Hi there! I’m Kara.
Category Archives: baby
Guys, I’m writing this post mostly to brag that I’ve already ordered matching AND MONOGRAMMED Christmas jams for the girls. (Full disclosure: This has only happened because my sister-in-law is the one selling and monogramming. BUT STILL!)
I’m obsessed with the idea of matching holiday pajamas for all of us but since I don’t actually live in a catalog and I am married to an actual man and not a male mannequin, that’s not going to happen. (True story: When I broached the subject with my husband, he agreed. He probably wasn’t actually paying attention.)
But because I’m a nice lady, I’ve compiled some family jams for you and yours. These are all pretty affordable and would be an adorable Christmas Eve gift for your family. Extra points for monograms.
If you are super fancy and will only accept the gold standard of matching jammies, check out these Hanna Andersson jams. YOU CAN EVEN MATCH YOUR DOG.
Etsy: Equal parts adorable and terrible. It’s sometimes hard to navigate through all the tackiness to find the best baby gifts, but there really is so much good stuff to be had, especially for little ones. And because I love buying ridiculous, totally impractical baby things, here’s a roundup of some great baby/baby shower gifts. I mean, you COULD buy a Diaper Genie off the registry, but who wants to do that?
One: This is actually practical: a bib, burp cloth, and onesie. Can’t go wrong with gray elephants if you have a friend who isn’t finding out the baby’s gender, but it still feels special and your friend will think of you fondly when she uses the burp cloth to catch spit up.
Two: Ok, these are expensive but they are so very cool and the kid will hopefully appreciate ’em longer than, say, a burp cloth.
Three: Baby socks are a conspiracy by Big Sock to trick new parents. Here’s the thing: no socks stay on. Would you rather have your baby kick off cute or ugly socks? Your call. (Sidenote: My parental pet peeve is when old ladies randomly come up to me and say “THAT BABY’S FEET ARE COLD!” Look, Old Lady at Aldi, it’s 90 degrees outside. My baby is not getting hypothermia. Stop touching my child.) (Sidenote #2: That same old lady goes “Oh, how old is she?” Me: “Three Weeks” Her: “Oh bless your heart, you’re out of the house already?!”) WHAT DID PEOPLE DO IN THE OLDEN DAYS?! This is why women were treated for hysteria.
Four: We had friends get this for B, and it seriously made her the most popular baby at daycare, which is important to me because I think she gets more attention that way. When E wore it a couple years later, the teachers had to parade her around to show everyone who remembered when B wore it. Then E pooped in it so she ruined all the fun.
Six: THIS IS SO CUTE. I wish I had my babies named before I had them so I had this for hospital pictures. Also, I’m a sucker for a swaddle.
Seven: I’m going to be honest here: these are more for parents to look like they are hip and eco-friendly than for the baby to actually use. Babies will obviously hate these, but you will feel so cool with them in your diaper bag or casually strewn about the nursery. Also might make a cool necklace pendant?
Eight: You know those moms on Instagram who always have pictures of their cute babies in impossibly cool headbands? I’m jealous of them. And with these headbands, I could be jealous of you, too! These headbands are so cool that I kind of wish I was a baby.
Nine: A cute onesie is always better when it is personalized. More people should name their kids Lucy. That’s a good name.
I’ve been gathering my maternity clothes to loan to a prego friend (Hey, you! Come get your clothes already!) and I’ve realized what a waste most of my maternity clothes are. If you just buy a few basic pieces you can supplement with plenty of non-maternity items. Here’s all you need:
One: I love a good chambray shirt, maternity or not. This will work in any season at any stage of pregnancy. (I need a new chambray shirt in a bad way since The Great Ketchup Disaster of 2015. RIP, perfect J. Crew popover. Currently auditioning new chambray.)
Two: When I got these it was like the heavens opened up and I realized what maternity pants are supposed to be. These are perfect. They’re sleek and substantial. They look professional enough for work but still feel like leggings. They have a side panel (#teamsidepanel). J.Crew done good with this one.
Three: The tanks pictured are only like $6 but then I realized these from Target are on sale for $9 so pick up some while you’re at Target buying toilet paper. I had at least five and wore them to death and they still look great. They are long and stretchy and are perfect under cardis.
Four: I’m all about a good maternity wrap dress. You can dress it up or down and it’s flattering and bump-friendly the whole nine.
Five: If you’re lucky and still have cute legs during pregnancy, get these. (Also, I hate you.) I was not lucky to have cute legs during pregnancy but I have these and wore them constantly until I popped mid-June.
