Five Unconventional First Birthday Gifts

If you’re not sure you want to host a reception-sized baby bash or add another toy to the growing piles taking over your home, I’ve got your back.

My daughter’s first birthday was a special milestone I had been looking forward to for weeks.  But after stressing about the big birthday bash with our first, I vowed not to make the same rookie mistake when our second daughter turned one.

Instead we took a more unconventional approach to celebrating our second daughter’s first year.

If you’re not sure you want to host a reception-sized baby bash or add another toy to the growing heap taking over your home, I’ve got your back. Here are some unconventional gifts perfectly suited for your one year old.

Top 5 Unconventional 1st Birthday Gifts:

Write Their Birth Story – You’ve probably been thinking about jotting down notes from the day your baby entered your world, but it takes time and you haven’t had a lot of that in the last year.  Now is the perfect time to prioritize it.  The little details from that special day fade so quickly.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and spend some time reflecting on the day you met your little one.  Quickly write down all the little things that come to mind, then go back and put it in story form.  Need some inspiration to get started?  Read my birth story here. Finally, print out a couple of photos from that day to accompany the story.  It may even become a fun tradition to read your little one the story of their birthday every year on their big day!  If you’ve already recorded their birth story, you could write your child a letter telling them all the fun ways you’ve watched them grow and change over the last year!

Professional Photos – Baby’s one year birthday is a great time to capture the little personality that they are growing in to.  They likely have a few teeth that make an adorable little grin, and they can sit up, laugh, crawl, maybe even walk!  Plus, they aren’t old enough to complain about getting their picture taken yet.  Stop by the grocery store on the way to pick up a small cake. Then let them have fun getting messy at the end of the photo shoot.  You may even want to get in on the cake action; you did just survive your first year of parenting this little bebe!

Create a Will – Sorry, this one is full fledged adulting.  And while we all hope we will never need a will while our children are young, it’s not fair to your children not to address the topic early.  You need to spend some time thinking about who you would want to care for your children in your absence, any burial details, and how you would want your assets taken care of.    It’s not something anyone wants to focus on, but someday it will be a huge blessing to your children that you took the time to plan ahead.  In this case, the sooner the better if you don’t already have a will in place.

Indulge in a Date Night – To be clear, no kids allowed.  After a fun and busy first year, Mom and Dad need to make time to connect.  The first year of a child’s life is an amazing times in many ways, but it is also a time where your adult relationship takes a backseat to baby.  If you haven’t left your little one with a sitter yet, this is a good age to give it a try.  Baby is likely eating solids and sleeping through the night.  I promise your one year old won’t know if you get out without them, but you and other half will be beyond grateful.  Modeling what a happy couple does to STAY happy is an amazing gift we can give our children.  It’s so important, yet often overlooked.  Get out your calendar and schedule the time now.

Open a Savings Account – In less than thirty minutes you can open a savings account for your child wherever you like to bank.  While there, set up an auto transfer from your account to theirs.  By the time they reach eighteen you will have casually saved over $20k in their name by adding just $100 a month.  The auto transfer part is key.  Don’t let it be a choice each month, instead set it up to happen without fail.  Bonus: If you are lucky enough to have family members that like to buy your kids things, consider asking them to donate to their savings account instead, or at least some of the time (because every once in a while it’s fun for them to get something from the wish list)!

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This entire list has been personally curated and tested by yours truly, a mother of a one year old.

Need something fun to accompany these gift ideas?

This book  has become a favorite for parents to share with their little ones. “Bought this for my daughter, and the first time I read it to her I could relate to every page, by the end I had tears. It nails parenting on the head.” – 5 Stars on Amazon

How Hard is it to Make Your Own Baby Food? Spoiler, it’s Not!

Do you have fifteen minutes one time a week? I understand that as a busy parent you probably paused to honestly consider your answer.

But seriously, it takes me fifteen minutes to make a week’s worth of baby food.

Let me share some recipe ideas and tips to get you started on the right foot – all have been tested by a busy family of four, in a household with two under two.

Baby Liv is eight months now, but her adventures in food started at about four and a half months. I know at some point in her life she will eat whip cream on pop-tarts (a high school favorite of mine) or chocolate frosted donuts, but right now it is up to me to make sure she gets some good stuff to help her body and brain grow and thrive.

