Friday Free-For-All – 08/10/18

Friday Free-For-All

The weather finally broke today. We’d had a string of brutally hot, humid days, but today dawned sunny, dry, and relatively cool, thank goodness! It felt nearly autumnal when I got up this morning. It made me very excited for the fall running season 🙂

We are up to our eyeballs in blackberries. Seriously. We have SO.MANY. Blackberry plants in our yard. They’re only just starting to ripen and we already have picked half a gallon. I’m excited to freeze them and have them all year round for baking and smoothies.

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We’re slowly getting back in the swing of meal planning and grocery shopping. Since V was born, we’ve been very lucky to have lots of meal deliveries, and lots of invitations to various friends’ and family’s houses for meals, but with Ben going back to work soon, we need to get back to “normal.” We did a mini plan and shop to cover a few days this week, and it felt really good. English muffins were buy one, get TWO free at the store, so we bought six packages! I love me some English muffins.

I’ve been reading blogs, but not commenting. I’m usually reading blogs on my phone one-handed while nursing, so it can be tough to make the effort to comment. I’d like to be better about it going forward, but no promises. Just know that I’m still here, reading and enjoying!

I have to confess, I’m having a hard time coming up with stuff to write about that’s not baby-related. Having a child seems all-consuming right now, and pretty much everything I do every day is wrapped up in having a baby. I’m doing laundry, feeding, changing, pumping, taking pictures, and all of the myriad activities that come along with being a mom. I’m hoping that Ben going back to work in two weeks will force me to start seeking out more stuff to do and get out of the house more. I’m also hopeful that my six week checkup next week will clear me for normal physical activity, so I can get back to running!

While I’ve got baby on the brain, do you have any questions about parenthood/childbirth recovery/babies for me?

 

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Welcome to the World, Vera Katherine!

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I know most of you already got the news via Instagram, but for those who don’t follow me, here it is!

We welcomed baby Vera at 1:07 pm on July 3, 2018. Even though I was a week past due, she only weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and was 19.25 inches long. We are absolutely, over-the-moon in love with our little peanut.

I don’t plan to do a full “birth story” type post, as that’s a little too personal for me to feel comfortable sharing, but here are the highlights that I anticipate people are curious about:

  • I went in for my 41 week check up and due to low levels of amniotic fluid, we decided to move forward with induction
  • Start to finish, the entire ordeal lasted just shy of 24 hours
  • I had an epidural after 14 hours of unmedicated labor
  • Vera was born hale and hearty with no complications

We are all adjusting fairly well to life as a family of three. Sleep is hit or miss, but Vera is eating like a champ and Ben and I are taking care of each other as much as we are taking care of her, which I think will give us a strong base moving forward.

As promised, going forward will my posts about motherhood will be focused on my postpartum recovery and return to normal activity rather than posting details about Vera’s development. While I’m excited to eventually return to running and CrossFit, these sleepy newborn days are very much my pace right now. I’m happy to do nothing at all but gaze at her sweet face and snuggle her for hours on end.

Thank you all for your kind words and support!

Friday Free-For-All – 06/22/18

Friday Free-For-All

Still no baby! I know you’re all anxiously awaiting news (or maybe not, I don’t know), but I promise you can’t possibly be more anxious than Ben and I are! My family started a baby pool, and my dad thinks tomorrow is the day, but I’m less convinced. I still haven’t had a single early labor sign. I don’t know how much I will want to share on various social media outlets, but Instagram is probably a good bet if you want up-to-date info. I doubt I’ll be blogging from the hospital!

Honda AC is finally fixed! This took a bit longer than expected because our mechanic had to order a new compressor. I had to get up early on Monday morning to drop the car off at the shop, and the repair took almost the whole day but HOORAY! We have functioning AC just in time for a string of VERY hot weather. Woot!

I baked this week for the first time in FOREVER. Baking used to be one of my favorite hobbies, but our Burlington apartment’s oven was so tiny I rarely used it. And living with my in-laws, it just felt like too much work, using someone else’s stuff and taking over someone else’s kitchen for hours at a time. But on Tuesday, I made two batches of rhubarb oat bars, and my oh my are they delicious! We have a HUGE patch of rhubarb in our yard, so I think this recipe will be a go-to for years to come.

We’re getting a piano! This is a luxury that Ben and I have often dreamed of for our family, but which seemed financially and practically out of reach. Then out of the blue this week, my dad texted to ask if we wanted his grandmother’s spinet piano. It had belonged to his sister’s youngest son (the only one in the family who played), but after Hayden moved out of his dad’s house, it went “up for grabs.” Considering that this belonged to my badass, long-lived great grandmother that we are thinking of naming our daughter after, we jumped at the chance to have one of her possessions! We are grateful to have something so nice, and which can be a great activity for our kids for years to come.

Have you ever baked with rhubarb? Got any recipes for me?

 

7 Tips to Make You the BEST Baby Gift Giver Ever

I am by no means a parenting expert, but having recently been the recipient of not one, but TWO baby showers, having been to loads of them over the years, and having many friends who’ve recently had kids, I have plenty to say on the subject of gift giving for expecting parents. Here are my top 7 tips to make sure that your gift is the most-appreciated one at the party.

