Life With Three!

Two months into this whole three kids thing and it’s easier than I anticipated. I’m grateful Silas is really content and easy. What a blessing that is!

What a wild ride these last few years have been. When Abel was born, it was a huge adjustment! I worked as a nanny for a few years and yeah that’s NOT the same as having your own baby. He was around 9 months when the covid lockdowns started here in NZ, and as an immigrant that was so difficult. Not knowing if/when I could see my family again was hard.

Then I got pregnant with Juniper and pregnancy is pretty hard for me, especially the morning sickness. I also find it so easy to worry about the baby and it’s such a relief when they’re born and it just seems so much easier to know they’re okay. We had lots of stress at the end of Juniper’s pregnancy (it all turned out fine).

Juniper’s first year had some ups and plenty of downs. It was so hard. I often felt on edge and anxious. The lockdowns and mandates were one source of stress. Plus more morning sickness because then I was pregnant with Silas – and had just started my photography business.

With Silas’s pregnancy I was determined not to worry so much and to prepare much better for birth and postpartum. It helped a lot, and his birth was so calm and straightforward. I really feel that has carried on to our daily life even after this birth. With three small children there’s always something going on. One thing I’m learning is that it’s not my job to keep my children happy all the time. That’s impossible. It’s okay if they get upset at times. My job is to love them and teach them and show them their need for Jesus and his great love for them.

How many times have I been irritated because my toddler needed the bathroom when I just sat down to nurse the baby, or I just didn’t want to be interrupted? Here’s a funny story. The kids recently had diarrhoea. It wasn’t too horrible but I found myself rushing to take my toddler to the toilet immediately. Like, drop everything and run. I was so relieved and pleased when we made it to the toilet in time. Funnily enough it changed my attitude towards taking him to the toilet, for the better! I shouldn’t get frustrated at my toddler for needing the toilet.

We are still learning and figuring things out but we are doing really well at the moment. Juniper is beginning to listen better, communicate better, and play with Abel nicely. It is a lot easier and I love seeing their sibling bond. Having little children is intense and hard but ever changing too. Just a year ago Juniper was still a chubby BABY.

Another thing I am learning – parenting is not about making your children behave a certain way. Again, it’s about loving them and teaching them and showing them their need for Jesus and his love for them. I can’t expect my children to be ‘good’ and stop sinning if I parent them well. I can expect them to sin, and teach them that sin is wrong and why we need Jesus. Parenting is such a refining process for me. I am always challenged to wonder why I am teaching my children. For a time I floundered, what is right and wrong, why don’t we do this, what’s the reason for that… I’m so thankful for the Bible. God made us, he loves us, he wants what is best for us, and his Word is full of wisdom and instruction.

I have found some helpful resources that really encouraged me recently. I greatly enjoyed the book Risen Motherhood. It encouraged me that having toddlers doesn’t mean I should have a stagnant spiritual life. It encouraged me that Jesus cares about my every day, mundane challenges. It encouraged me that God can and does work through small ordinary everyday people and happenings. And that ultimately my purpose is to glorify the Lord. Another place I found encouragement was Christine Keys’ blog. This post in particular on How to Be a Calm Mom was so helpful to me. It is full of practical, real, helpful tips to challenged me to do better.

Welcome, Silas!

(Thanks to my Mom at Little Earthling Photography for the family photos!)

Well life sure has been busy this year. Time flies when you’re having fun right? There’s been lots of craziness too (toddlers, man…) but plenty of fun. Let me address the title of this post first since that’s kind of some big news. We had a baby!

After Juniper was born I told Jared, next time let’s not announce when we’re pregnant. We’ll just be like ‘surprise we had a baby!’ that would be so funny eh? So, we did it. We told a few people but never made an announcement, and yes, it was indeed the fun surprise I had anticipated.

My mom came for a few weeks and I’m so glad! We have really missed all my family these past few years being stuck apart because of travel restrictions. The hardest part was not knowing when we could see each other again. Thankfully New Zealand’s border restrictions eased in time for my mom to come for Silas’ birth! Silas was more considerate than his siblings and only waited three days past his ‘due date’ to be born (Abel was 10 days and Juniper was 8). Thank you Silas! Abel and Juniper adored having grandma around and so did Jared and I. The thing you may not realise about a long distance relationship is that once you and your significant other are together, you still have to do long distance. With your friends and family. It’s just not the same as spending time in person, so we really, really enjoyed having my mom here. She also bought us lots of Lego which we are really enjoying. We had some Duplo already for the kids but Jared and I got our first regular Lego and I think it’s safe to say it will not be our last, either.

