Boy Toys: Cars and Dinos and Blocks…Oh My!

Ok so I have to admit I have a major case of third child syndrome. Don’t know if that’s a thing, but we definitely had/have second child syndrome with Dominic, so poor Tessa doesn’t even stand a chance.

I did everything to a T for that first child, followed ALL the rules. Kept up with all the cleaning protocols, didn’t use a single product that wasn’t all natural. Talked to the pediatrician before trying anything new and talked to the pediatrician about every little worry or question that creeped into my mind. You know the drill. Back then, Whole Foods was my jam; now I consider it a weekly win if I make it down the organic or all-natural aisle in Stop & Shop. (For the record, Whole Foods is still my jam, there just isn’t one close enough to me right now for me to consider it a worthwhile trip.)

Second child meant the 5 second rule turned into the 60 second rule, we no longer carried the high chair/shopping cart cover with us everywhere we went, and Welch’s fruit snacks vs. Annie’s bunnies = same difference. Ditched the Babyganics shampoo and body wash for good ole-fashioned Johnson’s baby shampoo and body wash because it just smells so damn good.

You get the picture, let me cut right to it. This poor girl lives out her days playing with toy cars, dinosaurs, legos, and trucks. I wish I could say it is because I’m ignoring gender norms and raising this bow to shatter all the glass ceilings. That would be noble of me- and philosophically the beliefs and values I want to and try to instill in all my kids align with this. You better believe I want her to shatter ALL the glass ceilings. But this was just serendipity I suppose – causal result of laziness on my part.

I was talking to my mom about it – feeling guilty I don’t really have any feminine (girly?) play things for her. She made a good point. She said, “That’s not true all your baby toys are gender neutral, you just don’t bother to actually take them out.” New Year’s Resolution 1: make an effort to take out the baby toys more often (I’m allowed to make a New Year’s Resolution in August because I’m a teacher so technically my New Year starts at the end of the month.).

I thought about it more; it’s still kind of weighing on me. On one hand, there is zero reason I need to add any more crap to the already-overflowing playroom we have. But I do sort of have big girl dreams to be able to play dress up with my girl, to watch her play with a doll house, to see her take care of her baby dolls. Or at least let her have the option of choosing this (because I know if she chooses diggers over dolls or dinos over dress up, I’m totally fine with that too – believe it or not I was the BIGGEST tom-boy athlete growing up!). And if this is the case – to even give her the option to choose what toys she wants to play with – then I need to drastically overhaul the playroom. It is head-to-toe all things BOY right now. Time to make way for girl! New Year’s Resolution 2: Clean, purge, clear out (not a bad excuse to do this!).

No need for me to rush into buying all playthings girl right now, she’s still too young for it to matter. But thinking about Christmas and her birthday in January, I’m going to need all the ideas from all the girl moms out there. What’s the best girly gift for a one year old? Is there even one? Or is it really completely gender neutral until the toddler years? Do I just wait till she’s old enough to realize what she wants and wait for her to ask for it? Would love for you to drop me a comment below or follow me on Instagram to give me your insights!

Insta handle is Bruisesbowsandbooks. See ya there!

WFH

I had every intention of doing a Books post today. Lot’s to share about toddlers and emerging writers. It’ll have to wait until tomorrow because this is how my morning went trying to work from home to prep curriculum for the start of the school year. I could tell the morning was going to sh*t so for the first two photos, I happened to set my phone up in the corner and pop the self-timer on. The other photo was a result of me hearing my 2 year old excitedly sing, “Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, up, up!” from the kitchen prompting me to wonder what he was riding.

(Please note: No animal was harmed in the making of this photo, I quickly yelled for him to get off the dog once I was able to snap the picture.)

Let’s play Where’s Waldo? Or seek and find. Whatever you want to call it.

1 point for spotting the stressed out teacher mama on a work zoom meeting in the middle of summer.

1 point for spotting the dog, who came to the playroom to check us out for all of 2 seconds before this happened. Haven’t seen him the rest of the day.

1 point for spotting the bruise who thinks it’s funny to ride the dog.

