Monday, February 23, 2009

Find Your Talents and Use them to Create Personalized Baby Gifts

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Need a fun, affordable baby shower gift? Use your talents to make something meaningful! We all have a special and unique talent! There are plenty of options out there! For example:

• Painting or Drawing- Buy a blank canvas at a local craft store and create something to match the room theme.
• Sewing- Bibs and burp cloths are easy, cute and fun!
• Crocheting- My daughter received a beautiful blanket crocheted by a friend... I absolutely adore it!
• Scrapbooking or Stamping- Create thank you cards with baby's name or monogram or just cards with a baby theme
• Singing- Record a CD of Nursery Rhymes
• Cross-stitching or Embroidery- We received a beautiful framed embroidered piece that included all of our daughter's vitals. It is hanging over her dresser.

Of course there are many other options out there... You don't even have to create it from scratch, buy something and add your own personalized touch to it! Just sit down in your thinking chair and think... think... thi-i-ink! (Can you tell that we watch a lot of Blue's Clue's?)

If you need some ideas, or like the idea of a handmade gift, but that's not your cup of tea, check out etsy. There are plenty of talented artisians on there!

What can you do to create a special and memorable baby shower gift? Share with us a unique hand-crafted gift you have made or received.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas. ~George Bernard Shaw

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Posted by The Spears Family at 4:14 PM 3 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The First Time Mom Baby Registry - Part 2

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This post is a continuation of my First Time Mom Registry. If you missed the first post, you can read it here. This time I am covering Bedding and other room needs, Breastfeeding, Big Ticket Items and some other great things to have.

BEDDING and OTHER ITEMS
Plastic Infant/Child Hangers- you'll need at least 2 packs of these...and save all of your "pants" hangers that come on the clothes you get- you'll reuse those too
Flat Quilted Crib Pad - you'll need at least 2 and the flat ones work better than the fitted b/c they shrink when you wash them and the fitted will end up not fitting right
Crib Sheets- I'd register for at least 2 but no more than 4- you'll always have at least one clean one when you need it...usually at some ungodly hour ;-)
Plush/Heavy Blanket- At least one- works well cold mornings and evenings going to and from car/buildings/etc
Receiving Blankets- At least 4- you'll use these alot when he is super small
Contour Changing Pad- it works better than the flat ones- don't ask me why- it just does
Contour Changing Pad covers- you'll need at least 2- by there very name it should be obvious why you'll always want a clean spare - these come in all colors so find something that matches your theme
Hamper- this really comes in handy for keeping his clothes separate the first year b/c you'll want to wash all of your baby's clothes in separate baby safe detergent
Swaddle Me Adjustable Wrap- basically the impossible to duplicate burrito wrapping they do at the hospital made easy- good for the first month or two
Sleep Positioner - needed for the first few months to keep baby sleeping on stomach (until he can hold his head up well on his own
Crib Wedge - if anyone is prone to allergies or sinus issues this is useful b/c your baby will prob be as well- goes under mattress to slightly elevate it
****** You'll also want some sort of basket that will go on the changing table to put diapers, wipes and ointment it- The decorative rectangular ones at Target work well.
Onesies- I used onesies alot as undershirts when she was younger. The absolute best ones are the Carters brand- they are SUPER soft- you'll love them! I'd ask for one pack of 6 in each size they have.
Gowns- You'll really like these for the first month or so- I'd ask for 4
Sleepers- You'll need these for all sizes- at least 4 of each sizes again, Carters are the softest.

BREASTFEEDING
As for breast-feeding- if you are planning to go back to work, I HIGHLY recommend the
Medela Pump In Style Advanced BreastPump- it is very pricey ($280+) but TOTALLY worth it. Probably the BEST investment that we made. I used mine religiously for 11 months. I actually still have it as this is the one item I'm holding until I am positive we won't have more.
Milk Storage bags- one large box should do you Johnson & Johnson Nursing Pads- these fit better than any other brand that I tried (Lansinoh, Avent)
Nursing bras in the next 2 sizes- the size you are wearing at the end of your pregnancy will be a size too small after birth and by the time your milk is really coming in you'll be up at least one more size over time you'll go back to the before milk (after birth) size. The Motherhood Maternity nursing bras are the most comfortable.

