My daughter is a seagull

 

Anyone who knew me during the first few months of my pregnancy will tell you I was hoping my baby would be a girl. I imagined us doing the typical mom-and-daughter boding activities: shopping, lunch, etc.

I guess a part of me also knew there would come a day when she would start stealing things from me. I hoped it would be clothes. I hoped it wouldn’t be money out of my wallet. (Youths…) What I didn’t anticipate? An unavoidable obsession with stealing my food.

My friends and I have started calling her the seagull. She’s constantly hovering, and if you give her a bite, she just becomes more determined.

I should be happy — my daughter eats everything! It’s a parent’s dream! But GOSH do I wish I could get through a meal without getting hassled by the little people.

Lately, all my meals look something like this:

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It’s my pizza, kiddos. Back off.

But, as parenting troubles go, I know I’m pretty lucky. I’d rather have a seagull than a picky eater any day.
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Stand down, little seagull. Stand down.

 

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A Luxe Baby Bath Upgrade

Bébé de Luxe Coconut & Oat Milk Bath

One of my favorite parts of being Vivi’s mom is our bedtime routine. I’ve mentioned before the practical value of establishing a regular routine to wind-down a baby so they go to sleep more peacefully, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t get something out of it too.

I often say that, for me, the best part of sleep training (besides, you know, the sleep) is that I get to end every day madly in love with my baby. From the moment we start our routine, Vivi is typically calmer and cuddlier until the moment I lay her down in her crib. We end virtually every day with songs and snuggles and a peaceful parting.

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Granted, there are times this doesn’t happen. (I wrote this post last night, and, of course, that was actually one of the evenings we ended with an overtired baby and a lot of frustration.) But those times just serve to make me even more grateful for the fact that that is not our routine — it’s the exception.

Typically, our nights go like this:

5:00/5:30: Family dinner

6:00: Vivi gets a bath (usually Joey does the bath so I can have a few minutes to unwind to myself, but if he’s working late I sub in)

6:20-7:00: Joey and Vivi play and spend time together

7:00: Joey reads to Vivi while I nurse her, then he says her bedtime prayer and I’ll rock her and sing a couple of songs before putting my now very sleepy babe to bed

While I would say the last few moments are my favorite part of the routine, Joey would undoubtedly say the bath and playtime are his favorite moments. I also love sitting in the living room and listening to Vivi belly laugh as she plays with her bath toys and splashes with her Dada. It’s such a great way for us all to relax and for Vivi and Joey to bond before bedtime.

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A few months back, my friend Haley introduced me to a new kind of bath cleanser that has helped turn our evening routine into an even more relaxing — and, dare I say, spa-like? — experience for Vivi: Bébé de Luxe Coconut & Oat Milk Bath.

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When we started giving Vivi baths after she came home from the hospital, we noticed pretty quickly that she had extremely sensitive skin. She was prone to rashes if we used any non-organic soaps, and we had to make sure all lotions and creams were formulated for delicate skin. So when I visited Haley in Vancouver when Vivi was about six months old, I was fascinated when I watched her sprinkle this delicious-smelling powder into her daughter’s bath.

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“You have to try this,” she told me. “It smells like cookies.”

Um…a baby that looks AND smells good enough to eat? Sold.

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The Coconut & Oat Bath is made from 100 percent certified organic and food-grade ingredients (thus the whole “smells like cookies” thing). Besides providing rinse-free cleansing, the oatmeal also soothes and moisturizes dry or itchy skin. And the coconut milk has natural anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Amanda, the owner of the company, recently posted on Instagram a photo of her son’s squirty bath toys — she had been using them in his bath (with the Coconut & Oat Milk) for over six months, and none of them had developed any kind of mold or mildew. That’s kind of amazing.

Using the milk bath is easy — just sprinkle three-ish tablespoons into warm running water, let your babe splash around for a while, and then dry off. No other soap or rinsing is required. And while I typically follow up Vivi’s bath by slicking her head to toe in baby lotion, I’ve noticed it’s less necessary when using the milk bath than it is with regular soap. Even better, mommas can get in on the action by using the powder as an exfoliating face mask — just mix the Coconut & Oat Milk Bath with a bit of water to make a paste and rub in circular motions on your face for instant glow. (Because, let’s be real: Mommas are in need of a spa experience too.)

