My 8 favorite neutral toys for babies

If you’ve read my blog for a while (or followed me on Instagram), it’s likely you’re already familiar with my distaste for most children’s toys.

I’m not a monster, I swear. I just have a hard time bringing anything into my home that isn’t a) absolutely essential or b) beautiful to look at. And the fact is, the majority of children’s toys go unplayed with and are typically technicolor eyesores.

My name is Justine, and my favorite color is a light shade of gray. #sorrynotsorry

Fortunately, it seems I am no longer alone in my affinity for neutrals. The current generation of parents has spoken, at it seems they prefer toys sans primary shades and (most excitingly) not in plastic.

When I started looking around for toys for Juliette, I was especially picky. I only registered for or purchased items that I wouldn’t mind seeing sprawled all over the living room, both in an attempt to fill our home with more natural materials but also to lessen my workload every day. (Do you have any idea how much time I spend cleaning up toys? So. Much. Time. I would much rather spend that time actually playing with my girls.)

As a result, I’ve ended up with a handful of quality toys that are just as beautiful to look at as they are fun to play with. Here are my favorite neutral toys for babies:

1. Poppyseed Play Wood Play Gym


If you are at all handy with woodworking, you could probably create your own neutral, wooden baby gym. If you’re me, you rely on the pros at Poppyseed Play. I love the optional toys she also sells, but I ended up just purchasing the bare gym and hanging my own toys with ribbon.

2. Manhattan Toy Skwish Natural Rattle

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I love this rattle, and not because it’s lauded by babies and Montessori experts alike. Jules loves tracking the moving beads with her eyes, and Vivian loves shaking it for her to hear the rattling.

3. Sweet Pea Teethers


Juliette hasn’t been nearly as much of a pacifier baby as Vivian was, but I know I’ll be glad to have this teether when she gets older to use as a leash for toys in the stroller. Plus, I love how she can gum on the silicone beads along the way.

4. Petit Collage Wooden Puzzle


Even Vivi loves to play with this adorable puzzle/block combo. The pieces interlock as puzzle pieces later on, but they also make fun figurines for imaginative play. And for now, I also love them as decor in the nursery.

5. Loulou Lollipop Bubble Teether


Another favorite teether I throw in my diaper bag? This Bubble Teether. It has a mix of silicone and natural wood beads to give those sore gums multiple textures to gnaw, and it’s also a favorite to hang on Juliette’s Poppyseed Play gym.

6. Little Nomad Playmat


Whenever I post a picture with this playmat on Instagram, I always get direct messages asking me if it’s a real rug. It’s THAT beautiful—and it looks just as good in person. Since our “playroom” is really just a corner of our living room, I love that this gives the space a defined-yet-decorated look that blends with my decor style perfectly. Plus, it’s so easy to clean!

7. Baby Sew Lovable Block


Vivi loved soft blocks like this with multiple textures, rattles, and things to chew on, so I was thrilled when I found a neutral version. The multiple loops and hooks are easy for even the tiniest baby hands to grip, and I don’t mind when it gets left out of the toy box because it’s so pretty to look at.

8. Beluga Baby Wrap

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While technically not a toy, I love babywearing as a way of “playing” with baby and helping her take part in whatever adventure we have planned for the day. (And you know Beluga Baby is my OG favorite wrap.) Plus, this limited edition pattern is named after me! So naturally, it’s a favorite in our house 🙂

What are your favorite neutral toys for little ones?

To my second baby: The mama you get

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Sometimes I feel guilty that Juliette will never know the mama Vivian had.

She’ll never know a world that, essentially, revolves entirely around her. She’ll never know what it’s like to be my only concern, my only focus from morning to night. She’ll never know a world where people won’t be comparing her to someone else.

She’ll never know what it’s like to not have to wait for me to help her sister with something first. She won’t get as much of my time, as much of my attention, as much of my focus. She’ll never know a world where my hands are always available to hold her.

She’ll forever be wearing hand-me-downs and waiting her turn. One of her first words will be “share” and few things in life will ever be just Juliette’s.

And sometimes I feel sad she won’t know a world like that. But then I also remember…

She’ll never know a world without a best friend. She’ll never search for a playmate because she was born into a world with the best one ever.

