Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Raising an Independent Child

As a parent, I have a lot of dreams for my kids. Actually these dreams have more to do with the characteristics that I want my children to have, hopefully in part due to my amazing parenting skills. Being a good eater, having manners, respecting adults, excelling at and liking school... these are all things that I think most parents hope for as they are raising their little tots. It's scary to think that the way that we approach these philosophies even when they are 1-2 years old and can't even really talk yet absolutely do have an effect on how our kiddos will act when they are older. I mean.... most of us parents are taking it day by day and just hoping for the best, and that is ok!

A couple of days ago, a mom on one of my parenting groups posted a question about how to raise an independent child. Because this parenting group is a good one, she got a plethora of responses... and all of it really got me thinking. What I heard was an echoing chorus of the same memories and strategies.... "When I was a kid" stories and other tricks of the trade. I realized that many of the hopes I dream of for my kids' character really encompasses this word... "independent."

Now, I am no parenting genius; I'm stating this upfront. But I have helped raise my stepson since he was 4 (and dealt with all of the challenges that come with co-parenting a child -- a sweet angel -- from a split home), have a 1.5 year old who teaches me things on the regular, and 7 years of working as a pediatric speech therapist under my belt. So, I'd like to think that although I'm not an expert, my opinion can at least be qualified as an educated one.

First thing first --- Raising an independent child starts when the child is a baby. This is a crazy thought because my main goals on a daily basis with my baby have been making sure the baby is fed, clean, and well-rested. Everything else is just icing on the cake. But their little brains are soaking in everything that we do, the way we interact with them and others, the attention we give them, etc. Now, this is my opinion, but if you are defending a particular action or behavior of your child by saying "Well, he's just a baby" then these are the little opportunities that you can look at how you handle, because one day he won't be a baby anymore, but it might have happened so quickly that you are still defending the behaviors as such. "What the hell are you talking about anyway, woman?" you may ask. Let me give you an example. Big props to my sweet husband on this one, because he has the ability to see through "just being a baby" better than me sometimes. My daughter went from eating anything we put in front of her to at about 14 months of age throwing her food on the floor and in general being a little toot at dinner time. Instead of waiting for this horrible phase to run it's course, we set pretty strict standards on this from the get-go. We set rules and expectations on our 14 month old baby. (In case you are wondering what they are, the main ideas are -if you throw food on the floor, you get one strike and then meal time is over, -if you don't like what we are eating, you may drink water or milk but otherwise you will be hungry because we aren't short order cooks, and -it's ok to not eat what is given to you, but it stays on the plate) There were times that I felt like "but she's just a baby," but now nearly 6 months later, I'm happy to say that for the most part, we have a pretty decent little eater on our hands. We still have our days, so know that I have said that, I hope that things don't change. Everyone knock on wood for me, please.

Secondly, look at how you interact with your child. Here are several things that I have read and researched on and implemented on how I interact with my little cherub.

Let your toddler figure things out on their own, and praise them when they achieve it. As a parent, when you see your toddler struggling to fit a puzzle piece in, climb to get on top of a chair, or put a sock on, it seems like years pass as they try to figure it out. There is totally such thing as doing too much for your kid! Letting them do things for themselves, even if they are getting frustrated or can't do it teaches them several skills that I feel like are a rarity these days -- mainly perseverance, i.e. trying to do something that is difficult instead of giving up or just waiting for someone else to do it. Now, we mean well as caregivers to our little cherubs, and helping them is also a form of teaching them how to do it... BUT help only after they have really given it a good shot or are about to give up. So, an example with the puzzle piece: she is trying to put the puzzle piece on, but can't get it on there right, a little banging and moving it around. You can tell she is about to give up, so you can try some vocal encouragement- "you can do it!"- then if frustration is building, you can show her how to do by doing hand-over-hand, but then take the puzzle piece back off, then say "now you do it by yourself! You can do it!" You are still helping them and teaching them, but instead of teaching them that mommy/daddy/whoever is always going to come do things for you (which really means they might stop trying), you are teaching them to persevere and do things on their own.

