From Diva Baby to Delicate and Dainty

One of my first few posts on my blog was aptly titled “Diva Baby or Quarantine Baby…That Is The Question”. That’s because Tessa has been a very different baby than the bruises were (they were more similar than not). She had infant habits that I’d call diva (and I now say diva because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just quarantine, but she is, in fact, a diva)…like not taking a bottle, not wanting to be put down, crying whenever mom hands her off to someone else. A lot of these habits have evolved and gotten much better as she’s gotten older. But I now notice how delicate and dainty she is compared to the boys, who were all over the place like a bull in a china shop.

And delicate and dainty sure is cute. She has the sweetest fine motor…she will sit for minutes and hours trying to pick up leaves or wisps of grass from the ground. You give her a piece of ribbon to hold on to at daycare and she’ll still be clutching it in her hand by the time you get home that night. She’ll play with all the food you give her, but gosh darnit she won’t bring any of it near her mouth on her own. The bruises run circles around her as she just sits there happily with no desire or intention to even try moving. Lots of noise or too much talking startles her…she prefers the peace and quiet (which she rarely gets thanks to the bruises).

Here’s where the mom-anxiety comes in. At what point is delicate and dainty a concern? I’m no stranger to the birth to three experience. The educator side of me saw some red flags that I was never able to let go of with Dominic, and at 9 months he qualified for birth to three, with moderate to significant developmental delays in 4 out of the 5 major categories: communication (expressive and receptive), cognitive, adaptive, and physical (fine and gross motor). The only area he was totally fine in was social. We worked our tails off for a year in OT, Speech, and Behavioral Intervention (our service providers were angels!), and the kid graduated advanced in all categories a year later. So he was either just a late bloomer from the start, or his early intervention worked miracles. I’ll never know the answer to that question.

So here we are with my bow and I can feel those little anxieties creeping up again. Mostly because it’s impossible not to compare your child to every other baby around you, especially the ones who are younger or the same exact age but are doing more advanced things. The boys were scarfing down soft table food and feeding themselves anything they could get their hands on at 9 months. Tessa takes her purees like a champ, but wants nothing to do with anything solid. We’ve also been in a few social situations lately where Tessa just sits on the ground while babies who are two months younger than her roll, crawl, and scoot circles around her. She hasn’t made it beyond push-up position.

Case in point: we’ve resorted to using mama’s cordless jump rope as a training tool for trying to encourage Tessa to crawl. She loves it, and I can see her little body working so hard!

I’m trying SO hard to sit on my anxieties this time around and not jump the gun. To wait it out because deep down I think I’m just realizing (and beginning to accept the fact) that all my babes are late bloomers and that’s ok. But man, you know how hard it is to sit on that worry? To feel it creeping into your mind and have to actively work to squash it. It’s hard! Especially when the pediatrician is peppering you with questions at the 9 month appointment like…is she feeding herself? (No.) Is she putting things in her mouth? (No.) Is she crawling? (No.) Is she trying to crawl (No.) Hey, she’s clapping and waving…that counts for something right? And to be totally clear, the pediatrician had zero concerns despite us answering no to a majority of her questions. Just said babies develop at different paces.

Yeah, yeah, I hear this all the time, and have heard it all the time since kid one. But it still makes it so hard not to compare! It must be a mom thing.

You know what the worst one is? I hate hate hate when people say…”She’s number three, she must know all the tricks by now.” Or, “usually after kid one they all develop faster.” Guess what? My kid one hit his developmental milestones earlier than my kid two, and so far, my kid three. I think the best advice (to myself AND to the people who keep saying junk like that) is to just stop. Let it go. Enjoy the moments, those milestones will come. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that she’s not tearing the house apart yet? I’ll never ever ever complain about her preference for all things mama either. I’m ok with my delicate and dainty, I don’t love her any less. ❤

Where are all these emotions coming from?!

(Part 1) Back to School Eve

It was a weirdddd weekend for me. I’m usually not the emotional type, but I’ve somehow caught myself in unusual emotional moments the past 3 days, and to be honest it blindsided me.

But then I realized it.

