Best of Baby Gear Series: Part 1, The Early Months

I researched and read a ridiculous amount of information about baby gear while pregnant with Liv.  After 8 months, I can definitely narrow down a list of things that we love and that have been must-haves for us.  Since looking back on those sweet newborn days is so fun (they go by so fast!), and I always love reading things like this, I thought I'd gather up my favorite baby gear items and share them with you all in a series of posts.

First up - our essentials for the first few months:

Bassinet (on wheels!)

I'll be honest, this was not something I thought I needed at first.  I originally planned on using our pack-n-play in our bedroom until Liv transitioned to her crib, but a very sweet doctor I work with gifted me several baby items she no longer needed and was going to donate otherwise.  This sturdy wood bassinet ended up being one of my favorite things for those first 12 weeks.  It was small enough for her to feel safe and cozy in, it didn't look obnoxious and it was super easy to pull right up to my side of the bed and then move against the wall during the day.  Hands-down one of the most useful things during those early weeks.  This one is similar to ours.

A Good Glider Rocking Chair

I did not (and still don't) want one of the traditional-style nursery gliders.  They just aren't my style.  We originally bought a less-expensive, cute and smaller rocking chair, but after actually spending so much time there, we had some gift cards left and went and got a nice, comfortable one.  This is our's - it has been worth every penny.  You will spend a lot of time with your little one there, and trust me, you want to be comfy.


Liv literally napped in this thing every day (she still does on occasion - ha!)  Yes, it is one of those things that takes up a lot of space, but it was so worth it for us.  I had planned on getting the 4moms mamaroo, but this fisher price swing was gifted to us, so we thought we'd try it first.  We've never put it on higher than the lowest setting (it goes kind of fast), but it has always soothed her right to sleep.  It has rain, birds chirping and lullaby music buttons as well.  The fabric is very soft and easy to remove and wash, and it plugs into the wall, so no replacing batteries!  Overall, this has ended up being one of the best, and probably the most used, baby items to date.

Liv has slept in a sleep sack since we brought her home from the hospital.  I wanted her to be as safe as possible when asleep, and these things have gotten great reviews.  Liv got her little arms and hands out of every other swaddle blanket we had except this one.  She always loved being swaddled, and these were really easy and always made us feel comfortable that she was safe.

Love love loved these.  Best baby clothing item we have owned thus far.  She slept in a long or short-sleeve onesie without legs and these booties in her sleep sack every night for the first 5-6 months or so, until it got warm enough to leave her barefoot at night.  She also would wear these with little leggings or pants during the day.  Baby socks do not stay put, especially at night.  These always did.  And I mean, how darn cute are they?!

We used these to swaddle Liv during naps, lay her on on the floor, as a nursing cover, to wipe up spit up, a carseat cover, etc.  These things are awesome and so soft!  They wash really well too.

We have 4 4-oz. ones and 4 9-oz. ones (you may not need that many if you don't mind frequent washes).  I cannot say one bad thing about these.  They are safe, cute, durable and really good for baby's tactile senses.  I could go on and on.  We still use these all the time whenever she's with someone other than me.

So easy to use, looks cute, is safe and fast.  We even bought our sitter one, because the glass bottles take longer to warm up just sitting in warm water.  It's also really affordable and fits most every bottle out there.

Liv had a paci within hours of being born.  It has never caused her a problem with nursing or taking a bottle.  This is the only kind we've ever tried, and she loves them.  We have 2 of the lambies as we call them, and we don't go anywhere without one.  She mainly only takes them now when she's sleepy, but they sure did their job and soothed her during those early days.

Other Items We Loved (and still do!)

Diapers and wipes - the Honest Co. and Pampers Swaddlers

A good sound machine that plugs in - we have this one and love it

A nursing pillow - I got a cute pink one from here with a free promo code and have ended up loving it.  It's really soft and pliable, so it's easy to stuff under your arm and very light-weight

Plenty of button-up footie pajamas - she pretty much lived in these from 0-3 mo.  I hated the ones that zipped, because they bunched up at the top and touched/irritated her chin.

The hospital nose-sucker - you will use this daily, trust me

Plenty of burp cloths - we use the white, gerber cloth diapers


Adoption Update

It's been a while since I've done an adoption update - yes we are still adopting!  For those of you who might be new, we started the adoption process in January 2012 with Uganda, and we were placed on hold during our pregnancy up until Liv turned 6-months old.  We are approved for ages 0-4.  This blog was originally started to chronicle that journey, and while it still will, it will also be a place for me to blog about motherhood and our lives in general.

Liv turned 6-months old in May, and we officially went back on the waiting list for a referral.  We had to update our home study and get re-fingerprinted with the USCIS.  You get one free fingerprint renewal, so hopefully we'll be in process by the time this one is up!

We've moved up 2 spots since going back on the list, but it is really impossible to say how long we might be waiting.  It could be months before we move again.  It all depends on so many factors out of anyone's control, and we're at peace with that.  We're just enjoying this precious time with our sweet girl - as any parent knows, it goes by so fast!  We are so thankful in hindsight that our agency's policy is to put couples on hold when they are expecting.  New parents really need time to bond and enjoy their new baby, and I'm really thankful we've had that with Liv.  I know once we adopt our son, no matter his age, he will need a lot of bonding time with us too.