1 point for spotting the jumping bruise who knows exactly how to quietly break the rules when Mommy steps out for a second.

1 point for spotting the chalkboard that lists the daily routine we should be following but haven’t been following for the past 3 months.

3 points for spotting the caffeine – mom juice in my book.

3 points for watching the video below, in case you wanted more perspective on my day.

3 points for spotting the Hurricane Isaias forecast, hence canceling oldest kid’s day camp for the day and confining all kids indoors for the day – this mama’s worst nightmare. (At least at this very moment we still have power!)

25 points for spotting the perfectly behaved bow (or the baby monitor that shows she is sleeping upstairs like the angel that she is).

100 bonus points for counting the number of toys this mama will NOT clean up today, but probably step on or stare at until one of the bruises decides to actually take me seriously and actually clean up.

250 bonus points for posting a picture of your WFH situation in your IG or FB stories and tagging bruisesbowsandbooks!

An additional 500 points if your WFH situation trumps mine.

109309890345094385 bonus points for telling me this is a productive and efficient work environment, and that it’s possible to work from home and carry out your job responsibilities well while simultaneously parenting young children.

Who wins? Would love to see your point values below. Honor system! And go give your fellow working mamas a hug or a shoulder to cry on, knowing this is what they are experiencing daily. Heck, go give your fellow SAHMs a hug or shoulder to cry on, too!

Daycare Haul

Everyone knows teachers absolutely dread August 1. It’s August scaries. Think Sunday scaries but for teachers about to start a new school year. And now think about it THIS year. August 1 came and passed like a faint blip on the radar this weekend for most people, but you better believe that for teachers it sounded the alarm. This is real, and we are going back to school very soon, one way or another.

But for me, August 1 didn’t just trigger the August scaries. My mind started to go bonkers about what my own kids are going to do when Mommy goes back to work. We haven’t decided a thing yet. In fact, our daycare provider for Dominic and Tessa hasn’t even announced whether or not she’s opening in the fall. I can’t even begin to think about it without feeling like I want to puke. There is no good decision. But these first two paragraphs are really just anxiety-driven ramblings that are better suited for a different blog post entirely.

SO.

My way of maintaining my sanity is by approaching things like normal: at the end of the month Tessa is going to start daycare for the first time ever. And if you’re anything like me, daycare requires its own wardrobe, because nothing ever comes home looking the same as how it left. Because Tessa hasn’t ever been to daycare, it’s time for me to start building her daycare wardrobe – basics that I don’t really care if she ruins or not. I’m also more flexible and don’t care as much about colors or patterns or prints with daycare clothes.

Today I escaped for three hours by myself and it was glorious. I hit up Old Navy (love the ruffle butt leggings!) and Gap (love the bubble shorts!) because they have huge sales going on right now – or so this is what I told my husband. They always have huge sales going on so someday this excuse isn’t going to fly anymore….but until then…. I built a shopping cart online first, and if I found it in-store, I deleted it from my shopping cart on my app. I was mostly in search of onesies, shorts, and pants that are easy to mix and match and will be (1) comfortable for my bow while she’s away from her parents all day and (2) easy for Miss Darcy to undress/dress for diaper changes or other accidents. Here’s my haul.

The warm weather haul was decent. I didn’t do as well with my cold-weather haul. I was actually a little surprised that everything was still mostly summer season – my guess is it’ll change over to fall very soon (online already has lots of fall new arrivals). Also, is it weird that for cold-weather clothes for bows I prefer sets (tops and bottoms) rather than one-pieces? With the bruises I was all about one-pieces and always found lots of cute ones. They don’t seem as feminine to me for some reason. Maybe I just haven’t found ones my style yet.

Once I come home I always spread it out to inspect (admire?!) like in the photo above. Did I double up on colors accidentally? Did I grab the right size? Is it REALLY something she needed? I make my return pile and the rest immediately gets de-tagged and de-stickered to go right down in the wash. Once it’s all washed they go into the daycare drawers. Yes, her dresser will now be split into two sides: daycare clothes and fancy clothes. There’s not really much fancy to the fancy clothes, just clothes I prefer she doesn’t wear to daycare so she doesn’t ruin them.

