The Stuff

I’ve seen a few blog posts out there from newish moms sharing what baby products they especially loved, so I figured I would add my two cents. When I was pregnant I was so overwhelmed with all the choices that are out there for everything! I did a ton of research before putting together my registry and buying items for Serena. I read blogs, parenting web sites, the Baby Bargains book one of Trevor’s co-workers gave us, Consumer Reports…

1. Snuggabunny Swing

We bought this swing on clearance at Target for a great price after hearing it recommended again and again. It’s great because you plug it in, so don’t need batteries, and you can choose to have it swing front to back or side to side. Some nights one or both of us slept on the couch and love seat in the living room while Serena slept in the swing. She slept longer in the swing, and sometimes it was the only thing that worked to get her to sleep! She loved this swing until she was about 5 or 6 months old.

2. Boon Grass Drying Rack and Accessory

This counter-top drying rack works super great for bottles and pump parts. The accessory is great as well for little parts and right now I have pacifiers and her toothbrush drying on it. One of my friends said she still uses hers for sippy cups. It works well and looks fun! We have the tree accessory but there is also a flower one available.

3. Baby Bjorn soft bibs

I tried a few different bibs but these are just the easiest to use and clean, and Serena doesn’t put it in her mouth between each bite like the others!

4. Graco Car Seat Stroller Frame

This was so great. It is lite and doesn’t take up much space and I used it a lot with Serena until she grew out of her infant seat.

5. Miracle Blankets

These worked great for swaddling as Serena would only sleep if she was swaddled! We were given several of these as a hand-me-down and they worked great!

6. IKEA Baby Stuff!

Most of Serena’s furniture is from IKEA. My wonderful parents purchased her crib for us from there, but we also bought her dresser and many other items from IKEA. They have great products for decoration and organization as well, and Serena has a few of their toys that she also loves!

*Pysslingar Underbead Storage

I have two of these under S’s crib that I store her extra bedding and blankets in. It works perfectly for us!

*Kusiner Wall Pockets

I have these pockets on the wall by her dresser/changing pad filled with her lotions, diaper cream, sunscreen, and also socks and hair accessories.

*Mula Stack and Nest Cups

This is her fave toy by far and she loses all the cups under our furniture! She loves to play with them!

IKEA also has some great lighting options. I got a lamp and shade for her room as well as a cute wall lamp that we leave on for her during the night. So many great options!

I could go on and on really, but these are probably my faves so far!

 

9 Month Old Serena!

Today Serena is 9 months old. This milestone feels especially big to me because I had imagined her reaching 9 months for quite a while as I made my decision to stay home with her. Yesterday the clerical staff started back for  the new school year, and I wasn’t one of them! I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple days about the people I worked with and hoping things are going well. I am appreciating even more that I am home with Serena as she just recently started to become more attached and cries if I walk away from her! She has always been great with people. She loves people! I used to be able to hand her to anyone and walk away with no issues. Now she is fine with being held by others, but I can’t walk away without her crying. Just within the past few days she has started to prefer me. I think it would have been especially hard now to bring her back to daycare- hard for both of us. I guess this is pretty normal 9-month behavior.

On Friday Serena started doing “so big” on her own for the first time. She did it for her Nana Tungseth first, when I wasn’t even around! She does it a lot now, sometimes just on her own without us saying anything to prompt it, when she’s excited. It’s so cute.

At 9 months Serena is crawling lots and crawling fast! She has been trying to pull herself up for a while and just figured out how to do it a couple days ago. She is constantly pulling herself up, sitting back down gently, and also pulling herself up and cruising a few steps. It’s crazy to see how fast she is changing- another reason I am lucky to be home with her!

Crawling around and wearing one of my dresses I wore when I was a baby!

She is a little squealer and squawker, and she makes a low roar I call her monster noises. She also just started saying gaga and baba, and says mama and dada and even said “Mom” to me the other day. It’s the best!

She loves to hold on to any kind of strap, and put it in her mouth if she can or if she doesn’t have a pacifier in, which she also loves!

She loves to feed herself and also tries to take the spoon away as well. She likes watermelon, blueberries, chicken, baked carrots, puffs, yogurt melts, banana. There isn’t much she won’t eat and will try any little pieces I put in front of her. She had mandarin oranges today for the first time and seemed to enjoy them as well. She still nurses pretty often and is getting better at drinking a bit of water out of a sippy cup with her meals. She is a great eater but has thinned out a bit since she started crawling!

