Fashion is My Favorite F word

Hello world!

My sister has asked me to write something for her “forced family fun” blog, although I assure you it wasn’t really forced. I am Meredith’s baby sister by six years and while many people think we don’t have much in common, I am finding more and more ways I am like my big sister =) But that is besides the point.

A little about myself: I have been married for 2 years to my college sweetheart. I recently graduated from nurse practitioning school, and will be embarking on a new journey back to Tulsa where I will be a pediatric nurse practitioner. I am an avid lover of pizza and I also love anything having to do with fashion or beauty. I have always considered myself somewhat of a fashionista. I have enjoyed dressing up for as long as I can remember and nothing can make my day quite like a new pair of shoes, especially if they have red bottoms. With the Nordstrom’s anniversary sale getting ready to be in full swing I thought I would share some of my favorite things they have to offer.
1) Hunter Rain boot – With the amount of rain we have seen this year and the lovely ice we get in the winter these are a must for almost anytime of the year. I especially love the zipper on the back in navy to give it a little pop =)

2) Halogen Scarf Tie Blouse – I love scarf tie blouses. You can wear them with dress pants for work or just a great pair of jeans for the weekend. They are such a versatile piece and I am loving this burgundy print for fall. The best part about this is it comes in petite too for all my fellow “fun sized” people out there =)

3) Topshop Collarless Check Topper – This is a great light-weight topper that will take any fall/winter outfit to the next level of chicness. I especially love that it’s navy.

I think these 3 items would be great staples to add to your wardrobe for the fall season. The best part is they are all on sale starting July 17th, unless you have a Nordstrom’s card and then they are on sale now =) There are tons of other great steals but these are my top 3. Have a great rest of your week.

Stay Fabulous,

Maddy

Forced Family Fashion?

Hello lovelies,

Whelp here comes another new F category for you – but don’t worry – I am leaving this to the experts.  That is, I am having my sister write a guest post for your enjoyment.  You probably don’t want to take any fashion advice from me (think Anne Hathaway at the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada) because my top priorities tend to be function and comfort, but luckily I have a couple of folks in my life to keep me on track fashion-wise.  One is my very good friend and fashion designer April Madden (check out her stuff here or visit her etsy shop if you like).  And the other is my stunningly beautiful little sister Maddy who, as this photo proves, has been setting fashion trends since 1989. I mean sailor hat? Genius, right? But in all seriousness, she really is beautiful and she really does have great fashion sense and I hope you enjoy her post!

XOXO,

M

“This Was My First Room” A Story by Baby M

My name is Baby M and I am a sweet baby girl.

SweetBaby

This is us coming home from the hospital to our cute house.

Coming home Cute Hoouse

My parents worked really hard to create my first nursery for me while my mom was pregnant.
Isn’t it cute?

My nurseryMyRoom

I took my monthly growth pictures here.

OneMonthTwoMonths

When I was a month old my mom signed a lease extension with the property company. The man who owned the house told the property company that he didn’t want to renew our lease, but not to tell us in case he changed his mind.

Really
Can they do that mommy?

Mom and dad only had one more semester of school left so the extension was only for 6 months. If they would have known when they signed the extension, they could have budgeted and offered to pay the man more so that we could stay.

PleaseCanWeStay

But when I was 3 months old, the property manager called and told us we had to move out. He said even though they asked us to come in and sign, he didn’t actually sign and he couldn’t tell us until now because of the owners instructions.

ThreeMonths

The owner said it was “just business” and he needed to sell the house.

I guess sometimes “just business” for some people is very personal for other people :(

JustBusiness

Mom and Dad had to spend a lot of extra money to move us on short notice and we could only find a much smaller house. My room isn’t as fun as before.

Moving      SadBaby

I really hope that the next time the man does business he is honest with the other party so they don’t have to go through what we did!

MadBaby

Forced Family Fun in Florida

Hi there folks!

Hope your summer is going great so far.  We are on our first family beach vacation with the little one and it has been quite a ride!  The drive down was actually pretty good.  We made it to Conway, Arkansas and with the exception of a 45 minute bout of unhappiness we all seemed to survive unscathed.

