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Bert's Birthday

Monday, August 3, 2020



Today is the very last day of Bert being zero years old. 

Tomorrow he will be one. 

I know all mothers must think and say this, but wow -- I honestly cannot believe it's been a whole year since Bert was born. We've been through so much: labor, his birth, his health complications after birth, a stay in the children's hospital, acclimating to life at home with a new baby, home improvements, yard work, library story time, Joe working out of town, new friends, and, of course, this pandemic. We've gotten into familiar routines and schedules only for those routines and schedules to be completely changed two days later as Bert grew quickly. We've experienced a mysterious fever and a mysterious head lump. We've driven to West Virginia and back four times, plus from West Virginia to Michigan and back once. We have been exhausted by lack of sleep, frustrated with whining we couldn't determine the source of. We have overflowed with joy at Bert's first smile and his first laugh, and we've cracked up at his farting, his hilarious noises, and his goofy life choices. 

I don't really know much more about being a mother than I did this time last year, but what I do know is that you are never ready to have a baby. If left up to Joe and me, we probably wouldn't have had Bert because it was the wrong time, the wrong place we were living, the wrong job. But luckily, it wasn't up to us, it was up to God, and we got the best little boy at the best possible time. 

I've read two things in two different novels recently that really struck me as I prepare for Bert to turn one. 

"But who knows their own child? You know bits -- certain predictable reactions, a handful of familiar qualities. The rest is unpenetrable. And quite right too. You give birth to them. You do not design them."

- Penelope Lively, How It All Began

"My mother once told me the most disconcerting part of being a parent is that you never get to settle into it, that your child is constantly being replaced with another version you don't recognize." 

- Julie Buxbaum, Hope and Other Punchlines

My little boy, whom I met as a newborn baby, is about to cross the first line into being his own person, not my little baby. I will have to prepare myself to meet my new Bert tomorrow. 

On Saturday Bert will be joined by some family and friends for a cookout in his honor. But tomorrow, Joe and I will quietly celebrate Bert's first year, just us three. We will think back to everything that has happened to us this year -- everything we have survived -- and be so grateful for everything God has done for us this year. 

If you'd like to read the story of Bert's birth, you can find it here: Part 1 and Part 2

Pictures of Bert's first birthday and his first birthday cookout to come!

Thank you to everyone who has loved, cared for, and supported our family this year. We love you. 



The Best Inexpensive Products

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

If there is one thing in life that I love, it's finding a good deal on something. But honestly, if I could love something even more than that, it would be when I find a great product that has a price that is always a good value, no sale or coupon required! (And I am the kind of person who's like don't even come at me with the word "clearance" unless it's at LEAST 70% off, so you know I'm serious when I say I'll pay full price for these things!) I don't know about you guys, but I don't have endless amounts of money to spend, so today I've rounded up a list of products that I love that I feel are an excellent value for the price.



1. Raw Sugar The Moisture Smoothie Conditioner, $9.99 for 18 fl. oz., Target
I don't really have great hair. It's very oily, but the ends are also really dry. (Could some of this be because I haven't had a haircut since before Thanksgiving? I mean, maybe. Don't worry, I have one scheduled for this Friday!) I love this conditioner. I bought it on a whim at Target based on some good reviews I saw, and I'm so glad I did. I think it's what allowed me to have hair that didn't look TOO terrible for all these past months. It's hydrating, yet light. 

2. Coppertone Sport Clear Sunscreen, $7.97 for 5 fl. oz., Amazon.com
If there's one thing I know, it's sunscreens. I am obsessed with wearing sunscreen any time I am outside, and I reapply frequently. I've been known to use an entire can or bottle of sunscreen during one pool or beach day. This sunscreen goes on so smoothly, doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy or dirty, and is incredibly light. 

3. Day Designer Day Planner, $19.99 for 8.5" x 11.0" (also comes in a smaller size), Amazon.com
I am a die-hard devotee of the paper planner, and trust me when I tell you I've tried a ton of them. I've done the Kate Spade, the Erin Condren, and, most recently, the Plum Paper. These babies aren't cheap! This year I decided to try a less expensive planner, and I am very happy with my choice! This planner features both month at a glance (which is a requirement for me) as well as weekly options. It also comes with a pocket folder as well as some fun stickers. If, like me, you live by the academic year, you can buy a 2020-2021 planner now. There are also a lot of pretty cover options! Consider splurging on some great pens to go with it, like I did. It's an inexpensive way to feel good!