Serena loves people. She will watch and smile at any kid she comes across.  She also loves friendly adults. Today at Costco she was smiling and looking past me so I looked behind me to see a blonde woman pushing her cart and smiling. After we checked out I got in the food line for my $1.50 hot dog and fountain soda lunch and she smiled at the man in line behind us the whole time. The blonde woman walked by and said “She flirts with everyone” and smiled. It’s true! She is so smiley and happy most of the time and so much fun. I am so blessed to be her mama!

Door County Road Trip Numero Uno

For me summer means:

Camping
Lake time
Road trips
Bonfires

It’s been that way for me for most of my life, and this summer is no exception! We’ve already gone camping and to a reunion with Trevor’s relatives, and last week we got to see some Pedersens. Serena got to go camping in a tent for the first time in June, and in July she got to stay in a camper for the first time! Serena and I road tripped it to Door County, Wisconsin.

Map_of_Wisconsin_highlighting_Door_County.svg

My parents have a camper there and it’s their second home in the summer. I didn’t manage to make it there last summer, but this summer we’ll be there with them twice! Door County is a beautiful place with lots of cherries, wineries, restaurants, parks, theater, etc. Serena and I made the few hour drive there to spend some time with her grandparents, and my brother Eric and his wife Brittany who also made the drive for some quality family time! I got a lot of good use out of the Baby Bjorn!

Serena had a blast hanging out at the camper. I brought the beach blanket. Mom brought a little walker that Serena loved to move around in. She had fun untying everyone’s shoes, and trying to eat leaves, and crawling towards the fire!

We had some good food there! We ate at a couple of restaurants and Dad always makes delicious food too. Of course we also had to have some cherry pie! Brittany and I had to have the delicious ice cream we remembered from two years ago- cherry cheesecake. Dad made Swedish pancakes for breakfast one morning as well.

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Door County is beautiful. The weather was actually pretty cold for July, and I didn’t get to see as much as I like to, but got some walking and shopping in.

Trevor didn’t go with us this time but will be with us when we go back in a couple of weeks. We did FaceTime him a couple of times though!

I was tired because Serena wouldn’t go to sleep….He took this and sent it to me later to show me how mad she looked. Haha.

Saying goodbye is the toughest part! It’s always good to be with family!

On the Move

Serena has gotten a lot better at crawling this week and isn’t dragging herself around very much anymore. She’s a lot faster! So it’s harder to catch her before she’s gotten into something. She loves the stereo system, any cords or cables, and anything that belongs to our dog! She absolutely loves her dog, our cockapoo Cash Howard, and apparently wants to be just like him?!

And…2 out of 4, not too bad!

A little homemade baby food update for you!

I tried the blueberry/banana/mango mix in her oatmeal and she was not a fan. She didn’t spit it out, but she made lots of faces. I gave up and gave her the stuff I bought at the store.

But then I tried a mix of carrots and peas for lunch and she loved it! She mmmmmed and ate it right up! Success!

Another day I tried giving her some of the baked carrots cut up into little bits and once again she loved the carrots! I’ve done this a couple of times now and she loves feeding herself the little carrot bits. I think next time I will give her a little bit bigger pieces that will be easier for her to pick up. I definitely need to try to give her more finger food though as she really likes it and is getting better at feeding herself.

So maybe I won’t give up after all. 🙂

Adventures in Making Baby Food

So…I made baby food yesterday and my baby gagged and spit it up. Read on to learn all about it! Haha.

All the info that is out there about feeding your baby is quite overwhelming. There are so many different ideas and rules, so I’ve been trying to just sort of go with my gut and do what seems right for Serena and also follow what her pediatrician has recommended. I figure that it’s all sort of experimental anyway because for her first year she will get most of what she needs from breastmilk anyway. I started giving Serena solid food when she was 4 months old just occasionally, and only rice cereal. Once she turned 6 months I started giving her food on a regular basis and it was all Gerber baby food. While I was still working and Serena was in daycare her daycare provided food for her, and because the rule is to give your baby the same food 4 days in a row before trying something new, I thought it would be easier to just buy the same food her daycare was giving her. (Sidenote: The internet and our pediatrician told us to just give Serena some of the food off our plates, but then how do you do the 4 day rule with that?) Then we’d just let them know what food had been added to her list of foods she can eat. I started her with sweet potatoes and she loved it! I’ve been saying for a couple months that once I finished work I would start making her baby food at home. I had many friends talk about how easy and fun it was to make food at home, and since it’s so much cheaper, I wanted to try it out.