She’ll never have to adjust from a self-centered mindset. Vivian has made the switch like a champ, but there were definitely some growing pains as she got used to a world where the sun and moon did not set with her.

She’ll reap the benefits of a more seasoned mama. Last night, I made an off-hand comment about Juliette that she’ll never get as much of my time, but she’ll get a much smarter mom. I’ve learned so many lessons being Vivian’s mom, and Juliette won’t have to live through the same mistakes.

She’ll get a more relaxed mama, too. With Vivian, everything was so foreign and unknown and I know I stressed a lot more than I needed to. Juliette’s mama has been much chiller from the start, and she doesn’t sweat nearly as much small stuff.

So yes, being second-born means giving some things up. But I think the things gained more than make up for any sacrifices.


My Beautycounter makeup must-haves

I don’t talk nearly as much about Beautycounter’s makeup products as I do the skincare—largely because, when I use the skincare consistently, I find myself skipping makeup more and more often.

That being said, there are a few items that I consider my makeup staples, even when I feel confident enough to forgo the foundation.

And because so many people have asked me which products I swear by since I became a consultant, I created this round-up of the makeup products I wear when I do take the time to do my makeup, as well as the extra products I like to incorporate either for special events or when I want a little extra beauty boost.

Let’s start with the must-haves:


For me, my most basic makeup routine consists of undereyes, blush, eyebrows, and mascara. I feel like these four areas give me the most bang for my buck—and by that I mean “make me look not-dead and pulled-together no matter how little sleep I’ve gotten.”

For dark circles, I live for Beautycounter’s Touch Up Concealer Pen (I wear it in Fair), especially when I’ve started my morning with a couple dabs of the Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream. The cream reduces shadows and gives me a smoother canvas to work with, and then the concealer pen makes it easy to brighten up my whole eye area, including the inner eye. The concealer never creases on me with this routine, and it makes it much easier to fake that I haven’t been up with a newborn all night.

True story: I never really wore blush until a makeup artist in the mall put it on me when I was about 23. I came home and Joey immediately commented on how rosy and awake my skin looked, and I was hooked. And while up until recently I’ve favored powder blushes, I really like Beautycounter’s Color Pinch Cream Blusher (I wear Hibiscus) for an instant flush of color. Note: Don’t be alarmed if your cheeks look really pink when you first put it on. Keep blending (I use a Beauty Blender for a subtler look), and wait until you finish the rest of your makeup to decide if you need to wipe any off. If you don’t often wear blush, you might just need to get used to seeing yourself with a rosier hue!

Truly, if I could only put on one makeup product in the morning, I would choose to fill in my eyebrows. There’s something about the way they frame your whole face that gives everything an instantly pulled-together lift. And I love Beautycounter’s Color Define Brow Pencil (I wear Dark) for that immediate effect. I love a bolder brow, but they also have two lighter shades if that’s more your jam. To use, I start by lightly outlining my brow’s natural shape, then filling in with short dashes to mimic actual hairs. Then I use the attached brush to blend the whole thing. Finally, I swipe a clean finger around the outline of my brows to 1) soften any remaining hard edges and b) clean up any makeup that has gone outside the lines.

Confession time: I don’t use Beautycounter mascara—yet. When the mascaras first launched, I tried both the volumizing and lengthening formulas (because SO MANY of our customers love them), but I wasn’t vibing with either and found them a little dry and difficult to apply/remove. Since then, BC has changed the way they heat the formulas to give them more creaminess, but I haven’t had a chance to try them yet because I want to finish up the mascara I have currently. Which…is W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Pro Mascara. W3LL PEOPLE is another clean makeup brand I learned about through work and have thoroughly enjoyed. I love how this formula goes on (the brush is comb-like so you get zero clumps), washes off with limited residue, and is made from cleaner ingredients like my favorite BC products. I always start by curling my eyelashes, then add a few swipes of this.

So that’s it! The secret of my minimalist makeup routine. Tell your friends 😉

But what about when I want to up the stakes a bit? For special events or for when I just want a little more makeup, here are the extra products I fold into the routine:


Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage:
I rarely need a full-coverage foundation these days (thank you very much, Overnight Resurfacing Peel), but sometimes I get a slightly redder skin tone that I want to even out, or I’m planning to be out all day and want a little built-in SPF in my makeup routine. For those days, I love the Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage, Beautycounter’s tinted moisturizer. (I wear shade No. 2.) It’s light, blends easily, and just gives you a more even appearance without any heaviness.