First, we made it through 2 weeks of quarantine as of this Friday, of which the first 7 days we were convinced our kids (and probably us too) had COVID and I swam in mom guilt. They were showing symptoms, and one of my kids had confirmed positive exposure so we thought it was a done deal. After several agonizing days of waiting for 3 kids’ test results to come back, all were negative. Really relieving, but at the same time we were hoping these mild cold symptoms were all it would be if it actually did hit us. So a little disappointing in that sense?

Second, the second 7 days of a quarantine were official back to work days for me, except I had to do it all remote instead of in person because of this quarantine. You’d think it’d be a silver lining to have 7 extra days home with the kids. But by Thursday and Friday of this past week, I was in back to back to back meetings from 8am till 5pm daily with a four year old, two year old, and almost eight month old basically fending for themselves. We survived, but it was hell.

Third, I’m realizing now that it’s been since March 13th with my little family unit. I’ve watched my four year old turn into a little independent human. HE actually taught ME how to play a board game this weekend. One that I didn’t even know he knew how to play. I’ve watched my two year old become the wild one with big feelings that I’m pretty sure he’ll always be. I’ve watched my newborn infant turn into a baby girl full of sass and zest and playfulness.

Months of us all together, all the time. Though hard at times, it’s been precious, and we’ll probably never get anything like this back again, at least when the kids are this little (unless of course, the COVID situation goes to sh*t again and we’re back in stay at home orders). Now it’s about to end, and we have to try to get back into some sense of normal. After spending months figuring out what our new normal was.

Fourth, I’m about to leave Tessa after an unexpected almost eight months of being my little baby kangaroo, attached to my hip all the time. If this year was normal I would have left her after three months. But it’s been eight! A lucky eight, for sure, and I’m so grateful for the extra time. But it’s making this normally rational, normally logical, normally put together mama extra emotional. Add that to the fact that she still doesn’t take a bottle and cries when she’s with other people. You know. I’m feeling….good about it? Nah not really.

I know there are so many other parents who have already transitioned back to work or back to school or back to whatever their normal was before COVID. I know it can’t stay this way forever.

We’ll do it though. Tomorrow will come and go and we’ll survive it. I’ll probably look at pictures all day long and text my husband wondering how everyone’s doing. We’ll do it though. Tomorrow will come and go and we’ll survive it. I probably won’t cry but I will worry and I will watch the clock go by minute by minute. We’ll do it though. Tomorrow will come and go and we’ll survive it.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Check back tomorrow for part 2. Cross all your fingers and sleep with your pjs inside out for me please!

Boy Toys: Cars and Dinos and Blocks…Oh My!

Ok so I have to admit I have a major case of third child syndrome. Don’t know if that’s a thing, but we definitely had/have second child syndrome with Dominic, so poor Tessa doesn’t even stand a chance.

I did everything to a T for that first child, followed ALL the rules. Kept up with all the cleaning protocols, didn’t use a single product that wasn’t all natural. Talked to the pediatrician before trying anything new and talked to the pediatrician about every little worry or question that creeped into my mind. You know the drill. Back then, Whole Foods was my jam; now I consider it a weekly win if I make it down the organic or all-natural aisle in Stop & Shop. (For the record, Whole Foods is still my jam, there just isn’t one close enough to me right now for me to consider it a worthwhile trip.)

Second child meant the 5 second rule turned into the 60 second rule, we no longer carried the high chair/shopping cart cover with us everywhere we went, and Welch’s fruit snacks vs. Annie’s bunnies = same difference. Ditched the Babyganics shampoo and body wash for good ole-fashioned Johnson’s baby shampoo and body wash because it just smells so damn good.

You get the picture, let me cut right to it. This poor girl lives out her days playing with toy cars, dinosaurs, legos, and trucks. I wish I could say it is because I’m ignoring gender norms and raising this bow to shatter all the glass ceilings. That would be noble of me- and philosophically the beliefs and values I want to and try to instill in all my kids align with this. You better believe I want her to shatter ALL the glass ceilings. But this was just serendipity I suppose – causal result of laziness on my part.

