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

A Happy Halloween in the Making

I love Halloween like a seven year old loves Halloween, but I do not have the mental bandwidth to stress about my daughters costumes this year.

I love Halloween like a seven year old loves Halloween, but I do not have the mental bandwidth to stress about my daughters costumes this year.

Here’s how this year’s costumes came together:

I had a lady bug costume shoved in the back of the closet that I bought at a garage sale for $2 long before it would fit my oldest daughter, in anticipation of her trick or treating days.

Then a couple weeks ago I saw an infant size lady bug costume hanging at a kids resale store for $2.

Perfection.

My two little love bugs would be lady bugs! Done. Settled. One decision out of my jam-packed brain.

Sometimes as parents we resist doing things the simple way because we don’t want our children to think we don’t care about them.

But simplicity is not the same as indifference.

As a young child you can probably think of instances of both. Sometimes simple things actually made you feel incredibly happy (making a homemade dice costume from a box), while indifference, or lack of planning, made you feel unimportant or forgotten (stopping at the grocery store on Halloween and picking from the leftover plastic masks).

Doing things more simple this year doesn’t mean that I don’t care, and it is important to me that my girls know that. Simple means that I am deciding how much of my precious time and attention can be put in to certain things, so that I have time and energy to actually invest in being present with them.

Simple doesn’t mean you don’t care, or didn’t plan. It can actually be a sign that you planned well.

Remember that as you enter the crazy holiday season ahead.

And…

Happy Halloween (month)!

From,

The Oldest Trick or Treater on the Block

PS My oldest is two and a half and already pretty obsessed with Halloween. My job is done here:)

The Missing Toys that Torture Me

How do Moms find anything? 

We search the places that someone has promised us they’ve checked.

To the missing ‘W,’

Your run is finally over.

The madness you managed to create in our house was monumental.  For months my daughter’s alphabet toy had been incomplete.  How was she supposed to finish learning her ABC’s when the W was missing?

 

No wagon, no walrus, no watermelon.

Whelp!

I searched for you, lost sleep over you, and considered offering a reward to anyone that could find you.  Many times I silently resolved to give up on you.  But then I always caved, because a good Mom doesn’t give up.

I admit, I got way too excited each time I thought of somewhere new to look.  Surely today would be the day I found you!

But it never was.  You are indeed talented at the game of hide and seek.

This morning I thought I caught a glimpse of you under the toy chest.  I moved it, already planning a victory dance in my head.  Instead, it was the wooden bunny from a puzzle.  I hadn’t even noticed that she was missing yet, since I was still fixated on the W.

So I thought about it for way too long.  At that point I was obsessed with finding you.  I pictured you in hiding with the lost red crayon and plastic egg that also keep me up at night.

I thought.  And I thought…clearly wasting too much time on the matter.

But then the clouds parted as the the following thought came to mind…

How do Moms find anything?

JK Coy Books
Check Out these Children’s Books by Author J.K. Coy Here

We search the places that someone has promised us they’ve checked.

No socks in the drawer, just check the drawer.

No toilet paper left in the cupboard, just check the cupboard.

No milk left in the fridge, just check the fridge.

It’s a fantastic starting place for every Mom detective.

So I held my breath, and I lowered my stomach to the floor, flash light in hand.  Low and behold, there you were, waiting quietly in the darkness beneath the couch.  The same couch I was guarenteed had been checked.

Well played W, well played.

Once I find the red crayon and plastic egg, you’re all in timeout.

Super Preggo Ladies, Could You Just Relax?

Which was harder for you – the last two weeks of your pregnancy, or the first two weeks home with your newborn?

Here’s a recipe for an internet disaster:  Tell a bunch of tired and hormonal women to RELAX already.

