September 2017 | Olive and Tate

Amazon Faves: For Baby, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Ready for another round of Amazon Faves??
This time I'm sharing all of our must have purchases for baby, toddlers and preschoolers. We own each and every item and use them in our home so if you have a question, please leave it in the comments and I'll be happy to help! Don't forget to check out my list of Amazon Faves for the home here.

this post contains affiliate links

1. Bubble Machine
Our red fish bubble machine was a gift to Gray on his third birthday and he looooves it. It holds a fair amount of bubble solution, produces a ton of bubbles, is easy for a toddler/preschooler to turn on (if you want them to do it themselves) and has a great battery life.

2. Bathroom Stool
We use this little stool all over the place - originally it was in front of the sink to help with hand washing but now that we no longer use a toddler potty, it helps with a boost onto the big toilet.

3. Baby Pibu
After what felt like an extensive search, Baby Pibu is the only brand of shampoo/body wash that we can use on Gray's skin without irritating his eczema. My mom originally found it at her dermatologists office and we re-stock via Amazon - and thankfully its Prime eligible because we almost always wait until the bottle is completely empty to order!

4. Bath Toys
Twenty six small sized bath toys for $12? I mean, why not?? How cute would these be as stocking stuffers for a toddler?

5. Water Bottle/Contigo Trekker Bottle
I'm not sure who first turned me on to these kid's water bottles but I remember their caption said something like "these water bottle DO NOT leak!". I'm not one to step down from a challenge so I ordered one (despite thinking they are pricey) for Gray's preschool lunch box. I am happy to report that the Trekker Bottle is worth every penny. It honestly does not leak - I even keep one in my purse. This is definitely meant for use for a preschooler as you have to push in the button to drink out of it but my newly minted three year has no trouble with it.

6. Potty
This is the original potty that we used for potty training. I chose it because, as a boy mom, I really liked how high that little piece in the middle rises. It keeps all of the pee pee in the potty and not on my walls and is easy to clean.

7. Mickey Headphones
These were a huge hit for Gray as his first pair of headphones. They are sturdy and can take a little bit of a beating which means they are perfect for travel.

8. Mickey Watch
We gave this to Gray for Christmas and he is obsessed. It's $9 (!) and the band is perfectly soft and sized for tiny wrists. I secretly love it because I think he looks like such a little adult when he wears it.

9. Native Shoes
Once Gray became a true walker, we dropped the mocs and made the move to Natives. They are still our go-to shoe because he has been able to put them on by himself for a while and I'm not rocking that boat. I also think they hold up super well and can handle just about anything. Once it gets too chilly for them, we move to sneakers! 

10. Bouncer
Ok, this is my current Baby product obsession. I actually bought it because it folds flat and I was looking for a bouncy seat to take to Tailgate. Once it arrived, I realized that it sits much more upright than I thought and hoped that position would help Georgia with her reflux/colic/general fussiness. And guys, she loves this thing. She rarely just chills - whether in her swing or on a play mat, so the fact that she'll sit in the bouncer for ten minutes at a time is a huge win for us. Plus, it really does fold flat and is lightweight, making it great for travel or if you live in a small space. Oh and P.S. it vibrates!

11. Noise Canceling Headphones
I snagged this pair of noise canceling headphones for football games and have been pleased with how well my kids have done with them. They are teeny tiny so they fit comfortably and I know their little ears are protected.

12. Car Seat Gate Check Bag
We always gate check our car seats when we fly (because you'll only let an airline lose your car seat one time and then never again) and those jokers get filthy in the travel process. The gate check bags are insanely cheap and take the brunt of the airline wear and tear. Our current bag is ripped which makes me wonder what would have happened to our car seat if it wasn't protected. Plus, the bags will keep your seats protected from the elements and can also hold a few extras if your suitcase is over weight (not that I've ever done that or anything).

13. T Ball Set
We gifted this T Ball set to an out of town friend and it's been a hit (no pun intended!). I have it on Gray's Christmas list for this year and can't wait to see him play with it.

14. Blow Up Pool
If you follow my Insta stories you probably saw this blow up pool a ton over the Summer. Honestly, I am so impressed with the quality of this pool for the price - it handled two big, wild, rough and tumble preschooler boys with no problem and we even left it outside overnight quite a bit. Gray loved the two pools and the ring toss game it comes with!

