Once Vince started using sippy cups and snack traps, I searched high and low for dishwasher safe name labels so we could keep track of our things at playdates, and eventually daycare or preschool. Of course I wanted something super cool, and not too cutesy baby poo-poo. (That’s a legit term, right?) No luck.
When you bring home a bundle of baby joy, you also bring home a giant mother load of baby shit and it takes over your life and next thing you know, you live in a daycare facility. <<<fart noise>>>
As tiny house dwellers, we aspired to be high-horse minimalist parents and failed so miserably: the boxes kept arriving with more things we thought we couldn’t live without and my anxiety levels spiked.
As we head towards Vince’s first birthday, I’m able to look back and see what really saved our asses and what we should have just said ‘no’ to.
Here are my picks for the Newborn Weeks. This list is obviously not exhaustive, but these are things that we used a LOT and I think should be on every mama’s list.
Fisher Price Rock n’ Play – $60: Affectionately called ‘the taco’ in my mom crew, we all swear by this simple seat/rocker/bassinet combo. Vince slept swaddled at my bedside in it for his first 3 months until we moved him into his crib. It’s super light and folds up with one click so we brought it everywhere. Babies love the cozy shape and our pediatrician OK’d it for sleeping nights while he was small. There is a breathable mesh lining and the slight tilt is great for parents who worry about spitting up or reflux issues.
Sassy Rattle Ring – $5: A really inexpensive toy that will move through all of baby’s stages from developing eye sight, to grasping objects, to tracking noise and later teething. This guy is just all around good design.
Vornado Zippi Personal Fan – $19: They really freak you out about having good air circulation wherever baby is sleeping, so we picked up this little tabletop fan and it’s the best ever. Cloth ‘blades’ provide peace of mind and it folds up for travel. Plus it’s nice looking.
Medela Lanolin Nipple Cream – $8: It’s the best one out there…and you’ll need it within the first few minutes of nursing your new babe so bring it with you to the hospital! Nipple cream for President!
EO Lavender Hand Sanitizing Gel – $10: Hand sanitizer kind of grosses me out but with a newborn at home you will be using it all the time, especially during diaper changes…might as well use one that smells like a spa treatment and is infused with relaxing lavender essential oil.
Nursing Tanks from Target – $20: I’m still wearing one of these everyday and to sleep at night. Nursing wardrobes are the worst worst worst, but I found my groove wearing one of these with a loose top layered over that I can easily pull up. This way my post-pregnancy belly is covered (not that I would have been comfortable baring it before pregnancy either) but my baby has easy access to the boob.
BAGGU Duck Bag – $26: I was looking for an excuse to get one of these totes for a while, so I made it my diaper bag and it has worked really well for me. There’s an adjustable shoulder strap and it’s made from durable canvas so I don’t have to worry about rain, spit-up or sticky hands. It’s just the right size and best of all it doesn’t look like it comes with a side of minivan.
AccuRite Indoor Humidity Monitor – $12: Another thing that new moms freak out about is humidity, so we all buy a humidifier when we have a baby (with good reason). But how do you know if it’s between the recommended 68 and 72 degrees ferenheit or if it’s above or below 55% humidity? This little guy is cheap and handy. Just get one so you can cross that anxiety trigger off of your growing list.
Exercise Ball – $24: Strengthen your core? Um, no. Working out my abs is the LAST thing on my mind as a new mom. We were tipped off by our lactation consultant about this secret weapon for soothing a fussy baby. We were reluctant to buy another thing but sure enough, more than any other gadget we owned, simply holding Vince while gently bouncing on this ball was a no-fail way to get him to calm down or drift to sleep. Magic baby whisperer shit.
CamelBak EDDY – $15: Throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery and all nursing sessions, this was my boyfriend, cuddled next to me and hydrating me like a champ. The no spill design is key for nursing since little hands tend to find their way into your glass.
Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Mat – $75: We tried to go the design snob route and get a beautifully designed minimalist wooden activity gym with three dinky dangling toys…thinking our little budding architect would appreciate high design at an early age. After about four weeks it was clear that Vince was bored and we had wasted our money. Thankfully, a good friend loaned us this mat, which is actually pretty cute. It’s a really great, versatile toy and became a fast favorite until he was six months old and sitting up, at which point we turned it into a fort and got some of the best baby belly laughs in a raucous game of peekaboo. The moral of that story is…don’t be a douche to your baby…just get the good toys.
Magnificent Baby Long Sleeve Burrito – $25: I would have outfitted Vince in these magnetic onesies every day when he was a newborn if I were a millionaire. He has super strong arms (and bad feelings about clothes going over his head) so dressing him was a struggle from day one, but this cute, gender neutral “burrito” (!!) opens in front and closes with magnets – the smartest idea ever. Bing bang bong…baby is dressed.
There we go. 12 things that I would buy ten times over if I had a litter of children to raise.