I was talking to my mom about it – feeling guilty I don’t really have any feminine (girly?) play things for her. She made a good point. She said, “That’s not true all your baby toys are gender neutral, you just don’t bother to actually take them out.” New Year’s Resolution 1: make an effort to take out the baby toys more often (I’m allowed to make a New Year’s Resolution in August because I’m a teacher so technically my New Year starts at the end of the month.).

I thought about it more; it’s still kind of weighing on me. On one hand, there is zero reason I need to add any more crap to the already-overflowing playroom we have. But I do sort of have big girl dreams to be able to play dress up with my girl, to watch her play with a doll house, to see her take care of her baby dolls. Or at least let her have the option of choosing this (because I know if she chooses diggers over dolls or dinos over dress up, I’m totally fine with that too – believe it or not I was the BIGGEST tom-boy athlete growing up!). And if this is the case – to even give her the option to choose what toys she wants to play with – then I need to drastically overhaul the playroom. It is head-to-toe all things BOY right now. Time to make way for girl! New Year’s Resolution 2: Clean, purge, clear out (not a bad excuse to do this!).

No need for me to rush into buying all playthings girl right now, she’s still too young for it to matter. But thinking about Christmas and her birthday in January, I’m going to need all the ideas from all the girl moms out there. What’s the best girly gift for a one year old? Is there even one? Or is it really completely gender neutral until the toddler years? Do I just wait till she’s old enough to realize what she wants and wait for her to ask for it? Would love for you to drop me a comment below or follow me on Instagram to give me your insights!

Insta handle is Bruisesbowsandbooks. See ya there!

WFH

I had every intention of doing a Books post today. Lot’s to share about toddlers and emerging writers. It’ll have to wait until tomorrow because this is how my morning went trying to work from home to prep curriculum for the start of the school year. I could tell the morning was going to sh*t so for the first two photos, I happened to set my phone up in the corner and pop the self-timer on. The other photo was a result of me hearing my 2 year old excitedly sing, “Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, up, up!” from the kitchen prompting me to wonder what he was riding.

(Please note: No animal was harmed in the making of this photo, I quickly yelled for him to get off the dog once I was able to snap the picture.)

Let’s play Where’s Waldo? Or seek and find. Whatever you want to call it.

1 point for spotting the stressed out teacher mama on a work zoom meeting in the middle of summer.

1 point for spotting the dog, who came to the playroom to check us out for all of 2 seconds before this happened. Haven’t seen him the rest of the day.

1 point for spotting the bruise who thinks it’s funny to ride the dog.

1 point for spotting the jumping bruise who knows exactly how to quietly break the rules when Mommy steps out for a second.

1 point for spotting the chalkboard that lists the daily routine we should be following but haven’t been following for the past 3 months.

3 points for spotting the caffeine – mom juice in my book.

3 points for watching the video below, in case you wanted more perspective on my day.

3 points for spotting the Hurricane Isaias forecast, hence canceling oldest kid’s day camp for the day and confining all kids indoors for the day – this mama’s worst nightmare. (At least at this very moment we still have power!)

25 points for spotting the perfectly behaved bow (or the baby monitor that shows she is sleeping upstairs like the angel that she is).

100 bonus points for counting the number of toys this mama will NOT clean up today, but probably step on or stare at until one of the bruises decides to actually take me seriously and actually clean up.

250 bonus points for posting a picture of your WFH situation in your IG or FB stories and tagging bruisesbowsandbooks!

An additional 500 points if your WFH situation trumps mine.

109309890345094385 bonus points for telling me this is a productive and efficient work environment, and that it’s possible to work from home and carry out your job responsibilities well while simultaneously parenting young children.

Who wins? Would love to see your point values below. Honor system! And go give your fellow working mamas a hug or a shoulder to cry on, knowing this is what they are experiencing daily. Heck, go give your fellow SAHMs a hug or shoulder to cry on, too!

Daycare Haul

Everyone knows teachers absolutely dread August 1. It’s August scaries. Think Sunday scaries but for teachers about to start a new school year. And now think about it THIS year. August 1 came and passed like a faint blip on the radar this weekend for most people, but you better believe that for teachers it sounded the alarm. This is real, and we are going back to school very soon, one way or another.