But I can’t. I literally can not hear another women complain about needing her baby out NOW without adding another perspective.

pregnant mom 2
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Note:  If you are a nurse or a well meaning friend or family member – please don’t add to that notion either.  Help these women relax!  Buy them ice cream, rub their feet, but don’t make them feel like their baby NEEDS to come out now.

pregnant mom 1
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

This P.S.A. is coming from someone that is currently “past due” by almost a week, so I’m in the trenches too.  But not for a second will I be fooled that I can’t wait a few more days for my baby to arrive.  Passing your due date is not a reason to panic.  It doesn’t mean something is wrong with your body or your baby.  You don’t need to start planning your induction the second you reach your last month of pregnancy.  I mean, your baby WILL arrive.  I have never heard of one baby that grew up and graduated in their mother’s womb.

pregnant mom 5
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Don’t get too caught up in the labor signs either.  Some of us have Braxton Hicks and start dilating weeks before baby makes an appearance.  Some of us go from 0-10 cm dilated in less than twenty four hours with no prior labor signs.  Neither is right or wrong.  Our bodies are unique.  Our babies are unique.  Relax mamas-to-be.  You are almost there.  Your baby will arrive any day now.

pregnant mom 4
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Trust me, I get it, you are uncomfortable right now.  Your ankles may be swollen, your skin may be tight and itchy, you can’t find a comfortable sleeping position.  That’s all real.

But I hate to break it to you, you aren’t going to be comfortable for awhile.

If you’ve never been through it or in case you’ve forgotten, once baby arrives, your body is still not the one you are longing to return to for awhile.  The unglamorous truth is that your body will be bleeding for a few weeks afterwards, statistically you’ll probably be recovering from stitches (vaginally or a c-section), and you still won’t be getting any sleep.

pregnant mom 3
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Sure you won’t be waking up to pee and reposition every few hours; instead it will be to soothe and feed a crying baby.  Your boobs will be huge, leaky, and overly sensitive.  Your mind won’t be able to shut off because you have a newborn to check on.

I’m not saying this to scare you.  I’m just honestly wondering, do those sound like great alternatives to rush through the last days of your pregnancy?

pregnant mom 6
Comment Credit:  Nurture Pregnancy App

Personally, I am in no rush.  Baby will come, and I will be thrilled when she does.  In the meantime, I am trying to relax, even in my super preggo body.  Because relaxing and thinking in concise thoughts is something the newborn stage doesn’t often afford.

Have you read Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster or My Mom is the Worst?  These children’s books offer a good laugh to a tired parent, and make a great gift.  Check them out here.

JK Coy Books

For the women on the other side of pregnancy:  Which was harder for you – the last two weeks of your pregnancy, or the first two weeks home with your newborn?

Open Letter from an Honest Parent; I’m Losing My Marbles

When will they sleep?  When will they grow out of this stage?  Where did they learn that?  When will they grow up?  Where did that attitude come from?

I am a parent.  I get tired.  I get frustrated.  I complain.  Daily.  The hours can feel so long.

I mean, I write children’s books about how crazy my child makes me and blog on a website called MyMomistheWorst.com, all of which I wholeheartedly stand behind.

I wanted to create a place for parents to say “I’m struggling every day.  Anyone with me?”  But I also want to remember –

I am a parent.  I love my child.  She cracks me up.  She brings me joy every day.

My husband and I attended a parenting conference this weekend.  He absolutely loves when I sign him up for this kind of thing.

But I know we both gained some valuable insight.  One of the analogies that has stuck with me this week is the idea of bringing home a jar full of marbles (936 to be exact) with your newborn.

jar of marbles

Every week, sometimes it feels like every hour, we run in to parenting situations that make us feel like we are literally losing our marbles.

When will they sleep?  When will they grow out of this stage?  Where did they learn that?  When will they grow up?  Where did that attitude come from?

But we are literally losing our marbles.  Each marble represents a week that we get with our child before they leave home at eighteen (give or take a few marbles).  With each week we lose one more opportunity to influence, to love, and to mold our children.

The analogy reminds me that the time with my child is not infinite.  Though, the hours can certainly feel that way.   It is human and honest to admit my child is driving me crazy.   I just don’t want to let myself forget to value the chaos and memories we have together now.

Like a wise children’s book once said…

“Everyday you make me crazy.  I love you to pieces. Beautiful Monster.” 

