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    Hollar: family of 4 + Favorite baby items

    Here we are, one month in with our new bundle and a new family of 4. It’s hard to believe that back in 2006 I said I would never date this man.  I spent the next 6 months wrestling with myself about it until he finally won me over in May of 2007. Then we blinked and we had 2 kids! I remember the first time around feeling so very clueless and being so thankful for the few of my friends who had already done it. I texted them about everything. There’s just so much out there and so many decisions to make! This second time around has felt so much better, less questions and more comfortability. I am more confident in who I am as a mom and Julian is more confident in who he is as a dad (…at least with a newborn…we still have no idea what we are doing with Margot.)  I remember about a week into having Lainey home thinking it felt like a vacation. Julian had been home from work and his mom came in town to help. One afternoon we were in the back yard- Jules smoking a brisket, Margot jumping and playing with her Mammy, Lainey dreaming about milk (I mean, probably), and me thinking to myself, “surely this isn’t real,” because I never imagined bringing a second child home could feel so simple. Not necessarily easy because it’s never easy to wake up at 12am, 3am, and again at 6am… but simple as though we knew no different than a life as 4 – it all came so naturally. I know there is chaos to come and difficult days are inevitable but I sure am thankful for the ones that feel so perfect. Lainey came into the world quiet and cuddly on October 30th weight 5lb 5oz. and we have loved getting to know her. Margot has been obsessed with her new sister, to say the very least.

    With Lainey I realized how many things you forget between kids! So I figured while I’m in the middle of to all I should list out some baby things that have become my favorites. From carriers to nursing bras and everything in between; scroll down to see it all. Feel free to contact me with any questions because chances are pretty high I’ve either researched it, tried it, or know someone who owns it!

    Photos taken by Kate Keating

    Strollers:

    Uppababy Vista– I just got the vista when Lainey came around and I am obsessed. 100% the best stroller out there. Pricey, yes, but if you get it for the first kid it can last you throughout all kids. We are loving the bassinet attachment for Lainey bug, I have always hated strapping a newborn into things so I love that she can just lay in there. I love that the seats can face both in and out. Margot, my child who has been protesting her old outward facing stroller since about 20 months, has really been enjoying facing me and chatting! No protesting! It has an excellent amount of undercarriage storage and is beautiful to look at – especially with those new leather handle covers! Lastly, we are loving the piggy back attachment (it’s basically a little skateboard that attaches for toddlers and older kids) Margot likes to ride on it, hold on to the handle, and “push Lainey”, which is precious. **Money saving idea: the bassinet is approved for nighttime sleep and is very breathable. You can buy a stand for it, so, rather than getting another bassinet on top of all the stuff you have to buy – you can just use this one** We have also used it for traveling and just put the bassinet on the stroller in our room.

    Bob – This guy can’t be beat when it comes to running. It IS heavy an it IS wide BUT when it comes to jogging or hiking it’s the easiest ride.

    Yoyo by Babyzen – Ok, I don’t have this one but when we went to France I discovered it because EVERYONE in Paris has it. It is definitely the best travel stroller/ umbrella stroller and I wish I had known about it sooner. It folds up so tiny and even fits in the over head space in the air plane!

    Diaper Bag:

    Biggest advice here: get a diaper bag with a backpack option. You already have your hands full with a little one and I have found that adding a bag to my shoulder only complicates things. These are my two favorite ones:

    Freshly Picked – They JUST came out with a diaper bag and it’s pretty great. I have had mine for a few weeks now and have zero complaints. Vegan leather which is totally wipeable and easy to clean, so much storage, pretty design, and interchangeable strap options.

    Fawn Design – I have always liked their bags. The basics of the bag are similar to theFreshly Picked bags it’s just personal preference to which bag suits you.

    Bassinet:

    Baby Bjorn – This is a topic I’m pretty passionate about and I really think thesis the best bassinet out there. As a new mama the last thing you need is another thing to worry about and the mesh siding on this basinet is such a peace of mind because you don’t have to worry about baby rolling into the siding and being unable to breath. When you’re already limited to a few hour increments  of sleep the last thing you need is to lie awake worried about your baby’s safety! I also love the bouncy feet it stands on, safer than rocking feet but still allows you to easily bounce baby while you are eating, lying in bed, working, etc…

    Travel Crib:

    Lotus travel crib by Guava  – We have loved our Lotus crib. Margot was on about 15 airplanes by the time she was 1. Yes, we are crazy people. This crib got us through all of it. It packs up into a backpack carrying bag, it can fit in overhead storage, it has mesh siding, and is super easy to set up and take down.

