Favorite Buys: Goodies for Cole

I often get asked by my thousands of followers what my favorite buys are for Cole… Just kidding – no one ever asks me. It’s Friday, gloomy out, and I’ve had this list in my phone for months so I thought it’d be fun to share!
When I became a parent, my purchases quickly shifted more towards adorable baby clothes, the best books for his age, or toys I thought he’d love instead of buying myself gifts. My amazon recommendations are the lamest recommendations for a professional 30-something year old woman because they mainly consist of children’s board games or books. I feel like my cart is secretly judging me. :)
Cole just turned three recently which is so hard for me to wrap my head around! He’s at a fun age where he’s developing a sense of humor, plays jokes on us, makes up his own songs and can hold a conversation. Over the past few years we’ve used a lot of products for all various stages of babyhood, but here I’ll share our current favorites. In the beginning I tried to get the pretty wood toys, but later realized that kids are drawn to bright, primary colors for a reason. Consider yourself warned.

 

Ikea DUKTIG Kitchen. Of all the toys we have, this might be my favorite. All of the kids in my family – Cole, 3, my 4.5 year old niece and even my 12 and 15 year old nephews! – play with this kitchen. It has been one of the greatest kid investments because it promotes pretend play, and has provided hours of play so far. It doesn’t hurt that the price is perfect, and it fits in beautifully with my white and gray kitchen.

Melissa and Doug Condiments Set. I bought this after Cole had a huge meltdown one night about him not being able to use our salt and pepper shakers on his food to excessively season his food. Now when we eat dinner, he gets his own set and likes to pretend to season his own meal.

Fisher Price Barista Set. To my point above about me loving wood toys for kids – this was a perfect compromise. It’s pretty and Cole loves making me coffee at all hours of the day. I was so excited when I found this by accident in Target!

Melissa and Doug Take Along Horse Stable. This little toy has gotten SO MUCH use. It’s insane. It was an impulse buy at Home Goods and my horse-obsessed niece has played with it for hours. She loves to carry around the stable, the kids paint the ponies during craft time, the ponies go in the tub, and they play in the sandbox outside. These horses are magic, I tell you.


Retractable baby gate. I did hours and hours and hours of research when we needed baby gates. Ryan ended up finding this retractable one and it’s amazing. It’s not bulky and easily retracts so you don’t always have a huge baby gate in your space. When the baby goes to bed, it’s nice to pretend you are grown-ups living in a grown up space. :)  We’re using gates less and less these days since Cole is getting older, but I love the design of this one!

Luca Glider. One day when Cole and our future kid(s) outgrow this glider, I’ll be so sad. I rarely get emotionally attached to things, but this chair is so comfortable and has had so many happy snuggles in it. Ryan originally thought it was a splurge for a kids bedroom, but now he (maybe) sees the value since we’ve spent hours reading bedtime stories and rocking him to sleep. For me, it’s a spot that reminds me of when I first nursed Cole as a baby and it brings back those cozy and deeply bonded moments alone with him.

4-in-1 Trike. This tricycle, inspired by the original classic metal trike, is such a great design! My only personal gripe is that I didn’t buy it for Cole sooner. We bought it as a gift last year for his birthday, but could have easily started riding in this at one year old- instead of the million other four-wheeled vehicles we have in our garage. The handles let you control the steering, so the baby feels like they’re riding a bike on their own. So smart!

Building Blocks. We have a different set, but these are similar. Our set was originally my nephews (from almost 11 years ago) and still get so much use. Cole loves building with legos, gears, pipes… but these are always a classic.

Kinetic Sand. Similar concept to Playdoh (which we also love), this kinetic sand is so much fun to play with. It’s mesmerizing and a complete stress reducer for Mom’s, too!

Bubble maker. Save your breath and enjoy the Gazillion bubbles that this little machine blows. So fun for the current season!

My favorite bath toy. This boat has two purposes: a boat to play with (duh) and scoops water to rinse his hair. Bath toys tend to clutter the tub or get moldy. This is is the only one you need and is so easy to clean.


The best beach umbrella. When I bought this umbrella, it seems like a splurge because it wasn’t on sale but I’m so happy I bought it. It’s huge and can fit an entire family inside, but also folds down so small. It doesn’t blow away and can be used as a tent or an umbrella. One of my favorite seasonal purchases to keep my fair skinned boy out of the strong sun on the beach.


Piggy bank. I bought this bank, after Cole kept breaking into his other bank that Ryan has when he was a kid. The older fashioned banks either just snapped together, or had a cork that could easily be removed by a nosy toddler. I was paranoid Cole would get into his bank and swallow the coins… even though he never puts things in his mouth. This bank can only be opened using a screw driver, or a coin, to screw the bottom off. I also love how is looks like a real piggy, instead of a stylized one. Super cute!


My new favorite book. Cole’s outgrowing board books and is more interested in stories which I am so excited about. I picked up some new best sellers and I love this book. I wasn’t expecting to laugh out loud when reading the stories of sarcastic/funny crayons.  We’re also really loving the Pete the Cat series!

High Five magazine. I’m not sure who gets more excited when High Five (or their extra Puzzle Buzz) magazine comes in the mail: me or Cole. We immediately snuggle on the couch… both of us eager to find the hidden pictures. So happy I get to share this nostalgic magazine with my boy.

Settling

When I was pregnant, people would always tell me how quickly time would go by once you have a baby. Maybe it was the hormones, or maybe I was a cynic, but those people seriously annoyed me. Now that I have a toothless, bald baby I now understand what they were talking about. Cole is now five months old and the time has flown by. Each week inspires new changes and milestones that are so much fun for Ryan and me to witness. I could talk about that boy for hours, but I won’t bore you. :) I mention this because you may have noticed that I took some time off from blogging. I didn’t do this intentionally but life kind of got in the way. We closed on our house in late-June and spent all of our spare time renovating our house and spending time with Cole. I didn’t want to miss out on his infancy by committing to too many other tasks.