15. Tummy Time Pillow
Megan told me to snag this for Georgia as she was loving how it was growing with her babe, Isa. Right now we use it as a tummy time pillow and as Georgia grows, I can use it to support her sitting and she can play with the mirrors and shakers for independent play.

16. Extended Baby Gate System 
I had the hardest time finding a baby gate system that was long enough to span the length of our double French door opening. This kit did the job (and I think I even ended up with an extra piece) and was sturdy when mounted. The gate is heavy and tough to open so Gray never escaped. I have a feeling there won't be a gate on earth that can contain Georgia so we'll have to see what the future holds on that one! 

An Open Letter To The Research Scientists Claiming Colic May Be A Result of Not Enough Love

To the Authors, Research Team and Doctors behind the "Colic Can Be Attributed to Poor Relationship Dynamics Between Parents" Study:

How dare you. 

I understand your need, as Scientists, to find answers, patterns and anomalies within sets of data but how dare you?  How dare you take small slivers of a small population and make a sweeping conclusion that those of us who had babies who suffered at the hand of colic must have done so because we did not love our partner enough (or correctly). 

Do you know the impact of such an accusation? Do you know how much we parents of colicky babies already struggle? We battle every single day with the weight of our child's pain bearing down on us - we worry that the hours upon hours of crying are a result of something more than colic, that our babies are in pain. We drive from doctor to doctor begging for answers, gladly stop eating major food groups if nursing or pay $40 a can for formula if formula feeding, we walk, bounce, drive and rock until we have blisters on our feet and empty gas tanks. 

We feel immeasurable guilt that we cannot help our babies. 

And yes, we worry about the stress colic puts on our relationships. 

I can assure you that no one is their best self after days, weeks and months of inconsolable crying. Colic breaks your spirit, demolishes your patience and challenges every last weakness and, unfortunately, we parents often take out our frustrations on those adults closest to us. So, yes, dear Scientists, colic can wreak havoc on a marriage or partnership. But I can assure you that it can also bring partners closer together as you do your best to survive in the trenches. 

To insinuate that a baby might suffer through even a short period of colic as a direct result of their parents not loving each other appropriately prior to their birth (or in the hours after their birth) is reckless and irresponsible. You are tearing at the last shreds of hope that we colic parents cling to - that we did nothing to cause this and there is nothing we can do to fix it. By telling us that we triggered our baby's endless suffering, you are frankly risking some of our lives. Some of us are so fragile, so very lost in this experience that we do not have the strength to fight off such a heartbreaking accusation. 

My daughter, my second born, my rainbow baby is 17 weeks old. She has cried, red faced and high pitched, for the majority of those 17 weeks. We have done it all - visited specialists, had her diapers tested, purchased every bottle and every swaddle and every probiotic but to no avail. This is our journey and she will grow out of it. But until she does, our family is being held hostage by colic. We aren't able to enjoy her like we want to. Let that sink in, Scientists. We don't enjoy our precious baby - honestly, we don't even know our precious baby - all because of colic.

But know this: our daughter was wanted, fought for, loved and cherished before she took her first breath Earthside. She was conceived and born into a family that loves - not always perfectly, but always without failing. Her parents are married because they choose to be, day after day, month after month, year after year. We bicker, hold hands, leave dishes in the sink, binge watch bad TV and are grateful for each other 

and we did not cause her colic.

To my fellow colic parents: I know this journey and I know that you cannot truly understand it unless you've been there, too. I see you, I respect you and I know that you are doing your best.

You can read the summary of findings in this article.

Renovation Round Two: Setbacks and Updates

This post was sponsored by Sengled. All thoughts, opinions and renovation experiences are my own. 

It's a been a while since I've done a renovation update around here so I thought it might be time to chat all things Round Two! If you're just popping in for the first time today, we purchased our current home in the Spring and moved into a temporary apartment to complete Phase One of renovations. Typically, we like to do all of the renovations at once (I mean, we already moved into an apartment, why not just ride it out) but I was massively pregnant and needed to break this bad boy into two phases. So, we renovated our living spaces, kitchen and children's bathroom and moved in - just 14 days before our daughter was born.

We took a little break and then hit the ground running with Phase Two....and while we've been ready to roll for awhile, we've hit a few hurdles along the way.

First of all, we have plans drawn and in place for the addition! We are turning what is now our garage, storage room, laundry room and closet into a master suite (bedroom, bathroom and two closets) and a new laundry/mud room with exterior entrance. All in all, we will be converting 700 square feet and I cannot wait! And because I know this is everyone's favorite part, here are some Before shots taken on inspection day:

 current storage closet

current laundry room 

Wanna see the plans?? We worked with the drafter we used on our last renovation in order to ensure that we could cram as many Wish List items as possible into the space. After a few rounds of revisions, we came up with this:

Justin and I haven't had a true master since our very first home together (our Maine house only had a single hall bath) and we are somewhat giddy about that fact that we won't have to share a closet or bathroom sink anymore. 

When picking the design scheme for the master, I've had the most fun dreaming up our master bath. I Pin dream bathrooms all day long and am on the hunt for the perfect tile combo. I think I have the plan in place and am (no surprise here) going for light, bright and clean. I'll incorporate shades of white and grey but want to add visual interest with one bold tile choice. I also want to make sure that I add wood tones for a natural element and we've worked hard to design the space to maximize as much light as possible in the bath. 

I have my eye on this vanity, I think I'll bring back my beloved round mirrors from Target and a double set of sconces for the sink area. The shower will be 6 feet long and I am demanding a bench, if only to encourage myself to shave my legs more often (oh yeah, I went there). I also want to be sure that I work in the little extras that make a master bath feel luxe, so I added a demi wall to the toilet area for a little privacy and am throwing some tech into the mix. In fact, the entire addition is getting a tech upgrade in the form of smart lightbulbs that play music, can be controlled via an app on our phones and have a gradual turn off - so cool, right??

In our bathroom we're going to install a Sengled Plus bulb that not only functions as a light source that is LED efficient but is also a bluetooth speaker. I literally had no idea that such a thing existed but now I don't think I can live without one. Getting ready while blaring Britney is a past time of mine, one that I cannot wait to pass down to my daughter, and my husband is a sucker for ESPN talk radio. Each bulb can be connected via the app and you can control the music content, volume and lighting from there. 

The rest of our addition is going to be loaded with Sengled Element Bulbs for two reasons: cost efficiency and security. The Element bulbs are insanely cost efficient and since up to 50 bulbs can be connected to one hub, the entire 700 sq feet can be controlled from the app. I want to take whatever steps I can to keep our home and babies safe, so I will be setting up our light system to turn on and off certain bulbs at certain times of the day - I won't be coming home with two little babes to a dark house, I can promise you that. Our back entrance will be lit based on the time of year and I can also turn lights on as I'm on my way home so that I know we'll be in and out easily. 

If you have Amazon Alexa, you can also sync your bulbs to her for voice control - which may not be a good idea if you have a wild three year old who likes to shout things. If you don't live in a zoo like mine, I think you'll dig the voice command. Speaking of our zoo, I went ahead and popped a Sengled Pulse into one of our kitchen can lights so that we can blast the Paw Patrol theme song whenever our little hearts desire. What can I say, we're just living the dream over here!

As those of you who have gone through a home renovation before are probably suspecting, we have hit a few road blocks along the way with Round Two. Currently, our plans are sitting at City Hall, waiting to receive their permits. We thought we might be able to sneak under the radar and get the go ahead in just a few weeks but it's taking a bit more time that that. We actually don't have a start date yet, which causes all of the eye rolls from me, but it's out of our hands for now. The extra time has given us the chance to get the plans just right (and to change our mind on the style of things over and over again) but we are so very ready to start demo. I have my fingers crossed that we'll have a hard hat Thanksgiving and a brand new bedroom to decorate by Spring! 

Stay tuned for more updates or follow me on Pinterest to see what I'm up to! 

Amazon Favorites: For the Home

By request, I'm rounding up my favorite scores from Amazon! I realized when I sat down to do this post that I shop via Amazon Prime a, a lot. I have one touch purchase enabled and use it to buy what we need when I think of it - my Mom Brain will forget otherwise. And let's face it, I'm only taking my colicky baby to my one stop shop (Target) for diapers, milk and prescriptions (and dry shampoo) so if I need anything else, its all Amazon.

I'm going to break these posts up into Amazon Faves for the Home, Kids and Mama (!) over the next few weeks, so I hope ya'll get your hands on a few things that I love! And here's a huge hint for those of you renovating, decorating or designing your home: you should always check Amazon for lower prices than big box retailers! We've ordered everything from light fixtures to a bathroom vanity on Amazon with great success and plan to use it on this next round of renovations as well! 