But for me, August 1 didn’t just trigger the August scaries. My mind started to go bonkers about what my own kids are going to do when Mommy goes back to work. We haven’t decided a thing yet. In fact, our daycare provider for Dominic and Tessa hasn’t even announced whether or not she’s opening in the fall. I can’t even begin to think about it without feeling like I want to puke. There is no good decision. But these first two paragraphs are really just anxiety-driven ramblings that are better suited for a different blog post entirely.

SO.

My way of maintaining my sanity is by approaching things like normal: at the end of the month Tessa is going to start daycare for the first time ever. And if you’re anything like me, daycare requires its own wardrobe, because nothing ever comes home looking the same as how it left. Because Tessa hasn’t ever been to daycare, it’s time for me to start building her daycare wardrobe – basics that I don’t really care if she ruins or not. I’m also more flexible and don’t care as much about colors or patterns or prints with daycare clothes.

Today I escaped for three hours by myself and it was glorious. I hit up Old Navy (love the ruffle butt leggings!) and Gap (love the bubble shorts!) because they have huge sales going on right now – or so this is what I told my husband. They always have huge sales going on so someday this excuse isn’t going to fly anymore….but until then…. I built a shopping cart online first, and if I found it in-store, I deleted it from my shopping cart on my app. I was mostly in search of onesies, shorts, and pants that are easy to mix and match and will be (1) comfortable for my bow while she’s away from her parents all day and (2) easy for Miss Darcy to undress/dress for diaper changes or other accidents. Here’s my haul.

The warm weather haul was decent. I didn’t do as well with my cold-weather haul. I was actually a little surprised that everything was still mostly summer season – my guess is it’ll change over to fall very soon (online already has lots of fall new arrivals). Also, is it weird that for cold-weather clothes for bows I prefer sets (tops and bottoms) rather than one-pieces? With the bruises I was all about one-pieces and always found lots of cute ones. They don’t seem as feminine to me for some reason. Maybe I just haven’t found ones my style yet.

Once I come home I always spread it out to inspect (admire?!) like in the photo above. Did I double up on colors accidentally? Did I grab the right size? Is it REALLY something she needed? I make my return pile and the rest immediately gets de-tagged and de-stickered to go right down in the wash. Once it’s all washed they go into the daycare drawers. Yes, her dresser will now be split into two sides: daycare clothes and fancy clothes. There’s not really much fancy to the fancy clothes, just clothes I prefer she doesn’t wear to daycare so she doesn’t ruin them.

Now that you’ve read half a page of writing about what goes on in my brain when I’m on a mission shopping for something (I’m split between whether or not this is actually interesting for you to read or if this was just a waste of a post), I do have some questions.

If your kiddos go to daycare, do you just have one big wardrobe and think I’m way too anal retentive and need to loosen up a little bit? If you do, does your kid come home in clean clothes and really I just have sloppy kiddos? Or do you split your kids’ wardrobes up and send them in different clothes to daycare than you would to…I don’t know…some place where your kid would be in fancy clothes? And I really need your help with this bow thing. If you’re a #girlmom, do you send your baby to daycare wearing a bow? I’m really struggling with this one. Part of me thinks it’s silly and not practical…like Miss Darcy would totally roll her eyeballs at me and take it off immediately once I leave, because what childcare provider wants to deal with that? And the other part of me can’t contain my obsession – I’ll just send her in her bow because she’s my daughter and I’ll do what I want and I’ll tell Miss Darcy she can take it off whenever she wants if it gets in the way. Would love to know your thoughts so drop a comment below!

FACT CHECK.

Take a good, hard look at the photos above. What do you see?

To be honest, I didn’t see what my husband saw when he snapped these. Or what he saw when he decided to put them on social media. He saw a baby girl eating up (pun intended) the beach on a hot summer day. He saw a mom and her daughter in vacation mode. He saw his wife making memories with him and his family. Well really, when I asked him what he saw, he said, “I couldn’t really see anything…it was really sunny and I had my sunglasses on.” *Shoulder shrug*.

You know what I saw? I saw an intense widow’s peak from postpartum hair loss. I saw holy boobs because of breastfeeding. I saw thick thighs and a double chin. I saw sunglasses that all of a sudden look too small because my face is rounder than ever before. And I saw extra skin flaps and lots and lots of belly fat. Rolls for days.

