If you already have a child, then you know well that whether you were once a reader or not before becoming a parent, that you certainly are now. We all know that reading to your child, even before they are born, is an incredible way to connect, educate and stimulate their rapidly growing minds.
Back when we found out we were having a child, one of the first things we did was buy books to read out loud so that our little guy could learn our voices right away. When he made his way into the world, we kept up with that. It’s paid off in so many ways already. Some of our fondest memories with Forrest so far are during story time. He’s been a book lover since forever and still is.
The thing with children and books is just like children and anything else; they get really attached to one thing or doing a certain thing. They like and need to hear things over and over. I am pretty sure that between my wife and I, we’ve read Little Owl Lost at least 1 million times. So, if you are going to be reading the same thing over and over, you mind as well get some enjoyment out of it too. There are ridiculous amount of books out there for little ones, so naturally, it’s hard to sift through all of them to find the good ones. The ones written well with interesting topics or amazing illustrations and that might even inspire us parents.
So, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books that Forrest loves and that Jessica and I don’t mind reading over and over. Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments for others to check out as well!
If you’re anything like me, you are looking at the calendar and just now realizing there are only 16 shopping days left for Christmas. On top of that, you’ve got a huge workload to finish before the end of the year leaving you little to no time to actually go out and do your shopping. So, in the little bit of free time I have, I’ve been compiling these holiday gift guides full of great gifts for your lady, kids and even a list to give to your wife in case you are one of those “impossible” to shop for guys. Good news is that all of the products listed out below can be ordered online and I am 98% sure all of them will arrive before Christmas, if you get on it soon. Here’s to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer, or at least I think it does. At least when I was growing up it was the day all the pools opened up, so that was my indication that summer had started. This year, we got a little ambitious and tried to make our summer start at the beginning of May, which in North Carolina, can be hit or miss. This year, we missed the summer part of it. It was pretty chilly and rainy the entire time. To top it off, the rest of the house all got the stomach bug. Somehow Jessica, Forrest and I dodged that one. We still had a ton of fun with our friends when during our early beach trip out on the Outer Banks in Duck, NC, which if you’ve never visited (any of the Outer Banks), you are missing out.
Rental house we shared with friends in Duck, NC
What the ocean looked like the majority of the time. No bueno.
With this trip being our first trip to the beach with Forrest made me think about how much extra stuff we had to think about bringing with us. There was way more than I initially thought. So, in case you’re getting ready to hit the road for your baby’s first beach trip, I’ve compiled a list of things we brought (or wish we had brought) with us on our first beach trip with Forrest and will absolutely be bringing with us next week when we go on Jessica’s family beach trip, also on the NC coast.
We used our BabyBjorn Travel Crib a ton. We debated bringing it because we had a room with two beds and thought that we might just want to put up “pillow bumpers” and let him sleep in the other bed, but in the end, we felt a lot better about having him in his travel crib. Although we didn’t get use a lot of the others during this first trip, we know we’ll being using them a lot next week, if the weather is nice, which is should be. However, we did wear our Tosan Pop + Tot sweatshirts since it was chilly and we’ll be packing them again this time around for those chilly nights, especially if I end up sun burnt. Oh, and PS, got tons of compliments on those, although Forrest is still working on filling into his.
A few things we initially didn’t think we’d need/want to take and were either glad we did bring or will definitely be bringing this time were our Nest Cam, LilyPad and Bumbo Floor Seat. Nest Cam came in handy a lot when we’d put Forrest down for a nap or to sleep and didn’t want to have to keep running up and down like four flights of stairs to check on him. We could just check on him from our phones and setting up the Next Cam away from home was super easy. We’ll definitely be bringing it again next week too. The LilyPad was also a lifesaver. Any play mat is essential, especially if your beach house is all hardwoods. There were plenty of times we wanted to put Forrest down on the floor to play, but didn’t want him doing tummy time on the hardwoods. And the Bumbo seat was also a great idea instead of packing up a whole highchair since we could easily move it around all over the house to have Forres hang out in and also feed in him his solids in.
