baby / baby products / out & about

Strolling the City with Mutsy

June 23, 2017

We have slowly but surely been testing the waters of getting out of the house to explore since Crew was about a month old. It took that long to get past just walks around the neighborhood, partially because I was still healing & partially because Jared & I were both terrified of getting too far from home and having to tame a screaming newborn outside of the comfort of our own home. Between Month 1 & Month 2, we definitely found ourselves in enough “make it work” situations that I feel confident leaving the apartment on my own, thanks largely in part to our Mutsy Igo stroller.

Mutsy is a Dutch company that has been manufacturing strollers since the 1930’s. I haven’t seen many Mutsy’s on the streets of DC, which to me, makes them a hidden gem. Having now been using our Igo for two months, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before more people catch on to the gorgeous look & excellent quality of these strollers. We’re pretty constantly stopped by strangers who want to know where we got such a pretty stroller, though usually they stop to look at the pretty baby first 😉I’ve told Jared since before we were married that I wanted a GOOD STROLLER when we had our first baby. As soon as we wrapped our heads around me being pregnant, I got to work researching strollers. We are city dwellers that travel often, so our list of priorities was pretty particular. Thankfully, our Mutsy Igo Nomad checked nearly every item on the list. Safety – Like every new parent, our baby’s safety was the top priority. Mutsy works hard to create high quality strollers that have features such as the 5 point safety harness, colored sections that indicate when pieces such as the carry cot are locked, & frame locks during break down to keep it from sliding open & pinching fingers.Sidewalk savvy – Though I’m not currently doing AS much walking as I did pre-baby, walking is our main mode of transportation around the city. Because of this, we were looking for a stroller with the durability and features to withstand DC’s sometimes dirty & always busy sidewalk bustle. Aside from being easy to push, the Igo has features like extra shock absorbing tires to take on the often rough sidewalk grind, 360 degree swivel wheels to conquer any terrain we might encounter (you know, like when someone leaves a couch in the middle of the sidewalk & you have to off-road onto 14th St. at 5pm to get around it), easy one-step lock brakes for rides on the metro, removable fabric pieces that we can wash to keep that city grime at bay, water resistant fabric for the inevitable surprise rainstorm (been there, done that), & a quick break down if needed in museums, restaurants, etc. Looks – When we stumbled across the Mutsy online for the first time, it completely stood out from every other stroller on the market. It’s HANDSOME. Seriously, it’s the Chris Pine of strollers, in every good way. Without unnecessary bright colors, large logos or weird gadgets, the Igo is simple, smart, sleek & rocking dapper leather accents. The first time I took Crew on a solo trip to my doctor’s office, every nurse, midwife & doctor stopped to comment on how good looking our stroller was, earning it the nickname “Crew’s Porsche” by the time we left the office. It’s definitely a looker – We went with the Igo Nomad in Dark Grey with the silver/cognac finish. Lightweight – I’m easily able to manage the Igo on my own, wrangling it in & out of cars & around the city. It sounds like it would be even more lightweight if we were to use the foam tires, something I’ll keep in mind if the girth of the stroller ever becomes an issue. This is not the lightest of Mutsy’s stroller models, so definitely test drive this guy if that is your #1 priority, but for how safe & sturdy the structure of the Igo’s frame is, it is certainly a lightweight stroller. Mutsy’s two other lightweight models are the Nexo & the Evo (SO compact!), which are also gorgeous!Longevity – One of the best parts of the Mutsy Igo is that I know we’ll be able to use this stroller until Crew is 55 lbs, & we’re equipped with the right pieces to get us there. The carry cot has been so great for these first couple of months, since Crew isn’t sitting up or rolling over yet. He loves getting to wiggle around or sleep without a safety harness on. We’ve been traveling around quite a bit in this past month, so we’ve also been using the car seat as his stroller chair pretty often, & he’s getting used to it. The nice thing about the car seat is that I think it’s a good transition seat from the carry cot to the seat. The seat has rear facing capabilities, which will be a good transition seat for mama’s anxious heart. (One down side to the rear facing seat is that the stroller won’t break down with the seat attached in that position, so we’ll have to be strategic.) From there, we’ll be able to face the seat outwards until he’s 55 lbs… OR until he graduates to the step-up board to make room for a little brother or sister 😉 But I’m getting ahead of myself.Compact – We live in a modestly sized apartment with one giant closet for storage, so it was important that our stroller breaks down to fit in our only storage space. Not only that, but we have one heck of a tiny city car (a Toyota Yaris), so it was of the utmost importance that the stroller fit in our hatchback trunk with a little wiggle room for road trip luggage. With the Igo’s removable wheels, we’ve been able to fit an impressive amount of gear & suitcases into the car WITH the stroller, though we haven’t attempted to pack the stroller up with the seat attached just yet. I do wish that the stroller would stay locked in a standing position, as it seems to be intended to break down into the lay flat position, which isn’t super conducive to our closet storage.Accessories – Since the stroller is the closest thing I get to a vehicle during most weeks, its accessories were really important. Currently, we’re still using the carry cot (pictured) or the car seat for Crew to sit in, so some of the accessories haven’t come into play yet. But! The removable cup holder attachment has been a lifesaver during hot DC days for this breastfeeding mama, & I have big plans for the grocery basket attachment once we’ve moved to the seat, which should be about in conjunction with the time that I start taking on grocery shopping again. (Jared has taken over the grocery management for now.) The seat’s extended canopy feature will be so helpful for sunny days, & I know I’ll be grateful to have the rain cover on hand for the random afternoon storms.