So, no. This is not my typical blog post. It doesn’t fall under bruises, bows, or books. And it’s not really the content I ever anticipated putting on here. But I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon reflecting on these photos, coaching myself to NOT ask my husband to delete them or take them off social media. To NOT crop myself out of them. And I know if I want to be real on here, then I’ve got to be honest…even if it means being serious every now and then. The pressure on us mamas is so, so real. And it’s so, so hard. I owe it to myself and I owe it to all of you to let you in and see this side of me. In the span of 6 hours (we got home from the beach around 2pm), there are hundreds of facts that crossed my mind when looking at these photos. I forced myself to fact check every single one of them. Here are some of the ones I struggled with the most:

Fact: I’m feeding my kid a pouch of mangos, not all the fruits and veggies I’ve pureed myself.

Fact check: Who cares; fed is fed. Plus, I shouldn’t be self conscious because I made a choice that would make things easier for me at the beach.

Fact: Depending on the angle, I legit look like I’m balding.

Fact check: It’s only temporary.

Fact: I have lots of stretched out skin and rolls that are uber obvious when I sit criss-cross-applesauce.

Fact check: I don’t think my kids or my husband have ever once made note of extra anything on my body. I get the same amount of hugs, snuggles, squirmies, and hits. And I can eat my freaking ice cream if I want to; I earned it.

Fact: These boobs are enormous one minute, and flat, empty bags the next.

Fact check: My baby is fed because of me, and only me. No one else could give her what she needs right now.

Fact: Three babies in and my body is not, and never will be, the same as it used to be.

Fact check: I carried and birthed three freaking humans. (!!!!!) They are all healthy, and happy, and I am GRATEFUL.

Fact: Thank god for technology. It’d be really easy to fix this with photoshop or iPhoto. If the kid looks cute and I don’t, I can still salvage the photo of them by cropping myself out.

Fact check: Do I really want my kids growing up without any photos of me with them because of my insecurities? No.

Fact: I looked at these photos and the first thing I saw was all my flaws. Not the cute, happy, smiling baby next to me.

Fact check: I want my kids to grow up loving all humans, no matter shape, size, or color. And I want my kids to grow up accepting themselves exactly as they are because they are perfect. So I better start accepting MYSELF exactly as I am (no, I’m not claiming I’m perfect, at least not in that way, anyway). I am me, and that’s worth fact checking any day.

Diva Baby or Quarantine Baby…That is the question.

I didn’t really have a good image to go with this post, so I took it all the way back to one of her newborn photos. We’ve stuck with our fabulous wedding photographer through all of our kids, and she’s amazing…easy going and relatable, and simple and candid with her work, which is completely my style. Check her out at her facebook page, Jennifer Langdon Photography, by clicking the photo above. Side note: we have also used (and will continue to use) a close friend who started her own photog business a few years back, Jen Morrissey Photography (linked her website at the end of the post). It’s SUCH a good idea to have a few photographers in your back pocket, that way you can change up styles as needed so photos never feel stale!

Tessa was born in early January, meaning she got here just in time to avoid the nightmares of labor and delivery during COVID, but also just in time to spend most of her infancy in quarantine at home. I know every baby is different so I’m trying not to fall into the trap of comparing her to the boys. But there are some serious differences between the boys (who were very similar as babies) and Tessa that really make me wonder if this is just your typical girl baby or if these are legitimate symptoms of being a quarantine baby. Call to action for all the girl moms and/or quarantine baby moms out there: Curious to hear your thoughts on this stuff so be sure to take my poll at the end!