Conway, ArkansasThe next day the drive was quite a bit longer and Baby M got to visit her 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th states (TN, MS, AL, and FL).  We determined that she doesn’t like to be in the car right around sundown (we had another screaming fit at almost the exact same time as the night before), but she was a trooper and we arrived safe and sound in Florida.  Will and I were really excited to take her in the tunnel in Mobile, but she didn’t even notice – guess we’ll have to come back when she is older.

The next day we decided that Baby M needed to see the ocean.  Will and I both envisioned a magical moment where we walked to the shore as a family and she would feel the waves hit her toes and squeal with joy – you know something like this. Will described it like this: “let me explain about a baby and big firsts. I am super into making sure that baby M has positive firsts and I want to be there to see it through her eyes. So I was very excited to be there and take her to the beach. I wanted to hold her in the water and watch her face as the water hits her and she would smile and there would be cute pics.” But…it didn’t quite work that way for us. 😁 So here’s the story of our first family trip to the beach.

First there’s the problem of getting to the beach. We have never been to this particular spot in Florida and we really need beach access with relatively close parking since we have Baby M and all her stuff. Unfortunately all we can find is public beach access on one side of the road with parking a ways down and across a busy street. So I have the brilliant idea of trying the state park. It will be pretty and quiet and just the right setting for our first beach experience. We pull in, pay our $4 and so far so good. There’s parking in the shade and a path to the beach. 👍 Our car doesn’t really have a trunk and the diaper bag kind of looks like a purse, so I better take it with us. Better to carry it than worry about somebody breaking a window, right? But we are just gonna run down to the water real quick so we don’t really need to reapply sunscreen before we head out… We’ll just leave the sunscreen in the car. I mean we can practically see the beach from here. ☀️

So we start off down the path and realize that it isn’t exactly a direct route to the beach. It turns away from the water and winds between some sand dunes and then heads back toward the water. Well, it can’t be that far, and we already paid our $4…👣👣👣…Hmmm… I am not really liking baby M being in the sun this much, but we are almost there. Let’s try covering her up with her nursing cover. Man it is starting to get hot! Ok let’s uncover her because we don’t want her to overheat! Better a little sunburn than heat exhaustion, right? We’re pretty sure at this point that we are out of the running for any parent awards… But she is gonna LOVE the ocean! 🌊

Oh and did I mention that this path to the beach is sand? In Will’s words: “This is a terrible walk. It is all sand. I hate sand, every step I kick up sand on my legs. It is getting warm and we are walking into the sun.” So Will is miserable because he hates sand and is kicking it up the back of his legs with every step and then… my flip flop breaks! 😂 So now I am dragging this huge diaper bag with one flip flop down this sandy path with no shade in sight and Will is carrying Baby M and still kicking sand up his shorts and trying his best to keep her comfortable. But I promise we are almost there! 😳

We must have walked half a mile by now but we have finally made it to the beach! 🙌🙌 And it’s beautiful! This is a real photo that I took when we arrived. In the meantime Baby M has fallen asleep, but that’s ok. We can just wake her up for this…

 So here we are… Beautiful blue ocean, white sandy beach, adorable baby, and two very relieved parents. Better take a video to document this moment:

 So instead of squealing with joy when the waves touch her toes she breaks down crying… Not quite what we had in mind. Well, not much else to do but start the trek back and laugh all the way. Me in my one flip flop trying to go as fast as I can with the giant diaper bag and the sand hot as heck on my foot, Will using his body to shade Baby M from the sun, both of us laughing at the whole situation… And then a big cloud moves in and it looks like it might start pouring ☔️☔️☔️ This just couldn’t get any better 😜

Luckily, it didn’t start to rain and the cloud helped cool the sand and us off a little bit. We make it back and notice a sign: “Path to beach 0.6 miles, approximately 20 minute walk.” Oops!