4. imPRESS Press-On Manicure, $5.99, Target
Guys, I almost didn't want to tell you about this one because I don't want there to be a run on my favorite colors. But I couldn't keep it from you! I always like having my nails done. No matter what I look like or what I'm wearing, having my nails done just really makes me feel put together. I had been getting my nails done every couple of weeks for a few years, and man, it's nice, but it can get so expensive. On top of that, it takes up a lot of time, and on top of THAT I have tried so many nail salons in the greater Atlanta area and just haven't found one that I really like. My nails grow fast, so I need the polish close to my cuticle, and I also just can't deal with chips or peeling polish. Someone I know mentioned these nails on Facebook several months ago, and I was like -- yeah this SOUNDS awesome, but press-on nails, really? Like is it 1992? But I decided I'd buy one box, thinking I'd give it a try, they'd pop off, and I'd just be mad and go back to doing whatever else the next day. I was so, so wrong. These nails are incredibly easy to apply (NO GLUE!), they are incredibly easy to remove (NO ACETONE!), and they last about seven days. I'm not kidding when I tell you I wash dishes in these, I work outside in the yard in these, I go to the pool in these. They stay on so well and look great! And the truth is, even if one of them does pop off, there are so many extras in the box that you can find a similar sized one to replace it with. I usually buy mine at Target or Walmart where they are $5.99 a box, but you can also get them at Walgreens or CVS where they are $7.99 a box. (Still a great deal!) The only place I wouldn't buy them, weirdly, is from the imPRESS website. Their customer service and communication aren't great, but I've never had an issue just buying them straight from the store! If you change these nails weekly for a month, you are spending around $24.00 for your entire monthly manicures when just one gel manicure plus tip is around $40. My advice for these is to apply them at night so that you give them some time to adhere before you get your hands wet. 

5. Auden brand bras, $9.99-$21.99, Target
I have been either pregnant or nursing a child for about a year and a half now. Bert is slowly being weaned from nursing, and I realized I needed some new bras. Bras are expensive. SO EXPENSIVE. And it's not like you can go without them. The thing is, I needed more than one, meaning I couldn't really spend $50 on a single bra. I don't know how I stumbled across this brand, but I saw these bras on the Target website for prices like $14.99 and $16.99. I couldn't believe it. I read the reviews, and they were generally really good. I ordered three (two different kinds), and I was so impressed when they arrived. They fit great, they are comfortable, and there aren't any weird gaps. I will be honest that I haven't had them long enough to speak to how they hold up to several washings, but right now I am really impressed. 

6. NYX Eyebrow Powder, $5.49, Amazon.com 
My good friend Story inspired me to start filling in my eyebrows several years ago, and shortly after I started I couldn't live without it. Filling in your brows just totally changes your face. I am serious when I tell you that if I could only keep a single makeup item in my life it would be this eyebrow powder. Honestly, ask me if I filled in my eyebrows when I was in labor with Bert, and I will not be embarrassed to say YEP! I didn't have any other makeup on, but I just had to use this powder! Even on days when I don't leave my house, I use this product. I love it! I use Black/Gray, but it also comes in Brunette, Taupe/Ash, Dark Brown/Brown, and maybe some others, too. 

Are there any inexpensive yet great products you can't live without? Let me know! 


Best of the Summer So Far

Monday, July 6, 2020


I hope you had a great Fourth of July holiday! Can you believe it's already July?! I feel like June flew by -- after a spring that seemed to last for years -- so I'm hoping and praying time will slow down a bit again so that summer will feel like it lasts forever. We are gearing up to take a trip next week, so this week will bring a lot of list making, laundry, and packing. And, of course, reading! I have five unread books from the library, plus one I need to read for my Litsy markup postal book club, plus another two to review for Netgalley. Oh, and I'm scheduled to do another library pick up tomorrow. Have I gone a little overboard with my to be read list lately? Mayyyyybe. Point is, I need to get reading! 

Today I wanted to share with you some of my best of the best summer reading so far. We're one month in, and I feel pretty lucky to have read so many good books so far this season. (Book links will take you to my shop on Bookshop.org or to Amazon.com via my affiliate link.

Best Book With a Sequel 
This one is a tie between two sets of really great books:

The Book: Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A small, dying town is holding on to its junior hockey team as its last hope for success. One night, an incident occurs between two teens that rips the town apart. 

The Sequel: Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A dying rural town is about to lose its beloved hockey team. The ex-players are mostly transferring to a rival team. A new team is built around a few hardworking young men. Sadly, tensions between the two towns escalate to a point of no return. 

The Book: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
Five high school students students go to detention, but only four make it out alive. It's The Breakfast Club turned deadly in this novel.

The Sequel: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
In the wake of the shocking events of the first novel, a new mystery student starts a Truth or Dare game at Bayview High that turns deadly. 

Best Book About Loving Books

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
Nina Hill is a book lover who works in a bookstore. She is anxious, organized, and a planner. She also values her solitude and quiet life. Out of the blue she meets the (large) family of the father she never knew. 

Best Book By a British Author

The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A young woman returns home after suffering a tragedy. She has always had a strained relationship with her mother while harboring fond memories of her childhood nanny who abruptly left. The woman soon learns that what she thought was true might not be. 

Best Book by an Author With a New Book Coming Out Soon

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, new book One By One out in the US on September 8 (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A woman gets a job as a nanny in a remote house in Scotland. As soon as she arrives, strange things start happening, climaxing with the death of one of the children. 

Best Early Book by Someone Who Became Famous With a Later Book

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, her most famous novel Gone Girl was released in 2012 (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A reporter just out of a psych hospital is sent to her small hometown to report on the murders of two young girls. By the end of her stay, she unravels the mystery surrounding the death of her own sister as well. 

Best Young Adult Novel

Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A 17-year-old girl begins packing up the bedroom of her boyfriend who has just died. As she goes through his things, remembering parts of their relationship, she learns things are not what they seem.

Best Book to Read With Your Book Club

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser (Find at Bookshop.org or at Amazon.com)
A woman and her two young children disappear the morning after she spent an evening drinking wine around a fire with her neighbors. The novel examines the lives of several women as they struggle to find out what happened to their neighbor. 

Best Book by an Author You've Never Heard Of

The Longest Day of the Year by Kim Wright (Find at Amazon.com)
Four women sit on the beach and talk. They are different ages and have seemingly different backgrounds, but somehow they are all connected. As they talk about their lives, it becomes clear that the one thing they all love is their precious beach. 

I hope you have a beautiful week! 




Happily Ever Krafter Recommends

Thursday, June 11, 2020

One of my favorite things is when I find a source I trust to recommend books. Of course, we all enjoy different things, but when you find a good source whose taste seems to match your own -- or who will provide a thorough enough review that you can decide whether or not a book is for you -- you latch on. There are so many great books out there, and sometimes deciding what to read next can be overwhelming!

With that in mind, I have opened up a "shop" on Bookshop.org. Have you heard of this? Bookshop.org is an online bookstore that financially supports independent bookstores. Their website states:

As more and more people buy their books online, we wanted to create an easy, convenient way for you to get your books and support bookstores at the same time.

If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on our map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop).

Doesn't this sound great? 

When you visit my page on Bookshop.org, you will see several lists of books I recommend in different categories; I like to think of it as my own virtual lending library! So far my categories include:

Book Club Picks -- Looking for a new selection for your book club? Here are my suggestions for compelling books that would make for interesting discussion!

Middle Grade Readers -- As a middle school teacher, I love finding out what my students are reading. Here are some great ideas, both classic and contemporary.

Books About Reading -- If you love reading about reading, these books are for you!

Bert's Books -- Here is a list of books my baby loves!

Summer Reads -- Perfect books for lying on the beach or lounging by the pool!

Classics to Rediscover -- Maybe you forgot how much you loved them; maybe you never read them at all!

Suspense and Thrillers -- Do you like to be kept on the edge of your seat with a little mystery? These are the books for you!

Fiction -- Some of these novels are serious, others funny, but the one thing they have in common is that they're compelling!

I'll be adding books to each category as I find new things to recommend, and I will probably add more categories too. If there's a category you'd like to see, let me know!

Please visit me for book recommendations at Bookshop.org at my shop, Happily Ever Krafter. As always, you can also find me on Litsy and Goodreads. Happy reading! 


