Friday, September 6, 2019

10 Baby Registry Items We Love (...And 5 We Do Not)

Little Calvin is somehow already 3 months old.  I have been trying to savor every minute I can at every stage with him, and that includes making this parenting thing as easy as possible so that we can really enjoy every aspect of it.  I have a few friends who are now pregnant (yaayy!!), and they asked me this question: what have you really used from your registry.  
I went through both of my registries (we registered at Amazon and Target), item by item, to see what the most useful items have been.  Obviously some are still N/A as they're meant for when he's older, but of the items I chose for this stage of Cal's life, here's what we have used (and what we haven't)...
1. Happiest Baby on the Block - I registered for this book AND bought myself the Taking Cara Babies newborn class.  The two really go hand-in-hand, and I suggest this to EVERYONE.  I cannot tell you how much this has helped with Calvin's sleep, and we are using her 3-4 month e-book right now, and plan to sleep train him with her class when he gets to be 5 months old.  Also make sure you follow Cara on Instagram - she shares so much!

2. Sleepea swaddle - Calvin is a baby Houdini.  We learned all about swaddling in our baby classes, but little dude can get out of anything, no matter how tight it is.  These sleepea swaddles are so good; you can click here to see a video of how it works.  He sleeps in this every night, but we still swaddle him in blankets during the day.
3. Owlet Smart Sock and Video Monitor - The Owlet is a lifesaver.  We sleep in a completely dark room, so if I needed to check to see if he's breathing at night, I would need to put my hand on his chest.  I can check my phone for his vitals anytime I want, and their camera is really good quality.  I know Owlet products are a little pricey, but they are so. worth. it.

4. Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier - We started using our Ergo when Calvin was 2 weeks old.  You don't need any infant insert, and it grows with him.  He sleeps well in it, and it fits either me or Mike with minimal adjustments.  During the first two months, I hadn't figured out my ring sling yet, so this was how I wore him.
5. Diaper Genie - This is one of those items that you'll see on a "you don't need this" list for babies, but we needed to buy a new trash can for his diapers anyway, so why not pay a few more dollars for this.  FYI I would not skimp out and get the Expressions pail to save $15.  I love the foot pedal on the original, and it seems much sturdier.  One thing you can save money on, however, are the bags.  We've tried the Target and Amazon generic brands (both linked), and they all work great.

6. Dockatot - A Dock is definitely a splurge item, but we have loved having Calvin nap in the living room so that we can be with him all the time.  We have this on one of our couches, and every single daytime nap has been in it.  One of the silliest pluses is that it helps keep his pacifier in his mouth when he sleeps - haha!
7. Marpac Rohm - I had never heard of white noise machines before the Dr. Harvey Karp book and Taking Cara Babies class, but these things are awesome, and I'll never go back to sleeping without one.  They actually also make a Hushh specific for babies (for a few dollars more) with the ability to lock the volume so that kids can't access it. However, it also has a night light, and I am NOT a fan of lights in the room when we're sleeping (PSA everything baby-related has lights - get that electrical tape out).

8. Wipe Warmer - Another thing babies don't need and another thing with a light you will want to cover, but this one is great!  I like the warm wipes as much as he does, and if you're going to buy a wipe dispenser (so you don't have to fumble with individual wipe packs and you can save money by buying wipes in bulk), this is basically the same price as a simple plastic dispenser.

9. Wubbanub - Calvin's favorite is definitely the giraffe.  If you're going to register for one, I'd suggest looking for one of the bigger ones that lays flat.  We had no idea that they were all so different.  My favorite is the dragon, but it's surprisingly much smaller and Calvin isn't able to grab onto it like he does with the giraffe's neck and arms.  The llama and hedgehog are also adorable but don't lay flat on baby's chest.
10. Boon Bottle feeding set - I was power pumping during the first two months (pumping for 10-15 minutes after each feeding to fully empty and get my supply up), and we were giving Cal a breast milk supplement two times per day, so this was great for drying all of those little parts!

Now for the things we didn't like during the first two months.  Please keep in mind that this was just us.  I can imagine that many of these are must-haves for other families, and I know that we will be using many of them in the months to come.

1. Sleepers and night gowns - Calvin was born in South Carolina in May, so he basically wore only a diaper for the first few weeks of his life, and when he sleeps, the swaddle is more than enough to keep him warm.

2. Tommee Tippee bottles - I registered for a few of these and Dr. Brown's because I heard that babies tend to have a preference or do well with a certain kind.  Because we are only giving Calvin small amounts of milk out of bottles, the Dr. Brown's work better for us - he even cried the first (and only) time I tried the Tommee Tippee.

3. Any other pacifiers - They make tons of different pacifier shapes and sizes.  Calvin like the round "soothie" kind that comes with the Wubbanub, and we like the Wub animal to help keep it in his mouth as we're rocking him.

4.  Burt's bees burp cloths - These are so nice and soft, but holy moly, they are expensive.  We bought another pack of muslin cloths shortly after Calvin came home so that I wouldn't have to do laundry every. single. day.

5.  Ring and wrap carriers - Within the first two months, these just did not work.  The most we have used the wrap carrier for is to block light from coming into the bedroom under the door.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Maui: Whale watch

Today is finally my last babymoon post!  We only finished our trip six months ago, so I guess it's about time!  If you're interested in seeing any posts you may have missed, I will link to all of them at the bottom of this post.

