Monday, November 23, 2020

Baby Items That Have Become Must-Haves

When we were building our baby registry before Caleb was born, it was overwhelming! There is so much baby gear and lots of opinions about what did and didn't work for different families. Since each baby is different, we made the best guess as to what we thought Caleb would like or need. Now that Caleb has been here for half a year, there are several items that have stood out as favorites, ones we wouldn't want to be without.




Swaddles

From day 1 Caleb has loved to have his hands up by his face. The more traditional swaddles didn't work too well for us for long periods of time because he couldn't have his hands up by his face plus he was also an escape artist and we'd find he'd freed one or both of his hands. The Love to Dream Swaddle Up swaddles were more comfortable for him and he slept better. 


When he was four months old, we worked on transitioning him to sleep sacks instead of swaddles so we used a transitional swaddle from Swaddle Designs that still allowed him to have his arms up comfortably but he also had his hands free and could use his arms to push up if he rolled over onto his belly.  


At five months, he fully transitioned to the Halo sleep sacks and continues to sleep well.



Rocker and bouncer

The Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker could be used through toddlerhood which is why we chose to register for this one. Caleb loves his rocker. We kept it in the dining room (which connects to the kitchen and living room) for his first four months and we would put him in it while we eat dinner or if we need our hands free to do a chore. He enjoys the hanging toys, he can rock himself when he kicks his feet, and the gentle vibrating feature helped him take short dinnertime naps when he was a infant. 


My in-laws gifted us the Baby Einstein Neptune's Ocean bouncer. Caleb did not like it when he was first old enough to use it. He likes it a lot more now that I've raised the seat up to the next level and he doesn't have to squat as much. He still doesn't like to stay in it for very long yet but he is usually content to stay there most of the time I'm washing and styling my hair every day which is a huge help (washing my hair and making the bed are the two things that I make sure I do every day to help me feel put together). He seems to be liking it more the older he gets. 



Wraps and carriers

I feel like I need to add a disclaimer to this one. We have three different carriers: one we bought, one was given to me at my baby shower, and one was passed on to us. We use and love all three of these since we have them but we would by no means need all three if we didn't have them. One would definitely be sufficient. 

When Caleb was a newborn, I could put him in the Boba wrap and he would immediately settle and fall asleep. I loved having him close to me and he loved being nestled up to me or his daddy. Now that he's older and has good control of his neck, he is able to be in there facing outward. It takes some practice to get it tied right but once I put it on two or three times I don't have any trouble. I usually find myself going back to the Boba since it's comfortable for both of us. If I had to pick one wrap/carrier I'd choose this one. 


The Ergobaby is a lot more comfortable on my back but it's also a lot harder to put on and adjust. If we're going on a walk I'll choose this one since it's comfortable for longer periods or if he needs more protection from the weather since it has more structure. 



The Baby Bjorn is by far the easiest carrier to put on and great for times when I need to quickly put him on. It is harder on the back but I usually use this for shorter times. Andrew usually chooses this one since it's quick, easy, and he feels comfortable putting him in it by himself without me there to spot him. 


NoseFrida

Caleb was born with a lot of nasal congestion. He still can have a lot of stuffiness. At first we used a bulb syringe but we soon switched to using the NoseFrida. It's so easy to use and does a great job getting the snot out of his nose with less discomfort for Caleb.


Nail file

One of the most nerve-racking things I've had to do as a mom is cut my baby's fingernails. I was so nervous that I would cut his skin and he would always jump at the last second which made me even more nervous. This electric nail file has been a huge help. It takes the stress out of nail care since there is no danger of cutting his skin. If the nails get too long, I still have to trim them a bit with clippers but I don't have to get as close and I can finish up with the file. 



Bottle drying rack

We tried very hard to make breastfeeding work but in the end, the best decision for both of us was to switch to bottle feeding. At first we had the bottles drying on a towel by the sink but it took up a lot of space and we always had several drying. We found that this Oxo space saving drying rack is perfect for our kitchen. It fits nicely up by the wall and out of the way but still close to the sink.


Baby scale

We never would have thought about needing this but after all the stress around Caleb's Pyloric Stenosis, a baby scale is on our must-haves list. A friend of ours offered to let us borrow theirs and it was so exciting to see Caleb rapidly gain weight after his surgeries. We think we would have a lot of peace of mind if we have one with our future babies after what happened with Caleb (though the likelihood of that happening again is very slim since Pyloric Stenosis most often happens with first born children who also happen to be boys and bottle fed). 



It will be interesting to see if these items will still continue to be must-haves with our future children. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Autumn Decorating

I've been itching to decorate! I decorated for spring/summer before Caleb was born so that I wouldn't need to think about that with a newborn. I tried to hold off for the official start of fall like I usually do but I did it a few days early. 

The grocery stores I went to didn't have a large variety of pumpkins but they had some nice pie pumpkins, some medium white pumpkins, a large orange pumpkin, and a few various gourds. When I brought my choices home, Andrew was shocked at how many pumpkins I bought but I used every single one of them and I didn't even have any to put out on our front step. 



