Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Uppababy Mesa Carseat // Carseat Safety Tips

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of UPPAbaby. The opinions and text are all mine.

I shared yesterday about my favorite baby gear for three kiddos and one of my favorite items is our UPPAbaby MESA infant carseat. It is actually Baby Safety Month and our friends over at UPPAbaby have some great carseat safety tips to help ensure your baby rides safely. I took this carseat safety quiz and was pleased to get nine out of ten correct. I was surprised at how technical using a carseat can be though. There was so much helpful information in the quiz-like did you know that when a carseat is rear facing the harness should be at or below the child's shoulders, but if the carseat is forward facing the harness should be at or above the child's shoulders. I highly recommend taking the quiz, you'd be surprised at how many little mistakes can make your child's carseat unsafe.

We originally chose the MESA carseat because it so easily clicks in and out of our UPPAbaby VISTA stroller. After doing a little more research, we found that the MESA is an incredibly safe carseat and super easy to correctly install. Eric and I were surprised at just how easy it was to safely install the base. According to UPPAbaby's website,

"Our SMARTSecure System combines auto-retracting connectors and a visual indicator that turns from red to green, providing an installation that is both simple and accurate. The MESA maximizes ease to minimize error, which allows parents to move forward with confidence and security."

We chose the Henry fabric which is actually the first naturally fire retardant carseat, eliminating the use of toxic chemicals. It is made from Merino wool, making it incredibly comfortable and practical. It's wicking properties actually help baby stay cool on warm days and warm on cool days. Plus I'll be totally honest and say that I just love the way it looks! It's super sleek and stylish.

Another feature I love about the MESA is that you do not ever have to rethread the harness straps. The headrest and straps move easily as your baby grows, without having to take the carseat apart (and possibly rethread the straps incorrectly). The headrest also has side impact protection. We've already had to move Briar's carseat straps up because he's growing like a weed (and it kinda breaks this mamas heart!!).

If you're looking for an infant carseat, I highly recommend the UPPAbaby MESA. Briar is so comfortable and using the carseat safely and correctly has been a breeze for Eric and I. Here are a few basic rear facing carseat tips, but I strongly recommend thoroughly educating yourself to keep your baby safe!

1. Harness straps at or below child's shoulders.
2. Visible slack removed in straps.
3. Chest clip at armpit level.
4. Unable to pinch a horizontal fold in the harness straps
5. All buckles securely locked.
6. Straps are not twisted, but lay flat.



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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Transitioning from 2 to 3 kiddos // Tips & Tricks for a Smooth Transition

I've only been at this three kid thing for about six weeks so I am in no way an expert!  I have had a ton of questions about how our transition from two to three kids is going so I thought I'd share the little bit of wisdom I've gained so far.  Not everything may be feasible or work for everyone, but I feel like anyone with multiple children could implement some of these tips and tricks.  The things that have surprised me the most about having three kids is that there is NEVER a moment of down time and our laundry has somehow tripled even though we only added one family member (and his clothes are super tiny?!).  With two children, they nap at the same time or one becomes old enough to have some quiet independent time.  You're able to squeeze in little moments of down time here and there.  With three children, you never ever sit down.  There is always someone that needs you or something that needs to be done.  You're busy, really really really busy, but it's a good busy!

Our transition from two to three children has been SO SO SO much easier than our transition from one to two children (read more about that transition here).  I think there are a few reasons that going from two to three kids is easier than going from one to two:

1. You know how to juggle and love more than one kid-you've actually gotten really good at it.  You're also more relaxed as you've come to realize just how hard it would be to break your baby ;).

2. When you bring your second baby home, you feel so guilty not giving your first baby as much attention.  When you bring your third baby home, the first and second babies have each other to play with!  This definitely comes in handy when you're breastfeeding all. day. long.

3. You know more stuff.  By the time you have your third, you've seen it all.  Ok maybe you haven't seen it all, but you do have so much more knowledge about babies.  For example, Phayre (our second baby) had undiagnosed acid reflux for eight weeks.  She screamed constantly which left Eric and I constantly feeling frazzled and lost.  At just one week old, Briar (our third baby) showed signs of reflux.  We took him to the doctor, he was diagnosed, and we had meds in him by that night.  Because of our experience, we were able to quickly figure out the problem and he's been the easiest baby ever since!