Car Seat – Like I mentioned, we have a tiiiiiny car, & thankfully I did some extra research while putting our baby registry together to discover that the Maxi-Cosi carseat that is recommended to go with the Mutsy stroller systems would be too long for our car’s backseat! Thankfully, via Mutsy’s Instagram, another girl had shared a photo of her Mutsy with the Nuna Pipa car seat attached to it, which works with the Maxi-Cosi car seat adapters. The car seat adapters have been life savers when we’ve traveled out of town so we don’t have to bring the seat to the stroller & can just pop the car seat in & out. (We don’t otherwise access the car seat very often since we mostly walk around the city & leave the car in one spot.)We have been so happy with the Mutsy Igo. It’s been a breeze to use during these first two months of baby, which is great news when my mama brain is at its peak. We would certainly recommend this stroller to any of our mama & papa friends. It’s a functional & beautiful stroller… Which is good, because it’s gotta keep up with how beautiful our sweet babe is. I have to also mention what incredible customer service Mutsy offers – They’ve gone above and beyond as we received & started using the stroller & have been a real joy to work with. Can’t beat that!

Thank you, Mutsy!

Keep up with our Instagram to see our stroller grow with Crew – Pictured here with the carry cot & here with the car seat attached.

—-

Mutsy is a company that we’ve had the honor to partner with
in exchange for a product review.
Thoughts & opinions on this product are ours.
We 100% stand behind the quality & use of this product,
unless otherwise noted in blog post review.

baby

On Your 1st Father’s Day

June 18, 2017

I can honestly say that I have known you will be an incredible father from the very first months of calling you mine. Your gentle nature, loving touch, & tender heart that have been my constants for eleven years are now shared with our son. You are his safe place, his comfort, his protection. You have kissed his smile and kissed his tears. You’ve tended to his every need, while quietly and humbly providing for me and anticipating anything I could possibly require. In the months leading up to Crew’s arrival, you hustled and worked so hard to ease my pain and stress, while helping me create a perfect environment to bring our babe home to. In my hours and hours of labor, you held me, encouraged me, & stayed strong when I was so weak. When our son’s arrival didn’t go according to plan, you brought me calm & peace, & helped me focus on bringing him into the world regardless of the circumstance. In my weeks of adjustment & healing, you cared for me, nourished me, & comforted me as I navigated feeding our new little human. Step for step, we have taken on parenthood together, & I could honestly not do a single day without you. You are selfless, & I admire you so.Crew has it made. I know you will teach him gentleness & resourcefulness. You will teach him how to build things, how to care for things & how to anticipate the needs of others. He will see your love, your compassion, & your optimism. He will love your laugh, your face, & your hugs. I can’t wait to watch him watch you. He will be an incredible man, because he can be nothing less with you as his role model, teacher & friend.I want you to know that I see you. I see the renewed energy in your eyes when you get home after your 10 hour work day, ready to spend your last waking hours caring for our child to give me a break. I see the flicker in your eyes as you anticipate the next 24 hours of what I might need, when my mom brain tries its hardest to lock us out of the apartment. I see the love in your eyes when our son wakes up in the morning & blinks his first blinks of the day, stretching the little chubby arms & legs that we made. I see the pride in your eyes when he nearly laughs or imitates our faces or holds your finger extra tight. I see the determination in your eyes as you research diaper wipes or sleep training or baby milestones. I see the bliss in your eyes when you soak in the quiet moments of me holding him in the morning, as you tell me every time that you have never been happier.

I also already see Crew light up when he sees your face or hears your voice. He loves you so much.

You don’t seek thanks or gratitude, and sure, we’re in this together. But you, my love, exceed all expectations. And for that I am grateful. I am grateful you’re in my life, I am grateful that we share such big love, I am grateful my son has you as a father, & I am grateful that this is the first of many Father Days surrounded by two very handsome, sweet men. We are so blessed to be so loved by you. I will say thank you until the day I die for being the best friend that you are & the partner you’ll continue to be, & I will thank God every day for this life He designated for us.We have a perfect, healthy baby boy. He has every good part of each of us in him, & his love for us already makes me whole. Thank you for being our home. It is a dream to share this life and this child with you.

We love you, papa.

Photos by Nikki Santerre Photography

baby / baby products

Sleeping Soundly with Dockatot

June 9, 2017

An undeniable perk to having a 1) overdue & 2) BIG baby is his love for sleep. It’s sort of like we brought a teenage boy home from the hospital. We’ve so far only had three nights that were somewhat restless (thanks a lot, newborn gas), with Crew typically sleeping a solid 6 hour stretch since we brought him home. I’m sort of scared to be putting this in writing because I think Jared & I are both waiting for the other shoe to drop & for true sleepless nights to begin, but maybe he’s just saving that for his four month sleep regression 😉

This child loooooves to sleep & we’ve been so grateful to have our DockATot lounger as a co-sleeping arrangement since Day 1. We are currently using the Deluxe size, which is perfect for his tiny body right now & keeps him nice & snug all night. During the day, he likes to be free to flail in his crib or moses basket, but after a good midnight feeding, he usually passes out in mama’s arms, & the transition from mama to the cushion of the DockATot is *usually* seamless. This was such a perfect co-sleeping solution for us, as we are able to keep him close, but with a safety barrier of the cushion between us. The 100% cotton, handmade material of the dock is also super breathable, which puts our new-parent hearts at ease since even though he’s not waking up all night, one of us is constantly checking to make sure he’s okay, still breathing, etc. 😉

I’ve started integrating the DockATot into his daytime naps, using it as more of a lounger option so that he stays adjusted to hanging out in the dock as a resting place.We took a trip to the beach with my family earlier this month & we were so grateful to have the DockATot make the trip with us – He was none the wiser that we were in a new place for his bedtime routine, since he had the same feel & smell of his own bed. We even took the dock down to the beach a couple days & were able to stay on the shore for 6+ hours one day!

We’re so grateful to our sweet boy for being a great sleeper, & I’m so glad he loves his DockATot. Keeping mama & papa sane one night at a time.

Use our link for $10 off your DockATot – Happy sleeping!

