Archive | gift guide

Baby Wish List of My Dreams

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Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post. :)

‘Tis the season for having babies among my friends, I tell ya. One friend had a baby on Saturday, another is due next week, and still another is due in three more weeks! These are such happy days.

I recently discovered a website called Baby Cubby which has so many beautiful baby and children’s things assembled all in one place. Baby Cubby price-matches with Amazon and other stores (and has free shipping for orders over $50), but it also carries many boutique brands that Amazon does not, such as Tea Collection clothing and Little Unicorn products. They don’t carry everything, though, and that is because they have done a lot of research about what are the best/safest products and try to only carry those. Their desire is to be a resource for parents, not just another baby store.

Baby Cubby asked me to write about some of my favorite products on their website, and I had fun browsing and dreaming of what I would buy if money were no object. No, they aren’t going to give me all of them now — I wish! But for those of you who are in a baby registry mindset, here are a few ideas, some of which I can personally vouch for after using them myself for Forest.

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Mamaroo — I know this baby item seems hyped up, and some reviews I read online said it didn’t work for their little one. That has not been our experience, however. Forest has relaxed happily in it since we first brought him home from the hospital, and I love having a safe place to set him down. I haven’t let him lie on the floor or anywhere where our dog could get to him (she’s a sweetie but we are super safety conscious), and so the Mamaroo has been a safe spot in our main living space.

Kickee Pants onesies — So soft and cozy! These are expensive, though, so might be nice to buy in larger sizes after your baby isn’t growing out of things after only a few uses.

Tegu magnetic blocks — We have a little Tegu car made of blocks, and those magnetic wooden blocks are incredible! This little set would be great for keeping a little one occupied on a plane or in a car, and they don’t make a mess and they do stick together.

Plan Toys xylophone — We love Plan Toys products in this house, both for their quality and for the ethics of the company. And what a gorgeous, happy instrument for a little child!

Dock-a-Tot — We’ve co-slept a little bit with all our babies, and even though we like some aspects of it, overall we find it very stressful to have a tiny baby in bed with us. Even if we’re sleeping with just a sheet, no blankets — what if something happened and we were sleeping too deeply to realize? Dock-a-Tot is a way to keep your baby next to you but surrounded by a secure buffer to keep you from rolling onto him or her. Brilliant. Wish I’d thought of it, haha.

Little Unicorn crib sheet — I love my Little Unicorn swaddle blankets! They offer the same prints in their crib sheets, which are just darling. I’d love to get this “Forest Friends” print in a crib sheet for my Forest when he moves from his mini co-sleeper bed into a real crib. Which, actually, will be soon, as he is about to outgrow that little cot. Oh babies, why do you grow so fast?

World Map Rug — Give your child the world! What a soft and wonderful place for your children to build, read, and play in their room. And the rug is washable, too.

Little Unicorn swaddle blankets — Again, I love these. Aren’t those fruit prints darling? They are made out of the same muslin material that has become so popular with Aden + Anais, but with even more creative and beautiful prints.

Briar Handmade Bonnet — I’d love to get Forest one of these for the cooler months! What a darling little bonnet that even a boy can wear.

Numnum Dips — Sadly, Forest will soon be ready to graduate to pureed foods, and a whole new life stage will begin. I love the milk-only stage; so much easier and much less mess! These clever spoons catch purees and other soft foods in their grooves, though, making it easier for the baby to feed him or herself. I would love to try them when that day comes… too soon.

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And there you have my dream baby registry! It’s so much fun to see the beautiful and creative products that are out there for children these days, and maybe to enjoy some of them ourselves. Do you have any favorites that I left out?

1 :: in gift guide, wishlist

A Few of My Favorite Baby Things

Favorite Baby Things -- Forest Things have been too quiet around here! I had such grand aspirations to put together a post of photos about “our first month with Forest,” but now he’s 2.5 months old already. Time is flying!

