Family Photos

I will always regret not having newborn photos professionally done when Lydia was teenie tiny. However, the fact is, money was tight and it was more a priority for me to stay home as long as possible than it was for us to have photos of her.

As much as I would have liked to preserve the precious little details of my freshly-baked daughter, I mostly want a photo of our family, the three of us, that is beautiful and frame-able. Well, when my friend Kelly offered her photography services to us, I jumped at the chance. She is just starting her business and is using friends to help build her portfolio.

We met on a cold Saturday morning at Jenkins Estate in Beaverton and she masterfully captured my family amidst the beautiful fall foliage, and took my squirmy, freezing baby in stride (seriously freezing – her lips were turning blue!). You would never know she wasn’t an absolute pro – especially when you see the work she did!

I am in love with these photos so much!

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Gah – I’ve stared at this image for hours and I just can’t get over it!

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I mean, common’, right?!? Is that not the most perfect baby you’ve ever seen!

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Be still my heart!

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I will forever treasure these photos! I love that Kelly captured the spunky, feisty, beautiful little personality of my sweet baby. I love the admiration you see in Ben’s face as he looks at her, and I can’t help but smile when I see how much I look how I feel – absolutely overwhelmed with joy for my precious family!

I can’t recommend Kelly enough – she has given me a gift I can never possibly repay her for!

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Stuff I Love: Tiny Baby Edition

AKA: Baby “Must Haves” (eew), “Registry Essentials” (gross), “Things you absolutely cannot live without once you have a little tiny human depending on you for survival” (gag)

MrsBigTime's Baby Favorites: Brand New Baby
When I was pregnant and preparing for Lydia I scoured the internet for lists and descriptions of everything I “needed.” I found that a lot of people think they need a lot of crap. For us money was tight and space was tighter. I found myself getting annoyed with the countless posts and lists saying you needed everything under the freaking sun, and it just so happened that most of that crap was plastic and somehow determined to gouge your eyes out with obnoxious colors/bells/noises. Why did I need a gizmo for absolutely everything? Why is all the cool looking stuff so expensive and finally, why does every single baby thing have to light up and play music?? Seriously, I saw a changing pad that had an attached toy bar. OMG. I was determined to welcome our baby into the world without a boatload of stuff and heaven help me, I want to avoid as much overstimulation as I could for as long as possible.

I think we’ve done pretty well not getting too much, but my husband disagrees. Maybe he’s right, but he doesn’t seem as overwhelmed now that he see what we have has a purpose. He actually even suggested we get a new swing tonight, so maybe he’s coming around! That being said, here’s a list of my favorite/most needed/most appreciated things at 2.5 months in
(clockwise from top left to center):