One of the last adventures we took was a whale watch.  Honestly, we didn't plan to do one in advance, but once we got there, we decided that this and a luau were two "traditional" Hawaii vacation things that we shouldn't miss.  Luckily, it was easy to get a reservation online, and we went out with the Pacific Whale Foundation from Lahaina.  
Our watch was on the Ocean Quest, and the whole staff was so genuinely in love with their job and these whales that you could feel their enthusiasm.  They played music the whole time and chimed in with facts about the whales and whale locations over the whole two-hour cruise.  We had such a fantastic time, and this is definitely something I would do on any future trips out to Maui.

As promised, here are the other Maui adventures we took:

Monday, July 29, 2019

Maui's Roads Less Traveled: East Kapalua and Makena Point

There are those adventures that everyone hears about on Maui: Road to Hana, the Summit of Haleakala, and, of course, the beaches all over the island.  There are also a few that aren't as often talked about but are equally as fun and adventurous.  While we were in Maui, we took two of these drives: up through West Maui to Kapalua and down East Maui to Makena Point.

If you look at Maui on the map, there are roads that follow the northern shores of the west and east sides of the island.  Both roads start near the airport, in the central valley of Maui.  The eastern road is one of the most well-known adventures in Hawaii: the Road to Hana, but the west side is definitely a hidden gem.  For the first part of our trip, we stay up in Kapalua, so we decided to take that windy road to our hotel on the first day we got there.  There's almost nothing up there, but the views are amazing, and FYI, the road is not for the faint of heart stomach.  If you had trouble with the Road to Hana, I might not suggest this trip.  However, if you like one-lane roads with tons of switchbacks, blind curves, and no guard rails, make sure you (have a Jeep, a few full afternoon, and) take this drive!
We went at the perfect time of day to see an amazing sunset over the mountains!  Plus, we made friends with a whole herd of cattle. 
One of the days we stayed in Wailea, we continued driving south to Makena Point to walk along the lava fields.  It was the most amazing scenery!  The walk was pretty easy, and if you like snorkeling, this is definitely the place to do it. I would definitely suggest getting there early because there isn't much parking, and the spots fill up quickly!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Top 5 Macadamia Nut Lattes on Maui

We are really just going backwards in time on this blog! I still have a few more posts to share from our babymoon in February (here's where we stayed, all about the Road to Hana, and the road trip up Haleakala).  When we went to Oahu two years ago, I fell in love with everything macadamia nut, especially lattes.  The coffee is so good on Hawaii, and this time around, I made sure to save all of my caffeine consumption for these amazing lattes.  We went to a bunch of different coffee shops while we were on Maui, and these were my five favorites:

1. Sip Me, Kahului - When we got off the plane (and were severly jet lagged), our first stop was to Sip Me, right near the airport.  It was my absolute favorite of the trip (so much that we went back on the day we left), and it was Mike's favorite coffee, too.  This location used to be an old bank, so you can still order through the drive thru teller window or sit in the vault in the back!
2. Maui Coffee Roasters, Kahului - This was one of the more low-key spots we visited, but they had the best whole bean coffee.  We brought a bunch back for ourselves and friends.  It was also my favorite cold brew (aaaand we went to this one twice, too).
3. Akamai Coffee Co, Kihei - This shop is the Instagrammer's dream.  They have the cutest set up, and that white swing is just begging to be photographed.  Akamai has a few locations (that seems to be a theme on Maui!), but this one was my favorite - mostly for the decor.  Everyone was so friendly. too.
4. Island Vintage Coffee, Lahaina - This one was a repeat from Oahu.  Across the street from our hotel in Ko Olina there was an Island Vintage, so when I saw this one, I knew we had to stop.  It wasn't my absolute favorite latte, but the acai bowls and breakfast sandwiches make it worth the trip.  It's also in the cutest shopping area (complete with the island's Lilly Pulitzer store across the way). 
4. Kai Cafe, Kapalua - Kai is located in the Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua, where we stayed for the first five days.  It was super easy to grab a couple drinks and go, but my favorite item was the brown butter old fashioned donut.  It was amazing!  If you're road tripped around Kapalua and looking for a fuel up, this is the place to go. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Charleston Maternity Photos

Now that I'm back from my blogging hiatus (here's my last post with all of our baby photos, if you missed it!), I figured I would go back and share all of the things that I skipped out on, not blogging regularly for the last few months of my pregnancy.  What better way to start than with our maternity photos!  Ashleigh from Following Seas Photography (who took our newborn photos and did a 3 year anniversary shoot with us a couple years ago), spent an afternoon around Charleston with us about a month and a half before Calvin was born.  Looking back on it, I have no idea how that belly kept growing for 6 more weeks after this - I look huge
One of the best pieces of advice I got from one of my friends in regard to photos while pregnant was to wear short or long sleeves.  I planned on wearing a sleeveless dress, and I'm so glad I didn't because I felt a little self-conscious of that specific weight gain - haha!  I absolutely loved this dress and felt so confident in it - totally necessary with thirty pounds of weight gain!  Here's a link to the dress I wore (they also have it in lilac here).  Old Navy was my go-to for maternity dresses when I was pregnant, and I got this one and this one, too.  One thing I will tell you is not to be afraid to order more than one size at a time.  Their dresses all fit differently (some have tags that say "fitted" on them, but that's not noted on the website, so you don't know until you get them).  Even though they don't carry the maternity line at their stores (except for a few items in the clearance section that are returns), you can return it there.  I hate the post office and returning online orders!  As for Mike, he wore a button down that he got when we went to the Masters the week prior

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