The lasts of the firsts, part two

About a year ago, I wrote moodily about the lasts being harder to notice than the firsts. And as my (last) baby approaches his fourth birthday, I’m feeling it all again.

First day of last year of preschoolEarlier this week, we had his first day of (his next year of) preschool. Oh sure, the school barely closed for a week in between “years” and he’s with the same kids and teachers, but the room is different and I know that he’s finally a senior. We’ve been in the same comfortable preschool since 2007 and this is really our last last year there.

Sigh… I can remember his first shocking day as an infant. And now he’s all big.
First day at daycare

A few days ago, Sawyer declared that he was all done with helping his dad make morning coffee. The two of them had developed quite a morning ritual around running into Daddy’s arms in order to help scoop and grind the beans each day. And just like that he said, “I’m over it.”

This morning, when Sawyer noticed Alec was a little bummed out to lose his “helper” he said, “I was over it, but I could get back under it.” Now we don’t know if he’ll keep it up or just go through the motions. The last of anything is his call to make (or forget to make as the case may be).

Funny either way. We like to document and commemorate, but capturing those lasts is so much harder than the firsts.

Perfect diaper-themed gifts for any new parents

Thanks to Desitin, my favorite booty cream, for sponsoring today’s post.

The pressure new moms put on themselves to live out their values through their parenting choices and purchases can weigh a ton. Not wanting to add to it with the wrong baby shower gift, we tread lightly around certain topics. Childbirth, feeding, sleep philosophies, baby wearing, diapers? Do what you want and change your mind as needed, Parents.

Without wanting to assemble the wrong diaper cake, we feel safer sticking to baby shower gifts that support diapering in general. Whitney took a turn at the wheel over on the Desitin Tumblr page and shared her five favorite baby shower gift ideas that work for babies in any style of diaper (disposable, cloth, edible, whatever)…

Baby Shower Gift Ideas

Disclosure: This is our second stint as guest authors on the Desitin Tumblr as part of a sponsored campaign. Opinions and gift picks are ours. (Desitin in the blue box is my favorite diaper cream, for realz.)

Buy this backpack for your toddler!

I recently shared all my very strong opinions about children’s backpacks with you. I included a few toddler and preschooler smaller-frame options in the mix, and they’re great. But if I’m honest, I feel very passionately about the Skip Hop Zoo Pack and I barely mentioned it. So here goes!

We bought the Monkey Skip Hop Mini Backpack when my now third grader was three years old. We’ve had it in the house and filled with incidental restaurant and car trip goodies for five years. It looks good as new. Since then, they’ve rolled out nearly a gajillion other cute animal patterns. Each time I see one out in the wild world, I feel a kinship with the parent or child carrying it. So cute, people!

The best little backpack is the Skip Hop Zoo Pack

My only caution would be to choose a design with less white and pale colors if you’re kid is dirty or will be dragging it around a lot. 

The bag is totally washable, fairly durable, and completely adorable. Let this be the time your little one carries a flipping precious penguin bag before hitting the real world of elementary school and settling for basic blue. And it’s only about $20.

My current favorite designs are hippo, shark, unicorn, and bee! Which ones do you love?

+++

Not sponsored, just in love with this hand-me-down monkey backpack that is living a second life with our youngest preschooler. See also my very strong opinions about elementary school backpacks.

My very strong opinions about kids’ backpacks

Back to school shopping. Ugh. As I walk through Target and see the many character-themed backpacks trying into leap in my shopping cart, I remember why I must make this journey alone. Back-to-school shopping is no place for kids. Alluring as my sons might find these school bags, they will never come home with us.

I insist on purchasing high quality backpacks only. Lands’ End, Eastpak, L.L. Bean, JanSport, REI, I’m looking at you.

Buying a sturdy back pack means two important things.

  1. It will last longer. Duh.
  2. But if it doesn’t, it will be repaired or replaced for the lifetime of the backpack. As in, never buy another backpack again!!

So the $30 to $50 you spend on a good strong pack will more than make up for the annual purchase of a $20 crappy-zipper, break-before-the-year-is-out school bag. Though my cheap gene shudders at paying nearly $50 for a kid’s backpack, I know it will withstand many years worth of aggressive treatment.

My kids are going into fifth and third grades this year and their backpacks are not being replaced since KINDERGARTEN. That’s it. That’s all I wanted to tell you.

Sounds too boring? If your child still wants to personalize, there are many ways to make a plain pack seem more childish childlike: glowing zipper jewelry, mini-me felt patches, labels and stickers, dogtags, printable star wars tags (free from Amy Locurto), or all of the above.