Read up on developmental milestones, see where your kid fits in, and expose them to what skills are next. As a speech therapist, I am continually seeing parents who absolutely mean well who inadvertently shelter their kids from developing certain skills. I am guilty of this myself and am constantly self-checking my thoughts on what I think my kid can and can't do. Point and example, THE STAIRS. So, I'm pretty OCD and have these horrible visions of my kid flying down the stairs and seriously hurting themselves. My solution? Stairs are off limits. Completely. In fact, stairs stress me out so bad that when we move into our next house, one of my top must-haves is a single story home. However, if you totally shelter a kid from stairs, how will they ever learn how to climb them? It is a question that I hear physical therapists ask parents every time we do an evaluation and at least half the time, the response is "I won't let my kid on the stairs, so I don't know if he can climb the stairs or not." Another example of a "what's next" skill is letting your kid drink from an open cup or use utensils. Since so many toddler foods can be given as a finger food or in a pouch, and we all hate cleaning milk or juice off of carpet, sometimes it takes a while for our parent brains to even go there... or we think "but think of the mess he will make"... yes, it will be a hellacious mess, but they have to learn somehow. (Side note: suggestions for ways to work on these skills outside of eating are: doing sips of clean water from open cup during bath time and letting cherub play with toddler utensils with play dough or in play kitchen)

Sit back and let them play by themselves. A lot of kids go through the incessantly needy phase, where they are constantly pulling at you and needing your attention. I'm not advocating stiff arming them and putting them in a play pen and telling them to "play!!!!" But what I am suggesting is don't over do it with becoming your child's play buddy. Encourage activities that you are supervise or that can be done individually, like water table play, Little People, puzzles, etc. Read a book to them once and then encourage them to look through it again by themselves. You don't want to become an integral part of their play routine, unless you want to be expected to do the things that you want them to do for the next 10 years. Now, as someone who writes on parenting and does use Pinterest as an avenue to spread the word, I'm hesitant to knock it too much, but Pinterest Parenting is a real thing. This expectation we set on ourselves to be the most creative, involved, amazing parent EVER. There are all of these crafts, games, and activities on there that are awesome and fun, but the expectation that you are to do even one of these activities a day is not only overwhelming but it's unobtainable (unless you are superwoman - props to you). AND it's setting your kid up to think that every second of every day needs to be filled with some amazing activity. First, we are going to make snow ice cream, then we are going to make glue clouds and after all of that is done, we are going to make a handprint Valentine for daddy.... (and later that night mommy is going to hide in the bathroom with a bottle of wine because she is stressed out and exhausted from doing this type of stuff day in and day out). Do you think that our parents did any of these things with us? In most situations, the answer would be "hell to the no." So don't get bogged down with the expectation to be a Pinterest Parent.

Don't let technology babysit your kid. Ok, I am NOT saying that if you let your cherub watch 30-60 minutes of cartoons while you prep for a meal or something makes you a bad parent. Who am I to call anyone a bad parent? So I am definitely not saying that at all. But what I am saying is that whilst sitting in front of the TV or a tablet does get them out of your hair and does get them doing something "by themselves" it isn't necessarily showing them skills to increase independence. Really I do think that overall it is reaffirming this concept of "gotta be entertained 24/7" mentality that older kids have these days. It's ok for them to be bored. If your kid is puzzled-out and really doesn't want to play independently anymore, and you've tried suggesting to your toddler to go play with the magna-tiles or to go find the (incredibly annoying) voice changing microphone, incorporate them into whatever it is you are trying to do, which leads me to...

Let them help (really help) with the grown-up things you are doing. We have all seen the chore charts for kids based on different ages, and even I have been like, umm, my 18 month old does not fold laundry. But they can certainly help you. Find a way for them to help with whatever tasks you are doing in the house. That way, when you tell your little cherub "one day mommy is going to not have to put up the dishes because that will be YOUR job," you won't be lying because they will actually know how to do it and more importantly, you will trust them to do it. Some examples here: I got this little broom from Amazon for under $10 and when I sweep, so does my daughter. When I am taking out the clean dishes, I take out all the breakables first (and the knives), and I let my daughter hand me the rest of it (and while doing that I tell her what stuff is). When we do laundry, I let her put the clothes in the washer or dryer and press the buttons. So on and so forth.

