Happy Birthday, Amelia + Atticus!

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To say the last year has flown by would be a massive understatement. People always say kids grow up too fast - and they do - but this year seemed extra fast for us. I didn’t even blink, you guys! They just magically turned a year older.

This blog post is going to go against all blog post rules for blog growth. I’m not going to help you learn something new or have catchy headlines. Today is about my babies and putting down these memories while they are still fresh enough for me to remember them.

I don’t know how I lived this tired, beautiful life before these babies were mine but I know that life is infinitely better with them in the world.

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Atticus

Atticus William Balbontin. You are two weeks a one year old and sweeter by the day. In this last year you have brought so much joy to our lives that some times I don’t think I can contain it - it’s too much. You are love. You are my most cuddly baby and are always laying your head on my shoulder. You love your sisters and crawling really fast after them where ever they go. You haven’t walked yet, but you want to kick a soccer ball like sissy so badly that I’m sure it’s coming soon. Take your time, we don’t need to rush it.

Speaking of a ball, that was your first word and your favorite toy. You get so excited any time you see one. I can see you being obsessed with sports already, and I’ll have to learn to love them too so I can keep up. Your second word was dada, and yours lights up any time you say it. And finally, last night you said mama and it made my rough day so much better. You love pasta and apple sauce but only have 4 teeth so eating is still a challenge for you. You’ve been cutting new teeth for the last week so I see a lot of new foods coming your way soon.

There aren’t enough sentences to contain our love for you, so I’ll just leave it at that. We love you sweet boy.

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Amelia

Amelia June Balbontin. You are a firecracker if I’ve ever seen one. You challenge everything. You are as stubborn as your dada and as vocal about it as mama. You are also the most loving and giving little girl. You will share anything of yours and help anyone at a moments notice. You want to help your brother learn everything and sing to him when he’s sad. You want to copy what your sister does and love watching Pokemon with her any chance you get.

You would be happy if you could only eat chicken nuggets, dairy free yogurt, and z-bars for every meal, but we are working on expanding your plate. You love to help mama in the kitchen and paint beautiful pictures for your room. You have such a big imagination and are always playing make-believe. You will turn anything into a character if you don’t have toys with you. A salt and pepper shaker is as good as a shopkin when you are playing.

You have played soccer for two seasons now and you get better with every practice. You make friends anywhere you go and are so kind and respectful to everyone you meet. You let people know when you are upset though. I never have to worry about you standing up for yourself and I love that about you. You’re strong and loving, and honestly one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met in my life.

Mama and Dada were so lucky to “birth” you, as you would say. You’ve made the last five years something incredibly special, and we love you oh so much, our girl.

Happy Wednesday, friends! Today I will be celebrating my girl and taking her out for picnic. I hope you all have an amazing day and take a second to remember the things that bring you joy.

xx, Leslie

Five Ways to Throw The BEST Teen Birthday Party

This blog post has been sponsored by Basic Invite; however, as always, I only work with brands I truly love and want to share with you. All opinions and ideas are my own.

You guys.

Ava is turning thirTEEN in two months. THIRTEEN! We aren’t even going to address the fact that I have been a mom for that long because it makes me feel old and I don’t like feeling old. What we WILL focus on is the fact that Ava has had a hard year like the rest of us.

She moved to a new town across the state, started middle school without knowing anyone, and then a week later lost her home, her cat, and everything she owned in Hurricane Harvey. She had to pick up again and start ANOTHER middle school in ANOTHER city, again not knowing anyone… only to move back a month later once we had a semi-suitable living situation while we rebuilt. She has adjusted to us having another baby (and yes it’s joyous and she loves him so, so much, but it means even less time for her).

Needless to say, our girl is probably VERY ready to say goodbye to twelve and hello to the world of teenage-hood. (Somebody hold me.)

Today I looked down at the calendar and realized that this huge birthday is only two months away and I need to get to planning. I want to do something really special for her and let her know that even though this year has been rough, we are so proud of how she’s handled it.

I used to go ALL OUT for Ava’s parties. After all, she was my only baby for eight whole years and she got all of my focus. It’s been awhile since she’s gotten that special treatment. SO this is her year.

If there are any other parents out there hoping to throw a special party for your little or not so little ones, this is the blog post for you!

