LDS Convert Guest Post: Jessica, Part II

July 11, 2010 By: Jenna Category: Religious

If you haven’t read it, here is Part 1 of my story.

In 2003 my family moved to Germany. This was the best, and worst time of my life. Spiritually I was thriving. I loved attending seminary, Wednesday night activities, and church of Sunday. From the first part of the story, though I only mentioned two songs – music really influences me. I have been very blessed with abundant musical talent, and because of that I was very active in the Arts program in my high school. This is where I met my future husband. (To read more about our story, click here!)

Jessica & B-man, Belle and Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol"

Despite my spiritual and physical growth, emotionally I was at the beginning of an uphill battle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and depression. This would eventually pull me down in other areas of my life too. In the beginning of my struggles, I was so reliant on Heavenly Father. So faithful. This was probably the best way to go, but in my junior year of college, I faltered. I became very depressed, and eventually fell back onto self-harm. This actually has nothing to do with the church, as I mentioned in the comment section, I come from a long time of people who have suffered from depression – it’s definitely the genetics. I lost my faith. I gave up. Thankfully Heavenly Father did not, as he put the right people in my life, exactly when I needed them. I did get professional help for my issues, and I’m fairing… decently better now. Why is all of this important? Well. I hated my life. I hated Tennessee. I had successfully alienated myself, and I needed something new. So, I decided I would move to Utah. Because I had moved around so much in my younger years, I now had a very large collection of friends in Utah, and it just felt right. I also was accustomed to moving every few years, and I needed a change of scenery.

I moved back home to Virginia for the summer, I didn’t want to take everything I owned all the way across the country. That Summer (2008), I met up with B, just to hang out. We started spending a lot of time together (I’m condensing) but the short story is, we were made for each other. I felt so calm around him. Despite his very non-religious up bringing, I felt so comforted being around him. We started dating, something I hadn’t done in a very long time. There was so much talking. We talked about life, Europe, college, family, and we talked about the church. A lot.

Before his first Sunday @ Church, Summer of 2008

I told him he should’ve gone to church with me in Germany, because then we could’ve started dating earlier!

He said I had never invited him.

My heart sank. So selfish. He is a giver, and I depended on B for so much of my happiness in high school, but I never shared what made me happy. I was completely overcome by how selfish I had been. I had invited other people, many times. I decided to rectify the situation. Quickly.

I got him a bible. I know a lot of LDS people are quick to hand out the Book of Mormon. We spent hours upon hours on the phone, reading the scriptures together (I did give him a Book of Mormon too, later). B latched onto everything. It was amazing, and so good for my soul. So very good. He taught me how to be happy, and he brought me back to my Heavenly Father when I felt so very far away. In return I taught him how to pray, and bible stories and I got to tell him about all of my wonderful experiences with the church. It was coming back to me, my faith was being restored. I owe this completely to my sweet husband.

Needless to say, I never made it out to Utah. B and I got engaged, and set the wedding date for a few months after his college graduation. I knew that he was the man for me, even if he wasn’t a member of my church. I know a good thing when I see it, and we were good together. Even though we are often told to marry inside of the church, my own experiences growing up had shown me that there are amazing Mormon people, and there are amazing people who aren’t Mormon – and both are great. I wasn’t going to push him, because I really do believe that these things happen on their own terms. It was between Heavenly Father, and B, and all I could do was love him. But, I was in for a surprise. In the year+ preceding the wedding, B started meeting with the missionaries. He was nervous about it, but I promised that if it didn’t feel right, he didn’t have to do. But it was oh so right. I kept my nose out of things though, so to speak. I tried my best not to pressure him, but it was hard to contain my excitement. B was baptized at the end of the summer, before we both went back to school.

B with my family @ his baptism.

The year was painstakingly agonizingly slow. I you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, you completely understand what I mean. But I had much to be grateful for. B fit in well at his University ward (congregation) and I drove up to Virginia Tech to visit him often. We got officially engaged in World’s Fair Park, September 2008.

World's Fair Park, Knoxville TN

During the year B grew so much. I thought I had found an amazing man before, but everyday we would read the scriptures together (over the phone) and we would pray together, and he would ask me questions and we would discuss the symbolism and the meaning and what this has to do with either of us. It was something I never dreamed I would be doing, and it was happening.