Radiant All Over Bronzer:
Especially in the winter, I like to add a little bronzer in the contours of my face to warm up my complexion. (Pale girls fo lyfe, yo.) This new(ish) powder formula from BC gives me a subtly toasty look when lightly applied, or I can use a heavier hand for a more contoured look. I wear Dune.

Precision Liquid Eyeliner:
Beautycounter has actually updated the look/applicator of their liquid eyeliner since I purchased mine, but the formula is still the same. I like how dark the color goes on, and the short brush makes it easy to apply (after a little practice). It’s a simple way to add a little something for a slightly more dramatic look.

Eyeshadow Duo:
Eyeshadow is something I rarely wear, but lately, I’ve been digging light, subtly shimmery shades to wake up my eye and create a smoother canvas for when I do use eyeliner. BC has these great duos if you’re one of those people who only ever wears the same color (*raises hand*), but they’ve also launched some gorgeous bigger palettes for new Holiday releases this year.

Speaking of Holiday releases, there’s one more product I don’t wear often but have found myself reaching for more and more since I bought it: lipstick!


Specifically, this new Color Intense Lipstick Duo. I’m seriously the person who will put on lipstick only to wipe it off four minutes later because I just can’t get into it, but something about these shades just works with my skin and feels so creamy I don’t feel like it’s flaking off seconds later. (I’m especially digging Boardwalk for fall.) They may seriously make a lipstick convert out of me—and, really, second to eyebrows no other makeup product makes such an instant change on your face.

So that’s it! You officially know everything in my makeup bag. Looking to upgrade your own products to safer, cleaner alternatives? Try the Beautycounter Flawless in Five kit for an instant, all-around upgrade, or leave a comment with any questions below and I can help you find something specific.


Second-time motherhood and saying yes to the village


I’m treating myself different this time around. With my first baby, I was trying to retain so much of my pre-baby self. The girl who could do everything—by herself, thank you very much. The girl who appreciated the offers of help but would chirp back cheerily that she was “Fine!” without it.

And, I’m so many ways, I could. I could push myself and carry on and get through it. For weeks, maybe months, I could ignore the tiny cracks forming in my own sanity, my own confidence, my own sense of self. I could barrel forward because I did have support—even if I didn’t always accept the help regularly proffered.

And I did fine. We did fine. I even felt truly happy most of the time.

But when I look back on it, I also remember feeling lonely. Feeling bored. Feeling disconnected and not fully myself. FaceTiming my mom every morning the SECOND I knew she was awake. Texting friends about random things and living for responses to posts I made online because it meant I was kind of, sort of talking to someone for a while.

Because I was craving something without even realizing it. I was missing the village.

In my (albeit limited) experience as a mom and working for an incredible resource like Motherly, I spend a lot of time thinking about how our society views and treats and lives motherhood. And the more we progress in so many ways (and, truly, it’s a good time to be a mama), the more and more I realize that mama’s need the villages of old.

I firmly believe motherhood was intended to be a group activity. A shared load between a group of women (and, okay, we’ll let the occasional helpful man in too ), a perpetual support system of physical, emotional, and spiritual uplifting.

It’s something I feel in my bones when I look at the above photo from my labor, just minutes before I brought my second daughter into the world. I see how loved and supported I am, and every part of it rings powerful and right and exactly how it should be.

When I read essays and stories from women who struggled with new motherhood, the common denominator is that missing thread of community. Is that (often self-inflicted) pressure to do it all alone, to do it all perfectly. It’s just not how we were made to live and mother and thrive.

Other cultures get this. They impose “lying-ins” and incredible amounts of care for new mothers, requiring full months of rest where the mother’s only job is to recover and care for her newborn. The idea of “super mom” seems to be a distinctly American phenomenon, and I haven’t been immune to the pressure.

