Rainbow Rice for sensory play

Price is almost 15 months old now and I have been interested in incorporating more educational activities into his day. I first consulted my trusty old friend, Pinterest, and was quickly overwhelmed! Here is a link to my album to see other activities I found https://www.pinterest.com/MrsBrandyCooper/baby-activities . After a week or so of debating, I decided that sensory bins would be a fun place to start.  Price is at the age where everything goes straight into his mouth, so one of my biggest concerns was finding something that was edible, just in case. Rice seemed like the perfect base for my starter sensory bin, so I did a quick run to Target and the Dollar Store for materials!

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and quick it was to make the rainbow rice. I was able to do each color within a couple minutes. I would say start to finish for the 6 colors was maybe 20 minutes. The next day once I put it together, Price was so excited to get his hands in the bin that I could not even snap a picture quick enough. So, here are some quick snaps of him mixing it up!

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He loved playing in it with his hands, and even his feet. At one point Daddy and I were cleaning up the rice overflow and looked over to catch him putting a small handful in his mouth. OOPS!! Good thing we went with the rice.

So far, he really loves it, and each time we pull it out I add different toys or utensils to mix it up. The newest addition was Easter eggs.

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Rainbow Rice Supplies:

-Rice (large bag, 5 lbs: 2 cups of 6 color with 1 cup leftover)

-Food Coloring

-White Vinegar

-Large Bowl

-Whisk

-Spatula or spoon

-Measuring cup (1 cup)

-Measuring spoon (tablespoon)

-Cookie sheet or tray

-Paper towels

*When building your sensory bin, it is important that you find a container that will allow your child to easily access from a seated position.

 

Directions:

-Set up double layer of paper towels on two baking sheets or any type of flat surface (trays, plates, etc.), If you want to make this really easy you can even just use a paper plate for each color.

-Mix 2 tbsp. vinegar with 8 drops of food coloring in large bowl with whisk.

-Slowly mix in 2 cups rice with spatula

-You can add a couple more drops of coloring if you want to adjust the color

-Once mixed well, spatula rice onto paper towels to dry.

-Let dry overnight

-Wake up and enjoy!!

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Here are some Sensory Items you can add in. You probably have plenty of things lying around your house, but these were easy to find at Target and the Dollar Tree so I bought most of them to live in a sensory bin for EASY access.

-Measuring cups

-Measuring spoons

-Scoop/shovel

-Funnel(s)

-Letters (foam bath letters are great)

-Plastic toys (I added some bright colored lizards I found in the dollar section at Target)

 

Enjoy

Brandy

 

Little ones gift guide

Let’s face it, if you don’t have a little one you probably don’t have the slightest idea of what to get a baby for Christmas!?! Some of my besties started having babies a couple years before me and when it came to the time to buy them a Christmas or birthday gift I would go into instant freak out mode on what to buy!! I often would turn to my trusty bff Pinterest and look up best gifts for whatever age they were. Often after researching though I would look at these lists and think OMG I’m sure they have all of this already?! What’s a girl to do..help!!!

Here is a handy guide of some creative gift ideas that are a little outside of the box:

-My favorite thing that we’ve gotten my son up to this point is this ball pit!! He absolutely loves it and plays in it all throughout the day. The soft shell of it makes it so easy for him to get in and out of on his own and you get to pick the color scheme from many options so it actually looks beautiful in our living room! Only downside about this product is that it ships from Poland so expect a 2-3 week wait for delivery. Great quality though so it was well worth the wait. I just wish I bought an extra set of the balls.

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/MeowBallPits?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Memberships to local children’s museums, zoos or kids classes in their area. This is truly a gift that keeps giving. I know I will be purchasing swim classes, music classes and art classes in my area.

-My son LOVES books, which makes my heart so happy. One of my best friends, Amanda, got him a book personalized for him and I can’t wait for the day I read it to him and he understands that it is about him!! I found this site that has 150 different styles of personalized books, so you can find one for any child and they start as low as $14.99.

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https://www.putmeinthestory.com/

Quiet/Busy Book. I have not bought one of these yet. Because I am waiting to see more of my sons personality before I commit to a theme, but I cannot wait to get him one of these beautiful busy books for car rides and traveling! In addition, he is currently too young for the small parts.

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetPeaStitches84?ref=l2-shopheader-name&section_id=21664682

-Nick and I have a large family because both of our parents are divorced so we are blessed to give our son (ready for it…) 3 Grandmas, 4 Grandpas, 3 Aunts, and 4 Uncles!! My mom gifted my son this adorable book with enough slots to include everyone’s picture. I love to go through the tongue twister of all of Price’s family members and their nicknames for him with this book. I can’t tell you how often I find him giggling “talking” to his families pictures.

