Mid-Year Reset

August 28, 2015



In my “When Life Needs White Paint” post, I talked about a mid-year reset to start fresh. Although I’m no longer in school, I love the idea of starting new habits and intentions at the beginning of the school year. There’s something SO much more inspiring about starting new goals and routines in September than in the middle of the winter in January. Anyone with me?

Today we closed on our new house. There is more work to be done than I want to think about in order to make it a home that works for us, but we’re diving in headfirst! Although a lot of our free time will be devoted to home projects, I’m trying to be more intentional about my time by setting a few goals for the fall and beyond. Last week I jotted a few notes down about what I want to do and where I want to devote my time. Most of my list is pretty self-explanatory and straightforward, and now that I look at the list again I think it could be described like this: Live more life! Connect more, spend more time in the moment, experience new things and move my body more frequently.  I want to spend more time in my life if that makes any sense at all.

Now I want to hear from you! What do you hope to do this “school year” and beyond? Goals, hopes, dreams? Maybe we can all do a little mid-year reset together!


Family, Pregnancy

Baby Sleep Contraptions: A Comprehensive Review

August 26, 2015

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Alternately titled: I spent way too much on swaddles and sleep products so you don’t have to. 

There were so many times during the first three or four months of Ainsley’s life when I would have paid almost anything for a good night of sleep. We bought a lot (and I mean, a lot!) of different sleep “contraptions” that promised a great night of sleep for our infant. Some were super successful and others were a total flop. While I have to preface this by saying that every baby is unique and what works for my baby might not work for yours, I wanted to put together a full list of the sleep products we tried and what did and did not work. Let’s dive into the full list, shall we?

1. HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle ($18.44)
The Good
This was our favorite sleep product for the first couple months of Ainsley’s life. Our hospital gave these out to each baby born there, and we kept coming back to this swaddle when other sleep products just didn’t work. It was easy to use and made the swaddle process very seamless. Plus, Ainsley slept really well when swaddled in the HALO.
The Bad
We bought a size up in this swaddle from Target when Ainsley grew too big to use the one from the hospital. I noticed that the cotton/fleece that they used in the Target version (same brand, just made for Target) was noticeably cheaper and more flimsy, making it hard to get a good, tight swaddle. I would recommend buying a higher quality one, like the Mico-Fleece version available on Amazon or those available at Pottery Barn.
Overall Score: 9/10

2. Woombie Original Baby Swaddle ($28)
The Good
It made me feel safe putting Ainsley in this. With other swaddles I was constantly worried about the material inching up over her mouth in the middle of the night, but there is no way it would/could happen with the Woombie. Also, it’s fool-proof and easy to zip your baby in and not worry about correct positioning.
The Bad
For us, the Woombie just didn’t work. Ainsley liked to have her arms free to move a little bit more, and this was super restrictive. We only used it for about a week before we jumped ship. Probably good for a baby who loves a really snug swaddle.
Overall Score: 5/10

3. Swaddle Up by Love to Dream ($29.02)
The Good
Like the Woombie, this swaddle made me feel super secure knowing there was no way Ainsley was going to get any fabric in her face, no matter how much she moved and wiggled in the night. It was easy to use (just zip it up!) and Ainsley couldn’t get her arms out. Also, since Ainsley had an affinity for sleeping with her hands by her face, she loved the design of the swaddle, which zips with baby’s hands up by the face. That way, she could soothe herself in the night by sucking on her hands in the Swaddle Up.
The Bad
Nothing! We really loved this product. It was a short time period that we used it (which is why I’m giving it the lower score) but I thought it worked great.
Overall Score: 7/10

4. Mom’s On Call Swaddle Blanket ($22.95) (not pictured)
The Good
The swaddle seemed to be made of quality material and was super soft. 
The Bad

After reading the Mom’s On Call Book and buying their products, I have to say that I’m less than impressed with their entire system. Although I do think I mastered their swaddle method (with their over-priced piece of flannel) it didn’t feel super safe to me, especially with a baby that loved to move and squirm in the middle of the night. There were a couple times when I came into Ainsley’s room only to find her with a bunch of loose swaddle material around her in the crib, which made me super nervous. Additionally, I disliked the tone of the book and their over-promising. They claim that if you get the swaddle method right, your baby will sleep through the night. If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night? You’re probably swaddling wrong. Call me crazy, but anyone who has had a baby that’s less than textbook knows it’s not that simple.
Overall Score: 3/10