And the crazy thing is, I’m so incredibly fortunate that I have that village. I have incredibly helpful parents and in-laws who are practically begging to chip in. I have my two best friends living literal minutes from me, along with their family, all of whom regularly offer help from meals to massages to simply being there to listen and hold my baby and me whenever we need. I have a loving congregation who have looked forward to and prayed for my baby and me just as much as I have.

I had these things the first time I became a mother too. And it took me until now to fully appreciate what a gift that is.

So this time around, I made a rule for myself: I say yes.

I say yes to my own “lying in” — five days spent largely in bed, simply recovering and bonding with my baby while others care for me and my toddler. And not feeling any guilt about it.

I say yes to the offers to make food, whether it’s my mom making me eggs every morning so I don’t have to wait for everyone else to be ready for breakfast or my friends offering to bring me treats or meals I might be craving.

I say yes to offers to watch Vivi or hold the baby so I can sneak in a nap, without any guilt that I “should” be the one doing all the cuddling and caretaking—as if I’m helping my children by denying them another person’s equally unconditional love.

I say yes to the listening ears, to the offers to do grocery store runs, to the help with laundry and vacuuming and giving my toddler a bath so I can focus on resting, recovering, and bonding with this new tiny person who has changed my life so wholly (again).

I’m saying yes to offers to take both girls so I can just sit in bed with a hot cup of coffee and scroll through Instagram or Pinterest or—hey!—even tap out a blog post’s worth of feelings on my phone—completely and utterly guilt-free.

And while I may only be a few days in, I already feel a difference. I feel a lightening of the load, of the pressure. Because while I will always feel the most responsibility to make sure my children are well cared for and have more than they ever need, a tiny, primal part of me feels like it’s the whole village’s job to shoulder that Herculean task. That, on my own, I simply can’t do as good of a job as my whole crew can do together.

Because I feel that this is a time I should be thriving too, and I can only do that if I let all the love and help pour in without keeping any back. Because I truly believe with my whole heart that this love and support (for them AND me) is the greatest start I could give my children.

So, this time, I’m saying yes. I’m saying thank you. And we’re all better for it.

Juliette’s birth story


After 42 weeks of pregnancy, I was more than ready to meet my baby. Anxieties were beginning to mount that I wouldn’t have the birth center birth I had planned, that I would have to be induced, that I would end up being forced into a cesarean. I worried that something was wrong with my baby, that something was wrong with me. We were waiting and waiting for…we didn’t even know what. And prodromal labor every night left me questioning my own body and ability to even tell what real labor felt like anymore.

In short, I was not handling it as well as I would have liked.

At my last midwife appointment, they gave me a homeopathic labor stimulation kit, complete with a castor oil smoothie and instructions to take the supplements and try to stimulate labor with my breast pump — for two hours. I did it diligently. Nothing happened.

The next morning, I had a biophysical ultrasound scheduled to make sure everything was okay. My worst fear was that my fluid levels would be low and I would get sent to the hospital for an induction.

For the record, my fears about induction and c-section are entirely my own. I know so many incredible mamas who have brought their perfect babies into the world through these methods, and I firmly believe any way that gets you a healthy baby is the right way. But it wasn’t my plan, and I felt fear about potential surgery. I was mostly afraid of being in a situation where I didn’t feel empowered in my labor, or where I was pushed into something I might not actually need just because of a hospital’s policies. But because the most important thing to me was getting my baby safely out, I was working hard to compartmentalize these fears and mentally preparing for whatever would come.

Before the ultrasound appointment, I took another dose of castor oil, and then my mom and I headed over.

Fortunately, the ultrasound was very positive. Baby was moving and breathing, fluid and cord looked good. The baby was measuring about 39 weeks, but that was normal for my babies. I left with a sigh of relief that, at the very least, I would be able to see this pregnancy through Sunday night without intervention.

When I texted the info to my midwife, I asked if she knew of a good acupuncturist who specializes in stimulating labor in the area. She didn’t, but she said she had an amazing chiropractor who could help, and I scheduled an appointment for that afternoon at three.

I spent the next couple of hours before the appointment relaxing. I wanted to take a break from all the labor stimulation. I was tired and feeling frustrated, so I figured I would just leave it for now and start again Friday morning.