For my wife and I, finding the perfect stroller was a serious task. So many options, so many brands, so many prices and so many hours spent comparing all of them. For us, we knew we wanted something that could do a lot, wouldn’t break the bank, looked good and was small enough for our living space, vehicle and narrow grocery store aisles. That’s a lot to ask for, apparently. But, we came to the conclusion that we needed a travel system. We searched high and low for the best stroller that we could afford and appealed to us.
Eventually, we landed on the Scoot from Stokke. It’s light, small enough for our small home, fit easily in the trunk of our somewhat small car, was within our price range (~$700) and was compatible with the car seat we wanted, the Nuna Pipa ($300) with the Stokke car seat adapter. Even better though, Stokke collaborated with Nuna to release a Stokke x Nuna Pipa ($350) which worked with Stokke strollers without the adapters and came in the black melange fabric we wanted anyway. So, that pretty much settled our decision. Additionally, we came across a great deal from Diapers.com they had running on Stokke products. We had already become fans of Diapers.com anyway, (365 day return policy, easy returns, price matching, quick/free shipping, awesome customer service, etc.) so that was the icing on the cake.
That probably sounded a lot easier than it actually was. We spent A LOT of time researching and looking at most the strollers listed below before making a decision. It was important to us that whatever we bought was going to last, hopefully through the use of a second child. Our only concern was, do we get a stroller that can become a double stroller later? We decided against it because 1) we don’t know when we’ll have said second child and 2) if we absolutely need to get a double stroller, we’ll hopefully be able to sell our current stroller for a decent amount before purchasing a double. The Stokke Cruzi was one that offered a sibling seat option, but at over twice the cost of the Scoot, it was justifiable at the time.
We loved pretty much everything about the others we looked at. The main reasons we went against them though, was either because of price, size or weight. The Britax B-Agile was tempting because of its costs and Britax seems to be a trusted name. Tons of our friends have them and love them, but we just really found that the Scoot just felt better ergonomically and had we gone with the Britax, we wouldn’t have been able to use the Nuna Pipa with it.
Two that we didn’t look at the time, but are listed below, are the Cybex Priam (it wasn’t out at the time) and the Voyager from Phil&Teds. If we were looking for a stroller right now, we would have definitely included these two into our top picks. The Cybex Priam stroller is really lightweight, yet it’s great for various terrain. It, like many of the others listed is a 3-in-1 in system and it’s just really a beautifully designed stroller as well as their carseats too. What I love about it, from what I can tell, is how well it folds down and easily it can be stored. The Phil&Teds Voyager is a 4-in-1 system and can accommodate ONE OR TWO car seats from either their own line, Mountain Buggy, Graco, Chico, Maxi Cosi, Peg Perego and Cybex. To use it with two seats, you simply need the adapter they offer.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these though. All are carefully designed to help make life with a baby a little bit easier and to have great style. The ones we focused in on for ourselves were all easy to use, seemed comfortable for our baby and were made of quality, durable materials and deliberately left the obnoxious “cheese” factor off the product that a lot of brands use to sell their products.
So, if we were to be on the stroller hunt again, this would be our list of the best strollers of 2016 that we’d begin with and narrow down from there.
With spring right around the corner, and what feels like a bad case of cabin fever from this winter, I’m itching to get out into the woods and set up camp for a weekend. I’ve been planning and waiting for the day that I can take Forrest camping for the first time, but he’s still got awhile before he’ll be ready. At 3 months old, I don’t think my wife, Jessica, would approve. Plus, I want him to remember it to some extent. I just really cannot wait to pack up the Range Rover and head out toward the mountains and set up in camp in one of Jessica and I’s favorite spots, Black Balsam Knob in the Pisgah National Forest. It’s such a great spot, right along the Appalachian Trail and I know Forrest will love it when he is old enough. Until then, I guess I’ll keep making wish lists of all the great stuff out that there we’ll enjoy on our camping trips once that day arrives. Until then, here is my wish list for our first camping trip with Forrest: