Elements of Baby, Elements of Home, Elements of Style

A Big Girl Room for Marielle

When I decorated Marielle’s nursery, the room was entirely decorated just for her. We knew we were having a girl, and we knew that we wanted to invest in great furniture that could be used from babyhood through her teenage years. We chose Natart furniture, which is high quality, solid wood furniture with great design. Her crib goes from a baby crib to a toddler bed, optional day bed, to a double bed. Her changing table is simply a dresser with a changing pad fastened to the top. This way, it can be a regular dresser when we no longer need the changing function. Her nursing chair can be converted to a regular wingback chair by removing the rockers and attaching the legs. Every single detail was well researched and planned (Who, me??) so that the room and furniture would grow with her.

I wanted her room to be a calm, sophisticated space with cozy touches and sweet details. Her Natart Bella furniture collection is a deep cocoa brown with beautiful curves and details. Her bedding is a soft, dusty rose color with polka dots and ruffles, and her walls an elegant beige. An etched oval mirror hangs by an ivory ribbon above her dresser, while a delicate crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling. I loved it so much I made sure we took it with us when we moved houses. A small bookshelf displays a large metal “M” surrounded by all her favorite books held up by sweet, white birdcage bookends. Floor length ruffled curtain panels block out the light for sweet dreams and happy naps. Her room has always been my most favorite room in the entire house. It was my sanctuary as well.

As she gets older, her personality is really starting to shine through. She’s sweet but sassy, loves wearing a backwards hat, but also a tutu. She’s artistic and creative and loves to dance, but never passes up a game of tag or kicking around the soccer ball. But, she will do all of those things in her tap shoes. Bottom line, the girl has personality and she will need a room to go with it.

I remember when my mom and I redecorated my childhood room from a nursery to a little girl room. It was the late 80’s and wallpaper was in. I had wall to wall floral Laura Ashley wallpaper with a stripe bottom half and a floral border. Looking back it was like living in an English garden, but I loved it. My bedding matched the wallpaper…the wallpaper matched the curtains…the curtains matched the lampshade. Everything matched. Every. Single. Thing. But, there was no Pottery Barn Kids, RH Baby & Child, or even Target that carried fun room decor for kids. Years later the wallpaper came down and was painted a pale yellow, with all white bedding…just a little more subtle!

I purposefully made sure her room had enough neutrals in it that when it came time to redecorate for her, all I would need to do was change out or add a few accessories. I still love the dusty rose pink and beige combination and it only seems fitting that her new accents would be in gold. Gold and pink? What little girl wouldn’t love that? Gold accessories and accents are really popular right now and there are so many options…I had to hold myself back from cluttering up the design board. Her nursery is RH Baby & Child ad PB Kids, and her soon to be toddler/little girl room is a combination of Target’s new Pillowfort line, Pottery Barn Kids and RH Baby & Child and RH Teen.

I’ll dress up her toddler bed with a girly tulle canopy (for my little ballerina) add in some gold accents with flower hooks and cheerful pillows. A jewelry box to hold all her trinkets (sunglasses, bracelets, special keepsake items and important items such as her Peppa Pig keychain) A covered bulletin board to display her works of art, a new mirror above her dresser (maybe…I do still LOVE her current one. Maybe just replace the ivory ribbon with gold?)  with a shimmering gold chandelier table lamp to fill the space where her changing pad used to be. A cozy pouf to add in front of her chair so we can sit and share stories together. It doesn’t take much to update and glam up a room. A few accent pieces and pillows added to your current furniture collection make it seem like a new room! The best part about shopping online, is that you can pretty much always find a 20% coupon for these popular retail stores.

She’s not quite ready for her toddler bed/bedroom yet…but planning her big girl room is definitely fun!

Marielle Nursery

Marielle’s Current Nursery

Wingback Rocker: Pottery Barn Kids

Side Table: Pottery Barn

Beaded Lamp Shade & Base: Pottery Barn Kids

Ruffled Blackout Curtain Panels: Pottery Barn Kids

Double Dresser:  Natart Bella Collection

Crib: Natart Bella Collection, 5 in 1 crib

Monogram Letter: Pottery Barn Kids

Etched Oval Mirror: Pottery Barn Kids

Bedding: RH Baby & Child

Area Rug: Pottery Barn Kids

Marielle Toddler Room

Gold Mirror: RH Teen

Bed Canopy: Pottery Barn Kids

Gold Rose Hook: Pottery Barn Kids

Pillow: Pottery Barn Teen

Covered Bulletin Board: Pillowfort, Target

Jewelry Box: RH Baby & Child

Chandelier Table Lamp: RH Baby & Child

Pouf: RH Baby & Child

Elements of Baby

The Last Baby

When you begin to enter the wonderful world of motherhood, you’ll start receive a lot of (usually unsolicited) warnings. Warnings about how great/awful pregnancy is, warnings about what afterbirth is REALLY like, warnings about how you will never sleep again, you’ll never get your same body back, warnings about toddlerhood…you think the terrible twos are bad? That’s nothing compared to an opinionated threenager. You file all these cautionary tales away in your head, because you’ve already heard about them, read about them, and started to experience them on your own time. But there is one thing about motherhood that no one tells you about. It’s not in the books, it’s not a topic in mommy and me class, but it can and will mess with your already spinning (and hormonal) mind.

What to Expect when you Realize your baby is your LAST baby.

I was not prepared for this. I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would accompany the fact that our son was our last baby. Our daughter took her precious time coming into our lives, and the news that our son was on his way was the best surprise we could have asked for 8 months later. We found ourselves members of the two under two club, surrounded by a whirlwind of diapers, bottles, pacifiers, opposite nap schedules (aka, never leaving the house ever) and pretty much two years of little to no sleep or social life. I think I was still thinking we would have three children.

It just all happened so fast, and maybe that’s why I was so unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that I was about to embark on. Maybe if our children were spaced apart a little further, we could have three. But I knew that two was our end point at this time. However, I wasn’t ready to not have babies anymore. My son lost interest in nursing around 9 months, and I just wasn’t ready to give up on him. It would bring me to tears every time he would turn his head away because he was too distracted by all of his new found skills (aka, crawling, standing, walking) and everything his sister was doing was much more interesting. But, he was so little. He was my baby. He could still curl up in my arms, rest his head on my shoulder and give me sloppy 9 month old kisses. I wanted him to stay a baby forever. I would read all the Scary Mommy articles about wanting another child, and all the reasons not to, but you really do forget the horrible pregnancies, morning sickness, no sleep, because all you remember are those newborn snuggles and sounds, the tiny diapers, the way their legs stay in the fetal position and their little bums stick out when you pick them up. I only remember that Marielle was a great sleeper. I don’t remember that Brendan would bounce her around until midnight when she finally fell asleep until he reminds me. I barely remember needing an extra hour each morning to get over morning sickness until 32 WEEKS. It’s natures trick to get you to have more babies. The heartache of miscarriage is always with you, but it eventually goes into a safe place in your memory. You forget all of the emotional and physical struggles of pregnancy and motherhood.

It’s all good! Let’s have another! Says Nature.

I know my limits. I know that two is right for me and for my husband, and I love the attention I’m able to give both of my children. I love that there is a one parent per child ratio when we go places and travel. Because traveling with children is a whole separate blog post… I’m excited for those mother/daughter father/son (and vice versa) days. I love that the kids are both in bed by 7. I love that I have time for me and my husband, but I miss having a tiny little warm body semi permanently affixed in my arms (although my one year old is EXTRA mommy needy these days). Yes, I know they still need me in other ways, but still, I’m completely overcome with emotion about not having anymore babies. Literally, my heart hurts.

The other day, I dug out Alexander’s newborn size clothing for a friend who recently had a new baby boy. Again, my heart ached as I folded the tiny onesies, pants and socks…OH THOSE TINY SOCKS! I have been selling and or giving away our baby equipment over the past few weeks which does make everything a little more final. Not easier, but therapeutic in a way. It’s right. I know it is. But it doesn’t change the emotions that go along with it.

I’m so grateful for all the new babies coming into my life that don’t belong to me 🙂 And while I don’t envy the sleepless nights and zombie like persona that is new motherhood, I will tell you it is absolutely worth every single sleepless night, every showerless day(s) and every meal consumed standing up with a baby in a front pack. Worth it. Every. Single. Day. And while you may not realize it as you sleep walk down the aisles of Target stocking up on nursing pads or formula, one day, you will. It took me over 8 months to finally update and publish this post (denial much?) but here I am. A happy, content, mother of two beautiful, silly little toddlers.