Six: A good stripe dress can go a long way – wear it with heels to the office or cute sneakers on the weekend. It will look like you are pulled together when really you just grabbed a clean item and put it on your body.
Seven: Second trimester pregnancy is my golden period. In both instances I had lost weight thanks to constant first trimester barfing, so I felt skinny and had a cute belly that was pronounced enough to look pregnant with baby, not burrito. (Take the good with the bad, right?) That was the only time in my life that I felt it appropriate to wear a body-con dress, so I took full advantage. You should do the same, but hopefully without the puking.
Eight: Maternity leggings. You will spend 90% of your downtime in these or yoga pants. (Don’t buy maternity yoga pants. Your regular ones will be just fine.)
Extra credit: I had a love/hate relationships with maternity jeans, and just did the rubber band trick to make my regular jeans last as long as possible. But it’s not a bad idea to splurge on a pair of awesome designer maternity jeans. Try these or these, or these are cute and budget-friendly.
One of our biggest baby purchases was probably the Baby Jogger City Select. It’s not cheap – we’ve bought a car for less than this stroller retails. But it does go on sale occasionally – like here! Here’s my review:
So far we’ve used it as a single stroller and a double stroller with the car seat attachment. It’s an all-terrain stroller but it’s not meant for jogging, so don’t be fooled by the brand name. It’s a great choice for parents who want a substantial stroller and are thinking of having another baby relatively soon, since it can be used as a single or double stroller. Also good for parents with two under three, like us.
It’s a big stroller, but it’s easy to navigate. It offers a huge storage basket, a large canopy and an adjustable handlebar to fit pushers of all heights comfortably.
It can be converted to an inline double stroller and offers tons of different seat configurations. And while it can sometimes seem kind of long, it is so much easier to navigate than a double wide side-by-side stroller. We’ve been using it with the carseat on top and B’s seat facing forward (second row, third column) but I’m excited to play with the different configurations once E is out of the car seat. Check ’em out below:
What’s not awesome? It’s heavy. Pushing this stroller up a hill is no small feat. The car seat also makes it feel top heavy, especially when I am trying to walk diagonally up a hill.
I would also prefer if it had a foot break rather than a hand brake, but I’ve mostly gotten over that.
Is it kind of a status symbol stroller? Sure. But it is also an investment that I will be able to use and then resell for a substantial amount on Craigslist.
When B was around six months old I read a scary article about the importance of protecting children’s online identity. The takeaway should have been to keep your kids off your social media accounts, but instead it encouraged me to to reserve a Gmail account and .com domain in her name. I felt pretty smug about my decision (and the yearly deduction from my bank account for the next 18 years) and was thrilled that she wouldn’t have the same fate as a college boyfriend who had the unfortunate luck to have the same name as a gay porn star. (It was the early days of Googling a date and I was bewildered to say the least.)
Then the emails started. I write letters to her on milestone days, send silly pictures I take with my phone, and forward screen shots of texts conversations I have about her with her dad. Sometimes emails are sent daily and sometimes they are months apart, but when something is particularly funny – or feels all too fleeting – I jot down a note and email it to her.
Her dad has been doing the same.
B is now two, and I haven’t gone through the email account yet. I don’t know if I will. I’m looking forward to handing it over to her and reading through the notes together – some are short and sweet, some long and sappy. If anything ever happens to me, she’ll have documentation of how much I love her, and what our lives were like when she was very little.
She’ll realize that parenting is something that is learned, and that her parents made mistakes. She’ll see pictures of us when we were young and she’ll laugh at our dated clothes. She’ll learn what life was like when it was just us and her, and what it was like when her sister made us a family of four.
People say that the years are short and the days are long with kids, and now I understand what they mean. It makes it a little easier to know that somewhere on the internet these days will last forever.
You guys, I have found the Holy Grail of smart shirts for girls. No longer must we sift through racks of tops that say things like “Daddy’s Princess” and “Diva in Training” and “Hooters.” No more! Here are tees that say things like “Happy Historian” and “Treaty of Paris” and “Easy as Pi!” Are these cheap? Not exactly – but some are on sale!
One: “Easy as Pi” (Back is filled with the numbers of Pi)
Two: “Love You to Infinity” (Back has infinity design and definition of infinity)
Three: “What is a Noun? Why It’s a Person, Place or Thing” (This one is on sale!)
Four: “Genius” (Also on sale!)
Six: “Happy Historian” (back says “Make History”)
Seven: “Executive, Legislative, Judicial Branch” (Back says Of the People/By the People/For the People”)
Eight: Treaty of Paris 1785 (Back says “The First 13 States Free, Sovereign and Independent”) (Also on sale!)
