Baby #2 Bumpdate: 27 Weeks!

How far along? 27 weeks
Baby’s Size: A bunch of bananas
Weight Gain: 21 pounds. Whoopsies! I’m hungry all day long and even though I’m eating plenty of veggies, baby demands treats.
Maternity clothes? All day every day! I had to wear my event uniform for work last week and I kept having to pull the shirt over my belly as my panel on my pants kept showing! In fact, I just ordered a bunch more maternity shorts and tank tops, because it’s hot hot hot here in Santa Clarita.
Best moment this week:  I had a blast working at the 3-Day in Michigan, and got to see all my coworkers, whom I consider friends. I felt really good all weekend other than tired, and am so excited for our 2017 season to be kicking off – and kicking cancer’s ass! I also did my glucose test and DO NOT have gestational diabetes, which is awesome.

Miss anything? 

  • Lambic or sour beer.
  • Pants with buttons or zippers
  • Eating prosciutto, salami, or lunch meat with careless abandon (it has to be nitratre free and all that jazz.)
  • Not waddling like a stuffed turkey 
  • Not feeling exhausted and having to go to bed at 9:30 pm
  • Not having heartburn

Movement: This kid rocks and rolls all day long! She especially is active between 6 and 10 pm.
Food cravings:  Strawberries, soft pretzels, cheese, and milk.
Anything making you queasy or sick: I started feeling barfy again about week 24, so I’m back on the nausea meds, which is keeping everything at bay. Walking by the fish case at the grocery store had me feeling green for a couple minutes.
Gender:  Girl!

In heaven in the freezing air conditioned produce room at Costco

Labor signs: Nope, but had my first Braxton Hicks (practice) contraction last week! Ouch!
Symptoms: Increased appetite, waddling, general achiness and stiffness, exhaustion. Oh and prego brain. I’m a space cadet!
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy! I’ve been really even-keeled in terms of emotions and am so much more relaxed this pregnancy, because I know what to expect.
Looking forward to: Sleep, an upcoming 3 day weekend, celebrating my 7th wedding anniversary with Matt, and getting some time to pull weeds in my backyard. It’s the small things! Also, we got Holly a toddler bed and will be getting started on this baby’s nursery, which we kinda need to do given I’m about 12-14 weeks out from the big day. Time is just flying by! We’re also going to have a small Baby-q/House-warming/Matt birthday party, so we started thinking about a date for that and working on a small registry at people’s request, which is fun.

 

Baby #2 Bumpdate: 16 weeks!

Oh you poor second child, you. It’s 16 weeks and I’ve taken like, one bump photo, haven’t blogged once, and more often than not when people ask how far along I am I go, “Uh… let me think.” Or, someone at work asks how I’m feeling and I go “I’m good! Why?” and then I remember that I am with child 😀 Let’s hope my laissez-faire attitude regarding your appearance is just proof pudding that you will be a calm, laidback child with an easy-breezy attitude. Right? Right!

So – some of you didn’t know and now you do  — I’m preggers! Well, surprise! Long story short: I was well within progress to have weight loss surgery… and then I found out I was pregnant. This is a big surprise because it was, well, a surprise – wasn’t planned, and definitely wasn’t something that happened easily with Holly. But, here we are, and life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, and baby girl #2, who also has a name that starts with H, is very well-loved and anticipated already.

How far along? 16 weeks
Baby’s Size: A large avocado or an old school blackberry phone.
Weight Gain: As of 13 weeks, only two pounds. Nausea kept me down and out for a solid 13 weeks but I’m guessing now that my appetite is back and craving everything under the sun that is greasy and calorie-laden, probably a good five/six pounds.
Maternity clothes? About 50/50. I use the belly band over my unbuttoned jeans, but I love wearing dresses so there’s no restriction in the bump.
Best moment this week:  I laid on my stomach and felt a solid “HEY! Get off me!” type kick, and that made me laugh!

Miss anything?

  • The ability to not smell every foul smell within a five mile radius.
  • Lambic or sour beer.
  • Eating prosciutto, salami, or lunch meat with careless abandon (it has to be nitratre free and all that jazz.)
  • Not having to take a nausea medication every night to make it through the day!