Elements of Baby, Elements of Food

Keeping it Simple: Losing the Baby Weight

Okay so here’s the deal. With my first babe, I barely gained any weight and I swear I ate everything on the planet. However, when she was born, I was wearing my regular clothes within about 8 weeks…and continued to lose weight and I wasn’t even trying. I weighed less than on my wedding day 4 years ago. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing as my milk supply wasn’t as abundant as I wanted. Clearly, I assumed it would be the same with my second pregnancy. I was hoping I was one of the “lucky” ones where the weight would just magically fall off on its own. I could NOT have been more wrong. At 32 weeks I had gained enough weight for my entire pregnancy and baby was certainly not done growing. It’s true…with a toddler at home, I was eating whatever was easy and whatever tasted good at the time and definitely more takeout than usual due to moving into a new house and caring for a toddler… and bam! I was at the above normal range for weight gain. That’s not exactly what I wanted to hear when I still had 8 weeks to go…! But, chasing around a toddler all day and growing a human is hard work and I was starving…so I didn’t change my diet much…my doc just told me to cut out the cookies. (Yeah, we’ll see)

But, here I am 3 months after Alex was born. I’ve lost 30 pounds since he was born, but I’ve got that stubborn 10 left and man are those 10 pounds mean…but they are what is keeping me from wearing 75% of my wardrobe. I thought about going back to Barre class, but my abs are still split in half and I can’t do any workouts with abdominals. Not sure just doing dainty plies at the barre will force those stubborn 10 away. I thought about joining groups where everyone motivated each other, but the diet was too restricting for a nursing mama. I’ve got a kid to feed. I have to do this on my own and make it work for a busy mom of two, while keeping my kids happy and my husband’s appetite satisfied.

Ha! I love how I’m writing this the day after I housed half of a Lake Harriet pizza.

I knew I had to do what every Italian fears most…cut out some carbs. I’m not willing to cut them all together, but I probably don’t need to eat them more than once/twice a week and my portion may be a bit out of control 🙂 I’m giving myself a realistic timeline to do this. Fall is coming, I had a fabulous stylist at Evereve in Edina outfit me with a new Fall wardrobe that works with my current body and can adjust and look great with whatever weight I end up at. I’m shooting for 6-8 weeks. We’ll see what happens! I’d like to point out I’m doing this for myself. And that Marc Jacobs dress that’s been sitting in the back of my closet 🙂

Now for some motivation…


Elements of Baby

10 Things That Happen After Having The Second Baby

1) You stop wanting to wear real pants. Seriously. After my first baby was born, I couldn’t wait to squeeze back into my skinny James Jeans. After Alex was born, anything with a waist has gone unworn. Two babies in under two years wreaks havoc on your body…i.e your abs literally split down the middle and have less of a chance of fusing back after the second. I can’t remember the last time I put on a pair of jeans. I’m not ashamed that my daily wardrobe consists of Lulu Lemon pants and a Lucy zip up. I know there are those who have a problem with women who wear yoga pants as clothing. To that I say, grow two humans in your body, push them out, and then talk to me about wearing real pants. Also, have you ever chased a toddler and worn a newborn across your body while wearing jeans? Good luck. Plus, flowing dresses. LOVE dresses.

2) Mommy brain is real and it becomes more severe the more children you have. You may walk out of the house without shoes. Yep, it happened to me. More than once. Being a stay at home mom, my standard footwear are my Ugg slippers and on more than one occasion, I have walked out of the house wearing said slippers, arrived at my destination and realized I wasn’t wearing real shoes. Oh, and a note about real shoes…those strappy stilettos make their way to the back of the closet and ballet flats become the norm. But mostly, slippers.

3) Mornings no longer belong to you. Remember when you used to watch the Today Show with a cup of coffee? Say goodbye to Matt, Natalie, Savannah and Al…Hello Daniel Tiger and Team Umizoomi. Oh, and by cup of coffee, I mean 4.

4) Leaving the house takes twice as long as it did with one child, which took twice as long before you had zero kids. Basically, allow at least an additional 30 minutes per child.