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A little disclaimer: if you purchase a book on Bookshop.org through my shop, or via an Amazon Affiliate link, I will receive a commission of 10%. You know I will never suggest any book I don't love (NO MORE BORING BOOKS, remember?), so you can trust that all opinions are my own. I appreciate you supporting this blog and the stay-at-home mom who runs it! 


Summer Reading 2020

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GUYS. IT IS TIME. The best reading season of the year: SUMMER!

In August of 2016 (theme: The Summer 
We Read Austen) and August of 2017 (theme: More Alive and Less Lonely) I wrote posts detailing all of the books I had read those summers and included my favorite quotations and pieces of books that really spoke to me. At the end of summer 2018 I didn't do this as I had just gotten married, moved, and started a new job. I also failed to do this in summer 2019 because we had bought a house and I had a baby. But I am determined to complete another summer round up this August because I have missed looking back on my summer reading.

Things will look a little different reading-wise for me this summer than in summers past. This is the first summer I've had a child to take care of and not the endless amounts of hours I used to have to read. Admittedly, this is a little hard for me. I love my husband and son, but I sort of just wish that they'd leave me alone so I could read! I mean, Bert will be 10 months old tomorrow; he can watch himself now, right? I frequently take a nostalgic look back to the summer of 2016, heretofore named "The Perfect Summer." This was the first summer I had since I started teaching where I was a. not working and b. not taking a full-time load of graduate courses. I did take on some part-time work at church two days a week, but five days a week I had nothing whatsoever to do. On Tuesdays I would take a morning yoga class, stop by the library to pick up my stack of books, and then head to the pool. I'd stay at the pool until I finished a book, then I'd head home and continue to read. No one needed me, I didn't have to go anywhere, I could just read books in peace. Sigh. Those were good days. I mean, I like my life now, too, don't get me wrong, but sigh -- those were the good old days! 

Truthfully, though, I have been attempting to train myself to do some reading while Bert is asleep in the afternoons and after he goes to bed and we eat dinner at night. I try to complete all my house chores and responsibilities in the early and mid-mornings and leave some time later in the day for reading. I enjoy it, yes, but I have also found that I am a much nicer person when I've had time alone to read. It just makes me who I am. I am excited that our library is back open for pick ups, and I have been weekly for the past three weeks and will go again Thursday. I might not make it through my stacks as quickly as I used to, but I am still making it through the stacks! Also, both Bert and I are registered for our library's summer reading program. I am so excited for Bert's first summer reading program ever. (The first of many, I hope!)

It sounds like it would be the opposite, but I actually read LESS during quarantine. One reason is because Joe was working from home, so we had more time for yard and house projects that kept us really busy. The bigger reason, though, is, I GOT STUCK WITH THE MOST BORING BOOK WHEN THE LIBRARY CLOSED! Remember at the beginning of the year when I vowed NO MORE BORING BOOKS?! Well, apparently someone up there was laughing because after an on-fire January and February, I got stuck with a super boring book in March when the library closed. So, although I had made that promise to myself, I tried so hard for weeks -- months! -- to read that boring book until one day I was like THIS IS STUPID. Guys, just stop reading boring books. 

I'm still keeping up with my Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge, but not exclusively so. Here's what I've been reading lately:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
- I highly recommend this book. I had read two of his books previously, and this one did not disappoint. A note to people who have read his books before: I found this one to be much heavier than the other two I've read (My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here). I am now reading the follow up to Beartown called Us Against You.



- I can't remember the last time I read a modern heroine that so totally reminded me of myself. The main character is anxious, a planner, organized, loves books and trivia, drinks wine, and loves being alone. It's like Abbi Waxman looked into my life. I recommend this if you are looking for a light, fun read with a plot that talks about a love of books!

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
- I'd love to talk about this one with someone who has read it. It's an intense family drama, and I usually enjoy these types of stories, but this one felt to me like it was, I don't know, unfinished maybe? Let me know if you read it so we can talk about it!

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
- I have read two of Shari Lapena's prior books (The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House), and I liked this one as well. She had me hooked from the first few pages because there were so many parallels between it and my favorite novel of all time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Reading the beginning vignettes about each character's arrival to the inn where the story takes place is so like Agatha Christie's novel that I almost expected to see the characters from that book show up in this one too! Shari Lapena is known for a good twist ending, and this one did not disappoint! 