Now that you’ve read half a page of writing about what goes on in my brain when I’m on a mission shopping for something (I’m split between whether or not this is actually interesting for you to read or if this was just a waste of a post), I do have some questions.

If your kiddos go to daycare, do you just have one big wardrobe and think I’m way too anal retentive and need to loosen up a little bit? If you do, does your kid come home in clean clothes and really I just have sloppy kiddos? Or do you split your kids’ wardrobes up and send them in different clothes to daycare than you would to…I don’t know…some place where your kid would be in fancy clothes? And I really need your help with this bow thing. If you’re a #girlmom, do you send your baby to daycare wearing a bow? I’m really struggling with this one. Part of me thinks it’s silly and not practical…like Miss Darcy would totally roll her eyeballs at me and take it off immediately once I leave, because what childcare provider wants to deal with that? And the other part of me can’t contain my obsession – I’ll just send her in her bow because she’s my daughter and I’ll do what I want and I’ll tell Miss Darcy she can take it off whenever she wants if it gets in the way. Would love to know your thoughts so drop a comment below!

Bruises, Bows, and the Beach Part 2: All the Help

Short and sweet. This one’s going to be short and sweet.

Yesterday, I wrote about the goods and the gear — all the things I usually pack for a day at the beach with two toddlers and a baby. One of the essential items on my itemized list was ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET. I still haven’t figured out how to actively supervise all three kiddos around water, especially when Tessa is nursing. She’s a sleepy nurser who doesn’t like a lot of movement or interruption so I’m usually pretty stationary if she’s eating. And if you have a two year old like mine – who doesn’t listen to a damn thing you say, ever – you can’t afford stationary at the beach.

So, we enlist. We enlist anybody and everybody who wants to help. But really this post is a special shout out to the usual suspects. Our help crew runs deep, and we’ve gotten pretty darn systematic about it. So even though I may not get to ‘relax’ the entire time at the beach, I’m usually able to steal at least a few minutes…all because of our handy helpers.

Between Nana, Papa, Auntie Ally, Uncle Pauly, Uncle Nic, Auntie Lindsay, Gammy, Popsy, and the occasional Uncle Dave, we’ve got it made. The boys are usually a tag team, so as long as one adult is willing to go in the water, catch hermit crabs, build sandcastles, or catch shrimpies, then we’re good. Initially at the beginning of the summer Tessa was a little fussy at the beach – lots of stimulation and she wasn’t sitting up yet so she didn’t like not being able to see what’s going on. So if she was awake, we’d have one adult on her. Recently, she’s stronger sitting up and is easily distracted by just sitting directly in the sand so as long as someone’s in the vicinity, we’re totally good. That usually leaves 1 or 2 of us out of the rotation, effectively allowing us to take shifts. Inevitably, the person who is off-shift ends up being the drink runner (adult drinks, that is). But amidst drink runs, that lucky one gets to park it for a few minutes and maybe, just maybe, close their eyes or read a book or sit in peace and quiet. And then the shift changes and we do it all over again.

Ultimately, though, we’re SO dang lucky. We’re so lucky we have family that happily agrees to tag along with us, even when deep down they know a day at the beach with kids our age is no easy feat. I imagine every time a Cape weekend or a WT day comes to an end, all the helpers silently and secretly cheers to our departure so they can go back to their calm, quiet, luxurious day. So if any of my immediate family has made it this far in my post and are still reading, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for sticking those (not-so-relaxing, crazy, hectic, exhausting, sweaty…) beach days out. It means the world to my kids, and means the world to me too. โค

Bruises, Bows, and the Beach Part 1: The Goods and The Gear

Let me just start by saying, if anyone ever tells you that going to the beach with babies and/or toddlers is easy, they are certifiably crazy. Like before I had kids, I would dream of taking my future angelic kids to the beach – parking my butt in my beach chair with a book and some snacks so I can supervise my kids frolicking happily in the waves in front of me. (If I happen to spot this at the beach, I sit in awe and jealousy of this family wondering when it will be my turn? Never.) This is so absurdly far from the truth, and while I’ll say it takes a whole ton of sh*t and a whole ton of planning to get our little family to the beach, I still love my beach days, and the kids do too (most of the time). They just aren’t anything like the storybooks say they’ll be. This two-part series will outline for you what it takes to “enjoy” a beach day with a baby and two toddlers, including the goods and the gear, and the help.