Movement: It just started! It’s still fairly mild, but it’s much earlier than I felt kicks with Holly. I also have a normally-placed placenta this time, so that could be why I’m feeling her flutters and movement sooner than usual.
Food cravings:  Cherries, and JUNK FOOD! Oreos, chips, coca-cola… whoops. Now that my appetite is back, I could mow through a convenience store with ease. Trying to keep it in check though.
Anything making you queasy or sick: The thought of chicken (same as with Holly – Matt loves chicken, and always wants it for dinner, and I always reply with one word: Barf.) The smell of the litterbox.
Gender:  Girl!
Labor signs: Heck no
Symptoms: Increased appetite, congestion, a little bit of nausea if I don’t remember my nausea meds… and tired!
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy! I am sad this week as our kitty has been missing for four days, but I feel good, mentally. I’m starting to get a little nervous about how the heck I’m going to handle TWO tiny humans, but, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Looking forward to: Seeing my sister and parents this weekend, taking Holly swimming, and continuing to set up our house! We’ve also picked out a cute aqua paint color for H’s room, and I’m decorating their bathroom too, so that will be fun!

So that’s that – I’ll try to blog with some sort of regularity, but let’s be real, the baby will probably be six years old before I’m back on the blog, so, see ya in six years! I jest. Kind of.

Have a wonderful day 🙂

 

Haruhonpo Sakura Backpack Diaper Bag Review: New Mom’s Best Friend

There’s one piece of equipment for parenthood that I feel like is often overlooked: the diaper bag. When my husband and I registered for the first time, we each naively added our own diaper bags. We chose a popular brand but didn’t think much about what we might really need, and I added the pattern I thought was cutest. Well, flash forward a few weeks with our new bundle of joy, and my husband’s diaper bag lay in the closet unused, and I was in Ross looking at a replacement one because the one I chose was too structured/stuff, and didn’t allow me to stuff it full of things I actually needed.

I used to scoff at women who bought $500 diaper bags – but now, I get it. I spend money on a decent purse, and it’s worth it – because you can really feel that quality. So I jumped at the chance to try a Haruhonpo bag last year, and was quickly enamored with the vivid print and soft structure, and bazillion hidden storage pockets – and even a place to stash wet things! This year, I had the opportunity to try out a new print from Haruhonpo – the Sakura Top Cover backpack ($170), which is black and white stripes with cute red/magenta heart/cherry blossom prints and these random little gummy bear guys (which I love!).  Recently, I had a friend over and she gushed, “I LOVE your backpack!” and was surprised when I told her it’s actually a diaper bag!

Now that Holly is a toddler, our diaper bag has turned into more of a “snack – sippy cup – toy- extra outfit” bag, with a few diapers and wipes. We also have to have ten million of those dang pacifiers, even though we’re working on breaking the habit, but when she loses it, the pacifier comes in handy. What I love about the Haruhonpo is that it comes with TONS of additional storage pouches. I use one for pacifiers, one for actual diapers/wipes, and one for raisins/pouches/crackers. They even have a double-zip seam for extra security and storage.

The other great thing about this style of backpack is you don’t have to wrestle with carrying something on your arms when you’ve got baby + grocery bags+ your own purse on the others. That’s where a backpack diaper bag comes in so handy. I really like a backpack style diaper bag for fun family outings like going to the zoo. Oh! One more thing. The backpack has two stretchy sleeves on either side for bottles/ and or/ sippy cups, which I think is SO important for easy access. You know your kid throws that sippy cup everywhere, so being able to grab it but keep it where you can easily give it back is priceless.

Haruhonpo has got Mommy n’ Me style on lock, because they offer kid sized backpacks that match! How cute, right? When Holly is bigger, I think I have to get her a matching one!

Here’s the technical details on the Top Cover Backpack:

  • Super light but big capacity, only weighs 1lbs.
  • 13 storage compartment to store different type of baby items for easy access.
  • Width 15 inches x height 16.5 inches
  • Water repellant
  • Comes with folding changing pad!
  • Accessories: chest strap, insulated bag, storage bags for stroller.

The insulated bag is fantastic for storing milk and not having to worry too much about it getting warm. If you’re a new mama or mama to be, I highly recommend checking out Haruhonpo. You can buy them at HaruhonpoUSA.com, and they’re now on Diapers.com and Nordstrom.com, too!

Which diaper bag has your heart?

 

 

 

 

Oh Baby: Cyber Monday Deals on Amazon for New Parents

I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper, but as a child of the Interwebz, I am indeed a Cyber Monday shopper. Here are some Amazon deals for your munchkins that caught my eye as I was pregaming tonight.

