Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Baby Registry Tips, Must-Haves, and Skips

I have a few friends riding the pregnancy train right now so I thought I would offer some tips on what items I found useful (and what items I could have done without). There is SO MUCH information out there and I feel like the baby websites have lists full of things I found to be useless or much less important. I spent a lot of time on my registry and I thought I would share my baby registration wisdom with all of you. I have not been compensated in any way for product reviews. All thoughts are my own opinions. I also want to say that this is what has worked for me and my little Patsy girl. Every parent and child is different so please feel free to add if there is something on this list that did or didn't work for you.

For those of you that aren't pregnant and/or don't really know what to get for a new parent, check out Michelle's (aka Crazy Running Legs) blog post that I found to be very accurate. If you have no interest in pregnancy or babies, um, why are you reading my blog?

Kelly's Registration Tips

1) Don't register too early. I know it is super exciting to have a baby (speaking from experience) but I think it is important to wait until closer to your shower (a month or two) before registering. I registered early and then by the time my shower rolled around, items were discontinued or no longer available.

2) Talk to your friends to see where they registered. What was their experience like when it came to returns? How is the store's return policy in general? Is the website easy to use? Do they have coupons and/or accept competitor coupons? These are all great questions to look into before deciding on where to register.

3) Spend the time and effort researching the right car seat/stroller/travel system that works for you. This is probably one of the largest and most expensive items on your list (other than the crib) so it is important to find a good fit. I went with Graco for mine because I loved the style of the system and it was reasonably priced without being too cheap or too expensive. Many of my friends purchased Britax strollers and enjoyed them. You have to find out what works best for you (and what is worth spending money on)
Out for a walk with my baby in my travel system

4) If you plan on having more than one child, be sure to chose gender neutral big-ticket items. We didn't know what we were having so we purchased everything gender neutral. I would recommend have fun picking something like bibs or burp clothes that are gender-specific as those things might not last until you have a second baby.

5) If you haven't checked already, talk to your insurance provider about the possibility of them providing a double electric breastpump free of charge. MOST insurance companies do, but some don't. Some insurance plans also let you upgrade to a better pump and you pay the difference. Check out your options beforehand. (This link has lots of information on your available options.) I didn't know as much back then as I do now about my options. I chose one of the pumps my insurance offered and it turned out to be a pump that wasn't able to keep pace with a full-time working mom. I ended up purchasing one out-of-pocket and now my insurance pump sits at home, tucked away, as my backup. If you have any questions about breast pumps, do not hesitate to email me. If I don't know the answer, I can help point you in the right direction. I'm mentioning this in the registry section so that if your insurance doesn't cover the cost of one, you can add one to the list. I received the Ameda Purely Yours from insurance but now use the Medela Pump In Style Advance. It is like night and day. The use of a good pump can make a big difference!

6) Take a look at all the baby carrier options and find what works well for you and your spouse. This is something that I didn't really do. I just assumed that there was no difference between carriers other than price and so I just went with the Baby Bjorn. Well, turns out that there are lots of options available!!! I now own the Baby Bjorn, Moby Wrap, and Ergo. I like them all for different reasons and I like having a variety. This site has info on a variety of carriers so you can chose one that works well for you.
Left: Patsy snuggled up in the Moby Wrap. Right: Dad babywearing Patsy in our Baby Bjorn at the zoo

Must Have Items

Laying on Mommy's Boppy inbetween meals
1) Boppy and several covers. This is a staple in our house. I use it while breastfeeding our little girl (in both football and cradle positions) and Dad uses it to support his arms when she falls asleep. The Boppy can also be used during tummy time and to help sit her up. As spitup is something that is pretty frequent, I recommend having 2-3 covers as you never know when you might need one!

2) Rock N Play Sleeper. This was something I didn't register for but my sister-in-laws purchased for me. Oh my god, this is the best device ever! I don't know what I would do without it!! Patsy slept in this for awhile, we use it now to put her in as I'm getting ready in the mornings. I can safely have her right outside the shower playing comfortably. It is easy to move from room-to-room as well, especially if she is sleeping in it.

3) Exersaucer. This device says 4 months and up and I'm so glad I read that when she was just over 4 months old. This is also one of the greatest inventions ever. Patsy absolutely LOVES her exersaucer. It is a great place for her to learn and play while also keeping herself occupied.

4) Burp Cloths. I didn't register for many of these and then I had to go out and buy a bunch. You can never have enough! And get the good ones too, that are sturdier. I have some that are flimsy and they don't work very well. I really like the Aden + Anais one that I have although it is a bit pricier.

5) Video Baby Monitor. I love this! We aren't using it right now because we are co-sleeping (um not what I had planned on doing, but it is what we're doing now) but I loved this! We will be using it again once we start sleep training but it really is quite amazing. I went by recommendations from my SILs that worked as nannies as well as a co-worker's recommendation.