5. Merino Kids Organic Cotton Sleep Sack ($119.00)*
The Good
I truly can’t say enough good things about this sleep sack! This is the sleep sack we are currently using with Ainsley now that she can roll both ways and no longer needs to be swaddled at night. It keeps her warm, and I think it also helps her sleep well since she feels cozier and more secure. The cotton is super high quality and the snaps in the arm holes give your baby room to grow into the sleep sack over time.
The Bad
It’s a bit on the pricier side, but knowing Ainsley will be able to use it for many, many months to come really puts the price into perspective. A lot of the other sleep products we purchased had a very small weight or size range, meaning we didn’t get much use out of them. But this one can be used for kiddos up to 2 years old.
Overall Score: 10/10

6. Ergobaby Sleep Tight Swaddler ($44.93)
The Good
I don’t have anything good to say about this swaddle. I had high hopes for the Ergo branded swaddle, but alas I was disappointed.
The Bad
The package makes the way to use this product look so simple! But if you can get your baby to sit still the way they show in the pictures in order to get the correct positioning to use this swaddle, then you are a better mom than I am! I couldn’t figure this one out at all and found the whole process annoying. We didn’t even use it for a single night. Total fail!
Overall Score: 0/10

7. Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit ($39.95)
The Good
We love Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit! Ainsley used this for a couple months (months 3 and 4) while she transitioned out of the swaddle. Once she started rolling over, we transitioned her into the sleep sack for safety. This was a great transition item because your baby feels secure and movement is more restricted than in a sleep sack, but gives them a bit more freedom than a swaddle. Since Ainsley sucks her thumb, she loved being able to bring her hands to her mouth.
The Bad
We had a few mishaps when Ainsley would pee through her diaper as she started sleeping longer stretches. It takes quite a while to wash and thoroughly dry the suit.
Overall Score: 9/10

8. Aden and Anais Easy Swaddle ($19.95)
The Good
The material is soft and breathable, and I found this swaddle much easier to use than the swaddle blankets.
The Bad
I didn’t think the material and the structure of the swaddle was secure and tight enough to really get a good, firm swaddle needed to help baby sleep.
Overall Score: 5/10

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets 4 pack (49.95)
The Good
These blankets are great for everything! I use them for Ainsley to play on, to cover changing tables, to wipe up spit or messes and cover the stroller on walks.
The Bad:
Unfortunately, they aren’t great swaddles, in my opinion. I found re-swaddling my baby in the middle of the night hard enough with the “easy swaddles” and trying to do the traditional swaddle method in the middle of the night? Practically impossible for this sleep-deprived mom. Additionally, I thought the material was a little flimsy to get a good, tight swaddle.
Overall Score: 9/10 for general utility, 4/10 for sleep
Note: Not many people know this, but you can almost ALWAYS find these blankets in a 4-pack in the baby/kids section at Homegoods for about $20, which is so much cheaper than other retailers. Be on the lookout!

*The Merino Kids team sent me a free sleep sack to review. Opinions are my own. In fact, I purchased another one after they sent me the free one because I loved it so much and wanted a back-up!
**Affiliate links used as appropriate. 


Help a Momma Out?

August 24, 2015



I picked up a bunch of cheap little dresses toward the end of the summer to bridge me into fall and have been meaning to put together more of a formal fashion post. Alas, I’ve been spending most of my days working from home and when I’m not working, I’m either tending to a sometimes fussy baby (teething!) or covered in paint as we begin our home renovation project.

Ainsley, on the other hand, thinks she looks mighty fine in her Turbans for Tots head wrap and new outfit from Carter’s. Ha! I love the way she is checking herself out in the mirror.

All that to say, I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a style brick wall. Last fall the only clothing I purchased was maternity, meaning it’s been almost two years since I shopped for regular old cool weather clothing. And now that I’m fitting back into my old clothes, I just feel a little bit frumpy. I think this is probably why new moms frequently change up their hair after having a baby? But since I don’t really want to cut my hair, I need some style help!

Most of my clothes come from Banana Republic, J. Crew, Stitch Fix or some random finds here and there, like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. But now that I’m in a small town, I think online shopping is going to have to become a way of life. So tell me, where do you shop? Any favorite new dresses, jeans, tops or shoes you’ve found and loved? Brands that I should check out? I need your help before I go shopping for fall!


Fashion, Pregnancy

Does my body need changing? Or does my heart?

