March 25, 2015

First Trip to the Zoo!

First Trip to the Zoo!
Last week I took my little Everett boy on his first field trip to the Atlanta Zoo. I'd like to tell you it was the MOST SPECTACULAR THING EVER. I'd like to tell you that Everett was flabbergasted with joy by the animals and clapped his hands with glee and howled with precious laughter and said his first words in the form of, "Mommy, did you know there are nine subspecies of Giraffes?" (because obviously I think my child will be a science-fact-spouting whiz and somehow I think he would say this in a clipped British accent, too.)

No. Just no.

Everett kind of didn't care about the zoo. He didn't hate it. He was just... indifferent. Couldn't be bothered to lift his head up from it's very relaxed position in the stroller to actually glance at the giraffes. And that wasn't the only unexciting animal, in his book. The toucan didn't thrill him. The flamingos made him sigh and look away. The red panda bored him to tears (literally). And the black bears put him to sleep.

Not an animal lover? We won't go there quite yet. He might have just been sweaty or something.

But I had a blast! I got to hang out with my BFF and walk around and eat zoo snacks (we packed lunches and shared our goodies) and stare in wonder at all the animals caked in Georgia red clay. I got to stand in the sunshine and wear shorts (WHAT!?) and take pictures and ogle at the cherry blossom trees. I got to have GIRL TIME. So so necessary. Everyone needs a BFF to dream with. Thanks for being mine, Trish. Oh, and I got to watch her daughter actually enjoy seeing the animals, which was suuuuuper duper fun. She's obviously at the right age for animal adoration.

Everett will get there.

We hope.
// I'm all, "THE ZOO! THE ZOO! THE ZOO!" and he's like, "I mean... sure.'' //
// Can you not, mom? //
// I mean. //
// Let's eat or something. //
// Or we can just... Zzzz... //
// But I'll keep him. Because THOSE CHEEKS. Nom nom nom. //

Anyone have any advice for when it's appropriate to take a baby to the zoo? Because I didn't think that there was a "too soon" when it comes to exposing kids to educational-ish activities like this. But I'm thinking that I was wrong. I mean, I'm not too sad about it or anything. In fact, this kid is just making me laugh more and more these days because he does not hide his feelings! And I kind of love that about him.But seriously - thoughts on fun "out and about"-type activities for babies? Because the weather is putting a pep in my step and I'm all ears for great outdoor ideas!

Also, Everett's onesie is c/o Lucky Palm Tree and you can find it here.

March 23, 2015

Our Current Reads + a Book Giveaway!

Our Current Reads + a Book Giveaway!
Ah, the joy of opening up a new book.

I am not even going to pretend that I am reading a whole lot these days. I wish I were. I was given Bread and Wine for Christmas, which is excellent thus far, and I've been reading Bringing Up Bebe since before Everett was even born, but honestly? I'll read perhaps two pages a week of something. That sounds incredibly illiterate of me, but that's the truth. This just ain't the season for in-depth reading! I miss it. I miss diving into a great novel, having my mind opened and illuminated to a fresh story, a transformative world. I will live to really read again, but for now, I am enjoying the nightly storytime sessions in the children's book section of our home, AKA, Everett's nursery.

I will often read board books to Everett during the daytime, but when bedtime rolls around, we pull out the lengthier storybooks. Stevie and I take turns doing "voices" for the different characters and I think we might enjoy each other's goofiness more than our child even comprehends. But he laughs (sometimes) and we are all having a good time with it, so you know, there's that.

We love the classics. We have read through the obvious Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss standbys, but lately we've been reading some oldie-but-goodies, like the Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit Collections. We got both of these story sets for Christmas and have been taking our time to get through them because, like I said, we are having so much fun. My "Eeyore" voice is the worst. Stevie's "Rabbit" voice is really the worst. And Everett doesn't always cooperate (he prefers eating the books over reading them). But we pretend that means he has a great appetite for knowledge and adventure and we just keep going.