Friday I took a grocery trip for the sole purpose of buying items to puree for Serena. I bought butternut squash, carrots, blueberries, apples, pears, and peas (frozen). Yesterday Trevor was able to keep an eye on Serena while I worked on making the baby food.  It took a while, but I finally was doing it! And it seemed pretty fun! I didn’t buy anything special to make the food, just some ice cube trays to freeze it in. I decided to try just using our blender to puree because it has a puree option. I know there are a lot of machines out there to use but I figured if our blender (that I quite love) works for me then I don’t need something else. Besides, our kitchen is small and we don’t really have room for another item on the shelf or counter.

Some friends have mentioned books they really love that they used to learn how to make baby food and to learn new recipes to try. Since I don’t have anything, I thought I’d start out with the internet, so I found this Homemade Baby Food Recipes site that has tons of info. Today I made butternut squash, blueberry banana mango, peas, and carrots.

I decided to feed Serena some of the butternut squash right away, the first one I tried. She’s never had it before but has eaten everything I’ve given her and she loves the Gerber squash. I steamed the squash, then threw it in the blender with some water and pureed it. I tasted it and thought it was delicious. I was excited to have her try it.

Well, I gave her some and she instantly made a face. I gave her another bite and she made a face and gagged. I decided maybe it was a little too thick and I should thin it a bit, so I added some breastmilk to it. I gave her that and she made a face, gagged, and then spit it all up! I felt so awful! Trevor thought it was hilarious. “The first food you ever made her she threw up!” I definitely should have tried sweet potato first! But I forgot to buy sweet potatoes at the store, so…

So there we are, my first attempt at feeding my daughter homemade baby food= fail. I went on to puree the rest though. When I pureed the blueberries I made it too thin, so added banana and frozen mango to thicken it up. I’ll be stirring that puree into her morning cereal (I give her oatmeal for breakfast every morning after I nurse her). I steamed frozen peas and made a puree with that, and then I baked carrots in foil in the oven and pureed that. I figure I can always combine the different veggies when I thaw the ice cubes. In a couple days I am planning on making the apple and pear purees, and I know those will be good to mix with the veggies and hopefully it will make it easier for her to eat them. Any purees that seem too thick this time I’ll just add some breastmilk to to thin for her. Wish me luck!

Camping (In a Tent) + Baby

Last summer when I was pregnant and we chose dates for this summer’s Cousins Camping weekend I knew that this year we would have a baby with us. I didn’t question going camping with a baby though because in years past some other cousins had camped with babies, and I grew up camping my entire life! I remember camping when my younger brothers were small. When we were camping last year we broke our tent and replaced it with a large tent knowing that it would be more than just the two of us going forward and room for a pack ‘n play would be nice. That didn’t mean I wasn’t nervous though!

We camped for two nights, so not long, and with a group of about twenty of us. Serena did really well! The first night it took us a long time to get her to go to bed. We decided to wait until a later time the next night when it was darker and the other kids would be going to bed. I think it was hard for her to go to bed when everyone else was still awake and loud and it was still so bright out! It might have been easier to put her to bed earlier if we weren’t camping with a large group, but I’m not sure.

Some things that worked well for us-

*Having the pack n’ play in our tent. She had slept in it before at both her grandparents homes a few times so it wasn’t totally foreign to her.

*Packing our clothes and all the baby stuff in tubs instead of bags/suitcases. We had a tub of our stuff and a tub of her stuff and everything was right there in our (large) tent. We also used her tub as a make-shift changing table. I laid a couple of blankets and changing pad on it and changed her there.

*Having a thicker sleep sack for her to sleep in was nice and she seemed quite comfortable. We had a hand-me-down gro-bag that she slept in.

*Her bumbo was perfect to have with and feed her her meals in or have her at the table with all of us.

I wish we would have had a big beach blanket. Trevor’s cousin-in-law Karen had one at the beach she let us use that was great for Serena to crawl around on. At the campground we had a cheap $3 throw blanket I put out for Serena to play on but the big beach blanket would have been better. After we got back I bought a nice big one at Target that I definitely will bring with next time we go camping!