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Five Ways to Throw The BEST Teen Birthday Party

  1. COMMUNICATE.

    I really can’t stress this one enough. Teens are these elusive creatures, don’t assume you know what they want. Ever. Maybe they think parties are for “little kids” and would rather go to a concert or a small weekend trip. Maybe they want to hold on to childhood as long as possible and have that traditional party. By asking them how they envision their party, you’re opening up a line of communication that has long-term benefits.

  2. PLAN

    Now, if your teen picks a concert or a trip, that’s up to you to decide if it’s within your budget of course. And obviously if they want something rivaling MTV’s Sweet Sixteen, that won’t work for majority of parents budgets. But you can try to make their vision a reality in some ways. Ava picked a birthday party this year.

    She was very specific about wanting to have her party in San Antonio with her cousins and old best friend. She wants it at her grandma’s house and she wants a Jurassic Park theme. No Harry Potter. No Jurassic Park. (Okay, she’s still working out the them in her head.)

    From that, I have a great starting off point. And I can move on to the fun stuff, the details!

  3. DETAILS

    Details have always been my favorite part of planning parties. I love making the DIY decor and party bags. I love getting creative with the names of foods to match the theme. I love it all.

    But even if you don’t have the DIY Bug, you can personalize your teens party in an easy way that makes them feel special - with the best birthday party invitations. I’ve been using Basic Invite which has almost unlimited colors, and custom samples. I haven’t found another website that lets you order a sample of your invitation beforehand to ensure the quality is top notch. They also offer an address capturing service to make collecting those addresses much easier for us busy parents. Hallelujah!

    I’ve also opted to get Ava some customized stationary because it’s something she really loves and bonus, everything at Basic Invite is 15% off this month when you use code 15FF51.

    Peep the bottom of this blog post for some examples of what you can get made.

    The day of the party, the most important part is making them feel special and loved. So much of this stage is full of changes and uncertainty, they need to know they still have a safe space to land.

  4. REFLECT.

    This is something to do with your teen privately, outside of their party. Talk about the past year they just had. What were their favorite parts? What parts did they not like so much? How can they grow from those lessons? Helping talk this through with them and helping them come to their own conclusions sets them up for more success later in life.

  5. GROWTH

    What is a birthday, if not growth? Now that they’ve had an amazing party celebrating their new year, and you’ve reflected on the past year, it’s the perfect time to talk about what they want to achieve in their next year. Goal setting is not something that comes easy to everyone, and creating the habit young is so beneficial.

Scroll to the right to see some awesome kids birthday invitations!

You can find out more about Basic Invite on their social media channels:

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I’m really excited to plan the rest of Ava’s party, and I’ll be sharing it here when I’m done, so be sure to keep an eye out for the that fun post!

Until next time,

Leslie

Why Owlet is the BEST Baby Product on The Market

The Owlet Baby Monitor is the best baby product on the market right now.

I know, I know. That's a super bold statement to make, but I stand by it wholeheartedly. I stand by it so strongly that I'm going to say it again. 

The Owlet baby monitor is hands-down the best baby product on the market right now, and I'm going to tell you why. 

I discovered the Owlet Baby Monitor when I was pregnant with Atticus. It seemed like it could possibly be too good to be true, but after spending the first year of Amelia's life not sleeping because I was too scared that she would stop breathing in her sleep - I figured, what the heck, it's worth a shot. And while I know I"m a little overly cautious due to my own need to be on a monitor when I was a baby, I firmly believe most parents have this fear when their babies are little. Heck, if I'm being really honest, I still check on Amelia most nights at some point to ensure she's okay and hasn't covered her face with a blanket. 

Anyway, I digress. You're probably wondering what is so special about this baby monitor. After all, baby monitors are nothing new. The first baby monitor was invented in 1937 and parents have been using them diligently ever since to keep an eye on their little one while they’re out of the room.

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How Owlet is Different

When baby monitors were first created, it was thought that they would revolutionize parenthood- and they did! They gave parents peace of mind, made caring for a child easier and gave parents more freedom. However, no baby monitor compares to the Owlet baby monitor. It is completely unique and unlike any baby monitor that’s ever come before it.

Rather than sitting next to your baby and filming them, this baby monitor is worn by your baby like a sock and is able to connect to your smartphone.

How it Works

Here’s how it works: The “smart sock” can be wrapped around your baby’s foot and is able to monitor things like oxygen level and heart rate. The “smart sock” can then be registered on Owlet’s app so that you can check on your baby on your smartphone. It also comes with a base station that glows green when your baby is doing well so even if you don’t have the app open, you can know whether your baby is okay.