A Few of our Current Favorite Reads:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Pooh's Library: The Winnie the Pooh Complete Set
- Make Way for Ducklings
- Oh, The Places You'll Go!
- The Complete Peter Rabbit Library
- You Are My Baby: Ocean

If you're anything like us, you enjoy reading these stories to your kiddos, but often get bored reading the same stories over and over again. It's always good to have a new book to dive into! I was recently asked to review the story Homer the Little Stray Cat, written by Pam Laskin, and I am excited to be able to offer two copies of the book as a giveaway!

My take on Homer the Little Stray Cat:
This book makes me really happy because it seems to be set in New York's Upper West Side, a former home of mine. The story follows Homer, a darling adventurous cat who likes to roam the city streets, never looking to settle down in one place. Homer is much like the millennials who are reading the book out loud to their little ones - his heart is ever divided between the joys of wanderlust and the comforts of home. Who can't relate to that? As he simultaneously longs for both, he discovers a love he wasn't sure he was looking for - in the eyes (and arms!) of a sweet boy who needs him, too. Homer is a poignant tale that teaches our littles it's okay to draw strength from the love and support of others. It's the very fuel that propels the discovery of big dreams with wide open hearts!

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter below. The winners will be randomly selected and emailed a week from today, on March 30. Many thanks to Lisa Vanterpool (check out her online magazine Flat8!) for making this giveaway possible :)

Also, a quick reminder that the Lucky Palm Tree $50 gift card giveaway is still going on until the 24th at midnight - if you haven't entered yet, you can do so here! And you can get 20% off "new arrival" items online using the code OYKRISTEN at checkout.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck, sweet readers!

March 20, 2015

Feeling Beautiful.

Feeling Beautiful.
I had this moment.

I was putting Everett to bed. I was alone for the evening, with Stevie out of town for work. We had just finished a tumultuous bath time experience. Someone was very, very tired. Okay, two someones were very very tired, but only one of us could rightfully wail about it.

I sat down in Everett's room, in my little second-hand glider chair, nursing him in silence for what seemed like a long time. He slowly calmed down, drifted into a drowsy lull, and finally, oh so finally, fell asleep in my arms.

A sigh of relief. Success. My glass of wine was awaiting.

But his room was so cozy and so warm, I decided to linger for just a moment longer than usual. I was finally on my own time, and I wanted to take in this little bit of quiet bliss. To breathe. I looked around at this little baby haven we had created. I looked at his sweet bedding, already gently worn in by his raucous sleep behavior. I looked at his books, beautiful stories all carefully curated by treasured friends and family. I looked at the pictures on the wall, all items of grand sentiment to me and to Stevie. This was a lovely, sweet space. Something that took time and effort to create. I loved this moment, this moment to enjoy all the pieces of my son's special room.

I stood up carefully, sure not jostle him too much, and lifted his head into my chest. He murmured a few indistinguishable "wah-ma-ra-ma-wa"s and rustled around a bit, eyes closed, finally opening his mouth widely. And then.


He let out the loudest, milkiest, manliest, most bellowing burp a human baby could possibly summon. I mean loud. Right in my face. I mean like a half an inch from my mouth.

It was a big boy burp. It was like a sumo wrestler burp.

Hooowwwwww did my child just create that noise? I could practically hear an echo! Oh how I wish someone were here to experience this with me! Stevie would have lost it. I was having trouble holding back my laughter, but I didn't want to shake too much and waken him.

I calmly laid my baby boy down in his crib and silently chuckled to myself. What an absolute character I have given birth to. What a riot this boy is. What joy!