My father in law bought this for Holly and she’s obsessed with it. It’s a steal at this price and perfect for kiddos 5 months and beyond. She’s played with this a solid six months now and is still going strong. The interactive panel pops off which is great to take into a restaurant or for long car trips.

Holly got this for her birthday from her friend Sam because Sam loves it. Well, I can see why. The ears and tail wag and dance, and the front lights up with different colors to the techno rave beats. Parents will be raving as their little one wiggles and grooves to this sweet little pup, now just $14.99, usually $20 when it’s on sale at Target, $29.99 not on sale.

If you’re a parent, you’ll eventually grow tired of A is for Apple, B is for Boy, D is for Duck, etc. B. Toys nails it with their quirky style – for example, on these blocks, Y isn’t for Yellow, it’s for Yak. These blocks are squishy and adorable and also getting lots of mileage on them and have been for several months. Usually they’re $14.99 on Amazon and today they’re just $8.87. Score!


I just ordered this, because less than $30 for a Little Tikes play kitchen is ridiculous. I used to work for Little Tikes and these products last frickin’ forever. Fun fact; they used to be owned by the Rubbermaid company, which is why everything is so durable! This kitchen comes fully assembled and arrives with 32 fun little accessories like plastic cups and plates. It’s meant for 2 years and up, so if your little one will be playing with it and is younger, you just need to keep a closer eye on them as it’s designed for slightly more developed kiddos. Safety first!

This is one of those things I never would have thought we’d need. Sure enough, kids are small spinning wobbles of mayhem, and one conk on the faucet and you’ve got a screamer. I love Boon’s design (we have their “grass” drying rack, too), and this faucet protector looks sleek, protects noggins, and dispenses bubble bath, too.


These things are awesome if you have a baby that likes to throw things. Holly must be practicing her pitching skills because she loooves throwing her pacifiers and sippies and toys, and we’re not always within easy access to a sink to rinse said item off. Enter water wipes! Just water, the wipe, and a tiny bit of food-safe fruit oil for preservation. My mama friend Lindsay turned me onto these and they’re a lifesaver. They’re spendy compared to other wipes but a package of these in the diaper bag is very helpful. Good price on them today, too!

Also, even if you’re not a new parent, don’t forget to check out the Pop Sugar Must Have box! I got my box this week and it’s PACKED with awesome things that retail for over $150 total in value. My favorite is a palette by Stowaway cosmetics that you can see here. Use the link here for $5 off! PopSugar MustHave sends me the box gratis in exchange for social media coverage. 🙂 You’ll love it!

PSSST don’t forget to use ebates when you’re shopping online today! It doesn’t work on Amazon, but it regularly has deals like 10% cash back at Groupon, etc. ebates is one of those things that sounds scammy but is totally legit. I’ve pocketed back $211 since I started using it last year. You can also install their quick and easy browser bar that will pop up whenever you’re on a site that gives you cash back. Sign up now – here’s $10 back to get you started!

Haruhonpo Big Zipper Backpack Review: Mama’s New Diaper Bag

When I saw my friend Chris review a Haruhonpo Backpack and Toddler Backpack, I knew I wanted to try one out, too. Picking a diaper bag was a challenge for me, as I’m a one purse all year kind of gal. (Lots of gals swap out purses depending on seasons. I find one and love it until it’s tattered and frayed, like my current Marc Jacobs that I’ve had for… wait for it… five years.) I initially chose and received a Skip Hop Duo Signature Diaper Bag, and while it’s fine, it just didn’t feel right. I’m really into multiple pouches to hold items, and I love different pockets and zippered sections. This bag was a little more stiff than I’d like, but like I said, I’m super picky about bags, and the Skip Hop just wasn’t cutting it for me, but at the time I couldn’t justify going for a spendy Kate Spade or Coach diaper bag. (Which in hindsight was kind of silly, because I’ll hunt down my perfect purse and splurge, if I know I’ll use it for years — and let’s face it, my diaper bag is basically my new purse.)

