Baby’s First Christmas – Gift Guide

Baby's first Christmas gift guide

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K was born five days after Christmas, so he was just about one before he got to experience his first Christmas. Because of that, I didn’t really get to experience “baby’s first Christmas” since by his first Christmas he wasn’t really a baby anymore! J, however, will be 7 months at Christmas time, so this year we will have baby’s first Christmas! Hooray!

In honor of that, I thought it would be fun to round up some good gifts for a baby. I hope you enjoy these ideas for the little bitty one in your life!

1. Comotomo Silicone Baby Teether

I bought this neat little teether for J when he was about four months old and already chewing like crazy. It is his favorite teether, he loves it!

The ring part is really easy for little hands to grab and the little fingers are the perfect size for chewing. Plus, the silicone material is safer than plastic and such a great texture for ouchy gums.



2. Pacific Play Tents I See U 6′ Tunnel

This is a gift I am thinking of getting my newly mobile baby to perhaps discourage him from the thrill of crawling under the table.

It is something that would be fun for both him and big brother to crawl in, but will also easily fold up to be stored away since we don’t have a lot of room for big toys like this.

3. Foamnasium Gymnasium

On the topic of toys for climbing, this is another gift I am pondering for this Christmas. While a little pricey, these awesome climbing blocks would be a toy that both my boys would play with for years.

They are perfect for gross motor building (especially when you can’t get outside some days) and are open ended for lots of imaginative play. I know my fellas (and all their little friends) would love them!

4. Green Sprouts Glass Sip ‘n Straw Cup

Since J is six months old now, I have been looking into getting him a water cup. While I don’t mind plastic for things that will be drank right away during a meal, for a water bottle that will be sipped all day, I do prefer glass or stainless steel.

I really want a small stainless steel straw cup with handles, but haven’t been able to find one with all those qualifications. This Green Sprouts cup is close, but it is glass instead of stainless. For a BPA free plastic cup, I thought this one looked good.

5. Oball 4-inch Infant Rattle

A little blue Oball was the first toy K ever played with when he was a baby and J loves it too. They are so easy to grab and throw and the rattle aspect adds an extra fun element.

Ball’s are one of my go-to baby gifts and would make a perfect stocking stuffer!




6. Baby’s Book Tower (Leslie Patricelli board books)

When K was a baby, he had a set of tiny board books, I believe they were Baby Einstein. He loved them for the longest time. They were the perfect size and only had a few pages, he loved being able to “read” them by himself. I always kept a couple in the diaper bag.

I found these Leslie Patricelli baby books and they look awesome! The same style books, but with the always adorable Leslie Patricelli style. I’ll definitely be looking at these for J.



7. Angel Dear Blankie

Isn’t this little lovey the cutest thing?! I bought this precious little fox recently for my newborn nephew and would have gotten one for J too if he didn’t already have way too many.

Don’t care for the fox? No worries! There are 13 different styles!




8. Infantino Squeeze and Stack Block Set
J is always trying to move in on big brother’s block buildings, so I’m thinking I might need to get him this set of soft blocks that are perfect for babies.

Soft enough to chew on, yet sturdy enough to stack, I think he would love having these to play with.


9. BEBE Designer Teething Necklace

I have a teething necklace like this one, but I would love to have one of these really cool silicone necklaces – I know J would love it too! Isn’t it pretty?

Plus, it’s a two for one gift – a gift for mom and baby!




10. ERGObaby Original Carrier

One more gift that is a little bit for you, a little bit for the baby! We received an ERGObaby carrier when K was born and it has been well used.

Perfect for fussy, clingy babies, or babies like mine who just want to be up and seeing the world, this carrier is my absolute favorite. Now that J is big enough, my favorite way to use it is in the backpack position – makes life so much easier!



What are your favorite gifts for baby?


The Treadmill of Mothering Small Children

The Treadmill of Mothering Small

The afternoon felt like I was stuck in that movie Groundhog’s Day.

At this point my 8 week old was starting to fall into some semblance of predictable routines. He woke for the day around the same time, stayed up for a while, cat napped the rest of the morning, and then usually took a longer nap around 1 or 2.

At about 1:30 it seemed pretty obvious that he was getting tired and needed to take that longer nap. I finished up lunch and started looking forward to spending the afternoon catching up on house work (bad move – never count those chickens!).

