Tuesday, September 9, 2014

6 Products For Newborns That Will Make Life Easier

I can't believe Jake is already six weeks old! Time is flying by, and luckily getting used to a new baby in the house has been a lot easier the second time around. I definitely feel more confident in my mommy abilities with baby number two. I know what worked and what didn't with Olivia, and what to do differently with Jake. A lot of my friends have asked me what items I've found valuable with a newborn in tow, so here are some of the things that helped us with Olivia and have gotten us through the first few weeks with Jake. 

1. We can't live without the Cloud B Sleep Sheep. It put Olivia to sleep every time and it's working with Jake too.  2.  If you worry a lot like me, you'll need an accurate way to take your baby's temperature. This digital ear thermometer is the best.  3. I'm big into baby wearing and the Baby Bjorn Carrier Original has been my favorite carrier for newborns.  4. These Aden & Anais swaddle blankets are large, light weight and easy to wrap. I'll never buy another brand of swaddle blankets again!  5. Jake loves napping in his Fisher Price Rock N' Play. We have one upstairs and one downstairs.  6. I love our Carseat Canopy. We didn't have it for Olivia and were constantly fussing with throwing blankets over the seat for shade and privacy. 

Do you have young children? Are there any items you just can't live without? Let's trade secrets!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thank Goodness For Moments Like These

Last week was pretty rough. Olivia, who is normally our sweet and happy little girl, wasn't feeling well and her fussiness level was at an all-time high. It was the kind of week that really tests your patience and makes you feel helpless and out of control. I would go as far to say that it was the hardest week of parenting we've had thus far. I’ll spare you the details of the craziness that went on around here except to say there were a lot of sleepless nights. 

Olivia checked out fine with her doctor which was frustrating because it left us to only speculate what might be wrong with her. We considered everything from teething to growing pains.  We are still not exactly sure why she had such a tough week. We settled on the thought that her behavior is very likely a delayed reaction to her little brother, and knowing that she now has to share our attention with him. That, and the fact that she has definitely reached the peak of her terrible two’s.

The good news is that after last week's fiasco, Olivia’s mood seems to be on the upswing, and she has been sweeter than ever with baby Jake. We had a very peaceful weekend and I was able to capture some really adorable moments while hanging out in the playroom.

For me, it's easy to get too focused on what's not going smoothly. The past few days had left me feeling frazzled and I’ll admit that I didn't even realize how sweet Olivia was being with her brother until I uploaded the photos and looked at them on my computer. It's moments like these that make it all worth it, but I have to make sure to recognize them!

Other than Olivia’s recent sprout of fussiness, adjusting to life with a toddler and an infant has been fairly stress-free. Jakey is an easy baby. He sleeps well, eats well, and is fast to comfort when he gets upset. Of course I’m saying that as I bounce him in my lap while typing with the other hand because he won’t let me put him down for five minutes without crying. But in general, he’s pretty laid back.

I know the adjustment period is not over. I still haven't been brave enough to take both kids to the grocery store or Target by myself.  I know that Jake and I will be working out his night time feedings for a while to come. And I'm pretty sure Olivia will still have her two-year-old moments. 

But overall, I'm loving every minute of life with these two cuties. Even the fussy ones.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Glove Balloon Centerpiece

I made these Mickey Mouse Clubhouse centerpieces for Olivia's 2nd birthday and I've been meaning to share a tutorial for a while now. But as you may know, with our new addition, things have been a little busy around here lately. Nevertheless, I told myself that I wouldn't put the centerpieces away until I finished this post, and so Mickey and friends have been occupying my craft table all summer long. Today I decided it was time to clean up the craft table and move on to new projects. Hence, I am finally getting around to the tutorial.

Originally I wanted to post a step-by-step tutorial with photos, but Jakey has decided for me that there is no time for that. So I'll attempt to explain what I did as best as possible and feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. For each centerpiece you will need one white helium balloon, a permanent black marker, white yarn (or some other type of string), a medium size terracotta flower pot, glossy red paint, craft foam, red shredded paper, colorful popsicle sticks, glue and paper cut-outs of each clubhouse character's face: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto.

It's probably easiest to start by creating the clubhouse characters. All I did was a Google image search for each character's face. I printed them out and glued them to the popsicle sticks. I also printed each face out in reverse and glued them back-to-back so that my characters were double sided. For a size reference, each character's face was about 3 inches wide by 5 inches tall. For the base I used a terracotta pot because it was heavy and I knew it wouldn't tip over easily. I painted it with a bright glossy red and stuffed it with craft foam. The craft foam provides a perfect surface for sticking the characters in. Once the characters were in, I covered the craft foam with the red shredded filler paper. 

On a white helium filled balloon, draw or trace the Mickey Mouse glove with permanent black marker. I traced one on each side so that it could be seen from all directions. Wrap the yarn around the pot several times right under the lip. Then cut 4 equal pieces of yarn. Mine were about 2ft long. Tie one end of each piece around the yarn that you wrapped around the pot. Then bring it up and tie it to the base of the balloon. Just make sure the yarn is tied on evenly around the pot and that is pretty much it.

I will say from experience that these centerpieces are better for an indoor party. If your party is outside, like mine was, be sure to consider how windy it might be. The string will get tangled and they really don't look that good when the balloon is blowing around too much. 

For those of you who are not familiar, this is what the cartoon version of the glove balloon looks like. Olivia is a big fan of all the clubhouse characters so the centerpieces were a big hit at her party. Towards the end of the day we pulled out a few of the popsicle stick faces out of the centerpiece and used them as props for some cute photos. I also had enough that I was able to send one home with each kid as part of their party favor.  