Your baby’s primary calorie and nutritional needs should still be met by breast milk or formula, so think of baby food as a supplemental learning experience for your little one.

I enjoy making baby food so I can control what is in it. Plus, we decided to skip the baby cereal and puffs since they don’t provide much nutritional value. Thankfully it seriously takes less than fifteen minutes to make a week’s worth of food – don’t get too hung up on the ingredient quantities, just scoop it in extra containers for the freezer!

*FYI the first two months we tested foods one by one for a few days to check for allergies, but since around six months we have been having fun with some yummy combinations*

Below are six quick ideas for a more interesting meal.

Make a batch and store a few days worth in the fridge, and any extra can go in the freezer in 1-2oz. containers.

– deli rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast, chicken or veggie stock, steamed sweet potato or squash, and unsweetened apple sauce – mix in blender

– unsweetened apple sauce, chia seeds, almond milk, and cinnamon – stir to combine

– cooked ground turkey, fresh pitted cherries, splash of breast milk or almond milk – mix in blender

– rinse a sweet potato, wrap it in a paper towel and steam it in the microwave on the potato setting. Then scoop out the insides and add a little cinnamon. Add breast milk or coconut milk to thin if needed.

– cooked black beans, peeled and pitted peach, vitamin D drops, mix in blender

– cooked garbanzo beans, blueberries, spinach, full fat Greek yogurt – mix in blender

Tips that have helped me make baby food prep easier:

– make baby food in bulk and store in 1-2oz. Containers. I use the XO ones!

– add vitamin D drops to your baby food containers so you don’t have to remember to get it out daily

– the baby food lasts in the fridge for at least three days, or if you make bulk you can freeze it and take one out to thaw in the fridge overnight. When ready to use, heat in microwave for 18 seconds

– no prep foods if you need something on the go: mashed banana, unsweetened apple sauce, mashed avocado

– serve purées right out of the fridge (cold) if your little one is teething

– steam fresh veggies make baby food prep so easy. Steam the veggie in the microwave then purée it in the blender. You can always throw in some spices or other foods on the back end for variety

– if you need more recipe ideas the book Sage Spoonfuls has been a great guide for feeding both my girls so that I know what is appropriate at each stage

– they sell reusable pouches if you want something less messy for mealtime. Just put your purées inside (in all fairness, I love this idea, but haven’t used mine yet)

As they get older, you can purée the food less to provide some food interest with texture.

Now that Liv is eight months and has two teeth, I try to give her at least one thing on her tray that she can feed herself (like steamed veggies, cheese, apples or bananas – in tiny pieces). Half usually ends up on her or the floor, but it keeps her and our dog VERY happy!

Can’t wait to hear your creative baby food ideas and tips!

*Always reach out to a Doctor with questions or concerns

Pieces of Me Died When I had Kids, and I’m Glad They Did

Not everything you did before kids was that awesome.  You had freedom, but I’m sure it wasn’t always used wisely.

If we’re being honest, little pieces of you die when you start having kids.

Hold up.  This is not some marter-fest where we sit around and talk about how our best days are gone now that we had kids.  I’ve actually come to see this as a good thing. Stick with me.

Not everything you did before kids was that awesome.  You had freedom, but I’m sure it wasn’t always used wisely.  You could have traveled the world.  You could have spent time volunteering at a children’s hospital.  You could have read more books.  I actually really hope you did!

But you all also spent a decent amount of that time picking the right filter for your rose’ picture by the pool, binge watching shows on netflix, and spending long hours sitting in front of your computer at the office.

And there is nothing wrong with any of that.

Except that kids are vacuums.  They suck up most of the hours you once had.

Because of that, pieces of you will have to die.  The great part is, you are an adult with a tiny semblance of control.  You get to pick which pieces you keep and which to let go, but you will be forced to be selective.

mom life, kids are awake, mommy brain
@mommyconvos

Read the book or watch the show?

Do your make-up or snuggle with the kids?

Take the pictures or live the moment?

Run the extra miles or write the next book chapter?

Take on the extra work project or make dinner from scratch?

This is not a test, there is no wrong answer.  But you still need to chose wisely.  Not because one is bad and the other is good.  Chose wisely because there is less time that you have to work with.  If you don’t intentionally chose, you will feel like there is never any time, and feel resentful that all the former pieces of you were forced to die.   Thanks kiddos.