Nursing Patsy at the Ann Taylor LOFT outlet!
6) Nursing Cover. If you plan on breastfeeding, this is a MUST. I know there are many women out there who don't like to breastfeed with one or their baby refuses. I've been using one with Patsy since she was just a few days old and she doesn't mind it at all. I think it helps to get your babies used to it in the beginning so that they don't hate it later. Every mom thinks differently, but this is what has worked for me. I ended up buying a 2nd one to keep in my pumping bag in case I ever need one when I don't have my diaper bag with me.

7) Sleep Sheep. This is something else I didn't register for but love! It is a great white noise maker that works well for both parents and baby. When she first came home, I think she had trouble sleeping in silence so we used the heartbeat option. Now that she is a little older, we use the "soft rain" sound. Pepper did not like the whale sound.

8) Pack N Play. We got one with the newborn napper and changing station. We used the newborn napper until she got too big and we moved her into the rock n play sleeper. The newborn napper was nice because she was elevated. With my c-section it was difficult to move around and get up at first, so the elevated newborn napper made it much easier to access miss Patsy. I never used the changing table option, but it was nice to know it was there. Now, we have taken off the newborn napper attachment and we will be transitioning Patsy to sleep here soon.

9) Sophie or Kiki (Target's version). Patsy absolutely loves her Sophie. She is teething very badly and gnaws on that thing like it is going out of style. She is not necessarily partial to Sophie though as she also loves her Kiki too.

Nice and toasty, unzipped in her bunting.
10) Carseat Bunting. No matter what time of year your baby is born, you will probably need one of these at some point. It is AMAZING!!! It helps my little girl stay all snuggled and warm when we go from place to place. It has been especially helpful during this 5 month long winter we're having here in Chicago.

Items NOT Worth Registering For

1) Big Bedding Sets. Most of the bedding sets come with many things you don't need such as a bumper (these are not recommended for babies under 1 year of age due to SIDS risks), valance (we are decorating our room on our own template), bed skirt (ugh I hate these things)... All I wanted was the comforter and matching sheets, but that is impossible to get. You have to get the whole package together. It is a big scam by the bedding companies if you ask me... I just got some sheets and a few throw blankets. I figure once she is older and sleeping with her own blanket (around 1 year), we can get something custom that she likes.

2) Wipes Warmer. I didn't really see the need for this. I have heard it dries up the wipes faster. As our baby is passed around from house to house while I'm at work, it just didn't make sense for me to get one at home if she's going to be using non-warm wipes for all of the non-home diaper changes.

3) Training Potty. These are adorable but won't be used until your child is 2 or 3 years old. It seemed silly to me to buy one of these just to put it in storage for a long time.

4) Baby food making system. I use a hand immersion blender for purees (for $25 from Target) and some food cups I got at Marshall's and Target... But we've been doing Baby Led Weaning with our little girl so the need for a large amount of purees isn't there.

5) Bottle warmer. As I've mentioned before, I'm a breastfeeding mom. When she gets bottles of my cold or frozen milk, her caregivers run the bottle under warm water and it seems to do the trick. Bottle warmers are $30+. In my opinion, there are other things worth registering for that are worth $30.

6) Clothes. People are most likely going to get you clothes whether you register for them or not, so I think it is best to offer up other options.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shamrock Shuffle Training Continues

Shamrock Shuffle training continues. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right? This past week I wanted to try getting back to my 3x per week schedule. Mother Nature decided to be a jerk again with freezing cold temps. I'm really not going to have many excuses for avoiding workouts once the weather gets nicer.

Tuesday I attempted to go for a run at the work gym facilities. I haven't been there in awhile and apparently many folks are still sticking with their New Years resolutions. It was packed!! I wanted to get in a quick 2 miles but all the treadmills and ellipticals were taken. Instead I went on the rowing machine and did some planks. You know, stuff I could have done at home. Oops! Gym fail.

Friday I decided to get in a few miles while everyone else was watching March Madness. I was able to do 2 miles before I forgot how awful the treadmill is (and before my iPad battery died).
Gym locker room selfies!
LOVING this burnout tank from the Oiselle Spring 14 line. 

Then Sunday I did my "long run." Since it was still pretty chilly, I tested out the weather shield on the BOB stroller and it worked perfectly. Patsy went right to sleep while I hammered out 4 miles.
Man, pushing that thing uphill and against the wind was quite brutal, but I audibly motivated myself and got it done! When I was done, I was quite proud of myself. New post-baby PDR! I feel like I'm ready for the Shamrock Shuffle if that is my "longest" run going into it.

If you plan on going to the Shamrock Shuffle expo, you should totally come on Saturday, where I'll be working the Zooma booth with Patsy! If you're interested in signing up for Zooma, use code CAMB12 for 10% off!

Also, have you checked out my Spartan contest yet? You TOTALLY SHOULD!
Throwback pic to when I had some GUNZ

Friday, March 14, 2014

Baby Patsy: 6 Month Update

Patsy is currently: 6 months old. Halfway to her 1st birthday! CRAZY!!!