B and I were married in the Washington DC temple, August 15, 2009. Much like Jenna’s wedding, we had our temple sealing in the morning, and a beautiful ceremony and reception in the evening.

Washington DC Temple, August 2009

The way I’ve written things, it probably sounds like I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and it is true that I am very blessed – but honestly, life is what you make of it. Heavenly Father has challenged me in my life, in ways that may not have been challenges for other people, but were huge stumbling blocks for me. But looking back, I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us, and this plan is on His time, and not mine. I still have my fair share of problems, but I know He cares about me – and hates to see me suffer. I have never been an overt “missionary.” But by being open to what the Lord has planned for me, He has lead me to the people, and places that would help me, and also gives me a chance to bless other peoples’ lives. I am so weak on my own, so willing to look the other way when things don’t go according to plan. I have sinned, and made so many mistakes, but because of His love for me, I can be saved, and that is beautiful to me. This is what works for me, what makes me happy. And I hope and pray that each of you will find what works for you, and what makes you happy.

I have really enjoyed writing this story, and know that I mean no ill will towards any one, of any religion. Thanks for reading.

-Jessica @ One Shiny Star

Guest Post at These Little Moments

July 08, 2010 By: Jenna Category: Uncategorized

Still not time for me to write a new post (I promised myself I wouldn’t do so until I finished commenting on all of your blogs and I mean it!) but I did write a guest post for someone else that you can read. Molly wrote a guest post for me while I was on my blogging maternity leave, and I was flattered when she asked me to do the same for her. She had a sweet little boy of her own last week.

You can read my guest post here (which I worried would come off as slightly creepy, but Molly assured me it was no such thing).

P.S.-I’ve turned off comments here so you’ll be forced to join in the conversation over there. Cheers! :)

Also my son is super cute and I adore him. That is all.

LDS Convert Guest Post: Gina

June 27, 2010 By: Jenna Category: Religious

Someone on Formspring asked if I would share a guest post from someone who had converted to the Church, telling the story of how their life changed after joining the LDS Church and why they joined. I think they were hoping that TH would write a post (I was too), but he said he joined so long ago that he can’t remember. :) Gina saw the question and volunteered to write something up for me. I love her story and I hope you will as well.

First summer together

“HE’S WHAT?!?” I nearly screamed.

“He’s mormon.” My friend repeated of the boy who was close to becoming my boyfriend.

Thoughts flooded to my head, “polygamy, racism, patriarchal, brainwashed, cult….”

Everything I had heard about this religion went against this boy I knew. He was sweet, a complete gentleman with the utmost respect for women (I saw it especially in the way he treated his mother), he was smart–not just smart but intelligent. He wasn’t a follower. Most of all I saw happiness, it was a happiness I had not seen anywhere else. It radiated from his inner being.

Ultimately I trusted him and who he was. I decided that really all I knew about mormons wasn’t from mormons at all. I decided to go ahead with the relationship.

Nearly three years later I would have a complete stranger call me “a bleeping bigot” while trying to promote an Mormon activity on the University of Washington campus that I was attending.
I was Mormon.

My journey to becoming a Latter-Day Saint (which I prefer over being called Mormon because it lacks the stigmatization) was life changing.

I dated Kyle for a year before he left on a 2 year mission. During the year before he left he shared his faith with me and I shared my fears of faith with him. All my life I had not been interested in alcohol, smoking, or drugs. I was one of those teacher’s pet straight A students. I had a reputation for being a prude at school which I was fine with.

As Kyle shared the standards of the Church with me I felt more and more comfortable with the idea of Mormons. He challenged me to dress more modestly. He told me I was beautiful and that what truly made me beautiful was the way I respected my body. I didn’t need to show it off because my true beauty came from inside through my eyes. I became addicted to this philosophy. I love that people focus on my face, my eyes when they tell me I look pretty, or beautiful.

Last day together before he left on his mission

Kyle left on his mission and I promised to wait the two years for him. Little did I know that 3 months after he left, I would be getting baptized. Why? People always ask.

For him? A little.

Mostly it was because the gospel of Jesus Christ had entered my heart in a way I could never imagine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught me beautiful things about myself, my purpose, and my future.