I feel like I should itemize what we pack to bring to the beach in terms of goods and gear. And I’ll preface this by saying we have a lake we frequent often as well as my in-laws’ Cape house, and in both situations we walk to get to the beach. I’ve linked items to the actual product where possible! Thank you Amazon!

  • PATIENCE. Lots of it. Like more than any other time.
  • NO EXPECTATIONS. Some days you last an hour and others you last the whole day. Some days the kids are entertained and others they whine and cry the whole time. If you don’t have expectations, then you won’t be disappointed.
  • WILLINGNESS TO GET SANDY. In your unabashed pre-kid life, you could go to the beach and avoid any grain of sand on any of your things. With kids, you need to expect it. All over you, all over them (yes they will eat it and you won’t be able to stop it), and all over your sh*t. Learn to accept it.
  • HELP. You need all the help you can get. I’ll have a separate post devoted to this entirely.
  • ADULT BEVERAGES. Whether it’s coffee or booze or seltzer water, it is an essential item.
  • Beach wagon or beach buggy. The beach buggy we used to use broke, and the wagon has held up much stronger.
  • Beach tent. It needs to be easy to put up AND easy to take down. I went through a bunch at first that were like trying to put together origami when trying to put them away before I found this one.
  • Beach umbrella. Since baby’s skin is so sensitive, we need portable shade. So we always bring the umbrella in addition to the tent. This year especially we discovered how amazing it is to put it right on the water line. Helps us supervise with baby in tow, but also provides much needed relief on really hot days to be able to sit with your butt in the water.
  • Kid beach chairs. This may sound excessive, but it honestly helps SO much. If the kids want a snack, they have to sit in their chair. It helps us avoid sandy snacks and dropped food. And the baby beach chairs trap the baby so you don’t have to worry about chasing them around. LOL. We love the Summer Pop ‘N Sit chair for babies, and the big kid version too.
  • Adult beach chairs. You can’t go wrong with the Tommy Bahama backpack chairs because you can still carry them if they don’t fit in the wagon. They also have a cup holder, cell phone pocket, and built-in cooler.
  • Sand toys in an easy open, easy close sand toy bag. So the kids can carry them if needed, and help to clean up at the end of the day. For the bruises, I especially recommend buckets, nets, and shovels, so they can catch anything and everything nasty and gross.
  • Cooler. For adult beverages and kid cold snacks, but mostly adult beverages. My mother-in-law came across this awesome Tommy Bahama zipperless cooler bag at Marshall’s.
  • Snack bag. Pack all the snacks. And pack easy tupperware or kid containers so they aren’t sticking their sandy hands into bags of chips or boxes of cheez-its. We just use a re-useable shopping bag. Easy enough.
  • Water bottles for the kids. Ones with the pop up mouth pieces so they can be closed to avoid sand. We like the Yeti ones and Hydroflask ones because they keep water icy cold. A little pricey but worth the investment.
