Operation Containment

When Jack was a newborn, I wrote a post about the products that were essential to everyday life with an infant. Naturally, my list of favorite products today is different than it was six months ago. Over the past eight months, my once immobile baby boy has evolved into a curious, active little guy, and I need an entirely different product arsenal to conquer life with my (almost) toddler.

One of the most essential products during the first few months of Jack’s life was the swaddle. I only wish I could zip Jack up in a Woombie (my swaddle of choice) now. You see, Jack’s new nightly routine involves waking up around two in the morning sitting straight up, startled to find himself in such a position. Though he can easily maneuver from sitting to lying down during the day, it would take an act of God for him to figure it out at night. I don’t get it (clearly he doesn’t either).

When we’ve tried to help J out he becomes quite agitated, which makes it almost impossible to soothe him back to sleep. I suppose this is one of those reasons parents pass on the video baby monitors… I would have no idea he was sitting up-right, half asleep, swaying around like a drunkard had we registered for your standard, run of the mill monitor.

Last night he simply gave up, leaned forward as far as he could, and slept with his head between his legs in a pike-like position. It looked something like this…


Poor little guy.

Anyway, this is my small list of must have products for my older (*tear*) baby boy. For the most part these products revolve around one thing alone… Containment. Welcome to early toddlerhood.



1. Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Explorer Walker

My MIL gave us this walker for Christmas. At first, Jack didn’t show much interest in it, however, he was singing a different tune when he realized that he can in fact make it move, and rather quickly too. Now the dogs and I spend our afternoons dodging the baby who can achieve surprisingly high speeds in this activity center on wheels. And although I cannot get anything done with Baby J in the walker, he absolutely loves it, and that’s a win in my book. If only the walker came with rubber bumpers…

Buy the walker here.     $44.99 (currently on sale at Target!)



2. Superyard XT Play Gate

Aside from moving a few lamps out of Jack’s way, we have not baby-proofed the house yet, so this pen is essential in our home. Jack loves playing in his “super yard” (glorified cage?), and I love that I can vacuum the house (in theory, at least) without worrying about him.

Even better, this “super yard” doubles as a dog pen. Maybe now the maid won’t shut the poor pups in the bathroom while she cleans the house.

Buy the super yard here.     $59.99




3. Diaper Clutch

These days I find myself shoving a diaper and a packet of wipes in my purse when we are headed out with the baby. I’ve realized that I don’t need quite as much equipment as I did when Jack was an infant. This diaper clutch is the perfect substitute for a bulky diaper bag as your baby grows out of the infancy stage. And it doesn’t hurt that it is absolutely adorable… I would carry this clutch with or without a baby in tow.

Buy the diaper clutch here.     $29.99


4. Shopping Cart Safety Harness


*not Baby Jack pictured above*

Gone are the days of wearing my sleeping (screaming) baby around the grocery store. These days, he’s riding in the cart like a big boy, and he couldn’t be happier. Like his daddy, Jack is a people watcher, so the grocery store is naturally one of his favorite places to go.  Especially the grocery store in my neighborhood… Have you ever heard the slogan Keep Austin Weird? Let’s just say we’re keepin’ it weird at my neighborhood HEB, and Jack throughly enjoys the weekly spectacle.


This harness is the perfect solution to squirmy babies looking to wiggle their way out of a shopping cart. Did you know that over 24,200 children are hospitalized
each year due to shopping cart accidents? I didn’t either until I visited this etsy listing in search of a solution to my grocery cart woes. Don’t be a statistic. Buy a harness today.

Buy the shopping cart safety harness here.      $19.99

5. Portable High Chair- phil&teds red lobster chair


I first discovered the portable high chair at a local pizza joint, and I was hooked immediately. I love how you can attach the chair to any table making your little one a part of the group. When my husband questioned the necessity of this product, I reminded him of the 48 hours I spent bringing Baby J into this world…

Worked like a charm.

Buy the chair here.     $79.99

Are there any must have products you recommend for an older baby? Maybe products designed especially for summertime? If so, do share, as I’m always looking for an excuse to shop!




Spring Fever

Things are looking up in the A-family household. I’m getting closer to my pre-baby weight (not counting Monday mornings, of course- Hello weekend fooder*), Jack is paid-off at long last, and it’s the first official day of spring! Ice days are a thing of the past, and it’s time to leave the drab colors of winter behind.

Motivated by the changing season, I spent at least an hour last night perusing the internet- more specifically JCrew and Carters- for spring fashion inspiration, longing to drop a significant chunk of change on new clothes for both Jack and myself. Thankfully, my computer ran out of juice before I had the chance to purchase anything, as pay day is four lonnnng days away, and my funds are already whittled down to almost nil. I have online shopping baskets filled to the brim with outfits that I will probably never buy. Sigh.