Baptism day

I waited to meet with missionaries until he left because I wanted to do it for myself. Yes, he was a part of it because he introduced me to the church but my joining was far beyond him. They asked me to get baptized at my first meeting, which is fairly unusual. I instinctively said yes. I remember being surprised by my answer. But I knew it was right because it came from my soul, my spirit. It was not debated between my heart and head. It was a pure choice. I have been so grateful for that experience.

My life has changed in small and big ways. Like I said the drinking alcohol, abstaining from drugs was easy. I never liked coffee growing up so that was easy too. Tea was a little more difficult but I felt like it was such a small thing to give up for all that the Lord had given up for me. I started going to Church every Sunday. In the past 4 years of being a member I have missed maybe 4 Sundays total. That was HUGE change from before. I was a holiday Catholic. I liked being at church but I felt no need to go every Sunday. Now I LOVED going to church. I wanted to go. I looked forward to the beautiful truths I would hear, my heart, mind, and spirit expanding each time.

So what were the BIG changes?

I had a new perspective on life. I had purpose, direction. I had a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I prayed to him everyday, I spoke to Him knowing He heard me. My relationship with the Savior was most impacted. The church explained His love and sacrifice to me in ways that I had never heard or understood elsewhere. The explanations and real experiences of prophets, apostles, teachers, and friends touched me. The atonement of Christ became very real in my life. It changed how I acted everyday. I wanted to use the gift Christ had given me. The forgiveness he offered to become something. To continually grow and change into the beautiful daughter that He saw in me. I felt my sins wash away as I was immersed fully in baptism. I felt His love. I wept.

Reading the scriptures was hard. If you do not grow up with them consistently, they can be difficult. Even though I was an English Lit major, I struggled. I still do. But I still find beauty in the words of God. Words that speak to me perfectly, like the words were written just for me. Accepting the Book of Mormon wasn’t difficult once I read it. It clarified questions that I had always wondered about. It taught me more about the love of my Heavenly Father and Savior.

Wedding day

The temple. I love the temple. As soon as I heard about the promise of being sealed to my family for all eternity I fell in love with the temple. I knew I wanted to be married there. There was no question about it. When Kyle returned from his mission, almost a year later we were married in the Seattle, Washington temple. My family was not there for the ceremony. I am sure it was difficult for them, it was difficult for me too. But they understood and accepted my faith. They saw how happy it made me and how important it was to me.

This leads me to the most asked question about my conversion, “How was your family?”

They were wonderful. My family is all about support in dreams, in aspirations, in hopes. I remember asking my mother why she was ok with it all and she said, “As long as my children aren’t destroying society I will support them in whatever they do,” (aka no killing, stealing, beating up people).

My friends had a more difficult time. Did I know I couldn’t have coffee? Wear a bikini? I wasn’t exactly a religious person, why now? All I knew was that an amazing relationship had grown from giving up these little things. I relationship I cherished. They seemed like such trivial things to give up in comparison to the blessings I was receiving.

The hardest change was telling people I was Mormon. I am proud to be Mormon, don’t get me wrong, but every time I tell someone, I think about those thoughts going through their head. Those thoughts I knew weren’t true. But it pains me to remember how judgmental I had once been. I hate that people might think that about me. My tactic is to let me faith come naturally. I let them get to know me for me and then when the opportunity arises I tell them.

This church has changed my life. I am a person that I always dreamed I could be. I have a deep testimony of my Heavenly Father, of His son Jesus Christ, of the Book of Mormon in testifying of the Savior’s divine ministry and the love of our Father. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the restored Church of Jesus Christ that was established in the New Testament. The blessings of the temple are real, the words of the prophet touch my heart and inspire me, I am grateful that I have direction in my life. Direction that is leading me closer to eternal life.

–Gina

Thanks Gina! If you’d like to read more about her life, please visit Gina at gidgetgoestorome.blogspot.com

I would love to post more LDS convert stories here! They can focus on how your lifestyle changed, how your friends and family reacted, what made you convert, bear your testimony, etc. If you’d like to write anonymously that would be fine as well. Please email me for submission guidelines if you are interested!

Guest Post: The Righting Reflex (or Why We Are Obsessed With That Wife’s Degree)

April 29, 2010 By: erin Category: Uncategorized

I blog at JustOneWeek about my very long list of habits that I want to create and projects that I want to complete (or start!). I feel guilty way too often about items stranded for years on my to-do list and about habits that never seem to stick. I am done feeling guilty.  And so I blog at JustOneWeek about my quest to find motivation, discipline, and acceptance.