5) You need your mama friends more than ever. They are the ones reassuring you that you’re doing a great job when the tears start to flow in the middle of the playground. They are the ones who will push your child on the swing while you nurse your newborn, physically remove her from the playground during her temper tantrum when it’s time to get back in the car, and chase her down the sidewalk because you’re toting your other little in the front pack. These women are invaluable. And amazing.

6) Screen time = Me time and I’m not sorry about it. With the first, you were diligent about screen time and wouldn’t dare let your impressionable as a peach toddler watch more than one 30 minute educational program a day. If that. Now with your second arrival needing your attention, you depend on Peppa Pig to keep your toddler occupied so you can 1) Go to the bathroom, ALONE. 2) Nurse the newborn without the older one expressing her jealousy 3) Curb a temper tantrum that will wake the newborn from his nap…etc. The list goes on. Look. I watched Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Club as a child and I’d like to think I turned out just fine 🙂 A couple programs throughout the day isn’t going to ruin their college aspirations and abilities.

7) You stop sweating (some) of the small things. Things that you were intimidated by with one child become easier and less scary once the second one arrives. Nursing in public? No problem. Target and grocery runs? What’s one tantrum when you can have TWO! The pacifier dropped on the floor… better pick it up, wash it, microwave it and boil it before giving it back to the baby. Baby #2…a quick rinse will do the trick 🙂

8) Your body does not and will not bounce back to its original glory after the second. It just doesn’t. I lost all my baby weight and more after my first and continued wearing my teeny bikini. With my second, I’ve embraced the mommy tankini and boy short bottoms. It’s actually quite nice to not have to worry about eating too much before heading to the pool. And you know what? Who cares. Growing a baby is one of the most amazing things you can put your body through…be proud of your new shape and scars. And try not to take offense when the door to door salesman asks when your due date is 2 weeks after giving birth…Yep. Happened to me.

9) You realize that babies don’t need to wear shoes. I know, they are cute and we all fall victim to purchasing several pairs of them before our little one even enters the world. Marielle has pairs and pairs of unworn shoes from her infant years, and yes, they are still cute and perfect because they have NEVER BEEN WORN. But don’t worry. Once they start walking, they will grow out of shoes faster than you can say Zappos.

10) Your heart expands bigger than you ever thought possible. When I gave birth to my daughter, I loved her so much I couldn’t even imagine loving another little human being as much as I loved her. What I didn’t know at the time, was that a mother’s heart is meant to expand and grow with each child you create. When Alex was born, I could literally feel my heart overflow with love for him. A mother’s love is truly endless.

McCarthy 0063IMG_8073

Elements of Baby

10 Unexpected Truths About Raising a Toddler

1) Toddlers can be meaner than Regina George discovering you wore pink before Wednesday. I never thought my 18 month old baby girl could possibly bring tears to my eyes besides tears of joy. False. I have endured more emotional and physical ouchies from my toddler than I ever could have imagined could have come from that sweet faced little monster in a onesie and Tiny Toms. I’ve been spit on, slapped, screamed at in the highest pitch sound only a dog could hear and have had more food and water tossed in my face than a soap opera star. Apparently, they do this to the ones they love most.

2) You will spend entire days trying to feed your little foodie and you will take offense when you slave over what you think is a delicious homemade meal that you spent perfectly steaming, chopping and sauteing just for them and it ends up on the floor, in your face and in the dog’s belly all with a resounding “NO!” to go along with it. It’s okay to give up, cave in and hand over the food pouch, yogurt or applesauce for the 8th time that day. Oh and the next day, she will decide she hates that same food pouch, yogurt or applesauce and go on a food strike all together. She is your worst food critic and can make you feel like you just read your own horrible restaurant review in the New York Times. Just keep telling yourself, It’s not personal. She’s a toddler.

3) The terrible two stage actually starts around 12 months. And no, no one tells you that. Right after throwing her a Pinterest worthy one year celebration, your precious one year old will manage to flail herself face first on the floor…screaming, kicking and contorting her body into crazier back arches than an acrobat in Cirque du Soleil.

4) Your toddler will manage to take out the most obnoxiously loud toys just as you put the new baby down for a nap. She hasn’t touched them in weeks…but the baby is sleeping, so obviously this is the best time to rediscover them, then see how close she can sit by the sleeping baby with said obnoxious toy.