I don’t look warm or worn out in this pic, do I? 😉 Will and I were pretty sweaty and somewhat covered in sand, but I am happy to report that Baby M was totally fine and didn’t even get any sunburn ☺️ And hopefully you got a good laugh out of our silliness!

Stay tuned for more adventures 😁

Xoxo,

M

We’re still here!

Hiya Friends! 

I want to apologize for the long absence! Things got pretty crazy there with final exams and the end of the semester and everything, and this weekend we are moving into our summer digs. But we are still here and I will be posting again soon! Baby M is growing like crazy and I am happy to report that the end of the semester turned out really well 🎉🎉 Thanks so much for your support! I can’t wait to catch you up on everything ☺️☺️

  
  

Bringing Up Baby – Weeks 8 & 9

Biggest Surprise: Nanny Issues

I only took two weeks off of school after I had Baby M. My first two weeks back I had help from family. But with Will working full time this semester instead of having a more flexible schedule with classes,  we knew we would need child care.  We used care.com and interviewed lots of candidates (phone and in person interviews) and ran background checks and finally hired a nanny to help part-time 4 days per week.  Just enough to cover my class and group project meeting times.  We didn’t need her for spring break so she had been with us for about 4 weeks.  It’s so hard to leave your baby with someone you don’t know very well, but we had a nanny cam (see below) so we could check in and make sure everything was going well while we were away.  So one morning I fed Baby M when the nanny got there at 9:30 and, as per our pediatricians instructions at our two-month check-up, I reminded the nanny that we were waiting 2 hours between feedings and that I would be home at noon, but she could have a bottle at 11:30 if needed.  I had already unthawed a bag of milk from the freezer so it was in the fridge ready to go.  I had been building up a little bit of a supply in the freezer from pumping and had all the bags labeled with dates so there were about 10 bags in the freezer.  Will happened to have the day off work so he took me to class and then took the opportunity to run a few errands while we had a babysitter.  At 10:30 he checked the camera and noticed that the nanny was giving Baby M a bottle.   So he let me know and I figured that when we got home, the nanny would say that Baby M was upset and couldn’t wait (which wasn’t really true because as soon as she woke up from her morning nap and fussed she was given the bottle without any attempt to soothe her).  But I was planning to just say ok and show the nanny some of the techniques that I use to soothe the baby when she is fussy and to ask her to try these things first before giving a bottle.  But when we got home she said that Baby M hadn’t eaten since I fed her at 9:30 and that she had just put the milk in the bottle and was about to give it to her when we got home.  I was puzzled by this, but I thought well maybe she started to give her the bottle at 10:30 and put it back in the fridge after she didn’t take it.  So the nanny went home and we went back and watched the camera.  Nope, at 10:30 she had a full bottle – no milk left.  So where did the milk in the bottle in the fridge come from?  Also, there was only one bag in the trash… But I checked the freezer and we were missing the bag from March 30.  I couldn’t believe that she flat out lied to us!  And then, Will looked deeper in the trash and hidden inside of a Panera bag – there was the empty milk bag labeled March 30.  So not only had she lied, but she tried to cover it up.  About something so silly too! Sure enough, checked the camera again and saw her thaw the second bag of milk to make the bottle – and she even went to the front door in the middle of it and looked out like she was making sure nobody was coming.  Part of me wondered if she was trying to get fired – it was just so strange!  Anyway, there was no way that I was going to leave my baby with someone who would lie to my face – even about a small thing like that – so I called and told her that she didn’t need to come back next week and explained that we knew she lied to us.  She actually said to me on the phone, “oh that’s my bad I forgot to tell you that I fed her.”  No, you did not forget when you specifically told me that she hadn’t been fed since I breastfed her (and if you did forget in the time period of 10:30 to noon then I don’t want you watching my child for other reasons).  So this was a very long story to tell you that we don’t have a nanny anymore.  There are only a few more weeks of school left so I will figure something out, but it makes me very nervous about leaving her with anyone that I don’t know and trust.  Like I said, we did background checks and called references and everything.  I am generally a very trusting person because I believe that most people are honest – I hope this hasn’t spooked me from any babysitters that aren’t relatives.  Have you ever had to deal with anything like this?  Please let me know in the comments if you have any advice.