Doing things this way might not be the easiest way (at first), and it definitely isn't the quickest. But I do feel like if you put the time in when they are young (12-36 months old), you are helping them develop skills that will have them be more independent as an older child.

The way that I have viewed parenting my kids so far is this: it's going to be a really challenging time, no matter what their age and how many of them (children) there are. But I'm hoping that if I really train them well when they are young even if it feels like too much or that they are too young, it will serve them well as they grow up.

What do you feel like are the most characteristics you want to see in your children as they grow up? How do you change your parenting to reflect those hopes and dreams? I'd love to hear your opinion! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Psycho Stages of Pregnancy

1-2 weeks pregnant - This is technically before you are actually pregnant, but unless your pregnancy happens accidentally (well lucky you!), you are definitely thinking about it. Oh yes. Ovulation. Fertile window. Some of us are checking basal temperatures, checking out our bodily fluids, peeing on ovulation sticks. All that good stuff that probably makes our husbands think we are cray-zay.

During this time, you are simultaneously forecasting due dates based on several assumed conception dates. If you really got it bad, you are seeing where important pregnancy milestones fall if this is your lucky month! (Ok, first trimester would be done right around Halloween, so we could totally do one of those cute pumpkin pregnancy announcements, yessssssss!)

2-3 weeks pregnant - Google and Baby Center become your sick addiction. You are googling things such as "EARLY EARLY signs of pregnancy," or "is peeing while running an early sign of pregnancy?" You are also insanely in tune with every single cramp or muscle twitch in your whole middle section. (Wait... is that.... implantation cramping? Back pain? Am I getting premenstrual cramps??? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?) You may decide to totally stop working out or drinking alcohol/caffeine during this time because what if this month is the month??

3-4 weeks pregnant - Googling things and getting on Baby Center conversation boards about implantation bleeding. What does implantation bleeding look like? You are also researching like crazy what brands of pregnancy tests are best at getting an early positive pregnancy test. You may or may not have peed on several pregnancy tests already. You are calculating what you think the days post ovulation are. You are becoming psychotically aware of all of these annoying acronyms on sites such as Baby Center. You are also a regular visitor on Baby CentRE, the UK site.

4 weeks pregnant - HELL YES. BIG FAT F-ING POSITIVE pregnancy test. The last two weeks have felt like years. You are super proud of these 4 weeks of pregnancy. Let the motherf-ing planning begin. You may, at this point in time, have the motivation and energy to creatively tell your significant other that you are, in fact, knocked up. You have definitely taken selfies with your positive pregnancy test. You have sent pictures of the result window to your sister. You have peed on several tests, just to make sure.

6 weeks pregnant - You have eagerly scheduled your first doctor's appointment. You are expecting the royal treatment and are crushed into a million pieces when you are not treated like a delicate flower, but instead, fill out a bunch of paperwork and if you are lucky you get an internal u/s to see a flicker of a heartbeat. Now worrying about everything under the sun sets in.

6-13 weeks pregnant - You are horrified of miscarriage. You won't even turn on your seat warmers in the car, what if it burns up your little bean in there? You can just go ahead and forget about eating any deli meat. Is that juice pasteurized? If it's not, then it can go straight to hell. You are reliving every sip of alcohol that you had before you knew you were pregnant, but you were. You are horrified of any speck of anything when you wipe down there, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? You may take pictures of said specks.

You may also be DYING of morning sickness. You feel as though you will never be the same again. You may have simultaneously peed your pants and gotten a bloody nose whilst puking your guts out so hard. You are googling hyperemesis gravidarum. You are 100% positive that this is what you are suffering from. You are fairly certain you are pregnant with multiples, otherwise why in the hell are you so sick? Considering calling your doctor for a necessary IV of liquid. You are definitely dehydrated and dying. You are wondering why you never knew about how much morning sickness SUCKED ASS. It's because a majority of women and their poor spouses have to suffer this horrible thing alone, as they aren't announcing that they are with child until the end of the first trimester.

All the hours in the day are not enough for your need to sleep. If you are asleep, you can't puke. You pull yourself together enough to take some creative pumpkin pictures for your pregnancy announcement. The days between showers that are acceptable to you are disturbing and disgusting, especially given the amount of times you have been hanging around the porcelain god.