Here are a few picks of high-quality backpacks (that I hope do not fall victim to the blogging curse of breaking because I said nice things about them). [Read more…]

We *heart* The Places You’ll Feed!

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week — yes, it’s a thing! — we want to celebrate feeding babies by sharing this silly, fantastic, creative, laugh-til-you-spray-milk book: The Places You’ll Feed!

In a house or with a mouse? In a supply closet or the front seat of a minivan with your legs squished by the steering wheel? Dang, author Lauren Hirshfield Belden makes it look so easy with her Dr. Suess style illustrations and artful rhymes about nursing and pumping! Somehow she managed to capture the universal truths all set to a bedtime-story rhythm.

Check out these sample pages of her new book, The Places You’ll Feed!

Places You'll Feed: breastfeeding humor book

Places You'll Feed: breastfeeding humor book

Places You'll Feed: breastfeeding humor book

So cute, right?

If you have a booby- or bottle-fed baby in the house, you’ll want this on your bookshelf. You’re also guaranteed to be the VIP at your next baby shower if you bring this as a gift.

Find it at your neighborhood gift shop or buy The Places You’ll Feed! on amazon this second. Hope you love it as much as we do!

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of this book; I love it for real; if you invite me to your baby shower, you’ll probably get a copy.

Putting the kibosh on the Me, Me, Me Epidemic

We're so confident you'll make a better choice next time, we got tattoos

After listening to a webinar with parenting coach Amy McCready in which she was suggesting what we might say when our children are devastated by the consequences of their actions, Whitney and I both joked that we were going get tattoos that read, “I’m confident you’ll make a better choice next time” so that we could remember to use that line.

Spent so much time not putting pajamas on that we only had a 30-second back-scratching session? I’m confident you’ll make a better choice next time.

Though I’ve never met her in person, I completely trust Amy and her philosophy of love and positive discipline. Literally, every time I listen to her, read her, or watch her videos, I learn more that helps me become the parent I want to be. When she told me about her newest parenting book, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World, I wanted to help spread the word.

Me Me Me Epidemic bookThe theme of this book? By setting up limits with consequences, and training them in responsible behavior and decision-making, parents can rid their homes of the entitlement epidemic and raise confident, resilient, and successful children. Doesn’t that sound nice? [Read more…]

Best things to do with a baby in San Antonio, TX

The 5 best places to take babies and toddlers in San AntonioFrequently mentioned on lists of the best places for families to travel, San Antonio has something for everyone. But is it fun for babies, too? Colleen Pence with San Antonio Mom Blogs shares the five best places to take your baby for pint-sized fun in the Alamo City:

The DoSeum

The 5 best places to take babies and toddlers in San Antonio: The DoSeum

While The DoSeum – San Antonio’s brand-new children’s museum – is an amazing place for all kids, ages 0-12, their Little Crawlers area will keep your baby busy for hours. Let him crawl around freely in this protected area that’s perfect for stimulating senses. Your sweet babe can look in the mirror, see other babies, and explore the colors and sounds all around them. [Read more…]

I’m in love with these Star Wars jammies

With the hot summer underway, I am sharing these flipping cute Hanna Andersson Star Wars shorty pajamas. All are organic cotton (and I wish they came in my size). My personal experience with Hanna Andersson jammies — after ten years of parenting — is that they are expensive but will last for at least three children without showing wear.

These are the Star Wars pajamas I'm looking for

These affiliate links are for Nordstrom.com and seemed to have the best prices along with free shipping. Happy browsing.

The Princess Leia pajamas are all about the galaxy-saving princess’ iconic hairstyle. Cute for any rebel who likes pink. Available from 3T through big kid size 14. [Read more…]

Warrior Moms are good moms

Friend and fellow blogger, Jill Krause from BabyRabies, traveled to three cities to meet with these seven women to help tell their stories and put faces to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She says, “I could not be more proud of this video, or more humbled to have listened to these women tell their stories to my camera.”

It is a quick video that will tug at your heart. If you’re struggling or know someone who is, GET HELP! There’s lots of help available and you don’t have to do it alone. PostpartumProgress.org is a perfect place to start.

Warrior Moms short film by Jill Krause for Post Partum Progress

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders affect 1 in 7 pregnant and new moms. We are strong, we are fighters, we are good moms, and we are here for you if you are struggling, too. Moms with perinatal mood disorders are not alone. And they are still good moms, even if they are struggling.

 

Find more resources and tools at PostpartumProgress.org, and visit CottonBabies.com to support a company that supports all moms.

