a second time mom's guide to the first four weeks.

a second-time mom's guide to the first four weeks -- @luvfromafar

It's been six weeks since Rosie graced us with her presence. (Insert all the cliché comments about how fast time is going... because it is positively FLYING.) Since this was my second rodeo with a newborn, I thought it might be useful to share what products I used with Rose that I didn't know about with James. For reference, here was my survival guide to the first four weeks after I had James. Much of what I mentioned was still in heavy rotation this time. I won't "reshare" the items from that first post, but I will share the new ones which we added to the mix. Take a peek!

WaterWipes have been the only real change we made to our diaper routine. (We are Honest subscribers; we have been since James was born. The sweet women who work at our daycare even comment on how well they work!) I love the WaterWipes because they work well with newborn diapers. Without getting too graphic, I like that they clean up wet messes without much fuss. I still like the Honest wipes for older kiddos like James, but these are a great alternative for little bums.

While I could classify this as a miscellaneous item, this portable (and no plug required) LED lamp has worked wonders during late-night nursing and diaper changing sessions. It charges with a USB cord, but I haven't had to charge it yet! It allows you to dim or strengthen the light, without going too strong to wake the baby or your partner unnecessarily. I didn't have one with James and wish I had thought to buy one! I also like this headlamp, if you'd rather be hands-free. (It's also great for power outages, speaking from experience. ha!)

Having babies in opposite seasons has been an eye-opening experience. James was a winter baby and Rosie is a summer baby. I only wish I had discovered the Milk Snob cover before James was born. I had a few other covers that we used with James (this one from aden by aden + anais and the Carseat Canopy they send for free when you shop at A Pea in the Pod) that I still like, but the Milk Snob has multiple uses. I use it as a nursing cover, as well as an infant seat cover. It keeps those peering eyes from slowing down your grocery trip. (Truth: when you have a baby, everyone wants to get a peek! It's a kind thing, but when you only have ten minutes to get in and out of the store, your time is precious.) I love it's functionality for both: it provides full coverage for nursing and doesn't blow up when covering the infant seat. While I'm not as worried about keeping Rosie warm (like I was with James in the winter), I like knowing this adaptable cover will work in all seasons.

The Cloud B Gentle Giraffe was a gift to Rosie from a dear family friend. We had something similar with James, but it is nice for her to have some of her own things. (#secondchildproblems) Rose seems to benefit much more from white noise than James did. With its velcro straps, it easily attaches to her infant seat or her stroller. I don't even notice the noise anymore. (#tiredmomproblems) We only use it when we are out and about, but it is a lifesaver because Rosie has decided she doesn't like pacifiers. No one notices the white noise when we're in a crowded space -- and it keeps everyone around us happy.

My love for KicKee Pants runs deep. If we are at home (and even if we are running errands), Rose is in one of their footies 90% of the time. Their footies (aka sleepers) are made from the most wonderfully soft bamboo-based fabric, which keep her cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The little mitts to cover her knife-like newborn nails are also magical. Their sale section is often packed with some great deals, but I promise it is worth investing in a few of these. If you're not a fan of footies, their coveralls are also a great option. I also love their swaddles, made from the same super soft material. You cannot go wrong with any KicKee!

As most mothers and fathers do, I worry about "flat head".  I did some research and discovered the Babymoov Lovenest. I like that it holds Rosie's head in place when she is laying in her Moses basket or the bassinet in her stroller. This could be a bit gimmicky, but I appreciate the idea behind it. Is it necessary? Not exactly, but it does provide a little peace of mind. (As an aside, she received a great report on head shape at her last pediatrician's appointment. I can't give the Lovenest credit, but I can say it makes me feel just a little better.)

Some sweet friends of ours gifted Rosie the adorable rosy hooded towel and washcloth set, made by Little Unicorn. (Anthropologie has two gorgeous options available on their site!) It is made to grow with your little one from infancy through their first few years. Its beauty and functionality make bath time better each time.

These Kyte washcloths have been a little luxury at bath time. If you're looking for a little add-on to a shower gift, these would be a perfect choice. They're ridiculously soft and work well on a newborn's sensitive skin.