5) You will put toys and books on “vacation.” When you feel like you just don’t care about what Brown Bear sees anymore or you just can’t listen to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in the middle of summer for the 19th time on repeat, you will conveniently misplace said book and toy and plead the 5th when she wanders around like a crazy person asking where “Brown Bee!!! BROWN BEE!!!” is. Don’t make the same mistake I did and forget to childproof the “vacation” drawer. Brown Bear came back from vacation earlier than expected.

6) It doesn’t matter how much they love something and for how long, one day they can decide they hate it.  Marielle LOVED taking her baths. She would come running down the hallway giddily screaming, “BAA! BAA!” and excitedly watch the tub fill with water and bubbles. Then one day, Marielle part 2 decided she HATED baths and would run the other direction down the hallway screaming, “NOO BAA! NOO BAA!” I’d eventually just place her in the tub and she’d flail around like a fish out of water, screaming at the top of her lungs impairing my hearing for the remainder of the day.

7) Toddlers have multiple personalities that have the ability to show all of their sides in the same episode. When you turn off Daniel Tiger or Bubble Guppies before she decides she’s done watching, you will either a) get the remote thrown at you or b) smacked in the tummy with her out of control little chubby hands. When you give her the eye and tell her no, that hurts mommy, her lip will quiver, she will start to cry and then demand a hug and kiss. Oh, you do love me. I couldn’t tell from the toddler smack down you just gave me.

8) You may take it personally if your toddler doesn’t cry when you leave her in Baby and Me class for the first time. You may cry (even when you’ll just be in the room next door) but she may not. And that’s okay, it’s a good thing actually, You want her to be happy with her little toddler friends and comfortable with you not being around 24/7. And they do actually miss you as evidence by the big hug you will get 45 minutes later.

9) You will rediscover the world through a toddler’s eyes. You will laugh, sing and dance to Raffi and Baby Einstein. Find sheer joy watching them giggle and delight at the sight of the animals at the zoo. You’ll find yourself having the time of your life swinging on the swing set along side your little one, and take pride the first time they go down the playground slide alone. You’ll run through sprinklers, splash in the pool and dance around the kitchen. You will think everything they do is Instagram worthy and you’ll stop caring if you’re the obnoxious mom posting a million photos of your toddler doing the same thing over and over again.

10) But if there is one thing that I could never have imagined, it’s how much love you have for your little one. No matter how much they hit you and scream at you, make you worry, make you angry or make you sad. You are the center of their world and they are yours. They aren’t toddlers forever. This stage will end, and then you’ll forget it ever happened. Maybe that’s why everyone forgot to tell me about the terrible 12 month stage??

Your heart will melt, over and over again when they do unexpected acts of kindness. When they hand you a tissue when you cry, when they kiss their baby brother on the forehead just because, when they come up behind you and wrap their tiny arms around your leg, when they feed you their last precious strawberry with their chubby little fingers, when they look up at you with those big, bright baby blues and sweetly say, “mama.” Just, mama. Raising a toddler is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it’s worth every tantrum and sleepless night.

McCarthy 0065

Elements of Baby

Preparing Marielle for her Little Brother

McCarthy_Maternity_Baby_Boy-61Marielle may only be 16 months old, but she’s definitely starting to get the idea that something big is about to happen to our family. And by big I also mean that at my appointment yesterday, baby boy is already over 7 pounds…Anywaaays….

We have scattered the baby things around the house so Marielle can explore them. The bassinet is out, the MamaRoo, the infant car seat and soft baby blankets. She has really taken to her infant car seat. At first she wanted to sit in it, but now she wants to put her own baby doll in it. She lovingly places baby in the car seat, “buckles” her in, and rocks her back and forth. Baby boy was given a brown Jelly Cat bunny (just like her pink one) that she has decided is hers for right now. This is good. At her age, it’s best that she doesn’t feel like there are things that only belong to the new baby. We frequently make trips into the baby’s nursery to look at his things, and explain to her that baby will be sleeping in this room. “Baaaaby?” She says, every time we go in there. She smiles. She is constantly giving “kissies” to my belly, and lovingly points at my belly.