13 weeks pregnant - The last 2.5 months have seemed impossibly long. You are feeling fairly confident enough to announce the pregnancy to the world (i.e. post it on Facebook). You revel in every "like" and comment. You may or may not start to feel like a normal human being at this point, unless you are one of those lucky bitches who don't get sick at all during pregnancy and have a special glow to you that isn't perspiration from dry heaving for the last 30 minutes because of the Man vs. Food you just watched on the Food Network. Now that the world knows your little secret, you are able to obsess about pregnancy without worrying about outing yourself. You can un-"secret" your Pinterest boards on baby items and maternity photo shoot ideas. You now have all eyes on the next big milestone: is this little bambino a boy or a girl?

14-17 weeks pregnant - Each week that passes you may or may not worry a little less about something going wrong. You are drowning in product reviews and baby registries and are completely freaking out about budgeting and breast feeding. You have enrolled in childbirth class, breast feeding class, and infant CPR. You have decided your top 10 favorite names for each gender and secretly decided which gender you want even though you tell everyone that you don't care. You are already planning your gender reveal party and booked the cake lady. You cannot imagine how the next month could possibly happen any more slowly. You become psycho about what the gender of your baby is. You secretly dream of being surprised by TWINS or TRIPLETS during the ultrasound. You research family history of multiples on both sides. You act like the thought of either would be horrifying, but actually you are kind of intrigued at the idea of it. You consider and may even go to a sneak peek ultrasound place to find out the gender before the doctor will do it. You are a rebel; you live on the edge.

17-20 weeks pregnant - You may or may not find out the gender of your little bean. You are able to complete your baby registry with those gender-related items such as pee-pee tents or pink everything. You can now go full speed ahead with gender appropriate clothing shopping. You have narrowed down your favorite names to your favorite 80 names. Your husband only likes 2 of these aforementioned names which are ones that you don't really like that much after all. You like to talk about baby names in the middle of the night, via text in the middle of his work day, and will strike up a conversation about middle names right as the two of you are about to fall asleep. You get irrationally emotional about these conversations.

20-26 weeks pregnant - This might be when you have some baby showers and are ultra motivated to plan nursery themes. Baby Center has been replaced by Pinterest as your favorite go-to web site to waste a million hours of time that you will never ever get back. You have boards for several nursery themes and have already pinned over 1k pins regarding child development. You have an embarrassing amount of baby items taking over several rooms of your house. You take pictures of your dog or cat in the crib, neither of you knowing at that moment that when the baby arrives you will never pay attention to your pet again (until the baby is asleep and then maybe you will have the energy for some belly rubs). You start a blog about your growing family. You want to document everything.

27 weeks pregnant - HOORAY YOU ARE IN THE LAST TRIMESTER! You are definitely pregnant on the outside at this point and are proudly wearing maternity clothing. You may or may not have the nursery completed. You have your bag packed for the hospital and have toured your delivering hospital twice. You have made decisions regarding birth plans or lack there of. You lay in bed and try to imagine what it will be like to be in charge of a little person. Your pregnancy pillow is your best friend. You have become BFFs with the UPS man, who delivers presents from loved ones and packages from Amazon placed in the middle of the night when you can't sleep on a daily basis. You really do consider giving him a gift card when all is said and done. Definitely something when Christmas rolls around. Your baby's name has been decided, and you have written it in various ways about a trillion times.

27-34 weeks pregnant - You start worrying about going back to work after maternity leave. You decide you hate your job. You want to redo the nursery because you no longer love it. Are you sure that is what you want to name your bean? What about the spelling? You are looking into babysitters and nannies and wondering how in the hell you are going to be able to trust anyone with your little human. You may or may not be nesting at this point. You may or may not have these delusional dreams of doing post-natal yoga with your baby held to your body firmly by your $100 ring sling. You have just spent $400 on the best jogging stroller on the market. You cannot stand how huge you are becoming. You ask friends and strangers and anyone who will listen for recommendations for stretch mark prevention. You want to slap people across the face that shame you for not embracing your tiger stripes.