At my chiropractor appointment, I explained that I was overdue, and the doctor checked me and found that my pelvis, a spot in the middle of my spine, and my neck were out of alignment. He said these things could be interrupting the electrical flow and even signals between the baby and my body, gave me an adjustment, and told me to come back in a few days if nothing changed. At the very least, I found I could now walk without a waddle and chalked the visit up to a success.

On the drive home, I started to have some stronger contractions, but I had been having contractions every 10-15 minutes at hour-long spurts for weeks, so I didn’t think too much of it. Once home, they continued to intensify until they were too strong to talk or walk through. The contractions were about 8-10 minutes apart by 4:30/5. I called Joey and told him to start thinking about heading home because this felt more real and then gave my midwife a call.

We agreed to give it a little more time and see if they continued to get closer together. (By this time, I was beginning to feel like the pregnant woman who cried wolf and didn’t want to get everyone in a tizzy just to have the contractions drop off in an hour.) But by 5:30, I could tell these were different from the prodromal contractions and told Joey to get in his car (he works an hour away with no traffic, and we were officially in rush hour). I alerted my midwife again, who told me she would be at the birth center in 40 minutes.

We took Vivi to one of my best friend’s (and birth team member!) houses to spend the night, and 20 minutes later headed to the birth center. The contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart but getting stronger every minute. I even felt the vague urge to push, but told myself that was crazy—it was way too early.

We got to the center at about 6:40, with Joey reporting he would be there in an hour or less. My midwife checked me, and I was dilated to almost five centimeters. Active labor is six, so she said I could go home if I wanted to, but I could tell things were moving very quickly and opted to stay. Already there was no comfortable position to ride out the contractions, and they seemed to be coming faster and faster with no real break in between. (It could have been the adjustment from earlier, but my pelvis lit up with pain during every contraction and still felt sore even between them.)

When Joey walked in the door in the middle of a contraction at 7:30, I could have cried with relief. After that, I got in the shower for a while because that had been such a comfort to me when I had Vivi. I wanted to try the tub, but my midwife was worried it would slow down labor. The shower water did help, especially since my pelvis was feeling so sore.

After about half an hour, I was feeling even stronger urges to push, so I got out. My midwife had me lie on my side with a peanut ball between my legs, and I tried to relax as much as I could through the contractions. Easier said than done since they were SO PAINFUL at this point, much more intense than Vivi’s had been only a few hours into labor. I remember thinking, “I hope this labor goes fast, because I’m not sure I can do this for much longer.”

At 9:00, I told my midwife that I was feeling a strong urge to push, and she checked me and was shocked to find I was nine centimeters. My next contraction, I tried pushing and my water broke immediately. The next, the baby started to crown. My midwife must have sensed my small moment of panic because she immediately grabbed me and told me to breathe, to feel the baby’s head, to realize that my baby was right there, that I was almost done.

The next push, the head popped out. The next, the shoulders cleared and I grabbed my baby and pulled it onto my chest (we still didn’t know she was a girl at this point). The baby was a blueish gray, but before I could even worry about it, she pushed her whole chest and head up in a push-up and stared straight at me for a full two seconds. Then she flopped down and took her first breath with a few wails. At this point, everyone was dying to know if it was a boy or girl, and I finally lifted her up to check. A girl! Vivi had gotten her sister and Juliette was officially part of our family.

Truly, I’ve never known such relief and happiness. My baby was in my arms, the pain of labor was over, and I’d been able to have the labor and delivery I hoped for. The extra weeks of waiting faded away and felt like exactly what we needed. The stress and fears were gone, and we were all right where we should be. It was an incredible moment.


From start to finish, the labor was about three and a half hours, which made it all the more surreal for me. We stayed at the birth center for four hours for follow-ups and instructions from the midwives, and then I decided I would rather sleep in my own bed and wake up at home. So we bundled up Juliette and headed home.

Now, the usual questions!

Yes, Juliette was also an unmedicated birth. No, I don’t have any regrets about that. Yes, it hurt—in many ways a lot more than Vivi’s labor because there was virtually no build up to the final stages of labor. (Well, unless you count all those overdue weeks of contractions ) But, for me, there is something incredibly empowering about feeling every moment of bringing my babies into the world. And while, yes, it is the greatest pain I’ve ever known, it is not impossible, not unbearable—at least for a while. I’ve been fortunate with both my babies that things have progressed steadily—and in this case, very quickly—because, as I said, surviving a 36-hour labor (or more) as some women do would be a totally different experience.

