Do you have your own back?

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Hello Blog World!

My apologies for being MIA the past three weeks, Nick and I had some major life changes. At the end of August we purchased our first home, and in early September we began doing our own renovations. The process hasn’t been as awful as I excepted, other than having to wait all this time for wireless internet! I am finally connected and ready to get back to doing what I love!

I promise I’ll share some before and after pictures next week, but today I’m actually writing about a product I recently discovered. iZip is an awesome little trinket that you clip onto your zipper and it helps you zip up your dress without needing another person to help you out.

The company reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested with working with them, and they had no idea how badly I’d needed something like this. My only wish is that I had something like this when I was working a cooperate job. About a year ago I can remember one day specifically, I was in the first trimester so I wasn’t big yet, but my clothes were definitely feeling tight. After weeks of throwing up, I decided to put on a dress and some make up for work. Of course no one was home with me and even though I pulled and tried as hard as possible, I could not get my dress zipped up. I literally sat on my floor crying and called Nick telling him how fat I was and how none of my clothes fit anymore. I may have been a tad dramatic, but this easily could have saved a couple of pregnancy meltdowns.

Even thought I’m not working a nine to five anymore it makes getting ready with a baby so much easier. Emerson is in a ‘mommy needs to hold me every single second of every day’ phase, so this allows me to hold him while I get zipped up. As you can see from the pictures, he’s my little acrobat who makes holding him as difficult as possible.

Now I have to talk about the very best thing about this company. They donate a portion of every sale to Because I am a Girl. Because I am a Girl is an organization that is working hard to end gender inequality on a global level. iZip has a section on their website, haveyourownback.com that talks all about Because I am a Girl, and it also has resources to help you get involved with the organization directly!

Overall I am super happy with my iZip, and I think it’s going to be useful in multiple walks of life. I also was able to get my readers a special deal, so if you click here and order your own iZip and use the code bussinessofblonde, you’ll automatically get $5 off your order! Again I want to thank iZip for sponsoring this post.

Don’t forget to check back next week where I take you through our moving process and introduce everyone to our newest family member!

Feeding Favorites

Since I mentioned last week that Emerson was starting to eat solids I thought I’d compile a list of my must have baby feeding products!

IMG_3256Baby Feeding FavoritesBaby Feeding FavoritesBaby Feeding Favorites
^^ Sometimes we get serious tears while we’re eating ^^
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^^ Who wants to eat when you can play?^^

High Chair: It’s pretty hard to survive without a high chair. Nick and I love that we can finally eat dinner as a family. Emerson loves that he gets to be a big eat and sit all by himself. I found our high chair at Target. I like how light weight it is I just wish it were easier to clean. I wasn’t expecting it to get so dirty in just one month! If I had a do over I would probably invest in a high chair that either didn’t have fabric, or had fabric I could remove and wash. I would also pay close to attention to any straps or small craves as they are difficult to clean.

Bibs: People can argue about what to feed, how to feed or when to feed, but every mom agrees that bibs are a must. The tends with bibs change every few years and right now bandanna bibs are all the rage. When Alva Baby reached out to me and offered to send me and pack of bandanna bibs I was so excited. Seriously these bibs are so stinking cute. They have so many different designs, but I had to go for teal with geometric and arrow patterns. I love that they are soft on both sides so I was just use to bibs to quickly wipe his face off. Also the back has a snap, which is nice back even if he pulls it down it won’t come undone. You can find the exact bibs I have right here! 

Baby Utensils: I assumed I’d be feeding Emerson, but I was mistaken. He wants to use his spoons to feed himself. The utensils pictured I found at Target and they’re made out of recycled material so I feel like I’m being a good person by buying them.

Happy Baby Organic Wafers: Mostly we feed Emerson at home, but I also like to keep a little something for him in the diaper bag in case he gets hungry and I’m not in a good place to nurse. When surfing the baby food isle I was pretty shocked at the amount of sugar in everything, thankfully these have less than one gram per two wafers so I feel comfortable letting Emerson have them.

Washcloths: I don’t always have time to give Emerson a bath after eating, so I like to use a warm washcloth to clean him off. I like it better than wipes because I can control the temperature and warm is obviously much for comfortable for Emerson. Plus it’s more economical I can’t imagine how many wipes I would burn through if I used them to clean him after he ate!