34- 40 weeks pregnant - You are pretty much ready to have this baby. You wonder how early is too early to go into labor. You ask the doctor about induction policies. You start to worry - What if it's not the gender you were told it was? You google horror stories of surprise wrong genders at birth. You think of all the items you own that would all the sudden become obsolete. You imagine your husband going to Walmart in the middle of the night for boy clothes. You also start asking friends about labor and delivery. You want to punch everyone in the face that tells you anything other than stories of sunshine and roses. You don't care about walking normally at this point and proudly waddle to and fro. You may or may not start reading about things to eat/drink or do to induce labor. You research possibly birth stones for your unborn child. You design a beautiful ring highlighting the birthstone of your little bean that you will never be able to afford because of your ring sling and your jogging stroller. You consider doing a little pumping with your double breast pump to get the juices flowing. Sleeping is next to impossible at this point due to your large size and your completely psychotic nesting urges. You have sterilized and redecorated every room of your house and bought a Shark floor cleaner. You may or may not have your own delivery hospital gown with your monogrammed initials on it. You have set up and paid the deposits on your newborn photography session. You. Are. Ready.

And then... it all happens. It may happen the way you pictured it, but more times than not, it is not what you expected. Although it doesn't make it any less perfect or amazing. <3

These psycho stages of pregnancy might not have all happened for you, but maybe you can relate to some of these! This may or may not be the psycho stages of pregnancy that I personally went through... or maybe they are a compilation of experiences that I have heard from friends. I will never tell. ;) Just don't check my google history or I'm in trouble.

What was your most psycho pregnancy thing that you did?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Last minute DIY Valentine's Gift for Your Husband

So! I am 32.5 weeks preggo and super super into nesting right now. Seriously, I had to think about the pros and cons of posting on the blog versus setting up the pack-n-play in our bedroom. Yes. That's where I'm at.

I actually think that I have the nesting to thank for this previously absent motivation to create. You see, when I am pregnant, I turn into this beast. This grumpy beast who doesn't like to be creative, be insanely busy, or pretty much anything other than sleep or think about sleeping. It really does make me sad because I am one of those people typically who LOVE to have about 80 unfinished projects going on simultaneously.

I have to admit that this year's Valentine's Day gift is not just for my husband. I have to admit that I have secretly (or not so secretly) hated the decor in about.... 80% of my house for the last 2.5 years. Just haven't been feeling like this house (military housing) is a home. So, in my nesting frenzy, I have spent a lot of time making plans on how I am going to redecorate the house, room by room, wall by wall. Until slowly every room is my favorite room. I just hope to be able to do this without it looking like crap and relatively cheaply.

This DIY gift idea is going to be a Valentine's gift, but I could easily see it being used as an anniversary gift too. Because it's romantic. And lovely. And did I mention, it is actually pretty easy AND cheap? Sign me up!

I was able to use things that I already had on hand, and only had to really wait on the picture to get sent to me, BUT if you opt to use a service such as Walgreen's or CVS, I'm sure you could 1-hour that bad boy, and you could easily get this done before Valentine's Day! You can order these supplies on Amazon (I have shared affiliate links), but you can also run out to Hobby Lobby or Michael's if you are in a time crunch.

DIY Wedding Photo on Canvas

What you Need:

- a canvas (I used this Winsor & Newton Artists' Stretched Canvas Cotton 16 x 20 Inches )
- Mod Podge (I used this Mod Podge Gloss Finish - 16 oz. )
- a paint brush 
- a decoupage tool (I used this Mod Podge Professional Decoupage Tool Set )
- decorative paper (4 sheets of 8.5x11 if you are using a 16x20in canvas) - I used some decorative light blue scrapbooking paper I had in my scrapbooking stash.. this is where you can get creative and personalize it to your liking!!
- a print of you and your sweet hubby (I used, but if you are in a time crunch, you can access your local Walgreen's or CVS.)