—-

Dockatot is a company that we’ve had the honor to partner with
in exchange for a product review.
Thoughts & opinions on this product are ours.
We 100% stand behind the quality & use of this product,
unless otherwise noted in blog post review.

baby / baby products

Newborn Essentials

May 25, 2017

We’re somehow a month into this baby life! Most days, it feels like I blink & Jared is walking in the door from work, so it shouldn’t surprise me that his first month of life has already flown by. While he is a great sleeper & figured out eating very quickly, this first month has not been without its challenges (lookin’ at you, breastfeeding), 23982374 google searches & daily texts to my mom & mama friends. Even though it’s a huge adjustment, it’s incredible how easily it feels like we’ve both assumed our parent roles. It helps that we have a very cute baby that is a joy to be around.

I wanted to pop in & share a few things that we have already realized we couldn’t be without, which will also give you a little peek into our daily life with baby Crew!

Plum & Sparrow Moses Basket*
I really stressed out over what our newborn sleeping situation would be, because I really wanted the baby to stay in our room but not necessarily in our bed for the first 6 months to a year. With the addition of this Jolly Jumper rocking base, Plum & Sparrow’s moses basket has been a perfect solution for our overnight co-sleeping. I’ll be sharing more about our Plum & Sparrow basket in a future post, but click on over to learn more about this incredible company with a Fair Trade mission.

DockATot Cosleeper*
We have been loving having the DockATot as part of our every day routine with baby. It’s snug design creates a familiar environment for Crew to cozy into, & it’s perfectly portable for me to move around the apartment with me as I go about daily tasks. As of right now, we only co-sleep with the DockATot in our bed between us if Crew is having a fussier night OR with the DockATot tucked into our moses basket since it’s a perfect fit (note: we stopped doing this around one month in – Got a little too snug inside the basket with our big baby boy!). When he’s in bed with us, the Dock’s thick cushion keeps a nice barrier between us, which helps both Jared & I sleep more soundly, knowing he’s safe. I love that he’s in the DockATot either way for bedtime routine’s sake!

Bloom Coco Go Lounger*
I don’t think I would get anything done during the day if it weren’t for this lounger! Aside from being a beautiful piece that fits into our home decor, Crew loves hanging out in the lounger to either watch mom work, take a nap or watch his best friend, the ceiling fan. It’s vibrate settings keep him happy & it’s compact ability to pack up & be taken on the go keeps ME happy. Bloom is totally rocking the baby market with aesthetically pleasing items that accent your home, instead of being an eye sore. I’d love to add a little activity bar to it for him to look at, but haven’t quite gotten there yet.

Tuck & Bundle & Solly Baby Wraps*
Speaking of getting things done, thank GOODNESS for baby wraps. We have been loving our Tuck & Bundle & Solly Baby wraps, featuring insanely soft fabric & a great patterns/colors for my nearly entirely black post-partem wardrobe. Crew thinks they’re great because he gets to sleep on mama’s chest & I think they’re great because I get to be hands-free for an hour or two, depending on the day, all the while still getting some chest-to-chest bonding time. These newborn days involve some pretty gassy fits of fuss, & the wraps situate his legs juuuust right than he can get comfortable & be soothed. Perfect for wearing around the house or on a walk around the neighborhood, I’ve also started packing one of our wraps in the diaper bag when we have the stroller out, juuuuuust in case Crew goes on stroller strike. I have the Ezra Stripe from Tuck & Bundle and the Fern & the AJJ Collab from Solly.

Mezaya Sling*
It’s been quite the learning curve to figure out the time & place for wraps vs. slings vs. carriers. Around three weeks in, I started feeling much more functional & realized that a sling would be super helpful to just pop baby into. The sling is a little quicker for me to get on, so I love having this to wear around the apartment & as a fussy-baby option when we’re out. Crew likes the sling because he doesn’t feel AS swaddled & tends to stay more alert & look around than he does in the wraps. This Mezaya Sling (mine is in the Fog color!) hails from England & is such a beautiful linen fabric. They also offer Thai silk slings, which are DIVINE. I’ll be hosting a giveaway for one of these beauties on my Instagram soon, so be sure you’re following along!

Lorena Canals Rug*
Okay, this might seem silly, but having that nursery put together was an absolutely fixation for me in the final month before Crew arrived. Adding the finishing touches, whether it was the gallery wall or putting diapers in the dresser drawer or laying out this amazing (machine-washable!) rug, was crucial for my little nesting spirit to feel like we were ready for baby. This rug is so, so soft & has already been through the washer once thanks to a spill during a 3am pumping session. It is a perfect color accent to our nursery, & nice & soft for baby once he’s mobile! I’ll be sharing more about these rugs in our big nursery reveal!

Urban Oreganics Baby Butter*
Nothing but the best for our little babe’s bum. 100% natural and vegan, we love using this butter for every day moisturizing & the occasional booty rub down. It smells SO good & has uses for mama, too!