As if we didn't have enough baby seats, I added one more to the mix when Rose arrived: the Boppy Newborn Lounger. This $30 pillow is not a Boppy to be used for breastfeeding; it is simply a soft pillow which gives baby an easy place to hang out. I don't often use it when our rambunctious  19-month old running around, but it is great in the afternoons and evenings when she is alert and wants to see more than just the ceiling. It has the perfect amount of incline to keep her comfortable and allows me the opportunity to be hands-free for a moment.
In the app department, I left BabyConnect behind and moved on to Glow Baby for tracking feeds and diapers. It is a much more visually appealing app, which is a trivial reason why I like it so much. I am not tracking everything as much as I did with James, but it is handy to help me space out my day. This ensures Rosie is not screaming of hunger when I need to go pick him up from daycare. 

I didn't mention it last time, but we have used our 4moms Breeze Playard as a "changing table" of sorts when we are downstairs (so we're not running up and down the stairs all day). Rosie also hangs out there during James' dinner time, if I'm not nursing and flipping quesadillas at the same time. (This has happened.) I like the bassinet because it covers the full footprint of the playard, not just one side. It packs up quickly and easily, though it is kind of heavy. It gets my seal of approval.

Phew! I'll stop babbling now. As with everything baby related, everything is based on personal preference. The products included in this guide (and the guide I published previously) all served us well at one point or another. Nothing in this guide was sponsored, though some were received as gifts from our kind (and extremely generous) friends and family. Do you have any other products that you couldn't live without during those early newborn days? I'm all ears -- and I'm sure your fellow readers would be too! xoxo {av}

P.S. Need a newborn fix? Check out a few of the sweet photos my dear friend, Bree Hester, took back when Rosie was just shy of two weeks old. I will always treasure these beautiful photos of my tiny little one, though I may need to look at the date stamp because she looks so much like her brother ;)

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there's someone new here!

Knock knock! Who's there? It's me again with someone new sitting right beside me. On June 2nd -- the day before her due date, our daughter arrived. I still can't believe she's here... and it's been nearly four weeks! The 4D ultrasound at 30 weeks had me convinced we were having another boy because the babe looked exactly like James. It also meant that she was "baby girl" for the first twelve hours of her life because I was convinced we only needed boy names. We finally chose the name Rose Breton, which honors two of our grandmothers. Rose was the name of my maternal grandmother, who passed away 20 years ago this month but fought valiantly against Parkinson's for 30+ years. We hope her fighting spirit and kind soul will live on in Rosie. Breton is the maiden name of Chris' paternal grandmother who always made me feel at home. She loved her family fiercely and we hope her contagious smile shines on through her great-granddaughter. (I always love hearing how people chose names for their children, so thank you for indulging me in that story line!)

They always say each child is unique -- and this couldn't be more true with James and Rose. The day or so leading up to Rose's birth was light years different than the experience we had with her brother. (You can read his birth story here.) When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought I would deliver on June 1st based on my calculations. At my last OB appointment the week before, I'd made very little progress, so I was pretty certain I would go beyond my due date. On Tuesday, May 31st, we had a very normal day: I dropped James at daycare, went to work, and then ran a few errands before picking James up at daycare. We played a bit in the yard before starting our normal nighttime routine. I got a call from one of my best friends and we spent a good hour of that evening catching up. During the call, I started feeling like I *might* be having a few contractions, but I couldn't gauge their regularity. After we got off the phone, Chris and I headed upstairs to get ready for bed. I noticed a few things were happening when I changed into my pajamas, which kicked me into high gear to finalize my hospital bag and clean up around the house. We buzzed about for about 90 minutes before finally deciding to try and catch a few winks amidst the excitement. It felt like Christmas Eve!!