    Baby Carriers:

    Wildbird – I have been loving this sling with Lainey. I had a different carrier for Margot but the Wildbird sling is so much simpler than any other I have tried. Super quick in and out and it feels really secure. I also love all of their colors and patters and baby just looks so cute nuzzeled up against your chest.  🙂

    Ergo 360 – This one is best for activities like hiking or when baby wants to face out or go on your back.

    Nursing Covers:

    Covered Goods OR Milk Snob – I honestly don’t know what the difference is between the two besides patterns. I have two of the Covered Goods ones and I have friends who have the Milk Snob ones, they’re all great. Full coverage so you don’t have to worry about baby kicking the cover around and flashing someone while nursing in public, they are super stretchy and take up minimal space in a diaper bag. They also double as a car seat cover for naps or keeping baby in the shade during those first 6 months.

    Swaddles: 

    Solly – I LOVE these swaddles. They are super stretchy, buttery soft and not too bulky. Since they are so thin they are also a great little blanket to throw in the diaper bag without taking up too much space.

    Little Unicorn – They are my favorite when it comes to designs. The bamboo fabric is soft (not solly soft, but nice). The fabric is similar to any other swaddle cloth out there but the designes can’t be beat!

    Nursing Bras:

    NOTE: it was recommended to me at a nursing class I took when I was pregnant with margot to hold off on underwire nursing bras until your milk regulates, so about a 3-4 weeks postpartum you could start using them. The reason for this is that you don’t want the wire to inhibit milk flow,  leading to more clogged ducts and risk of mastitis.

    Third Love – I have been wearing their bras for a while now because they are the comfiest and so well fitted. I was THRILLED when they came out with their nursing bras. They have an underwire nursing bra and a wireless option as well. The cups have the normal clip down feature and they fold down so easily with minimal bulk around the breast while feeding.  It also has a front closure if you need to completely open up to feed.

    Motherhood maternity clip-down – This exact one is just an option, but any spandex-y clip down bra is a must. These bras are excellent for sleeping in (especially in the beginning when you’re prone to leaking) and just a basic everyday comfy easy to use nursing bra.

    ** I also suggest getting some of the reusable nursing pads . They are so much softer and more comfortable than the disposable ones and easy to throw in the washing machine. Plus the disposable ones always make me think of that waterproof pad thing you have to sit on during delivery after your water breaks..

    Crib Mattress:

    Lullaby Earth 2 stage mattress: I don’t have much to compare our mattress to because its the only one we have ever had but I do like it. Here are the points that initially sold me on it: It is fully waterproofed and has a firmer side for infants and a softer side for toddlers. It’s pretty lightweight which makes sheet changing easier. Probably the biggest selling point though was that it meets all regulation standards without any of the weird chemicals. According to it’s website, “Lullaby Earth crib mattresses pass all government flammability standards without any flame retardants or chemical barriers and are made without polyurethane foam and questionable materials such as vinyl, PVC, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), formaldehyde, and more.” … so that seemed good to me. 🙂 It’s also held up well, Margot used it for 2 years and its still in great condition for Lainey. This link it to the brand website but you can buy it at most baby stores.

    Crib Sheets:

    Little Unicorn – Again, the designs are so sweet, but also, their brushed cotton muslin fabric for the crib sheets is sooooo soft and cozy.

    Additional  Items:

    Poppy Lane & Co baby bracelets – Precious little baby bracelets. They are all real metal and stones so no flaking paint even if baby sucks on it. They also have adult sizes so anyone, especially mama and sisters, can match baby. Seriously the cutest!

    Ryan & Rose Cutie Clips – Cute not overly baby-ish paci clips. We used these NON STOP with my paci obsessed Margot. Especially once she got older and could take them out and put them in herself. It keeps mom and dad from having to bend over 100 times to get it and gave her the ability to grab it herself. Also it kept her from dropping it in the car and me having to endure the rest of the car ride with a crying baby who couldn’t find her paci! They can also be used to attach teethers, toys or just about anything.