Amazon Favorites: For the Home

Our real estate agent asked that we stage our fireplace in our last home with "those white logs everyone loves" and to do it in a matter of hours for listing photos. I won't lie, I am still pissed at myself that I didn't bring home a ton of birch from Maine but Amazon to the rescue. This bundle of Birch logs landed on my doorstep in 48 hours and we were staged and ready to roll. 

If you're on the Weight Watchers wagon or need to measure corn in order to fill corn hole bags with the regulation amount (the two reasons a food scale is used in this house), this little scale will do you just fine.

This baby creates so much storage under a kitchen sink. It has a space for pipes and two levels so that you maximize your organization. I am a big fan of this one.

I am OBSESSED with our grey plat mat/play room floors. I continue to buy a pack as we move, need more, need to toss a few squares, etc and I am never disappointed. Our play rooms have both been in high traction, high visibility areas so I didn't want baby-ish colors or themes. The wood tones come in both a light grey (what we have) and a brown wood grain. I highly recommend to anyone who reaches out to ask about them!

These bar stools are a great dupe for the Pottery Barn stools at a much, much better price point. They are great quality and have held up well through a move and storage - plus the design is classic and will work with a ton of different decor schemes.

A classic, crisp white pillow cover is a must for me in our Master but with a three year old and a baby, the white tends to get dingy fast. I decided to go low price point so I could bleach or replace as necessary and I love these shams. I have replaced a few (one bit the dust in a red wine incident, oops), I never sweat it because of the eight dollar price point!

Yep, we bought a bathroom vanity from Amazon! We purchased this vanity for our children's bath renovation in our last house and loved, loved, loved it. I actually think we'll do the double vanity for our master bath renovation in this house, we love it so much. We chose to do ours without the countertop and have our stone yard cut a counter top for us to save money on freight and were so pleased with the look. The drawers are soft close, the storage is plentiful and the overall construction was really sturdy. 

My friend Ailee photographed the product images for the shop that sells these belly baskets via Amazon and I feel in love. Belly Baskets can be super pricey so I though $38 was a fair price for these beauties. I plan to stuff one with blankets and one with a faux fiddle leaf in our current living room!

The easiest, most cost effective way to spruce up an IKEA dresser is swapping out the drawer pulls! Justin and I bought a second-hand Hemnes dresser when we were dating and while it is on it's last leg, it still looks great because of the pulls. Swap out the hardware on your IKEA pieces and thank me later!

Oh man, do I love my ghost chairs. I've always wanted a pair but didn't really think they fit the vibe of our last house - so this house was getting a set, no matter what! I added them to our white wood kitchen table as the head chairs and they serve two purposes: 1. to lighten the space and 2. as a toddler friendly seat! Our other chairs are fabric so I needed an option for my son - these are an incredibly deal at $105 for the pair, are sturdy and wipe clean.

A few years ago, my best friend Megan purchased one of these for her playroom and immediately send me a photo of them with the caption "you need these". We now own two white storage chests in our playroom and I love them. The open bins allow for little helpers to put things away easily, they store a ton and are well made (they survived the move easily!). When the kids are a bit older, I'll add baskets to the top shelves to make things look a bit cleaner and will leave the bottom bins open to store balls, games etc.

$25 for a king duvet cover and two king pillow cases? Yep, and they are crazy soft, too. I've purchased two of these - one for our master and one for our guest bed. I can't get over how soft they are. If you're in the market for plain white bedding, I can't recommend this duvet set enough. And no need to be afraid to bleach it or replace it! We also own this down-alternative comforter, another great Amazon find!

If you have any questions about any of these items, please feel free to ask in the comments! We own them all, have used them all (some in multiple houses) and these have been some of my best Amazon scores to date! 

Beaded Chandeliers on a Budget

Beaded Chandeliers: The Best of the Best for Under $300

We're finally making (small) moves on our next phase of renovation and I can't wait to share some of the design schemes that I'm dreaming up. Until things are a little farther along, I want to make sure that I've documented all that we've already accomplished and that includes answering some of the most common questions about Phase 1 of our current house. 

Without a doubt, the number one question I am asked about both of our home renovations is "where did you get that light!?". I really have a lot of fun picking out lighting and fixtures for our houses and love the impact that just the right chandelier or pendant can make in a space. 