As I was witholding the verbal glee, I caught a glance of myself in Everett's bedroom mirror. And for this moment, I felt very very beautiful. Not beautiful because someone told me so, and not beautiful because I was trying to convince myself that I needed to believe it. Just beautiful, in this moment, in this mothering role that has taken me so long to figure out, in this season of life that has stumped me in a thousand ways. But letting all those maniac pressures go, and laughing at my baby son's gigantic burp in his darkly-lit room, I felt this grace of motherhood wash over me so gently, so greatly, and I felt a new kind of beauty. A beauty in the moment and a beauty in myself. I felt a new kind of appreciation for me, for what I have created, fostered, loved, and now, just now, was able to enjoy. It was the kind of beautiful that you don't apologize for. That you don't create some self-deprecating resistance to. It was about time for me to feel beautiful, for my own sake. It's not anyone else's job to convince me of what is mine.

It was a moment of sheer simplicity, yet I felt the impact in the deepest part of my abdomen. Ironically, exactly where my son had occupied for 9 months. I soaked the moment in, smiled to myself, and said a quick prayer of thanks.

As a woman, I shouldn't find these moments so fleeting. I should do a better job of appreciating me and loving me and openly allowing these moments where beauty surprises me with it's easy presence.

What I'm saying is that it shouldn't be a rare occurrence.

And I wanted to take the time to share this little nugget. Because, as women, we can spend a lot of time facilitating our external beauty, but when was the last time you actually, deep down in your bones, felt beautiful? Like, really really relaxed in your own beautiful self? It shouldn't be hard to remember a time like that, but... it's kind of hard, isn't it?

Take a moment for you today. Take as long as you need. Moments are hard to come by, because they are expensive, they cost us time with others and doing other things. But I guarantee that you are worth your own investment. Take your moment and relax really good into it and allow yourself to focus on this truth:

I am so beautiful.
I am lovely and I am strong and I am worthy and I am able.
I don't have to strive for my beauty because I just am.
And my beauty manifests in everything I hold dear.
I am rooted and I am winged, prime for my flight.
I am easily convinced of this truth.
I am because I say I am.

Yes, I am getting a little mushy on you today. But it's really up to you to follow through with the mush. What could it possibly hurt?

March 18, 2015

Baby Registry Picks: Sleeping + a Giveaway with Lucky Palm Tree!

Baby Registry Picks: Sleeping

Baby Registry Picks: Sleeping by oykristen
// 1. Summer Infant Clear Sight Digital Color Video Monitor // 2. HoMedics SS-2000E Sound Machine // 3. Aden & Anais Crib Sheet // 4. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets // 5. Lucky Palm Tree Sleepwear // 6. Halo Sleep Sack // 7. Serena & Lily Sausalito Moses Basket //

Registry Picks: Sleeping
Ah, the continuation of baby gear continues. If you are without a child, you must be thinking, "wait, another one of these roundup things? Hasn't she mentioned enough baby stuff already??" I will go ahead and answer your unsaid question: NO. No I haven't mentioned enough baby gear (you can see my "Feeding" gear here and my "Out and About" gear here.) I haven't mentioned enough because babies require a LOT of stuff and I don't care how "minimalist" you think you are - you need the stuff. I have lived in teeeeeeeensy tiny places in my life (Boston and NYC), and I am totally into living minimally. I really am. But my baby? He is NOT. He needs the stuff to be awesome and content. And I need the stuff to be awesome and sane. So... yeah.

Shall we talk about baby sleep? Lets. I have opinions. Here is a good snapshot of products we have come to love since our experimentation with this fragile thing we call infant sleep.

I am so grateful to have a video monitor. My child is a maverick when it comes to wailing. I mean it. He often sounds like he's writhing in pain while he's "going to sleep", which sounds awful to you, I know. It sounds awful to me, too. But when I've done everything that I know to do, sometimes you just have to "wait it out" for a bit and let the child take his own journey into dream land. Having a video monitor reeeeeally helps that process. I can watch him, eat some popcorn and see that he's totally fine and just needs some alone time to find his rhythm. Rem cycle. Whatnot. Video monitors allow you to spy. Moving on.  