4. This one is specific to our situation, but our transition has been so much smoother because Eric worked from home for four weeks after Briar was born.  He had conference calls that took him away for parts of the day, but he was super available to us.  The girls got just as much attention (if not more) than they had gotten before brothers arrival because daddy was home.  Eric didn't get much time off after each of the girls were born which always made me super nervous in those first few weeks.  Even if he has to bank all of his vacation days, ask your husband to be home for as long as he can after baby's arrival!

Tips & Tricks for Transitioning from 2 to 3 Children
(Most of these tips could be used with any number of children though!)

1. Prepare anything and everything you can before babies arrival.  Finish the nursery, make some meals and put them in the freezer, make diaper caddies, etc.  You'll be so thankful your home and family is prepared for baby!

2. Once baby arrives, involve your other children in everything you do with the new baby.  Even if it takes longer or it's not how you'd normally do it or if it ends up being a messy disaster.  Especially for Sloan, being included meant she was spending time with me and helped her be really excited about her new brother.

3. Take all the help you can get.  It takes a village people!  Eric and I don't have a lot of family help, but we have incredible friends who have become family.  Our friends surrounded our little family with so much love and lifted us up after Briar was born.  Between meals, gifts for the girls, coffee runs, and so much more-it just helped us feel so loved and supported as we transitioned to three kids.  Several of my girlfriends came over to give the girls extra hugs and gave them little gifts, this made them feel extra special and loved.  Our church also set up a meal train for us which was a GIANT help.  We had the most delicious hot meals delivered to us from church members for two weeks and I seriously don't know what we would have done without them.

We lost Eric's mom earlier this year and that really rocked our world.  Our friends rallied around us then with love and support and we will forever be grateful.  To be lifted up again just six months later was truly incredible.  We are so thankful for the people in our life who love our children and have become our village.  So my advice is-find your people and love them hard.  Lean on them and let them help you, especially as your family experiences a big change!

4. People haven't offered to help?  Don't be shy and ASK!

5. Embrace your life right now and give yourself some grace!  When I walk into target and get the "Oh, looks like you've got your hands full!" comments,  I am well aware that I look like the ringleader of a tiny person circus.  When Eric gets home and looks around at our disaster of a house and says, "Rough day babe?", I know that I probably didn't win at motherhood that day.  But guess what?  Life may not be perfect and life may be really full right now, but this is the part of my life I have always dreamed of.  I have always wanted to be a mama.  I have always wanted a house full of babies!  So I am embracing this time before it flies by and this part of my life is over.  Find little bits of joy every single day and hang on to them like hell, especially on the hard days.

6. Get down with Elsa and let it go.  You simply cannot do everything you did before and you can't do things exactly the same way as you always have because you don't have enough time.  Let it go and adapt.

7. Allow more time for everything.  You're only adding one family member, but it will take you twice as long to leave the house.  I always try to nurse Briar right before I leave the house and that takes time, I have to potty the girls, put shoes on, and get three little bodies into their carseats.  Bottom line, allow more time for everything so you're not frantic all the time!

8. A load a day keeps the piles away.  Three kids results in so much freaking laundry.  Try to run a load, fold it, and put it away every single day.  Otherwise it will become a mountain before you know it.

9. Wake up before your children.  This can be a hard one, especially when your newborn is waking you up all night to nurse, but it is SO beneficial.  I slept terribly when I was pregnant so I never woke up before the girls did, I needed the extra sleep!  Since having Briar, it's become more important than ever that I set an alarm and get myself ready before the kids wake up.  My girls usually wake up around 7am so I set an alarm for 6am.  I shower, quickly get ready, and start on breakfast.  Once the girls are up I get them dressed, feed them, and nurse Briar before we leave.  This is the only way I can get all four of us to preschool on time and I am so much more productive when I get a shower in and feel somewhat human.

10. Choose everyones clothing and pack your diaper bag the night before.  This has helped us SO much.  I go from room to room choosing everyones clothing before bedtime each night.  I lay out everyones outfit (down to their underwear and bows) on my bedroom floor (I also lay out my clothes).  In the morning it's like an assembly line of dressing kids.  This way I'm not frantically searching for Sloan's left rain boot in the morning!

11. Routine, routine, routine.  Do your best to get your kids on a good daily schedule, this will help your days run much smoother.  I also like having a weekly schedule.  For example, I always grocery shop on Monday mornings while Sloan is at school and I only have two little ones with me.  Our week usually revolves around Sloan's preschool and activity schedule, having a solid routine that we can all count on is so beneficial for all of us.