Our boy is turning one next month (agh!) and we decided to create a reading nook in his room to mark the occasion. Vince is growing into quite the little bookworm.
He tipped us off by being an early page turner at 8 months and by crawling over to his basket of books whenever we put him down. His first theatrical meltdown was staged after I finished a book and didn’t immediately begin again. And as if to seal the deal, in the last few weeks he’s decidedly chosen “book” to be his first word…pronounced “ugkkkkkk”.
Nerds that we are, we are falling over ourselves to keep reading at the top of his list and since we currently read on the living room floor, we thought he would enjoy having a special place in his own room to cozy up with a good book.
We’re still talking about how the space will be carved out, but we know that we want a beanbag chair for him to slump into. Beanbag chairs, once reserved for the set of Austin Powers or Clarissa Explains It All, are now considered legit grown up living room furniture. But since Vince will probably smudge boogers or half eaten cookies into his, I’m going pass on the $1,000 faux fur models and instead attempt to make one.
This tutorial makes it look really easy and swears it only takes 30 minutes. Which means it will take me 3 hours, at least, between my limited sewing skills, my penchant for fucking up instructions and my cat-napping kid.
I ordered these cute string lights from Bright Lab Lights, which work great with the room’s (loose) color palette of navy, mustard, magenta and brown. I use this image as my guiding light when I feel like things are looking cray-ballz in there.
I’ll be ordering the fabric from Spoonflower and I’ve narrowed it to these six combos of a navy/coral print for the front and mustard/gold backing (shown in one yard swatches). I prefer to keep it pretty gender neutral and don’t want anything too cutesy. Versatility is key in our tiny house! It has to pass the, “Would I want this in my living room?” test.
Which combo is your favorite? I’m leaning toward option #4, but I’m not totally sold on any of these. I wish that badass painting in the above photo was also made into fabric that was super affordable. Help!
For the first time in 5 years I’m not hosting Thanksgiving at our house in Sleepy Hollow. I’m still kind of in the weeds when it comes to keeping house (a phase that may last for the next 20 years) and am just barely getting back into a groove where I can plan, shop for and cook meals for our small family on a regular basis.
We are, however, hosting a Day-After Leftover Super Sandwich Fest at our place. My grocery store haul makes a pretty cute and super simplistic last minute centerpiece. The bamboo drum plate is from IKEA; we used them as our wedding centerpieces along with fresh spring artichokes.
Here are some other ideas for really easy last minute centerpieces, all available at the grocery store.
Fill vases with citrus and clipped branches from fall trees and plants.
The power bounty: throw down a massive cheese board and use your appetizers as your centerpiece.
Scatter a few (unscented) pillar candles, cheesecloth, apples and a few lacey sprigs of seeded eucalyptus.
Extra points for centerpieces that double as gifts for guests, like jars of pickled cranberries. Fill a mason jar with this easy recipe and throw a tag on each with each guest’s name and you have a place card / favor / centerpiece all in one! Yippee!
Squeeze your loved ones this year and eat until your belly is happy and full!
Before I had Vince I wondered how life would be as a work-at-home slash stay-at-home Mom. Because of the internet and the sparkly world portrayed in the blogosphere I seriously thought it would be something like this: me sitting at my computer in a cute outfit with a cute top bun and my cute hipster glasses, windows open, French music playing, coffee and avocado toast, editing photos and humming along…oh, and an adorable baby cooing behind me playing with all wooden toys, occasionally looking over to make sure I was still there.
What a douche I am.
BIG NOPE. Unless you have a staff of baby loving interns, a take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards vital life shit like eating and sleeping, paid childcare or a prescription for speed, you don’t work slash stay-at-home mom. You Mom. Or you work.
I’m learning that the hard way and trying to squeeze projects for friends and clients in while Vince takes one of his famous 20 minute naps.
All the veteran moms are tossing their heads back laughing at me. It’s cool. I’m a rookie.
We have a baby! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we had a healthy, happy, awesome baby boy in February. Vincent Andrew Natarelli is a big butterball of bundly joy and we call him Vince (or Bubs, or Roo, or Chango).
We named him after James’ Grandfather, Vince, and my father, Andy. He has his Daddy’s eyes and flirty disposition and he has my chubby baby thighs and penchant for partying instead of napping.
Needless to say, we’re blissfully distracted by this sweet peanut and bursting with happiness now that he’s in our lives. Of course, we’re also working on getting our sea legs as new parents and trying to adjust to the zombie versions of our former selves. It’s everything everyone said it would be times ten. The wildest ride yet.
Although I haven’t been able to get to blogging during Vince’s first few months, I’m still squeezing in design work in between boobs and blowouts. I keep hoping to catch up on posts and restock the shop…and then this little cherub’s chirp calls me from the nursery. Cutie.
Speaking of nursery, how about an update in that department? Here’s what it’s looking like these days…
I based the design of the room around vintage boyhood adventures with a modern twist. We wanted a playful vibe (since we don’t have a separate playroom) that was calming at the same time.