    Changing pad liner – These are a necessity for me. 1) they keep the changing pad from getting pooped and peed on so you don’t have to change it / wash it so often. 2) I keep one in just about every room in the house in a little basket with a couple diapers and some wipes. That way I don’t have to jump up and go into the nursery to change her diaper each time (like, every 10 minutes).

    Baby Wise – This is a scheduling technique that (hopefully) allows you baby to seemlessly start sleeping through the night on his own. I followed it with Margot and the first time she slept through the night (10pm-6am) was at 10 weeks old. From there she was sleeping 11/11.5 hours around 12 weeks. I am using it with Lainey also and she is sleeping really well! We’re only 4 weeks in so I can’t get more than a 4-5 hour stretch out of her but, hey, I’ll take it!

    Moms on Call – They also offer some sleeping tips but this book is just great for all questions you might have with regards to your first child. It’s kind of like having an older nurse friend who’s already raised 8 kids and is available to you at all hours of the day.

    Bobux baby slippers – I just got these for Lainey girl, the leather is silky soft and the shearling is so cozy!

    Lush massage bar – Someone gave this to me as a gift before Lainey was born and it ended up being a game changer. I produced a lot more milk this time around and my breasts were soooo sore. I got several clogged ducts and I would bring this bar with me in the shower, it melts on your skin and makes massaging those ducts out so much easier. Plus – you have a great excuse to ask husband, friend, whoever for a massage later on.

     

    That’s about it from me! I intentionally didn’t include car seats in here because we had the Chicco Key fit, it gets the job done but I think there are some other options out there that are just as easy to click in but have better features and design.

     

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    Food & Drink

    Rosemary Pear Mocktail + Party Recipe Printable

    The days of ordering cocktails are so close I can almost taste them! I really love mixed drinks…I love the originality of them, I love garnishing them, making them look beautiful, and I just love holding them. They add such an air of elegance. I imagine Jay Gatsby had amazing craft cocktails at his parties, with hand cut ice cubes you could see through and no one was asking anyone if they wanted “white or red?”. This is why, for me, being able to have an occasional glass of wine over the course of 9 months doesn’t always cut it. Yes, it goes marvelously with a cheese plate and there’s certainly a place in my heart for that but it just LOOKS kind of boring, especially at a party. While I’m not cutting my own perfectly clear ice cubes over here I did find a solution! This Pear Rosemary mocktail fits the bill wonderfully. It’s sweet enough but the ginger beer allows for a spice that kind of mimics the kick of liquor – it’s not overwhelmingly too sweet and most importantly – it’s garnishable!

    This recipe is also a great baby shower beverage option. I’ve used it multiple times and will add a bottle of champagne next to the mix just in case our not pregnant friends want to really get wild and add a bit on top. The easiest way to execute it for a party is mix the simple syrup, lemon juice and pear juice as the mixer, keep the ginger beer on the side and let people make their own. I’ll also add a plate of sugar and a small bowl of lemon juice to the side so people can sugar the rim.

    It’s great because it adds a fun activity to the party that doesn’t feel cheesy or forced.

    To make things extra festive I have a downloadable sign below that you can print out and add next to the set up so people know what to do. There are two versions – one with the option of a wine floater and one that
    keeps it simple (no wine option).

    For a single drink:

    sugar for the rim

    lemon wedges to rugar rim

    2 Tbs lemon juice

    4 Tbs pear juice

    1 Tbs Rosemary Simple Syrup

    6 Tbs ginger beer

    Rosemary and Pear slices to garnish

    To make the rosemary simple syrup: put equal parts sugar and water in a pot with a few sprigs of rosemary on medium heat. Stir occasionally and allow the sugar to melt. Once the sugar has melted, turn off heat and let the rosemary infuse until syrup has cooled.

    For a party you can easily multiply it out but heres a starting point

    To make the mixer for approx 40 beverages (15-20 people):

    5 cups lemon juice

    10 cups pear juice

    2.5 cups rosemary simple syrup

    ** generally I will start with the lemon juice, add about 8 cups of pear juice and taste it from there. depending on what brands you buy and personal taste, the ratio may be different**

    **for big batches like this I usually buy the lemon juice rather than squeezing dozens of lemons but that’s up to you!”

    Party Mocktail Station Set Up:

    Recipe print out

    Mixer in a pitcher

    Bottles of ginger beer (I usually assume 3-4 drinks can be made per bottle if you are using cocktail glasses or the small clear plastic disposable cups for a party)

    Bowl of lemon juice for the rim

    ** depending on the size of the party you could also leave lemon wedges to use instead of dipping the rim in lemon juice**

    Small plate with sugar for the rim

    Ice bucket

    Extra rosemary and pear slices for garnishing

    And thats about it! Obviously it’s also a huge crowd pleaser among the kids…Margot was so excited about it while I was taking photos I had to give her a taste…for about 2 seconds…until she almost dropped my favorite cocktail glass that isn’t made anymore…But let me tell you, she LOVED it.