  • Beach towels. I ditched the beach blanket a long time ago because toddlers don’t understand the idea of keeping sand off the blanket or not walking across it. Towels are a lot easier to keep in a bag and only take it out when you need it. I’m a big fan of the Pottery Barn Kids towels – personalized (so the kids don’t argue over which one they want) but also really thick and high quality. Another worthwhile splurge. I also bought cheap ones on Amazon to send to camp with Luca so he doesn’t lose any of the good ones!
  • Extra change of clothes for every kid because inevitably, “Mommy, I’m sandyyyyy!” or “Mommy, I’m colddddd!”.
  • Diaper bag. Still need all things baby, even at the beach.
  • Portable white noise machine, in case the little needs a little extra help taking a nap on the go.
  • Swim diapers. Honestly, I just keep the whole package in our beach bag now. Too many experiences with blow outs or leaky pee to only pack 1 or 2 extras. Need the whole package, all the time.
  • Water shoes. You’ll thank me later for this one because your kid will no longer be able to say “Mommy can you carry me?” (hot sand, rocky sea floor, seaweed in the water…).
  • Puddle jumpers. SO much controversy here. Lots of media coverage lately due to the false sense of safety they provide kids when around water. Here’s how I see it though. I have 3 kids, that at any time, can all go in 3 different directions. I NEED something that can give me a little extra comfort when I’m trying to supervise them all around water. It holds them upright very well. But, holding a child vertical in the water is essentially holding them in the drowning position, so we still do swimming lessons and spend plenty of closely supervised time NOT in our puddle jumpers so they can get comfortable in water without anything helping them.
  • Koozies. I almost started buying non-alcoholic slim-can seltzers JUST so I could use my BruMate. But then I realized people would probably assume I jumped on the booze-wagon at 9am by myself at the beach with 3 kids and….yeah, that wouldn’t go over well. BUT, we all know what happens when you crack your seltzer (alcoholic or not). Immediately, every kid needs your help doing 25,000 different things. So when you come back to that seltzer 3 hours later, you better believe you still want it cold! Invest in a quality koozy, BruMate or not.
  • Sunscreen. Kid sunscreen and adult sunscreen. We use Beach Bum/Baby Bum or Babyganics.
  • Hats for every kid. I don’t put sunscreen in their hair, and I still don’t put sunscreen on Tessa’s face yet. So they know the rule is: out of the water, hats on.
  • Beach shoes. Easy on, easy off, and ones that are still comfortable with sand in them. We have our Natives and our sharky shoes that we got from Stitch Fix but are kind of like these Amazon ones.
  • Boogie boards. They love to float on them and pretend to surf, even though neither boy has figured out how to actually boogie board yet. I think we got ours from the seasonal aisle at Stop and Shop.
  • Portable, wireless speaker. Music makes everything better.
  • Candy and gummies. BRIBES. Whatever you need to bribe them to: get out of the water, change their diaper, let the hermit crabs go, take a picture, eat lunch, sit still on the towel….I could go on and on.