Thankfully my pregnancy with Silas was pretty smooth sailing. The usual first trimester morning sickness kicked my butt, but once I got over that I felt pretty good, and everything was pretty normal. Juniper’s pregnancy was STRESSful especially the last month. There were concerns over what turned out to be nothing. I’ll have to write her birth story soon! Anyway, because of that I was determined not to stress no matter what happened. It’s easier said than done, but hey, we did it!

I changed my mind about where to give birth a few times. Initially I was determined to have a home birth, then decided to be in the hospital, and at 39 weeks decided to try staying at home. I’m so glad! The birth went so well and there was no need for us to be in the hospital. The hospital was also extremely busy and understaffed and I’m glad we weren’t there unnecessarily.

We decided to skip finding out the sex of our baby and have another surprise (Abel was a surprise, and we found out with Juniper).

I was trying very hard to be patient knowing that babies come when they’re ready, and it’s easier to distract yourself when you have toddlers keeping you busy. My due date was on Sunday, and although I had some braxton hicks the week before, my uterus had been pretty radio silent for days (baby was still moving fine, but no contractions or cramping or anything to signal labour). Finally on Tuesday I started having some mild contractions and I was excited knowing that whether labour was near or not, that was a good sign. I woke up around midnight with the contractions more painful and went back to sleep. Around 2am they were definite labour contractions, still pretty mild and about ten minutes apart, so I stayed in bed and tried to sleep. At 5am I couldn’t stay still anymore during the contractions, so I went in the lounge to avoid disturbing Jared. By 7am the contractions were irregular and hardly uncomfortable, and continued that way the rest of the day. I called my midwife, Jana, to let her know what was happening, so she could get the portable gas from the hospital (I didn’t end up using it!), as I was pretty certain that we’d be having a baby in the next day or two.

Around 5pm the contracations started getting stronger and consistent again. My midwife texted to ask if I wanted her to stop by on her way home, but since I was still handling the contractions fine I didn’t see any need for it and told her I would be in touch when labour intensified. Around 5:30 I called Jared to let him know that Abel and Juniper should stay at his parents that night. He came home around 6:30 and then took them out to his parents’ house. I spent some time in our bedroom labouring, and got in the shower for a bit (I can’t remember if that was before or after Jared got back). The contractions were getting really intense but in between them I felt completely fine so I found it hard to estimate how far along I might be.

Jared got home around 8 and I started crying and having trouble getting through the contractions. Mom came into the room and she and Jared both helped me through the contractions. Finally I told Jared that we should call the midwife. He asked about the timing of my contractions and I told him I didn’t know but it didn’t matter, he should call her anyways as they were very intense and close together now. Jana arrived around 9pm. Eventually she was able to do a cervical check (it was hard to catch a break between the contractions) and I was 8cm dilated. I was encouraged to hear that, as I suspected I was quite far along. I could tell I was reaching transition as I felt shaky and a little sick. My mom kept reminding me to relax in between the contractions. It was so odd because each contraction was very intense and difficult but in between them I could feel perfectly normal. I reminded myself that the contractions were not going to get stronger at this point, just closer together.

I started feeling a bit pushy but I was concerned because this was where I got stuck with Abel’s labour, and I was afraid to try pushing before I was fully dilated. I told Jana and she encouraged me that the cervix was very thin and stretchy when she felt it, so I was fine to push. She called Maran, her backup, to be there for the delivery. I started pushing just enough to help me get through each contraction. I was wedged between our bed and the wall, and when I started really pushing, I moved to the end of the bed where there was more space. The pushes started feeling different and more productive and I got very quiet just focusing. It was so great to just follow my instincts and push when and how I wanted to. My waters finally broke while I was pushing. As the baby started to crown I thought man this is hard work, and the head is really bony, I’m sure Juniper’s wasn’t this bony (it probably wasn’t because my water broke earlier with her labour and her head had more moulding). It was very hard work but I was encouraged knowing that it was nearly over, and I was doing it. Once his head was born, then I pushed his body out, and he was wrapped up in his cord which scared Jared for a moment as his neck looked to be at an odd angle. Once he was untangled and I grabbed him, I could see he was a boy! The name we chose for him is Silas Charles.

After Silas was born, Jana and Maran helped me onto the bed and I cuddled Silas as we waited for the placenta to be born. He took a while to figure out how to latch on and breastfeed. After the placenta was born and the midwives took care of me, I was able to shower and dress and get back in bed. I was so looking forward to a home birth so we could just relax in our own bed after the birth, but we didn’t really sleep at all. There was a bit of meconium in the amniotic fluid so we were instructed to keep an eye on Silas’ breathing and temperature. Well, I was exhausted, but was trying to watch his breathing and ensure he was doing fine, so I hardly slept. Thankfully Jared’s parents kept Abel and Juniper for a few days so we did get some good rest in the following days!