I eventually stumbled upon a Kipling Diaper Bag marked down for $36 (Score!) and this became my default bag. The fabric is much slouchier and there’s several pockets and zipped sections, perfect for all my neurotic stockpiling which becomes highly necessary for the care and transport of a tiny human. I thought I had a pretty good fit for my new diaper bag until I received my Haruhonpo backpack. I chose this gorgeous print called Water Paint, which is feminine and springy with lots of coral pink accents.Haru Water Paint

Before I received it, I thought it looked nice, but wasn’t expecting what I got. Holy features, batman. In addition to being super luxe, soft, and LIGHT, there’s about ten millions hidden features jammed inside this soft pack. To list a few, we’re talking about an insulated section that will keep your lunch cool, two removable matching pouches, a total of 13 compartments, a key fob, chest strap, ultra-lined back straps, water bottle pockets, and a key fob. It’s also this slick fabric that wipes clean super easily and is fairly stain resistant — very important when you’re carting a baby around.

Back of the Big  Zipper Backpack - Note the secret zip compartment and plush straps.

Back of the Big Zipper Backpack – Note the secret zip compartment and plush straps.

We had a Mexican vacation coming up (spoiler alert: it was awesome), and we took this bag to Mexico for one primary reason: I knew I’d be doing a lot of babywearing in Mexico, and last time I tried to have Holly in the carrier and my diaper bag on my shoulder? Disaster. Hauling a 17 pound kiddo on your chest and a packed diaper bag on your arm is a pain in the you know what. So I knew a backpack would be ideal while baby wearing — making excellent use of my bod’s real estate for ultimate functionality. This bag truly was a win for us, and the size was just big enough to store all of my Bumkins Travel Pouches, blankets, toys, and formula. Matt even wore the backpack throughout the trip and didn’t even seem bothered by the girly print, noting its cushy comfort. (Pssst – I wrote a blog post about flights with babies here, where I list a couple other favorites.)

This backpack went international -- to Mexico! Loving my Haruhonpo Water Paint Backpack.

This backpack went international — to Mexico! Loving my Haruhonpo Water Paint Backpack. Photo by LynnetteJoyPhotgraphy.com. 

You can even score a matching mini backpack for your kiddo — and while the water paint print isn’t available yet for littles (I hope it will be in a year or so!), there are lots of other adorable Mommy n’ Me prints, like the chocolate sweetheart that Chris and her gal got, or the denim yellow dot that I almost got.

Matching Mommy and Me Backpacks by Haruhonpo

Matching Mommy and Me Backpacks by Haruhonpo

If you’re in the market for a super functional and cute baby bag, consider Haruhonpo. They also make travel bags, tote bags, and different kinds of backpacks. The Big Zipper Backpack retails for $135, which is a good price considering how multi-functional the bag is. This is pretty much the Birkin of backpacks, people. If you’re interested in having your own Haru’ one day, “Like” their Facebook page. They ran a 25% off sale on Mother’s Day, which is a great savings on a great bag. Hip hip hooray for Haru!

(PS word nerds will be interested to know that Haru means Spring in Japan. Perfect for these light and cheerful bags.)

Disclosure: I received a complimentary backpack in exchange for my honest review. There are also a few affiliate links scattered in here which means I might make 3c if you click on them. 🙂

Keep Your Baby Moving with Wellements Baby Move

Rice cereal. Pears. Bananas. Apples. Sweet Potatoes. Avocado. Oats. Peas. These are all of the delicious first foods that my daughter has tried; most, resulting in a very messy face and sticky fingers, and sometimes, screams of anger when the food is all gone. (Ah, like mother, like daughter.) While it’s been so fun seeing my baby discover the joy of taste buds, it’s caused one problem: constipation.

When you’re a new parent, you’re suddenly all about poop. Poop becomes this news-worthy event, because your pediatrician emphasizes at their many appointments to track the frequency, the color, the consistency. Yes, I know it’s gross and possibly TMI. However, as my mom used to say, even the Queen of England poops, and I also know that bowel movements point out the health and status of bodily functions in all of us – from newborn to geriatric. When my little lady started solids, her frequency slowed down and she started to strain, looking very uncomfortable as the days went on. My lovable angelic daughter turned into a certified crankmonster, and the timing of this event just happened to line up with her first flight, a very short (and I’m very sarcastic) four hour flight to Chicago.  We tried prune baby food with no luck. We tried diluted apple juice with no luck. We had some success with pureed peaches, but it didn’t do the trick. Enter Baby Move by Wellements.