Other essentials:
Avent soothie pacifier – I wasn’t sure that we’d use pacifiers, but babe looooves to suck to soothe & I don’t want to have to break him of a thumbsucking habit later in life, so here we are! This is the pacifier that comes on the Wubby Nub pacifiers, but we found the animal to be completely unnecessary. We also have the Natursutten pacifier, but the rumors are true: Newborns can’t keep the shape of their newborn pacifier in their mouths. SO! We’re starting with these & saving the Natursuttens for when he’s a little older.
Slow flow bottles – We have the Life Factory bottles because we like the glass factor, but we also like the Comotomo bottles because of their breast-like design. Crew’s doing really well with going back & forth between bottle & breast, so I’m not too stressed out about nipple confusion, klbut something to keep in mind!
Drying Grass Rack – The drying rack has been perfect for pump parts & bottle pieces… Plus pacifiers & the occasional wine glass.
Disposable nursing pads – I own an entire drawer full of reusable nursing pads because #environment, but in these early weeks before everything has settled down, they’ve been super impractical. They retain way more moisture (increasing chances of a yeast infection) & have a pretty intense cleaning regiment to avoid bacteria, so I’m sticking with these bamboo disposable pads until I’m not experiencing as much leaking. This brand soaks up moisture SUPER well & are really comfortable. (They’ve been selling out recently, so you might have to pre-order – They also sell these in store at Babies R Us!)
Kimono onesies – There’s nothing worse than pulling a onesie over your tiny newborns head (although, helpful hint), so we LOVED the kimono onesies we had stockpiled from H&M. Buy as many as you can find! We love these organic onesies from Colored Organic.
Overnight swaddles – Crew does NOT love being swaddled in the wonderfully soft muslin swaddles that I was so hoping he’d live in all summer, & kicks/punches out of them in minutes. After the first couple of weeks, we did find that he slept more soundly overnight when we swaddles him in something he couldn’t get out of with his karate moves. Currently, he sleeps in the SwaddleMe Organic wrap, & we have the Halo cotton swaddle for when it gets a little warmer out this summer in our non-central air apartment, in case he needs to keep his arms out to stay cool. I love that these eliminate the need for blankets in his moses basket overnight.
Goumikids booties – People weren’t lying when they told me these are the only things that will stay on your baby’s feet. We’re getting better at socks, but these booties were great starting at the hospital.
Parasol diapers – We’ve been loving this diaper subscription service since the start of Week 2. The smallest size was still a bit large for even our 9 lb. baby, but have been great ever since. Blowouts are at a minimum, & they feel SO soft, which is all you want for your baby’s bum. The cute designs & scheduled delivery once a month help.
Burp cloths – We’ve been blessed with a non-urpy baby *knock on wood*, but you’d be amazed at the uses you find for these. I have them stashed in every room of the house & every bag.
Waterproof changing pads – Look, we have the cute changing pad cover & the adorable leather Gathre mat in the diaper bag, but these waterproof pads have been so great to have on TOP of the cute changing pad cover so that we can just toss that into the dirty clothes during a 2am mess. A new mama friend recommended these to me & I’m SO glad we listened. I had one with me while traveling last week so that I’m not laying the same pad down on my parents’ guest bed as I did in the bathroom at Target. We have 6 of these & that seems like a great amount for our laundry rotation.
Layettes – The same mama friend recommended having a few of these & we really do love them – Easy access for middle of the night diaper changes when papa is half asleep!
Boppy – It definitely took us a couple weeks before this was useful, I think just because he was so small & gooey. We started off by commandeering a pillow for him to lay across, & once he got the hang of breastfeeding, he seemed to know how to hold his body/head with the Boppy a little better. Bonus: Found this linen cover at PB Baby to use up a giftcard, & Etsy has a TON of cute covers.
Blankets – Have at least one muslin swaddle (especially for these summer babes), one receiving blanket, & one knit blanket that you love. One of the three will fit whatever circumstance you find yourself in, weight-wise. I just got back from Crew’s first trip out of town, & brought these three, & had a need for all three at some point!
Gas drops – Just… Have them ready. I did not realize how much newborns struggle with gas until living with one 24-7.
Nail clipper – The feeling of those tiny nails on your skin when you’re trying to feed is less of a scratch & more of a needle prick. Fortunately, eating causes the perfect amount of milk coma to get those puppies clipped. It’s a special mama skill.
Gift cards for meals – Most of our friends either live in other cities or would be lugging a lasagna around on the metro to get a meal to us, so our meal train consisted mostly of UberEats/Postmates/etc. & restaurants with delivery services. The best way to go with this was to have friends send us a gift card so that we could be in communication with the delivery person… You know, thanks to apartments & city living. You can send a gift card via the delivery services, too, which is awesome to ensure new mom & dad aren’t having to go get food. (Though, frankly, sometimes the pickup was a nice excuse to get out of the house.)
Easy snacks – Jared only had one week off for paternity leave (which was totally not long enough but what can you do), & I quickly learned once I was home alone during the day the importance of being able to walk into the kitchen & grab sustenance with one hand, open it with one hand, & eat it with one hand. Whether that means husby precutting veggies & fruits for you the night before or buying chocolate Teddy Grahams for the first time in 10 years, be prepared!
Nursing tanks & soft nursing bras – I lived in these those first two weeks! Easy access, ultimate comfort. Doing it again, I’d buy the next size up in both, just to have both size options depending on the day. Full disclosure: I ordered the Kindred Bravely Sleep Bra & found it to be pretty useless. I’m not sure if it was sizing or the bra itself, but it was a super awkward fit.

I hope this is helpful! I’m sure the list of essentials will both grow & shrink as we navigate day-to-day, but these are for sure the things that got us through month one. I can’t believe my tiny baby is over a month old already. UGH. Story of the rest of my life, I’m sure. *sigh*

xx

*Indicates companies we’ve had the honor to partner with in exchange for product reviews. Thoughts & opinions on these products are ours – We 100% stand behind the quality
& use of these products, unless otherwise noted in blog post review.

baby

Crew Stedman Bethune

April 20, 2017

He’s here, he’s here!

Last Friday, April 14th, we welcomed our SON, Crew Stedman Bethune with wide open arms at 1:43pm. Arriving on the 42 week mark (WHEW), he was a much bigger baby than anyone could have guessed (over 9 lbs!), when my midwives had been predicting a 7, MAAAYBE 8 lb. baby. We are so, so overjoyed to see this sweet face & meet the little one that we feel like we already know so well. He is such a little sweetheart, & mama & papa are already completely wrapped around his tiny fingers.