Then began the seemingly endless cycle. Nurse, rock, lay down baby. Try to start working on something. Baby wakes up 10 minutes later. Play with smiley baby, rock cranky baby, nurse again, lay down. Baby wakes up 3 minutes later. Rock baby. Baby falls asleep in arms. Moments before attempting the lay down baby’s eyes open wide and he smiles as if to say “gotcha.”


Oh, you thought I was sleeping, mom? 

I tried retreating to the bedroom, where he does such a good job sleeping at night. I rocked. I nursed. I set him in his bed. Happy, sleepy, and sucking on a paci.

I ran downstairs and cleaned the dining room for 15 minutes like a mad woman while listening to my baby cry over the monitor. Mom guilt crept in (I never let big brother cry like that this young!).

I climbed the stairs to the bedroom and peeked over the side of the crib. My good natured little boy smiled at the sight of his mommy. He wanted to be happy and play, but what he really needed was sleep. I tried one more time.




He drifted off to sleep.

Eyes pop open. “Just kidding mom!

It was 4 pm. I finally gave up.

I carried him downstairs and big brother entertained him in the swing while I managed to finish washing the dishes.


But who could be mad at this face?

I had begun the work of cleaning the kitchen that morning when I started unloading the dishwasher at breakfast…

…and had finished just in time to start cooking dinner.

Sometimes life with little ones feels like a treadmill. Walking and walking, but going nowhere.

Like life is on repeat. Feed, clothe, soothe. Discipline, teach, correct. Walk, walk, walk – still in the same place.


Didn’t I just feed you?

So often it feels like there is so much I want to do in life, but instead I spend the day just getting the bare minimum done. If that.

But is that really the case?

Let’s rewind this day back to the beginning again.

The day began with a late start due to extra morning snuggles with my two little boys. (Pouring into K’s love language – physical touch)

I fed my son breakfast, read him his Bible, and helped him with some preschool activities (Enriching his body, spirit, and mind)

I spent the afternoon caring for a baby who needed a little extra TLC. (Meeting his need for attachment and teaching him that mommy loves him, hears him, and can be trusted)


Sleepy snuggles while doing computer work? Could life get any better?

All that and I managed to do the dishes? I’ll call that a win.

It’s all in your perspective.

That.. and a lot of grace.


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IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

Dear Mom of a Newborn…

Dear Mom of a Newborn

Dear Mom of a Newborn,

It gets easier.

I promise.

You’re sitting there, feeling pain in places you didn’t know you even had, holding this tiny being that completely depends on you, and you’re wondering. Wondering what life will look like now. Wondering how you’re going to balance it all. Wondering if you’ll ever get to take a shower that lasts longer than 2 minutes again.

Mama. I get it.

And you know what?

You’ll figure it out.

As my second baby is now ending his newborn phase I experienced all these thoughts for the second time around.


“How will I get anything done with two to care for?”

“Will my house always look like a tornado just came through?”

“Will I ever get to take a shower for more than 2 minutes again?!”

“And where is child #1?”

However, from the haze of the first few weeks, months, I have emerged. And you know what?

It got easier.

We have good days. We have bad days. But we’re figuring out our new rhythm.

Because that’s life. It gets hard. Then it gets easier. Then it’s hard and easy at the same time. It’s up and down and all over the place. But there is nothing that life can throw at you that you can’t take.


So we adjust.

We finally figure out how to nurse the baby with only one hand.

We learn to get the basics done as soon as we lay the baby down for a nap. Because who knows if we have 2 minutes or 2 hours.

We corral the older sibling in a nearby area so we can keep an eye on him.

We celebrate the small things – getting through the grocery store in one piece, sleeping in ever increasing increments, finally getting to take that shower.

So, as you sit there and cradle that tiny little one, please know. You got this. You will have days when it doesn’t seem that way. And on those days you’ll need to lean hard into the strength of the Savior. Kiss those sweet baby toes and pray a prayer to just get through another day.

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Then. One day you’ll wake up and realize. You’ve found your new normal.

You’ve got this Mama.

The Most Important Phrase to Help with the Adjustment to a New Sibling

The Most Important Phrase to Help with

He came downstairs from his quiet time and wanted the cookie I had promised him. The only problem was that I was trapped.