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I discovered Baby Move at ExpoWest in March – a giant natural foods and products expo. I had been familiar with Wellements Gripe Water before; Gripe water saved our hides when Holly was a gassy newborn. They gave me a sample of Baby Move to try, and the timing was perfect. It’s made up of prebiotics and an organic prune juice, and can be mixed with breast milk, formula, juice, or water. It’s free of gluten, soy, added sugars, and artificial flavors and colors. Because I’ve tasted everything Holly eats (except breast milk or formula. No thanks!), I tried Baby Move. It’s just a slightly sweet prune juice taste – yummy and baby friendly.

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We used it two times in a two day period, mixed with Holly’s formula, and by the second day, the problem was solved.  My cranky, gassy baby was back to her sweet smiling self, thanks to no longer having a tummy ache.

WellementsBabyMove

You store the Baby Move in the fridge up to four weeks after you open it, and it’s in a sturdy glass bottle so there’s no confusing it with your soy sauce or anything like that. You should also look into the Wellements Organic Gripe Water and Teeth Relief. We just tried the teeth relief, and it’s basically clove essential oil; perfect for soothing irritated little gums.

Because it’s no fun to rave about a product and then leave you hangin’, Wellements has joined with Lalalyssa to give away one new parent starter kit. This kit includes a full-sized Baby Move, a full-sized Teeth Relief, a full-sized Organic Gripe Water, and an adorable “Birth: Nailed It!” onesie. Simply follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below, and I’ll pick a winner in two weeks. 18+ and sorry, no Hawaii or Alaska entrants. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This product was provided to me free of charge for a detailed write-up on my blog in exchange for compensation. Compensation for review posts helps keep LaLaLyssa.com up and running by covering maintenance fees and expenditures. All opinions are my own.

Five Essential Tips for Baby’s First Flight

It’s happened. You need to go somewhere, somewhere you can’t get to by car, and you have a BABY. *Imagine horror music playing* Well; here’s the good news — it’s a little bit nervewracking, but with a few tricks, you’ll have a smooth little flyer, and can sit back in your tiny seat and relax, knowing that you’ve got the infant on an airplane skill on lock.

Most of your success on the flight will be your attitude. Accept right now that you will be nervous and stressed. It’s hard for fully-grown adults to travel on a plane, so when you add a tiny human who requires tons of supplies for simple maintenance? Mega stress. Add to that a set of fully-formed pipes, ready to spout off at any minute or the slightest change in cabin pressure, and yep, you can see why it feels like you’re walking from the gate onto a personal flying tin can of Hell. But, in my experience, even though my five month old daughter made her fair share of noise, it wasn’t THAT bad, and I credited it with a few of these tips I pulled together from various sources.

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  1. 1. Pack your normal diaper bag supplies, and then multiply that times two. Do you normally bring two bottles of ready made formula? Bring four. Normally bring four diapers? Bring eight. You don’t want to be caught red-handed in the middle of the sky without enough food for your wailing baby, or worse, in the midst of a blowout. Be like the girlscouts, and prepare. Also, make sure you love your diaper bag. Nothing sucks more than having to rely on a bag you don’t love. (I’m rocking the Haruhonpo Big Top Zipper Backpack in Watercolor Flower) (Bonus tip: I was gifted these Bumkins clear travel pouches at an event and immediately went out and bought another set. It made digging through the diaper bag sooo much easier when I could just see what I needed. I used one pouch for diaper supplies, one for pacifiers and teethers, and one for food items like formula/crackers/bottles.)
  2. Plan to nurse or feed at take off. Little ears are very sensitive to the fluctuating pressure, and swallowing or sucking helps babies neutralize that pressure. If your kiddo uses pacifiers, bring like five. I’m not kidding. My baby loves pacis, and more than once, they fell on to the plane floor and I was so glad I had a back up. (The second flight home, I had gotten smart and bought one of these bad boys, a pacifier clip) If shit really hits the fan and you suspect ears are the problem, bring Baby Tylenol or Gripe Water.
  3. Buy an inexpensive new toy…and save it for the minute that the fussmonster emerges. Holly is really into crinkly things, and I found this cute little caterpillar at TJ Maxx for $4.99. It was worth every penny when the shrieking began and I was able to crinkle this little bundle of fabric into her face and elicit instant grabby coos. I’m also a big fan of the O ball, which is inexpensive and easy for kiddos to grab.
  4. If your kiddo is eating solids, bring something relatively new on the plane to feed them. Of course, you want to choose something the kid has already eaten because god forbid you experience an allergy up in the air, but, in our case, Holly had been eating rice cereal, so we tried dissolvable teething biscuits. She loooooved them, and though it was messy, it was worth the distraction to have her happily munching on her biscuits. I don’t think I’d do a jar of food because then would be an insane mess in such a tiny space, but maybe if your kid uses the squeezy pouches or a fresh food feeder, it’d be worth it.
  5. Have a sense of humor. Look, stuff is going to happen. Your baby might scream the whole duration of the four hour flight. He or she might accidentally pull the toupee off the kind gentlemen sitting next to you. He might scream and kick the person in front of you’s seat for the whole flight. But you know what? You’ll get through it. Have a sense of humor. When Holly shrieked, my mom and I were nervously hysterical, glancing surreptitious side eyes around our neighbors and feeling bad. But did we survive? Yes. Did anyone say anything? No. Babies cry. It’s a fact of life. In fact, on both of our flights, we were delighted how generally pleasant everyone was around us, interesting in talking to Holly or asking about her age. Everyone has been a baby at some point, so it is what it is. If you’re really nervous, make your sense of humor apparent. Dress your baby in a shirt that says “Congratulations! You have the honor of sitting by me!”, or pass out little packets of inexpensive ear plugs to the people around you.