We’re also overjoyed to be out of the hospital & slowly figuring life out at home with Crew. He is an absolute dream come true, & we honestly can’t believe we get to keep him. His face is just the best thing I’ve ever laid my eyes on, & getting the “mama” look from him honestly fills my heart till it bursts, over and over again. He loves staring at Jared’s face, & we’re figuring out breastfeeding at a seemingly great pace. Jared has a couple more days left at home with us, & even though his paternity leave has flown by WAY too fast, I’m SO grateful he had time off at all as we navigate this new way of life.

nursing dress: Loyal Hana

I can’t believe he’s finally here. I have so, so many posts to share with you but we’re taking our time & soaking up these newborn days as much as we can. Thank you for the well wishes! I’ll be back with 48237987234 photos from now till forever. He’s just really cute.

baby / pregnancy

Hospital Bag Essentials

April 6, 2017

weekender: Madewell | robe: Plum Pretty Sugar | nursing dress: Loyal Hana

Still waiting on a baby around here, so I figured I would go ahead & share what’s in our hospital bag since I’ve got the time! Post-baby edits in italics! 

FOR MAMA:
Things
Water bottle – Bringing my trusty BKR bottle, at least in the car for the drive over… It’s rather large but I shattered my smaller glass bottle at my last midwife appointment (RIP), so this guy might stay in the car. — This did indeed stay in the car.
Coconut water – This always made me feel better when I had terrible cramps, so I figure that might apply here, too!
Pillow & blanket – A lot of my friends have recommended bringing an extra blanket because of room temperature, but I am also a freak that would rather bring my own bedding to hotels. Sleeping on mystery pillows also really skeeves me out, so these are two things I WISH I could leave at home, but must have. I’ve read to make sure you bring a colored or patterned pillow case so you don’t forget this when you pack up! — Next time around, I’d bring TWO blankets from home – One for labor & one for the post-labor hospital stay.
Extra bag – Saw this on a couple different hospital bag guides, mostly for the extra things the hospital gives you to take home, & any gifts that friends/family bring by. — We brought a reusable grocery sized bag & could have used another, believe it or not!
Toiletries –  Glasses, contact stuff, deodorant, brush, travel shampoo/conditioner, straightener, face wipes, chapstick, hair band, basic makeup, dry shampoo, lotion, toothbrush/toothpaste
Mama care – I’m bringing this cream & this spray.
Perfume – This sounds so silly but I have a super strong pension for scent memory, & I want to attach a smell to the first couple days of newborn wonder.
Phone & phone charger – I have every intention of Jared being in charge of contraction tracking on his phone, so once labor starts, the plan is to pack up my phone & charger in my bag.

Clothes
Big, cozy socks – This is the one thing I’ve heard over & over from friends with babies!
Open front pajamas – I found some button down sleep tops at TJ Maxx for ~$12
Robe – I’ve been so excited to wear my Plum Pretty Sugar robe for baby time since I got it 5 years ago, & I think it’s going to be really lovely to wear something pretty after giving birth.
Black undies – This has been a big recommendation, too. I picked up a cheap pack of black granny panties from H&M that I can toss as needed. — I didn’t end up using these until I got home
Flip flops – I hate being barefoot, period, so when people recommend things like flip flops, I listen.
Slippers – Aside from ^^, this is also just a comfort measure for me.
Belly support band – For after labor. I went with this one based on reviews, but Zulily has had a bunch of deals for these so check that site frequently! I’m excited because the one I got is three separate pieces, & I’ve heard that the hips wrap feels SO good after birth. — Also didn’t use until we were home
Nursing bra & nursing pads – I’ve heard & read mixed reviews on whether I’ll actually need these IN the hospital (assuming we only have a 2 day stay), but I have this bra & these pads in my bag, just in case. — Bra, yes. Pads weren’t necessary until I got home & my milk came in.
Maternity leggings – They say you leave the hospital with about a 6 month pregnant tum, so I’m bringing my favorite Blanqi leggings to wear when we head home.
Loyal Hana nursing dress – I am SO excited about this dress. It’s comfortable (I wore it at 8.5 months pregnant for a Tart wedding & it was GREAT) AND nursing accessible AND so chic.
Oversized sweater – This was a doula recommendation, so you bet this got packed. — Bring two!
Some extra clothes – I packed just a few extra oversized shirts, leggings & my white slip on Vans as comfortable options. Who KNOWS what will feel comfortable?? I want options 😉 — Options were a good call! 

FOR BABY:
Carseat – Can’t leave with a baby without it! We have this carseat & were able to schedule an appointment to get it installed at our local police station, which was lovely in this city hustle & bustle!
Swaddle blankets – I’m bringing two.
Onesies – I’m probably overpacking here, but I have 4 onesies packed, heh. It’s April in DC, & the weather is bonkers, so I have long sleeve AND short sleeve kimono onesies in the bag.
Hats – I am bound & determined to keep that awful pink & blue hospital cap away from my baby’s head. I’m bringing two hats, but one is a bonnet for our going home outfit.
Mittens – Based on recommendations from friends! — Didn’t NEED these, used them maybe twice?
Socks – Of the tiniest H&M variety. Too cute.
Going home outfit – I am so positive that our going home outfit is going to be waaaay way too big for baby, but… We’re going to try to make it work.
Footprint paper – Some people bring a baby book but I am not even pretending that I would keep up with a baby book, so I don’t have one. Instead, I got handmade paper off Etsy & am bringing that to have them stamp little footprints on. I’m not even sure I’ll do anything with this, but I’d rather have it than not, & having this framed is a way more realistic option for me. — They didn’t footprint him in the hospital so we did this when we got home.