Trapped under a peacefully sleeping baby.

I told him that I couldn’t get up and get his cookie right then. He would have to be patient and wait.

I could see the frustration building on his face and I felt for him. He was transitioning well into the role of big brother, but that didn’t mean it was always easy. Newborns are pretty demanding, so big brother was getting a lot of practice with coming second.


Anyways.. back to the cookie situation. I really didn’t want to disturb said sleeping baby – either by getting up to get the cookie or from the screams of a three year old’s meltdown. So, I broke out the miracle phrase.

“You used to do that when you were a baby too.”

“When you were a baby you liked mommy to hold you when you were sleeping too. You always wanted to be held!”

His scowl immediately melted into a smile. He loves hearing about when he was a baby.


Before Baby J was born we spent a lot of time looking through old pictures and talking about what K was like when he was a baby. He ate up every minute of it.

Not only does he like hearing about himself as a baby, the phrase helps him remember that he is the big kid. Baby J can’t wait patiently, but a big boy can. Baby J doesn’t help clean up, but a big kid can. Baby J needs mommy to help him with everything, but a big boy can do it himself.


K had his time to be a baby, but now he is a big boy and before long baby J will be a big boy just like him!

But for now, when that frustration starts to well up, it helps to remember – “You used to do that when you were a baby too.”

What tips do you have for easing that transition when a newborn comes along?

5 Things To Buy For When New Baby Comes (That You Might Not Have Thought Of!)

Onesies, blankets, and diapers.

Burp cloths, pacifiers, and bottles.

You’ve made your list and checked it twice. You’re all ready for new baby to come.

Or are you?

As I am going through my second time in the newborn stage, I’ve come up with five items you might not of thought of buying, but sure are making my life a lot easier!



#1 Lamp with a Dimmer Switch

The last thing you want when you wake up for a midnight nursing session is to be blinded by the lights in your room. When K was a newborn I just happened to have an LED lamp with a dimmer switch and I quickly found that it was perfect for all those middle of the night feedings and diaper changes. Being able to adjust the brightness means I can turn it up to see better while changing that diaper and turn it down when baby is finally sleeping again.

Try checking out this one, this one, or this one.

#2 Bedrest Pillow

I had no idea what I wanted was a “bedrest pillow” – all I knew is that I wanted one of those pillows with the arms! I knew that I was going to be spending a lot of time sitting in bed nursing and I thought that one of those pillows would make that a lot more comfortable. I was right! It has been great having one. The bedrest pillow can just stay at the head of the bed and I don’t have to worry about rearranging the pillows to nurse comfortably.

I got mine at Target, but you can also grab one from Amazon here.

#3 Giant Water Bottle

While you are nursing you are constantly thirsty! I know for me as soon as I sit down to nurse it’s like all of a sudden I’m stranded in the desert. Must. Have. Water.

When K was a newborn I just used two regular sized water cups and this go around I have a nice big water jug from the hospital. Oh, and a water bottle with a straw is a must! Just trust me!

This large CamelBak would be a good choice. This large water bottle would also be great. Bonus points since it’s double walled – you don’t have to worry about water rings!

#4 Snacks

Second only to thirst while nursing, is hunger! Snack attacks seem to come out of nowhere when you’re a nursing mama (even in the middle of the night!), so having healthy snacks around is so important.

Already chopped veggies or baby carrots and dip, Larabars, trail mix, cheese sticks, etc. Don’t forget to stash some away wherever you do your nighttime nursing!

#5 Amazon Prime

Back around Christmas time we signed up for the Amazon Prime free 30 day trial for the first time because there was a gift I wanted to purchase and have arrive in the quick 2 day shipping. I thought about canceling before the 30 days were up, but honestly forgot about it until it was too late (that’s how they get ya I guess!). However, I’m so glad we ended up keeping it!

There have been multiple times already where I needed to buy something but really didn’t want to have to go out to the store with a newborn. I was able to order it on Amazon Prime and it was here in just two days. Perfect!

Plus, access to Amazon Prime Video has been perfect for some nursing entertainment.

You can grab the free trial here – Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Bonus – Amazon Baby Registry

Another cool thing that I wish I would have known about when I was registering for gifts for baby #1 is the Amazon Baby Registry. What an easy and convenient way to compile a registry! If you are looking for something like this, you can check it out here – Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry

Now I want to hear your must haves! What baby items have you found that are indispensable? 