Above all, have fun. Remember that your baby is experiencing the wonder of air travel for the first time. While the stale smells, cramped spaces, rumbling engine, and ear popping are all old hat for you, they’re new and exciting for your little bright eyes. Some airlines will even give your child a 1st Flight Certificate (Southwest) and wings. Now that’s cool!

Parents, do you have any tips that has helped you with kids on flights? Share in the comments, and BON VOYAGE!

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Baby Flat Head: Holly’s New Plagiocephaly Helmet

Holly has been a fantastic sleeper since about 11 weeks old. The first time she slept through the night, my husband and I woke up with that cautious hesitance like, “She’s still alive, right?” She now regularly sleeps 7 p.m. through 7 a.m., with the occasional shriek or whining for her pacifier. To say we’re lucky is an understatement; we’ve become parents with lots more rest than most.

The only downside to having a fantastic sleeper is that our little dreamer has developed a flat head. Our pediatrician noticed it at two months, and recommended we do more tummy time. Holly was a tummy time champ, but that didn’t help. Even with lots of tummy time, she slept like a starfish, on her back, arms and legs splayed out, for twelve rockin’ hours at a time. At her four month appointment, the pediatrician gave us a referral to a prosthetic clinic to have her evaluated for a helmet. I felt defensive and unsure at first. I felt like the insinuation was that we did something wrong, that we didn’t do enough of something (tummy time) and that it was our rickety first time parenting skills to blame for her flat little head. We went to the consultation, and sure enough, Holly’s head flatness was ranked as severe. We are lucky that she has no facial asymmetry or ear imbalance, as some kiddos with flat spots or heads can have uneven facial features or ears. While there’s very little medical risk of not fixing a flat head, there are a few complications that can arise: self-consciousness, or in more extreme cases, a risk of sunglasses, bike helmets, and hats not fitting properly. We were given all of the facts and the price, and left feeling confused.

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On one hand, it’s a cosmetic problem. There was a small chance it could even itself out. However, if it didn’t even out and Holly became a self-conscious teenager, would we regret forever that we didn’t handle it? Then there was the time commitment. The helmet must be worn constantly — 23 hours a day, with just one hour off for bathing. Holly’s severity will likely take about four months to correct itself, hopefully sooner. Did I really want my girl to have people staring at her in public? What about when people say something? How could I manage without kissing that fuzzy little head? Matt and I were both torn, but eventually, polled family and friends close to us. I was lucky enough to have a coworker and friend who had experienced the same situation with her daughter. She gave me all the facts and basically she doesn’t regret for a second that they fixed their daughter’s head. We continued asking family and friends, and their opinions were unanimously to move forward. So, we did — and were very glad that insurance covered all but $800 of the $4,000 bill.

We had a few appointments to take head measurements, and at the final measuring appointment, Holly had to wear a sock like thing on her head for a few minutes. A scan gun took the dimensions of her head, and that was it. It was painless, quick, and easy. We chose the color (a very girly heart pattern), and came back a week later for the final fitting and adjustments. Our tech marked where her ears, forehead and skull lined up, and contoured the edges of the helmet for comfort and to frame her face.