And, yes, we did head home after just four hours! Honestly, I loved it. I got to sleep and wake up in my own bed, which for me was so much more comfortable than staying in the hospital the way we did with Viv. Of course, if either of us had needed any kind of follow-up care, we would have had to go a different route, but I’m grateful that we were able to get back to our own space.

So I think that’s it! Sorry for the long post, but you know I’m a stickler for the details. All in all, we’re just so happy to finally have our little girl out of my belly and in our arms.


7 items to register for with baby #2


One of the first questions my friends asked me when I announced I was pregnant with baby #2 was whether or not I wanted a baby shower. I’ll admit to feeling a little torn—after all, I had already had several amazing showers the first time around. But because we’re living in a new place and had a whole new group of friends who weren’t able to celebrate Vivi’s arrival with us (and because, let’s be real, I love any excuse for a pretty party), I ultimately decided it would be nice to have a smallish shower to celebrate the new little rabbit.

This also led to a follow-up question: Did I register for baby numero dos?

Ultimately, I decided to for several reasons:

  1. There were several things I actually did need that couldn’t be repurposed from Vivi.
  2. Because we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, guests who wanted to get gifts would have an even harder time coming up with options on their own.

In the end, I thought it would be simpler (and better for my wannabe minimalist lifestyle) to let everyone know what we actually needed.

Registering for a second baby was a lot more fun for me, actually, because a) I only needed a few things, so I could really edit the list to necessities and b) because I had been a mom for a few years, I knew what we actually used or wished we had gotten the first time around—all meaning we were a lot less likely to end up with toys and stuff that would just end up taking space. (You know how I feel about baby stuff.)

For today’s post, I’m not going to share my registry ad nauseam, but I did want to highlight a few things that I think all second-time moms should consider registering for or picking up before baby #2 arrives. Here are some of my favorites!

First things first, I changed the way I registered this time around and used Babylist. Babylist lets you compile desired items (or services) from around the web in one place, so you can get the diaper bag you want from that adorable Etsy shop and the blankets you want from Target. They also have custom options like “dinner” or “cleaning help” that you can request from friends if you truly don’t need any tangible items. I found it really easy to use their app to add things from my phone that I would discover throughout my day.

Now on to the good stuff.

1. The diaper bag I wish I had known about: Fawn Design Original


Honestly, Fawn Design is a new-ish company, so I’m not even sure they existed when Vivi was born. But a year ago, I bought of her mini diaper bag backpacks for our Disney trip, and I’ve been totally in love with the look and quality of the brand ever since. I told myself that if/when we had another baby, I was ditching the traditional, clunky diaper bag I had gone with the first time around in favor of this sleeker backpack option.

2. A second baby monitor: Motorola Wireless Baby Monitor


Vivi still uses her baby monitor, so I needed a second option for the little rabbit. There are so many options on the market right now, but what sold me on this one was how easily it can scan the entire room and the reasonable price point.

3. A second noise machine…with longevity: Hatch Baby Rest

hatch rest nightlight sound machine

We haven’t had any issues with Vivi’s standard noise machine, but I wrote about this Hatch Baby Rest version for Motherly a couple years ago and have wanted it ever since. Not only is it a noise machine, it’s also a night light, an ok-to-wake clock, and it can be controlled by an app on my phone. Plus, I love how the design just blends into the nursery without calling any attention to itself.

4. Toys that fit my home’s aesthetic: Petit Collage Wooden Puzzle

petit collage wooden puzzle

This is probably very millennial of me, but any of my friends can tell you that I’m very anti-plastic, anti-technicolor, and anti-gimmick when it comes to my kids’ toys. For baby #2, I requested almost exclusively toys that I felt it wouldn’t bother me to see strewn across the living room floor (because, let’s be real, that’s where they live most of the time), which meant a lot of neutrals, a lot of wood, and a lot more craftsmanship. One of my favorites? This wooden animal puzzle from Petit Collage, plus a few teethers and a play gym from Etsy.