Biggest Challenge: New Feeding Schedule

Our two month checkup was this week and everything was great except she had gone from 30th percentile in weight at 2 weeks old to 20th percentile at 2 months. After discussing her eating and sleeping habits with me the doctor said that it didn’t sound like a supply problem as much as a snacking problem. Lil’ M loved to snack – and use me as a pacifier.  Occaisionally she would have a longer feeding and then go for a 2.5-3 hour stretch, but she really liked to eat every 1.5-2 hours – and just a little bit at a time.  Sometimes she would only take an ounce from a bottle.  And at night a three hour stretch was the exception – mostly it was every 2 hours up to feed.  The doctor said that by 2 months she should be able to get at least 3 ounces per feeding and that a 3 hour plus stretch at night should be the norm, not the exception so she asked me to make her wait at least two hours between feedings and then to gradually stretch this out to longer time periods.  That way she would get hungry and take a full meal instead of just snacking until satisfied.  She said it would be less exhausting for me and would help Baby M put on some weight.  Sooo we have been doing that.  And it is going well so far.  She was a little cranky at first but after a couple of days she seemed to adjust really well (It probably helps that we don’t have a nanny forcing a bottle on her everytime she makes a noise).  The only problem now is that she takes a really long time to eat when I feed her (like 20 min per side sometimes).  Oh and I am having to retrain the girls – I was having letdown every 1.5 hours like clockwork – so thank goodness for nursing pads lol.  We will go back for a weight check in a few weeks and fingers crossed this works so we don’t have to supplement with formula.

Best Baby Care Item: MamaRoo Infant Seat

You’ve probably noticed it in a few pictures (check out the collages from weeks 2, 6, and 8).  We love our MamaRoo.  Will and I first heard of the MamaRoo way before we were even thinking of babies because Richard Ayoade featured it on an episode of Gadget Man (have I mentioned that Will and I love strange British TV?). Since he is brilliant and funny and more entertaining than I am, I will just leave you with this episode.

Best Mommy Care Item: Drop Cam

Will and I got a Drop Cam last fall when we were preparing for Baby M’s arrival to test out as a baby monitor.  We started using it as a way to check in on the house while we were out (and it probably saved us from coming home to a big mess of trash one day when I forgot to close the baby gate all the way and Tesla got out).  It is super easy to set-up and you can check on things on your phone.  Live viewing is free through the app and there are subscriptions for if you want to save the footage for various lengths of time (1 week, 1 month, 1 year I believe).  You can even have it send you notifications when movement is detected in certain zones (how we caught Tesla) and when loud noises occur.  It definitely came in handy this week and provides some piece of mind if you have to leave your child with a baby sitter.

Favorite Memory: First Trip to Campus with Mom

Now that flu season is winding down and we have had our two-month shots, I am more comfortable having Baby M out and about.  It helps that spring is here too, so taking the stroller for a walk to campus is pretty fun – lots to see and narrate to Baby M and a great way to get our Vitamin D :)

Other Thoughts to Share: Finding Ways for Dad to Help

I am really lucky to have such a great partner in raising our little one. Will has always been very eager to help – but it did take us a few weeks to figure out how he could best help me out.  One of the best things about the way we are working together now is that we have figured out that we both have strengths and weaknesses and we can use these to our advantage.  For instance, Will isn’t great at staying up late at night, but he is really good at being able to get up and go right back to sleep.  Whereas I can get by on less sleep and stay up even when I am tired, but if I have to get all the way up in the middle of the night it takes me longer to fall back to sleep.  So we have worked out a system where Will goes to bed before the baby and I, but then for middle of the night feedings and diaper changes, I feed her but stay in bed and he takes her for the diaper change and then brings her back for her second side.  It made such a big difference to me when we started doing this!  It sounds like a little thing, but you would be surprised how much better I felt.  My advice to new parents is be willing to be flexible in the beginning.  Hopefully dad will be like my Will and be willing to try out lots of ways to help so that you can find what works best for your team.  Don’t think that you have to have all your routines set up and everything figured out in the first couple of weeks.