We will definitely take her camping again. It was great for her to be outside and with family like that. We’re talking about going camping just the three of us (and maybe the dog) some time later this summer. We’ll see what that is like without a big group!

The moments

It’s been a few weeks home now with my baby girl. There are moments I stop and just can’t believe this is my life. I surely have a deadline right? Only x more days or weeks to spend with my baby, get my house in order, to see my friends during the day, to take the dog to the groomer, etc., right? No! This is my new life. It’s amazing the freedom and peace I feel. It’s so nice to not rush my mornings. It’s so nice to be able to cuddle with my baby for as long as we need, nurse her until she wants to stop, drink my morning coffee and give her her cereal and fruit. We’ve seen a lot of friends and family this summer also which has been so wonderful. I do not take any of this for granted!

Some days feel long. Some days there are car problems, no naps, nothing to make for dinner, but this is my life!

Two weeks in

We’re almost two weeks into summer! In two weeks I’ve:

*Gotten together with many friends! We went to IKEA, went to garage sales, had friends over for pizza, had friends over for summer food, and went with friends to a fabulous park!

*Planned meals and went grocery shopping. Serena sat in a grocery cart like a big kid for the first time! We’ve been to Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Costco. No problems and no big deal. I can do this!

*Made a summer meal. We grilled brats for the first time this summer and I made Mom’s potato salad.

*Survived huge thunderstorms and many people in the Twin Cities lost power for days! Luckily we never lost ours and we didn’t lose any trees. Just a couple miles from us there is now a sinkhole! Trevor is thankful he doesn’t have to drive Serena to daycare anymore because the sinkhole is on the road we took to get there!

Serena is doing great and is getting a bit better about taking naps. Cash Howard our cockapoo is still adjusting to Serena and I being home with him and is having a tough time. The weather has been all over the place and we’ve had lots of rain. Here’s hoping for a nice weather weekend!

 

Living the Dream- Day Two

It was a big decision but in the end I knew it was the right one for me. I decided to finish up the school year in my job at a high school and then call it quits. In the fall I won’t be going back. There are many reasons I decided to stay home with Serena, but I especially knew it was just going to be too hard to go back when my 7-week summer break ended. So now, I don’t have a summer break that will end, I am just home for good! I did love my job, which I will for sure get into more at some point.

It has been my dream for a long time to be a mama and to get to hang out with my baby all day, so now I am living the dream! Day one started out really smoothly but then little one was pretty cranky. She has a cold- stuffy nose and cough which isn’t fun.

She loves to fight naps. When she does take one it’s for 30-45 minutes tops! So I’m going to have to learn how to get stuff done while she’s awake!

Day two has been fun. My friend Michelle was in town for the day from Fergus Falls, so we went to IKEA, Panera Bread, and Archiver’s.

Serena actually did really well on our shopping trip. She absolutely loved spending time with Michelle and she mostly just chilled out and looked at all the people and things everywhere. She took a couple naps while we were out also. The car always helps with that! IKEA is one of my fave stores of all time. I didn’t shop for anything too exciting but I still managed to come home with lots of little items. Our biggest items were these two:

The Perbsy bin with lid $12.99 pictured above. I bought the grey one to use for recycling since we don’t have to sort it anymore! Can you tell I’m excited?! I couldn’t find it on the IKEA site anywhere so maybe it’s something they are phasing out?

klack tray

The Klack Tray for $7.99

I bought this to keep on one of our ottomans in the living room. I haven’t decided if I’m going to cover the inside with something or leave it plain.

I don’t go shopping for craft or scrapbooking supplies very often anymore, but Michelle and I always like to go to Archiver’s when she is in town and use our coupons. We actually both forgot our coupons but they had them on file with our phone numbers so we could use them anyway without physically having them! There is a $5 off any $5 or above item coupon right now, so I was able to use that towards this $8.99 Amy Tangerine embroidery kit item. I am excited to try it out!

amy tangerine

I ended the day playing with Serena in our living room in her fave spot to roll around on the floor. She has been rolling all over the place and scooting underneath things where she gets her legs stuck- under the couch, loveseat, TV bench, etc. Here’s an example. 🙂

Isn’t my Sere Lu just the cutest?!