I woke up bright and early (and ready to take on the day!) at 5:15, so I hopped in the shower (where I had a good cry thinking of the excitement that was to come) and got ready before our normal alarm clock, James, woke up. Getting him ready for daycare that morning was especially tough, knowing it would never be the same for him (or for us). Chris and I drove him together to daycare, kissed him goodbye, and started the 30-minute drive to the hospital... for the first time that day. Things were buzzing at the hospital when we arrived, but I got ushered back to be checked to see if I'd be getting a room. I really thought I had made significant progress... but I was incredibly disappointed to discover I was still only one centimeter and not effaced whatsoever. They told us to come back after my contractions got closer and a bit more intense, even though they were pretty consistent at 5-6 minutes apart. (Truth be told, I was just petrified to progress too much at home and be too far from the hospital.) I felt totally deflated, but I tried to remind myself that this happened all the time. When James was born, my water broke -- so it was much easier to know that I needed to go to the hospital. Rose was a bit more coy with her signals ;)

Since we both had already called out of work, we decided to make the most of it and drive south to Newport. I decided I wanted Mexican for lunch (secretly thinking the spiciness could help!), so we had a memorable lunch on the patio at Diego's. After lunch, we did as we were told and went for a looooooong (and hot) walk on the Cliff Walk... which was a gorgeous distraction from the regular contractions I was having every 4-5 minutes. Around 3:00pm or so, I decided I wanted a shower and we made the call to head home. My mother-in-law had already arrived at our house to help watch James during our hospital stay. I squeezed in a nap, though I still can't believe I managed to sleep. James made it home from daycare and we enjoyed one more quiet nighttime routine with him. I teared up big time as we finished reading books before putting him down for the night. I hadn't fully processed the whole idea he wasn't going to be our only little one until reality smacked me in the face!

We made it back to the hospital around 8:45pm, when I had FINALLY progressed enough to be admitted. I was nearly fully effaced and over three centimeters, so those hours on the Cliff Walk (and the Mexican food!) did the trick. I got a room in Labor & Delivery rather quickly and decided to get my epidural shortly after I arrived. The epidural process the first time around was much less pleasant than this time. With this birth, I was focused and ready for the relief. I'm pretty positive the epidural went in around 11:30pm or so, after which they told me to try and take a nap. I managed to sleep from 12:30 until 4, when I woke up to a different nurse than the one who had been with us most of the night. Had our original nurse been there to greet me, I would have probably told her that I felt like I needed to use the bathroom... but I drifted back to sleep and I waited to tell her that until she came back around 5. She checked me and asked me to do one practice push but stopped me abruptly because she didn't want me to give birth then and there!

After more than two hours of pushing with James, I was prepared to push for another lifetime... but the Big Man Upstairs made it easy on me this time. The nurse gave us a couple of minutes to pull ourselves together before the delivery team came to join us. With two powerful pushes, a beautiful and bright cry filled the room. I saw her arrive (which was mind-blowing) and I saw she was a she before Chris even had the chance to say it out loud. We looked at each other in serious disbelief and I think I squealed "a girl!" before she was placed on my chest. We were both beaming from ear to ear.

My comfort and confidence with Rose was present from the start. The second child truly wins in that respect. The first-time-mom nerves (especially with breastfeeding) were nowhere to be seen: Rose latched soon after birth -- and hasn't really stopped eating since. Seeing Chris hold our daughter for the first time? I will never be able to get that sweet image out of my mind. While James had been extra sleepy after birth, Rose was so alert. Looking into those big eyes, I felt like I'd known her my whole life -- and yet that we have so much to discover together.

Seeing our family together for the first time? Mind-blowing. It truly brought home how grateful I was to be experiencing life through these eyes, alongside my best friend. My heart can barely contain itself at the thought of what memories we'll make together. As an only child myself, it makes me so happy to know James and Rose have each other for life. Though our journey to having children had a rocky start, we're living a life I only dreamed of a few years ago.

As an aside, I know not everyone has the chance to experience such a positive and peaceful birth. I count my lucky stars (and send grateful prayers) for this experience. I feel so thankful for the wonderful care I received from the minute I arrived at the hospital until the minute we left. In the ensuing weeks, we have been showered with love, prayers, and gifts, for which I'll never be able to properly express my appreciation. There are so many other things to share, but I will leave it there for today. Thank you for reading and for celebrating Rose's arrival with us! xoxo {av} 

P.S. Looking for more timely updates? Add me on Snapchat or Instagram! My username is @ali_vinciguerra in both places!