Infant carseat: I swore up and down that we did not need an infant seat. My dad and step mom bought us an awesome convertible carseat and I knew my baby would be safe in that and I just assumed that I’d wear her all the time so a removable carseat would be unnecessary excess. This is just one area in which parenting was so much easier before having a baby! Ha! Yes, an infant car seat is not necessary, but it is SO NICE! I love that I can strap Lydia into her seat and get her all bundled up before going out and facing the cold. I love that I can keep her safe in her seat when I go into stores. I could use only a big seat, and get her out every time I make a tiny little stop (and I’d probably stop less, thus saving us more money, but then there’s Amazon Prime, so maybe not…), but it’s so very convenient that I do not have to! Plus, we got our Britax for free when we bought our stroller, which makes me love it even more!
Awesome stroller: When babies were merely a dream I knew an Uppa Baby Vista was the stroller for me. It’s beautiful and cool and I’d be the hippest mama pushing one of those! Well, as it always does, real life hit and I didn’t exactly have $700 to shell out on a stroller, so I had to scale down my stroller dreams. Enter the BOB. Yes, this is also expensive, but my hubby works at REI so we got it at a major discount (with a free carseat to boot!) and it really is an awesome, awesome stroller! It pushes like a dream, turns on a dime and perfectly fits our carseat. It offers good storage (especially with optional parent console) and it’s pretty much the official stroller of Portland mamas, so I totally feel a part of the club 😉 Sure, it’s a bit big and cumbersome, but so is the UBV and any other heavy duty stroller. We may get an umbrella stroller someday in the future, but for now, this thing is a good mix of smooth ride and ruggedness. It’s perfect for us and I love it!
Brica InSight Mirror: I didn’t even think to get a mirror for the backseat, but a girlfriend of mine did and I received one for my shower. That one didn’t work for our car, but this one attaches to the headrest in the backseat and allows us to see if our little miss is awake or asleep. It’s more reassuring than I thought it’d be to see her hanging out back there. This was definitely a great $20 spent!
Boon Naked Bath: Am I the only one that hates traditional baby tubs? Why are they so big and ugly? Why does every freaking baby thing have to be an obnoxiously bright animal??? This bath is bright, but it’s fun and doesn’t make me want to have a seizure. It folds flat-ish and hangs. I like it a lot, but I do recommend you pick up a little sponge thing because it’s kind of deep for small babies. If you’re wanting to be super minimalistic though, I’d just throw a hand towel in the sink and bath your babe on that until you’re confident enough to bathe them in the shower. I don’t consider a bath a need, but I like that we have one!
Mustela No Rinse Cleanser: I was gifted this for my showers by some more knowledgable mamas. I thought they had given me the best smelling, most expensive hand sanitizer ever until I randomly read the back of the bottle when Lydia was a week or two old. No, this stuff gently cleanses your baby’s face and hands without you having to give them a full bath. Full disclosure: people say that newborns don’t get smelly. People lie. Milk gets everywhere, and pretty soon your sweet little baby starts to smell sour and that situation must be remedied. I love this for in the morning when I want to freshen her up for the day.
Mum & Bub Shampoo & Body Wash: It seems my love for random beauty products has crossed over to baby products, much to my husband’s dismay. I first wanted California Baby because it was “the best.” However, I had two different kinds of CAB and I think it smells like mildew! In fact, I returned my first bottle of shampoo and lotion because I thought it must have gone rancid. Turns out, I just don’t like the stuff because my second bottle has the same smell, only mixed with lavender. Gross! I got a sample of this at a baby boutique and it is so not rancid! It’s just the right amount of sweet and fresh. It’s no tear and comes in a pump bottle, which is super nice for when I give Lydia a shower instead of a bath. I love smelling her sweet head after a bath with this! Well, truth be told, I love smelling her head even when it’s stinky.
Hats: I didn’t know this about myself until I became responsible for keeping a tiny human warm in the middle of winter. Hats are essential! I have a ton of hats for Lydia and she only goes out of the house without one if it’s daytime and she’s wearing a headband. Ha! Mittens are a bit overkill and maybe unnecessary, but they are adorable.
 Wubbanub: Some babies like different pacifiers, but Lydia easily took the Soothie brand and they are her most favorite things. I like the Wubbanub because 1) it’s adorable; 2) it’s big and therefore easy to grab and put back in the middle of the night or if you are reaching behind you in the car and 3) the weight of the animal prevents the binkie from flying onto the floor every other minute
Carriers: If you have a little nugget that loves to be held all.the.time, carriers are your best friend. I have a Moby, Ergo and two ring slings (I threw my desire to be a minimalist out the window in this department) and love them all. I highly suggest finding a carrier you love and can easily use and use it! They are good for mamas and babies and for keeping strangers away from your little germ magnet
Babylegs and white long-sleeved onesies: This is Lydia’s uniform if we’re at home. I could lie to you and say that it’s convenient for diaper changes and what not, but mostly I think it’s freaking adorable. I love the little peek of thigh chub at the top of the stocking and white onesies are perfect for layering or matching to fun Babylegs. I really like the Gerber onesies, but many people prefer Carter’s (Gerber has longer arms, which I like better for layering).
Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm: This is like sending your lady bits to the spa. It’s also the best $15 I have ever spent, by far! It soothes your abused nethers and speeds healing. I plan to give this to every mama-to-be with every shower gift. You can do you own research, but just take my advice and if you’re going to buy anything to make post-partum recovery easier, buy this.
Bouncer: We are borrowing our friend’s Combi (not the print above, just a simple brown one) and I love it because it is not horrendously bright or overstimulating, but mostly I love it because Lydia likes to sit in it. We have to give it back to our friends so I’m currently looking for a replacement. For my baby, I would consider a good bouncer a baby “must have.”
Medela Freestyle: If you’ve got to pump, get a good one. I have been really happy with this one, though I have nothing else to compare it to.
Boppy Lounger: This was gifted to us and I was sure it’d just take up space. I could not have been more wrong! For some reason Lydia loves this and thus, I love it too! We’ve used it in the living room, in our bed, for traveling. It’s awesome and isn’t a big investment, so I’d definitely recommend getting one of these!
Swaddles: I was pretty proud of my swaddling skills until I had my houdini baby. Sis can get out of most swaddles, but not with our current strategy (which I cannot take credit for, my friend Jessica did it first). I use an Aden & Anais bamboo swaddle first and wrap her super tight. Then, I put that little mummy into a SwaddleMe and she’s a perfectly content little burrito. I’ve tried not swaddling her but she does not sleep well. This little get up keeps her warm and snug and we all sleep better.
Arms Reach Mini Co-Sleeper: Sure, Lydia much prefers to sleep right next to me in my nice, cushy bed, but I do appreciate having a safe place to put her that is right near to me but not in my arms. I also like that this is small and easy to move (when not strapped to the bed obviously) and it fits perfectly between my side of the bed and the wall. Because Lydia does sleep with me most of the time, we could probably do without this, but I’m glad we don’t have to.

So, there you have it. My list of baby junk I love. In truth, all you NEED for a baby are some diapers, a few clothes and a boob, but I hated that answer when I was pregnant. I don’t think I have a gadget and gizmo for everything, but the ones I do have I like a lot, some more than others. I haven’t exactly managed to stay minimalistic, but like I tell my husband, it could be so much worse!