Durable Flooring: Okay this might not be something you can just run out and buy… But I  am very thankful for my tile flooring when I’m picking up beans and oatmeal. If you have carpet I would try t get an easy to clean rug to keep under the high chair, or maybe get a dog? I hear those are great for cleaning up after messy babies.

I want to send a huge thank you to Alva Baby for sponsoring this post! Here’s any extra little tip, if you take pictures of your baby eating mashed potatoes you will end up with them all over your phone, just embrace it.

Anyway I would love to hear anything I could add to this list, we’ve only just started and I’m sure I will learn lots alone the way.

Starting Solids

Baby led feeding Baby led feeding Baby led feeding Baby led feeding Baby led FeedingBaby Led Feeing Sorry I’ve been on a bit of a blogging break. The past seven weeks I’ve been working all day at a summer camp teaching kids theater, plus I’ve had Emerson with me so I haven’t had much free time. Now that I’m back to being home all day I’m really excited about writing more consistently. I also have a BIG announcement to make at the end of the month so make sure you are checking in!

This month Emerson turned six months and at the recommendation of our pediatrician we started solid foods. Feeding is something that every parent does a little differently. We’ve chosen to follow our doctors instructions, and do some research on our own. Ultimately we decided to go with a baby led feeding approach, which so far as really worked out.

With baby led feeding you exclusively give breast milk until the baby starts showing an interest in food. Instead of using the traditional purred food in a jar we started right away giving Emerson that same food we were eating. For example If Nick and I have eggs and bacon for breakfast we just take a tiny bit of scrambled eggs and put it on his baby try. I do feed him from a spoon, but the idea is that Emerson feeds himself. From my understanding the significance of that is that Emerson doesn’t become dependent on me feeding him and he doesn’t over eat just to make me happy. Honesty, I still feed him because he’s hand eye coordination is not that great ye, but he loves picking up the food by himself and trying to put it in his mouth. In the past month we’ve given him eggs, mashed potatoes, chicken, beans, avocado, banana, oatmeal and plenty of other foods. We’ve also given him peanut butter on bread, giving him a little bit once a week is suppose to make it less likely that he’ll develop an allergy.

Nick and I would recommend this method to anyone whose baby is going to start eating solid food. We’re saving money by not buying any extra food and he really does love eating at the table like a big boy.
Babies do gag and cough as they are learning to eat so be prepared for that.
How did you start to feed your baby?

Six Secrets to Raising a Bookworm

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Growing up I remember my mom reading to me before bed every night. It started when I was a baby, she would read books like Hop on Pop and Goodnight Moon. As I grew up, the stories evolved into chapter books and we would take turns reading together. Now, as an adult, I love to read and the same is true for both of my siblings. Since I want Emerson to grow up loving books as much as I do I’ve come up with six easy things you can do as a parent to raise a booklover.

Start Early: Give your child early memories of reading. Fill their nursery with bright colored books and let them explore and play with them. Some of my favorite baby books are Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things are, and Brown Bear Brown Bear.

Read Together: Try to get on a schedule, if you can, make it a nightly thing. Not only will it help your child learn to love reading it will help them sleep better when they have a nightly routine.

Lead by Example: Reading together is great, but you also want your child to witness you reading on your own. As they get older they should start reading on their own as well.

Let Them Choose: Give your child the opportunity to choose the books you read together, this gives them a sense of pride and ownership. Emerson is only six months old, but already he will reach out for the books he wants to play with.

Go to the Library: Make it a fun monthly trip you take as a family. They can browse through the children’s section and find new books to explore. It’s also a great free activity to get you and your child out of the house.

Talk About What You’re Reading: You can use the reading time to talk about topics that come up in the book. You’ll be surprised at how easily this opens up your lines of communication. This will also show your child that they can come to you when they have questions.

Remember some children will struggle with reading and there can be many reasons for delays. Every child learns at their own pace so don’t worry if they don’t get it right away. The most important thing you can do is stay relaxed and make it fun!

Is reading important in your family? What are some things you did to instill a love of reading in your child?

Why I Decided to Bed-share

BED-SHARING

Hello World!

Sorry I took a little vacation, but I had a nice week focusing on my family and enjoying the Arizona weather.

I wanted to start the week by talking about something slightly controversial, bed sharing.