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http://www.geniusbabies.com/baby-s-my-first-photo-album-family-n-friends1.html

-I am dying to have a little girl (fingers crossed one day!) so I can buy her a Candy Kirby Designs doll. They are so beautiful and come in all different skin tones and looks. There is even a little boy version if Price wants one. They are also now available at Nordstrom!!

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the isabella celebration ballerina doll

Most parents receive a ton of clothes for the first year so I would recommend buying in larger sizes. Most people shop at Carters or Target so if you want to get them something unique check out my favorite kids brands:

Henry & Claire has the cutest rompers around!! They release new styles weekly so you are sure to get them something they do not already have in their closet.

henry

https://henryandclaireapparel.com/

-I am obsessed with these Purllamb pieces for something fun and playful. Who doesn’t love a donut print?! In addition, a portion of their sales goes to orphanages around the world.

purl

https://purllamb.com/

-A cool kid hat is hard to find in store… but only a click away if you checkout George Hats!! This is my go to for a cute summer trucker.

hats

https://george-hats.com/

-If you are looking for something warmer NOXX beanies are the best beanie for a little one. They fit perfect and are such great material! They also come in a nice variety of colors and styles. Once you go NOXX you won’t buy any other brand.

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 https://www.rocknoxx.com/

-For our baby shower one of my Mother in Laws (I am blessed to have two) got us a newborn photo session. I am beyond happy that she did. I would have felt too guilty spending that kind of money at that time but I am so grateful she did. Most photographers do mini sessions, which usually run about $75 in California area. If you do not want to research a local photographer, you can always get a gift card for a chain photography location in their area like Picture People, Sears or Buy Buy Baby.

I hope you enjoyed this list of our favorites!

XOXO,

Brandy

 

 

 

The Owlet and our other  SLEEP must haves

The scariest part for me about being a new mom was our baby sleeping at night. Even though I was delirious, I would get Price down and then lie in bed and listen to make sure I heard him breathing. If I didn’t hear him, I would then get up and check and make sure he was still breathing. To be honest when I heard any little noise (especially those scary newborn gasps) I would check on him. I would watch him to assure myself he was still alive and safe and then I would sneak back into bed and listen while I laid there.  No matter how hard I would try, I would repeat this process until I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open!!

In my crazy pregnancy baby research stage (it was ridiculous how obsessed I was with reading everything baby), I came across the Owlet and thought it was cool in theory but overpriced. With all the things we had to buy I decided to skip this added “luxury”.

Price was born on December 28th and by January 21st I finally posted on FB and asked my friends for advice on the Owlet. I had it!! I was not getting ANY sleep because I was so scared our LO would quit breathing. To be fair, right before Price I had a missed miscarriage which I think has made me more worried things will go wrong again. I will post more about that when we are ready.

I am so glad that I had friends who urged me to try it out.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Owlet! It was worth every penny and is probably the best baby item I purchased!!!!

While it does not prevent anything from happening, it gives you the peace of mind that if he were to quit breathing you would know and hopefully have a chance to help your LO. I can finally sleep which is not only good for me, but for my son!  I also found it extra helpful when our son caught RSV so I could monitor his oxygen levels.

**I do want to bring up FALSE ALARMS because that was my biggest concern purchasing the sock. When Price was a newborn we would get them quite often because the sock would slip off. I heard from a close friend that the newer versions modified sock style stays on a lot better. If you are interested in the Owlet I wouldn’t let this deter you because there are different alarms. The alarm to alert you that the sock is on incorrectly or has fallen off is actually a lullaby so it doesn’t scare you as much when it goes off.  The alarm to alert you of heart rate or oxygen level being low is a very different sound and turns red.

Good news!! The Owlet is now available at Buy Buy Baby!
https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/owlet-smart-sock-2/1046938244?Keyword=owlet
Here is a link for more information on their FAQ about the Owlet: http://www.owletcare.com/faq/

 

Sleep sacks

If you are a swaddle ninja like my hubby, Aden + Anais muslin swaddle cloths are the way to go, but if you are like me, I needed something fast and easy. When Price was a newborn we used Swaddle Me swaddlers since they were so easy to use and stayed wrapped even though our LO was a wiggly little guy.

He has never liked his arms swaddled so at a really young age we kept them out. Once he was around 3 months we switched to Halo Sleep sacks and at 6 months we haven’t looked back! Since Price was born at the end of December we started with the thicker micro fleece version and a cotton one to wear over his one piece pajamas. Once we moved to the next size I bought the lighter weight muslin version because it was warmer weather (spring moving into summer).