I tend to gravitate toward a mix of metals and materials (I love mixing gold and silver, metal and wood) and always love how the mix of styles can work with our decor. In our last house, I paired two beaded chandeliers over our farmhouse dining room table and in this house I had dreams of a blue beaded chandelier over our white kitchen table

Beaded Chandeliers: The Best of the Best for Under $300
Shop Them Here:

I won't lie, finding a good beaded chandelier was not an easy task. I didn't want to spend too much money but wanted a piece that could play nicely the coastal farmhouse look we have going on around here. With all lighting, the sky is really the limit on pricing but with some research I was able to find some really great chandeliers under $300! My kitchen chandelier is priced under $170 (the price varies a bit depending on the retailer) and I love the look. If you aren't into the burlap tassel, no worries, it pops right off! 

Here's how it looks in our space

Beaded Chandeliers: The Best of the Best for Under $300

The perfect chandelier to blend the ghost chairs, linen round back seats, mix of wood tones and geometric tile

Take a peek at our previous dining room here

The Guilt Of A Colicky Baby

First of all, let me take this opportunity to say a big 'ol eff you to colic. Honestly, I really had to get that off of my chest before we got into the heavy stuff. And to my fellow mamas in the Colic Trenches: I see you, I respect you and I know how hard this season of infant-hood blows because I am right there with you.

My beautiful daughter, a literal answer to our prayers, is 14 weeks old. She has this crazy strawberry blonde mohawk, substantial cheeks and the tendency to cry for hours, every single night, no matter what hoops those around her jump through. We've been to the doctor (many times), rock Zantac, gas drops, soy formula, glass and plastic colic friendly bottles and probiotics daily, yet nothing eases those Witching Hour screams. And before you ask, yes, we have a Rock 'n Play, two swings, vibrating bouncer, vibrating crib mattress, music blaring play mat, tummy time mat and three different baby wraps. I think my first born owned two total infant contraptions but this baby? This baby has them all. If at some point anyone suggested or marketed a product as a colic eraser, I can guarantee we Amazon Primed that B between the hours of 5 and 7pm out of sheer desperation.

Watching your baby cry for hours on end is a soul sucking, sanity crushing, spirit breaking endeavor but at some point you force your pediatrician into saying the C word and you take a step back. You stop trying to "fix" your baby and start trying to ride it out with her. You give up on switching bottle brands and stop Googling "what is wrong with my offspring" and just accept that, no matter how loud it gets, she is healthy, growing and, unfortunately, going through a "phase". She will grow out of it.

But until then, you're stuck with the Colic Mom Guilt. 

You begin to wonder if you've told your baby that you love her enough. At some point, everyone in your house just gives up on having conversations because they can't be heard, but did you also quit nuzzling into that red little face and whispering I Love You?

You start to question if you really have done enough to soothe her, to bring her peace. You are her mother, shouldn't you be able to cradle her in your arms and calm her little nerves? 

You hope she can't feel your relief when you finally lay her down at night or your cringe when she wakes up early from her nap. 

You begin to resent colic for what it has taken from you. You don't see as many gummy baby smiles as other infant moms, it may seem like ages before your baby begins to giggle and coo regularly and to top it off, you aren't able to spend as much time with your other children because you are consumed with the crying. The relentless crying. 

And worst of all, you spend weeks on end wishing the time away. Wishing that you can just make it through until bedtime, or when your partner can be home to help, or for the hour that wine drinking becomes socially acceptable. Wishing away time that, as any mother knows, we are supposed to be appreciating. Aren't we told over and over again that we should cherish every moment? 
That one day we'll wish we could go back? 

Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and say I won't be tossing pennies into that fountain. 

And you know what? I won't be carrying the burden of a colicky baby and a big heavy dose of mom guilt either. What I will be doing is reminding myself of how I am trying my best to survive this insanely trying slice of life. I'm still managing to keep us all fed and clothed, even if we do order pizza more than any family should. I still hold and love on all of my babies, even if I'm wearing noise canceling headphones to do it. And even though I won't be wishing for these long (looong) days back, I rest easy knowing that one day I'll be able to use this time as a reminder to my adult daughter of how much I loved her, you know, when she's trying to decide if she should send me to a Home. 

Until then, you can find me with a baby in one arm, wine in the other and a set of heavy duty ear plugs smashed into my ears.