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

Baby J’s Birth Story


J birth story

I had a feeling this one would come early.

I didn’t dare say it out loud for fear of jinxing myself. But part of me just knew (or maybe it was just really strong hope!) he would make an appearance soon.

I really didn’t want to be induced again, so I was praying this little one would make his or her way into the world before that was necessary.

We were all as ready as we could be and not knowing the gender made it even more exciting. We wanted to meet this baby!


Tuesday morning I had my 39 week appointment (I was 39 weeks plus 1 day). When I was asked if I was having any contractions, I answered the same as I had for months. “Yep, tons. But nothing consequential.” I had had way more Braxton Hick’s during this pregnancy than with K, but nothing that ever amounted to anything… or so I thought.

The nurse-midwife I had been regularly seeing was aware that I really was hoping to avoid a second induction, so she offered to do a membrane sweep. I said “yes please!” and when she did it, she informed me that I was already almost 3 cm dilated!

We did go ahead an schedule an induction time for the following week, to be sure to have a spot before the holiday weekend, but she assured me that she didn’t believe I would need it. She didn’t think it would be long!

I left the appointment feeling hopeful, but also trying not to get my hopes up. Having a membrane sweep with K did absolutely nothing after all.

I took it easy the rest of the day, since the membrane sweep left me feeling a little crampy and “ick.” I finished everything I needed to in order to launch Summer Search for God, figuring it should get done if I wanted to release it before the baby came.


When that evening came I knew I should probably try to clean up the house a bit and get to bed early, figuring there was a good chance of going into labor the next day. However, I opted for sitting on the couch with my hubby watching TV and I headed up for bed around 9:30pm.

I took a shower and was crawling in bed at about 10:00pm when *pop* my water broke! I was not expecting that! I did a ninja like move to roll out of bed without getting the sheets wet and beelined for the bathroom. It wasn’t a huge bursting gush, but I was 99% confident that my water had indeed broke.

I called my husband on the phone (he was still downstairs).


“Um.. dear.. you should probably come up here. I think my water broke.”

He rushed upstairs and made the call into labor and delivery.

They told me I could take a shower (already had) and have a snack and then come in to be checked to make sure my water really had broken.

I got together the few last minute items that needed packed and ate a banana.

Meanwhile, my husband was running around killing termites.

Yes, you read that right. Termites. They had been swarming that night and had finally made their way into the house through the vents. They were everywhere. Apparently this is a thing where we live. This being our first spring here, we had no clue. Thankfully they cause no damage and die soon after finding their way in your house. But still. Waddling around leaking amniotic fluid, termites were the last thing I wanted to deal with.

But I digress.

We finished up our last minute preparations, roused a sleeping three year old and dropped him off at a friends house, and made our way to the hospital.

Walking in I was experiencing some light contractions. Nothing that was keeping me from walking, although I was moving slow. It was about 11pm now.

I felt a mix of excitement and nerves. I was not looking forward to the intensity of labor and not knowing how labor will progress always made me nervous. However, I tried to keep my thoughts on how great it would be to finally meet this baby.

When we arrived at labor and delivery, they set us up in a side room and hooked me up to the heart rate monitor. They needed to check to make sure my water had actually broke, but they seemed in no hurry! (Probably because my labor didn’t seem very active at this point).

The nurses and techs did a few other things and as we waited contractions were starting to pick up. I began having to focus more intently on staying relaxed and I was really wanting to get out of the bed! Thankfully, they brought me a stool to sit on and that felt a ton better. Soon after that they confirmed my water was indeed broken and I was already dilated to 6cm!

A few minutes later they finally transferred us to our permanent room. At that point the contractions were very difficult to walk through, but I was just able to make it down the hall to our new room.

Once in the room, I had to get back in bed and get hooked up to the monitor again. Then, it was time to put my IV in (I needed antibiotics since I was group B strep positive). This was the worst part so far. Having to lay in the bed gave me back labor (ouch!) and I hate hate hate getting IV’s.

You see, I have vasovagal. If you’ve never heard of it, it is basically where in response to certain situations your brain decides the best course of action is to pass out! Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned to control it, but getting an IV put in is the worst!