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And while Joey might appreciate an upgrade to his bath time routine, I still think I come out the winner here. After all, I’m the one who gets to snuggle a baby who smells like cookies every night.

Great news! If you want to try Bébé de Luxe Coconut & Oat Milk Bath, Amanda is offering Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One readers a 10 percent off discount code! Just use JUSTINE10 when you check out — and just try not to give your baby a nibble.

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Hitting our stride

Vivian Flying High

Sometimes I feel like I can barely remember how I felt when Vivi was first born.

I don’t mean the good things. The good things are so indelibly burned into my brain that I don’t think anything short of a lobotomy (or, you know, something like this) could ever get them out. I’m talking about the bad stuff.

I swear, you guys: I know I was stressed out and exhausted and overwhelmed and tense all the time…but I can only barely remember what it felt like.

It must be like giving birth. I know it hurt like WHOA and that I threw up a dozen times and was kind of hating life near the end there, but all I can remember is that I powered through it and felt like Superwoman at the end. Superwoman with the cutest, most amazing baby ever.

Almost ten months after that day (good LORD, time, will you stop breaking my heart already!), I can honestly say that I rarely feel like the mess I know I was at the beginning anymore. It’s not that I’m the perfect mom — I’m not. It’s not that I have it all figured out — I do not. I just…don’t beat myself up the way I used to.

I don’t expect perfection from myself because I know Vivi doesn’t either. We’re both fed and clean(ish) and happy, and that really is good enough for both of us.

When I first had Vivi, I was also just beginning this crazy world of freelance, part-time work, and that was scary and overwhelming too. (Remember this panic-induced all-nighter? Yeah, not fun.) I remember one day feeling like I was just being bad at everything and wondering if I had spread myself too thin. Maybe I couldn’t do it all. Maybe I couldn’t do anything.

I’m glad I was able to shake those feelings off eventually. Or, rather, glad I gave myself time to adjust before deciding I was just a miserable failure.

And now? Now, I actually feel confident in my abilities as a mother. My friend Madison once said that she felt like she was truly the best person to be her child’s mother, and I completely get that now. Now, being a mother just makes me so, so happy. I still feel all the feels from this post. Now, I feel like Vivi and I have a routine that works for us and makes everything seem so much more manageable.

In short, I feel like I’m hitting my stride. In so many ways, whether that be motherhood or my new career or my relationships or even things like my health and fitness. Things just seem to feel even and peaceful.

And I know that even putting that thought into print is a guarantee that everything is about to change and I’m about to face a whole new bunch of challenges, but, you know what? I actually feel confident in our ability to face those, too. (Though I wouldn’t mind if they took their time getting here.)

Side note: If you haven’t had your fill of mush yet, I highly recommend going back and re-reading this post for the photos alone. That spiky hair and tiny baby smile? I die.

Hi! Meet My Baby.

I’ve recently discovered a surprisingly additional benefit to having a baby: It’s really helpful if you suffer from any kind of social anxiety.

You might think the opposite. After all, it is true that it’s very rare that someone can walk past this mug without stopping to talk to us:

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But the thing is, it’s actually pretty rare that they’re stopping to talk to us. They really just want to chat with the little lady you see above.

I’ve been pretty surprised at how quickly I’ve actually become invisible when holding Vivi. Whenever we’re in groups of people we know, she’s almost always the first to be greeted. Occasionally, the person will acknowledge me (“And, of course, hello to you, too!”), but sometimes they keep their eyes on the baby-shaped prize.

The thing is, I’m not complaining. Because, yeah, I’m a fairly friendly person. And, in general, I can hold a conversation with just about anyone.

But actually approaching people, let alone strangers? Yeah, that’s a little place I like to call out of my comfort zone.

But talking about the baby? That I can do. I mean, I talk about her all day long anyway. Sure, you can join in on that conversation.