 

 

Keeping Your Mind From Fearing Birth During Those Final Weeks

I got this mailer from my hospital the other day.  They mention the pampering experience you receive in the Labor and Delivery ward.  That should be illegal.

Watch out!  It’s officially birth month.  Something pretty large is exiting my body soon whether I like it or not.

40wks birth
Insta Photo Cred @mayavorderstrasse

My due date is Jan. 23rd.  So I’m currently 38.5 wks. pregnant.  Some might say baby is due any day.  Which is possible.  But really anytime between Jan. 9th and Feb. 6th should be considered “ordinary” since due dates are an approximation and two weeks “early” or “late” is the normal window in which your body is likely to go in to labor.

In fact, according to Glow’s Nurture Pregnancy App.  95% of babies aren’t born on their due dates.  Just 25% of babies come “early” and 70% of babies come “late.”

So, that said, I am just over here trying to keep my cool and enjoy these final weeks before a tiny dictator becomes the center of my universe.

The last couple of weeks I have shared resources I used to educate myself on birth, why I chose a natural birth, the natural hospital birth story of my first daughter, and today I’m sharing my thoughts on how I’m dealing with the idea of experiencing birth for the second time around – very, very soon.

In reality I am excited and nervous at the same time.  Birth is like a beautiful body and mind *ss kicking that can sneak up on you at any moment.  So psychologically, that’s a blast.

I’ve been trying to stay healthy, positive, and busy to avoid getting stuck in my own head.  Birth will happen in its own time, so in the meantime, here is how I’m keeping my mind from fearing birth during these final weeks…

 

Fearing Birth

 

  • Staying Active:  I don’t feel quite as strong, or as active, as my first pregnancy, but I’m still making a decent effort.  I’m stretching, doing short (15-20 min.) body weight to 10 lb. weight workouts, and walking.  The better shape I keep my body in, the more likely it will be ready to be my teammate in labor.
  • Relaxing:  My bubble bath habits have gotten a bit out of control.  Between finishing our master bath remodel and my baby belly growing much faster this time around, baths happen almost every other night.  I am not a big t.v. watcher, so the tub is likely where you’ll find me after 8 pm.  I also like to get massages.  I didn’t enjoy some of the wimpy prenatal massages I received with the first pregnancy.  So now that I am in the “birth month” window, I feel comfortable getting a firm massage again, with no fear of it setting me in to labor.  At this point, baby is developed.  Plus I feel like this aligns my spine and pelvis, which is helpful for baby’s exit strategy.
  • Checking Things Off My To-Do List:  Some of the things are rational, and I really would like to accomplish them before baby arrives:  washing the infant car seat that have been in the dusty garage for a year, setting up some book marketing efforts for my children’s books that can run in the background, girl time with my friends.  But other silly things just get added on when I start to panic that I will never have free time again – like washing the living room curtains, transplanting my succulents, and filing every piece of paperwork in my house.
  • Adulting – When you start to think about creating new life, you also start thinking about how you need to get your ducks in a row.  With the first baby, our adulting goal was to pay off the remainder of our hefty student loans before our daughter was born.  We managed to pay them off the month she was born, except the joke was on us when her monthly daycare and diaper bills ate up all the money we thought we were going to be savings.  Kids are fun.  This time around, our adulting goal was to write a will.  We managed to finish it, but are waiting to file it until we have a name and birth date for Baby Two.  But, at least we now have it on paper, and know what each of our wishes are, if needed.
  • Filling My Head With Positive Thoughts:  Is child birth going to hurt?  Yup.  Am I going to have to try to push through that to have the birth I want?  Yup.  Is it going to be a walk in the park?  Nope.  And even with my best intentions, plenty of unforeseen things could still come up.  But, having no plan, is like planning to fail.  So, I’m filling my head with positive birth stories through the resources I mentioned here, and leaving the rest to the higher power at be.

I got this mailer from my hospital the other day.  They mention the pampering experience you receive in the Labor and Delivery ward.  That should be illegal.