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
- This is a young adult novel, and I like to keep up with these as much as I can since I enjoy talking about books with students and former students. I really enjoyed this debut novel about two teens who get involved in an all-out Twitter war between their families' restaurants. 


If you want to keep up with everything I'm reading, and more importantly, my ever-growing list of things I want to read, please follow me on Litsy or add me as a friend on Goodreads

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This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a book through this page, I may receive a small commission. All the thoughts shared here are my own.

June 1

Monday, June 1, 2020

Today is June 1. 

We've all been looking forward to this, haven't we? Or just me?

There's something beautiful about the beginning of a new month, and it seems even more magical when the first is on a Monday. It seems like a double fresh start. And, for me, June 1 means summer (even though I know it technically isn't, not yet) which is the best time of the year. And after the dumpster fire that was March, April, and May, I think we were all hoping that June would bring some sort of peace to our lives. 

But it didn't happen, did it? 

I was hopeful this morning when I woke up, hopeful in the far-fetched, no real reason to be kind of way that I sometimes am. Then Joe read aloud some of the news he was looking at this morning. When he got to the part where there are reports that people in Austin, Texas were laughing as a homeless man's possessions were set on fire, I couldn't hear any more. 

I've recently learned that I'm a highly sensitive person. I mean, I've always known that I am really sensitive, but I've recently learned that being a highly sensitive person is actually a thing. Honestly, it helps me to put a name on it because I feel that the more you can learn about yourself, the better you  become at making choices that help you and your mental health. For me, when I hear about a homeless person's belongings being set on fire and people laughing, or a person being literally murdered in the street because of the color of his skin by a law enforcement officer sworn to serve and protect while other people just watched, or any of the other many, many sad and awful things that seem to happen on a daily basis, I am broken up about it for a while, and it affects my daily ability to live life. When Joe told me what he told me this morning, I literally sat there in bed rolling it over again and again in my mind. A HOMELESS man's belongings were set on fire and people were laughing. A HOMELESS man's belongings were SET ON FIRE and people were laughing. A HOMELESS MAN'S BELONGINGS WERE SET ON FIRE AND PEOPLE WERE LAUGHING. That sentence joined the other ones that are still taking up space in my head: A BLACK MAN WAS LITERALLY MURDERED BY A POLICE OFFICER IN THE STREET WHILE PEOPLE WATCHED. PEOPLE ARE DAMAGING AND STEALING FROM SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE OWNED BY LOCAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG AND HAVE FAMILIES TO SUPPORT. What happens is, it makes me unable to engage with my baby who is smiling and playing right beside me. So I made I decision I have been thinking about for the past couple of days. 

I am getting off Facebook. 

At first it might not sound like Joe telling me something relates to me staying off Facebook, but the truth is I've spent the past couple of days being disturbed all day long by things I see on Facebook. I don't spend much time on it, truthfully, but as a stay at home mom who is isolated at home with a baby who can't talk all day, sometimes I need to see what the world is up to. And lately it's been dragging me down. Probably not just lately. Forever. Joe is not on Facebook -- or on any social media (except Pinterest, long story, and I know it sounds hilarious!) -- and he is always saying how awesome it is to just live his life. And he's right. On Facebook lately all I've seen are people saying awful things, numerous headlines about violence of all kinds, and people posting statuses like they are experts on literally everything and their opinions are the only ones that matter. I can't even get on my neighborhood's Facebook group any more because there are people on that page who say rude and aggressive things to other neighbors. We're supposed to use that page to talk about the hours of the pool and to check in with each other about safety issues and things like that! 

Please don't take what I'm saying as meaning that I plan to bury my head in the sand and just pretend things aren't happening in the world. That's not true. All it means is that I can control the time and place I choose to read news and take in headlines, which will allow me to be more mentally and emotionally available to my husband, son, other family members, and friends. It also gives me the time and clearer head I need to decide how to take action and find out how I can best help. 

I plan to jump on Facebook to update my Happily Ever Krafter Facebook page with any blog updates, but other than that, I won't be there. The app is already gone from my phone. So if you'd like to engage with me via social media, find me on Instagram (which just seems generally to be a nicer place; maybe I'm wrong) where I might be from time to time, or, better yet, on Litsy, my most favorite app because it's all about books, and Goodreads because I will most likely just be online to read about reading all summer.