Bed-sharing is a form of co-sleeping, where your baby sleeps in your bed with you. This is not recommended by most doctors and seems to be almost taboo in western society. Let me start by backing up six months when I was in the hospital with Emerson.

I knew that I wanted Emerson to sleep in his bassinet and eventually move into his crib when the time was right. The hospital staff was clear that I should never let him sleep in bed with me and reminded me how dangerous it is. The first time we slept in the same bed was that night, in the hospital, and it really happened by accident. I was completely exhausted having had less than four hours of sleep in the past few days. I just finished giving him a bottle (because I couldn’t nurse at the time) and I knew that I needed to wake up in 45 minutes to start all over again. I had Emerson on my chest and dozed off, waking up about 30 minuets later. I was FREAKED OUT! In my mind I had broken a rule at the hospital and put my baby in grave danger. I thought about him rolling off the bed and getting hurt and how I could be marked as the terrible mother who let it happen. (Obviously I was full of hormones and needed more than a few minutes rest.)

A few weeks later, Emerson just refused to sleep in his bassinet, he only wanted to sleep if someone was holding him. I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. Do I give up on sleeping and force Emerson to ‘cry it out’ at only two weeks? Do I let him sleep in my bed and go against what my doctor says? I stayed up all night, I searched Pinterest and Google and tried to find answers about bed-haring. How can something that feels so natural and normal be so bad for my child? Here’s the conclusion I came to: Bed-sharing isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. Yes there are studies that show it increases SIDS, but the more I dug in, the more I realized they haven’t done as much research as I thought. Statistics are skewed. For example, if a baby is suffocated while sleeping because the mother was intoxicated and rolled onto the baby, that’s considered a bed-sharing death. Even though my guess is that situation has more to do with substance abuse than bed-sharing.

After I decided I was just going to do it, I realized that most of my friends were sleeping with their babies as well. Here’s an example of an actual conversation I had with a group of moms recently.

“How’s he sleeping for you?”

“Well he’s waking up a lot still. I know it’s not good and my Dr. is upset, but I’ve been letting him sleep in my bed”

“That makes it so much easier, don’t worry about your doctor, she doesn’t need to know if he sleeps in your bed or not.”

It almost feels like a weight is lifted when I hear others talk about bed-sharing. There is a large amount of shame you carry with you as a mom. Every decision you make is picked apart in your mind, and you are always worried about making a mistake. If I’ve learned anything in six months, it’s to do what feels right. I know that people are going to read this and completely disagree with me. They’re going to say things like “Just wait until he’s older and he won’t get out of your bed” or “You’re just teaching him to rely on you.” My response is this: I’m doing what I feel is right for my child at this stage. He won’t be a baby forever and I doubt he’ll be sleeping in our bed when he is eighteen years old. He’s only a baby for a small amount of time and I’d rather feel like I did the right things than to spend the rest of my life questioning my choices. I don’t think ‘cry it out’ is evil or mean and I completely respect any mom who chose that method. As moms, all we can do is our best and we’re better off following our gut than the latest baby trend.

 

Favorite Baby Brands

IMG_2557It seems impossible that six months ago I was in the hospital snuggling my brand new baby boy. I can honestly say that being a mom is both everything and nothing like I thought it would be.  Through the past six months I’ve definitely gained a ton of confidence and found what works for us as a family.  I thought I would celebrate his half birthday by sharing all my favorite brands with you!

Water Wipes: I’ve tired about five different types of wipes, and although water wipes are most expensive than the other brands I’ve found them to be worth it. They don’t have that weird chemically smell and they do a much better job of cleaning up the messes so I use less wipes per diaper change. Since they’re made with only water and fruit extract I feel safe using them on his face if he spits us. You can find them here on Amazon.

Kirkland: Kirkland is the Costco brands, and anyone who knows my husband knows he is obsess with Costco. Originally I wanted to try The Honest Company diapers, because they’re cute. I only ended up with one package of Honest Company and I really wasn’t that impressed. They weren’t very flexible and didn’t seem to be that absorbent. We tried a few other brands and if I had to rate them it would go The Honest Company, last, then Pampers Baby Dry, Pampers Swaddlers, Huggies and first would be the Kirkland Brand.