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When it came time to put the helmet on, Holly didn’t even flinch. She’s been wearing it like a pro for two days now — even when she sleeps. She doesn’t even seem to notice it’s there. So far, it’s exactly like my fellow helmet-head parent told me: it’s worse on the parents than it is on the kids. One of my concerns was what people would say about her helmet — if they’d make fun of her, or make ignorant comments. I know it’s going to happen, and it makes me feel deeply for the parents of children who have unique needs. I was initially sad when making the decision to get the helmet, but once we decided to do it, I’ve “put on my big girl panties” and decided it is what it is, it’s not a big deal, and it’s time to move on with life. I hope to help educate people about why helmets are necessary, and it doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with my daughter, just that her head is a little more flat than it should be.

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I’ll update you all with the progress when Holly’s helmeting is complete, but in the meantime, if you see a kiddo wearing a helmet, this is why. As usual, I think it’s important to share stories of personal experiences, because at some point, somebody you know will have a similar problem (and I have a friend on Facebook who’s contemplating a helmet as I type this). For now, Holly will continue to sleep her glorious twelve hours, little hands and legs stretched out like a starfish, dreaming of rounder times ahead. 🙂

Some thoughts on motherhood.

12291840_1040558042673995_5846392439479838624_o“How much has your life changed?” is a question I’ve heard many times in the past five months. My husband and I were the first in our circle of friends to become parents. Most of our friends had the common exclamation of “Finally!” though a few had a sheer look of terror thinly masked by congratulations.

How much has my life changed? It has changed tremendously in some ways, but in many ways, not at all. I still spend too much money on Groupon. I still love eating popcorn and drinking sweet wine. I still procrastinate on laundry, paint my nails, buy flowers for my garden, see my friends, and cook dinner. I still blog (er, sometimes). I still go to conferences and have lunch and work my job. I still feel like for the most part that I’m very much Alyssa, the same old Alyssa I was 13 months ago before I made a human.

What has changed? My body. I creak, I jiggle, I sag, I ache. But even the changes in my physical self are minute, tiny and small compared to the most massive change of all, in my heart. I don’t mean there are changes to the vascular system of my body, but I mean symbolically, my heart will never be the same. My heart, my whole heart has changed, because now it is forever living outside of my body, shared with a delightful little girl whose smile is like glitter falling from the sky.

IMG_0844Having a baby is a lot like falling in love. The giddiness, the overwhelming desire to be with that person, to see them first thing in the morning and to miss them when they’re asleep, even if they’re right next to you, their tiny hand curled around yours, the sweetness of their breath gently kissing the same air you breathe. The way their lower lip trembles ever so slightly and then, a heart-bursting coo; the satisfied sigh of sleeping babies everywhere. It’s feeling love even when they’re screaming in fits, loud and abrasive, right in your ear, because who knows why; but you scurry around trying to fix it, to make everything right, because that’s just what you do.

I had a lot of anxiety about becoming a mom, as I think most new parents do. Will you be good enough for this tiny person, enough to make them happy and healthy, to thrive? Will you be mindful enough to accept that sometimes no matter what you do, how much of the world you give them, you can’t guarantee that they’ll be happy or healthy or thriving? But right as she was born and I exclaimed that she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, I knew that the best thing I could do for her was to just be there and be present. To be with them, to soothe their cries, to snuggle just a little bit longer even though you haven’t done laundry in three weeks and your hair is oily and there’s a stack of unpaid bills towering on your desk. Babies don’t last forever, but oh boy, chores sure do.

Beyond the fact that babies are adorable, I think what’s so magical about becoming a parent, whether it’s by biological birth or adoption or what, is that you get to see the world through brand new eyes. We forget a lot of the wonder of life, and really, every day is a miracle. The fact that we come out naked and helpless, unable to stand on two legs, is miraculous considering each and every day, new skills are growing. Every day Holly does something new, and that joy and intrigue behind the very simplest of things, like finding her feet, is too innocent not to adore. How special it is to shake off the dust of adulthood and remember that life is truly an adventure. Special moments are often hiding in the ordinary.