Lately, I’ve even noticed myself subtly adjusting my body to put the baby between the other person and me. Like, “Don’t notice me…be distracted by this bundle of cuteness!”

I like to tell myself I’m encouraging Vivi to be friendlier. But I’m probably just encouraging my own complexes, right?

The thing is, I think I’m okay with that. I mean, technically I am talking to these people, right?

Regardless, I don’t think I’m going to be able to ditch the title of “Vivi’s mom” for a while now. And, you know what? That’s a title I’ll gladly take.

Ready, Set, Suit: A Red Dolly Swimwear Review

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I really could not be more excited that summer is finally here. It’s not that we had a particularly difficult winter (we didn’t, fortunately for this stay-at-home momma), but there’s something about not having to bundle up myself and a baby anymore that sounds especially appealing.

Speaking of not bundling up, Viv and I are especially excited to spend the summer in the water, whether that be in her baby pool, in a real pool, or at the beach. I’ve been a water baby since before I can even remember (my mom once had a dream when my sister and I were little that she found gills behind our ears while giving us a bath), and I’m extremely excited to pass on that legacy to Vivi.

But what is a water baby without a great swimsuit?

When searching for a swimsuit for Vivi, I was somewhat surprised at the limited selection available for babies less than a year old. Sure, you can find a handful at the usual stand-by places (lookin’ at you, Target), but I wasn’t seeing anything I thought was a) cute, b) not too babyish, and c) something I thought she would actually wear and be happy in.

Then I learned about Red Dolly Swimwear. Red Dolly is a vintage-inspired swimwear line designed by California-based designer Heather Stepanik. She started out making suits for adults in cute, vintage styles (think high-waisted and flattering one-pieces), but she has since expanded the line to include baby items and accessories.

I totally fell for the line when I saw it, and I was thrilled when Heather offered to send me a couple suits to try.

Side note: It didn’t occur to me until later that by agreeing to review a swimsuit, I was agreeing to post photos of myself in a swimsuit here. Clearly, I was just so excited about the baby suit I wasn’t thinking clearly. Be kind.

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Fortunately for me, Red Dolly Swimwear is actually super post-maternity friendly. I had never worn a high-waisted swimsuit before, but turns out it actually covers all those areas you might be self-conscious about after growing a human in your body for nine months.

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The suits are also incredibly comfortable and great for chasing around that same tiny human once they’ve, I don’t know, started crawling around at lightning speed. After all, as another mom friend said to me recently, my days of relaxing at the beach are over for about the next ten years. That little stinker can move.

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And, like you needed me to tell you this, the baby suits are even BETTER. Is there anything better than a bikini and a baby belly together? I don’t think so.

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Vivi loves her suit and has already worn it about three times in the first week since it arrived. I was a little nervous she wouldn’t want to keep it on, but the soft, stretchy material is extremely comfortable and easy for her to move in. Win-win.

Even better, Red Dolly regularly offers discount codes on their suits to social fans. Check out their Facebook page here, or follow them on Instagram here.

**Suits provided by Red Dolly Swimwear, opinions my own.

Vivi Update: 8 Months Old

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I know everyone says this, but I cannot believe I have a baby who is this close to being a year old. I mean, she was just born yesterday.

This is what she actually looked like when she was born yesterday. I die.
This is what she actually looked like when she was born yesterday. I die.

So, besides ripping my heart out, how is the little stinker doing? She’s amazing. And, also, sometimes a beast.

Let me explain.

Up until fairly recently, in a lot of ways raising Vivi was not totally different from having a Tamagotchi. (I’m kidding; it could not be more different. But bear with my hyperbole for the sake of the story.) She had the same three basic needs, and as long as I was able to care for them, she was happy. She felt hungry? I fed her. She was tired? I rocked her to sleep. She pooped? I clicked the toilet button and cleaned it up.

You get the point.

But in the last month, something shifted. In short, Vivi became a person.

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And you know what? People are nothing like Tamagotchis. People get annoyed and take their frustrations out in unhealthy ways. People sometimes just wake up grumpy for no reason. People get bored. People actively choose not to satisfy their needs because they’re feeling ornery.