Swaddle Blankets: https://www.amazon.com/aden-anais-Swaddleplus-Safari-Friends/dp/B002USE0Q0/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1498674782&sr=8-1&keywords=aden%2Bby%2Baden%2B%2B%2Banais&th=1
**I didn’t notice much of a difference in the Aden+Anais vs their cheaper version the Aden by Aden
Velcro Swaddler:  https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/summer-infant-reg-swaddleme-reg-small-3-pack-xo-adjustable-infant-wrap-set/1060032317?Keyword=swaddle+me
Sleep sack: https://www.amazon.com/Halo-Sleepsack-Adjustable-Swaddle-Triangles/dp/B01LAG1TKM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498668201&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=halo%2Bsleepsack&th=1

 

Sleep Machine

There are so many options depending on your personal preference for sleep machines. From stuffed animal sound machine options, travel sized and a traditional sound machine. When I was pregnant I purchased the Marpac Dohm Sound machine because it had such great reviews. I was so excited to get it home, and when I told my hubby about it he suggested we try it out that night. We absolutely love the soothing natural sound this machine makes. We ended up using it the rest of my pregnancy and it really helped us to go to sleep faster and deeper. I did put it away for the first six months of our LOs life because I wanted to be able to hear my baby moving and breathing. I am really excited to start using it again now that I am comfortable with my LO being able to rollover and sleep safely.

Sleep Machine: https://www.amazon.com/Marpac-Dohm-DS-Natural-Sound-Machine/dp/B00HD0ELFK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498666276&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=dohm%2Bsound%2Bmachine&th=1
Sleepsounds App: Rain Rain Sleep Sounds

Decorating your nursery

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When I started brainstorming for nursery ideas I knew one thing, I didn’t want to go with a traditional theme, that’s just NOT ME. I also knew that I didn’t want to have to repaint the baby room many times so I decided I wanted to choose a neutral wall color that would work for either gender, so that I can revamp it for the next baby easily. I started with the idea of one grey and white striped wall as the focal point. My hubby and I did it ourselves, and while it had its moments of being challenging (prepping the tape definitely caused some small time bickering) we survived and ended up with a pretty good striped wall thanks to the HUBS!! I tend to be someone who likes to wing it, which would have resulted in really crooked lines that varied in width. For the most part, it was a relatively easy process.

Once we found out we were having a little boy I narrowed down my nursery theme to a couple of ideas but settled on a ROCKSTAR/music theme because Nick and I are really into music. To keep the theme from getting cheesy I kept the focus on a neutral color palette with some fun pops that were within the theme.

Here are some tips to style your nursery:

Start with a Vision Board

Before I purchased any items, I pulled a total millennial move, and hopped on Pinterest and made an inspiration board. I am a visual person so I found that having the board made it so much easier to see the look as a whole. If you want to see my board, check it out here: https://www.pinterest.com/msbrandylynn/future-boys-nursery/. Don’t be shy to follow my account for style ideas, decor, recipes’ and life hacks.

If you open my board, you will see that I ended up purchasing a lot of the pieces I pinned. I had to make some substitutions for items that were no longer available, and I did my best to find cheaper versions of pieces where I could.

If you are not into Pinterest no problem! You can build a board on a word document by saving images of pieces you love or you can even go old school and rip out pictures from catalogs, ads, or magazines and make a large collage.

Find Inspiration

While I was pregnant I loved researching on YouTube and following blogs. For stylish and unique nursery ideas, my favorite was this Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/posh_baby_/

Our nursery was actually featured on their account here:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BR_rg3YFQKt/?taken-by=posh_baby_

 

Don’t overdo the Theme

Add fun pops but don’t go too matchy matchy with sets.

Examples I used in my nursery:

*I keep the letter board musical themed (Letterboard: https://www.letterfolk.com/). My favorite so far has been this:

*In his picture wall I have 2 album cover frames that feature some of our favorite artists. Currently we have White Stripes and Leon Bridges (Price’s first concert in my belly) on display.

*Guitar frame and guitar hooks. I keep the hooks hung in the closet to give it some nice hidden detailing in that area.

*Marquee Lightning seemed really rock star to me so I found an amazing large lightning bolt as a huge focal point above the toy box. The other marquee light is a smaller star that was a nice addition to the gallery wall.

*For the rock star theme, I had to add stars so you will find star detailing all around the nursery. I have a metallic silver pillow and mobile which really complimented my gray color palette and the theme. I also chose grey stars for the print of some of his bedding, swaddlers, blankets and burp rags. The Aden & Anais twinkle collection was just too perfect to complement the room.

Last thing I hate to admit is you don’t need to style and complete the nursery before baby arrives (I hope my husband doesn’t see this, if he does, Ugh.. YOU WERE RIGHT BABE!). Our LO is almost 6 months old now and he hasn’t even used his room yet! That being said, it still is my favorite room in the house and it brings me unlimited joy and happiness.