A Pampering Birth

Unless they now paint my toe nails and tell me I’m pretty during labor, leave chocolates on my pillow during turn down service, and my girly parts feel relaxed and rejuvenated when I go how with my newborn two days later, a pampering experience is a slight overstatement.

I’ll report back in a few weeks and let you know how that pampering experience played out.

***I’M CRACKING MYSELF UP OVER HERE***

 

 

The Difference a Year Makes in Your Postpartum Journey

I probably should have listened to my heart and bought a cupcake and a candle, and sang her Happy Birthday at home.  Not like she would have been scarred.  She was ONE.

I bought these decorations for my daughter’s first birthday.  A party I really didn’t want to throw.

IMG_1081
Working on Party Set-up.  Making tassels, blowing up balloons, trying to stay cool.

I probably should have listened to my heart and just bought a cupcake and a candle, and sang her Happy Birthday at home.  Not like she would have been scarred.  She was ONE.

But I guess I got sucked in to the mom life.  I was a year in to motherhood, and while many things had improved since the newborn days, I was still working a full-time corporate job, marketing my children’s book:  Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster,

Amazon#1spot
Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster, Amazon #1 Spot

pumping and breast feeding, figuring out my new role as a mom while trying to stay true to myself, and struggling to release anxiety and get back to my generally chill demeanor.

The party ended up being kind of a bummer.  It was at a park on an unreasonably hot day, I was stressing about the party set-up and decorations, the fact that there was an event going on at the park thus there was ZERO parking, and the fact that the cute donuts I ordered tasted like bland rocks.  That was March.

IMG_1084

Fast forward to this weekend.  My great aunt helped me throw an intimate get together to celebrate Baby Two.  We did a girls night in spa party with a Let’s Pamper Before the Pampers theme.

Unfortunately I failed and totally forgot to snap some pictures of everything set-up, but I took a few the following day before cleaning up.

It was such a fun and relaxing night.  We all wore our pj’s, laughed at our ridiculous face masks, enjoyed exfoliating hand scrub, binged on a dessert bar, and got to enjoy some kid-free hours chatting together.

Spa party, baby shower, DIY decor

Most of the decorations were reused from that first birthday party back in March.  I was so excited to use them for a second time around.  It made me notice how far I’ve come since then.  I felt happy, relaxed, light-hearted, and chill at this party:)

I knew back then that I wasn’t my old self yet, but I didn’t know how long it would take.  See, I actually love throwing parties.  I just couldn’t handle it then.  That’s how I knew things weren’t right.

IMG_1092
She was by far the best thing about her first birthday party!

I had no hindsight at that point.  I was just going through the motions, hoping that at some point things would shift.  And they did.  I just needed to give myself grace during the season I was in.

Want to throw your own relaxing DIY Spa Party?  Here’s how!

Spa party, baby shower, DIY

Set the Mood (Atmosphere):  reused tassels and signs decorations I already had, cut roses from my front yard and placed them in white dollar store vases, lite a Eucalyptus Mint Candle from World Market, turned on a relaxing playlist on Spotify, and used a difuser with Eucalyptus essential oil.

Spa party, baby shower, DIY decor 2

Set the Table (Menu): vanilla ice cream with a candy toppings bar, birthday party popcorn, fruit and donut kebabs, infused lemon and grapefruit spa water, pink fizzy champagne punch

banana bread party favors and spa masks

Now Relax (Spa and Party Details):  Store bought face masks, DIY Sugar Scrub, Warm Eucalyptus towels in the crockpot (tip: I used 15 towels, 4 cups water, 20 drops essential oils on warm setting), adult henna coloring pages, mini banana bread loaves for a party favor (tip:  one big loaf equated to four mini loaves – mini loaves cooked 40 min at 350 degrees), and A Freezer Meal Pool where guests could sponsor one of the twenty-two freezer meals we prepped last week – more details here.

For $10 guests could pick a meal and leave an encouraging card for us to read on the day we eat “their” freezer meal.  Easy for guests to play, and it really helped reduce the extra $230 we spent on groceries this month to stock the freezer.

Freezer Meal Calendar for Baby Shower