As a refresher, this was the mood board that I put together before he was born. We’ve achieved something close to this but we’ve also made some changes from our original plan.
We decided to go with the Babyletto Lolly Crib and we LOVE it. Originally we were going to go with this one in natural (no longer offered), which is gorgeous but slightly less functional and more expensive. The Lolly is modern, cute and converts to a toddler bed…also James put it together in under an hour.
We kept our custom driftwood mobile in place which was a wedding gift from a friend who makes them. I’d been a little worried that it wouldn’t do the trick as a baby mobile because it doesn’t have little baby things hanging from it, but Vince loves it and I think it works as well as any baby mobile would.
We are using an IKEA Hemnes dresser as our changing table and dresser. I was having serious designer guilt about selling our beautiful mid-century low boy on Craigslist to swap in this big box hand-me-down. But practicality is king and I definitely don’t regret it when I think about the stubborn drawers and awkward height of the other more stylish piece. See ya.
A changing table/dresser combo is key for smaller nurseries because it performs double duty and affords lots of storage and extra counter space. For the supplies we use every day, a little melamine tray keeps them neatly collected at arm’s length. It’s easy to quickly straighten up the chaos from a day of wiggly diaper changes and free pee’s.
I picked up a small fan to keep air circulating in the room (a must for newborns). I wanted something compact and pleasing to the eye. As a bonus, this guy folds up for travel and the ‘blades’ are made of cloth, making it perfect for a child’s room. I kind of love it.
The tissue box is just one of those plain wood ‘paint-your-own’ ones from Michael’s that I left alone. An easy hack if you like this look but don’t want to pay $50 for a tissue box!! WTF?!
When Vince was born, our friend and children’s illustrator Mary Engelbreit sent one of her originals as a gift. The quote by Audrey Hepburn reads, “Nothing is impossible. Why, the word itself says, ‘I’m Possible!'”. I cried a whole bunch of blubbery postpartum tears when I opened it. A whole bunch.
I’ve spent almost 200 days and nights nursing Vince in this glider from West Elm. The high back and cozy velvet upholstery are great for dozing and cuddling during his 3am feedings. Plus, it’s a piece that I wouldn’t mind having in any room of the house because it doesn’t scream ‘baby’.
I have this thing with rabbits.
We still have some things on our to-do list, but for now the room is done. We need to repaint the bookcase before Vince starts potentially eating the chipping lead paint. And I want to make these hooks from some of his wooden blocks to hang a cute garland above his changing table that I’m making.
Things move much more slowly these days, but who cares when you have this little duckling to look after?
There’s big change in the air around here these days. James and I are waiting for Bambino to make his debut in the next couple of weeks (or any day now) and we’re preparing ourselves in as many ways as we can: carseat inspections, crib and baby gym assemblies, packing our bags for the hospital. Cleaning the ever-loving shit out of our house, laundering the teensiest clothes in the land, swooning, repeating. Squeezing in dinner plans, finishing up work projects, taking late meetings. Listening to rap as loud as we want, watching shoot ’em up movies with lots of guns, violence and cursing. Cursing (sigh). Eating cake for breakfast without guilt, making slow-roasted salmon for dinner and cooking huge meals, carefully labeled for the freezer.
We are frantically rushing to live the last days of this kind of freedom to the fullest. To “do it while we can” or “enjoy this time” as everyone paradoxically warns us to, like oncologists doling out three week prognoses. All the while knowing that our efforts are futile: “you can never be prepared.” All the while being reassured by how much we will love this little guy: “it’s all so worth it.”
Still, I’m splitting my time between Baby Brain daydreams and a deep feeling of nostalgia for these days, when it’s just James and me, knowing that they are numbered. Our family is about to change forever and “just the two of us” is becoming a party of three. I’ll have to share him with another love. A truly bittersweet feeling.
I’m already appreciating how quiet my house is while I work or how effortlessly I can enjoy the company of my favorite adults with 100% attention.
I’m already feeling like the Maggie that used to trade in business meetings and scoping new restaurants is making way for the Maggie that will trade in Mommy Groups and scoping new playgrounds. (What will she be like?)
I know I said I wasn’t going to impose any expectations on the 2015 Maggie, but we all knew I wouldn’t be able to resist. So in my final act of rebellion, I’m also squeezing in some big changes with this blog.
I’m in the process of migrating my blog to a self-hosted WordPress site. I’m stepping out from under the protective wing of WordPress’s ready-made blogs for a format that allows me more freedom and autonomy.
You may have noticed some cosmetic changes in the last couple weeks. While I tweak the layout to my liking, there will be some temporary flaws, farts and clunks – what happened to your fonts? Where’s your header? I feel like I’m walking down 5th Avenue with my underwear showing, but I’m convinced that it’s good for me.
Just bear with me while I pick my respective baby and blogging wedgies, and everything will be okay. This should be interesting.