OTHER THINGS:
Birth Plan – We’re super excited to be at a very “baby friendly” hospital, where a lot of the natural birth practices that would typically go on our birth plan are already standard procedure. But! We still put a plan together, & I found this site & this site to be very helpful guides as we talked through what we wanted to include.
Maternity registration paperwork – Read this stuff then read it again. I revisited the website our hospital has set up & realized I’d missed a step, then in reading the paperwork found a document that required witness signatures from people other than relatives or hospital employees! We would have been up a creek, so definitely knock this task out of the way while you have time.
Insurance & ID 
Playlists – Our doula recommended putting together three different hospital playlists: 1) A fierce playlist (lots of Beyonce) 2) A chillout playlist (lots of Feist) & 3) an instrumental playlist (lots of the Pride & Prejudice soundtrack) — Didn’t use these until AFTER baby was born!
Bluetooth speaker – We have this one packed in Jared’s bag. — Super glad we had this for the post baby stay.
Camera 
Go-time last minute packing list – Let’s be honest, I’m not packing my makeup or toiletries because I’m still using them. I wrote out everything that needs to be gathered once we’re getting close to leaving for the hospital so Jared can either help me pack up or do it completely on his own while I get through… Whatever I’m going through 😉 This includes things like water for the car, my favorite chapstick from my purse, and some treats that are staying in the car until we’ve got a baby.

The most helpful guides I found on Pinterest all included post-hospital notes about what was actually useful, what was missing, & what could have stayed at home, so I’ll plan to revisit once this baby has made its big debut. (Soon. Hopefully.) — The only thing I can think to add was that Jared ended up bringing his laptop for work & it was SO great to have that around to watch Netflix before & after! 

Come oooooon, baby!

DC / out & about

out & about: a visit to the cherry blossoms

April 1, 2017

We’ve known that the cherry blossoms blooming would be THE sign that baby time is almost here ever since our due date was adjusted for the 15th time by the midwives. I had scrolled back in my Instagram feed to see what we were doing at this time last year – We were at the cherry blossoms. Right at this very spot, in fact. It was Jared’s day off & I got off work early, so we rushed down to the Tidal Basin to catch the blooms at peak. From our old apartment, it was about a 30 minute walk & we had a bad habit of always trying to sneak our blossom visit in right as the sun was starting to set. It was chilly. We had tacos when we got home.

This year, our visit to the blossoms was much more relaxed. With such weird spring weather, the blossoms bloomed a little early, & we used some of Jared’s weekend to take a trip down to the basin. It counted as another free pre-baby date, & since it was a Monday, there were waaaay less people there than there would be on a weekend. It was HOT, & when Jared left my side for 3 seconds to scope out a bench to sit on, I managed to trip over the tree roots, skinning my leg & twisting my ankle like a hot mess 9 month pregnant girl. So we sat, for a long while 😉 Injury aside, it was so nice. Even though I walk at approximately 1/4 of the rate I usually do, it felt like a very firm just-the-two-of-us moment. Filled with “Next year…” imagining & cooing over the other babies visiting the blooms.

Now that it’s April, & specifically, now that we’re more than halfway through April Fool’s Day, I’m officially okay with this baby coming any day. Still not in any rush… I don’t feel so uncomfortable that I’m wishing away quiet evenings or slow Sunday mornings with just Jared. Our days of two are coming to a close & we are SO excited to meet this new person that will be our everything, but I’m also so very sentimental about closing this chapter of Jared & Kelsey. It has been a wonderful 6.5 years of us-ness.

… & at the same time, it has been a long nearly 11 years of wondering what our future babies will look like, & we are so. close to knowing the answer. All in good time.

travel

Seattle, WA

March 31, 2017

Good gravy, it has taken me for-eh-ver to get this post up. I’ve been slooowly composing it since November, isn’t that ridiculous? These types of posts honestly take so so long to put together, so I tip my hat to the full time bloggers that are constantly putting up travel guides. Phew.

Part 2 of our Not-Quite-Mexico anniversary trip was a quick jaunt down to Seattle. We crossed the border in our rental car & made our way into downtown Seattle, where we checked into, where else? The Ace Hotel. It’s like a rule if you’re a millennial visiting Seattle, I’m pretty sure. It started raining right as we drove into the city, so we cranked up the Bon Iver & relished the PNW-ness of it all.

We took some time to settle in & rest up (#pregnant), but realized that what little light was left on that cloudy afternoon was quickly dwindling, & checking the Space Needle off the to-do list of our tight itinerary got us back in our boots & jackets & sprinting over to the Needle with borrowed umbrellas. Definitely walking distance, so that was nice! We made it to the top with just enough time to catch a sliver of sunset off in the distance. It was perfectly drizzly weather, which made it such a quintessential Seattle moment. I LOVE doing all the cheesy, touristy things in new cities, but this is really a must-see, even if you’re anti touristy things. It’s such a striking view & so breathtaking for East Coast folks like us to soak in that West Coast horizon. It reminded me a lot of visiting the top of Montparnasse in Paris — Pictures that I would link here if I had ever gotten my life together & blogged our 2014 European trip. *hangs head in shame*

I maybe forced Jared into taking this picture, if you can’t tell by his grimacing smile, but omg worth it. We are mildly obsessed with Frasier & I just feel like we’re in the opening credits. NO REGRETS, JARED.

We trekked over to Serious Pie & seriously stuffed our faces with their amazing pizza. It was just a short walk from the Ace, so completely perfect for tired, waterlogged travelers. It’s a pretty intimate little restaurant, so I didn’t bust out the camera, but trust me that it was good.

The next morning, we headed out to The London Plane for brunch, & boyyyyy was that a good idea. I continued my PNW Avocado Toast tour, & this spot did not disappoint. I don’t know if it’s a West Coast thing or a PNW thing to include a flower shop in your cafe/restaurant, but I wasn’t mad about it. Such a cute little treat everywhere we went.

After brunch, we snuck over to Kerry Park to take in the view that had been recommended to us by my cousin .It was a super bright day, in contrast to our previous rainy evening, so it was really lovely to take in Seattle horizon in the daylight.

Next up, the infamous Public Market! We wandered for awhile (mostly reenacting parts of Sleepless in Seattle, let’s be honest) & made all the obligatory stops, like the gum wall, the ferris wheel… So fun to see this place in person!

Jared’s inner former-barista sprang to life when we passed the OG Starbucks, so we of course stopped there. Not pictured, & I can’t figure out for the life of me why, is the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had in my life from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. I’ve seriously been dreaming about that mac n cheese since we left Seattle. SO GOOD.

HI CHELSEA! We met up with my sweet friend Chelsea (of Truelane fame), who gave us the Seattle-ite tour of the city, & insisted we take a trip on the ferry for a full Seattle experience. It took me a minute to get over her & Jared FINALLY meeting, but once I did, I made sure to play the Grey’s Anatomy theme song as we sailed across the water. Super stunning.

After a quick pit stop at Street Bean Coffee & Moorea Seal, we drove over to the OTHER Capitol Hill for books, dinner & ice cream… Basically, my favorite kind of evening.

We popped into the Elliott Bay Book Company, where I finally purchased my French parenting book, then enjoyed dinner at Oddfellows… Which I cannot recommend highly enough. Super delicious food & super cool vibe. I think I was just too entranced in conversation with Chelsea & Jared to take photos (& the lighting was real low), but trust me. It’s great. & conveniently close to Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, which is just around the corner. Early Grey ice cream of my DREAMS. We definitely found a lot to love about the other Capitol Hill.

& honestly, just like that, it was time to head home! Yes, our stay in Seattle was pretty short, but we managed to pack in a lot of great stuff. It was a perfect taste of the Pacific Northwest, especially for little ol’ me, who has never experienced the West Coast. I mean, I’ve been to Hawaii, but I’ve been told that doesn’t count. We’re definitely ready to plan our giant California excursion now. Someday!

EAT
Serious Pie
The London Plane
Oddfellows
Molly Moon’s Ice Cream

COFFEE
Porchlight Coffee & Records
Stumptown Coffee
Street Bean Coffee Roasters

SHOP
Moorea Seal
Totokaelo
NUBE
Elliott Bay Book Co.

DO
Space Needle
Kerry Park
Fremont Troll
Public Market
Ferry Ride

RESOURCES
Our time in Seattle was pretty quick so our itinerary was pretty tight – Check out these other Seattle Guides for some more insight on local spots to see!
New Darling Seattle City Guide
Local Wanderers Seattle City Guide
& of course, follow along with Chelsea on her blog and Instagram and Twitter and all the things for a look at a local’s life in Seattle!

 

DC / out & about

out & about: yayoi kusama’s infinity mirrors at the hirshhorn museum

March 24, 2017

Word spreads quickly here in DC when there is a new must-see exhibit, & a lot of the museums have instituted a lottery-based ticket system to keep crowds at a manageable number for both staff & visitors alike. It’s actually brilliant, but what it also means is that at 12pm sharp on Mondays, you better be at your computer if you want a chance at tickets for some day & time slot in the upcoming two weeks. OR have a friend that nabs a pair from someone that unexpectedly can’t use them. Crazy, right? So, in the spirit of sneaking in dates where we can (& in the spirit of sneaking in FREE dates because you better believe every extra dollar we have goes to baby prep these days), I snagged us tickets to the newest exhibit DC has to offer: Yayoi Kusama’s Inifinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum. 

If these photos look familiar, it’s because three weeks ago, your Instagram feed was flooded with them as the exhibit opened & everyone & their mother somehow went over the course of a week. People I follow that live in other states were there. It’s an INSANELY social media friendly exhibit, where you are literally let into the separate rooms with your “group” (just the two of us, in our case) for 30 seconds… Essentially, just long enough to get a picture, add it to your Insta story & gape at the surroundings for 10 seconds each. But goshdarnit, you don’t have to wait for a clear shot! It felt a lot like being in a social media experiment, or a case study on millennials, honestly… Like, someone is watching you on a screen predicting your every move, & if you DON’T get your phone out, you’re escorted to a small room to be questioned about how you fought the urge.

… I digress.

It was a REALLY cool exhibit, with our favorite room probably being the room titled, “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away”, in which we 100% felt like we were floating amidst (amongst?) millions of little orbs. There’s more to the exhibit than just the rooms (like the amazingly colorful art pieces that gave me all the ideas for future kids’ rooms) since Kusama has been creating since the 60’s. It was quite the experience & a really lovely afternoon at the museum with each other, juuuust the twooooo of us. The exhibit is here in DC until May, then it moves on to Seattle. Highly recommended, even with the crazy ticket process… & the lines that you still have to wait in once you’re actually there. Heh. The things we do.

We are getting soooo very close to my due date, & Jared has a cold that I’m hoping is perfectly timed with him getting over by the time we have a baby. Life is so weird these days, because it feels like everything is a suspended breath before baby shows up. We’re not in any rush (I’m pretty determined to have an April baby), so it’s just sort of this quiet dance, day-to-day, knowing that everything is about about to change, but still going about our daily activities. I know we have so much to look forward to but I also just want to stare at Jared’s face for hours, unadulterated in the quiet of our home, because when will things slow down ever again?? I know. I’m ridiculous & everything will be great. Change is just scary & great & also scary.

But it’s going to be GORGEOUS outside tomorrow & I’m going to get some sunshine all over my face! Spring in DC is just the absolute best.

Happy weekend!

xx

pregnancy

pregnancy essentials

March 11, 2017

As this pregnancy winds down (/picks up??), I’ve already started reminiscing about this little journey, starting with maternity clothes & now with the things that got me through pregnancy. I’m a chronic Googler/researcher about all things in life, so pregnancy has been 40% reading reviews on Amazon, 40% perusing guides on Pinterest & 20% outsourcing recommendation via social media. When you put those things together, you get this little list of my Top 10 Pregnancy Lifesavers.