The smart socks battery lasts for 18 hours and can wirelessly connect to Bluetooth up to 100 feet away. Thanks to the device’s clinically-proven pulse oximetry technology, you can rest assured that your baby is well looked after even when you aren’t in the room. There are many positive reviews of the Owlet baby monitor, but one of the most impressive statistics is that 94% of parents have reported sleeping better with the Owlet baby monitor. I don’t know about you, but I never seem to get enough sleep; the better quality my sleep is, the more refreshed and ready to take care of kids I am in the morning.

So you're probably thinking, Leslie, that's all great in theory, BUT DOES IT WORK!? 

YES, FRIENDS. IT WORKS. 

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Our Experience with Owlet

Have a seat while I tell you a little story. Being the prepared mama I am, I had the Owlet monitor set up before I came home from the hospital. JK, I set it up with baby boy in arms the same night we came home - thank god it was that easy. I downloaded the app, put on the sock, and swaddled him up. I never imagined how quickly I would need this monitor. 

Atticus was tiny. All of 5 and a half pounds when we brought him home. The owlet monitor fit him great (thank God, and the engineers who designed it) but the premie swaddle I had bought him did not fit him great. It was a different style swaddle than I'd used before and I thought it was on properly. 

I laid him down in his bassinet next to me and drifted off. I was woken up to a loud alarm, which scared me, and then scared me some more when I realized it was the Owlet. On the first night we brought our baby boy home, he had sunk down into his swaddle and wasn't getting enough oxygen. Had the Owlet monitor not alerted me to it, he could have suffocated while I slept. 

Like I said, THE BEST BABY PRODUCT ON THE MARKET. 

The next day someone from Owlet reached out to check in on us and see if we needed anything. I was so impressed. The customer service is amazing and gave me that extra level of support new (hormonal *points to self*) moms need. 

Now it keeps me comforted to know that Owlet has my back.

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I highly recommend this product for all moms to wee ones. It comes with three sizes of socks so they fit until about 18 months old. And you can bet your bottom dollar he will wear it every day. Don't get me started. Owlet better not come up with one for college aged humans or my kids will one day be monitored from across the globe. JK. Maybe. *Sips coffee*

Get yours here: 

Please read the brand's disclosure before purchasing.

Disclosure: I received this product to review by the brand. All opinions are 100% my own, and I only advocate for products I receive, try out for a given period of time, and fully support. All other products are returned. 

Welcome Home, Atticus.

Hey friends, 

It's been a minute since I've come to chat with y'all here. Since I've been gone, our family welcomed Atticus earth side, and we've been devouring up all of his newborn goodness since then. We've also been adjusting to having three kids and being completely outnumbered. I think Daniel and I go back in forth between being completely enamored and completely defeated. It wouldn't be parenthood without that reality though, I'm pretty sure, so it looks like we are doing something right. 

Atticus is seven weeks old now! I honestly can't believe it. And while I had a great plan lined up for keeping the flow of work going, it all fell by the wayside once he made his appearance. After what my doctor called a traumatic birth a week before his due date, it took me some time to recover both mentally and psychically. Then once I recovered mentally, okay recovered for the most part, I came into the problem of Atticus never wanting to be put down. Any mamas out there relate to that? 

I decided that I was going to embrace the longer than planned maternity leave, and the slow, exhausted moments of this stage. This is my last baby, and I want to take in every moment possible. I'm already panicking that it's going by way too fast. So you'll see me around here more than I have been lately, but if it's quiet for a few days, you know why. 

All of my love, 

Leslie

What Your Baby Needs: From a Mama of Three

This blog post contains affiliate links from my Amazon account to help support my family, however, please know that all products I've listed here are items that I've chosen from my own experience. I hope you find them as useful as I have. 

This blog post contains affiliate links from my Amazon account to help support my family, however, please know that all products I've listed here are items that I've chosen from my own experience. I hope you find them as useful as I have. 

As we prepare for baby number three, my list of what we need has dramatically changed. It can be SO overwhelming for new parents to know what they will actually need. Now, here's the thing. I live by the parenting motto of, "what works for one family, works for one family." Meaning, just because something worked great for me, doesn't mean I presume to assume it would work the same for yours. 

However, I do love to share tidbits, when wanted, so that other mamas can get feedback on things they've been considering. After all, it takes a village and if my experience can help at all, I'm all for it.  