Stick to the Registry
Seriously, if I were limiting this blog post to a single piece of advice, this would be it. STICK TO THE REGISTRY. New parents spend a LOT of time and energy putting together their registries. Whether they’re working within a specific theme, trying to stay in line with a particular parenting style, or simply have a small house, expecting parents are usually only putting the most necessary items on their registries. These are the items they NEED or WANT most. For example, Ben and I have a very small house, so our registry really focused on multi-use items and the absolute bare necessities. Our registry even explicitly stated that our house was small and we didn’t want a lot of extraneous stuff. But we still got it. Of course a gift is ALWAYS appreciated, but it’s appreciated even more when it’s something useful and wanted. I know it can feel icky or impersonal to just pick something off a list, but trust me, this is the best way to give expecting parents a gift they will treasure.

Always Include a Gift Receipt
No matter how confident you are that the gift you’ve purchased is perfect in every way, do your pregnant friend a favor and include a gift receipt. You simply can’t account for things like receiving multiples of the same item, or a baby growing so fast he or she never gets to use the item. Including a gift receipt means that new parents will be able to exchange the unused item for something they really might need later.

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Put Down the Baby Blankets
For real. Unless blankets are something that the new parents have specifically registered for, or they are handmade items that have a lot of sentimental value, just save everybody a headache and DON’T BUY BABY BLANKETS. Ben and I registered for five muslin swaddle blankets, as we’d gotten lots of cotton and muslin blankets as hand-me-downs from my coworker already. Between the two showers that were thrown for us, we ended up with no less than a dozen blankets in addition to the ones we’d registered for and the ones we already had. This is simply too many. They don’t fit in our linen closet and are currently stacked in the baby’s crib for lack of anywhere to put them (and without gift receipts, we were unable to return them!). Keep in mind, most hospitals will send new parents home with a stack too. Baby blankets are an unnecessary purchase that will just end up taking up space and being donated.

StyleNovice Blog How Many Baby Blankets is Too Many Baby Blankets

Not my blankets, but I have at least this many…

Provide a Service Rather Than a “Thing”
This is a big one that I wish more people would consider. It’s downright easy to just run out to a baby store or buy something from Amazon. But providing a service for new parents is so, so valuable. Team up with a few friends to buy a newborn or maternity photo shoot. Engage a cleaning service to come out and clean up the family’s house before or after baby comes home (or offer to do it yourself!). Give a “gift certificate” for free babysitting or dog walking or offer to drop off nutritious meals. Ben’s aunt is a professional photographer, and her gift to us was a newborn portrait session. She lives in upstate NY and even said she would come to us. Now THAT is a thoughtful gift that isn’t taking up extra space in our house.

Remember the Parents
Yeah, sure, a baby shower is generally about welcoming the new baby and making sure that the parents have everything that they might need to care for baby after baby is born. But new parents are still people, and moms especially can feel like they lose a bit of themselves in the wake of a new baby joining the family. Give mom a spa day, or offer to babysit so the parents can spend some one-on-one time together after baby is born. Give a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or a couple of bottles of their favorite wine. My gift from my mother in law was a spa day and free babysitting, which meant the world to me. Remembering that parents are going through an incredibly emotional time and need some love too will be appreciated.

Avoid Buying Newborn-Sized Everything
While it seems like common sense to buy newborn clothes for a new baby, it’s important to remember that just like adults, new babies come in all shapes and sizes. Some babies are born way too big to ever fit newborn clothes, and preemies are swimming in them. It’s a really great idea to gift a variety of sizes so that the new parents have a depth and breadth of clothes before baby comes. Babies also grow incredibly fast, so having 10-12 newborn outfits and nothing else might mean that within a week or two, parents have to run out and buy new clothes because nothing fits. Also, consider the season along with the size. If a baby is born in the summer, they’re most likely not going to need a newborn-sized snowsuit.

Cash (or an Amazon Gift Card) is King
I know it seems crass to give cash, but honestly you couldn’t possibly give a better gift. Every baby and every family is different, and sometimes parents discover a few weeks or months in that the baby hates the bottles they registered for, or that the Rock ‘n’ Play everyone said was so magical isn’t working for them. Or, they just didn’t end up getting everything they registered for. Having some extra cash around can really help out for those unexpected expenses. It can also be used for things like ordering takeout when they just can’t face cooking, or paying a babysitter so they can have a date night. We received a cash gift from one set of friends and used it to buy a bunch of baby first aid and health care items that we hadn’t even thought to register for, like Baby Tylenol and a baby toothbrush. And we received a TON of Amazon gift cards, which we can use for things like diapers or more clothes as needed.

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BONUS TIP:
This one isn’t really about the gift itself, but how one delivers the gift: include your mailing address in the card. I know that 9 times out of 10 at showers these days, the host or hostess will have you write out a self-addressed envelope, but it doesn’t always work out that way. At my shower, my mom and sister forgot to put the envelopes out, so I didn’t have those handy self-addressed envelopes. Thankfully, our Amazon registry got most of the addresses. But for anyone who didn’t buy a gift off the registry, I had to track down a mailing address for them, which made the already annoying task of doing thank-you notes even more annoying. By including your address with your gift, you’re potentially saving parents a hassle.

So there you have it. My tips that are guaranteed to make you the most popular baby-gift-giver around.***

***I can’t actually guarantee this. But I’m pretty confident that the tips above will help you make your expecting friends very happy.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of my tips? Anything to add?