and I was even more excited about my postpartum bathroom care basket that was waiting for me. My hospital was kind of stingy with postpartum care products so I honestly could not wait to get home & get my hands on the products I had waiting for me! I’ve linked both baskets here: Newborn Care, Postpartum Care.ย  (for postpartum basket- click link & scroll to bottom of post.)
  3. Car seat: This Cybex Cloud Q car seat is AMAZING!! My absolute favorite feature is that it reclines flat when taken out of the car. Max has fallen asleep every time we’ve taken a car ride and taking the car seat out when we get home and reclining it flat has let him continue his (very precious) naps, uninterrupted. manhattan-grey
  4. This carseat swaddle from Hooray Littles has also been a lifesaver. Max loves to be swaddled and this allows me to swaddle him safely in the car seat without having to lift or unbuckle him! web_MG_1998_large
  5. Multi-Use Covers: perfect for breast-feeding & car seat covering. I LOVE mine from Copper Pearl, not only because they are adorable, but because they cover sweet Max from the tiny germ-breeding humans who want nothing more than to touch and smother your baby with their sticky little fingers. Yes, I’m talking about siblings and other toddler and school-aged children. Get several of these so you have one handy when the others are in the wash…it’s basically a cloth germ-shield for your baby! ๐Ÿ˜‰IMG_9749_grande
  6. Swaddle Blankets: We use baby blankets around here for just about everything: swaddles, burp cloths, breast-feeding covers, dish towels… you name it! Ok, so maybe not the last one, but we seriously cannot get enough blankets and my absolute FAVORITE brands have been Copper Pearl and Max+Moose. They are so big and stretchy and make little Max snug as a bug. They are seriously SO good! blue_draped_grande
  7. Foam Fan: Summer is here (well, in Texas at least) and you will want one of these suckers to clip onto strollers and car seats when you are out and about! 719q-7HSGmL._SX522_
  8. Carriers: I’ve been “wearing” Max way more than I ever did with the girls. Probably because we are on-the-go and out-and-about so much more with 3 kiddos (Q had a school function I had to be at FOUR days after Max was born!!!)ย  I like having him up high, close to me, and all covered up. It really prevents a lot of the touching and requests from others to hold him. Plus, it’s basically like skin-to-skin and Max is so much more content when I wear him than he is just sitting in his car seat- which means I can get SO much more done, whether at the house, or out at a store or school event.ย  I’m LOVING my Solly Baby wrap and my awesome Lalabu shirt! Sky_06_largea-Lalabu-Soothe-Shirt-Black-Natural-Mom-2_700x
  9. Binkies and Clips: If you are using pacifiers, clips are a must. I can’t tell you how many time we lost or dropped binkies in the past…and those suckers are bouncy! I’ve been using my binky clip from NomiLu almost daily- and I love how I can just clip it right onto my wrap when I’m wearing him, too! il_570xN.857902280_2pqa
  10. Vibrating Mat: So my father-in-law saw this Tranquilo Vibrating Mat on Shark Tank and bought us one. I have to say- it fits in our bassinet perfectly and calms Max down almost instantly. This was a total score!tranquilo-619x375
  11. Changing Mats: These Gathre mats are amazing. I’ve got one stashed in every room of the house (in the newborn baskets!) and in my diaper bag. They’ve already saved many a couch cushion & comforter- plus those public bathroom changing tables are SO. GROSS!starlight_micro_1_1024x1024
  12. Bamboobies– Whether or not you plan to breastfeed, you WILL leak in the beginning and these pads are SO much better than the disposable ones. They are so much softer and more comfortable- and so easy to wash! I have a few pairs that I cycle through. I love them!41vi1NbdEHL
  13. Pjs: I am doing laundry ’round the clock, so I can’t say how helpful it has been having lots of comfy newborn pjs on hand. Our favorite brands to put Max in are Kickee Pants & KB Cute Designs. The footies are just SO cozy and the gowns couldn’t be more convenient! Seriously, stock up! PRD-KPLGKN126-P
  14. Feeding App: There are so many, but I’m loving this Baby Feed Timer tracking app. Its so easy to use and helps me track Baby Boy’s breast feedings, bottles, diapers, sleep, my pumping and several other things. Plus, I love the “analyze” button. You know how when you go to the baby’s doctor and they ask you questions like, “How often and how much is he eating?” and you’re sitting there just trying to remember what day of the week it is? Yeah- then you’re also going to love the “analyze” button on this app. I literally opened this app and handed my phone to the doctor when she started asking me these questions…Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.11.56 AM
  15. Baby Acne Cure: This next one I can’t take credit for, but I want to thank everyone on instagram who reached out and told me about these amazing Mustela products for baby acne. After having two girls, I have to say the “boy baby acne” took me by surprise. It arrived out of nowhere one morning, JUST in time for newborn pictures. I posted about it on my Instagram stories and the feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of these two products: PhysioBebe cleaning water and HydraBebe lotion. I’ve only been using them for a day, but I definitely see an improvement in Little Man’s face. Bonus points for my photographer not wanting to kill me for having to work overtime in photoshop! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Even if you are lucky enough to not have to deal with newborn acne- the physiobebe is great for between-bath-cleaning and the lotion smells so fresh & clean!
  16. Ok, this little night light contraption might be the best thing on the planet. It’s called VAVA and it’s this little egg that gets charged via cord and then is completely portable. It has adjustable brightness and color (cool & warm) and functions completely by tapping the top of the egg. This thing is GENIUS for middle of the night feedings and diaper changings when you are exhausted and you’re flailing in the dark to Make.The.Crying.STOP!! No fumbling around for power buttons and switches- I literally just reach out from my bed, and tap the crap out of this little egg. Voila- perfect night-lighting without waking up your hubby- or vice versa when it’s “his turn” to get the baby. Plus, it has 80 hours run time! We’ve used it every night since Max was born and I just re-charged it for the first time yesterday.51aDpfBB95L._SL1000_And Lastly,
  17. UberEats
  18. Coffee
  19. Wine
  20. My Mom