I wrote an email to my dear friend Abi the other night after she asked if I had any registry advice for a third baby. Elliott saw me writing this loooong email and said, “You should share that on your blog!” I decided to take his advice, and I’m hoping this post will inspire me to put together some more photo updates on the blog, but I won’t cross my fingers…

So here are a few of my favorite baby things (notice I do not say “essentials” — because nothing really is). Some of them new items I’ve discovered this time around, but others are tried and true favorites that I’ve used with all three of my babies:

Rock n play — I borrowed one from a friend, actually, and it has been such a lifesaver! It’s basically a lightweight cradle with a vibrating feature, and it keeps the baby snug and cozy and slightly upright, which is great with reflux. I carry it around the house with me for Forest to rest in it or even nap near us. It also keeps him safe and out of the way of eager little hands, and away from our dog, too. Highly recommend it if you don’t have one!

Baby book — Confession: I never had a baby book for the other two kids! So this is a fresh start. It’s so darling!

Stroller bassinet — This is the bassinet feature for the City Select double stroller. This, I thought, would just be a luxury item, but I was tempted to get it since we walk somewhere every day in our small town. I finally bought one after I found someone selling a brand new one for half the original price on Craigslist. It’s ended up being such an amazing piece of equipment! If you walk a lot with your stroller (especially without driving somewhere first), it’s great to just move the baby from his/her crib to the stroller and back again. It’s also great for diaper changes.

Another nice feature: the bassinet detaches from the stroller so you can put the bassinet on a picnic blanket or beach blanket next to you, and it’s a safe, clean space for the baby protected from the sun or wind or cold.

It fits our lifestyle well, but if you mostly drive places, it’s probably not worth it, since you’d rather just put the whole car seat into the stroller with your sleeping baby and go on your way. Something to consider, though!

Skip Hop bag — My old one was in sad shape with ripped pockets, and it was so nice to get a new one. (It was a gift from my mom — thanks, Mom!) I looked at a lot of diaper bags, including this new (and budget-friendly) one from HipCub, the social media-popular Lily Jade bags, and the Kate Spade diaper bag. For the first two, I saw them in person and didn’t like how bulky they were, and also felt underwhelmed by the actual product after seeing all the online hype. For Kate Spade, I didn’t like the pockets and the lack of the cross-body strap.

So, ultimately, I chose this diaper bag. I do love the chic stripes, and the style of the bag works really well for a mom on the go. I love clipping it onto the handle of our stroller and walking with the the kids. All the pockets are so easily accessible, too, and it wipes clean and looks tidy and organized (even if it’s not, haha!).

Mamaroo — Again, this is something I thought would be a luxury item that has ended up being a lifesaver that we use daily. Forest has loved it from Day 1, and it’s the only piece of baby equipment I have in our main living space. Whenever he’s awake and we’re not holding him, he’s in the Mamaroo, gently bouncing or rocking away, and staring up in wonder these days at the dangling toys that he can’t reach or grab yet. I found one for $100 on Craigslist, and I hope to sell it for that much or almost that much, because that is a good deal for the most current model that ordinarily sells for $240 or so.

Little Unicorn Swaddle Blankets — Those are my favorite blankets, the ones I reach for over and over. I have the bison and the hedgehog prints, which are so cute for little boys! All the products by Little Unicorn are so beautiful, and their prices are comparable to or even better than Aden & Anais.SwaddleMe — These are the easiest, quickest swaddle blankets, and they almost always keep my babies contained. I have a few of them and always turn to them. I’ve tried a few other unique kinds (including the Halo swaddle and the Miracle Wrap), and these are my favorites.

Natural rubber pacifiers — I really love these. They are all one piece of rubber, so they don’t get gross fuzz or mold stuck in the cracks like the ones I’ve had in the past. They also are softer, and the natural rubber feels more like a nipple to me. Other similar brands are Ecopiggy and Hevea; they are a comparable price (ie. not cheap, but then you don’t lose them!) and the same style.

Multi-use canopy — This thing has gotten a lot of use already! It’s pretty cheap but I use it almost every day. It covers the car seat and stroller from sun (or strangers’ hands), and also can be used as a nursing cover. I don’t love it as a nursing cover, but it does cover my back if I have to lift my shirt way up to nurse. It’s nice to have as a back-up to my favorite Bebe Au Lait nursing cover.