Jenna has a giant item that has taken residence on her to-do list: Finish her degree.  She’s written in the past about her self-imposed deadlines to finish before the wedding, before the pregnancy, and before the baby.  And she has humbly informed us that she has missed all of her deadlines.

What is fascinating to me isn’t the fact that Jenna has not yet achieved her goal (I certainly have items that have taken near permanent residence on my to-do list) but how passionately her readers (including myself) have responded.  It is as though we think our comments could motivate her to change her behaviors?!

Most comments take one of the following approaches:

  • Tough love/bullying/confrontational – Call it what you want, but these comments are aggressive.  We think we can bash her, shame her, help her into seeing the light.
  • Knowledge/statistics/facts – If only Jenna knew that she’d be a statistic, a poor role model, have trouble providing for her children if something happened to TH… then she’d be motivated to change!  These comments act as though Jenna hadn’t thought about why she should finish her degree, and so we kindly inform her.

I left my first comment on the subject over a year ago and I shamefully used both tactics:

… so far I’ve heard 1.) your husband wants you to, 2.) so you can have a baby, 3.) because your parents want you to. This may be rude, but you can add a 4th external reason – the Church would want you to. It is a continuous source of embarrassment for BYU that their 4-year graduation rate for females is deplorable (as is the overall graduation rate for females)…

Ouch!  I love that I pretended to soften it by stating “this may be rude.”  I should note this is only an excerpt; I leave ridiculously long comments.

I recently attended a training seminar for Motivational Interviewing (MI).  In short, MI is a counseling approach frequently used in Behavioral Medicine with patients who need to change their smoking/drinking/eating/medicine-taking habits for health reasons.  More generally, MI is “a directive, client centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence.”

The seminar discussed the common myth that confrontation and knowledge (just like our comments) are needed to trigger change.  When I stopped to think about it, I could not recall a single instance where either changed my behavior – and thus why do I use those techniques to try to change Jenna – and why do I even care?  The answer – my Righting Reflex.

The seminar discussed our need (as psychologists) to want to fix things.  But I’m pretty sure that the desire to fix, change, right, or improve things – really people – extends far beyond our profession.  The problem is that the Righting Reflex puts me into their shoes; but I’m not in their shoes – they are!  I’m sure any of you readers can grab my to-do list and start checking things off.  It is a lot easier when it is not your own to-do list.  The Righting Reflex causes us to ignore the ambivalence that makes change difficult.

Ambivalence – the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

Jenna has a long list of reasons why she wants to finish her degree.  She also has a very long list of reasons why other people think she should finish.  But she also has valid reasons for maintaining the status quo.  She is ambivalent.  And that is very normal.

The Righting Reflex causes me to be very judgmental and not very helpful.  It also causes me to attend to other people’s unrealized goals and ignore my own.  I’d like to be more of a cheerleader and less of a judge.  Recognizing my Righting Reflex is my first step.

Guest Post: A bit of advice from this semi-veteran mom

April 28, 2010 By: katy Category: Uncategorized

When I leave comments on That Wife, I often begin by saying ”so this is my 2 cents...”  That is essentially what this guest posting is all about – my unsolicited bits of advice and knowledge I’ve gained from four years of motherhood (which explains the semi-veteran part. I’m a veteran-in-training. I don’t think you can claim full-veteran-mom status until you’ve endured the teenage years).

Before I fling my advice at you, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Katy and I’m an (almost) 28 year-old mother of two whose married to an Air Force captain.  Landon and I met at a junior college in Arizona (where we are both originally from), both transferred to BYU to finish our degrees, and married just before our senior year there.  We are currently in Southern California at our second base assignment – Los Angeles AFB.

Before I found That Wife, I was a That Bride reader.  I found That Bride the most random way possible – blog hopping.  (As anyone else ever used that term or did I invent that?)  Basically, I saw a blog of an old acquaintance, clicked on another blog from hers, then to another, then saw That Bride in the blog roll, and was intrigued by the name.  I was taken in by her darling wedding plans  and our shared beliefs (I’m a member of the LDS church as well), but continued to read because I enjoyed her thoughts and growing portfolio of beatutiful photos.