It was so amazing to have a home birth and to have such a straightforward and good birth experience! Abel’s birth was pretty darn traumatic, Juniper’s was ok but not a great experience, and Silas’ was really beautiful, AND the shortest at just 5 1/2 hours of active labour plus the labour earlier that morning. It was the labour to be jealous of. You know when you hear someone had a great, short, labour and think wow that’s great but so not fair… well I finally got that labour.

Jungle Safari Birthday Party

Yes, it happened. Somehow my baby turned one! We celebrated with a fun jungle safari birthday party. Growing up my mom was the best at making themed parties and we had so much fun coming up with ideas for decor and food and costumes. It’s been fun to do a bit of that myself lately!

Jungle Safari Themed Decorations

In December my friend Mia asked for my help with her party decor business, Crate a Celebration. She comes up with the designs and prints them and I assemble and coordinate pickup. It’s really fun getting to be a bit creative and also to help her out so she can continue using her creative talents even while she’s also working full time. She designed the cake topper, favour boxes, and banner for Juniper’s party and they turned out amazing!

I have been wanting to do a jungle safari birthday party for so long and Juniper’s birthday was the perfect opportunity. She really is a wild one, and she’s young enough to not care what her party theme is, whereas Abel’s last birthday was car-themed because he is obsessed with cars.

After the party I hung the ‘Juniper’ part of the banner in her bedroom. You can buy cheap jungle/safari party decor online but is it this cute, durable, trendy, fashionable, and customisable? Sure isn’t 😉

I also purchased a variety of balloons to make a balloon arch. It’s pretty easy but I also hated making it. I blow up the balloons, use a tapestry needle and yarn to tie them in bunches of four, and then connect all the bunches with yarn and move them around until it looks right. It’s hard getting them all to face the right way so that you don’t see the tied ends though, and my one zebra balloon ended up on the back side so you couldn’t see it. The gold balloons are from Spotlight and the others from a variety of places.

Juniper doesn’t look impressed because she just woke up from a nap!

I grabbed whatever I had around the house that would fit in with the theme as well, to use as decor. Some wooden animals, Juniper’s giraffe teether, wooden beads, etc. It’s a fun way to add more variety to your decor without spending a ton on things you’ll throw away later.

Favour Boxes

I don’t usually do favour boxes, we’re kinda chill about parties and I hate little junk that will just be thrown away, so we filled these ones with some themed lollies which was really fun! Bananas, snakes, and crocodiles were perfect!

Food For a Jungle Safari Birthday Party

Of course one of the most fun parts is the food! Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas for themed food but it is very easy to customise desserts and sweets, and can be difficult to find fun ideas for healthier snacks. I know birthday parties don’t come often and I don’t mind if my kids eat lots of lollies a few times a year, but it’s nice to have something more filling and nutritious as well because I’m an adult now and know that just eating sugar doesn’t make you feel very good. Sparkling water and juice are a good alternative to soda too!

Food table: Watering Hole

Carrots and hummus: Lion

Sultanas: Ants

Chickpeas: Snake Eggs

Cheese and crackers board: Snakes

Sausage Rolls: Snakes

Chips: Beetle Wings

Veggie straws: Grubs

Sliced apples: Crocodile Teeth

Drinks: Jungle Juice

Easy Personalised Decor Using Canva

I used the website Canva to create the labels for the food and this fun poster with photos from Juniper’s first year. After the party I put this poster on Juniper’s closet door and she loves looking at it! I tried turning my designs into templates to share but that’s not possible with a free account so I can’t. However the website is really user-friendly and if you know your way around a computer I think it’s pretty simple to figure out.

Plates/Napkins/Cups

A few ideas for diposables – get all white which is cheap and goes with anything, get solid colours that match the colours used in your theme, patterns that coordinate, or themed patterns. I found these party animal cups at Kmart, and the leaf plates and napkins were on sale at Countdown so I grabbed those! The leaves on the table were also from Kmart for cheap so I just used those for decor.

Games

I came up with some fun personalised games for us to play! For the first game, I wrote some trivia questions about Juniper. I couldn’t think of many to be honest, but included questions like what was her due date, what’s her birthday, was she early/on time/late, how far apart are Abel and Juniper, etc. For the second game I found some baby photos and everyone had to guess who was in each photo. I included myself, Jared, Abel, Juniper, and just to confuse everyone, my nephew Monty. Everyone enjoyed the games!

Abel was so excited because of course I started prepping things the week of her party and it was very hard for him to be patient about the balloons, decor, and cake. He may have eaten the chips, lollies, and frosting and left everything else on his plate, but again, birthday don’t come very often and I wasn’t going to spend the party making sure Abel ate a balanced meal. 😉

Happy first birthday Juniper!