Nail clippers — I needed a new pair because the ones I was given for Lena were rusty. I really like how this set feels in my hand, and it works very well. Forest’s nails grow so fast, and they get dirty quickly if I don’t keep them short, so I have used this little tool about once a week since he was born. A good investment, and aesthetically pleasing, too.

Solly Baby wrap — I totally forgot to include this in the collage, but it is definitely one of my favorite baby items. The light, stretchy material keeps both baby and parent cooler than the original Moby wrap or the Ergo with the infant insert. I love Solly’s colors and patterns, too! Forest sleeps so well in this wrap, and the material can double as a nursing cover or a blanket on the ground if need be.

Other things we love: California Baby shampoo and soap, these nursing pads, this glass baby bottle, Winter Water Factory rompers, these monthly milestone stickers, this nursing cover, and this amazing book.

And there you have it — way too long and too much detail, as usual. ;) Do you mamas have anything to add to this list? What baby items do you reach for over and over?

6 :: in Forest, gift guide, new baby series, wishlist

Gift Ideas for a Girl Who’s Turning 4!!!

Recently Updated260-003 It is not a good sign that I spent twenty minutes making that graphic and then just now realized that it said “…for a girl who’s turning THREE” in big bold letters. I should be in bed!

But this post is fun, and I’d like to send it out into the cosmic void (name that movie), so here goes!

Lena turns F-O-U-R on April 3 and, like usual, I don’t think Elliott and I will be getting her much. Last year we bought her some craft supplies and the year before that I don’t think we got her anything. She has plenty of stuff! But that doesn’t stop me from coming up with things she’d like, of course.

Or things I would like for her. I know you know how that goes…

The first thing is a doll stroller, which Lena has asked for specifically. I actually do have one tucked away that I bought months ago and “hid” in the garage (she saw it) when I found a good deal, but then someone advertised this gorgeous thing for sale and I started to have second thoughts! Isn’t it darling?! Which one do you think she would enjoy more??

The second gift idea is Magna-Tiles, which I’ve had on my wishlist for the kids for awhile. Everyone raves about these nifty little magnetic building pieces, and the kids have enjoyed them at our friends’ houses. I recently heard, though, that Magformers might be a better investment because they have stronger magnets and the kids’ structures will hold together better. Do you have a recommendation?

One item on the list must be BOOKS. I preordered Heidi for my sister’s birthday last year and have been dreaming about getting them for Lena (and me, duh) ever since. For someone who loves Rifle Paper Co. and classic literature, these pretty volumes are a match made in heaven.

I’ve heard such good things about these magnetic toys, and I feel like Lena would love them. She spends hours making designs with these beads, but she’s often stumped about what pattern or shape to make next. Problem solved with this clever toy.

The Tea Collection is one of my favorites for their globally-inspired, ethically-sourced children’s clothes. They always have the most beautiful patterns and prints that remind me of places I love around the world! I shop for deals on eBay or during their bi-annual (I think?) 50% off sales, so I already have a beautiful Tea summer dress tucked away for Lena that I bought before Christmas.

And last but not least, something for the budding artist. I enjoyed these as a child and have wanted to get Lena and Gil a set of their own. I’m a sucker for classic toys that have stood the test of time and bring back the warm fuzzies, aren’t you?

Anyway, that’s a hodge podge of ideas. What toys have the four-year-olds in your life enjoyed? I’m all eyes!

23 :: in gift guide, Lena, wishlist

Pros and Cons of Saltwater Sandals

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A reader and friend, Bethany, wrote me an email awhile ago and asked what I thought of Saltwater sandals. She noticed Lena wearing them on my blog, and she wanted another mom’s opinion before she ordered them for her girls.

