16 November 2017
Many of you requested June’s wish list or a June gift guide when I asked for your input, so before we get into gift guides proper for 2017, I thought I’d offer up another installment in my Baby Favorites series! Except now it’s a Toddler Favorites series!! (Sniff, sniff!)
Here are a few things June, John, and I have been loving lately, many of which would make great gifts for the toddlers in your life…
— So we don’t actually have a Cozy Coupe, but our neighbors do, and June makes a beeline for it whenever we go outside. Thankfully, they very graciously share!
— Once we outgrew the utensils featured here, we replaced them with this Ikea set. (I bought ours on Amazon since we don’t have an Ikea nearby!)
— June’s aunt and uncle gave her this stroller for Christmas last year, and it’s been a hit ever since! She likes to push stuffed animals around in it, and I like that the design is simple :)
— June wore these shoes pretty much every day this summer. The only downside is that they can kind of start to smell after awhile, but a quick spin in the washer takes care of that!
— June loves to flip through books in her very own chair, a birthday gift from my parents.
— Since switching schools we are now packing a lunch every day, and I couldn’t resist this unicorn thermos!! Too cute!
— We just flew for the first time with our car seat, and this travel bag kept it safe and sound (and clean!).
— We have one of these bento boxes for packing lunches, and I love it! Hoping to get a second one for Christmas so we’re not washing the one we have every single night.
— As June’s legs have gotten longer, car kick mats have become a necessity. These are basic and do the job.
— We haven’t started potty training yet but bought this simple potty to ease her into the idea. She is a big fan of sitting on it, often fully clothed :)
— Once she saw her cousins using water bottles this summer, it was all over for the sippy cups. (For a time — thankfully she’s back to tolerating them!) This colorful bottle satisfies all her big girl dreams.
— Three favorite books in the rotation right now: Peekaboo Wild, Good Night, Gorilla, and Sheep Go to Sleep.
P.S. I will be posting an additional gift guide for kids, including a few items on June’s wish list!
Past family favorites:
The first six weeks
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28 August 2017
I have to say, making these little movies is one of the more brilliant ideas I’ve ever had, truly! The way they capture the mundane moments of our life together is already so precious to me, and I know it will only get more so as the years go on. From the way she wears her hair to the way she runs (those swinging arms!!), to her obsession with smelling flowers and picking up as many things as she can at once, it all changes so fast… And though we don’t necessarily need to mourn the passing of time, I do want to remember: her tousled bedhead first thing in the morning, our camping trips with friends, Target runs, dinners in the backyard, evening walks — everything that makes up our ordinary and beautiful life. Here’s a look, if you’d like to see…
P.S. I have been looking forward to using this song in a video since we found out we were having a girl. It didn’t disappoint :)
June in June: 2017 from Emily Thomas on Vimeo.
The password is JUNE.
She’s my best girl :) And John is just the greatest, yes? xo!
P.S. Volume One
16 June 2017
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I think my parents were and are really good at parenting. I haven’t figured out all of their secrets (yet), but one key seems to be consistency.
My Dad, in particular, had a number of phrases that were on repeat throughout my first 18 years — if I’ve heard them once, truly, I’ve heard them a thousand times. They have shaped the kind of person I am, and will undoubtedly be issuing from my lips a thousand times in the next 18 years as John and I do our best to raise our children. I wanted to share a few of them with you today, in honor of Father’s Day.
Kate and Kim, repeat along with me…
If you’re going to give, give graciously. Let’s start with a particularly hard one to learn :) This meant that it wasn’t enough to simply shove a coloring book across the table at my sister if I begrudgingly agreed to relinquish it; no, I was supposed to politely place it in her hands, ideally with a smile. No bare minimum shortcuts at the Ayer household, much to our dismay while growing up. My Dad taught (and still teaches) me so much about going the extra mile AND doing it with your heart in the right place.
You might not have meant to, but you didn’t try hard enough not to. Again with the heart focus. This phrase would be employed when I’d, perhaps, knock my sister over as I ran past her, then whine, “but I didn’t meeeeeean to” when told to apologize. Again, we weren’t allowed to take the easy out.
Life isn’t fair and You can’t always get what you want. (The latter, usually sung to the tune of the Rolling Stones.) I was under no illusions growing up that everything was always going to go my way. Somehow, my parents were able to balance this blunt reality with a sense of possibility and hope, but I’m thankful I never had the opportunity to be crushed by the realization that the world wasn’t going to bend to my will, because I was reminded of it early and often.
Photo by Tanja Lippert
Steps are our friends. Way before FitBits and Apple Watches became commonplace, my Dad cheerfully expounded on the benefits of getting our bodies moving. He can often be found standing instead of sitting while reading, he’ll never miss a chance to accompany someone on a walk, and it was no surprise to any of us when he rigged himself a standing desk at work. With the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle becoming more and more clear, my Dad was definitely ahead of his time on this one.
Pleases and thank yous aren’t rationed. Simple enough. This was an extremely common catchall reminder that it’s hard to overdo it on politeness and kindness.