 

Well, there you have it- my list of Newborn Essentials. I have so many more little favorites but these are the items that are currently saving my life. If you have a newborn or are expecting- I hope this helps you out, even just a tiny bit! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Updates & Hospital Bags

I just wanted to take a second to say thank you SO much for all of the sweet comments & messages on my Instagram post yesterday regarding our last check-in with Baby Boy. It was a hard day. Our check-ins with the high-risk specialist are never fun, mostly because we know there isn’t going to be a miraculous change and we’re basically just praying and hoping each time that things have stayed the same vs. gotten worse. (Sidenote: If you are reading this and are completely confused…here is my original post explaining our situation.)ย 

I think we went into yesterday a little jaded since our previous check-in was a pretty positive one (in the sense that not much had changed that time, and the change that did occur was pretty minor). But, yesterday we didn’t have the greatest visit. I won’t go into detail aside from saying that we didn’t get a very positive update on Baby’s left kidney and we were told that there is a possibility that the right kidney is now also compromised.ย  Unfortunately, “guesses” are all we are being given right now due to the fact that the doctors need to run allthetests on Baby Boy once he is born in order to give us exact answers. Talk about frustrating!

I’m trying my best not to get too upset until I hear back from our pediatric urology specialist next week to hear his take on the scans. I think now, more than ever, we are ready for this babe to be here. Even if that’s a complete lie and I’m not really ready at all…one thing’s for sure: I’m ready for some answers and plans. This waiting and the anxiety of the unknown is definitely the hardest part…especially at a time when things are supposed to be all unicorns and rainbows. The good news is, we are in the homestretch. We only have about 11 days (or less) until we get to hold our sweet boy.

Until then, I continue packing and planning to keep my mind busy. I’ve gotten a bunch of messages asking me about what I’m packing for the hospital, so here it is, from your favorite “list maker”…

Hospital Guide2

 

About my list:

So, I named it “An OCD’s Guide” because there are about a MILLION “Minimalist’s Guides to Packing a Hospital Bag” out there and that’s just NOT who I am. I am a crazy over-thinker/planner/packer, so why stop at my hospital bag? Yep, I’m fully embracing my crazy and sharing it with you all here…

For Mom: I don’t think there’s any explanations needed here aside from sharing where I purchased some of my fav robes. I prefer the light kimono-style as opposed to the thick bathrobes. But that’s mostly because I’ve been burning up like a furnace this entire pregnancy and want the lightest, most minimal amount of fabric on my body at all times. I purchased a few kimonos and a cute hospital gown here and I plan on using my favorite robe ever that my sister gave me during her wedding week which is this one from Plum Pretty Sugar! Also, as pictured- I use Kopari coconut oil for just about everything (body lotion, stretch mark cream, carrier oil for essential oil blends & I’ll also be using it in lieu of a lanolin-based nipple cream). This stuff is amazing and one tub lasts forever! Also, the only products I use on my face (aside from actual makeup) are from Clovertree Apothecary. The Triple C Repair Serum is basically heaven in a bottle!

Bathroom: Although I’ll be delivering at a different hospital this time, I’m still banking on the fact that most things I’ll be needing for postpartum care will be provided for me. That being said, I WILL be bringing my OWN shower towels, face cloth, and shower flip flops…because if I used them in college when I hardly knew (or cared) what a “germ” was, I most certainly will be using them now! I should also point out some very important toiletries to remember, like: face wipes for those exhausting, lazy nights when I don’t feel like getting up to wash my face ( I find the honest brand gets my mascara off the best!) and dry shampoo, because…well, it’s dry shampoo- don’t all moms basically live on this stuff. (Here is one of the better organic brands I’ve found and here is another of my favorites that still has a pretty decent EWG rating.)