Weight: the last time we went to the doctor in late February, she was a wopping 14lb, 3oz... Officially jumping from about the 10th percentile to the 30th! She gained 2 pounds in 1 month! (For those of you that don't know, that is a pretty big gain!) After all our struggles in the beginning, I am beyond overjoyed at how my little girl has grown.

Height: 26 inches, also the 30th percentile for height.

Clothing: She is now out of her 3-6 month clothes and fitting into her 6-9 and 6-12 month outfits. I still want to try and get a few more wears out of some of her 3-6 month outfits but I'm excited for all the new ones too!

Nicknames: Patsy Girl, nugget, Patsy Watsy

Health/Diet: Still on mommy's milk (no formula) and we are starting to introduce foods. So far she's had avocado, butternut squash and carrots. She hasn't really liked much of it yet, but I know it will take some time. We have taken videos of all this food tasting and it is PRICELESS. I bet our parents were cracking up just as hard at the faces we were making when we first tried foods.

Sleep: She is starting to sleep for longer stretches at night so that is great... Now if only she would go to sleep for the night outside of our bed... We are going to start working on that soon. Should be fun!!!!

Milestones: She now sits up by herself for long stretches of time. She still hasn't mastered it and frequently falls over so it is important that she is observed or seated on a soft surface. (I may or may not be speaking from experience...)

Likes: a fresh diaper, kisses from Pepper (her best friend), Sophie, her exersaucer

Dislikes: food other than mom's milk, sleeping in her pack n play

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Post-Baby PDR

This past weekend I knew I needed to fit in a nice run now that the temps are warming up. I texted my friend Amanda who had offered to run with me any time. I took her up on her offer and she stopped by on Sunday. The temps were perfect! I suited up Patsy (literally, she was in her pink snow suit) and got ready to go.
Patsy is not impressed
(The top that I'm wearing is the Oiselle side zip top. It is my new favorite piece for running in the cold! If you want one of your own, it is available here.)

I have only been doing only 1.5-2 mile runs and I knew I wanted to push up the distance this week. 3 miles used to be a drop in the bucket run and so I knew I would be able to do it. It was definitely fun to have Amanda there to push me and motivate me. She was even gracious enough to take this awesome video of me!

Shamrock Shuffle training is well underway and I definitely think I will be able to comfortably make it across the finish line in a few weeks. Will you be running the Shamrock Shuffle? I'm planning to bring Patsy and my SILs are going to watch her during the race. It will be my post-baby debut and I'm pretty pumped about it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Free Race Entry to Spartan -- Contest

Now that I'm a new mom, I've been looking for different ways to challenge myself.
Obligatory mom and Patsy photo
When the people at Spartan contacted me, I felt it was a perfect time for this opportunity. Having completed the Warrior Dash and seen many various obstacle course races gaining popularity, at first I didn't really understand the hype behind the Spartan. What made this race so different from the rest? Well, after doing some research, turns out there are a lot of differences.

First, the distance. The Spartan here in Illinois is an 8-9 mile course. That is a distance worth training for on its own.

Next, the obstacles. They are not simply a rope net to climb up or a creek to run through. Overturning tires, climbing up a single rope, army crawling under barbed wire... Just to name a few. (Check out the video on Spartan's homepage for more info.)

In order to successfully complete the Spartan, one must put in the extra effort to train for it. BUT, you don't have to do it alone. Some of these obstacles require assistance and you can have friends help you complete the course.

Why am I telling you all of this? I'm looking for a friend who wants to complete the course with me! The event is in Marsailles, IL on Saturday, September 27 (for the 9:30am wave). Instead of putting together a "traditional" giveaway, I want to switch things up a bit! I'm hosting a contest!

If you'd like to win free entry to the Spartan race to run with me, answer the following questions in any way you wish. Writing, photos, drawings, video... Be creative!
1) Why do you want to be a Spartan?
2) Why do you want to complete the Spartan with me?
3) What is your goal for this race?

Contest entries will be judged based on willingness to have fun and complete the race without being afraid to put in the extra work. My goal for the Spartan is to get stronger and have fun doing it! Depending on where the winner is located, we could get together for strength training workouts or long runs throughout the training process. The Spartan race is no joke, and I'm excited for the adventure of training and completing this crazy race with one of you!

Submit your entries via email to runningkellometers (at) gmail (dot) com. Leave a comment on this post once you have sent in your entry to make sure that nothing is caught in the spam filter. Only entries received via email will be counted (instagram comments, tweets or facebook comments/messages will not count as your entry).

The contest opens TODAY and entries will be accepted until Sunday, April 6. (That is one month from today.) Please check back on Monday, April 7 to see if you have won. I will also be contacting the winner via email.

If you'd like to talk about this contest via social media, use the hashtag #spartanwithkelly

Patsy, Pepper and I are looking forward to reviewing all of your entries and I'm excited to see who would like to take on the challenge of the Spartan with me!