We read books everyday about new babies and becoming a big sister. Although she has no idea what that concept means at her age, it makes me smile when she points out all the babies on the pages of the books. We’ve had our friends over who have new babies, and she is very interested in them. She stares at them, rocks them in their car seat and gives them her bunnies. I am thrilled she has exhibited such positive behavior towards little ones. I can only hope this stays the same when her brother arrives in a couple weeks.

I read in one of my books that it is important that daddy is the one holding the new baby when Marielle first meets him. This allows her to first come see and snuggle with mom and know that I am still here for her, and know that mama’s arms still belong to Marielle as well.

I have started putting together Marielle’s Big Sister hospital bag. This is a special bag that I have put together full of things to make her feel special when she comes to meet her brother at the hospital. Here is what is inside.

Personalized Canvas Bag – Pottery Barn Kids

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.55.52 AMBig Sister Shirt – Oh Baby!


You’re Getting a Little Brother! – Book

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Big Sister Photo Album – This soft photo album allows her to have photos of just her and her baby brother, hopefully starting that special brother sister bond. I put photos of her and the baby still in mama’s belly inside to start.

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Doodle Pro Drawing Tablet – To keep her busy at the hospital when she most likely loses interested in the new baby after a few minutes 🙂

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V-Tech Little Apps Tablet –  Maybe she won’t want my cell phone anymore?? 🙂 Wishful thinking.

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Snacks. Lots of snacks. Pouches and special treats to make her feel special especially when mommy has to feed the new baby. I’ll make her favorite banana blueberry muffins in a few days here, and freeze them so they are ready to pop into her bag when it’s time.

I know that because she is so young, this transition may be difficult for her. She may resort back to needing her paci during the day, needing extra love and attention, reverting back to wanting a bottle over a sippy cup and potentially refusing naps and bedtimes. This will all be temporary and we will need to be extra aware of her needs and feelings. I am keeping Marielle’s schedule as consistent as possible. We will still do our mommy and me classes together on Wednesdays, we will still have organized play dates so she can see her friends (and mommy can see her friends too!)  and she will still have her special one on one times with mommy and daddy and special outings with the grandparents.  Thank goodness for family 🙂 Everyone has told me the first 3-6 months will be extremely difficult…so I’m prepared for that, but I look forward to watch the relationship between her and her brother grow over time.

Elements of Baby

A Different Type of Pregnancy Brain

FullSizeRenderYesterday marked 28 weeks in my pregnancy and 12 weeks (more or less) until Baby Boy McCarthy makes his entrance into our family. When I saw on my pregnancy app that I had 12 weeks left, a little bit of panic set in and a string of thoughts entered my mind. It’s a different type of pregnancy brain and It goes a little something like this.

I can’t believe I only have 12 weeks left of just mommy and Marielle time. How is she going to handle this? How am I going to handle this? I’m never going to have 5 minutes to myself…will he be a good napper? Will Marielle still nap as well as she does now? Will they ever nap at the same time? What if he’s a fussy baby? We were so spoiled with Marielle. How can I make sure I am giving baby boy the one on one attention he deserves? Will I be able to take all the baby and me classes I took with Marielle? How will our play dates be different? Target runs are going to be a nightmare, I’m totally going to have to push two carts at once! I haven’t been good about taking my weekly pregnancy photos, I’m a bad mama already. How do I ensure Marielle is getting the attention she needs and deserves, and Brendan too? When will we ever have a date night again? I was just starting to get back into cooking every night…I can say goodbye to that one. I miss traveling. Maybe we’ll go next year. Maybe wait another year until the baby is 2. A 2 and 3 year old on the plane? I didn’t even want to take Marielle on a plane at age 1. Leave the kids with grandparents and go to Europe on our own? No, we agreed we’d travel as a family. Goodbye relaxed travel happily sipping my champagne, hello attempting to keep 2 kids quiet on a 9 hour plane ride with puffs flying through the air, sippy cups and snack traps rolling down the aisles and attempts at diaper changes in tiny airplane bathrooms…