Well, I wish I had asked someone, too, before I bought three pairs last year to get the right size! In case you’re considering them for your kids, here are a few pros and cons from our family:

Cons of Saltwater Sandals

  • Lena can’t get them on by herself because of the old-school buckle. It only takes me a few extra seconds, but sometimes she’s already chosen other shoes that she can get on by herself.
  • The sizes run large. Order a size smaller than your child’s other shoes.
  • They don’t have a great grip. The soles of the shoes are hard and smooth. It doesn’t seem to bother her now that’s she’s used to it, though.
  • Lena has had to break them in, so expect a blister or two at the beginning. Putting them on your child during her bath will help them soften up and mold to her foot.
  • We got the sandals in white, and they do look a little dingy after awhile. If I could do it again, I might get gold or champagne or something, just to be a little more fun and hide the scuffs.
  • They’re pricey, at least if you buy them during the summer.

Pros of Saltwater Sandals

  • She can’t get them off by herself. Do you know how nice that is?!
  • They are the only shoes she needs all summer (except for a pair of sneakers, I guess). Last summer, she wore them to weddings, church, the beach (they’re waterproof), and for everyday errands. They’re leather, they’re cute, they’re comfortable.
  • Did I mention they’re waterproof?! The specially-treated leather means they don’t get soggy or dry hard.
  • If you buy them in the off-season, they cost about 50% less than during the summer.
  • They pretty much go with everything and make any outfit look good if you get a neutral color. And if you get a bright color (like my friend Emily with her daughter’s lime green Saltwaters), they add a sparkle to even the simplest outfit.
  • They are the most durable kids’ shoes I’ve ever met. They still look new (except for the slightly dingy look on the white shoes) at the end of the summer. Lena still fits into the ones she wore last summer, so she’s wearing them again. They could last through a couple more children and summers, too!

In the end, I would recommend them. I’ll get them again! They are cute shoes, and hold up well, and go with everything. What’s not to love?

P.S. These are the “new” kids’ shoes I have my eye on for Gil. Equally pricey, unfortunately, but stinkin’ cute and waterproof. Have you tried them?

9 :: in gift guide, Lena, links I love, wishlist

Gift Guide :: Second Birthday Gift Ideas!

becca-garber-second-birthday-gift-guide Last month I had so much fun putting together a list of 1st birthday gift ideas. The list was inspired after talking to my cousin, who is fostering-to-adopt a little girl. (By the way, my cousin’s little family is doing great — better than great — and continues to be an amazing inspiration to me! Will I ever adopt, become a foster parent, or permanently welcome someone new into my home other than pets and our own children? My cousin and her husband are doing it, all for God’s glory, every day. It is such a gift to watch that happen.)

Anyway, the fun continues with a 2nd birthday gift guide today! We have a lot of these toys for Lena, so I can recommend them wholeheartedly. Here are a few ideas for a little person in your life:

1. Play kitchen — Lena’s grandparents and great-grandparents all bought this together for her second birthday. I had researched various kitchens, and I knew I wanted it to be made of wood, aesthetically pleasing, and affordable. This IKEA kitchen fit the bill. I keep it in our kitchen, so the kids always have an easy source of entertainment while I’m cooking.

2. Wooden play food — If any of Lena’s aunts and uncles wanted to get her a gift, I told them she’d be getting a play kitchen and that she might need some play food. They enjoyed this simple and affordable gift idea, and Lena and Gil play with the food almost every day. (FYI, after comparing Plan Toys vs. Melissa and Doug wooden food, I recommend Plan Toys. The paint on our M&D food is already chipping off after a year of use, but the Plan Toys paint is more like a rich, colorful wood stain, so the carrots and cucumbers still look as good as new!)

3. Latches board — My great-grandfather made me a latches board when I was a girl, and my siblings and I loved locking and unlocking the doors and latches throughout our childhood. My children still play with it at my parents’ house! This latches board is a smaller, more colorful substitute. Lena has learned to lock and unlock all the latches, so now it’s Gil who puzzles over it in fascination.

4. Noak’s Ark by Peter Spier — This beautiful book is a Caldecott winner with magnificent, detailed illustrations. Elliott and Lena will unintentionally delay her bedtime as they get lost in their observations of the animals and discussion of the story. (Amazon lists all Caldecott winners on this handy list.)