I’m probably forgetting a bajillion things. Moral of the story: we pack our house and more to go to the beach. But who doesn’t?

Diva Baby or Quarantine Baby…That is the question.

I didn’t really have a good image to go with this post, so I took it all the way back to one of her newborn photos. We’ve stuck with our fabulous wedding photographer through all of our kids, and she’s amazing…easy going and relatable, and simple and candid with her work, which is completely my style. Check her out at her facebook page, Jennifer Langdon Photography, by clicking the photo above. Side note: we have also used (and will continue to use) a close friend who started her own photog business a few years back, Jen Morrissey Photography (linked her website at the end of the post). It’s SUCH a good idea to have a few photographers in your back pocket, that way you can change up styles as needed so photos never feel stale!

Tessa was born in early January, meaning she got here just in time to avoid the nightmares of labor and delivery during COVID, but also just in time to spend most of her infancy in quarantine at home. I know every baby is different so I’m trying not to fall into the trap of comparing her to the boys. But there are some serious differences between the boys (who were very similar as babies) and Tessa that really make me wonder if this is just your typical girl baby or if these are legitimate symptoms of being a quarantine baby. Call to action for all the girl moms and/or quarantine baby moms out there: Curious to hear your thoughts on this stuff so be sure to take my poll at the end!

The bottle. The freaking dreaded bottle. I never experienced this nightmare with the boys, but now that I have, I have complete and utter respect and empathy for anyone who has also experienced this. She wouldn’t take a bottle when we started trying around 3 or 4 weeks after we established breastfeeding. I worked my tush off daily for a good 6-8 weeks by trying one bottle a day for 2 hours at a time so that she’d be ready to transition to my mom’s care once I went back to work for the end of the school year. For those two hours that we’d try each day, she’d fight it with every ounce in her body, and let me tell you, seeing that little teeny body with all that fight in it was both heart wrenching and impressive at the same time. We tried every bottle imaginable, from Dr. Brown’s to Comotomo to Olababy to Brezza. I’d go to Target and pull any brand bottle off the end cap displays to try. We tried all different temperatures from room temp to warm to hot to cold. LOL, cold. Finally after two months she just took to it one day with Nuk Natural Flow bottles (thanks Target end cap!). And she took it like a champ…for like two weeks. And just as spontaneously as she started, she decided she had enough and just plain stopped. She’s smart too, rather than wasting energy and fighting it, she’d just play with it in her mouth, spit it out, or blow raspberries with it, or just go to sleep to get out of having to take it. And because by this point daycares were closed and schools were closed, I didn’t have to send her to my mom. Flash forward to today; now school’s out for summer and we are still unsuccessfully trying (every other day because I just don’t have the energy to try every day). So, quarantine baby or diva baby?

The attachment to mommy/fear of others. I know, I know. This one is nothing to complain about. I actually love everything about this one. But Luca and Dominic were such independent infants, I wasn’t used to having my little bow need me, and only me (ok, sometimes dad too) 24/7. In fact, I remember two summers ago, I’d find a shady spot in the grass at the splash pad and lay Dominic down on a towel while I went towards the water to keep an eye on Luca, and I would literally watch him from 20 yards away (bad mom?!) and he’d be totally content for hours. Tessa not so much. Once we started to come out of house arrest softly (aka quarantine) and start to socialize (practicing social distancing, of course) with immediate family like grandparents and siblings, I was blindsided. My happy, cuddly, relaxed baby girl was now uncomfortable in new places. If it wasn’t our house or our yard, she’d tear up and panic. And I’m the type that needs to make it out of the house and stay busy to maintain my sanity, so I was so used to just toting the boys around with me as we did things when I was on maternity leave with them. And now, as we have furthered our social circle to close friends and family, anytime someone else is holding Tessa, and I’m in sight, she whines and cries. The one time I went to finally get a haircut and color (alone time!!!!) and left all the kids, including Tessa, with Gammy, she screamed and cried unless my mom showed her to her brothers to remind her she was with people she knew. Another time I left her with Nana so Mike and I could run to the grocery store, and she apparently screamed her lungs out once she realized I was gone. With that being said, I’ve had no problem being selfish and keeping her all to myself, but I am a little worried for if and when she ever starts daycare…no bottle AND stranger danger?! Poor Miss Darcy (shout out to our most amazing childcare provider!!)!! So, quarantine baby or diva baby?

Image Links:

Jennifer Langdon Photography

Jen Morrissey Photography

Aden + Anais 3-Pack Silky Soft Swaddling Cloths

Flower crown and other newborn photo props

My Top 5 for Her

I’m pretty delicate and traditional when it comes to my style for Tessa. I like girly, muted colors, but also love anything with fruit or floral patterns. Lemons, strawberries, and purple wildflowers are no brainers for my purchasing habits! I’m also a big fan of anything muslin or crinkle cotton. This age is perfection because I get to have all the fashion fun. I know in a few short years (months?!), she’ll start calling the shots for her own outfits. Bring on alllll the princess dresses. But until then, I’ll have my cake and eat it too. Here are my top 5 brands/stores for all things Bows:

  1. Little Poppy Co.: BOWS. Bows, bows, bows, and more BOWS! The most common question I get asked from family and friends is “Where do I get her bows?” This is answer #1. Little Poppy Co. is a subscription service where you get three bows monthly, and they are THEMED for the month or season. How perfect is that? These bows have provided me with endless options and I’m obsessed. The bows are often more delicate; more like ribbon bows with a stretchy nylon band. They come in different sizes based on your preference for baby, and they come in either headband or clip options. There are also monthly add-ons you can choose to purchase for extra $$$. You have three different purchase options, including monthly, 6 months at a time, or 12 months at a time. The 6 month and 12 month options are a one-time purchase and slightly cheaper, whereas the monthly option can be canceled at any time.
  2. SpearmintLOVE: This is answer #2 to the bows question. The best part about this site is the bows AND clothes for babies and kids. I get most of the larger, oversized bows here (though they do sell and I have gotten the delicate ones too). They are super comfy and super stretchy, especially if you stick with the ones that are actually SpearmintLOVE brand. They have other great brands too, like Baby Bling Bows and L’ovedbaby. We’re big fans of the clothes here too. I love all things ruffle-butt, so their ruffle sleepers are pristine. I’ve also gotten a lot of summer bubbles in crinkle cotton or muslin here too.
  3. L’ovedbaby: Absolutely worth the splurge! Especially if your taste in all things girl is similar to mine. I love the vintage inspiration to most of their collections. Their onesies were staples in the newborn stage for all our kids, and as Tessa has gotten older I’ve become scarily addicted to three of their collections: the Organic Cotton Muslin collection, The Vintage Collection, and the Organic Cotton Pointelle collection. Their bows are adorable too, and we have a few of them, but Tessa’s got a BIG noggin so they tend to be too small on her.
  4. Burt’s Bees Baby: Started with their pjs for all my kids, and I was in heaven when the loose fit ones came out for smaller sizes – no more fighting to get her feet through the tight ankle bands. Best part about their pjs is they get super comfy with time. The more washes, the softer. I’ve also graduated past their pjs, and have gotten a bunch of their clothes to have on hand for more casual outfits. Their 2020 family jammies just came out for pre-order yesterday. I’m loving the Reindeer and O Christmas Tree patterns this year!
  5. H&M: If there’s a single clothing store that I’d have to use to describe my style for Tessa, it’d be this one. They’ve got lots of options and update stock and style often…but if you just scroll through and look at their “Baby Girls 4m-4y” tab you’ll get a great sense for my preferred styles and colors on Tessa. Affordability never hurt anyone either.

First honorable mention goes out to Gap/Old Navy because of their sheer inventory and easy access to staples. I NEVER buy anything full price from these places because they run such great sales so often. And when you don’t feel bad about the price you paid for something, you don’t feel bad when your baby inevitably stains it with poop, food, or dirt. Second honorable mention goes out to Nordstrom because of their selection of other fun brands and styles. There are other pricier brands that I like to splurge on sometimes, and the first place I usually check is Nordstrom. The Nordy Club (rewards program) has substantial enough rewards that it makes it very worthwhile to check here for a certain brand or item first before going directly to the brand’s site.

**Please note, I am NOT employed by the mentioned companies and brands, I’m simply a mom on the internet sharing her opinion.

My bow

I was convinced number 3 would be our third boy. Utterly convinced. Partly because I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person when it comes to certain things. I don’t like to get my hopes up. I prefer this so that I can be pleasantly surprised when life does go my way.

So when we were looking at the genetic testing results, and my husband pointed out, “Look at the thingy, look at the thingy!!!” while jumping up and down ecstatically, I was confused. What thingy? It took me a good 30 seconds to realize he was referring to the gender/sex symbol for female…you know the little stick figure head and body with just arms? And then we had to read it 30934809 times just to be sure our eyes saw it right.

I dreamed of having a mini my whole life, and knowing my husband and I had agreed 3 was our magic number, I had kind of prepared myself for another boy so that my gender disappointment (real thing..look it up!) would be minimal. (DON’T GET ME WRONG! WE WOULD HAVE LOVED A BOY, TOO.)

She literally is my bow. She was the perfect little gift to complete our family, wrapped up and delivered at just the right time.

Side note. I’m also actually obsessed with bows for two reasons:

  1. They’re cute and can make (or break!) an outfit. I usually have one guilty shopping pleasure with all my kids – Dominic had something like 62 pairs of sweatpants in size 6-9 months…don’t ask me why sweatpants were my thing with him. My guilty shopping pleasure with Tessa? BOWS. I’m pretty sure she has over 100. Maybe I’ll count one of these days. And I really hope Mike isn’t reading this post.
  2. I’ve gotten scoffed at before when I talk about my bow obsession – mostly because others sometimes see it as representative of a traditional girly girl. But I believe a girl can wear a bow AND be a strong, compassionate, and independent woman. (And if she doesn’t want to wear a bow at age 2 or 20, she doesn’t have to.)