The steps:
- What makes this gift super romantic and perfect for Valentine's Day or an anniversary is if you print the sheet music to your wedding song (or just a song that is important to you guys as a couple) on the decorative paper that you choose. I was able to find the sheet music to one of our favorite "us" songs "Clear Blue Sky" by (the man) George Strait on (instant download and super cheap).
- I would trim the decorative paper pages to fit your canvas and have an idea of how the pages are going to fit onto the front of the canvas before you start applying Mod Podge. 
- Using a paint brush, apply Mod Podge directly to the front of the canvas in sections as big as the decorative paper. In this instance, Mod Podge will act as your adhesive and as your gloss finish!
- Get all the decorative paper glued onto the canvas and aligned how you want it.
- Use a decoupage tool to smooth the pages out so there are no lumps or lines between the decorative paper and the canvas.
- Using same paint brush, apply an even coat of Mod Podge onto the top of the decorative paper so it has a glossy finish once it dries. It will look white when you paint it on, but when it dries it will be shiny and clear!
- I waited for this to dry because I was waiting for the photo print to come in, although you don't have to.
- If you already have the print of choice for your canvas, make sure you know where you want to put it (I put my 8.5x11 photo print in the smack dab middle of the canvas). This can be an engagement photo, wedding photo, you name it. Again, highly customizable to whatever you want to do here. I chose a picture from our first dance at our wedding.
- Apply Mod Podge to the back of the print using the paint brush, and slap it on there. If you want to be a perfectionist, have a ruler on hand to make sure it is centered.
- I would not apply Mod Podge on top of the print if I were you, because the print is already looking nice and glossy (or matte, whichever option you chose when you ordered it).
- Let it dry, admire your handy work.
- I wrote a little love note on the back of the canvas with a black sharpie, because I'm sappy like that.

This is what I call a win/win. Because a) it is super sweet, unique and creative b) it is cheap (I think I spent $25 total, and I still have a BOAT LOAD of Mod Podge) c) it's a kind of like a gift for you too, because it will be on the walls of your house. BOOM!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

5 Items To Upgrade {Guilt Free} With Baby #2

When I was pregnant with my daughter, even after we knew she was a girl, I tried to stick to neutral colors for the major stuff (crib, pack n play, stroller, swings, car seats.... even the bedding) as hard as it was to NOT get pink and purple everything. Knowing how crazy expensive a little tyke can be, I wanted to be able to save as much as possible for baby #2 in the event that he was a boy.

Even though I'm due in a couple months with Baby#2, and she is a girl.... I'm glad that we went neutral with the major stuff because we have plenty of girlie items between clothes, toys and room decor. And I'm pumped to be able to reuse so much, because now I'm allowing myself to splurge and upgrade on a couple of baby items this time around that I wanted to be more practical with the first go-around.

So, this list is very particular to me, based on my preferences, what's important to me (I think) this go around, and what I learned about having a baby the first time around (which I hope counts for something, EEK!!!!!)... but I'd like to think it resonates with other like-minded mamas who appreciate great quality, organization and pretty things. Who doesn't like those things? No one, THAT'S WHO, so read. I'm kidding. 

- diaper bag {Lily Jade}
With baby #1, I found myself doing one of two things - either taking things OUT of my diaper bag and putting them in my purse so I wouldn't have to carry around both OR I ended up lugging around both my diaper bag and my purse. And a baby. And whatever else the baby required, probably full body winter garb because we currently live in Chicago and it is freezing cold 6 months out of the year. Because this blog post is about lifting up the products that I love and not hating on any that I might not love as much, I won't share with you the brand of my first diaper bag, but it was super cute, you could wear it as a backpack (which I did approximately 2 times), and had what I would call "adequate" storage compartments. I longingly looked at Lily Jade's products on Instagram (@lilyjade) and knew that my husband would probably murder me if I made the purchase. They are a little pricey, with designer diaper bags ranging from $159-$335, but they are having great sales pretty frequently, and they even offer "outlet" bags (that may have minor production errors) at a discounted price at times as well. I jumped at the opportunity to upgrade my diaper bag and chose an "outlet" version of Elizabeth bag (of course the most expensive bag they offer) -- and guess what? I checked that thing from top to bottom, inside and out, and I have yet to discover whatever production error warranted it to not be full price! It has this baby bag compartment that goes inside of it (and can be removed for easy organization AND cleaning purposes), and I can wear this diaper bag and it can also double as my purse without it obviously being a diaper bag.