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(Our moving announcement!) :)

We’ve been living in our new house for about a month and we are finally starting to feel settled. We still need to hang some art and the window treatments, but other than that it’s starting to feel like our new home. Life is starting to feel more normal and we’re finally starting to get into a schedule (until Cole decides to change things up). I’m excited to start spend more time blogging. I’m working on a lot of really fun and different projects that I’m excited to share with you soon! For now I’ll share with you what we’re personally working on now…

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Plans for our landscaping.

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“During” pictures while the gigantic tree was being removed from the left side of the house. Oh, and my handsome husband. :)

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We had the trees removed before we moved in because they were old, gigantic, too close to the house and causing the roof to grow moss. I literally cried when I first saw the house because it looked so naked. A little dramatic, I know. The front is growing on me now and it’s nice that you can actually see the house. (Check out the before here.) I’m excited to get plants in to complete the look!

Above is a photoshopped picture of what we’re looking to accomplish with the landscaping. We’ve already painted the door and railings black, added a new black mailbox and added new black shutters. We’re working with a landscape architect that I used to work with years ago and he’s helping us come up with a design that is colorful, textured and low maintenance. He seemed surprised by my two criteria: no holly bushes with poisonous berries and it needs to be hearty so it will survive digging and soccer balls. I know what little boys are capable of and it’s very possible that he’ll eventually eat the dirt or berries. I’m sure he’ll also eventually take tonka trucks to our garden. I’m one step ahead of him!

We finalized the design last night so now we have to start the prep work. Ah, the dreaded prep work.

 

My Two Babies

The past few months have been a whirlwind and went by so quickly! I can hardly believe that Cole will be 12 weeks old this Thursday. When I was pregnant I originally told clients that I’d only need 4-6 weeks for my maternity leave and the clients who had children laughed at me. I can now see why! It really does take three months to get into a groove and develop some sort of a schedule. We’re still working on that schedule part, but it has gotten so much easier! Cole is an awesome sleeper and only wakes up once, maybe twice, each night and when he does he goes right back to sleep. He’s even had a few nights where he slept eight straight hours! He’s been in his crib from the first night home from the hospital and I like to think that helps with his sleeping. Once we swaddle him and put on his sound machine, he usually goes right to sleep. He is amazing, that little boy.

He is developing such a fun personality now that he’s almost three months old. He has been smiling a ton and is just now starting to giggle and coo which melts my heart. When Ryan sings to him in a silly voice he kicks his legs like crazy and smiles a big toothless smile. Here’s a few of those adorable smiles. :)

 

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I have some more big news! Ryan and I bought a house! :) I know, we’re crazy. Two of the most stressful things in your life and we did them both within 10 weeks of each other. It doesn’t feel real and we’re both on cloud nine.

We weren’t planning on moving for at least two years but Ryan was looking at real estate every day “just for fun”. That’s like going to target “just for fun”. You always end up with a cart full of random items that you probably didn’t need. But, that’s besides the point.

Ryan found a different house last February and we ended up placing an offer but it didn’t get accepted. Looking back, I am so relieved! Our realtor casually mentioned that she had another house coming on the market  on March 28 (my birthday), so I saw it as a sign. She described this house and my eyes glazed over: center hall colonial, fixer upper, north side of Cranford, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a wood burning fireplace and a finishable basement (for a future office). Ahhhh! It reminds me of the Father of the Bride house (my absolute dream house) but obviously on a much smaller scale. I knew this was “the one”.

We closed on the house last Monday and it couldn’t have gone any better. We met the previous owner who lived there for 40 years and raised her family there. She was emotional to say goodbye to the house but she was so happy that a young family was moving in. She was sassy and full of life and exactly who I was hoping she’d be. Her positive energy was infectious and it made me feel so good because I know the house is full of good energy too. I asked her what her favorite thing about living there was and her answer would have been my own. She said her kitchen was always filled with people and love. I promised that we would continue to love the house, cook delicious meals in that kitchen, and have parties to create new memories. After we signed our life away to the mortgage company, the previous owner and I hugged and we both cried. While I jokingly teased that it was from my nursing hormones, I know it’s just because I’m just so happy. SO happy. I am so excited for this next chapter in a house I am so proud to call my own.

Since the previous owner was a bit older, it does need a lot of work. This past weekend Cole spent time with his Grandmas while Ryan and I were able to paint almost every room. It’s amazing how productive you can be when you don’t have an infant attached to you! Before we move in we are going to refinish the wood floors, install wood flooring in one of the rooms that is currently carpeted, and install central air. Go big or go home, right? We’re also removing a few HUGE trees that are way too close to the house. See that big daddy below on the left? He’ll be gone soon so we don’t have to worry about him falling on the house.

house before

My line of work is dangerous for my own house because I have big plans. For the exterior I want to built an overhang over the porch so the house doesn’t look so flat. We’re going to paint the shutters black and eventually get a new front door. We’re going to replace the lighting, windows, add landscaping and remove that funky walkway to the street. We have another walkway that goes to the driveway which is what we would use anyway. Ryan photoshopped a picture here to get an idea. Swoon!

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I’m sure I’ll be posting progress pictures once we have time and money (ha!) to do more work. I don’t want to rush anything because this could be our “forever home” and I also don’t want to miss out on Cole’s infancy. Spending time with him is way more important than stressing over which windows to buy or how quickly we can add molding to the dining room. :) Baby steps.

 

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR DESIGN PROJECT!