Don’t be overly fastidious. As the father of three girls, this was my Dad’s main offensive against raising a gaggle of “girly girls.” We were taught to be unafraid of mud, comfortable with sweat, capable of taking out the trash, and unlikely to leap to the top of a chair when a bug was spotted in the room.
Photo by Nancy Ray
Two wrongs don’t make a right. I bet this is a familiar one to many of you! My Dad always encouraged us to take the high road, to hold to our standards even when others weren’t holding to theirs. This was the basis of integrity in our family.
That’s the price you pay for an active childhood. This was my Dad’s favorite phrase when we came in sniffling from skinned knees. While we crawled up in his lap to be comforted, he was gently reminding us that a few bumps and bruises were a small price to pay for the glory of a childhood spent wild and free in the great outdoors.
Everything in moderation. Longtime readers will know that this is a life maxim of my Dad’s that I have latched onto hook, line, and sinker (mentioned here and here, for starters). In eating habits, in paying off debt, in establishing traditions — pretty much in everything besides my faith — I think it’s healthier, more sustainable, and more enjoyable to stick to a middle road than lurch to an extreme.
There’s nothing like a good Dad, and I’m so glad I have mine. I love you, Dad!!
Friends, I would LOVE to hear: what common phrases did your parents repeat throughout your childhood that have stuck with you?
5 June 2017
My dear friend Kristin (she of the recent baby shower) recently asked for my thoughts on our five must-have baby registry items, as well as five items we wish we hadn’t registered for. I’ve written several posts about our baby favorites (six weeks, five months, eight months, one year, fifteen months), but it was a fun challenge to narrow things down to the absolute essentials! Since Kristin is having twins, I’m sure it feels like extra pressure to choose the right things (times two!), so I was happy to offer a few opinions. Here they are, and I’d love to hear what you think, too!
Five must-have baby registry items:
1. An Ergo. From her fifth day of life to about a year old, June rode in our Ergo 360 several times a week, if not every day. It was our baby wearing apparatus of choice by far – comfortable for both John and I to wear and satisfactory to June. She even rode in it at several photo shoots!
2. A Rock and Play. The Rock and Play has been called baby crack, and I don’t disagree. June slept in this for almost all naps and overnight from birth to about five months, and I credit it with forming solid sleep skills from the start. I was worried that the slight incline and vibration would spoil her for crib sleeping, but when it was time to transition, she did so with nary a peep.
3. Water Wipes. My sisters-in-law recommended these super gentle wipes as being perfect for the first few weeks, but we’ve been using them for 17+ months and are still going strong! I love that they are literally just water and some fruit extracts, and they never pill or tear.
4. Swaddle Me swaddles. After we stopped swaddling June in the hospital blankets, we moved on to the Swaddle Me. I’m not convinced it’s the best option out there, but it’s the best one we found and I’d definitely recommend them! We did have to buy a new one each month because the velcro wore out and she was able to bust free, but they’re priced reasonably enough and work well enough that we were willing to do it.
5. The Ikea high chair. To me, this high chair is pretty much the apex of form, function, and price. It is sleek, not overwhelming in a space, super easy to clean, and $20 (!!!!!). Winner on all fronts. There are lots of cute stores on Etsy (like this one) that sell cushion covers and tray place mats if you want to jazz it up a little, too.
Honorable mentions: Our stroller (we LOVE it, but I think strollers really need to fit your lifestyle and so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend ours to everyone), the Lotus travel crib and bassinet conversion kit (again, LOVE it, but maybe only worth the investment if you travel a lot!), and these cloths (love them, but, well, they’re just cloths :))
Five items we wish we hadn’t registered for:
1. Cold weather gear. We registered for (and received) a fleece bundler, several hats, several mittens, and a fleece car seat cover. We live in North Carolina, for goodness sake! While we did use the hats and mittens, we never needed the bundler or car seat cover even though June was born in the winter. I think they were purchased because they were so darn cute, but I kind of wish I’d prioritized registering for items that we would have used more often.
2. Wubba nub. June never seemed to need a pacifier, so the cute Wubba Nub we registered for and received is still in its packaging. I know tons of folks love these guys, but we clearly could have waited to see if it was necessary instead of registering for one.
3. A kind-of-ugly activity gym. We got this one, which is fine and June liked it, but there are much prettier ones out there! If I had a do-over, I’d definitely go for this Land of Nod one.
4. Velvet hangers. We fold almost all of June’s clothes, so we very rarely use hangers — and when we do, I prefer plastic or wooden, because everything gets stuck on the velvet ones (which I know is the point, but turns out it’s annoying in practice!). Lesson learned: try to decide how you’ll set up the nursery before you register.
5. Diaper pail. When we didn’t receive the pail we’d registered for, we decided to forgo one altogether. All diapers go in our kitchen step trash can, which has worked perfectly for us!
Kristin and I would love to hear your baby must-haves, if you’re a mama!
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