BIG TICKET ITEMS
Infant Seat with 2 bases- Do not buy used! Also having two bases for the seat to snap into makes life so much easier for you and your husband if you are sharing baby duties! All brands make the extra bases for usually around $40. Remember that expensive is not always safer too! We did a lot of research before buying an infant seat. At the time , the Graco Snug Ride Seat ranked in the top two safest. Read my review here.
Stroller- I recommend the Graco SnugRider Infant Carseat Frame (BabiesRUs) - at $60 it's affordable and practical. Plus it's lightweight for new moms to easily lift in and out. When your infant outgrows the infant seat, get a fancy pants umbrella stroller like this one: Chicco Capri Stroller (BabiesRUs).
Convertible car Seat- Again do your research- you want a 5 point harness and preferably to hold up to 50 pounds forward facing. Register for two (one for each car) If someone buys at least one off your registry you'll only have to come out of pocket for the other one. In this instance, the great ones aren't cheap. (Britax Marathon $280 or Alpha Omega Elite $190)

OTHER ITEMS
There are some other things that you may or may not need...it will really depend on your babies likes and dislikes. Some you will think you need, some others will tell you that you must have. My advice would be not to spend full price on these items. There are tons of great local consignment sales (see local sale dates) where you can get the items listed below for half price or less. They carefully screen all items before accepting them for sale, so they are all in great to good condition as well.
Highchair - a tradition high chair that reclines is great, these work well also: Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair
Swing- I bought one at a consignment sale for 1/2 price. My daughter hated it, but I was able to sell it for what I bought it for.
Fisher Price Papasan seat- more secure than bouncy seat, but serves the same purpose
Fisher Price Jumperoo- Ok, this one another GREAT purchase- she LOVED this thing, every kid I have ever known who has had one LOVED it- they are all over the consignment sales for 1/2 the price. read my review here.
Baby Bjorn Infant Carrier- this is one thing in which brand most definitely makes a difference! We tried 3 other bands of carriers before the Baby Bjorn. This was comfortable for both Jason and I. Our little one loved it as well. Can be used for bitty infants to snuggle against your chest or for bigger infants to ride front facing. My hubby really liked this one because he could carry her easily. (Great for walking or weekend outings where stroller is not practical) They are quite pricey ($70+), but you can find them on craigslist or via consignment for reasonable prices.
Bumbo Seat- Didn't think this was as great as it was talked up to be. You can find them at the consignments though. We ended up taking ours back (We used it primarily at restaurants) and getting a Chicco Hook-on Chair, which is AWESOME!
One more item that I cannot recommend enough is the
OxiClean Baby Stain Soaker- Register for the BIGGEST tub of this you can find (Babies R Us) It works WONDERS! You can read my review of this here
Baby washing detergent - 2 bottles- Purex Baby smells better than Dreft, but either will work fine. Some people don't wash separately, but I have sensitive skin and assumed my baby might as well. Two bottles should last you quite a while.

Again, this list is just what worked (or didn't work for me) If you would like a copy of this list in its entirety, please email me.

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Posted by The Spears Family at 4:25 PM 9 comments Links to this post

Monday, February 16, 2009

Consignment Season is Almost Here!

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My favorite season is rapidly approaching! No, not spring...CONSIGNMENT SALE SEASON! Those of you who know me well know that I love consignment season, which unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) comes only twice a year.

In our area, there are 4 different sales that I shop. After shopping them all at some point or another over the last three years (I started shopping when I was pregnant) I would say that I've got a system. Some sales you must shop on the first day. Other's you benefit more going on the last day. Some are worth checking out the first AND last day! If you've got kids and have never shopped a consignment sale, trust me when I tell you, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. You can find some really great things at these sales.

My mom will usually come up for a few and join me in shopping. My husband will come along too.. he says to watch the spending, but he contributes just as much to the "must haves" as anyone else. Our daughter will come to "test out" the toys. The four of us always have a great time!

So for those of you who are intrigued.... or those too lazy to look them up yourself ;-) here are the 2009 Spring Consignment Sale dates (you can click the sale title to go directly to the sale site for more information):
March 4 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 5 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 6 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 7 • 9 am - 6 pm • 50% Off Day
(I usually browse this one the first day on my lunch break. It's a smaller sale so you can do that. I make a rule not to look at clothes on the first day, but go back on discount days for the sole purpose of looking through the racks and racks of clothes. They still have PLENTY to choose from on discount day!)

BELLES & BEAUS
March 13 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 14 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 15 • 1:30 pm - 6 pm • 50% Off Day
(This sale is worth going to, but be prepared for a great variation in pricing on clothing items. There usually isn't too much left on half off day but you can get some great deals.)

TOT TRADE
March 19 • 4 pm - 9 pm • Expectant & New Moms Only
March 20 • 9 am - 7 pm
March 21 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 22 • 12 noon - 6 pm
March 23 • 9 am - 6 pm
March 24 • 9 am - 7 pm • 30% Off Day
March 25 • 9 am - 7 pm • 60% Off Day
(This is a consignment sale like no other. If you're an expectant mother, you can probably get everything you need at this one sale. They have rooms dedicated to strollers, highchairs, bouncers, swings, bassinets, cribs. If you've never been before, take my advice when I say don't attempt this one alone...you'll definitely need a team! Oh, and don't miss the 60% off day- there will still be TONS of items left and you can get some AWESOME deals!)

THE M.O.M. SALE
March 28 • 7 am
(This is the Mothers of Multiples Sale- there are two of everything, but they don't sell in sets so moms of singletons can also benefit from this sale! Also great deals on toys and other accessories. pay $1 to get in at 7am or wait til 9 when it opens to the public)

Don't forget to take an empty clothes basket- these places don't have shopping carts and people pushing strollers or pulling wagons get dirty looks! Happy Consigning!