 

  1. Papaya tablets – Heartburn has been one of my very few pregnancy gripes since 2nd trimester, & papaya tablets have been super helpful. I’ve tried apple cider vinegar & just straight up alka selzter chewables, but papaya tablets or a small cup of cottage cheese (believe it or not) are the only two things that have truly helped.
  2. Prenatals – I switched between a few types of prenatals in the beginning before landing on Vitamin Code‘s prenatals with Nordic Naturals Omega-3 supplements. The smells are minimal & the doses are reasonable – Another type I tried had 13 different pills to take! YEESH.
  3. Lavender Essential Oil – To be completely honest, I have not been bitten by the essential oils bug, but! Lavender & peppermint oils have been a staple in my life for the past few years for headaches & stomach drama. Lavender oil has been a savior for 2nd trimester headaches & 3rd trimester sleep issues.
  4. Oils & butters – Again, tried a few different things over the course of this pregnancy, & these two have been my favorites. I use the L’occitane butter for my belly & the Vitamin E oil for belly & chest. So far, no stretch marks at 37 weeks soooo… Fingers crossed. I don’t know how much of that is these products vs. genetics. The next 3 weeks is the scariest, since this belly seems to keep wanting to grow.
  5. Hydration – I am very terrible at staying hydrated, so drinking water was the biggest life change I really had to force upon myself when I found out I was pregnant. (Well, that & actually eating breakfast.) The first thing I did was order a 1 liter bottle from BKR, & this has been crucial for me to keep track of whether or not I’ve had enough water in a day, since I know I need to drink at least 2 full bottles a day. I usually shoot for 3. Coconut water is also my favorite for a quick quench, especially on days that Tart has events or I’ve got a long walking commute around the city.
  6. Tea – Coffee has been a huge contributor to my heartburn, so I’ve been drinking more tea than coffee this pregnancy. I love our local tea vendor’s Vanilla Cream Rooibus, but now that I’m full term, I’ve moved to a nightly cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea, per my midwives’ instructions. Not super flavorful… But I’ll let you know if it seems to affect labor like the comments section on Amazon would have you believe 😉 *Tea is hot topic (pun intended) when it comes to pregnancy, so chat with your healthcare provider before you listen to me.
  7. Books – I’ve tried to not inundate myself with too much information about childbirth & parenting techniques, since I really want to just follow my body’s lead for labor & trust Jared’s & my instincts when it comes to parenting, so these are the only three books I’ve read so far. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was highly recommended by my midwives, & the insight from the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was a great resource, if not a little overwhelming without having a baby around to put into practice what you’re reading. I loved Bringing Up Bébé & will definitely be revisiting it as baby gets older. I have a couple more books on sleep that I want to read between now & 2 months post-partum, so I’ll report back if they’re practical!
  8. Amazon Prime – This goes without saying, but Amazon Prime is pretty much my life force at this point. Whether it’s baby registry or help-I-need-sleep-NOW, Kindle book, or realistic prices on prenatals, we’re probably expecting at least two packages a week. I can’t imagine this is going to slow down once there’s a new little human to figure out how to care for… So, all hail Amazon Prime. No, I’m not being paid to say this. I should be.
  9. Comfort – Pretty much as soon as 3rd trimester hit, my belly grew exponentially & sleeping on my left side was suddenly uncomfortable from the weight of my belly twisting my spine towards the mattress & pulling my shoulders & hips forward. It was really painful! This wedge pillow from Boppy is $13 & has been such a help. Just a tiny support under my belly or sometimes under my back, & voila – SLEEP. It’s also not a pregnancy essentials list unless I advocate prenatal yoga, but hear me out. I’ve never been to a yoga class & I don’t super love it the way I should as a proper millennial, but my other pregnancy gripe has been one particularly sore rib – I think there might be a pinched nerve from growing to make room for baby. Yoga stretches & Jared massaging it have seriously been the only things that have kept the rib pain at bay.
  10. Apps – There’s a million & four apps out there for pregnancy, & every single one of them has a perk that another doesn’t. I really loved Glow Nurture during the phase of my pregnancy that I couldn’t feel baby yet, & it has a fun bump tracking feature, along with a daily tip about you & baby (but avoid the forums at all costs… Yikes). Ovia just has a cute baby size feature that compares baby to a Parisian bakery pastry (impractical but adorable), along with some good articles & videos that pop up. As I’ve got further into my pregnancy, The Bump is really the only app I check often for baby size estimates. **I should also note that the Relax Melodies App has been an essential for sleeping. I’ve had this app for years, but combining pregnancy’s oft light sleep with apartment radiators clanking or the occasional snoring husband has made this app crucial! You can mix your own white noise sounds, which is perfect for someone like me that sits somewhere on the low end of the misophonia scale. (Self diagnosed, I should add.)

Some things for next time: A 2nd pregnancy is like, HA! to me right now, but assuming that subsides, there are a few things that I rationalized not spending money on, but in retrospect, would have been helpful. Next time, I’ll prioritize getting fitted for a comfortable bra at the beginning of 2nd trimester. Though I ended up buying some sale bras in larger sizes at H&M, I think their fit has contributed to some of my rib pain. I’ll also invest in that crazy pillow everyone tells you to get but I was like pffttttt, I can make do. I get it now. That shape seems like it would fix all my problems. Lastly, hopefully next time around, we’ll be in a financial place that I can invest in a pre-natal fitness class of some sort. I’d love to do barre or pilates or cycling… I’m just really terrible at self motivating when it comes to exercise, so a class setting would be ideal to stay active throughout pregnancy.

Phew! It’s basically the final countdown, guys! I’ll be back with my hospital bag essentials once I, you know, put it together. I’m a little bit in denial that this is all happening so fast, honestly. There is still so much to do! I was just trying to explain to Jared how it’s so bittersweet to be this close to the end. Sure, it’s nearly impossible to get comfortable & even walking is… weird… But pregnancy is such a secret club. I’m surrounded by pregnant friends (& now a sister!) & it’s been such fun to share this whole experience for the first time. I’m sure parenting is a whole new level of membership with handshakes & t-shirts & knowing looks. But all I can do is soak up these final weeks where I’m NOT counting down to baby (I won’t be antsy until April 2nd), & keep getting things ready around here. Three weeks is NOTHIN’! EEK.

Have a great weekend!

xx