Summer With Kids

I really have been MIA lately, but I always say that don’t I? We had a really wonderful Christmastime. My sister and her family came to visit and the boys had so much fun playing together. They flew up to see us, and after we met them at the airport, Jared and I decided to go for a drive to see the Christmas lights. We found a few houses but then hit the jackpot when we drove through a new development not far from where we live. There were heaps of houses with just over-the-top Christmas lights and it was gorgeous. Abel was SO excited. It is so fun experiencing Christmas with a 2.5 year old! He screamed with excitement every time he saw the ‘pricmas ights’ and ‘pricmas tree’s.

We visited several beaches as well, and went for a few walks. Jared gets a few weeks off work during the Christmas holidays and this year has just been great. He goes back on Monday, but we have really enjoyed the extra time as a family, relaxing and enjoying the beaches as well as getting a few things done around the house.

We moved into this house last March when Juniper was just a few weeks old. Do all you can to avoid moving with a newborn, people. It was very hard. Not just her being a newborn so much, but more so my own recovery. Lifting heavy boxes when you just pushed a baby out of you probably ain’t a good idea. Do not recommend. I asked for help as much as possible and tried not to overdo it but it was still a bit much! I planned to organise our sheds once we got a few nice days without rain in the spring (September/October).

I did not. We finally got to it during the holidays and it feels so good to have it done. We did a dump run (kind of hurts seeing stuff just be chucked in a landfill doesn’t it!). Jared got some shelving from Bunnnings and we put it together (actually took all day, did not expect that haha). It’s so good to have all our stuff easily accessible and we know what we have and where.

I’m working in the garden lately, it’s doing okay. I harvested all of our kale to make room for the squash to spread out. I washed it, chopped it, and put it in the freezer for adding to smoothies, or whatever. I weeded all around the tomatoes, squash, and random potatoes that volunteered from the compost, and then I used some seaweed fertiliser. I’ve also been watering the garden with a sprinkler that we bought for the kids to play in (they love it!). Hopefully we’ll see some actual fruit soon! I’m not sure what kinds of squash I have because Abel helped and so I think we have a few pumpkins, one or two cucumbers, and some courgettes. We’ll find out, anyways!

The garden in front of our house is also doing alright. We have a few strawberry plants that have been consistently growing and giving us several strawberries a week which is great! I also have mint, flowers, some lettuce I should probably pick soon, and a whole bunch of cauliflower and broccoflower. There were no heads on the plants a week ago but when I looked again earlier this week there were! I was pleasantly surprised because it seemed they popped out of nowhere. I found a TON of stinkbugs on all the plants, and read that they are hard to get rid of. Not to be deterred, I filled a bucket with soapy water, grabbed a garden glove, and picked off all the stinkbugs I could find and chucked them in the bucket.

We’ve really been enjoying time outside this summer, it just gets a bit hard in the mornings/early afternoon when there’s not much shade in the yard. I bought Juniper a new sun hat last month thinking 6-12 months would fit her great, until I realised she was already 10 months, and yeah, it’s too small already. Whoops!

I have some serious tips though, spoken as a seasoned mom of a 2-year-old and almost-1-year-old (can you believe it?! February!)

Tips for a more relaxing summer with kids

1. Buy sun hats early

When Abel was a baby, he outgrew his sunhat in the middle of summer and needed a larger one. There were heaps at the beginning of summer so I wasn’t concerned, but when I went to find one, the stores were mostly out, or just had the more expensive ones. I thought I learned my lesson this year by grabbing Juniper one in December that would last her ages, until, like I said above, I realised she was already on the bigger end of that size. So, don’t just recall what size your last baby was in the middle of summer, try and remember how old your current baby IS. When sun hats are abundant and cheap, buy the next size up in case they outgrow their current size while you still need sun hats daily! Bonus points if they’re gender neutral so can be hand-me-downs for the next child.

2. Accept that your baby will eat sand by the handful

I like to think I’m a pretty chill mom, most of the time. I do not like to watch my baby eat dirt, grass, sand, but it happens. One of our first times at the beach with Juniper she was eating literal handfuls of sand, just shoveling it in there. Here we are, sitting at the beach, trying to have a good time, surrounded by sand on every side, it’s sand everywhere, there is no way I’m keeping Juniper out of the sand. So I decided instead of stressing and trying to keep her from eating it the whole time, I might as well just enjoy myself. Abel had eaten sand before and he was okay. So Juniper sat there, happily munching away on sand, and the next day had a nappy that was basically entirely full of sand, and otherwise, she was perfectly happy and didn’t seem to have any issues.