I often have to stop myself from these trains of thought about the future and start thinking about the present. Think about how truly wonderful it’s going to be to hold my tiny baby in my arms, how excited I am for baby and me time during those middle of the night feedings when all is quiet and calm, just me and my son. How amazing it will be to watch Marielle take on the role of the older sister, giving kissies and hugs to her little brother. How wonderfully full our hearts will feel with our new addition. The joy I will feel when I watch Brendan with his new son. How lucky I am to have two beautiful children so close in age. There is plenty of time for sleeping, traveling, cooking and time for myself. I never really completely understood the meaning of taking advantage of the newborn stage, because it goes by so quickly and you’re so sleep deprived you just wish away the newborn stage so you can finally take a shower in peace and quiet.  Those words have so much more meaning now as I look at my 14 month old baby girl and remember what it was like to hold her when she was just under 7 pounds. It’s totally normal to have anxiety when in just a few short weeks our lives will change and we will have two under two. Of course, my biggest concern is Marielle and how her life will change, but I know that after those first couple months of no sleep, sporadic showers and take out dinner, we will settle into family life as a family of four and watch as our two babies grow up together.

Pure happiness.
Pure happiness.
Elements of Baby

The Terrible Twelve (Months)

We have all heard of the infamous Terrible Twos…but recently, I was introduced to what I’d like to call, the Terrible Twelve Months. That’s right…the kicking, screaming, face planting on the floor behavior that we associate with toddlers came early for us…and no, it’s not like Christmas. Marielle has started to voice her opinion on many things. While a lot of her vocalizations are positive, there are many that I could do without. She uses her voice quite loudly when she doesn’t want to eat something I put in front of her, arches her back and throws it on the floor. When I take away something she shouldn’t have (cell phones, a bug she found on the floor, or the puppy’s poor ear) she screams at the top of her lungs, throws herself to the ground face first and melts down. Oh hi. I’m sorry, did I miss your second birthday somehow? You aren’t supposed to be acting like this yet! Where is my sweet baby girl who ate whatever I put in front of her with a smile, gracefully handed over the cell phone when I said we were done, and was “gentle” with the puppy and kitty? I love you my dear, but I miss 11 month old Marielle sometimes 🙂

Luckily, in our ECFE class today, there were lots of other mamas with the same predicament, and I learned a lot from the second time moms. Apparently, this is very normal. The issue is that our little ones are TOO little to be able to express what they need with words. They know we respond to the screaming, yelling and flailing and know that we will do something about whatever it is that they need. We may not always know what they need, but at this point, we are just to react positively and calmly and work through the episode. I do wish that this was mentioned somewhere in those baby books…attention, What to Expect in the First Year…you should definitely add a chapter on this phase so we know it’s coming! I was definitely caught a little off guard the first time Marielle face planted herself on the floor. Thanks to all my wonderful ECFE moms who have older or second children for advice on how to manage this wonderful stage in my daughter’s life 🙂

I SAID...Where is my food!? Except I can't say that at all, so throwing my arms up and screaming will have to do.
I SAID…Where is my food!? Except I can’t say that at all, so throwing my arms up and screaming will have to do.
Elements of Baby

Marielle’s Winter ONEderland Birthday Party

My little Marielle turned one year old last Sunday, January 4th. It was truly beautiful, mostly because she was surrounded by her family who loves her so much. Everyone gathered to celebrate this little girl and her one year milestone. I was a bit worried about her January birthday, because what in the world do you do on the coldest month of the year? As a child, my siblings and I all had summer/early fall birthdays so pool parties were usually the theme. But January…man, there are not a lot of options! Luckily there is Pinterest for that now, which can make you feel incredibly creative 🙂 I figured the winter theme was perfect and how cute is the word play on wonderland? I had visions of glittery tulle, snowflake decor, a yummy hot cocoa bar and warm soup. Perfect! Admittedly, I’ve been planning her theme for months. The details didn’t take shape until closer to the day. I wanted to keep it simple, and keep it to just family as not to overwhelm our little one. The menu was easy. I had the hot cocoa bar for guests as they arrived, dinner was a slow cooker tomato basil soup, cheese fondue, and a veggie tray. Simple, warm and filling! The decor was pretty simple as well…glittery tulle covered the tables, pink and gray balloons, a photo banner of her past 12 months, flowers, snowflakes and a wish tree. I’ve shared some photos below that show the details of her big day! Marielle is truly a lucky girl. She had a wonderful 1st birthday surrounded by grandparents, cousins, aunties and uncles and of course, her adoring parents.