August 20, 2015

Let’s talk about body image. It’s been a topic that I haven’t talked about much post-baby, but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been on my mind plenty over the past 6 months.

Going into pregnancy I was fearful about how my body would adjust and adapt to pregnancy and the postpartum period. I’ve never had a super fast metabolism and have always had to be relatively mindful of what and how much I eat in order to keep my weight in check. But, let’s be honest, I love a little chocolate at the end of a long day or a glass of wine now and again.

Now, 6 months postpartum, I have my good days and days when I’m more critical of my body that I think makes any sense. I don’t really have a lot of extra baby weight to lose, I’m active and at my most recent physical my doctor told me everything indicates that I’m living a very healthy life. But too often I find myself falling into the perfectionist mentality where my body is concerned.

Someone told me once that the problem with “good enough” for a perfectionist is that even when it’s good, it’s never enough. And isn’t that the truth? But when I think about it, I realize that’s not the legacy I want to leave. I want good to be enough and to find satisfaction in imperfection and flaws, even if that means making peace with a little extra softness around my middle or going up a size in my favorite jeans.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against living a healthy lifestyle or in support of unhealthy eating. Living a healthy and active life makes me feel great and is something I’m deeply committed to for so many reasons. But sometimes I catch myself sliding down a dangerous slope, one that says it’s not enough. A little voice in my head advocates against balance and moderation and pushes me toward perfection.

Becoming a mom has changed the way I want to look at my body and relate to those around me. When I point out my bodily flaws, however minor they may be, I think about little miss Ainsley doing the same thing one day. Right now, at 6 months of age, when I sit her down in front of the mirror her face breaks out in the biggest smile. She sees herself and loves what she’s looking at! If only we could all have the same reaction, right?

I want to set an example for her. I want her to be able to look in the mirror when she gets older and beam at the beautiful little girl and young woman God created.

So if you’re struggling with your self-image, maybe take a look at your heart first? I know in my case it’s an important barometer. There are plenty of reasons to pursue health and fitness, and there are also a myriad of instances when good really is enough.

Come on, ladies! I need to hear your personal stories. How have you adapted, accepted and come to peace with your postpartum body? Maybe you’re still working on it? I would love to hear in the comments below!



When Life Needs White Paint

August 17, 2015



Sometimes I’m guilty of writing without really thinking about what I truly want to say. I’ll look at photos I’ve taken recently on my phone or camera, pick one that looks cute and write up a post without really thinking about the intention behind my words, because sometimes it’s easier to write about the surface stuff than write about the heart issues that lie deep below the shiny exterior.

We’re semi-settled into our new small-town life in Iowa. Nine days ago we packed up our bags (a lot of them!) and settled into my mom’s basement while we wait to officially close on our new home. Joe started work a little over a week ago and I started my new gig this week, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t totally and completely overwhelmed by all that is ahead of us.

Our new home is lovely, but it needs quite a bit of updating to make it work for our family and give it a more modern feel. While we haven’t officially closed, the seller generously gave us permission to do a few minor updates in the interim. This weekend we removed lots of shelving from the garage and gave the garage floor a good power washing, and after that we brought in the white paint. White walls, white ceiling, white everything! It’s amazing what 8 hours, a lot of manual labor and four gallons of fresh paint will do to a space. Everything felt so clean and fresh when we were done and I couldn’t help but feel like we had a brand-new garage.

Lately, if I’m being totally honest, I feel like my life needs a fresh coat of white paint. For many reasons, the season we’re coming out of has been hard, which has only been compounded by the sudden, earth-shattering change that is parenthood. There has been a lot of wonderful mixed in with the hard stuff, but as I look back on the last year I can’t help but feel like there were so many things I hoped to accomplish that didn’t get done, so many relationships I wanted to invest in that went by the wayside, so many passions and interests and things I said I would dig deeper into that never happened, so many workouts I planned to work into the schedule that just didn’t take place.

So as we remove wallpaper and carpet and paint walls and lay down new flooring, I think I’ll be doing a bit of soul-searching, too. I want this new season to be one that bears fruit in the form of relationships, dreams, goals, passions and interests. Although there is something wonderful about having a newborn, I’m ready to move past looking inward at my own circumstances and instead look out at those around me, thinking more about how I can pour into others rather than what others have to offer me.

Instead of waiting for the new year to make a resolution or two, I’m hitting the reset button in August, in hopes that this new chapter is the best one yet. Here’s to new paint, both in our houses and our lives!


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