3. Garden sprinkler vs pool

We have a small wading pool I got last year for Abel. He loves it, especially when it’s full of bubble bath, but Juniper also loves the water and is in the stage where she loves it so much she’s very high maintenance because you’re trying to keep her safe the whole time. Good solution? A garden sprinkler! For one thing, I can water my garden with it as well. Secondly, it’s amazing for kids water play without having to be within a foot of Juniper because I don’t have to worry about her drowning. Makes outside time a bitttt more relaxing (read: 100x more relaxing) than when we use the pool. (bonus: no moving parts for the kids to break on this one)

4. Drink bottles and snacks

When Abel was a baby I spent a long time trying to find just the right drink bottle. I finally settled on a favourite (linked here) and I want to share it because it really is the best. It’s about $13 depending where you buy it (Countdown, Warehouse, etc.). It has a soft straw so shouldn’t mess with their teeth, the straw can be closed to be a bit hygienic (if that’s possible with babies/toddlers lol), it’s pretty easy to take apart and put back together, every part is washable (just don’t let the small straw part go down the drain) and doesn’t leak. Snacks are just really handy when you have kids in case you stay out longer than intended or need a distraction. I don’t have specific recommendations, just bring food when you go places. 😉

5. Change of clothes and nappies

Now this should be obvious right? Well. For one thing, if you go to the beach I definitely recommend bringing dry clothes so the babies don’t have to be cold on the drive home! Me, I find it easier to just wear my togs on the drive home so I can have a shower and change when I get home. For general out-and-about, it’s good to have a change of clothes and nappies for the kids as well though. I know this should be a nappy bag staple. But hear me out. Abel is potty trained now. He is doing so great, but he has accidents if he’s in his carseat without a nappy on. Like the other day when I forgot to put one on him and he peed like three minutes into the drive (really??). We were walking around some stores so just made him deal with it, hoping his shorts would dry out. They did not, I think they got more wet, and while I had an extra nappy and undies in my bag, I didn’t have shorts or pants for him, and he’s too old to not wear them now. We were going to visit the playground but didn’t want him climbing on play equipment while soaked, so went home and ended up going later in the day. This also happened once at church when I forgot to tell the creche workers he was wearing undies. Just bring a change of clothes for all your kids, all the time.

I know we’re already halfway through the season but hopefully these tips will help you to have a more enjoyable summer with kids!

PS I mentioned a while ago that I had decided to make my Instagram private for close family/friends only, and while I did and enjoyed that, I am feeling confident again to make it public, so feel free to follow me there @tillyvirtue.

Car Themed Birthday Party

Last week Abel turned two and we had a car themed birthday party for him!

I racked my brain for a long time trying to decide what theme to have his party, and then all of a sudden I realised it was extremely obvious because he is obsessed with cars. Why I didn’t think of that sooner I’m not sure, but I really think my brain is working at half capacity lately.

Anyway, once I decided on the theme I started searching Pinterest for ideas. My mom is the expert at themed parties so I grew up with them. It was really fun to brainstorm and put together this car themed birthday party!

My friend Mia at Crate a Celebration made the banner and the cake topper. How cute are they?! If you’re in NZ and need party decor, check her out.

I baked a cake and frosted it to look like grass. I printed off a number 2, laid baking paper over it, and traced it with melted chocolate and it turned out amazing! Then I piped the road lines with white frosting. I found a finish line flag online and printed, cut it out, and taped it to two toothpicks.

I made a balloon garland with red, black, and white balloons, and I hung up the car drawings that usually go in Abel’s room. Then I decorated the table with his toy cars, and hung three of the worst streamers I have ever seen, I have no clue why they didn’t twist beautifully. But, he is two. He really didn’t notice that the streamers were twisted funny.

We had some themed food: ‘nuts and bolts’ nut mix, ‘spare tires’ Oreos, ‘racecars’ made from Tim Tams with M&M wheels stuck on with melted chocolate, ‘dip sticks’ sliced carrot and celery with dressing. I also planned to make ‘traffic lights’ by putting kiwifruit, apple, and pineapple on a skewer but the kiwifruit I bought were (and still are, actually) rock hard so I abandoned that idea. We also had ‘petrol’ drinks, and I wrote ‘Fueling Station’ on the chalkboard.

Look at the details on the decorations! I love the letter L has a sign in the background that says ‘Abel Second Birthday’ which is so fun and unique!

Abel was so sweetly looking at the food before the party started and I told him he had to wait. Once he was allowed to eat the food, though, he ate a LOT of biscuits. I don’t know how many, but, you only have a birthday once a year, so I didn’t mind.

I have to admit that the sugar cookies and the cake didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped. But I enjoyed making them, they added to the fun theme of the party, I wasn’t entering them in a beauty contest, and my child was turning two so really didn’t notice that they weren’t perfect. I can be a perfectionist but I’m realising that’s prideful. Fear of failure shouldn’t stop me from making an effort, especially when it’s about something like making my son feel special.