I put in my earbuds to listen to music and turned away from the IV business. My husband stood by my head and comforted me and I remember a sweet nurse standing by my feet rubbing my leg.

I made it through the IV placement and was finally able to get out of that bed!

As I sat back on the stool (thankful to once again be upright and not feeling as much pain in my back!) I alternated between leaning against my husband during contractions and laying my head down on a table between them.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest things I was hoping to avoid (besides an induction) was laboring at night! I am such a wimp when it comes to being tired and boy was I exhausted!

It was about at this point that the doctor showed up and came in to talk with us (approximately 12:30am?). She had a paper that we had signed earlier and I needed to sign again. I could barely lift the pen to sign my name I was so tired! She asked if we had actually read the paper. We hadn’t!

She went through what the paper was about (it was just a release to do things like give me a blood transfusion, etc), but I was barely listening and really wanted her to stop talking at that point! The contractions were coming strong and very often.

I remember my husband comforting me with a little surprise in his voice saying that my contractions were “off the charts” on the monitor!

As each contraction came on, I would motion to my husband and he would come close so I could learn against him. I tried to relax as best I could and let my body do it’s thing. I kept visualizing the glorious moment from my first birth when my son was finally born – knowing this would all be worth it.

I was so tired though. The contractions were getting overwhelming and oh so painful. I knew I hadn’t even been laboring that long. How much longer was I going to have to withstand this? How was I going to be able to make it through?

The doctor asked me if I was feeling any pressure and I answered “no”, thinking there was no way it was going to be time for that already.

The next contraction came and I felt the pressure.

I couldn’t believe it was time to push.

I should have known I was in transition when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. I just didn’t think it would go so fast!

My mindset completely changed. I was in the home stretch.

One of my goals with this birth was to try alternate pushing positions. So, I started out standing with my husband holding me up. We both tired from this position quickly and the nurses helped a very dazed me climb into the bed. I sat on my knees holding the back of the bed and pushed from that position for a while too, but eventually my legs gave out again and I turned around to a sitting position.

I would like to add, this whole time I was pushing, I was yelling. It was horrible. I am not normally a yeller. I didn’t yell really for my first birth. It honestly felt kind of embarrassing (not to mention I almost lost my voice), but I really couldn’t help it! I think part of the problem was I was pushing a little too early and it hurt more because of that. By the time I got into the seated position I didn’t feel like I had to yell quite as much. All that to say – you gotta do what you gotta do to get through it!

Anyway, back to pushing. At this point I knew we were getting close. The pressure was getting intense and I could finally feel my baby coming down the birth canal. Everyone was so encouraging during this part and that really made a difference.

I got to the “burning ring of fire” and boy did it burn (I didn’t remember experiencing it as much with baby #1). I pushed through it though, knowing that it meant I was almost done!

A few more contractions and strong pushes later, and the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. The moment I had been envisioning the whole time. The baby’s head crowned and his body followed right behind.

My water had broken at 10:00pm and a mere four hours later he was born. I couldn’t believe it!

Now, if you’ve never experienced childbirth, I don’t know how I can adequately describe this moment to you. When your baby finally comes out and you see their sweet little face for the first time. It is amazing. After all that excruciating work… your baby is born. It is indescribable.

I immediately looked down and reached for my baby. I exclaimed “it IS a boy!” (we had both really wanted another boy more than we wanted to admit and K had been declaring since the beginning that it would be a boy). He was handed to me and I finally was able to hold my sweet baby in my arms.


He was perfect.


He was wide awake and alert. Taking the new world in.


He was here.


K was thrilled.


He is absolutely smitten with his baby brother.


And I must say…


We are too.


We can’t imagine life without him!



Welcome Baby J!

He’s here! He’s here!


7lbs 14oz of perfection.

DSC_4200 (1)

Born 5/13/15 at 2:10am.



We’re in love.

Version 2

Can you tell?


If you follow me on Instagram, I announced his name over there. I try to keep my kiddos names off the blog for their privacy, but I just couldn’t help sharing over there.

I debated back and forth whether to write up his birth story. I think I have a hard time writing about personal life here because I always wonder if anybody really cares. However, I know that I ate up every birth story I came across before Baby J was born. I just loved reading about everyone’s different experiences. So, I think perhaps I will write up both the boy’s birth stories. Stay tuned!


Just one more picture, because how couldn’t you!?