2. HoMedics SS-2000E Sound Machine 
So, we got this device for a baby shower and sort of forgot to use it. But by the time we transitioned our little man into his own room (around 10 weeks), he was in the heavy throws of his colic-ness and I was reminded of this nifty white noise machine. It definitely helped with his sleep, though I will admit that it didn't "cure" the colic. But this is a fantastic machine because it has several different soothing sounds. I sort of want to steal it out of his room so that I can fall asleep to the murmur of the ocean or the jungle or "mother's heartbeat" (which also sounds a little bit like Darth Vader breathing). But I'm kind of too afraid to take it out of his room. For fear of his middle-of-the-night reawakenings. I can't go back to that, people. Can't even. CAN'T.

3. Aden & Anais Crib Sheet 
My baby has nicer sheets than me. I will leave it at that.

4. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets 
Aw, I miss swaddling my little guy. I loved wrapping him up like a little Chipotle burrito in these blankets. These are the best because the muslin really wrapped him tightly in a way that he had some trouble unraveling. He managed to unravel other swaddle blankets, but these? They stumped him. SUCCESS WAS MINE. I ended up purchasing some more of these when he was about 3 weeks old, just because we were going through so many of them. These are so worth the investment! Also, it seemed worthwhile to get the larger size. The ones sold at Target are a tad bit smaller, measuring 44" x 44", whereas most of the versions sold on Amazon are 47" x 47" - and those few inches really make a difference!

5. Lucky Palm Tree Sleepwear 
I was recently introduced to Lucky Palm Tree clothing and I am so hooked. This handmade baby wear is all created out of 100% GOTS organic certified cotton and is printed with non-toxic ink. And the whole organic baby clothing is becoming a big thing, especially for a sleeping baby, because (I had no idea!) how many brands use flame retardants on infant sleepwear! Ew. I can't dress my baby in all-organic all the time (I'm sorry Jessica Alba, I really am), but when he's sleeping, it's nice to know that he isn't breathing in all those gross toxins. And not only is Lucky Palm Tree sleepwear super safe and natural, it is GORGEOUS. Like seriously, seriously a work of babylicious art. The material is thick and supple and the prints are outrageously cute. And guess what - there's a giveaway below! Scroll to the bottom for more pics and details :)

6. Halo Sleep Sack 
We started using this sleep sack the day we stopped swaddling my son. As soon as he learned how to roll over, we couldn't stop him from doing it in his crib. And if I tried to roll him onto his back (because all the pediatricians practically beat you over the head with the "back is best!" jargon), he would wake up and scream. Great job mom. Way to wake a sleeping baby. So we had to stop swaddling him (and stop rolling him onto his back when he preferred sleeping on his belly), and we chose to wrap him in these sleep sacks. They keep him warm and snuggly in a safe way. Of course, now that spring is underway, he probably won't need to sleep in these as much. He's a bit hot-natured. His sweat is cute.

7. Serena & Lily Sausalito Moses Basket 
I really lucked out here. My big sis lent me this Moses basket and it was so so perfect for those first few months that Everett was a tiny tot. We could move it around the house when he was a newborn, so he had a napping spot anywhere that we were. And it's a bigger-sized Moses basket, so we were able to keep him in it for a while, which was a big blessing. A lot of the Moses baskets I checked out were pretty tiny and wouldn't have accommodated him for very long. This one is strong and safe, and as you can see, really really beautiful. Almost like a keepsake AND a baby bed.

And now for that giveaway!

I am honored to be partnering with Lucky Palm Tree to give away a $50 gift card to their online store! This is such a luxurious, quality baby brand that offers parents the gift of clothing their children in organic, American-made works of art. I mean, take a look at these photos of my little man in this gear. He's drooling and I am a little, too.