Carter’s: Carter’s is a baby clothing line and if you haven’t heard of them it’s because you live under a rock, or have never bought baby clothes before. They are a little pricey so I make sure to plan my shopping trips around their sales. I always shop at an outlet location and I’m part of their loyalty program so I earn points overtime I shop. I love their clothing because they have great sets so I can buy like 7 onesies that all kind of correlate for $11.

Medela: If you are breastfeeding the Medela pump is the only way to go in my opinion. Since Emerson wouldn’t latch until he was six week I had to pump constantly and the Medela made is super easy. They’re very expensive, but a lot of insurance companies will cover the cost for a pump. Make sure to call your insurance company 6 week before you’re due date. They also have great bottles which attach directly to the pump, very convenient.

Circo- Circo is one of Target’s baby brands and I love them. Target is always my go to place if I have a baby shower to attend. My latest purchase there were these super cute monster slippers and matching swaddle blanket. To get the most for your money I would suggest the Target Red card, we have the debt card and we get 5% off every single purchase. I also check the cartwheel app before I do my shopping for additional coupons.

What are your favorite baby brands? Comment and let me know so I can check them out 🙂

Seven Money Mistakes You Should Avoid

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7. Buying a Brand New Car- Did you know the moment you drive your new car off the lot, it can depreciate by as much as 11%? I bought a new car in 2013 and looking back, I wish I would have bought a year-old car because I could have saved so much money. If you can afford to purchase new, with little to no financing, and you aren’t worried about your car losing value, then go for it. I’m sure Nick and I will probably buy new cars again in the future; we will just make sure we can pay for it in cash.

6. Using Credit Cards For Everyday Purchases- This is one that I was guilty of a few years ago. I was using my credit card for everything. Even though I paid it off at the end of every month, I still was always playing catch-up and felt like everytime I got paid it went directly to my bill. It’s always way too easy to start thinking of your credit line as money you actually have, which is not true. Now Nick and I have one credit card that we’ll use for a large purchase, like airline tickets or hotel stays, and then pay it off right away.

5. Buying Too Much House- Like I mentioned before, houses come with additional expenses that some people forget to plan for. If you buy a house that you barely afford, you are taking a big risk. I like to call it ‘house poor.’ You have a house, but can’t afford to have furniture or to do anything other than sit in your house. I would highly suggest using a mortgage calculator to see what you and your family can comfortably afford before buying.

4. Leasing a Car- This is such a bad idea; you’re not investing in anything. You’re basically renting a car and then, once the lease is over, you have nothing to show for it.

3. Financing Vacations- Vacations are great, but taking out a loan just to go on vacation is really irresponsible. If you can’t afford to fly your whole family to Disneyworld for a week, how about you drive a few hours to a camp site? Or even camping in your backyard. When you finance a vacation that $5,000 becomes $10,000 before you know it.

2. Buying a House without an emergency fund- What is an emergency fund? It’s 3-6 months of your expenses saved for a rainy day. When you buy a house, that means any problem that arises is something you have to pay for. A new roof:  $10,000; new a/c unit: $3,000, etc. If you don’t have an emergency fund, you could be in a lot of trouble when the unexpected comes up.

1. Not saving for retirement- Why aren’t people doing this? Let’s do some math real quick. If you are 25 and are making $40,000 annually, you can start putting 10% of your income into your 401K and by the time you’re 65, you will have over a million dollars in your 401K!

What should I add to my list? Comment and let me know!

5 Tips for a Clean and Cute Nursery Closet

5 Tips for a Clean and Cute Nursery Closet

5 Tips are a Clean and Cute Nursery 5 Tips are a Clean and Cute Nursery Image-9Image-17I’m pretty sure the first thing every mom-to-be does when she finds out she’s pregnant is start buying baby clothes. How could you not? They’re so cute and inexpensive compared to the clothes I”m used to buying for myself. With all those adorable outfits comes clutter and there are few things I hate more than clutter. I thought I’d share some of the products/tips that help me keep Emerson’s closet neat and organized.

5. First are these cute size separators. I found them on etsy, here, and they have tons of different designs. It’s nice because I can clearly see how many outfits he has in a certain size.

4. Quickly pick out items that are too small- It’s so easy to put off clearing out the clothes that your baby outgrows. I’m guilty of leaving up his onesies that are too small because I don’t want to admit that he’s actually getting bigger, but leaving them up is just creating a bigger mess. I use these super cute packing cubes from amazon to put his old clothes in, then I put it in storage. If you are positive you’re not having another baby you can sell it to a local consignment store, or save it for a friend or family member you can donate them to.