Can you believe how much he has grown in the last year? Here are some photos from his last birthday!

what's in my hospital bag

What’s In My Hospital Bag

I’m now 37 weeks pregnant so I’m well and truly preparing for baby, and of course that includes packing my hospital bag.

When I had my first son, Abel, I planned a home birth. I expected it to go smoothly and so I had a very poorly packed ‘just in case’ hospital bag, which I was adding to last minute when we decided to transfer to the hospital during my labour. I don’t recommend. Pack a hospital bag, regardless of whether you expect to need it.

This time, I am planning a hospital birth. At the moment our baby is lying sideways (transverse), so if she stays in this position I will need to have a c-section. If she turns head down then I plan to attempt a VBAC. Either way, I’ll have a well packed bag so I won’t have to worry about that during labour/immediately postpartum.

I felt a little bit lost as to what to pack because although I’ve had a baby before, like I said, last time was an unorganised scramble to get what we needed, and I had to ask my husband to bring more stuff from home after the baby was born. I found a few lists on the internet that were helpful such as this one. My mom is a birth photographer in Bellingham, Washington, not to mention she’s given birth nine times, so I found this list she put together helpful as well! She’s also put together this birth guide that you might want to check out. I just printed off the birth plan, birth affirmations, and 4th trimester printable.

What’s In My Hospital Bag

Snacks for Labour

You and your husband or birth partner will both want to keep your energy up, during and after labour, so pack some good snacks.

Lip Balm and Hair Ties

Lip balm and hair ties will be handy during labour, nipple cream is a must for breastfeeding, baby wipes are great for everything, and some scented lotion will help me feel human. 😉

Baby Blankets

I packed a large muslin blanket, a soft flannel blanket, and a merino swaddle.

Baby Clothes — Newborn and 0-3

When my son was born, he didn’t fit the newborn pajamas I brought. Thankfully I’d also grabbed one in 0-3m and that fit him well. So this time I brought a bit of clothing in both sizes! I anticipate staying in the hospital for several days if I have a cesarean. Hopefully I can stay less time if I have a VBAC. I packed several outfits just in case. Although this is a summer baby, I don’t know how warm or cool it will be in the hospital so I tried to cover all my bases. I packed the different sizes in separate ziploc bags and labelled them with a sharpie so it will be easy to grab the desired size.

Special Outfit for Baby

I’m planning to take a cute ‘baby is here’ photo to share, so I put aside pajamas, a headband, and a sign with baby’s name. These are in a separate bag inside of my hospital bag so that when I’m ready to take the photo I can easily find what I need.

Change of Clothes for Dad

Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes for your husband!

Clothes for Yourself

Of course you’ll need clothes as well. Anticipating the possibility of staying for several days, I packed enough clothing for that. It’s a bit tricky because barely any of my clothing fits me at 37 weeks pregnant, but I won’t fit my normal clothes right away after giving birth. So I had to find what I can spare right now that will still fit me just a day or two postpartum. If you plan on breastfeeding, make sure to include comfortable nursing bras or tank tops, and shirts that are easy to feed in. I also packed warm socks, regular socks, and underwear, I just didn’t feel the need to photograph that. 😉

I packed four tops, two nursing tanks, three nursing bras, two comfy skirts, two supportive leggings, one pair of warm socks, three pairs of regular socks, and four pairs of underwear.

Miscellaneous

I packed some reusable and disposable breast pads, baby face washers, Tui baby balm, and white noise machine and charger. I’ll also include my pregnancy book and birth plan.

To Pack Last Minute

I know, I just said I wanted to be well prepared because last time I was scrambling around last minute. But some things I still need at the moment. I’ll be sure to consult my list and grab them when I know it’s time.

Phone and charger, water bottle, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and purse.

Don’t forget to have your baby carseat installed in your vehicle as well! If you already have kids, make sure you have a plan for who will look after them. If they will be going to someone else’s house, have a bag packed for them as well.

If you do plan to breastfeed, be sure to check out this blog post I wrote when Abel was a few months old!

Toddler Clothes: Stylish and Affordable

Toddler clothes: Stylish and Affordable

A few weeks ago I went shopping and bought some summer clothes for Abel. I thought I’d share some tips with you for keeping costs down as you buy clothes for your little ones.

I know there are a myriad of ways you can shop and dress your child, but I’m just sharing how I’ve found some clothes I love at a price I love, to dress my baby the way I like! Since Abel is in that stage where I can buy from both the baby section and the kids section, this opened up even more cute options.