The bottle. The freaking dreaded bottle. I never experienced this nightmare with the boys, but now that I have, I have complete and utter respect and empathy for anyone who has also experienced this. She wouldn’t take a bottle when we started trying around 3 or 4 weeks after we established breastfeeding. I worked my tush off daily for a good 6-8 weeks by trying one bottle a day for 2 hours at a time so that she’d be ready to transition to my mom’s care once I went back to work for the end of the school year. For those two hours that we’d try each day, she’d fight it with every ounce in her body, and let me tell you, seeing that little teeny body with all that fight in it was both heart wrenching and impressive at the same time. We tried every bottle imaginable, from Dr. Brown’s to Comotomo to Olababy to Brezza. I’d go to Target and pull any brand bottle off the end cap displays to try. We tried all different temperatures from room temp to warm to hot to cold. LOL, cold. Finally after two months she just took to it one day with Nuk Natural Flow bottles (thanks Target end cap!). And she took it like a champ…for like two weeks. And just as spontaneously as she started, she decided she had enough and just plain stopped. She’s smart too, rather than wasting energy and fighting it, she’d just play with it in her mouth, spit it out, or blow raspberries with it, or just go to sleep to get out of having to take it. And because by this point daycares were closed and schools were closed, I didn’t have to send her to my mom. Flash forward to today; now school’s out for summer and we are still unsuccessfully trying (every other day because I just don’t have the energy to try every day). So, quarantine baby or diva baby?

The attachment to mommy/fear of others. I know, I know. This one is nothing to complain about. I actually love everything about this one. But Luca and Dominic were such independent infants, I wasn’t used to having my little bow need me, and only me (ok, sometimes dad too) 24/7. In fact, I remember two summers ago, I’d find a shady spot in the grass at the splash pad and lay Dominic down on a towel while I went towards the water to keep an eye on Luca, and I would literally watch him from 20 yards away (bad mom?!) and he’d be totally content for hours. Tessa not so much. Once we started to come out of house arrest softly (aka quarantine) and start to socialize (practicing social distancing, of course) with immediate family like grandparents and siblings, I was blindsided. My happy, cuddly, relaxed baby girl was now uncomfortable in new places. If it wasn’t our house or our yard, she’d tear up and panic. And I’m the type that needs to make it out of the house and stay busy to maintain my sanity, so I was so used to just toting the boys around with me as we did things when I was on maternity leave with them. And now, as we have furthered our social circle to close friends and family, anytime someone else is holding Tessa, and I’m in sight, she whines and cries. The one time I went to finally get a haircut and color (alone time!!!!) and left all the kids, including Tessa, with Gammy, she screamed and cried unless my mom showed her to her brothers to remind her she was with people she knew. Another time I left her with Nana so Mike and I could run to the grocery store, and she apparently screamed her lungs out once she realized I was gone. With that being said, I’ve had no problem being selfish and keeping her all to myself, but I am a little worried for if and when she ever starts daycare…no bottle AND stranger danger?! Poor Miss Darcy (shout out to our most amazing childcare provider!!)!! So, quarantine baby or diva baby?

Image Links:

Jennifer Langdon Photography

Jen Morrissey Photography

Aden + Anais 3-Pack Silky Soft Swaddling Cloths

Flower crown and other newborn photo props

My Top 5 for Her

I’m pretty delicate and traditional when it comes to my style for Tessa. I like girly, muted colors, but also love anything with fruit or floral patterns. Lemons, strawberries, and purple wildflowers are no brainers for my purchasing habits! I’m also a big fan of anything muslin or crinkle cotton. This age is perfection because I get to have all the fashion fun. I know in a few short years (months?!), she’ll start calling the shots for her own outfits. Bring on alllll the princess dresses. But until then, I’ll have my cake and eat it too. Here are my top 5 brands/stores for all things Bows:

  1. Little Poppy Co.: BOWS. Bows, bows, bows, and more BOWS! The most common question I get asked from family and friends is “Where do I get her bows?” This is answer #1. Little Poppy Co. is a subscription service where you get three bows monthly, and they are THEMED for the month or season. How perfect is that? These bows have provided me with endless options and I’m obsessed. The bows are often more delicate; more like ribbon bows with a stretchy nylon band. They come in different sizes based on your preference for baby, and they come in either headband or clip options. There are also monthly add-ons you can choose to purchase for extra $$$. You have three different purchase options, including monthly, 6 months at a time, or 12 months at a time. The 6 month and 12 month options are a one-time purchase and slightly cheaper, whereas the monthly option can be canceled at any time.
  2. SpearmintLOVE: This is answer #2 to the bows question. The best part about this site is the bows AND clothes for babies and kids. I get most of the larger, oversized bows here (though they do sell and I have gotten the delicate ones too). They are super comfy and super stretchy, especially if you stick with the ones that are actually SpearmintLOVE brand. They have other great brands too, like Baby Bling Bows and L’ovedbaby. We’re big fans of the clothes here too. I love all things ruffle-butt, so their ruffle sleepers are pristine. I’ve also gotten a lot of summer bubbles in crinkle cotton or muslin here too.
  3. L’ovedbaby: Absolutely worth the splurge! Especially if your taste in all things girl is similar to mine. I love the vintage inspiration to most of their collections. Their onesies were staples in the newborn stage for all our kids, and as Tessa has gotten older I’ve become scarily addicted to three of their collections: the Organic Cotton Muslin collection, The Vintage Collection, and the Organic Cotton Pointelle collection. Their bows are adorable too, and we have a few of them, but Tessa’s got a BIG noggin so they tend to be too small on her.
  4. Burt’s Bees Baby: Started with their pjs for all my kids, and I was in heaven when the loose fit ones came out for smaller sizes – no more fighting to get her feet through the tight ankle bands. Best part about their pjs is they get super comfy with time. The more washes, the softer. I’ve also graduated past their pjs, and have gotten a bunch of their clothes to have on hand for more casual outfits. Their 2020 family jammies just came out for pre-order yesterday. I’m loving the Reindeer and O Christmas Tree patterns this year!
  5. H&M: If there’s a single clothing store that I’d have to use to describe my style for Tessa, it’d be this one. They’ve got lots of options and update stock and style often…but if you just scroll through and look at their “Baby Girls 4m-4y” tab you’ll get a great sense for my preferred styles and colors on Tessa. Affordability never hurt anyone either.

First honorable mention goes out to Gap/Old Navy because of their sheer inventory and easy access to staples. I NEVER buy anything full price from these places because they run such great sales so often. And when you don’t feel bad about the price you paid for something, you don’t feel bad when your baby inevitably stains it with poop, food, or dirt. Second honorable mention goes out to Nordstrom because of their selection of other fun brands and styles. There are other pricier brands that I like to splurge on sometimes, and the first place I usually check is Nordstrom. The Nordy Club (rewards program) has substantial enough rewards that it makes it very worthwhile to check here for a certain brand or item first before going directly to the brand’s site.

**Please note, I am NOT employed by the mentioned companies and brands, I’m simply a mom on the internet sharing her opinion.

My bow

I was convinced number 3 would be our third boy. Utterly convinced. Partly because I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person when it comes to certain things. I don’t like to get my hopes up. I prefer this so that I can be pleasantly surprised when life does go my way.

So when we were looking at the genetic testing results, and my husband pointed out, “Look at the thingy, look at the thingy!!!” while jumping up and down ecstatically, I was confused. What thingy? It took me a good 30 seconds to realize he was referring to the gender/sex symbol for female…you know the little stick figure head and body with just arms? And then we had to read it 30934809 times just to be sure our eyes saw it right.

I dreamed of having a mini my whole life, and knowing my husband and I had agreed 3 was our magic number, I had kind of prepared myself for another boy so that my gender disappointment (real thing..look it up!) would be minimal. (DON’T GET ME WRONG! WE WOULD HAVE LOVED A BOY, TOO.)

She literally is my bow. She was the perfect little gift to complete our family, wrapped up and delivered at just the right time.

Side note. I’m also actually obsessed with bows for two reasons:

  1. They’re cute and can make (or break!) an outfit. I usually have one guilty shopping pleasure with all my kids – Dominic had something like 62 pairs of sweatpants in size 6-9 months…don’t ask me why sweatpants were my thing with him. My guilty shopping pleasure with Tessa? BOWS. I’m pretty sure she has over 100. Maybe I’ll count one of these days. And I really hope Mike isn’t reading this post.
  2. I’ve gotten scoffed at before when I talk about my bow obsession – mostly because others sometimes see it as representative of a traditional girly girl. But I believe a girl can wear a bow AND be a strong, compassionate, and independent woman. (And if she doesn’t want to wear a bow at age 2 or 20, she doesn’t have to.)