Week 8 Part 1
Week 8 Part 1
Week 8 Part 2
Week 8 Part 2
Week 9
Week 9

Bringing Up Baby – Weeks 6 & 7

Biggest Surprise: Say Goodbye to Light Packing

Spring break was last week so we took the opportunity to visit the grandparents over the weekend and then my mom and I took baby M to visit my sister for a couple of days. The trips went well but boy does traveling with a baby take a lot of stuff! I used to pride myself on being such a light packer – just my backpack and a medium sized purse could get me a whole week almost anywhere – no longer. We had the car filled and we didn’t even take the stroller or a pack and play. But with all the diapers and breast pump and extra outfits for everyone in case of spit ups or blowouts, it makes for a fuller car than our trips pre-little one.

Biggest Challenge: Knowing What to Expect

Just when we think we have something figured out, little miss changes it up on us. Not to be crude, but let’s take pooping for example (Because really, how have I gone so far into this series without talking about baby poop yet?). We were getting to be poop experts, knew what color and consistency and how often (just about every feeding) and how to change the diaper without it getting everywhere. But then sometime during week 7 she suddenly slowed down. We didn’t have a poop for 2 days! And of course we are scouring the Internet – is this normal? She’s exclusively breastfed so she can’t be constipated. How long can they go? A whole week?!? Luckily, my sister is a pediatric nurse practitioner and my mom is a pediatric nurse. So I have great information when I need it. And yes, it turns out that it is normal for their intestinal tract to slow down after about 6 weeks. I guess this is just one of our first little lessons that parenting is always going to throw us a few curve balls and we better be able to go with the flow.

Best Baby Care Item: Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper

We still aren’t sleeping for very long stretches yet (3 hrs max but usually more like 2), and I really am appreciating our bassinet. This one is really nice – it has a vibrate feature and plays music or forest sounds or a heartbeat – but what I most like is how easily it swivels into place right next to the bed and how the side can be pushed down to make it easier to set her down in the middle of the night. I know parents have very strong feelings about whether baby should be in their own room or not, but for us this has just made the most sense. It would be much harder on me nursing-wise if I had to get all the way up and go into another room to get her. And this way we get the benefits of co-sleeping without the safety problems. When we were pregnant and trying to decide whether to get a bassinet or not, I kept thinking about our first few weeks with Tesla when she was a puppy. When we brought her home initially we kept the crate in another room and at night she would cry and cry. Finally I found some resources online that suggested bringing the crate into the bedroom. This is especially important for puppies if you work outside the home, it said, because the 6-8 hours of sleep time still counts as pack bonding time if you are in the same room. Just being able to hear your breathing and sense your energy makes a difference. Well, not to say that having a baby is like having a dog – in fact Will and I have been laughing lately about how different it is and how silly we were to think that being pet parents prepared us for being people parents – but it makes sense to me that if being in the same room would comfort a puppy of course it would comfort a baby too.

Best Mommy Care Item: Medela Breast Pump

I’m really glad that we decided to buy our own breast pump and that we spent the money on the nice model.  I am lucky that the only time I have to be away from her long enough that I have to pump is during my evening MBA classes.  I pump on my break during the 4 hour class.  But building up supply has left us with more options – like for times when I have a test coming up and need to go to a study group or for nights when Will can get up and do a feeding to give me a little longer stretch of sleep.  We’re talking about the value of real options in my finance class right now.  I would say that the flexibility that we’ve gained is worth the investment.

Favorite Memory: Mornings with Miss M and Watching Her Discover Her Thumb

She is so happy in the mornings :)  I have started adding a little extra play and picture time to our morning routine to take advantage of it.  I have also really enjoyed watching her discover her thumb over the last couple of weeks.  She will bring her hand up to one side of her mouth, and then the other, and finally finds it to suck on her fingers.  It is so neat to watch her learning process.

Week 6
Week 6
Week 7

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