REMEMBER: It’s all in the details..Happy Styling 🙂

5 Must Have Newborn Items

 

 

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First time mom here, and let me tell you to say that registering was overwhelming..is an understatement!! How do you know what you really need and what’s just useless crap? The real answer..you DON’T! I know how annoying it is to hear people say “every baby is different”, but you quickly learn they are right (ugh, I hate that).

While I would love to have the means to buy and try a million things to see what my baby loves, I don’t have the time or MONEY for that. Instead, while I was pregnant I asked my fellow mom friends, researched, and watched every YouTube I could find for advice and started with the most popular items. This is my list of must have newborn baby items. These are items I couldn’t function without.

For easy shopping I added a link to each item either through Amazon or Buy Buy Baby. I am NOT sponsored I just find these easy resources and I have Amazon Prime for free shipping, and free shipping through BBB for registering with them. Don’t forget you can get 20% off at Buy Buy Baby with a coupon (they also take coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond). Again all babies are different so what worked for my LO (little one) unfortunately may not work for yours, but I did try to go with universal items.

 

Baby Brezza One Step Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer

This machine is a lifesaver!! It’s easy to use, fits a good amount of pieces per load, and runs for only 30 minutes. I find that I can prep and load 6 bottles and parts, or 5 bottles and pumping parts in about 3 minutes flat.

After reading various reviews, I saw that a lot of the sterilizers left bottles wet or with droplets of water while this one was said to do a complete dry. Which it delivers on!

The only downfall I have found is that for some reason it leaks a puddle of water under it, every load. I have asked friends and theirs does the same. As a simple fix, I place it over a cookie sheet to catch the water and empty that every couple loads.

https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Brezza-Sterliizer-Dryer-White/dp/B00MYRXSE2/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1497457796&sr=1-1&keywords=baby+brezza+one-step+bottle+sterilizer+and+dryer

 

TRAVEL SYSTEM

I highly suggest for first time parents (or all parents) a Travel System for their car seat and stroller option. It is so much easier to be able to pop your car seat out and throw it onto the stroller in one easy click!

There are many options in sets ranging drastically in pricing. I chose this set because it had really great safety ratings for the car seat and the stroller is really light, has a one hand quick fold and is easy to maneuver.

https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/britax-b-agile-b-safe-35-travel-system-stroller-in-black/3319562?Keyword=BRITAX+2016+B-Agile+3+Stroller+in+Black

Note to weak armed Mamas: this car seat is a little heavier than others. My spaghetti arms got used to it pretty quickly though.

 

Graco Pack N’ Play

While most people get a pack n’ play for traveling and even to use as a sleeping option. The reason this made the must have list is because we set one up in the living room! Why? It’s the perfect one stop station for diaper changes and napping in our main living area of the house. Our son has a nice changing table in his nursery that is yet to be used because he’s not sleeping in there and it’s on the other side of the house.

https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/graco-reg-pack-39-n-play-reg-element-trade-playard-and-bassinet-in-darcie-trade/1060924902?Keyword=graco+pack+n+play+metro

There are many options for Pack N’ Plays depending on your style preference. I do suggest getting one of the styles that features a changing table so you can get the multi use out of it. I do not recommend the more expensive version with the bassinet piece, as I am not sure that is a safe sleeping environment.

Boppy Newborn Lounger

THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER! It’s the perfect little spot for your little one to sit when they’re a mini little nugget. I think it was also a great way to get my LO used to sleeping on his back. I would use it to let them fall asleep in and then transition him to his bassinet as it is not a safe sleeping environment. It also served as a nice chair to lay in while we bottle fed him.

Wubbanub Pacifier

I know not everyone is into giving their baby pacifiers and that is fine by me. No judgement here either way. I also know that some doctors (and people in general) suggest waiting to start pacifying..again fine by me. I am ALL for not mom shaming (blog on this to come) and my mantra is if it works for you and your baby then do it.

If you choose to give your baby a pacifier, I definitely recommend the WubbaNub or a similar pacifier product. Say what?! We liked to just call it a Wubba. What makes it special?! It stays in place when your LO is mini because the little stuffed animal weighs it down which also keeps it in the babies mouth unlike regular pacifiers. It is also easy to find and the little animal gives your little one something to grasp on to. I hear that as your child ages they often bond with this little guy. Best of all it is really easy to clean the WubbaNub brand because you can literally throw it in the washing machine (Note: I have only tried this with this brand). We literally NEVER EVER EVER leave home without one.

Downside:Baby can’t sleep with this pacifier.

 

Whoop there it is! Let me know what other must haves I am missing!!? It takes a village..