12. Make the most of nap time.  It is very tempting to sit and zone out or even nap during nap time and if you absolutely need to do those things, do it!  For me, I have to make the most of nap time to help our day run smoothly.  Phayre usually naps for about an hour and a half and Sloan has quiet time in her room during this time.  I either nap Briar in the swing or put him in the wrap and it's go time.  I get the dishes done, get a load of laundry folded, do a quick clean up, and ALWAYS prep dinner.  If I can get dinner prepped during this time, we always have a much better afternoon/evening.

13. Embrace baby wearing.  Didn't wear your baby in a wrap or front pack much before?  Well get good at it, because you're going to need your hands when you have three little ones!

14. Carve out one on one time for each of your children and cherish those moments.  You won't be able to go on solo dates with each of your kids all the time, but squeeze little solo moments in with each of them.  For example, Sloan always wakes up first so I try to cuddle her or chat with her in the mornings.  Every few weeks I try to take her on a little pedicure date and it fills her mama cup right up.  I make sure to have special moments with Phayre while Sloan is at school and she's always so appreciative of the mama time.  I soak those moments up as best I can and try to make each of my babies feel special individually.

15. Take care of yourself.  This is by far the hardest one for me personally.  I give everything I have and more to my babies and that leaves little to nothing left for me most days.  BUT waking up a little early each day to squeeze a shower in, eating well, and sneaking off every few weeks for a quick manicure helps me feel more balanced.  If you're having an exceptionally rough day, put the crying baby down or put your toddlers in front of the tv and take a few moments to yourself.  Take a quick shower or eat a decent lunch-it will help you refocus and get back on track (thank you Lauren for reminding me to do those things when I'm having a hard day!).

The Best Baby Gear for 3

The following conversation is sponsored by UPPAbaby and written by me on behalf of UPPAbaby. The opinions and text are all mine.

I've gotten SO many questions about what car I drive, carseats, and other baby gear.  Here are the items I couldn't live without:

When I was pregnant with Briar I drove an Acura MDX.  I loved that car!  It was barely two years old and had all the bells and whistles.  I decided that I didn't want to get a bigger car and would just do three carseats across.  The girls carseats were too big and bulky to fit three across to we decided to get the Diono Radian RXT carseats for them.  They are so slim and streamlined, but still incredibly plush and comfortable.  Oh and the carseat straps never twist (my biggest complaint with their old carseats)!  They also fold up to be even smaller, perfect for traveling.  If you are looking to do three carseats across, I so so highly recommend the Diono Radian RXT.  And even if you aren't looking to do three carseats across, but are looking for a convertible carseat-check out the Diono carseats.  I wish we would have always had them!

A week after Briar was born, we realized that my car just wasn't big enough for a family of five.  We couldn't really travel anywhere because we didn't have enough space and the girls did not do well sitting next to each other (which is shocking because they usually get along super well?!).  We decided to trade my car in for a bigger car.

After test driving several SUV's, we decided to get a Chevy Suburban.  I have Briar and Phayre in the two captain seats and Sloan sits in the middle in the back row.  Sloan knows how to buckle and unbuckle her top buckle so I just have to reach over Phayre to buckle and unbuckle the bottom buckle.  There is SO much space.  None of the kids can touch each other and I still have a huge trunk space that fits my double stroller and lots more!  At first I felt like I was driving school bus, but now I seriously love it!  It drives much better than I thought it would, I'm so glad we made the switch.

Convertible carseats c/o Diono  /  Infant carseat c/o UPPAbaby

Speaking of my double stroller (pay attention to this part!).  We have the UPPAbaby VISTA and it is hands down my most used baby gear item.  I can actually cart all three kids around with this stroller, an absolute must when you have three kids four and under.  We also have the UPPAbaby MESA infant carseat for Briar and not only do I love the carseat, but I absolutely love how easily it clicks in and out of the VISTA stroller.  We put Briar in his carseat or bassinet (included with the VISTA stroller) on the bottom part of the stroller, Phayre in the stroller seat on the top part of the stroller, and Sloan stands on the piggyback board when she gets tired of walking.  If I am wearing Briar in the wrap and both girls want to sit in the stroller, we attach the rumble seat.  If you have three kids don't mess around with other strollers-the VISTA is where it's at.

Stroller and carseat c/o UPPAbaby.

We chose the MESA carseat (in the Henry fabric) for Briar for a few different reasons.  Mostly because it clicks so easily into our stroller, but also because it's an incredibly safe carseat.  It is super lightweight which is really important for me when I'm trying to carry Briar's carseat and keep track of the girls.  The base is SO easy to install and I can install is correctly in seconds.  He's so comfortable and it has just been such a convenient carseat for us, I so highly recommend it.  Learn more about all of the UPPAbaby products here.

The Solly Baby wrap is another must have item.  My babes fall asleep almost instantly when I put them in the wrap and it gives me two free hands.  This is especially important when you have two more little ones to take care of.  Getting out with three can be hard at first, but the wrap (or front pack if that's what you prefer) makes this much easier.  I put my wrap on at home before we leave-this saves me time once we've reached our destination and it doesn't touch the ground while I'm in the parking lot.  Once I've reached our destination I put Briar in the wrap and that allows me to hold each of the girls hands while we walk through the parking lot.

I hope so much that you found something here helpful!! Let me know if you have any other specific questions!



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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Briar's Birth Story // August 18th, 2017

My sweet little Briar is already a month old so I figure I better write down his birth story before I completely forget!  Time is flying and juggling three little ones leaves me a bit forgetful these days :).

My belly measured about two weeks bigger than it should have very early on.  My doctor thought it would eventually slow down, but it measured big my entire pregnancy.  We assumed this meant Briar would be a big baby so she agreed to induce me at 39 weeks, guessing that he would be close to 9 pounds.  I started having braxton hicks contractions around 37 weeks.  They became stronger and more regular as I approached my due date, but never stuck around long enough to put me into labor.  They also didn't do much, as I made it to my induction date and was only 2 centimeters dilated when I checked in!

I checked into the hospital for my scheduled induction on Thursday, August 17th at 5:00pm.  Sloan had begged and begged to go to the hospital with us so we brought both the girls and dinner with us.  We checked in and ate dinner in my hospital room, our last meal as a family of four!  After we finished eating, the girls were playing on the little bed reserved for dads.  At one point Phayre stood up on the bed and bounced herself right into a table.  She smacked her head right on the edge of the table and it immediately left a giant blue bruise.  I sat with her in my hospital bed and we cried together-she cried because she was in pain and I cried because I just didn't think I could be away from her, even for just a few days.  We both calmed down as soon as my doctor walked in, it was induction time!

Since I was only dilated to a 2 and about 50% effaced, my doctor thought it would be best to insert a foley bulb into my cervix.  It hurt so incredibly bad while she inserted it and continued to hurt way worse than I thought it would.  Within about fifteen minutes, the foley bulb put me right into labor and I was having super painful contractions every 2-3 minutes.  The girls started getting ancy as my contractions became more and more painful so Eric decided to take them home.  He did bath and bedtime with the girls and then came back to the hospital.  My brother and his very sweet girlfriend spent the night at our house with the girls, thank you Dev and Shay!!

Between the discomfort of the foley bulb, the contractions, and needing to pee every four minutes- sleep was pretty much impossible.  I didn't sleep at all, which left way too much time for me to miss my girls.  I cried off and on all night because I was so excited and nervous and anxious and just so damn pregnant and emotional!

At 5:30am my nurse removed the foley bulb and checked me.  I was dilated to a six and 100% effaced.  I was thrilled to have made so much progress and even more excited when my nurse said, "Once your doctor gets here she'll probably break your water and I bet we have a baby by 10am!"  She also said that Briar felt a little high so she wanted me to start walking the halls in hopes of him dropping.

I walked the halls, bounced on a ball, and did squats for a few hours.  My doctor came around 8am and checked me and said that Briar still hadn't dropped into my cervix.  She couldn't break my water until Briar dropped down because his umbilical cord could possibly drop down before he did which would be dangerous.  So I continued walking and bouncing (which really wore me out!).  She also started pitocin in hopes of moving things along a bit faster which really amped up my contractions.

By 10:30am I was dilated to an 8 and seriously worn out from not sleeping and moving around so much.  Briar had started making his way down, but still wasn't where he needed to be.  I asked for an epidural and was so relieved to finally get back in bed to rest.  My epidural hurt SO BAD which was not the case with either of my girls.  I tried so hard to be brave, but tears streamed down my face.  Luckily it was quick though and I was able to lay down and get comfortable right away.

At 11:30am I felt something warm and told my nurse that I thought my water had broke.  She checked it out and said that it wasn't a ton of fluid so she thought maybe I had actually peed myself.  I told her I was positive it wasn't pee!  About five minutes later (while I was still talking to my nurse), my water broke for sure and gushed everywhere.  I was so worn out-I was shaking and shivering and getting anxious to meet our boy.

My doctor came on her lunch around noon and checked me.  I was dilated to a 9.5, but she could feel another bag of waters so she broke it and it gushed everywhere all over again.  She said she was going to go eat her lunch and come back in hopes that I'd be at a 10.

A little before 12:30pm my doctor came back and I was dilated to a 10!  I started pushing and my water broke for the third time!  Fluid went everywhere and my nurse said she had never seen someone with so much amniotic fluid!  I pushed for about an hour and just started bawling my eyes out.  My epidural wasn't strong enough so I was feeling a lot of pain, I was so exhausted, and really just beyond anxious to meet our boy.  Eric, my nurse, and my doctor cheered me on and about twenty minutes later, at 1:50pm on August 18th, 2017, Briar Calloway Brown was born.

They laid him right on my chest and rubbed him with towels and suctioned some fluid out of his mouth and within seconds we heard his big ol' cry.  He opened his eyes and looked around and I bawled my eyes out as I felt the weight of him on my chest.  I was so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude that he was finally here.  I finally got to meet our boy!!!  He was seven pounds six ounces, 20.5 inches long, had a bit of blondish brown hair, deep blue eyes, and was absolute perfection.  I fell head over heels in love with him the moment I laid eyes on him.

I didn't tear or need an episiotomy which led to a really fast recovery for me.  He was much smaller than we thought he was going to be, but the excessive amounts of amniotic fluid explains why my belly measured so big!  My labor with Briar was about as long as my labor with Sloan and much much longer than my labor with Phayre.  I pushed much longer with Briar than I did with either of the girls though (I pushed for about 40 minutes with Sloan and only pushed four times with Phayre).  Since Phayre's labor and delivery had been so easy, I honestly expected my labor and delivery to be even easier with Briar.  I don't think I was as mentally prepared as I could have or should have been... probably why I was so emotional.

My labor and delivery were hard, but my doctor and nurses were just incredible.  My doctor has delivered all three of my babies and that feels so special.  I'm so thankful for her and her care!  The nurse who labored with me all day and helped deliver Briar actually goes to our church.  She was AMAZING and took such good care of us.  She even brought us a meal the week after B was born and then sent us a card with Briar's footprints on it.  I just adore her and kinda hope we end up being best friends someday :).

My brother and his girlfriend brought the girls to the hospital and seeing their reactions to their tiny baby brother was just incredible.  Sloan immediately ran to my side and Phayre started singing happy birthday as soon as she spotted Briar (it was SO cute!!).  The girls took turns holding Briar and then we gave them some gifts from their new brother.  I was so exhausted, but it was truly magical seeing my family of five all together.  My mom brought happy birthday cupcakes and it truly felt like a celebration in our little hospital room.

We have all fallen so deeply in love with our sweet Briar man.  I haven't stopped squeezing and cuddling him since they laid him on my chest a month ago.  The girls are constantly waking him up with their kisses or fighting over holding him.  He has fit so seamlessly into our family and for that I am so grateful.  I've said it before, but it's just so true-Life is crazy and full, but it is truly better than ever!



Getting ready to leave for the hospital!

And a few snaps from the hospital...

The only photo I got of Briar in his going home outfit... he must not have liked the outfit?! ;)

You might also like Briar's Fresh 48 Photos.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Briar's Newborn Photos

I'm pretty sure we took these photos yesterday, but when I look at the date it says it was actually a month ago (insert bawling face emoji here).  Briar is officially one month old today so I figured it's about time I finally share his newborn photos.  So rude of me to be keeping them to myself for so long ;)!  Briar was exactly one week old when we took his newborn photos.  We decided to do a really simple and low key session in our home and I am so happy with how they turned out!  Of course my very talented friend Lindsey Wiatt took the photos-I am so grateful that she always captures our most important moments!

I know I'm biased, but I think Briar is such a beautiful newborn.  It doesn't hurt that he is such a sweet baby!  Goodness I love our boy so much.

I hope you enjoy a peek at his newborn photos!

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