Baking BabyBigTime: Pregnancy Favorites

I’ve loved looking at other mama’s and mamas-to-be favorite things list, so I thought I’d try my hand at my own. I don’t feel like I’ve treated myself excessively or bought into a lot of the hype for pregnancy things (we simply did not have the budget to do so, or I probably would have!), but I have invested in a few things that have made the past 9 months a bit more comfortable.

First being the Snoogle.

How can something so wrong feel oh, so right?

I swore up and down that I would not buy a pregnancy pillow. But around 16 weeks I started adding regular pillows to my night time routine, but even then I’d wake up a little more sore than usual. I broke down after a particularly early morning wake up call after a particularly bad night of sleep and made my way to the store to buy this monstrosity and never looked back. There is something about the way you can fold this guy right against the curves of your body that is extremely supportive and comfortable. I’ve actually woken up from a deep sleep (which is awesome, btw…not) just to think to myself: I am so comfortable right now. Do yourself a favor and just buck up and get one, you won’t be sorry!

Next: the plumbers apprentice. BellaBand by Ingrid & Isabel.

The BellaBand, the REAL one.

I heard the real ones were way better than the cheaper Target ones, but again, as with the pillow, there was no way I was going to drop $30 on some tiny piece of fabric that I wasn’t sure would work. No way. So, I bought the Target one and wore it dutifully and felt like I had shoved my pre-baby chub into a sausage casing. It was not awesome, but my pants were no longer fitting right and the last thing I wanted was to be the nurse who bent over to look at her chest tubes only to expose my crack to my horrified patients and their parents, so I shoved myself into it every day. Then, at a consignment shop, I saw an original BellaBand on the shelf, in size XXL (the one they recommend for bigger ladies carrying multiples). It was $6 and when I put it on over my clothing it didn’t fall off (chubby girls for the win!), so I thought, why the heck not, at least it will make it so I don’t show my crack. That thing was awesome! Easily the best $6 I’ve ever spent, and the next time I get knocked up, I will be purchasing more of the original bands (in my size) because they are really so much better. The fabric is more substantial, they are softer and they don’t slide around like the Target ones. By the time I got the real one though, I had a decent belly and the large, looser size didn’t bother me because I was too be to keep regular pants up anyway, I just wanted something to help me protect my dignity while I wore my drawstring pants super low.

Another pregnancy splurge that I loved: LaVanilla Body Butter

Vanilla Coconut

This stuff is so lovely! I am not one to normally buy fancy schmancy body lotions (unless the buy 6 get 18 free deals from Bath and Body Works count), so me dropping more than $20 on a bottle of lotion seemed like a big deal to me, but every time I slathered my swollen, stretch marked body with this stuff, I felt pretty. I may have been bloated, broken out and constipated, but I felt like a princess every time I touched my smooth skin. Plus, the smell is perfectly light and refreshing and doesn’t smell like chemicals at all (it’s actually all natural and safe for mama and baby). I love this lotion (another great option is Alba, love that one too!).

My staples: Mossimo Microrib Tank

I lived in theses tank tops! I probably have 5 or 6 and wear them all the time, even now with my 38 week belly. The way I carried this baby, I didn’t “pop” like some women, plus, I’m normally quite curvy so the traditional long tops with ruched sides just didn’t work for me. Plus, the second you pop the word “maternity” on anything, it’s double the price. These are under $10 and hold up really well to washing. They come in a ton of colors and are the perfect weight to layer, but are not too see through to wear alone. I love them and hope Target never discontinues them!

Random but awesome: Human Gear capCAP

Fits Nalgene Perfectly

Preggers need to drink a lot of water. Preggers are also clumsy (at least I was – a strange pregnancy symptom that showed up years before I even gestated!). This helps save those perfect tanks.

Little indulgences: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate

MMM…

Mama needed her some chocolate, but mama had the Diabetes, so this was a good way to cure the sweet tooth and try to prevent having to birth a sumo wrestler baby. When all was said and done, I think Ben and I have tried every flavor New Seasons had, and this is my favorite (but they’re all good)!

Life Savers: American Health Papaya Enzymes

Miracle.

I will forever sing the praises of Papaya Enzymes! These bad boys are heartburn stoppers. They work much better than TUMS and taste better too. Baking a human or not, I will always keep these in my cupboard and will love them until I die.

And last, but certainly not least, this guy:

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DaddyBigTime

Your baby daddy. This one’s pretty important. I know that lots of ladies are not so lucky, but I happen to be blessed so much by mine. This whole baby thing came out of left field, especially for him, but he has handled it all in stride. He has been the perfect amount excited, scared, nervous and happy. He has helped me stay tough, but babied me when I needed it. He has given a glorious amount of back rubs and has obliged many, many of my “honey will you help me for a sec?’s” He has come to appointments, cried with me, brought me down from my irrational freak outs and reminded me time and time again how the only thing that is important is that we get to bring our little girl home, no matter how that looks. I am so thankful for him, so thankful he is my partner in life, and so, so thankful he gets to be this little girl’s dad.