Our little "breakfast nook" off the kitchen is feeling cozy. I found a pumpkin vanilla candle at Marshalls that smells amazing and makes the whole kitchen and dining room smell great when its burning. 



This beautiful bowl was made by Andrew's uncle as was the cutting board in the photo above. 



The only faux decoration I used this year is the acorns on the dining room table. I wanted to go with real pumpkins, gourds, and flowers over artificial this fall. 




I'm really excited about the new library area of our living room! We put the bookshelves up in the spring but we just added the chair (from another room) and a rug. 




Andrew had to pick up a couple things from the store and he brought home some small gourds that I scattered throughout the house. 



This pale green pumpkin might be my favorite. I like the chunkiness and the shape of it. I'm taking advantage of not having a mobile baby yet and putting these dried mushrooms on the coffee table. I'm sure next year's decor will look a lot different with a toddler. 



I had forgotten about this little pottery luminary that Andrew made until I went through my decorating boxes. I got a little excited! Andrew has been creating pottery for fun for several years and he is really good at it! I love decorating with the pieces he's made. The bowl from picture one, the pedestal and pitcher from picture four, many of the little bowls in picture six, and the short luminary in the last picture are all Andrew's creations. 



My sweet hubby heard me say that I had looked for a mini mum at the store but they didn't have any yet and he brought me a bouquet of mums. I already had this big crock on the mantel so I arranged the mums in a small vase that would fit in the crock and added them to the mantel. I've found myself sitting in a different spot so that I could enjoy the flowers today. 



It feels so good to have refreshed the house and made our space feel seasonal. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Introducing Caleb Mark

Wow! Four months have passed since we added sweet little Caleb to our family. We could never have imagined how much better our lives could be and how much love we have for our boy.


Caleb arrived a few days before his due date on May 1st. He was a big baby weighing in at 9 pounds 13 ounces and 20 3/4 inches long. Caleb has been an easy baby and only cries when he's hungry or tired. 


On his two month birthday he had his routine pediatrician visit and we figured out why he had been spitting up large amounts. He had pyloric stenosis but after 10 days in the hospital and 2 surgeries , Caleb started to feel better and gain weight. 

He went from 10 pounds to 18 pounds in two months! 

That boy can't get enough to eat! He loves his bottles and he's just started eating solid food. He will sit in his highchair and grunt until we give him another bite. He loves sweet potato, butternut squash, and carrots but he is not a fan of watermelon or peaches. 

Caleb is a fantastic sleeper at night! He goes to bed in his crib around 7 and will sleep straight through until 6 or 7 in the morning. Naps are more sporadic but we'll take the short rests for good sleep at night. 

Caleb loves his daddy! Daddy loves singing Caleb to sleep, comforting him when Caleb is having a hard time, and enjoys daddy/son time in the mornings so Mommy can get a few extra minutes of sleep. 

Caleb also loves Pepper! He has started watching Pepper, smiling at her, trying to pet her, and laughing when Pepper licks his toes or tries to lick his face. 


He is so happy in the morning and when my boys come in to wake me up every morning I always get a big smile from my little buddy.


One of Caleb's favorite things is music. He enjoys us singing to him but he also enjoys listening to music through the speakers or in the car. We have a Baby Einstein music toy that he loves listening to (as long as Vivaldi doesn't start playing). The faster the music the better but there haven't been many songs that he doesn't like. One afternoon he was a bit fussy so I turned on Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. He sat still and listened for the whole half hour it was playing.
 

It's amazing how fast he is growing up. He seems to get bigger and do more every day. 




Monday, May 18, 2020

One Year

Great is Thy Faithfulness!


One year ago today, this song was playing while I walked down the aisle toward the love of my life. A few minutes before that, Andrew walked into the church to the same song. At our reception, we asked all our guests to sing that song along with us. God has been so faithful! Both Andrew and I had been waiting and praying for a Godly spouse and marriage for years. The year before our wedding we didn’t know each other existed and in the Lord’s perfect timing, he answered our prayers and brought us together. A year later God has continued to bless us with His Faithfulness! Our year has been full of joys (the sweetness of settling into married life together, getting a dog, having our sweet baby Caleb {more on that sweet subject here soon!}, and lots of moments full of laughs...) and some more difficult days (adjusting to moving away from my family, morning sickness and other pregnancy discomforts, a global pandemic that changed some of our plans...) but God provided for us so well. 


The best decision I ever made was marrying you, sweetheart, and I’m looking forward to spending many more years with you! ❤️



Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Catching Up

When I posted about our engagement last year, I didn't expect it to be over a year before my next post but between a very busy year and computer issues, blogger was pushed to the back burner.



On May 18th, Andrew and I were married! It was a beautiful wedding and both of us couldn't have imagined a more wonderful, special, perfect day. (Mom posted about our wedding with lots of pictures on her blog: The Preparations, The Ceremony, The People, The Celebration.)