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#onalark: field guide (with a family in tow!)

After a crazy week on the home front, our little family had the chance to spend the most relaxing weekend at Field Guide in Stowe, Vermont. Lark Hotels invited us to get away and experience another of their amazing properties in a new-to-me corner of New England. We took a half day off from work on Friday and made the scenic drive up to Stowe. Let's put it this way: it was love at first sight.

Much like my experience at The Break, the staff at Field Guide was on their game from the minute we walked in the door. They had everything prepared to the last detail, something I have come to appreciate from smaller, more intimate hotels. We were handed a pre-loaded iPad, chock full of ideas on where to eat and visit, which made our stay that much more enjoyable. (My sweet friend and seasoned Stowe visitor, Abby, also sent over a few of her favorite pit stops that she shared with The Everygirl.) I wanted to toss our bags and get going on our Stowe adventure, but the minute we walked in our room, I almost said we didn't need to leave...

Traveling with little ones in tow can make things a bit more complicated, but the master minds behind Field Guide definitely had this in mind. Our space (known as the Trail Suite) was well-designed to give the younger set their own space, while allowing parents the luxury of not having to tiptoe around a hotel room. This particular suite had a seriously cool lofted space (appropriate for older children -- as it does have a spiral staircase leading up to it), along with two other spacious bedrooms. These twin beds are up in the loft... you can't beat the rustic yet modern feel!

When we first arrived, this pregnant lady was a tad bit hangry. Thankfully, we didn't have to go far: we ate dinner across the street from Field Guide at The Bench. The atmosphere matches their food: cozy and comforting. (We loved it so much that we tried to do take-out the next night, but they only take seated parties -- not parties to go ;) I would definitely classify The Bench as family-friendly, with high chairs readily available and quick service for hungry and somewhat unruly toddlers.

Field Guide's on-site restaurant, Picnic Social, should be open any day, but until it is, they offer a complimentary picnic basket full of delectable breakfast treats -- like overnight oats and fresh fruit. It was such a treat to find this basket at our door! They also have a small coffee maker and refrigerator in the room, though I wouldn't classify it as a complete kitchenette. It worked beautifully for our needs -- a place to store milk, yogurt, and fruit that our little man demands on a daily basis.

We devoured this delightful basket of goodies and then ventured out to see more of the little town of Stowe. {cv}'s 'coffee beacon' landed us at the charming Black Cap Coffee in the heart of downtown. Even after all those treats at Field Guide, I made room for a cider donut and a hot chocolate -- because even early April in Stowe required a heavy fleece. Downtown Stowe was full of New England charm, though its old buildings are not always stroller friendly. You'll have to pack your muscles a bit to get in and out of some shops, but this is par for the course when traveling with little ones.

After walking the Stowe Recreation Path back in the direction of Field Guide, we ended up at Doc Ponds for lunch. It is also a hop, skip and jump from the hotel and offers a relaxed dining experience with delicious (and inventive) dishes. Much like The Bench, they were also extremely family-friendly. It isn't a quiet restaurant, so noisy peeps from little ones go unnoticed. Their menu was also one-year-old (and thirty-year-old) approved.

With naptime looming, we hopped in the car to explore a bit and hopefully let our little guy catch a few zzz's on the way. We eventually stopped at the Von Trapp Family DeliBakery to take in the views; {cv} also enjoyed one of their house-made brews. If you hadn't already noticed the gluttonous theme to our weekends away, we also made a beeline for the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop. It's a serious tourist attraction, so you'll want to pack your patience. To no one's surprise, we all thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream. We didn't end up taking the factory tour with our one-year-old, but we saw plenty of other families attempting that feat. (More power to them!)

Running around for a good portion of the day (combined with the extra accessory {jv} was sporting) meant that, by dinner time, it was time to light a fire and enjoy our suite. {cv} grabbed take-out from Piecasso, a short drive from Field Guide. Ordering the pizza was quick and easy, so we settled right in for the evening. On Sunday morning, we indulged in another picnic basket of goodies before hitting the road.