Know What You Need

The first thing you should do is to make a list of what you need. Check your child’s closet, see what they already have, and write down what you’d like to get. I am trying to keep things minimal as it just makes things easier for me, plus buying less = less spending.

Look Online

I am obsessed with the baby and kids clothes that Kmart currently has! I browsed online and used my list to come up with some ideas of what to get Abel. Knowing that I could get everything I needed in one place was helpful. I decided to go into the store in person so I could see which sizes to buy, and to try some shoes on Abel.

Coordinate

Another important factor is buying items that all go together! I have to confess, when Abel was a newborn he had many adorable outfits in cute gender-neutral patterns, but there were so. many. patterns. It was hard to match sometimes! So when I purchased him some clothes this time I looked for plain colours or neutral patterns. I also chose a few colours and stuck with that theme, comparing everything to make sure it went well together.

Then again, not everything has to coordinate. My mom sent Abel some clothes from Primary.com for his birthday and they’re so fun! He also has a few pairs of pants that we already have, but with his cloth nappy bum, pants sizing can be unreliable so those are just ‘we’ll see when these fit’ items.

Multi-Purpose Items

I got Abel two pajama sets, and I made sure at least one of them didn’t necessarily look like pajamas so it can be worn anytime. When choosing a pair of shoes for Abel, I wanted some that could be worn to church but also just anytime we go out. He has some soft-soled bobux that I love, however… they are bright red. They match pretty much nothing he has.

Thrifting

Thrift shopping is a great way to save money. I recently got some baby clothes that were in new condition, for half the retail price. The issue is that it can be a bit hit-or-miss and there’s no guarantee you’ll find what you’re looking for. I’ve been keeping an eye out for shoes for Abel every time I go there, but haven’t found any so I decided it was finally time to suck it up and spend $10 to buy them new.

Buy Used Online

Many times you can also find what you want for less by looking on Facebook Marketplace, Trade Me, Craigslist, etc. I bought Abel’s Bobux on Trade Me for much cheaper than they are new. If you’re looking for name brands this is a good place to start. Bulk lots are also really common, but I have mixed experiences with this. I bought a bulk lot of 0-3 month clothes for Abel and ended up with more than I needed, and much of it wasn’t in great condition and/or wasn’t my style. Because of this now I’d rather buy items individually. If you go this route just be mindful of the condition, style, and quantity.

Try On

Take your child with you if possible so you can make a good guess as to whether the clothing will fit, and then try it on them before taking off the tags (or before purchasing, if you can).

I hope these tips help you with shopping for your kids and finding what you need that’s both affordable and stylish!

Do you recognise the shirt and leggings from the photos above of my Kmart haul? So cute and stylish!

Last weekend we spent the day at the beach and had so much fun. I’ll share some more photos soon. Abel is so different now compared to earlier this year.

First Birthday Gift Ideas

With Abel’s birthday in a month, I’ve been brainstorming first birthday gift ideas.

Since he’s our first baby, we don’t have all the toys and things already. We’ve been blessed with lots of hand me down clothes, so he doesn’t need much there. I like simple, open-ended toys that can be used for years and encourage imaginative play as well as learning skills.

I love Kmart’s wooden toys and found so many things that I want to get for Abel! We can’t buy everything because we do have a budget, but these are things that I saw and loved! I’m hoping to go shopping with Jared so we can both pick out Abel’s presents.

*Note: I’m shopping in New Zealand. I’ll be sharing links to products you can buy here. Prices are current at the time this post was written. Items might not be in stock online. Some items are recommended for ages older than 1 year.

first birthday gift ideas nz
1. Wooden Rainbow – Kmart, $10
2. Wooden Stacking Ring – Kmart, $9
3. Sensory Balls – Kmart, $7
4. Wooden Xylophone – Kmart, $6
5. Wooden Breakfast Puzzle – Kmart, $10
6. Wooden Dino Puzzle – Kmart, $5.50
first birthday gift ideas nz
7. Tactile Touch and Feel Puzzle – Kmart, $10
8. Lego Duplo Tow Truck – Warehouse, $7
9. Dump Truck Shape Sorter Vehicle – Kmart, $18
10. Wooden Beach Buggy – Kmart, $5
11. Wooden Blocks with Shape Sorting Lid – Kmart, $17
12. Wooden Clutch Character – Kmart, $3

I love the wooden kitchen toys that Kmart has too, but those are probably better for when Abel is a bit older so he won’t try to eat the play food (I hope – they do grow out of eating everything, right?).

Abel currently has lots of babyish toys so I’m excited about getting some that will challenge him more. He has lots of books too which he loves! His favorites are the touchy-feely books. He can look at his books by himself for ages, and also loves being read to.

p.s. where did my baby go? When I look at these pictures I really CAN believe he’s almost 1 because he looks so big!