***

When I came downstairs this morning, I was overcome with the need for a little pleasant company. Joe was getting ready to leave for work (they were cleared to start working outside the house again on Friday), and I just needed a little light company. We don't usually have the TV on during Bert's awake hours (except on Friday mornings when we let him watch a little Batman), but today I decided to turn on Sesame Street. We have access to the HBO Go app courtesy of my parents' cable package, and you can watch classic Sesame Street on that app. I want Bert to watch a little Sesame Street because first, it's a great show that I've always loved, and two, well, his name is Bert! I watched a lot of Sesame Street growing up, and I remember loving Maria, Gordon, Bob, Linda, Luis, Mr. Hooper and all the characters. 

I turned it on and put Bert in his high chair to eat a few Cheerios while I emptied the dishwasher, made coffee, started laundry, and made Bert's breakfast. At one point I looked up, and this is what I saw:


Do you see what I see in this photo? We have Gordon, Olivia, David, and Susan who are African American; Bob, Linda, and Mr. Hooper who are white; Luis who is Mexican; Maria who is Puerto Rican; Mr. Hooper who is Jewish; and Linda who is deaf. This show that started in the 1970s has always had a beautiful and diverse cast, and it is a beloved show. People are all treated the same on Sesame Street and differences are celebrated and used as opportunities to learn about others' races, religions, and cultures. Sesame Street has been getting it right for decades, but in actual America we are still ... well, you see where we are and what's going on. 

EDIT:

Sesame Street is still on, and Bert and Ernie just finished singing a song that goes, "I don't like everything you like, but I like you." 

***

Yesterday we got to go to mass for the first time since March, and it was wonderful. We love our pastor, Father Jack, and he always knows just what to say. He frequently talks about current issues and sensitive topics, but it is always done in a way that is hopeful and centered on Christ. Yesterday, Pentecost, he made the comment that, "They [the apostles] spoke different languages but understood each other. In our country, we speak the same language, but we don't understand each other." That really struck me as so true and so sad. He also reminded us that God has something to say in every situation, and we have to look and see what He is trying to say to us. Father Jack also said that it is our responsibility to stand up for -- and lay our lives down for -- people that are more vulnerable than we are. He said that Christ did not wait for justice, he was willingly crucified and brought justice because He brought mercy. There can be no justice without mercy. 

*** 

My friend Sarah got me a wonderful daily calendar that features scripture or uplifting sayings on each page. Here's today's:




As always, I appreciate the time you take to read what I write and the kindness you show in allowing me to say it. I hope you have a beautiful week. 

EDIT:

I just saw that I posted this post on June 14, 2016, almost exactly four years ago. It begins with a sentence I could have begun with today. In that post, I also cited another post that I wrote in November 2014. It breaks my heart to read it all over again. 

Top 9 Things New Moms Need at Home

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A couple of months ago (which feels like a couple of YEARS ago now that we're in the midst of a pandemic, let's be honest), I wrote a post about what I feel are nine of the top baby items for birth through six months of age.

Today I'm going to share what I feel are nine of the top things a new mom should have at home waiting for her when she returns from giving birth. This list is definitely not exhaustive, but thinking back to my first days home from the hospital back in August, these are nine things that definitely saved my life and made me feel good. (Let me also add that I delivered Bert vaginally -- notice I did not say "naturally" because ALL BIRTH IS NATURAL but that's a post for another day! -- so if you have a C-section there are probably different items you might like!) I am very honest in these recommendations, so read at your own risk! Okay, here we go!




1. Carnation Breakfast Essentials Light Start -- I got these shakes a couple weeks before Bert was born because I had a coupon and thought why not? I am so glad I did. Breastfeeding made me SO hungry, and I definitely woke up every morning starving, but sometimes (alllll the time!) baby can't wait to eat. Luckily, with these shakes you can drink one really fast right before you feed your baby, or you can even drink it as you feed your baby because it only takes one hand! I especially like the "light start" ones because they are low in sugar but high in protein. I like both the chocolate and vanilla flavors. 

2. Cliff Bars -- This goes along with number 1, but basically these Cliff Bars are packed with good things, easy to eat, and delicious. They filled me up enough to feed Bert, and just like the breakfast shakes I could eat them while feeding him if necessary. My favorite flavor is Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt. 

3. A good water bottle -- I'd been using the Camelbak Eddy since the beginning of last school year, and I love this water bottle! Breastfeeding makes you THIRSTY (at least it does most people) and having a full water bottle at all times is so important! 