I don’t know why I spend more money than is absolutely necessary on Jack’s wardrobe. The kid is eight-months old. He spends his day in a house with other children who have no concept of “cute”. On a good day, he ends up with spaghetti sauce all over his shirt (side note- He is finally eating solids. Hallelujah!). On a bad day, well, use your imagination. Despite the fact that J won’t even be able to wear these clothes in a few months, I simply cannot help myself. When I finally pick him up after an exhausting day at work, seeing my happy little nugget in an outfit that I love makes my day. And can you really put a price on that? I think not.

While browsing online last night, I made a visit to zulilly.com and stumbled upon a charming line of diaper bags and accessories. The brand is called Caught Ya Lookin’, and the bags will be on sale for two more days. This amazing find then inspired me to search for other diaper bags, not that I need another one or have anything better to do with my time… At this point, there’s not much I wouldn’t do to avoid the mound of papers I meant to grade over Spring Break. Whoops.

These are my favorite diaper bags right now. Clearly, I am a sucker for all things preppy, striped, nautical, and/or bright. I actually own the first Pottery Barn Kids diaper bag, but in a different color scheme (and sporting a lovely red wine stain- go figure). Click the bags for purchasing information. Happy Spring!

*fooder- an eating frenzy of sorts


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Baby Brain

Before I had a baby, I would roll my eyes at coworkers and friends blaming their forgetfulness and general stupidity on “baby brain.” If there is ever a time for excuses, pregnancy is certainly it. But after the baby is born and the first few months pass, I thought it was time to retire the new mother card.

The baby is born and your maternity leave is over… Pull your s**t together, I thought to myself…

To all of you other skeptics out there, I am living and breathing proof that baby brain does in fact exist. Since having Baby J, I am not only dumber, but clumsier and more forgetful, too. I literally cannot remember anything.

It has become a running joke in my fourth grade class.

Last week I informed my students that I would be creating their homework for the week instead of pulling it from resources we already have.

Their response?

“So we should expect mistakes, right?”

My response?


I truly hope that my students don’t go home and tell their parents what a complete airhead they have for a teacher. Prior to every lesson I walk around in circles searching desperately for my book, papers, and/or handouts that I have somehow misplaced in the span of sixty seconds or less.

I often stand in front of the class waving papers in the air for everyone to see.

“Boys and girls? See these science notes that I am holding in my hand? I am putting them in my file cabinet. Does everyone see where I am putting them? Say it with me now. The science notes are in the file cabinet.”

My students are kind enough to leave Post-it notes all over the classroom for me.

Email my mom about homework.

Print an extra field trip permission slip.

Today is Tuesday.

And the dumb factor is way worse than the forgetfulness factor.

I make a ton of academic errors in class now, especially when it comes to math. I happen to teach the accelerated math class (how that happened I will never know), and the students are more than happy to point out my mistakes.

“Yes, I know that the answer is 24 and not 32, Caroline. I was just testing y’all to make sure that everyone is paying attention.”

My darling little students love to count how many “epic fails” (their term, not mine) I make in one day.

“How many epic fails do you think you will have today, Mrs. A?” they taunt. 

They also like to encourage me with treats. For example, if I have a day free of “epic fails,” they may bring me a bag of Goldfish crackers the next day as a reward.

This is what my professional career has been reduced to since having a baby.

And it’s no better at home.

I put clothes in the dryer and walk away without ever hitting the start button.

I dial a phone number and panic when the phone starts ringing, as I have no clue who I am actually calling.

I pull up to the grocery store on Sunday afternoon and wonder, “Have I brushed my teeth today?” For the life of me I can’t remember.

I leave for work with two different shoes on.

The list goes on and on.

Thank God it is Spring Break and I have some time to recharge. Maybe a little time off is just what the doctor ordered, because you know, the sixteen weeks I’ve already had off this year (maternity leave, holidays, & ice days) have clearly not been enough.

On another note, J’s six month pictures are finally here.



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I meant to post them last week, but I totally forgot.

The Epiphany

The baby is screaming.

The dogs are frenzied.

The house alarm is blaring.

I need a cocktail.

This is how my evening unfolds after picking Baby J up from his childcare each day. I park my car, unlock the back gate, and marvel as complete chaos unfolds before my eyes, as if I am watching it for the very first time.

I’ve been struggling to balance my life as a teacher and my life as a mother and wife since returning to school in November. When I get home from work, I feel an enormous amount of pressure to maximize my time with sweet Jack. We need to play and snuggle and sing and talk. After all, that is what he does at his in-home daycare every day. If I don’t interact with him as they do, will he favor them over me?