Traveling as a family isn't always glamorous, but staying in a place like Field Guide made it feel like a serious vacation. I snuck away to grab a few photos of their gorgeous lobby. The best way I can explain it? Ski chalet chic to the very last detail!

If you go with children: Bring along your pack 'n play, as they are not provided (we love our Breeze from 4moms!). To be honest, I never find this to be an inconvenience because I'd rather {jv} sleep in a familiar space away from home. I bet I'm not alone ;) Be sure to check the hotel policies, depending on which room you choose, as additional fees may apply per person -- which includes infants and children. A few other positive points of note for parents: many of the rooms have beautiful tubs, perfect for your little ones (and you!). You can also park right outside your room or suite, which is fabulous for the influx of stuff you bring when traveling with children.

This trip only touched the tip of the iceberg on places to explore in Stowe, so I'm already itching to get back with our (even crazier) crew once baby #2 arrives. We seriously cannot thank the staff at Field Guide or the Lark Hotels team enough for their incredible hospitality. If you're looking for a stylish getaway -- with kids or not, there's no question that Field Guide should be your home away from home. Thanks for taking this little getaway with us -- and for not judging our caloric intake ;) xoxo {av}

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NOTE: This post was written in conjunction with our stay at Field Guide in April 2016. I did not receive compensation, other than my complimentary accommodations. I was not required to write this post in exchange for my stay; I chose to write this post after an extremely positive experience.

when you're in it.

when you're in it: a parenting epiphany.

On a particularly normal Wednesday morning last week, I had a strange epiphany about my current season of life. I spotted a woman -- maybe 75 or 80 years old -- who had just left her physician's office. Patiently waiting for her bus, she sat without a phone or anything else to distract her. She was very much alone. This is when the lightbulb proverbially went off. Bear with me here, as I explain...

Though {cv} and I just enjoyed a few quiet days away (courtesy of my in-laws), there are few moments when I am ever truly alone in this season of my life. The sight of this elderly woman helped me realize something rather profound and simple all at once: this crazy togetherness will not last forever. One day, if I'm blessed to live another fifty or more years, I will have many lonely yet peaceful days like this sweet woman I observed.

This is when reality hit in full force: I won't always have these early mornings with a giggling toddler in my ear. I won't always feel like a woman on a mission, trying to squeeze in a grocery store run before the daycare closes. I won't always be worrying what is next -- be it our next meal or our son's next milestone. Most importantly (and most poignantly), I won't always be surrounded by the people I love. I saw myself in sweet older woman -- many, many years from now -- as I drove by slowly that morning. I started imagining the treasure troves of memories still to be made between my 30-year-old self and a woman her age. It almost took my breath away. 

So often, this season of life is filled with mundane moments, those everyday ones you are pretty positive will not exist in you memory bank when you're 80. Those 'mundane' moments, however, are precisely the ones I want to hold onto the most. Momentous occasions are almost always documented: first smiles and first steps to baptisms and birthdays. The everyday routine somehow gets the shaft. Some way, some how, I want to do a better job at writing those other moments on my heart. 

This drive-by made me realize something more: this hectic and happy existence is exactly what I wished and prayed for in a different season of my life. I longed to be needed like I am today, something I know many others in my life pine for as they wait on this season to begin. Strangely, I know that many moons from now I will feel the exact same way. My children will be grown -- without their mother worrying about their next meals or milestones (though let's be honest, I will still worry). They will be focused on their own children, spouses, and careers. I want to wake up during those days, filled with gratitude that I lived those packed-to-the-brim years to the fullest. 

To the outside world, our little family is really in it. By in it, I mean that there will never be another time like this in our lives: I'm waddling around with my basketball (or beach ball?) belly and holding the hand of my toddler, while my husband carts around the tremendous load of stuff we all require. One day, we will have free hands and a lighter load, only to reminisce on these days. These long, laughter-filled, sometimes tear-stained days. I will never be a perfect mother -- I gave up on that many moons ago. However, I hope I will look back and remember the littlest of things, like the way {jv} blissfully glided in his swing on a sunny Sunday morning -- and the smiles {cv} and I shared watching him.

Thanks for reading, friends. More soon. xoxo {av}

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