     

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    DIY, Family, Home

    Margot’s Playset!

    When we first moved into our house we knew that having a playset for Margot was a huge priority. Especially with me being pregnant, I don’t always have energy to get to the park and I don’t foresee that changing when the newborn comes along! I scoured the internet and pinterest for playsets but I kept finding that the only ones I really liked were custom built. We played out the logistics of building our own playset but when it came down to it, it just wasn’t really worth it for us. Julian is pretty good at building things but between weatherproofing all the wood first, planning out a design, cutting all the pieces just right, etc; it didn’t seem easily feasible (and we didn’t want this to be a project going on for months). Next we looked further into the pre-fab options that I liked… and all I can say is; holy cow, I had no idea how much a playset could cost! So, he told me that if I could find a pre-fab playset that I liked that was a reasonable price, we could customize it however I wanted. As it turns out that was a great idea! it was a total win/win for everyone including our pocketbook! I also had a lot of fun planning out changes I wanted to make and seeing them make such a big difference! It ended up looking more like a play house than an actual play set which I really love! . I have had a lot of questions about it so I thought I’d do a quick post with the details and changes we made 🙂

    Don’t mind the avocado stain on her shirt and dirt all over her knees…she’s a messy kid.

    This is the playset we used

    Online they have it listed for $1299.99 but in the store they were selling it for $999. So definitly worth looking into getting it at your local store.

    • We didn’t instal the front slide. This was mainly began as space issue rather than a problem with it aesthetically, however I really ended up liking how it looks more like a little house. -We then blocked off the opening with extra wood we had, it doesn’t matter if the wood matches if you are going to be painting it anyway.
    • The most obvious alteration: We painted it white – Julian and his dad used a paint sprayer to make it a bit easier and we painted everything except the door.
    • We Removed all of the green window accents and added wood crossbeams to the large upstairs window and the opening where the slide would have been. I stained them to match the door.
    • I changed the door handle to a more modern gold handle that I had left over from our kitchen cabinet remodel.
    • Spray painted the bell gold and moved to to the side of the door instead of on top.
    • Didn’t install the A-frame molding about the door or the flags above the slide- I still have a plan to put a real flag on there but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
    • One of my favorite changes that we made was moving the grill set to the side. We thought it would be more fun (since the slide was gone) to use the spot the grill was supposed to go as a serving station/open window.
      • To do that we cut a 1×8 piece of wood to fit and used shelf brackets under to hold it in place. I had some marble contact paper on hand so I jazzed up the shelf with that. It seems to be fairing well even with the sprinklers! (More photos below)

    • Since our playset backs right up to some bushes (with just enough room to climb) I wasn’t all that concerned with aesthetics of the rock wall BUT if yours was in the middle of the yard and you wanted something other than the green, yellow, and red ones it comes with, you could look into getting some better looking climbing rocks, I know they sell grey ones etc. Just another idea!
    • Because of my obsession with plants I planted some vines at each corner – my hope is that it will eventually look like a magical fairytale forrest tree house. But thats still TBD. I also hung a little airplant at the “serving area” just by screwing in a hook.
    • Instead of putting the hanging bar between the swings we put our baby swing, which would only be a necessary change if you have a baby, of course.
    • Lastly, I made the upstairs fun by adding some bunting along the top, an outdoor rug and some pillows.
    • I looked into painting the slide so it wasn’t yellow but came up with no good ideas so yellow it is! I actually ended up kind of liking the pop of color but would still be open to something more mellow like a grey…If you come across any options that don’t involve buying a whole new slide- let me know 🙂

    And that’s it! The painting was a labor of love but most of those customizations were really easy and didn’t require a ton of effort. If you guys are putting it together yourself definitely plan on needing a couple or 3 days to get the whole job done – but you can do it!

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