5. Just-my-size backpack — My mom always put dollar store treats in our backpacks before long plane flights, and we had to wait until we were sitting in our seats before we could see what was inside! In June, my mom bought Lena this adorable backpack, and her grandparents and I had fun collecting M&Ms and Target Dollar Spot goodies to surprise her. Since I was flying home solo with Lena and 8-month-old Gil, I also was very grateful that she could carry her own treasures and entertain herself for a few hours of the trip.

6. Wooden bear family dress-up puzzle — Lena has spent countless hours playing with this puzzle, which was a hand-me-down from some friends. I also like that it includes a whole family (papa, mama, and baby bear) and is gender-neutral (ie. no pink!). We have fun imaging various scenarios and dressing them to go for a hike, to the beach, or to bed after a long day.

7. Lacing cards — Like many of the toys on this list, lacing cards get Montessori and Waldorf stamps of approval for teaching fine motor skills, life skills, and… patience! I love the bright colors, and Lena loves the recognizable characters and fruit from one of her favorite books. I keep them in a cloth drawstring bag, and they often end up in my bag or the car for entertainment on the go.

8. Wooden alphabet magnets — I did some research and learned that most alphabet magnets (like these popular ones) have small magnets glued inside hollow plastic frames, and the magnets can fall out and present a choking hazard. (Plus that aforementioned toy talks to you, and I do not like talking toys!) These beautiful magnets are colorful and artistic, and the solid magnet backing means they’re safe and sturdy.

9. Crayons — For the little artist! These beautiful German crayons are made from high quality raw materials, so they are safe for little ones and leave strong, smooth, bright marks on paper. I love the tin carrying case, too. We spend a lot of time coloring in this house, and I recently bought this jumbo coloring book so we could talk about the Bible as we color together.

10. Giant floor puzzle — Lena loves puzzles, and she’s been having so much fun putting together the puzzles in the Charley Harper Flash Cards and Floor Puzzles set that her aunt and uncle gave her for Christmas. For the younger child, this alphabet puzzle would be a fun way to learn the ABCs and practice fitting jumbo puzzle pieces together.

11. Tea set — Lena was given two tea sets for her 2nd birthday and — after some deliberation — I chose to keep this one and return the wooden set. Why? Because the wooden set couldn’t hold real tea. It didn’t even have an open spout. This tea set, though, holds warm herbal tea, real sugar, and a tiny pitcher of cream for Lena’s weekly tea parties. Imagination and reality converge as Lena practices pouring, serving, and sipping.

12. Punch and drop tower — This was our gift to Lena on her 2nd birthday, but I think our cat has enjoyed batting the balls around the house even more than Lena has enjoyed the toy…! It’s fun and beautifully made, and most of the glowing Amazon reviews state that their children enjoyed it just as much — or even more — than their cats.

13. Freight Train by Donald Crews — Another Caldecott winner and another perpetual favorite in our house. After reading this book every day for awhile, Lena suddenly knew her colors one day. “Red caboose at the back, orange tank car next, yellow hopper car…”

14. Sorting board — We don’t have this toy, but I’d love to buy this or a wooden shape sorter for Gil for his 2nd birthday. Children love figuring these toys out with their parents, and they get such a sense of accomplishment whey they can sort everything themselves!

15. A doll of her very own — When Lena was nearing age two, I did some research to find a “classic” baby doll for her: solid and realistic limbs and head with a soft cloth torso, well-made to last through years of imagination and games, and about the size of a regular baby. I learned there are basically two on the market: the Corelle doll and the American Girl Bitty Baby. Lena’s grandparents surprised her with the latter, and Lena has named her Eden. Even though I rotate most of Lena’s toys, I never rotate Eden. She’s always in the background: in and out of Lena’s bed, getting dressed and undressed, reading stories with us, getting breastfed, and taking airplane rides. She has a lot more stories to tell, I think!

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And there you have our favorites! Anything I missed that your young children love day in and day out? With an almost three-year-old and a rapidly-maturing one-year-old — and the onus on me to entertain them all day long — I’m all ears! What toys are your favorites?

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