Please, if you are struggling, reach out. Get help. You CAN get better.

Can I be happy for 100 days in a row? Can you?

As part of my 101 things in 1001 days, I’m taking on another challenge: Can I be happy for 100 days in a row? Yes, it is a list within the bigger list… good thing I love lists!

Day 1 of the #100happydays project. Me & @alecflett on a lazy river #californiagreatamerica #100daysofhappy

A photo posted by Heather (@rookieheather) on

I wanted to attempt the 100 Happy Days challenge to photograph the small moments that bring me joy each day in the ongoing effort to Just Be Happier. I’ll admit that calling it #100DaysOfHappy sits easier with me than #100HappyDays; just the phrasing of calling an entire day happy rather than a moment within a day feels scary and uncomfortable. But I’m going for it anyway! Would it really be so bad to be happy for a whole day based on a series of moments looking for things that make me smile? I guess not.

Optimistic about Family Camp #100daysofhappy #100happydays

A photo posted by Heather (@rookieheather) on

What I really like:

I like being on the hunt for my little sparks of joy. I always have my iPhone in my hand or purse anyway, so now I’m sneaking around my own life and trying to capture the cute, funny, tasty, happy moments. Are we having fun yet? Snap! This coffee is pretty… snap! I love these boys… sn — oh shit they moved! –ap!

What I kinda hate:

I know it is not a competition. But doing it on instagram, I am conscious of judgement in the form of LIKES. Wait, nobody else likes my very favorite chocolate? Wah. I don’t want to feel shitty for taking a photo of a happy photo in poor light.

You can learn all about the #100HappyDays project on the website or just start this second wherever you want. I’m doing it on instagram/rookieheather but blast your happy around however you like. There are tips for private people on the website, too.

71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?

#100HappyDays #100DaysOfHappy

I flipping love this travel mug for diaper bag toting parents

I thought I would never quit my OXO travel mug (and we are still good friends), but then one day I stumbled into this Contigo Autoseal Mug and it changed my life!

Travel mug you'll want to make out with: Contigo

(I am a passenger here, tempting fate)

Two key features that will rock your world, yes I’m shouting:

  1. IT DOES NOT SPILL. When you lock it, it can flip over next to your laptop, diapers, phone and not leak a drop of liquid. This feature is especially meaningful to me because if there is a way to misalign or under-tighten a water bottle and have it spill all over my stuff, I will find it. So, seriously, upside-down on my laptop, no problem. Amen. The photo below is the inside of my purse with this mug and my laptop, and I’m walking!
  2. IT KEEPS STUFF SERIOUSLY HOT. My coffee comes out of this adult sippy cup so dang hot, that I used to have to wait an hour to drink it. Drinks stayed warm a good four hours into my day. If you are on the go with a baby or toddler and barely have time to put the cup to your lips, you will LOVE that it holds the heat. For impatient people who like to chug their morning brew, I have discovered that one ice cube does the trick.

Travel mug you'll want to make out with: Contigo
(Yes, everything in my purse is labeled, what of it?!)

My husband and I share the two-pack of hella sealing travel mugs so we don’t have to fight about who gets the good one. There are also at least a dozen pretty colors. I *think* only the stainless color is dishwasher safe but don’t quote me on that.

Travel mug you'll want to make out with: Contigo

Toys that get serious play year after year

This post contains affiliate links.

As a young toddler, Holden always had one eye on Julian’s garbage truck toy. Whenever we went for a playdate, he’d seek out this same toy. Each time a birthday or holiday rolled around, he’d ask for his very own garbage truck. I don’t know why I resisted so long (oh yeah — it was about $100!!) but the sheer play value over the years makes me wish I bought it sooner. Lucky you, now it is a mere $89.

Our favorite toys hold their value and get serious play year over year; they are fun solo and with friends. My kids would flip out if I tried to box up their LEGO collection, the Magna-Tiles, or the Quadrilla marble runs. Unfortunately, I cannot offer you a guarantee that they will get such love at your house because… Kids!

9 gender-neutral toys for kids

Here are a few others we love:

My little guys can anthropomorphize miniature animals and action figures with the best of ’em. This wicked cool doll house would be so welcome in our playroom (more gender-neutral faves) as it is in near constant use at the preschool.

Wicked cool fun house for boys and girls

I saw this dollhouse masquerading as a two-foot-tall rocket ship last week on a playdate and instantly put it on our Sawyer’s wish list (see more boy-friendly dollhouses)!

kid craft rocket dollhouse for boys or girls [Read more…]