Posted by The Spears Family at 10:41 AM 2 comments Links to this post

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The First Time Mom Baby Registry- Part 1

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Last night I responded to an SOS from a old friend who, as a first-time mom, is freaking out about what to register for. If you have kids, you can probably remember how overwhelming that simple task was the first time!

Think about it- you've never had to care for a baby of your own before...there are all these lists and books, not to mention aisles and aisles- heck even an entire store- dedicated to things for this baby. How do you choose?!?! And how do you know if you're choosing the "right" thing?!!?

It got me thinking. If I felt overwhelmed, my friend felt overwhelmed, there are probably lots of other 'expecting' moms out there who feel the same way. So I decided to make a list. A list of the things that you will REALLY need. And how many you actually need. And which are the best (at least in my opinion.) And some cool things I found along the way.

As I told my friend, you'll read this list, and on some things you'll heed my advice. On others you will not, but will later wish you had. It's okay- I did the exact same thing! You live and learn... and then pass what you learn along to another new mom.

Because my list is so extensive, I have broken it into several parts. This is part one. If you actually like this list and think you may find it useful when registering yourself, email me and I'll send it to you in a Word document :-)

FEEDING
Bottles- I recommend Avent or Dr. Brown- you'll need both 4 oz and 8-9oz, although you'll need more of the larger in the long run
Nipples- for each stage- I'd got for 2-3 packs for each stage/size
Bottle/Nipple Cleaning bush (2) - one will eventually need to be replaced
Bottle Drying Rack- nothing fancy
A Bottle Warmer- great for late nights! I liked this one...The First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer
Pre-Fold Cloth diapers (instead of burp cloths) - they are thicker and work much better- 1 pack of 12 will do ya
The First Years Take & Toss 28pc Variety Bag - you won't need this right away, but these are AWESOME for when baby starts feeding himself
Gerber soft bite spoons- 1 pk should be good
Dishwasher basket- for washing nipples and bottle caps

HEALTH & SAFETY
Safety Swab Q-tips - thicker tip for babies
Comb & Brush Set
Desitin- the more the merrier
Infant Tylenol- you'll use it for the first 2 years
Mylicon Gas Drops -
LOTS OF THIS- it's a LIFESAVER - the Wal-Mart brand works just the same
Safety 1st Complete Healthcare Kit - it has all the essential things you'll need
Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer- I'm not big on the whole rectal thermometer thing and this always served us well...and we can still use it as she grows


BATHING
Infant Tub- I actually bought a fancier one, found out that it could potentially collapse on my baby, return it and got this one, which I LOVED. My recommendation: The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-to-Toddler Tub
Hooded Towels-
You'll need 4 of these. More than that and you won't really ruse them all. The heavier (thicker) ones are obviously better
Washcloths-
1-2 packs of thin Gerber brand- these are great for cleaning messy faces
Huggies Disposable Washcloths are AWESOME! Register for LOTS of these- you'll love these the first two years! Read my review
here

Munckin Spout Guard- Fits over the faucet to prevent head bumps
Munchkin White Hot Super Safety Bath Duck - tests the bath water temperature


CHANGING
Diapers- Register for diapers through size three- never open more than one box at a time b/c you can take unopened boxes back as you move to new sizes. I used Huggies but everyone I know with boys says Pampers worked better for them.
Wipes- Pick one brand/scent of wipes and stick with it to avoid irritation and diaper rash
*******I'm not a fan of the wipe warmer as it seems to burn the wipes on the bottom and the smell of burnt alcohol didn't settle well.


Don't Agree with any of my suggestions? Leave a comment and tell us what you recommend instead! Have something to add? Share it with us!
Posted by The Spears Family at 11:21 AM 2 comments Links to this post

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rock `N Learn Nursery Rhymes DVD

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I have a two year old daughter and one of our favorite things to do in the car on the way to and from daycare is sing nursery rhymes together. It's been about a ten year stretch between singing nursery rhymes (used to do it all the time when I babysat) so remembering the words to all the classic nursery rhymes is a challenge. Insert the Rock `N Learn Nursery Rhyme DVD.

I actually won this item through a contest hosted by smartypantsmama. We received the DVD from Cindy at Rock `N Learn within days of the win. When we got home I popped it into the DVD player as a substitute for our normal afternoon show, Yo Gabba Gabba. The graphics are very animated and kid-friendly. In addition to nursery rhymes there are also songs and lessons about safety.

My Little Princess Pea was totally engrossed with the songs that she had heard before, the others she watched with curiosity. The musical is not loud and outlandish like most children's shows today- it is very soothing- as nursery rhymes should be. While the recommended age is 3-5 years, my friend's 6 month old twins were mesmerized by the show and the gentle tunes. I would definitely recommend this DVD to parents with children age 4 and under!
Posted by The Spears Family at 3:02 PM 1 comments Links to this post
 

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