And then there is this tee, which is the best out of the bunch. The sleeve says EQUALITY! The back CONTAINS TEXT FROM THE AMENDMENT. I want to buy this shirt in every size.
Thank you, Nordstrom and Peek, for making dressing my daughters a little easier.
(Nordstrom did not compensate me for this post but I kind of want to hug them for carrying this awesome line.)
(Subtitled “In which I lose both my male readers.”)
I’m going to preface this post by saying that this isn’t going to be a judgy, “breast is best” type mommy blog. I nursed B for a full year and am currently nursing E, and I’ve been lucky to have it be easy and relatively painless in both cases. I know that’s not the case for everybody. I’ve also had an understanding boss who never complained about taking time during the workday to pump. (Don’t get me started on breastfeeding rights, because I will get up on that soapbox and never get off.)
Anyway, just because you might not be buying formula doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of stuff that goes along with nursing. Let me break it down:
One: A little known fact is that since the passage of the Affordable Care Act many insurance plans cover a pump. (#ThanksObama!) In fact, my insurance actually covered the full cost of a pump for each baby. This Spectra S2 is my current pump, and I really like it. It’s quiet and seems powerful. The downside is that doesn’t come in its own case and I still haven’t found one that I love. I currently have it stuffed in this tote bag which should be fine but it doesn’t have a zipper or clasp at the top so people who are taller than me (everyone) can peek in and see my pump parts. If I had a shred of modesty it would bother me but I don’t and it doesn’t.
Two: These are the best milk bags, and I’ve used them all. The Medela ones are nice because they come with an adaptor so you can pump directly into them but the bags are small and aren’t compatible with my current pump. The Up & Up (Target) brand are a close second but these feel sturdier and aren’t much more expensive.
Three: I used this Medela Pump in Style pump for B and I liked it even though there is nothing stylish about it. It was compact and did the job. Plus, accessories were easy to find. (I’ll do a more thorough pump review in a different post.)
Four: You need these for the first week home. Buy a couple and keep ’em in the fridge. You’ll thank me later.
Five: Steal as much of this as you can from the hospital. Find a nice nurse and ask for more. My OB suggested that I start using it about a week before the baby was due. Fun fact – this also works as a pretty effective chapstick.
Six: Look at this model being all smug about her postpartum ab muscles. She’s the worst. I didn’t (don’t) look like that. That being said, I like this bra and the best ones I’ve found have been from A Pea in the Pod (which you can also sometimes find at Buy Buy Baby.) “But Kara,” you say. “Don’t they have nursing bras at Target?” Yes, they do. And they all suck, except for these which don’t feel appropriate enough to wear out of the house. “But what about underwire? The book says not to wear underwire when you are nursing!” I want my nursing bras to be almost exactly like my regular bras, and these are pretty close. I’ll do me, and you do you, OK?
Seven: These wipes prevent you from having to wash out your pump parts in the communal work kitchen or the women’s bathroom, and that’s how they get away with being $9 per tiny pack.
Eight: You need an apron-style nursing cover, because there is no reason to hide away and miss conversation or experiences while you are feeding your human baby. #sorrynotsorry The neck strap makes it more unlikely, but not impossible, that a gust of wind or baby arm will expose your naked midsection to the rest of the world.
And this isn’t a product, but an article I just read about “brexting,” which is a terrible name for looking at your smartphone while breastfeeding. I do that ALL THE TIME and now I kind of feel like a horrible mom. Here’s the deal: I love my girls more than humanly possible, and I don’t feel less bonded to them because I use my phone. And in the early days, you might need something to stay awake or some mental stimulation to stay sane. What do you think? And why are we focusing on this stupid thing when maybe we could just be more accommodating to moms trying to do the best they can? #endrant
When I wrote this post about newborn essentials, I realized I was missing a car seat – and for good reason. Here’s a round-up of some items I hate and some much better alternatives.
1A: We have this Graco Snugride car seat. I hate it. It is SO HEAVY already, and E is only three months old. And since it’s black and felt-y, it gets super hot in the summer. Its base is hard to install. I hate this car seat so much that I’m getting mad just thinking about it, but it’s a big-ticket item and I can’t justify buying a new one for just a couple months.
2A: I thought this was going to be super useful when I registered for it, and I like the Aden + Anais brand. Instead, it is kind of a piece of junk – ours even stopped working. It’s supposed to turn red if the room is too hot, track breastfeeding, walk on water. It does none of that well. Just use your iphone for everything but its sound machine qualities. Use your body to tell if the room is too hot.