Since our own union seven years ago, Landon and I have added two boys.  Grant is our sweet, funny, 4-year-old who also happens to have Down syndrome. We learned this hours after his birth and though it certainly put us on a roller coaster of emotions at the beginning, I can easily say he has so dramatically changed our life for the better.  I could talk for hours and hours about this boy and how he is the best thing that has ever happened to us, but suffice it to say that for every 1 moment of challenge, there are…oh…10,000?…yeah, 10,000 moments of joyful pride, happiness, and laughter. (Does that paint the picture?:)  Just nine months ago, Kyle joined our family and we couldn’t be happier. He is our smiley, chunky, eat anything, incredibly chill baby who confirmed an important truth questioned by many mothers awaiting their second child:  will I love this child as much as my first?  Oh, yes.  Every. bit. as. much.

Feel free to check out our blog if you’re ever curious about the life of this military wife and mom of boys who attempts – but never excels – in way too many things.

Okay, thanks for reading the world’s longest introduction.  On to the main topic.

Many mothers, as they await the arrival of their first baby, wonder what things to buy.   With no previous experience, it’s hard to know what is truly essential, what is just nice to have, and what is fairly useless – used once and then never again.  Along with that, sometimes mothers-to-be wonder what is worth spending more money on and what isn’t.  That is where I come in!  Think of me as that next door neighbor or friend who has opinions to share coupled with a little real-world experience.

Those first days you welcome that baby in your home, you truly only need a few general things – diapers, clothes, access to food (bottle or mom), car seat, and a place to sleep.   Some of the additional things I will mention here you may not need for a few months, so there is no pressure to make sure you have everything possible before baby arrives.  Also, this is not an all-inclusive list;  I’m sure if I had more time I’d come up with a few more gems, but if you asked me on the spot, these are some of the first bits of advice I’d reply back with.    Anyway, said in my best ‘Chandler’ voice from Friends: “Could this guest post be any longer?”  So feel free to ask any questions  – even more than I love to give advice when not asked is giving when I am asked!

Clothing

Babies grow fast. Crazy fast – especially one like my second that started out an ounce shy of 10 lbs.  Don’t go crazy buying clothes in the 0-9 month sizes.  Not only for the obvious growing reasons, but also everyone else loves to get you clothes (not the items you tirelessly researched before adding to your registry…).  On one hand, if you buy too much, they will outgrow much of it before they’ve had a chance to wear anything, but if you have too little you’ll be  washing constantly - you have to strike a delicate balance.   If you fear you need more of particular size,  buy a few more clothes in a size larger than you need – they tend to shrink and they can just grow into them anyway. This is where finding a nice resale/mother-to-mother store can be helpful (The Children’s Orchard in California is a favorite of mine).   I’ve saved a ton of money buying gently-used and still adorable clothing at these places.

In the super early days, it’s nice to have easy-to-dress things because they don’t help too much and those little legs and arms want to scrunch up all the time.  In the earlier days they will also have more…um, shall I say ‘explosions‘…keep that in mind as you choose what they will wear.    Too many snaps and stuff to figure out will just make life harder.

Burp cloths

Two words: stock up.  You will go through these like mad.   Have a stack in any room you spend time in and those made of terry cloth absorb wonderfully.

Wipes

Please don’t buy the wipes that you have to scrape with your fingernail to remove a sheet (do they even still make those?).  Get the ones that ‘pop up’ one at a time.  I know it’s a little thing, but when you’re in the middle of the world’s worst diaper situation, you’ll thank me.

And wipes warmers? Fairly silly if you ask me.  One of those products that sound nice but you won’t use it but a few times.  Besides, we didn’t have perfectly warmed wipes used on our hineys and we turned out just fine.

Bathing

Of all the bathing stuff out there (and I’ve used quite a bit of it at one time or another), my favorite is this simple little thing: the Munchkin Foam Bath Cradle.

It can be used in a large sink for cushion, but I used it the bath tub even when they were really small.  In that itty-bitty baby stage, I just filled the tub with enough water to mostly cover the cradle (as they got older and bigger I could add a bit more water).  While lying on their back, they could still safely splash around and feel secure while I did what I needed to do.  Then as baby starts to sit up on their own, they can sit atop this foam cushion to give them more stabilty.