3. No closet doors- Hear me out. By taking off the closet doors you are basically forcing yourself to keep it clean. I love that we painted the closet a different color than the room because it becomes a super cute focal point in the room.

2. Use the same color hangers- This is kinda silly and I know I spent way too much money on little blue hangers, but it makes the closet look very uniform. I bought mine at Babies R Us, but I bet you could find them cheaper online.

1. Use the closet for things other than clothes- I love the shelves on the side because it breaks up the space and we’re able to decorate the shelves a bit. I keep his books, toys, and extra wipes on the shelves. You can mix it up with different boxes or colors to add your personal touch to it.

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

Do you have any tips for keeping a closet clean and cute? Comment below and let me know what you did to make your closet special.

5 Myths About Getting Married Young

5 Myths About Getting Married Young

Nick and I were both young when we were married, you can read about our story here.  When we were first engaged I had tons of people telling me why I wasn’t ready to get married. Five years and one baby later, I’m confident we made the right decision for us.

5. You Aren’t Old Enough to Know What You Want- Does anyone ever know what they want? There is no ‘perfect age,’ people who get married in their thirties can get divorced, just like people who get married before they’re twenty can get divorced. At the risk of sounding cliché I knew that Nick was the person I was going to spend forever with and I wanted to start forever as soon as possible.

4. You Aren’t Financially Ready- While I do agree that if you can’t afford to live on your own you shouldn’t be getting married, I don’t think that just because you’re young means you’re automatically financially irresponsible. By the time Nick and I got married we both had full time jobs and were able to fully support ourselves. Now Nick ‘s income in enough to support all three of us.

3. You Need To Finish College First- It is a lot easier to finish school first, especially if you need a degree for your desired profession. I know many couples who were married while they finished up their degree. Having a degree doesn’t mean you’re more qualified to be married.

2. You Need To Be Single- I do think it’s important to be independent, but that doesn’t mean ‘spend 5 years being single.’ It’s just about being comfortable and confident in your own skin. Nick and I spent almost a year of our engagement living in different states and that time gave us a chance to learn to be apart. So while I agree that you need to know how to survive on your own, I don’t think that you need to be single to learn that.

1. You should spend time traveling- Traveling is great, it’s even better with the person you love. People kept talking to me like getting married meant I could never travel again. Will I ever spend a year backpacking through Europe, probably not, but I probably wouldn’t have done that anyway. I have been able to take some pretty amazing trips with the guy I love most.

What’s your take on getting married young? Make sure you comment and let me know your thoughts!

5 Myths About Getting Married Young
Gymboree Sale On Now!

How To Plan Your Monthly Budget

How To Plan Your Monthly BudgetEarlier this year Nick and I were able to pay off your students loans, you can read all about that here! We did it mostly by planning out a monthly budget and then sticking to it. I thought I’s share a little more in depth about how we plan out each month’s budget.

The website we use is called everydollar.com, it’s free to use and I can’t recommend it enough. You have to set it up on a computer, but once your account is set up you can download the app and use it on your phone. Nick and I always sit down the last week of the month to set up our budget for the following month.
Step One: Calculate what your income for the month will be. Nick’s is basically always the same; however, mine in changing based on how many classes I’m teach or if I’ve picked up any odd jobs.
Step Two: Figure out all your bills and add those into your budget. We always put in Rent, Tithe, Electricity, Cell Phone, Car Payment, Internet, Groceries, Gas, Baby Needs and Savings.
Step Three: What ever is left you can put in your fun categories. We have restaurants, entertainment, and miscellaneous categories.

The goal is to have zero dollars left over after you’ve made your budget. This way you’re telling each and every dollar where to go. Then through the month as you make purchased you can update them in the app to make sure you’re staying on track.
I try to challenge myself each month and any leftover money that doesn’t get spend in a certain category just put into savings. For example we typically budget $100 for eating out, but if we can keep it to only $70 an extra $30 goes into savings.

There are some things to keep in mind with your budget, sometimes you need to add categories like taxes, vacation, car repairs, or doctor bills. I truly believe that getting your family on a budget is the fastest way to start paying down your debt and increase your savings.