- double stroller {BOB}
Since I will be a part of the questionably crazy and select-membership-only club of "MOM of TWO under TWO", having a seriously bad ass double stroller is definitely #1 on my list of items that I must have. I don't care if I have to sell my first born to get one, even though I guess that would defeat the purpose of said "double" stroller (I kid, I wouldn't ever sell my first daughter...). Since I will probably not see the inside of a gym for several years after the birth of my second child, I need a stroller that will allow me to take both little cherubs out for a leisurely jog after I have consumed enough coffee to slip on some running pants and find my running shoes.  With baby #1, I didn't have the first clue about what the hell kind of stroller I needed, so I ended up with three single strollers. Yes. Three. I hate myself for wasting that kind of money, but I had the stroller that had the adapter for my car seat, then I had a jogging stroller (which didn't HAVE the adapter for my car seat- rude), and then I had the $20 umbrella stroller that I hate more than life itself because the wheels are always getting stuck. This time, I'm going for the gold! I'm going to sell the stroller that went with my car seat (for a small fraction of what I spent on it, ugh! hate that), and purchase the Bob Duallie, and have it serve as my everyday stroller AND my jogging stroller.

- ring sling {Sakura Bloom}
With my first child, I never had the real need or the agility to wear my baby as much as I will with the second one. I have (and adore) a BECO Gemini that I used with regularity with my daughter from about 3 months-12 months, but since I will not have the luxury of laying on the couch with my new baby the first however many months since I have another little ankle biter to tend to, I need to have a way to safely be hands-free from the get go. Enter the amazing line of Sakura Bloom. These ring slings are safe to use (as long as they are used properly - their website shows you tons of you tube videos to help you out) with a newbie all the way to a toddler! While I cannot imagine my toddler allowing me to strap her to me anymore, maybe this next one will be different. However, with a newborn, I love the idea of having her wrapped to me! This is a definite upgrade, as these items second as a fashion piece (and car payment.... with prices ranging from $98-$400 plus!), but I was able to snag mine at a discounted price during their annual sample sale.

- big girl bedding {beddys}
Once my second daughter is graduated from the pack n play in our room, she will be evicting my first daughter from her beloved crib. Thankfully, this will hopefully be timed with a move to a new city and a new house, and with that will come a new BIG GIRL BED that will need new big girl bedding. I was introduced to this amazing bedding concept called Beddys. It is an incredibly CUTE one piece bedding solution that will allow me to easily strip the bed and clean it (as it is just one piece) and will also allow for my daughter to easily make her own bed, keeping the facade of organization and cleanliness of her room going strong! You have to watch the videos on their web site so you can fully grasp just how this bedding works, but it is amazing - trust. And since I am saving money on not getting a second crib and different crib bedding (neutral for the win), I have little issue spending $259 on this bedding... the only problem I am having is deciding which adorable design to choose!

- swaddles {the ollie world}
This is definitely the most practical "upgrade" on my list this time around. I will never forget waking up my husband in tears at, like, 2 am because I could NOT get my daughter (only a month old at the time) swaddled properly therefore she would not go back to sleep. He was the master swaddler. I was not. I could never get her wrapped in a way that her Houdini baby butt would stay in it. When I saw the ollie swaddle I fell in love with the concept of the design. It is a velcro baby swaddle with an open bottom that allows for them to continue being snuggly swaddled even if you need to change their diaper!! That's the thing, y'all. My daughter would wake up hungry but also with a wet diaper, so BEFORE I got the ollie swaddle,  I would unswaddle her, change her diaper, nurse her, by then she usually pooped, change her diaper again and then try to reswaddle her. With the ollie swaddle, I don't have to take her out of the swaddle at all, but in the event that I do, I can slip her back in it much more easily than if I was having to wrap her in a muslin blanket myself. Also, the ollie world is regularly having sales on the swaddle, so I was able to snag mine at BOGO free - two for the price of one ($48)! That is always a steal.

I hope you love these baby item upgrade ideas as much as I love them. Have upgrade suggestions of your own? I'd love to hear them! Comment below and share your knowledge mama!