Love the cost (under $10), the relatively small size (compared to those massive plastic bathers that were a pain to keep around), and the fact that I can just throw it out when baby doesn’t need it anymore (I’m in love with anything that doesn’t clutter up my life).   For the almost-sitter, some of my friends also love tubside bath seats like this one.

“Pack n’ Play” / Bassinets

Many of those Graco Pack n’ Plays come with bassinets (as do the other similar brands).  First, I highly reccommend the Graco brand.  I’ve found them to be the easiest to set up and collapse compared to other brands.  I dreaded setting up the other ones I’ve tried and I didn’t care for their bassinet features either.  If you get this type of sleeping arrangement – either in the early days or for traveling when they get older, get the simpler version.  The bigger, more expensive, everything-but-the-kitchen sink versions take up a ton of room and are harder to travel with.  Most of the time when it comes to what baby stuff you choose – simpler is better.  Repeat it to yourself. Make it your mantra.

Was that confusing? Don’t go with a cheaper brand – get a Graco – but don’t buy the most expensive Graco version either (the main section & bassinet are all you’ll really use).

Car Seats

There are a dozen different car seat configurations and systems.  More important than what you buy and how much you spend, is how well it is installed and used.  I’m a pretty laid-back mom – I don’t boil our pacifers everyday or hover over their every move like a helicopter mom - but when it comes to car seat safety, I don’t mess around.  Read the manual, visit a highway patrol station, or ask a reliable mommy friend – but make sure you are using it correctly.

The number one thing I see tons of parents doing wrong is placing that little chest clip too low - it should be level with baby’s armpits.  Should you- heaven forbid – be in a collision (especially a rear-end collision), having that little chest clip up near the armpits is essential. With enough force, the baby can be pushed up and out of the carseat if that little clip is too low. What that clip does is hold the sholder-part of the straps close together – in a collision, that clip may break (that’s okay), but it fulfills it’s purpose by keeping the shoulder straps close together and your little one from coming out the top.  If can’t tell, I’m a tad passionate about this (maybe the word you’re thinking of is obsessive?).  Many moms like to put those cute covers on the straps so they don’t bother their little schnookums neck - that’s fine, but don’t let those strap covers interfere with the clip being in it’s proper place (level with the armpits remember?).

And, please don’t turn around your rear-facing carrier seat (the one with the  handle) to make it forward facing.  The rear-facing ones are specifically designed to absorb and handle impacts when put in the rear-facing position only (and if your baby is young and small enough to still be in a  baby carrier, they are not physically ready to be turned around either).  The only time this is permissable is when you have a convertible car seat (one that is designed to be used rear facing first and then can convert to the forward-facing position -these types stay in the vehicle).  Just be sure to read the manual and other car seat saftey sites to know when to turn it around for your child.

When they are in the  baby carrier stage, most all brands of car seats are fine.  Besides, in my experience, they aren’t in these types of removable, carrier car seats as long as they will be in the bigger, forward facing types that remain in the car (generally no sooner than a year and 20 pounds).  And as I said before, the most important factor is how you use it:  buying the most expensive, high-safety-rated car seat doesn’t excuse one from not learning  proper use and installation.

That said, for the forward-facing and/or convertible style of car seats, this is where I think it’s worth spending a  little more money.  I love our Britax car seat (we have a Roundabout).  They are often more money – sometimes even twice as much – but do have excellent safety ratings, are very well made, and just are heck a lot more comfortable for the kiddo.  For the amount of time your child will be in it as they grow and especially for those longer car rides, they are much more fittingly padded and comfortable.

*this is a good time to note that I’m in no way getting paid to reccomend any of these brands in this post.  I wish, but no.

High chairs

I just got through talking about how great it is to have a more cushy car seat, but that’s not so true when it comes to high chairs.  It’s easy to be taken in by those plush, Cadillac-style high chairs displayed at the store, but - in this case - I highly suggest going for a simpler, pared down version.  Really, baby just has to sit there and eat – nothing fancy.  With all that extra fabric and nooks & crannies come a lot more cleaning. Babies learning to eat (and even the experienced ones) make a HUGE mess.  You’ll wonder how it’s even physically possible.  And guess who gets to clean up all those little nooks and crannies after every meal?  Point to yourself.