When I made these, I bought my terracotta pots from the dollar store, I used red paint and yarn that I had on hand, and the rest of the materials were fairly cheap. Even the helium balloons were only a dollar each. So even though these were a little time consuming, they were actually very inexpensive to make. And if your kid loves Mickey Mouse as much as mine does, you will be getting a big bang for your buck! 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Decorating: I Spy An Elephant Trend

The other day we were out shopping, picking up a few finishing touches for the nursery, and I noticed a definite trend in the decorative accessories for kids. Elephants are everywhere! I'm not sure I would have even noticed, but Olivia is pretty much obsessed with animals right now and elephants are her favorite. It's safe to say that no matter where we are, if there is any kind of elephant to be found, she will spot it.

1. Girls Graphic Tank Top - Target  2. Mod Jungle Elephant Art Mural - Decamp Studios  3. Elephant Bookshelf - Dwell Studio  4. Elephant Critter Chair - Pottery Barn Kids  5. Shaped Elephant Storage - Pottery Barn Kids  6. Gold Elephant - AllModern  7. Pink Elephant Fabric - BabySuperMall.com

We managed to leave the mall that day without any elephants and without any meltdowns but I'm not sure if I will always be so lucky. For that reason I hope this is a quick passing trend or a short lived obsession. Also because otherwise I might just have to spring for that cute gold elephant from Allmodern.com!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Congratulations Big Sister! A Hospital Party For Olivia

Before Jacob was born I heard some crazy stories about jealous older brothers and sisters so I was a little worried about how Olivia was going to handle having a new baby in the family. We did our best to prepare her ahead of time by talking and reading books but I was still a slightly anxious about the first time she would meet her baby brother. I wanted it to be a fun experience and I wanted to recognize the important role of becoming a big sister.  And since two-year-olds are all about getting attention, I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea if the focus of their first sibling get-together was on her instead of her little brother.

It might sound like going a little overboard, but I decided to throw a "Big Sister" party at the hospital on the day Olivia came to meet Jake for the first time. It really wasn't that big a deal, but Olivia thought it was special and three weeks later she is still talking about the fun she had visiting Mama, Daddy and Jakey in the hospital. 

I kept it simple. A few weeks ago, while roaming the aisles of Michael's, I picked up some cute napkins and plates at 60% off. I made sure to stuff them in my bag when I was pre-packing for the hospital. Right before I went into labor I got the itch to do something crafty and threw together this paper napkin garland. Of course the garland made it into my hospital bag also. Because we all know that throwing up a little garland turns any gathering into a party! At the last minute I called on the grandparents to do what they do best. Bring a lot of treats!

A few people suggested that I have Olivia pick out a gift to give her baby brother on their first meeting but I ended up doing it the other way around. I'm pretty sure that at one day old, Jake wasn't gonna care about whether or not his sister got him a gift. Olivia on the other hand is a little addict for opening up presents. Giving her a brightly wrapped package with a big bow is a sure fire way to become her new best friend. So I thought it would be a nice gesture if Jacob came into this world bearing a gift for his big sister instead. Of course, Olivia loved the idea and thought her little bro was pretty cool from there on out.

Jake is three weeks old and so far we haven't had any jealousy issues with Olivia. I know I will have my fair share of fighting to deal with in the future, but I am thankful that Olivia has been such a champ about accepting this extremely needy little person into our lives. Now we just have to work on the the big S word. Sharing. And Lord help me. She needs a lot of practice in that department! 

Thanks for Reading!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Baby Update: Welcome Jacob Mario Mendez!

He's finally here! Welcome Jacob Mario Mendez. Born on July 23rd at 3:25 in the morning. He was 8 pounds and 19 inches long at birth. 

They say second babies come faster and they aren't lying! Jake was born within an hour of arriving at the hospital. There was barely enough time to get into a delivery room and no time at all for an epidural. There is only one thing I can say about all natural child birth. Ouch.

Luckily, adjusting to life with a new baby has been a lot easier the second time around. Of course I'll probably be eating my words tomorrow, when Matt goes back to work and it's just me and the littles all day long. I don't want to jinx myself, but so far Jake has been a totally mellow baby. He's a good eater, a good sleeper, and he doesn't cry too much. I brought him in for his first doctor's appointment today. He is back at his birth weight plus one ounce, and he has grown a little over 2 inches! 

I'm so glad that Jakey is finally here and I can kiss his tiny face. I can't say that I'll miss being pregnant, but it has been fun sharing my progress with you! In case you missed it, here is a look back at the past nine months.

The Past 9 Months...

Week 7  /  Week 12  /  Week 16  /  Week 20  /  Week 25  /  Week 31  /  Week 39

Thanks for sticking with me through all these silly updates. I will post more photos of baby boy Jacob very soon! 

And here is a Pinterest image for all of you idea savers!

Friday, August 1, 2014

DIY Paper Napkin Garland

I wrote this post in the morning on the day I went into labor. Needless to say, I haven't had a chance to post it until now....

At 39 weeks I haven't been in the mood for a lot of extra mess or clean-up, so I've been avoiding any major DIY projects. But this past weekend I got stung by the crafting bug and ended up making this really simple paper napkin garland. 

I promise this is the easiest (and probably cheapest) garland you will ever make! All you need are some cute paper napkins, scissors, a hole punch and some string. I used two different napkin patterns and alternated them.

Simply fold the napkins in half to make triangles and punch holes in the corners.

Then string them together.

And voila! You have a custom garland that matches the rest of your party decor.

I have a big plan for this little garland and hopefully it won't be too much longer before I can share it with you! For now let's just say I'll probably be the only mom in labor and delivery who is bringing party decorations. 

If you like this project and want to save it for later feel free to pin the image above. Thanks for reading!
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