Right after the wedding, we left for our two-week honeymoon to San Francisco and Seattle. The weather was perfect, the sights were spectacular, and we were thrilled that after our long-distance relationship we were finally able to be together knowing that we wouldn't have to say goodbye to each other in a few days.



In June, we went back to my hometown for my sister's graduation and to pack up all my possessions to move to my new home with Andrew in the south. We were fortunate to have my dad help us drive the moving truck and to have my mom fly down to help us get me settled into my new house.



Andrew teaches which meant we had the summer to get settled into our home and married life together with a very relaxed schedule. It was sweet to have that time with each other.



Because I was living in a whole new place with no family except Andrew close by, we decided to adopt a dog to be a companion for me during the day when Andrew was a work. We adopted Pepper (a 1 1/2 year-old rescue lab/rottweiler mix) in August.



Just two weeks after we brought Pepper home, we found out we were expecting a baby! We were beyond excited!



With my morning sickness and pregnancy fatigue, Pepper (who was supposed to be my responsibility) soon became Andrew's dog. She loves her daddy and gets so excited when he comes home at night. With a new baby coming, we are both very happy that she gravitated towards Andrew so I won't feel as guilty for not giving her as much attention once I have a newborn to take care of.



December brought the good news via sonogram of a healthy baby boy. It was so nice to finally know a little more about our little one and to be able to start calling him by the name we chose for him: Caleb Mark (Mark is Andrew's Dad's name).



My pregnancy has been a very healthy one with no complications. It hasn't been the easiest with morning sickness, fatigue, sciatica flare-ups, and now third trimester aches and pains but we are so thankful that those inconvenient symptoms aren't hazardous to my health or Caleb's.



From now until my due date in May we will be busy visiting with family, putting finishing touches on the nursery, and doing a few small house projects to get ready for a new baby. 


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Engaged!

I have some exciting news! I am engaged!



Andrew proposed to me on a rainy January day under an umbrella and I said YES!



These past few months have been full of excitement! 

In July, my pastor's wife told my sister (they're good friends) that I should meet her single cousin who was visiting her. Melinda and Kristin set it up so that I could meet Andrew at Bible study. 



I arrived at Bible study and saw Andrew and he didn't say one word to me the entire night. (Later on I learned that Andrew thought I didn't show up until Melinda pointed me out right before I left.) Suffice it to say, I was very disappointed.



Later on that evening, I got a text from Melinda inviting me to dinner the next night to play games and meet her cousin. Of course I accepted! The evening went very well and before I left, Andrew asked me for my number and set up a time to call me the next week. 



The next day Andrew was scheduled to fly back home so I was surprised to get a text from him that his flight was canceled and he couldn't get another one for two days. He asked if he could take me out to dinner. That evening we went to Your Pie, walked through HomeGoods, and talked for hours. The next morning we went kayaking together. (I had just gotten a new kayak the week before. Perfect!)



After he was back home, we started talking and Skyping with one another. Soon he was planning another visit to see me. 



After visiting me in September, Andrew asked my dad for permission to date me. We were both so excited! 



I planned a visit to see him in October. It was nice to see where he lived and worked, visit his church, and meet some of his friends. 




Andrew was away on business for my November 2 birthday, so he made a trip up to visit me a couple weeks later. During that weekend, my family and friends planned a surprise party for me. I was so excited and thankful that Andrew could be there to share that with me. 



Over Christmas, Andrew was able to plan a longer visit and his parents were even able to come up so that I could meet them and they could meet me. I loved his parents right away and they loved me! It was nice to spend time getting to know them and getting to know Andrew better. 



When it was time for Andrew to leave to go back home, tears were shed and "I love you"s were exchanged. 



The times between visits seemed to last much longer now that we were growing closer. 



In January it was my turn to visit Andrew. 



We took a day trip on that rainy Saturday and as we were walking on a beautiful terrace under an umbrella, Andrew asked if I would marry him and I said yes! 

Andrew made this mug for me


He pulled a beautiful wooden ring box (that he made) out of his pocket. Inside was his great-grandmother's engagement ring. If I could pick any ring in the world, I would have chosen one like that one. The amazing thing was Andrew didn't even have to get it resized...it fit me perfectly! 




Our parents were THRILLED to get a picture text from us with the good news. 




The rest of the weekend was spent calling our loved ones and closest friends and excitedly planning our wedding!

Andrew carved these hearts years ago to give to his future wife someday. He gave them to me for Valentine's Day.


We've set the date for May 18 and wedding plans are in full swing!




For years, I have wondered if I would ever find the right man but God graciously sent me Andrew and I am so thankful! Not only is he a handsome and kind man, he is a funny, creative, super smart, thoughtful, responsible, Godly man. 




Andrew appreciates my sense of humor and my love of insects and creepy crawlies. We both love photography, reading, nature and we both get a thrill out of unusual things like octopus and tardigrades. We are perfect for one another! 




Andrew, I can't wait until May when we become husband and wife and start our life together. 



I have found the one whom my soul loves. 
~Song of Solomon 3:4~


***Photos by my very talented and dear friends Frances and Gary***