Your goals will naturally need to be fewer in number, incredibly focused, and likely with a grace-filled (ie longer than you would like) timeline.  Coincidently, that is actually a great formula for successfully accomplishing your goals with or without kids.

Before kids, it’s just easier to assume you will act later because you own all the hours.  But when kids are present, you don’t know which hours will be yours.  You have to be intentional.  You need the day’s game plan in your head so that when the minutes and hours appear, you can seize them.

Do you see how kids can actually be a highly effective tool at helping you decide what the best pieces of you are?  Go tell that sweet baby thank you.  Unless they are sleeping.  In that case DO NOT WAKE THEM!

My current goal is getting my third book finished up.  I literally have one step for it, each day, that I plan to complete.  Beyond that I don’t even try because with young kids I wouldn’t be setting myself up for success or happiness.  After I finish that one goal, I let my kids guide most of the day.  My goals are few and focused, and accomplishing them takes much longer than I’d like.  But I get to enjoy my kids in between.   It makes me happy knowing that there is a small, but very important, piece of me still thriving amongst that chaos.

Amazon Rank, My Mom is the Worst #1 Motherhood
My Mom is the Worst Children’s Book, Available on Amazon Here

Which pieces of you have you intentionally chosen to focus on once having kids?

Lady Logic: Wasted Money or Amazing Deal?

So there I was, saving money for my family, and then the Lady Logic creeps in.

You know the rationale you use to validate your crazy?

Well, that’s your Lady Logic.

Let me use myself as an example.

Today I left the house to run errands.

I had showered, and left the house by noon with a newborn.  Just for that,  I was pretty proud of myself.

Gold star!

Eventually I stopped by Old Navy to make returns. We had some extra outfits that we didn’t end up using for family photos this past weekend.  So there I was getting $29.00 in returns done, saving money for my family.

Gold star!

And then the Lady Logic creeps in.

On the way home I stop by a children’s resale boutique, just for a peek.

The kids don’t really need anything…but then again, maybe they do?

And apparently they did.

Browse all the cute kids Toms Here.  One of each please!

There were the mint condition kids Toms,  because I’ll regret passing up a deal like that…

A long sleeve baby sleeper, because it’s been colder than normal here in SoCal…

The black and white Nicole Miller outfit, because everything looks cute on a toddler…

And the toddler Roxy lounge wear, because…

Just because.

My Mom is the Worst Book Cover
My Mom is the Worst available on Amazon Here

The final damage came to $32.00.  And you know what? I left feeling pretty happy.  I made those $29.00 in returns earlier, so it’s like I only spent $3.00 and got all these adorable “essentials.”

Gold star!

And that my friend, is Lady Logic.

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Wasted money, or an awesome deal?  You decide.

 

Where My Girls At? Crazy Moms Unite.

One time I got after my parents for wasting too many wipes when they were changing the baby for me.  

With my first baby there were so many unspoken rules.

Not the real rules like babies should sleep on their backs, but silly rules I created in my head.

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The strangest one, that I can remember right now, is that I decided we would use just one wipe for pee diapers and two wipes for poop diapers.  One time I got after my parents for wasting too many wipes when they were changing the baby for me.

Looking back it was ludicrous that I thought I needed to control the number of wipes we used each time.

It’s clear I just felt like I needed to be in control of something.   My world was spinning out of control those first few months as a new mom, and I didn’t know how to deal.

Well let me tell you, there is no counting of wipes with the second baby.  Not because I don’t love her as much to try to control everything in the world, but because I have more perspective.

cry baby
The second child gets the hand-me-down goods (like this repurposed sign:) and a more relaxed mama.

Besides, this baby has her own agenda.  The moment I start wiping her, she decides to start peeing again.  If I’m lucky I can whip the diaper back up in time.  But when she’s really cunning, she waits until I have just removed the old diaper, to swap in the new one, and she lets loose.  Needless to say, there is a lot of wash.  I thought getting peed on was supposed to be a boy thing?  Shows how much I know.

It doesn’t matter how many wipes I “intended” to use, I am wiping all the lady parts down again.  I burn through wipes faster than I can count.  And it’s ok, because #2ndtimemom here.  Who the heck cares?!