Handmade crown from Meme, decorated by Mama.
Handmade crown from Meme, decorated by Mama.
Hot cocoa bar included a crock pot of hot cocoa, Bailey's for the adults, whip cream, and various toppings, Pirouette cookies and of course, chocolate dipped marshmallows with pink sprinkles!
Hot cocoa bar included a crock pot of hot cocoa, Bailey’s for the adults, whip cream, and various toppings, Pirouette cookies and of course, chocolate dipped marshmallows with pink sprinkles!


I made a wish tree from Birch branches and made little heart shaped tags with rhinestones of them for guests to write wishes and hopes for her second year.
I made a wish tree from Birch branches and made little heart shaped tags with rhinestones of them for guests to write wishes and hopes for her second year.


The wish tree and a banner showing her monthly photos from the past 12 months
The wish tree and a banner showing her monthly photos from the past 12 months
I chose Angel food cake with whip cream on top as her first cake. Angel food and whip cream have less sugar than traditional cake and she loved it!
I chose Angel food cake with whip cream on top as her first cake. Angel food and whip cream have less sugar than traditional cake and she loved it!
Whip cream...yum!
Whip cream…yum!
Her high chair was covered in pink tulle that I secured to her chair with a glue gun. Glue gun glue is fantastic, because it's secure, but peels right off at the end.
Her high chair was covered in pink tulle that I secured to her chair with a glue gun. Glue gun glue is fantastic, because it’s secure, but peels right off at the end.
She's outfitted with toys for awhile now...
She’s outfitted with toys for awhile now…


Elements of Baby, Favorite Things

Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit

I was going through some of my old posts from awhile ago, and I came across this one. I never published it. I’m not sure why, but, I think it could help a lot of mamas out there who are struggling with the transition from swaddle to sleep sack!

When Marielle was about 3.5 months old, she decided that it was a really fun game to break out of her swaddle in the middle of the night, so she could chew on her hands. She had also mastered rolling over in her swaddle. Not good. As cute as she looked on the video monitor with her tiny hand poking out of the top of her swaddle, I knew that the time had come to stop swaddling her, and allow her to sleep in her big girl sleep sacks. We did a couple of nights with Marielle wearing a Swaddle Designs zzZipMe and the first couple nights went great. She fell asleep and slept through the entire night. I think this was just plain lucky. Not long after, Marielle was waking herself up by flailing her little hands all over the place, and rolling on to her tummy. While the pediatrician said it’s okay for her to do this since she was strong enough to lift her head, she still became quite frustrated because she was not quite as good at rolling back over onto her back. I was starting to become sleep deprived and had Marielle attached to my hip all day, because naps were no longer than 25 minutes without her swaddle. Clearly, she needed something. So did I.

I brought up my concerns at my ECFE class, and I got a unanimous response from other mamas that I needed to try something called Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit.

I’m sorry, what?

They warned me she would look ridiculous, but that it really does work. I went home, immediately Googled this “magical” suit and bust out laughing when I saw images of babies looking like marshmallow peeps and space travelers. Apparently, the thick material prevents their arms from flailing so much that they wake themselves up, but can move enough to suck their thumb to comfort themselves back to sleep. They also cannot roll onto their tummy.

I was skeptical. Two days later, at Marielle’s 4 month appointment, I brought up the sleep regression issue with her pediatrician. “Have you heard of Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit?” She asked. I guess everyone else knows about this thing but me. I went home and I Amazon Primed a Sleep Suit overnight to our house. This thing is ridiculous. It better work.

That night, Brendan and I put Marielle to sleep in her Magic Sleep Suit. At 4:30am, I woke up because I hadn’t heard Marielle on the monitor and my mommy instincts automatically woke me up to check on her. I pressed view on her monitor, and there she was, sound asleep. Looking silly. I smiled and went back to sleep. It worked. Marielle was back to sleeping through the night. The real test was going to be the next day. Would she nap in this thing? She did. 2 hour naps, and woke up with a huge smile on her face.

She was happy.

Brendan and I were happy.

One big happy family.

So, if your little one is transitioning out of the swaddle, but still needs a little comfort, I absolutely recommend the Sleep Suit. Mamas to be…this is one for the registry!

You can absolutely be sure that I will be using this with Baby #2!

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