4. Extra heavy overnight maxi pads -- So in the interest of full disclosure, the most shocking thing I learned in pre-baby class was I would likely bleed for six weeks after having my baby. SIX. WEEKS. I was appalled! The upside of pregnancy some people say is you don't have a period for about nine months, but people fail to tell you that once you deliver the baby you will basically get all your periods at once. I was outraged. I called my mom and asked her if she knew about this. Haha. 

5. Hemorrhoid supplies -- I had to go to Walmart and buy hemorrhoid cream and witch hazel pads AFTER I had the baby, and Walmart was not the place I wanted to be three days post-partum. Do yourself a favor and get these things before. Also, my mom sent me the Rachel's Remedy Down There Relief Pack, and it was great. All I will say is I was woefully unprepared for this situation. WOEFULLY.

6. Flushable wipes -- I doubt you really need me to say too much about this, so I won't. Get some. 

7. Nice pajamas -- Chances are you will be wearing pajamas a lot the first few weeks, and having nice, clean pajamas really made me feel good. I had ordered a pajama dress from Amazon prior to Bert's birth which I really like (still wear!), and I was also really fortunate because my mother-in-law got me this really nice pajama set from Soma too. At night I would lay out what I wanted to wear the next day so I was ready to go when I got up early, and I would just wear that thing all day and sleep in it too. I can't tell you what a difference nice, clean pajamas made in my overall outlook on life. Get yourself a couple of nice pairs. 

8. A comforting show to watch -- After Joe returned to work and all the grandparents went home, I was left alone with Bert for the first time. It got a little lonely around the house, and it really helped to have a familiar show on in the background during the day. It might sound silly, but it helped me feel less alone. I was a big fan of Jane the Virgin when it was still on TV, and so I would turn it on on Netflix during the day when I was home alone with Bert. I recommend this show because it's funny and over-the-top dramatic while also being incredibly heartwarming and well written. It was especially fun to re-watch Jane during her pregnancy and delivery after I had just been through my own.

9. A new show to watch -- My friend Maggie recommended to select a new show to watch during the night when I was breastfeeding Bert. It was great advice! I just kept my Chromebook plugged in near the love seat in our room where I did Bert's overnight feedings. While Joe was changing Bert's diaper, I'd prep my show. Joe would go back to bed, and I'd watch the show while feeding Bert. I'd turn the subtitles on so it wouldn't be too loud. It really gave me something to look forward to during those lonely overnight hours. I watched Dead to Me and also Good Girls, both of which are on Netflix. 

Along with these nine things, I'd also suggest making sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with Advil and Tylenol. 

Parents, siblings, significant others, and friends of new moms -- maybe consider getting the new mom in your life something from this list like nice pajamas, easy to eat snacks and drinks, or a Netflix subscription if she doesn't already have one. One more suggestion would be meals or a meal service. I got REALLY strung out by the thought of meal prep before Bert was born. It was nothing at all for me to sit in his room for hours organizing his clothes by size, but the minute I thought about prepping meals for the freezer, I panicked. I'd look up recipes, see there were more than four ingredients, and panic-close the browser tab. I mentioned this to my sister Erin one day and she said something that changed my life: "Meal prep is for people who enjoy meal prep." I have never enjoyed cooking or making meals, especially ones that involve a ton of ingredients, and I realized how right Erin was. I mean, I plan a weekly menu of dinners for our family every week, but that's about as much as I can do. What helped was that Erin and my other sister Emma made several meals while they were here and put them in our freezer (because they like cooking). My mom and Joe's mom also cooked while they were here. Finally, some of our extended family who live far away sent us a week's worth of meal delivery from Freshly. I told Daniel and Catherine this, but I didn't realize how much energy I spent planning meals every week until I didn't have to for a while. 

The last thing I'll say is this: whatever your "feel good" thing is, do that thing. This might sound really stupid, but I really like to have my eyebrows filled in. If I could have only one make up item, it'd be eyebrow powder, I'm not even kidding. So even when I was showering every other day or so, had dirty hair, or was wearing pajamas, I filled my eyebrows in every day. It made me feel awesome. So if you have something like that, give yourself permission to do it. Your baby won't miss you for the three minutes it takes you to fill your eyebrows in, do some stretches, or sit outside in the sun. 
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