It’s quite difficult to find a simple high chair these days.  They all now seem to come with more features than my first car.  I really like our good ‘ol Ikea Antilop high chair.

Bare-bones simple – - now that’s what I’m talking about!  Whether or not you decide to go this simple, try your best to repeat the earlier mantra to yourself as you’re choosing a high chair.

Strollers

I’m sure there are some beneficial differences between the way-high-priced $800ish strollers and those for around $100-200.  But at the end of the day, they all have wheels and move in a forwardly direction when pushed.  I don’t think it’s worth shelling out major big bucks for those differences, especially given the relatively short time strollers are used –  but hey, it’s your money, not mine.   Craigslist is an amazing resource for used baby equipment like strollers, so if your tastes lean toward the more expensive, look into buying gently used.

The biggest complaint about strollers that moms often have is the weight and size of the thing – and they don’t realize how it will impact them until after baby comes.   Actually test the stroller over and over  – see how easy it is to fold up, stow, and whether or not you want to do that 13 million times with that particular model.  For lighter weight and size issues, I like the Metrolite line from Graco and Maclaren (especially love Maclaren for double strollers).

Where I do think it’s  good to put more money and/or thought into your stroller purchase is when looking for a jogging stroller.  If you plan to go on daily, “exercise” type walks (or actually jog!), jogging strollers are a must - way easier to push and are much more sturdy.   If you had to choose which type of stroller is worth spending more on, I’d say the jogging stroller.  We actually have two strollers now - the Maclaren that is lighterweight, easier to take in & out, and always remains in the car, and the jogging stroller that stays at home for those long walks and local excursions (both purchased for a great deal thanks to my beloved Craigslist).

A good jogging stroller makes those long walks much more enjoyable (and more likely that you’ll continue!). I didn’t get one until we needed the double version for two children – we have an Instep that I’m very happy with – it pushes like a dream!  BOB strollers are also very popular and well-made.

Breast Pumps

This is an item I became extremely knowledgeable about with my firstborn.  Grant was unable to eat by mouth for quite some time (mostly because of a problem he had surgically repaired when he was born – it’s kind of long story, detailed here if you’re interested) and had to be fed partly by gastronomy tube (g-tube) for a little more than 2 years.   I began pumping very early on and continued through the rest of his first year – so yeah – I know a thing or two about pumping.

I can’t recommend a pump for the occasional, once-in-awhile use. I’ve never used or even bothered looking into those for my situation.  There are manual and electric versions – either one would probably work for the occasional pumper.  However, if you plan – for whatever reason – to pump more than a few times a week or daily, you simply must spend some bigger bucks and get the Medela Pump-in-Style.

I used mine around 5-6 times a day for a year and it held up superbly.  It got additional use with my second child.  Though not needed as intensely this time around, I still appreciated the fact that I knew it would be reliable and efficient.  It comes in either backpack or bag form, and I could talk more about the specific features, but really – just ask anyone you know that pumps frequently and I’d almost bet that all of them would recommend the Pump-in-Style (advanced or original, even the Freestyle I hear is great).  It’s popular for a reason and one of the few times where spending more for the brand name is completly worth it.

*  *  *

I’m sure there are other things I’d remember to share with you if you really were my neighbor. And if that were true I’d also be attending your baby shower and anxiously awaiting news of your baby’s arrival so I could get a  meal ready to bring to you (I make a mean casserole!).

But in closing, I’ll impart one last piece of advice: Relax.  I’m not going to say “take naps when the baby takes naps” because that doesn’t actually happen in real life (if it does, it only works with the first baby anyway!).  What I mean is this:  try to take it easy, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t expect to accomplish everything you desire right away or “be everything to everyone.” Relax mentally as well.  You’ll figure out this mothering thing and do just fine.  Don’t worry when the baby down the street is already crawling and yours is still content to just play on his belly.  Babies are notorious for doing things when they darn well please – all you need to do is provide the opportunity and encouragement and they will develop along the milestones as they desire and are able.

Most of all, hug those little bodies, kiss those sweet baby cheeks, and realize the time they spend little  is breathtakingly short.  It’s gone before you have a chance to truly appreciate it, so amidst the chaos that is raising a child, take time to just be in love.

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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