Baby: Here is where the “overpacking” really sets in. I really want to bring his entire closet with me, but am limiting myself to a few (like 1-2) of each: gowns, onesies, swaddles, & pjs. I realize I will most likely not need or use most of these, but I need them on hand for pictures. You know, just in case. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are a few of my favorite brands that totally deserve their very own blog post: Kickee Pants, Swanky Shank, Softsie, KBCute Designs, Candy Kirby, Little Unicorn, and Spearmint Love. I’m also a nut about products so I will be bringing my own baby wash/lotion for his first bath (I’m really loving Babo Botanicals these days) as well as my own brand of diapers, wipes, etc. (Yes, I realize this is a little overboard and not for everyone. That’s ok.) Since Baby Boy may require some extra attention, I’m making sure I pack all of my files and the medical notebook I’ve been keeping throughout the pregnancy, as well as our Cord Blood Kit. We’ve done cord blood banking with all three babies, and have used and loved Cord Blood Registry.ย  Lastly, I’ll be bringing his baby book and journal. In the past, I’ve written to each baby while in the hospital and I really love going back and reading those entries. I know things can always change and get hectic, but I’ll be bringing both just in case. I’m loving this simple & adorable baby bookย  from Polka Dot Print Shop!ย ย  And don’t forget the carseat & base! This time around we went with the Cybex Cloud Q carseat & I’m pretty much in love with it…AND the stroller base that goes with- super light and simple!

Electronics: I think this list is pretty standard, but something fun you may want to pack if you are into taking pictures but not all about bringing a big heavy camera, is a set of clip-on iphone lenses. These can be really cool to play around with, without having to lug a whole bunch of camera equipment (like I will be doing!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ I also made sure to pick up an extra long phone charger so that I can multitask (aka: charge/breastfeed/instagram browse) all at the same time from the comfort of my hospital bed!

Extras: I’ve never brought a ton of snacks with me in the past because my hospital snack room has always been pretty good, and my amazing hubby is usually running out to bring in our meals and snacks- but I WILL be bringing my own water bottle along. I use my BKR water bottle and my YETI tumbler on a daily basis, so those will be coming along since I distinctly remember hoarding water after birth like a freaking camel in the desert. I’ll also be bringing the girls’ “Big Sister” Gifts to give to them when they come to meet the baby. I did a whole post about what they are getting here. I also went to Target and bought a bunch of what we call “Quiet Bag” activities (i.e. coloring, stickers, dry erase boards, foil scratch books, surprise packs, etc.). I’m keeping one bag at the hospital to keep the girls busy when they come to visit and I also made a bag for them to keep home and bring to restaurants, etc. with whomever is taking care of them while we are at the hospital. Another “can’t forget” extra is my diffuser/oils. Iย  brought a diffuser and some relaxing oil blends to the hospital with me when I had Ardyn and I really loved having it (mostly because…hospital smell!) but I DID have to ask permission before using it in my room- so maybe call ahead and ask first if you plan on bringing one too! I get asked a lot about the diffuser I use and it is The Aria from Young Living. I’m obsessed! Bonus points for it having relaxing spa sounds AND a remote!!

One last thing we always bring is a plain white scrub top for Ryan. Even though the hospital usually gives dads their own scrubs to wear during L&D, we use a plain white one to get baby’s very first footprints on the front pocket. Then, on the back we do monthly footprints. Once the baby is a year old and the last footprint is done, I bring the scrubs to be monogrammed. It just makes for the sweetest keepsake! Here is what Q’s finished product looks like: (Ardyn’s monogramming is still on the “to do” list…2 years later)footprints on scrubs

 

Pre-Birth Planning: Ok, so I realize I’m not the average bear when it comes to “planning”. But good ol’ nesting really took its toll on me this time around and I couldn’t help myself. Maybe since there was so much that was out of my control with this pregnancy, I felt like I needed something I could control…thus, all the lists! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Most of these things speak for themselves, but for the Newborn Survival Baskets, I did a whole post on them here. The padsicles that I made I got from pinterest, so I’ll just link them here.ย  For my postpartum bathroom kit, I stocked up on the following: (organic cotton SUPER pads, tucks pads, colace, dermaplast spray [a more natural option here], the FridaBaby mom washer spray bottle, aloe vera, witch hazel, and a spray bottle of the essential oil concoction I used for the padsicles (See above).

Another note is to make sure you book your hospital and/or newborn photographer months in advance. Newborn photographers book up quickly, so it’s important to contact your photographer early on in your pregnancy to discuss timing and availability! If your photographer is coming to the hospital to take pictures- don’t forget to bring cash to pay her!

That’s about it, I think. Now we just wait for baby…

Ok, now- anybody got a good list on how to deal with not sleeping for the next six months? ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

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