4B: This is my Holy Grail of baby products. Before having kids, I actually texted a friend a picture of this and said something like “is this what I think it is?” I know it seems so gross, but you never get the snot in your mouth and it is crazy effective. And when your baby gets her first cold from the nasties at daycare, you can feel better about your parenting by cleaning out her nasal passages…with your mouth.
Among the many things I learned in college is the importance of designer jeans. In 2003, when I was but a mere freshman, I realized that all my collage compadres were wearing sweet 7 for all Mankind A-pocket jeans. I had to have them.
I booted up my trusty desktop computer, logged on to eBay, and two weeks later a package arrived from China. (Yeah, I know. Totally fake.)
I wore those low-rider bootcut jeans all over Memphis. To class. To parties. Hanging out in the dorm. To “the Rat,” which is what we lovingly called our cafeteria. Those jeans got more use than most of my textbooks.
The A-pockets of yore were long ago donated, but I still have a couple pairs of “Sevens” in my closet. (Sidenote: Are we wearing bootcut jeans again? Let’s discuss that later.) Now there’s also a pair in B’s closet. I grabbed this adorable set at Marshalls yesterday, but they’re also available for a steal here.
(Back to jeans: Obviously these are terrible on everybody. And we can all agree that these shouldn’t be a thing unless you’re at summer camp. But I think these are cute, right? I mean, skinny jeans are fine, but in the words of Jennifer Garner, “Can we all stop pretending that skinny jeans are flattering?” #teamjen)
I’m now on my second baby. I love all things baby, but I also don’t want baby products to take over my house and my life. There is nothing I hate more that being overwhelmed at Buy Buy Baby with expensive things that the baby uses for such a fleeting amount of time. E turned three months old on Sept. 15, so this is the perfect time to do a review of the best baby products from birth to three months.
(I’ll do another post about mom essentials. It will include giant underwear.)
One: Bouncy Chair/Swing: I am a proponent of “baby setting stations.” It’s important to have fun, safe places to set the baby when you have to do other things, like tend to a tantruming toddler. (Not that I would know anything about that.) B loved this swing and I loved it because it was small enough to drag into the bathroom when I took a shower. E isn’t that into the swing, but she loves a similar bouncy chair. This chair is nice because it’s a little more modern looking and probably doesn’t play the MOST ANNOYING SONG IN THE WORLD like mine does. (“Animals are so much fun, puppies love to bounce and run!”)
Two: Yes, these Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are trendy. Every blogger says you have to have them. But they really are great and you can use them for EVERYTHING. Obviously they work as a swaddle blanket – they’re big and stretchy and perfect for baby burrito-making. But they do so much more: Nursing cover! Burp cloth! Diaper changing pad when you forget yours and you have to change your baby in a public restroom! Oversized scarf when you have spit-up on your shirt! Trust me – they do all the things that regular blankets do, but they do it softer and better.
Three: Just because you CAN wrap a mean swaddle, you might not WANT to origami a baby at four in the morning – so buy these Summer Infant SwaddleMe cheaters. I have an irrational fear of my swaddle coming loose and strangling the baby and these solve that problem. If you’re not planning on being a Pinterest parent and just want the baby to stop waking up from hitting herself in the face with her tiny flailing arms, these are a godsend.
Four: I started with a cheapo infant carrier with Target. Now I have this one. Guess who’s getting worn more? (Get the infant insert for babies under 12 lbs.) This carrier is glorious – no back strain and E seems to like it just fine. It’s also supposed to be better for the baby’s hips, hence the name “ergo.”
Five: You need footie pajamas. These are cute. There’s not that much to it, other than I think the Carter’s brand consistently pumps out cute, affordable, high-quality clothes and you can get them almost anywhere.
Six: If you get one thing for your sanity, GET THIS. My babies sleep in this exclusively for the first three months of their life. It folds up easily and is great for going places like grandma’s house or a hotel if you don’t want to lug a pack ‘n play. It makes the baby feel all snug and cozy and prevents them from laying flat, which helps with digestive issues. The new versions even rock themselves, so that’s an added bonus of which I’m currently jealous. This is worth every single penny. I promise. I wish they made this in an adult size.
Seven: This is another baby-setting station, but it’s perfect for the very early stages of maternity leave when you want the baby by you 24/7 but you might also want to be sitting on the couch watching Real Housewives.
Nine: Baby needs to wear clothes. Again, I like the Carter’s brand, but avoid the ones that say “mommy’s princess” or “future heart breaker,” or you will feel the wrath of mommy judgement.
What are your must-haves for the first three months? Agree or disagree with any of these?