5. Because you’re much more practical for round 2: Medela breast pump parts

medela parts

Oh, did you think you were going to get through an entire pregnancy post without hearing about breastfeeding? Sorry not sorry. While I didn’t need a new pump, I did want to update a lot of the parts from my original, especially the ones that came in contact with milk and were therefore probably not as sterile as they once were. A kind couple of friends stepped up to the practicality plate and bought me new parts (like breastshields and pump membranes) so now my pump looks like new.

6. The swaddle you actually want at 3 a.m.: Sleepea 5-Second Swaddle

sleepea swaddle

I had dozens of traditional swaddle blankets for Viv—and she wrestled her way out of them constantly. And while they were great for play blankets, stroller and nursing covers, and just general blanket use as she got older, I always felt like there had to be a simpler way to swaddle. Which is why I was psyched when these 5-second, zippable swaddles came out a few years ago. They’ve tested well for the Motherly editors, so I immediately added a couple to my registry for this new, equally wiggly baby.

7. Safer skincare for baby: Beautycounter Baby Oil and Diaper Rash Cream

beautycounter baby oil

While I wasn’t a Beautycounter consultant when Vivi was born, I had started to use some of their safer, cleaner skincare products on myself. Since then, they’ve also released a baby and family line. And since Vivi has notoriously sensitive skin, especially as a newborn, I’ve incorporated more of their family products into my children’s skincare as well. I’m excited to use the baby oil on both my babies, and I’ve also stocked up on their Calming Diaper Rash Cream for the new tiny bum entering our lives.

So those are the basics! I also registered for a few decor items, a couple books, some feeding items, a new carrier (I never found a buckle version I loved as much as my Beluga Baby wrap until I tried this one from lilleBaby!), and a few clothing items. If you want to see the full registry, you can view it here.

For you other second- (or third- or fourth-!) time moms out there, did you register after the first one? What were your must-haves?

A tale of two pregnancies


It’s hard to believe this second pregnancy is almost over. It felt much quicker than Vivi’s, mostly because I’ve been so preoccupied with moving, working, pioneering, and, oh yeah, having a kid already.

That being said, these last couple weeks are certainly taking their time. Just saying.

I wanted to get down in writing a few of the main differences between my pregnancies so I could remember later. So here goes the documenting…

In a lot of ways, they’ve been similar. I’ve had a fairly easy go of things, I’ve enjoyed being pregnant most of the time, I’ve carried small (though ultrasounds have proven this baby is perfectly on target size-wise, same as Viv was), and both my babies have been very active in the womb.

The main difference was in the first trimester.

With Vivi, I remember a bit of nausea (or at least very strong food aversions), but it could usually be avoided by working out and keeping full. I’m told I was tired a lot, but I honestly don’t remember that as much.

With this kid? Woof.

I was exhausted the first three months, and I felt nauseous any time I wasn’t completely full from my last meal during months two and three. Work was nearly impossible, and I’ll be the first to admit that our screen time rules went out the window as entertaining Vivian was usually too much for me to handle. The nausea also lasted a week or two longer than the first go-round—with Vivi I remember instant relief at 12 weeks. This time, it was closer to week 14 or 15.

And while both my bellies have been on the smaller end of the scale, this one definitely started out more centralized and “pointed” and stayed that way pretty much the entire pregnancy. With Vivi, I sort of thickened up for a few months before things started to poke out in the front.

It was also interesting to see the pros and cons of working full-time in NYC whilst pregnant versus working part-time from home in a small town. In most cases, things were positive. I could cook my meals easier, meaning I ate healthier and could eat whatever I needed at the moment. I could lie on the couch and rest whenever I needed to. I didn’t have to get on the subway or worry about getting a seat. I didn’t have to walk four miles a day two and from work, no matter the weather.

On the other hand, sometimes I missed the walking. I didn’t have as much freedom with my workouts or when I rested at home because I have a toddler. I had to actually cook all my meals (and cravings) as opposed to just typing it into Seamless and having it delivered in minutes. It was less convenient…and yet still, largely easier.

So…not wildly different. But definitely not the same. In a couple weeks, I guess we’ll know if that means a different gender or not! Stay tuned 😉