I also plan to print and laminate some photos for him, like the ones in this post.

Once he’s one, I’m planning to make a photo book from his first year of life – more for me than for him, definitely, and I can’t wait!

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What’s In My Diaper Bag (With a 3-Month-Old)

What’s in my diaper bag with a 3-month old?

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Having a well-stocked diaper bag is a MUST! A few weeks ago, Jared and I went to church in the evening and Abel had already gone to sleep… so I figured he would sleep the whole time so I didn’t bother bringing the diaper bag.

Of course, he woke up and then had a dirty diaper. Good move (not). I’m planning to put a few diapers and some wipes in the car just in case I ever do that again! However, I am hoping to avoid that by remembering to bring my diaper bag with me next time.

Backpack style diaper bag

My diaper bag has everything I need without carrying around unnecessary weight. I love this Inuinui diaper bag that I bought on Amazon. It has lots of pockets and sections and can be worn as a backpack or carried as a handbag. It came with a reusable changing mat, which I love!

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Changing mat, diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash cream, and disposable diaper bags

The changing mat is a must because I have been to way too many bathrooms in Abel’s short life, that don’t have anywhere to change a baby. Even when there is a change table, I’m a little bit of a germophobe so I like using the changing mat anyways.

Obviously you’re going to need diapers and baby wipes. I also have plastic bags for carrying dirty diapers if I can’t dispose of them right away. A small tub of diaper rash cream is great too, especially if your baby is prone to rashes.

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Multipurpose nursing cover and breast pads

I love this Matimati nursing cover that I bought on Amazon, and I love using it as a carseat cover as well! It’s also great to use as a burp rag or blanket.

I normally don’t need to change my breast pads often but I have a few in my bag anyways! If you’re using nipple cream regularly, include that as well.

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Change of clothes for baby

I keep a onesie and pajamas in case Abel has an explosion or spits up all over himself and needs a change of clothes. A sweater is great as well in case it gets cold! I like one that can snap or zip up because it’s easier to put on than a pull-over.

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Bib, hat, and shoes

My son drools and spits up like any other baby, so he pretty much always wears a bib. Sometimes it ends up soaked so I like having an extra one on hand. A hat is necessary to keep his little head warm if it starts to get cold, and these little shoes are a great extra layer, and help keep his socks on as well.

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Other miscellaneous items

Muslin blanket, book, teether, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, lip balm, pen, water bottle, and carseat clip.

The muslin blanket is great for soaking up spit-up or drool, and is light enough to be used as a nursing cover too if I don’t use my multipurpose nursing cover. Abel loves looking at books (and pretty much anything) and this one is small enough that it’s easy to throw in my diaper bag. This teether is easy for Abel to grab and he currently loves the wooden part!

Moisturizer for baby or yourself, hand sanitizer for those diaper changes, and lip balm, a pen, and water bottle for mama. The metal carseat clip allows me to put Abel’s carseat in a car without the base, so I keep that in my diaper bag just in case.

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Is there anything in your diaper bag that’s not on this list? How have the contents of your diaper bag changed as your baby has grown?


If you’re a new mama and planning to breastfeed, check out my post on breastfeeding essentials.

Snarky Milestone Cards {Free Printable}

Snarky Milestone Cards {Free Printable}

You know those adorable cards you can buy that say sweet things like I rolled over for the first time! or my first smile. When your child does something exciting for the first time, you take a photo of them with the card to remember it.

Some days we love to ooh and ahh over the sweet things our babies do. I was thrilled when my son rolled over for the first time, and those first laughs ARE so incredible.

But… some days, motherhood isn’t that cute. Some days we need cards that say things like today I peed in my own face or today I went all day without a nap. Because let me be honest, when my son Abel does something annoying or ridiculous, I’m pretty quick to snap a photo and send a text to my mom and sister. Can you believe what Abel just did?

To me, keeping my sanity in motherhood means finding humor in lots of situations! When Abel spits up all over his clothes, I joke ‘You could have just said you didn’t like this outfit!’ I’m still yet to find something good about poop explosions, but hey, this is a start right?

Today I bring to you, snarky milestone cards.

Click the links below to download a set of 10 printable milestone cards (size 4×6 inches).

Note: there is a duplicate of one card. One says ‘I peed during a diaper change’ and one says ‘I peed during a nappy change’ This is because I have readers in both the US and NZ (plus other countries!) so I like to accommodate both cultures.


Printable 4×6 Animal Themed Snarky Milestone Cards

Printable 4×6 Flower Themed Snarky Milestone Cards


Which milestone is your favorite? I love the one that says ‘I peed in my face’ because my son has done that more than once and honestly I find it hilarious!


To download the other free printables I’ve created and sign up to my email list, head to this blog post!