It can get a little overwhelming when I begin to think about all the details that will have to fall in place with travel and work once we actually get a referral, but I just keep reminding myself I serve a faithful God who is interested in those details, and everything will come together when it needs to.  There's no use wasting time in worry.  Like He knew Liv was coming all along, He knows who our son is and we're trusting Him with those details and timing too.


Sharing My Story: Infertility

GloriouslyRuinedYou guys, I am so honored to be guest posting today on my dear friend Wynne's blog, Gloriously Ruined, as part of her Fertility Friday series.  She has been such a sweet friend to me throughout my infertility and adoption journey, and she has recently been sharing her infertility story on her blog.  She has inspired me to be brave and share some of mine as well.  I truly hope it encourages someone, so hop on over and read my guest post 


Big Changes, Slowing Down and Focusing on the Important Things

I'm not sure I still have any readers after not posting for approximately 6-mo., but hello to everyone who has stuck around!  This post is what's on my heart and may be a little sappy, so you're forewarned :)

Our lives have changed so much since the birth of our daughter, Liv Carolina on November 3rd.  There is much less free time and rest around here, but there is much more love, joy and contentment than I could have ever dreamed possible.  She has brought such light into our lives, and everyday I just look at her in awe.  I find myself staring and soaking up every detail of her - tiny fingers and toes, her daddy's eyes when she laughs or smiles her open-mouth grin that I can't get enough of, baby-soft skin and grey-blue eyes that look at me with such love it literally hurts.  It blows my mind how quickly she grows and changes every day.

I have also changed a lot since becoming a mother.  I don't have it all together, but I'm okay with that.  Slowing down and living more simply has been refreshing.  I spend much less time on social media and worrying what everyone else is doing, and more time focusing on my family.  It's been quite freeing honestly not keeping up with everything and everyone all the time.  I try not to stress too much about my house being perfectly clean/neat (who am I?!) or feel the need to have my to-do list checked off every night before bed.  I spend my days off playing, rocking, feeding and holding this baby girl.  I let the unimportant things come after spending time with Brandon and Liv.  I remind myself daily that in 10 or 20 years I will never wish I had cleaned more or folded that pile of clean clothes rather than rocking Liv to sleep or watching a show with Brandon after she's in bed.    

I am more aware of how sacred and fleeting time is and how much wonder is in those little eyes when figuring out something new.  Being present has become a conscious effort of change for me.  Knowing this could very-likely be my only experience giving birth and raising a baby has made me so thankful and aware of my time as a mother.  I held her non-stop during my maternity leave, letting her sleep on my chest as much as possible and guess what, she sleeps just fine in her crib ;)  I wouldn't trade that time for anything; feeling that tiny newborn snuggled up against me.  That is perfection.  We rocked her or walked her around to sleep every night for months, and we still do if she lets us, and most nights she falls asleep on her own just fine now.  Those are sweet, sweet times in the dark breathing the silence and weight of her in my arms.  I love that bonding time with her.  Witnessing her first time rolling over and then sitting up, seeing her expression when tasting food that I made her for the first time and watching the gleam in her eye when her daddy sings her songs  - these are the things that fill my heart.

The Lord is so good, and I am so undeserving.  All the years of waiting to become her mother were part of His plan, and although I wasn't always happy about that, looking back I am thankful for the process.  God was preparing my heart to love and trust Him fully - the years of waiting were not wasted!  This happy, lively, spirited, sweet girl, well God knew she was coming all along.

Stay tuned for an update our adoption process soon!


New Christmas EP is Now Available!!

New Christmas Music.

Im excited to be releasing this Christmas EP.  It was super fun to record - as it was done with some really great friends.

Here's the scoop.  I really like Christmas music.  But Im a traditional guy when it comes to Christmas music.  Im not a huge fan of "new" Christmas songs.  Thats just me, and I know many people are different.  So when we went to record this project, our vision was for you (the listener) to be able to add this EP to your already awesome Christmas playlist and to enjoy the songs while hanging out with family and friends, or driving down the road!  We recorded an instrumental track too, called Christmas Medley.  One of my favorite things to do is to just listen to Christmas Instrumental music.  Fire lit, Christmas Tree lights on, Coffee/Hot Chocolate...and Christmas Music.  Its the small things.  Merry Christmas!
This EP was recorded at the Bongo Tree Studio.  It was produced by myself and Joe Dunlap.  This album also features some really awesome people - Kile Yurchak, Robbie Householder, Lauren Householder.  It was mastered by Swaff.

You can download the new Christmas EP, along with any of my other albums, by clicking on the SHOP link above or by clicking HERE!  It will only be available for Download here on this website for now.  Also, you can buy Digital Download Cards to give out to all your friends and family this holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

Visit Brandon's Website at www.brandongilliam.com