So we get home, and despite my urge to collapse on the couch and zone out to E! News, I somehow muster up the energy to engage with my baby. It’s not that I don’t want to; I absolutely do. But because I have been engaging with a classroom full of ten-year-olds all day, I’m running on fumes.

I had an epiphany this week… Why I am trying to force Jack to play when he is just as tired as I am? Whether it’s exercise, couch-time, or a few minutes of solitude, everyone needs a chance to decompress after a long day, babies included. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner?

Wednesday afternoon was one of the best days I have had with Jack since my maternity leave ended, as I made a few minor adjustments to our regular routine that turned out to be quite profound. First of all, I placed Jack in his Snug-a-Bunny bouncer where he was able to drink a bottle while relaxing to soothing vibrations and peaceful melodies. During this time, I loaded/unloaded the dishwasher. When J finished his bottle, I didn’t rush to move him elsewhere to prevent potential boredom. Instead, I allowed him to just be.

The result? A happy baby who proceeded to babble away for the next half hour or so.

After dishes, it was on to the laundry. J’s clothes had occupied the dryer for the better half of a week, and I was tired of digging through the load each morning to find a pair of matching socks or a clean onesie to lay out for my husband- And no, my husband does not wear onesies. He was relieved of all wardrobe duties after several failed attempts of dressing the baby on his own.

While I sorted Jack’s folded laundry and put it away in his dresser, he relaxed in the MamaROO, which he seems to enjoy more now than he did as a newborn. I plugged my iPhone into the swing and turned Pandora onto a lullaby station. By the time I put away Jack’s last pair of pants, we were both in a state of utter tranquility.

I paused briefly to revel in the moment. I managed to tune out the incessant chatter of my busy mind.

Warm sun rays slid through the sheer panel curtains, illuminating the nursery in afternoon light. Time seemed to stand still as Jack and I locked eyes from across the room. He smiled at me. I smiled at him. Such a simple expression conveyed so many feelings at once, some of which I still can’t quite put into words. We smiled out of love, we smiled out of joy, and we smiled because we knew that this was not the the beginning of our story.

It was the most connected I have ever felt to my son.

No singing.

No playing.

No talking.

Just us. 

Photo Op

This weekend, we had Jack’s six (almost seven) month pictures. Originally my husband and I planned on making an appearance in some of the photos, but a day or so before the session, we changed our minds. It’s not that we don’t want a family picture documenting Jack’s six month of life. We absolutely do. We just don’t want a family picture documenting our current state of being… Let’s just say maternity leave kicked our asses financially, and we are both guilty of distracting ourselves with some good ole’ comfort food. It’s cheap and it makes us happy. Who can say no to that? Clearly, not us.

In addition to the extra pounds we are lugging around, we haven’t had a whole lot of extra cash to spend on clothes- At least not for ourselves. Baby J’s wardrobe, however, is quite impressive. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would derive more pleasure out of buying clothes for my son than for myself. It probably has something to do with the fact that I don’t have to try anything on, allowing me to pay no mind to the fact that I can no longer shop in the junior section to save a few bucks.

Ahh, parenthood. We’re poor and fat, but we sure are happy.

I emailed the photographer prior to our session to let her know that the shoot would solely involve Baby J. She of course had no problem with that, but did mention that she would need either my husband or myself to play “airplane” with Jack so that she could get some shots of him in the air.

Naturally, I told my husband that she needed him to play airplane for a few shots, excusing myself from the possibility of appearing in a picture. It was looking like a yoga pants + ponytail kind of a day.

And then my husband came bouncing down the stairs in a collared shirt and a pressed pair of chinos, his hair perfectly combed and his face freshly shaved.

WTH?!? We had a deal! I couldn’t roll up to the park looking like some kind of scrub with a husband and baby who who were dressed to the nines.

“You’re wearing that?” I scoffed, hoping my condescending tone would cause him to rethink his look.

Of course my passive aggressive plan failed miserably, and I ended up feeling like a total b**ch for being so selfish. In record time, I pulled myself together, ditching the yoga pants in favor of skinny (maternity) jeans and boots. Yes, I am still wearing maternity jeans. They are comfy, and I don’t particularly have a desire to shell out $150 (minimum) on designer jeans that will hopefully swallow me whole in a few months… I’ve really got to lay off of the comfort food.

At the end of the day, we ended up taking several family shots, and I couldn’t be happier with our decision to do so. Jack will only be six-months old for so long, and I know that I will treasure these precious fleeting moments forever.

Plus the photographer uses Photoshop, so here’s hoping that she finds a way to discreetly “trim the fat” while doing whatever it is one does while using Photoshop.

I won’t tell if you don’t tell.

Happy Sunday!