Everett is wearing the organic Mustache Bodysuit & Hat, C/O Lucky Palm Tree
Enter Below!
I am stoked to gift one of my lucky-duck readers with the opportunity to dress up their child in these super fancy threads! Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter below. And for the next week (until March 25th) Lucky Palm Tree is offering a 20% discount on all "New Arrivals" items to Oy! readers using the code OYKRISTEN. So make sure to visit the Lucky Palm Tree online store and perhaps treat yourself (and your mini-me) to a cheeky little item :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Lucky Palm Tree for sponsoring this giveaway for Oy! readers :)

March 16, 2015

Weekend Things.

Weekend Things.
On Sunday afternoon I sat underneath this Japanese Maple tree in my parents yard and looked up.

It made me think a little bit.

You can choose to look a lot of ways. You can choose to look down at your phone and see all the things you need to do on your iCal, all the people that you compare yourself to on Instagram, or all the time you can waste play Candy Crush. Or you could choose to look around you, and see the many many things you "need" to do - laundry, to-do lists, cleaning, work email, etc. Or you could choose to look up. Look up and notice the sky. Feel the quietly warming air. Notice the birds that are soaring freely above. Notice the Japanese Maple blooming right before your eyes.

It was a little bit of a wake-up call.

I think I'm gonna start looking up more. It's really so very pretty to look up.

A few fun things from the weekend:

It Is Written.
I found out that a blog post I wrote a while ago about Mompetition was quoted in a parenting round-up article by the USA Today Parenting Community! You can see it here (I am #74, haha, it's a small quote in an obviously ginormous article - BUT STILL.)

Everett got a package in the mail from his friend Elias from ALASKA. Well, they haven't exactly met yet, even though they were born on the same day. They're birthday buds. Anyway, he got the raddest toy with his name monogrammed right on it and he hasn't taken it out of his mouth since then. I am officially obsessed with Bannor Toys. Thank you so much!

Burpees with Baby.
A snapshot of my view doing burpees by the lake. Everett kind of smirks at me while I do them, and if I'm not looking at him I'm down on the ground looking at the lake. It's kind of brown. Because, Georgia. PS if anyone has any tips on losing baby weight and getting back into shape, I am all ears! I can't seems to shake off these extra lbs. pooling around my waist, hips and thighs. I know, I know, I had a baby and "things will never be the same", but I've been working hard to get back at it. And at this point, I'm doing all I know to do and my old tricks aren't having quite the same effect that they used to.... thoughts? Hacks??

Spring. We've been waiting for you. Even though you come with the pollen (my solemn foe), you also come with blooms and humidity and saturated colors and I CAN TAKE MY BABY OUTSIDE. Praise report. Because staying cooped up with him is torture for both of us. So thank you, dear spring, for forcing your way upon winter. I welcome your bravery.

Hot Date. Like, Picante.
We went on a date the other night. It wasn't the kind of date where you dress up snazzy and put on perfume. It was more like, the baby is down for the night, hand the monitor over to my mom... and then what? We debated even going, because of the exhaustion. But gosh, we are tired each and every night so that doesn't seem like a good enough reason to crash into bed and binge-watch Netflix AGAIN. So we decided that good southern Mexican food (which Boston and New York could never offer good versions of) sounded so delicious. I have this rule about Mexican food places though. I don't like smelling my purse the next day. So we dressed down into our sweats and went "casual" AKA I didn't brush my hair and I got to pull out my "Jenny from the Block" sweat suit that everyone I know hates. Seriously. But its so comfyyyyy. And anyways I throw everything in to the washing machine the second I get home because I have a crazy nose and can't handle it. But the margarita is so worth it! Also it was my first marg in 18 months. Yes, you read that correctly.

Last week's winner for the Milkmaid Nursing Pillow giveaway has been announced (you can still use the code OYKRISTEN for 15% off on the site!), but there is still a giveaway going on for the Baya Diaper Clutch. Make sure to enter now, it closes Tuesday at midnight!

Have the happiest Monday :) What are you excited about this week?