Vivi is people now.

Which, as you can imagine, can be frustrating. But it’s also really interesting. Having a baby is never boring. The second you think you’ve got this all figured out, you wake up to a new day and a brand new baby complete with new emotions, feelings, and needs. So I’m always figuring Vivi out, whether I like it or not.

Fortunately, most of the time, I like it. It’s amazing watching a baby become a person. Vivi has apparently decided that crawling is not really her bag and has moved straight on to trying to stand up and walk. My heart leaps and my stomach drops every time she pulls herself up on her chubby little legs, always turning to grin at me like, “Did you SEE what I just DID?!”

I see you, baby girl. And yes, you are amazing.

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She’s also “talking” more and more, repeating more words and sounds and getting more communicative with gestures and facial expressions. She has so much personality packed into that tiny little body, and she makes me laugh out loud every single day.

The thing I love most about my little eight-month-old baby, though, is her zest for life. Vivi embodies joie de vivre, and she tackles every day with so much spunk and bravery and happiness. Everywhere we go, she grins her widest smile for anyone who will make eye contact with her, and she’s constantly taking in her surroundings and trying to absorb every detail.

Vivi Bean, I hope your tenacity and curiosity never leave you. 

So, yes, sometimes she is frustrated because she can’t do everything she wants to do. Sometimes she is grumpy because she is tired but doesn’t want to nap. Sometimes she is whiny and needy and this momma doesn’t know what to do with her.

But, most of the time? She continues to be my greatest adventure.

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Review: Glitter and Spice Teething Jewelry

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You guys know how I feel about baby stuff. But you know what is actually one of the most difficult parts of creating a baby registry for your first kid? You honestly have no idea what you will need.

Sure, sure, there are 8,000(,000,000) blog posts out there telling you what you should REALLY register for (cough), but the thing is, until you’ve lived with your baby, you can’t really know which products are going to save your life and which are just going to take up room in your already-too-tiny apartment.

That fact is one of the reasons why I love momma makers. Moms who start their own businesses creating products for other moms just seem to really get it. They’re not trying to make your life harder (you get enough of that from leaky diapers, ya know?); they actually want to solve a real problem you will really have.

Plus, who doesn’t love an entrepreneurial hustler, amiright?

You guys know my friend Haley, maker of the are-we-sure-they’re-not-magic Beluga Baby wraps? Well, through Haley I was connected to Lorene of Glitter & Spice. And what “why didn’t I think of that?” amazingness has Lorene cooked up for moms? Teething. Jewelry.

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Think about it: Little ones will chew on just about anything they can get their chubby little hands on when they’re teething. Necklaces, being that their location puts them in prime grabbing location, are one of the most popular options. So why wouldn’t you wear a necklace that doubled as a safe teether?

But before you start imaging something cheesy strung around your neck, you should know that, um, Lorene’s pieces have been in Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Yeah, they’re that cute.

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She also has traditional teethers in cute shapes, like the super popular Cookie Teether. Trust me, it never stops being hilarious watching people freak out when they think you’re handing your three-month-old an Oreo.

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I won a necklace from Glitter & Spice in an Instagram contest, but I was so charmed (PUNZ) by the products that I couldn’t help but order a second necklace and a bracelet. I can’t even tell you how many times Viv is fussing and I just hand her the bracelet to gum for a while. Instant toys are the best kind of toys.

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And if you’re worried your kid won’t realize your new necklace is actually for them, don’t be. I literally had JUST snapped mine on, and Vivi immediately started chowing down. There’s something about those 100% silicone beads that they can’t ignore.

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Finally, the products are really safe. Lorene uses silicone that is BPA-free and has no phthalates, lead, or PVCs, and the wood beads are organic and untreated. Because you have other things to worry about (see: aforementioned leaky diaper).

Ready for the best part? I have a discount code for you! Enter JUSTINE20 during checkout for 20% off your Glitter & Spice purchase. Who doesn’t love a little savings? Trust me when I tell you they’re worth every penny. (And seriously, did I mention how cute?) Happy shopping!

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