So what is hard about being a mother? Nothing is perfect, after all. There’s no break. Even if you manage to sneak away for a beautiful morning at a ritzy spa, free from iPhones or babies, you’re still a mom. You’re never not a mom, ever again, even if the unthinkable happens and you lose your child. You are a mom and will always be. You will never ever stop worrying or loving or wishing the world and the stars and every single planet for the child that has your heart. You will be tired. You will feel pulled in too many directions, like Gumby with more brittle limbs and a spongy tummy with overgrown roots. However, you’re not just a mom. You’re still you, complex like the solar system, individual and varied, rich in interests and hobbies. However, you need to work to remember that you’re still you and not just a mom. You’re a mom, and you’re your own person, you see?

How has my life changed by being a mom? My life has changed a lot. But it also hasn’t. I’m the same old Alyssa, just better. Happier, richer, renewed, more tired, content, achier, Alyssa.

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NeoTop Formula Dispenser Review & Giveaway

Happy Monday, everyone!

My adventure with breastfeeding has been disappointing; despite numerous attempts at making more milk, this ol’ bess only makes up to five ounces per day (most women make around 30 ounces plus). This means, without the invention of formula, my cute little kidlet would be starving! (And a friendly PSA while we’re at it: I feel bad enough that I can’t fully breastfeed my child. Please don’t suggest tea, cookies, supplements, etc — I worked very closely with a lactation consultant and doctor, and even tried a prescription, but still wasn’t able to make more milk. I tried literally everything I could, but due to my PCOS, it’s just not in the cards for me.)

Holly uses Gerber Good Start, which has “comfort proteins”, some nice marketing jargon for smaller milk proteins and probiotics that make her less gassy. We tried several different formulas and ultimately ended up on Gerber, as research shows it helps decrease the chances of environmental allergies in babies who are predisposed thanks to an itchy mom or dad (sorry Holly, you got that one from me.) Other than my own guilt about not breastfeeding (which is fading because life goes on), I have no problem using formula. I think it’s a shame in general that so many moms are guilted about their choice in how to feed their babies. While breast is best, sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you have planned, and in that case, you do what you can when you can.

Formula is pretty simple now a days, you can buy the powdered kind, or even ready made liquid formula. We stick to powder here to control our serving sizes and temperature we make it at and all that. Most cans of formula come with a little scoop, and while it’s simple enough to measure out, it gets messy. Even worse, if your hand is a little bit wet and you make a bottle, the formula gets all over your hand and makes this weird clumpy film of milk powder, and it’s gross. Kind of like cheeto powder but with stinky milk instead. The kind people at NeoTop reached out to me and offered me a complementary Formula Dispenser in exchange for my review, and the best part is, one of you will get to try it, too!

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The NeoTop was developed by a neonatologist, and is designed to help prevent any germs or bacteria from entering your children’s formula. If you think about it, when you use the formula scoop, if you haven’t washed your hands, you basically are transferring a bunch of stuff into the container of your kid’s food. I’m all about having enough good bacteria and germs, but it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra safeguard, and that’s where the NeoTop comes in. This thing holds up to a whole canister of food, and basically, you tilt it upside down, twist the top, and voila, a perfectly portioned 2 ounce serving is in the top. Just open the lid and dump it in the bottle, and you’re in business.

I used this on the counter top over the weekend, but where I really liked it was when I threw it in my diaper bag and used it out in public. It was much easier than fussing with the other formula dispenser I have that I have to carefully try and funnel into the bottle top. Even moms who just supplement with formula should try one of these, as it’d be a great way to store formula long term for no risk of germs.

NeoTop can brag about these awesome features…

  • Dishwasher safe and BPA Free
  • 80% more effective at preventing germs than other formula storage dispensers
  • Designed and manufactured in the USA
  • Easy to use
  • $24.95 at NeoTop.com, with 10% off and free shipping with code 10OFF
  • $19.95 with free shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member

So what do you think? Let’s give you a chance to try it out now! Please leave a comment for EACH action you take as each comment will count as one entry. You must at least do #1 to be entered in this giveaway, but if you did all 5, you’d have 5 chances to win! I will check that you did the action if you’re a winner, so no cheating, please! I’ll draw a winner on Monday, March 14. US only, 18+. Good luck!

  1. Leave a comment telling me what your kiddo’s name is who would benefit from using the NeoTop
  2. “Like” NeoTop on Facebook
  3. Follow NeoTop on Twitter
  4. Tweet a message including a link to this giveaway
  5. “Like” LaLaLyssa on Facebook