So, when I'm talking about 'what you actually need,' I mean what has made my life as a mom easier. Lord knows that being a parent has enough challenges, so for me, need means what makes the process easier. This isn't the "you'll need 5 of this kind of outfit, and 6 of this kind" type of post. 

This is a "this item helped keep me sane and I recommend for your sanity, trying it out" type of post. 

So let's jump into it! 

1. Zip Up Onesies

Let me say this one with emphasis. ZIP UP ONESIES. Do you know how many diapers a baby goes through? SO MANY. By the second diaper of the day (or better yet at 2 am) you will not want to spend an extra 5 minutes on buttoning 17 buttons per onesie. My favorite ones are from Boody Baby. You can grab them here

2. Diaper Pail

I don't care what anyone says, having a diaper pail was clutch with Amelia and it's the first gift I sent to my BFF when I found out she was pregnant. Why? Because nobody has time to take every diaper out to the dumpster and I don't want to waste garbage bags by having to take unfull ones out every night. Put those stinkers in a diaper pail and save yourself some time and energy. 

I used the Diaper Genie with Amelia and it worked well, especially for the price. There are several options out there though. 

Get yours here, here or here

3. Owlet Baby Monitor

This isn't your typical baby monitor, so don't let the name fool you. There aren't other products out there like this one, and it's worth the investment. While I still use a traditional baby monitor for viewing my little one when I'm not in the room, there is no comfort like Owlet comfort. Let me tell you why. 

If you're a first-time parent, you might not realize this yet, but you're going to lose a lot of sleep - and no I'm not talking about all of those precious middle of the night feedings. I'm talking about all of the other times when your sweet little baby is fast asleep and you, my friend, will be awake checking to make sure your baby is still breathing. 

I know it sounds absurd now, but SIDS is real, and so are the horror stories of babies who stopped breathing because they covered their face, somehow rolled over, or just stopped for no known reason. There are times I still check to make sure Amelia is breathing. And you know what, there isn't a mom I've spoken to that doesn't do the same. 

With baby boy, I don't want to be up when I could be sleeping. I love this product so much that I'll be doing a full review of it soon, but in the meantime, what you need to know is this. It's a little sock that goes on baby's foot, and it tracks their oxygen levels and heart rate. If something isn't right, it will notify you immediately.

Worth. Every. Penny.

Get yours here.

Also be sure to check out their disclaimer before purchasing. 

4. Snuggle Me Organic Sensory Lounger

So here's the thing about babies. They are used to being tucked all warm and cozy in mama's belly, and they like that security. If you take them straight from the womb and move them to a crib or bassinet without any other comfort, you're going to have a bad time. 

Enter a baby sensory lounger. Don't roll your eyes at me. That's what they are called, and as a mama with a child who has sensory issues, I'm all for starting them out feeling as comfortable as possible. It's basically a little pillow like lounger designed to hug your baby, keeping him or her feeling safe and secure like they were being held. 

Get yours here

5. Foldable Baby Tub

With my first baby, I wanted the coolest tub I could find. I thought it would be so cute to see her sitting in a little tub all of her own, and it would save water! Y'all. They are SO fricken impractical. What actually happens is you have a big piece of junk that 96% of the time you don't know what to do with or where to store and the pros absolutely do not outweigh the cons. 

Do yourself a solid and buy a foldable baby tub that can easily be stored when not being used. There are so many options out there. You can get them with a little plastic that still folds semi-decently, or you can get ones that you can just put in your sink and fold away when you're done. 

Check out some options here, here, and here

7. A Crib

I know some parents choose to co-sleep, and you won't find any judgment from me on that. Again, I'm a do-what's-right-for-your-family type of gal. That being said, I think even for the co-sleeping fams, a crib you love is essential.  There will be times that baby needs to sleep during your non-sleeping hours and you'll want to get things done in peace without fearing that they will roll off the bed. 

Cribs are one of those baby items that are super versatile because there are so many options out there to fit your families needs. Maybe you want one that can transition into a toddler bed. Or maybe you just want a super cute bassinet to start out with. Or maybe you want a mini crib to put beside your bed in your room. There are so many options. Find one that is right for you. 

You can check out some options here, here, and here

There you have it! My must-have items from a mama of three. You'll absolutely be finding all of these items in my home shortly (as soon as we are done rebuilding - womp, womp). But don't get it twisted, I have a whole other list of items I just really want that I'll be sharing too. Hey, even mamas of three like fun little non-necessity things. 

Until next time, 

Leslie