As annoying as she can be, that frozen girl was on to something.  LET IT GO.

First time moms, second time moms, all the moms – what are/were you trying to control in motherhood that is plain crazy when you can think rationally about it?

For some of you, you are probably too deep in to new motherhood for you to pinpoint it now.  But if your brain literally hurts all the time (like mine did), and you can barely think in full sentences, there are probably a few things on your list to start letting go of.

I don’t want to be the only crazy person up in here.  Feel free to share your #crazymom moment.

You’re in a safe place.  I’ve got your back mamacita;)

Fact: Babies Kill Productivity

The hours are mundane, but the memories are everything.

My computer straight up died as I started to type the first sentence of this post.  I find it humorous in this moment, because that’s kinda how I feel right now.

Like, I don’t wanna.  Waaaahhh!

I kinda just want to relax for a moment.

Today is my last day as a mother of two under two.  Obviously, it hasn’t been my most productive month.  I’m home all day with a newborn, so you would think I could accomplish more, but I’m no longer in charge of my own schedule.  I’m on the baby food clock now.  And come to find out, I don’t feel super creative when I’m lacking sleep, rocking crying babies, and planning my life in two to three hour blocks.

When I think about it rationally, I know my whole world isn’t going to crumble if I opt out of my norm for a month, or two, or three…

But honestly, when I’m in it, living it, I forget.

Why is it such a struggle?

Why do we convince ourselves that slowing down is going to have these major implications?

Our career or business is going to fall apart, our relationships will unravel, our bodies will never be the same, we’ll never do x and y and z again….

Deep breathe.  We gotta let that stinking thinking go.

It is true that life won’t pause for us when we slow down.  But it will always be there, ready to pull us in another direction.

We won’t convince our babies to slow down for us, so maybe we should slow down for them, while we can.

The newborn stage is a strange one.  Life revolves around a tiny, helpless being.  The hours are mundane, but the memories are everything.

Growing Up Made Me Ashamed to Relax

We’ve got responsibilities.  We’ve got bills.  We’ve got goals.  We’re adults now.  But really, we’re also just horrible at pausing and seizing the day. 

For most of us there is always a to-do list.  We are always thinking about what’s next.

But some times life hands you a 90 degree day in January and you just can’t ignore that kind of gift.

Except we do.  All the time.  Because, life.

We’ve got responsibilities.  We’ve got bills.  We’ve got goals.  We’re adults now.  But really, we’re also just horrible at pausing and seizing the day.  I’m preaching to myself here, but honestly, probably you as well.  

Toward the end of both of my pregnancies I have been reminded of this.  I have a to-do list and I work feverishly to complete it because I know there is a huge productivity wasteland coming at me in the near future.  And then all the boxes get checked.

But each time I’ve reached forty weeks pregnant, neither of my babies have arrived.  So I have some unaccounted for time.  I am forced to remember what I used to do for pure pleasure before I was a grown-up.  Ummmmm?!  What?!  But then it starts to slowly come back to me…hang out with friends…do something creative, like drawing a picture…go to the beach!

Lifes a beach bag
This Beach Bag was given to me on the last day of my position at a corporate marketing company.  I think they assumed I would use my new “free time” at the beach.  Today was the first time it’s been used.

So that’s kind of what I’ve been up to this last week.

The productive adult in me is embarrassed to admit it.  I feel the need to mention the admirable, grown-up things I’ve done this week (attend a children’s book writing class, write query letters to agents, track stats and book sales) so you don’t think less of me.  But honestly, doing things just for fun has been super strange, and super fulfilling.  

I’ve gone to a chick flick at the theater (who knew movies were only $6 if you go at 11 am?!), I’ve done some pencil drawings in my sketch book, and another preggo mama and I spent three hours at a cozy little spot in Laguna Beach chatting with the sand between our toes on a  beautiful 90 degree day in January.

Mermaid chubby Baby twins

It’s like my Baby Girl is already forcing me to mentally slow down and be present and grateful for the moment in front of me, a skill that surely does not come naturally as an adult.

Watch out world, she already wants to be in charge.

pregnant laguna beach 1 (1)
Um, Do I look fat in this? 😉  41 wks. baked.