Things We Couldn’t Live Without During Our First Year of Being Parents

By: Danielle McFadden

On September 26th, I officially became the mother of a one-year-old. It’s still mind boggling to me how fast the year went by. I’ll be sure to share some pictures of Zoe’s first birthday in my next post. I’m just waiting for the cake smash pictures from the photographer (Jeremy Madore from Captured in Moments – he’s awesome!).

In the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of some of the things Adam and I couldn’t live without during our first year as parents:

  • essential baby productsSwaddleMe blankets – These blankets take the guesswork out of swaddling. Granted, it’s not that complicated, but when you’ve barely slept and have a fidgety baby why not take a shortcut? It’s all about survival mode the first few weeks!
  • Boppy – We loved our Boppy for not only feeding and holding Zoe, but to prop her up for the hundreds of pictures we took of her over the past year. We brought the Boppy with us to the hospital and all of our friends and family used it when holding her.
  • SleepSack – It seemed cruel to me that I’d curl up under the covers while Zoe was in her big crib without a blanket. She had several SleepSacks to help keep her warm and make me feel a little better!
  • Carter’s Zip-Up Sleep & Play – When we were hanging around the house (which was a lot during the first few months) Zoe always had on a zip-up sleeper. They were comfortable and the zipper made diaper changes easy peasy!
  • Cloth diapers AKA burp cloths – We had cloth diapers in almost every room of the house, the diaper bag, stroller, our cars, etc. You never know when you are going to need one!
  • WubbaNub – A soothie pacifier with a stuffed attached…. Why didn’t I think of that? Like cloth diapers, we seemed to have one of these everywhere!
  • Infant carrier stroller base – We loved our Chicco KeyFit Caddy! We could just click the infant carrier in it and go anywhere. Not to mention, it’s easy to open and close, and has a ton of storage in the bottom. Somehow I can’t seem to fit as many shopping bags in the bottom of my jogger. ;)
  • Bouncy seat – I didn’t even register for this, but I’m so glad a very thoughtful person gave me one as a shower gift. Zoe not only played in this for months, but she also napped in it. This seat traveled with us so much that we ended up buying a second one for my parent’s house.
  • Space saver high chair – We take our space saver with us everywhere – including when we go out to eat. It may seem like a pain to lug into a restaurant, but it’s totally worth it. It gives Zoe a comfortable (and safe) place to sit and the tray provides a clean surface for her food and toys. The tray also serves as a buffer between her and everything on the table that she’d be grabbing if she were in the highchair provided by the restaurant. We’ve taken her to a lot of restaurants and her space saver has fit nicely on every type of seat – including a sturdy plastic one.

These are just a few of our must-haves for new parents. We have many more favorites that I’ve pinned on a Pinterest board I created just for this post. I also asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers what their must-haves were. Here are some of their answers: SwaddleMe, SleepSacks, a good recliner, noise machine, exersaucer, jumperoo, soothie pacifiers, rock and play sleeper, swing, onesies and the rock and play.

I’d also love to hear what your must-haves are. Please comment below or send me a tweet!

Twitter – @DMcFaddenLowell

Instagram – @danimcfadden

Pinterest – daniellemb1483


Coffee

By: Kate Henderson

When you have a baby, people are quick and happy to give all kinds of advice.

Co-sleep. Don’t co-sleep. Cloth diaper. Don’t waste your time. Sleep train early. Rock them till they’re 12…or in college; whichever comes first. The list goes on and on.

Some of this advice is really quite good and useful; some of it sounds good but is functionally impossible. Sleep when the baby sleeps? Surely you jest. That perfect specimen of all that is good in your world will grunt, squeak, and moan its way through nap time. Or worse, be silent. A silent baby is a scary baby, because now you have to get up and see if the only thing that matters in your world is still breathing. Yes, nobody naps with a newborn. This is a lie made up by the same people who have trainers and cooks to help them get back into “Pre-baby” jeans before the next awards show.

CoffeeI am here to tell you that none of it matters. Not one piece of advice, no matter how good you think it is, makes one lick of difference. Here’s what matters: coffee and PBS Kids.

You thought I was going to say love. Nope. Love is a given. Nobody needs to tell you to love your kids. What you need to hear is that you should invest in a single-pod brewer, because when you have two kids dancing at your feet at 5:30 in the morning, after being up all night, begging for breakfast or, even worse, for you to play with them, you do not want to be messing with coffee grounds. What you want, nay need, is that hot, life-giving elixir in your hands NOW. Toss on a little “Super Why” or “Word Girl” and you are a veritable Mother of the Year. It’s like sending them to school without having to wrangle your two-year-old daughter into tights.

Now go enjoy your coffee while Word Girl saves the world. You’re welcome.


A Shock to Our World

By: Vallery Schofield-Miller

writing a eulogyLife here in Miller house had been going rather smoothly, we were all falling into our new grooves. I went back to work, and my husband, well..he’s been doing the same the same thing for many years, so he has his groove down.

We were humming right along until one weekend, when our worlds got knocked around, flipped upside down, and rocked back and forth. On Saturday, October 4th we lost my mom, Matthew and Kelsie’s loving Nana. What a shock to our world, so very unexpected.

Then, on Sunday, October 5th my father-in-law passed away, again very unexpected. It was so unreal for us!

So tonight I sit here writing not two eulogies, thinking how therapeutic this is for my soul. So, I guess my advice to anyone and everyone who is faced with the passing of a loved one, is to sit down and write a eulogy. This doesn’t mean you need to actually be the one to give it (as I am- wish me luck). But I promise the act of writing a eulogy for your loved one will help you immensely.

Take care until next time,

Val


Meet Our New Mom Bloggers: Michaelene Gaudet Koskela

“You are the closest I will ever come to magic.”
Suzanne Finnamore

MK August 2014 VacationUnlike my mother, grandmother and several generations before me, I did not start my family in my twenties. I’ve always carved my own path and chose to wait to start a family so that I could provide my child with the life lessons and financial rewards that my late twenties – thirties would yield.

Our daughter Brooke was born April 26, 2010. At the time of her birth, my AMA (advanced maternal age) was 44.

My husband Bruce and I met playing softball nine years ago we will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary in February.

As we neared the end of my maternity leave, we decided that I would become a SAHM (stay-at-home-mother). This was not a decision we took lightly. Our backgrounds held a BBA and my husband’s college experience and 4 years of U.S. Air Force service. Combined, we had over 50 years of corporate experience, and yet we entered parenthood as everyone else does, no matter what age, distinction or background: both as rookies.

As parents, we all start in the same place, with an extraordinarily humungous responsibly to raise a human being and prepare them to function in society as an adult.

It’s a tall order. My intent was to not screw up and to slightly enhance what my permissive parents taught me in the early stages of my development during the 70′s.  As my Father states today when looking back at my childhood, “There’s no reason she’s still alive.”

Motherhood has had a profound effect on me, as I have found patience (something I LACKED). Weekly craft projects and baking lessons have overtaken my calendar where conference meetings once stood. I laugh more and sing often (though poorly) to the delight of my daughter. Watching her development and my contribution to her learning is allowing me to become the happiest person I know. That alone proves that motherhood agrees with me. Certainly in these past 1,620 days of joy, there may have been a moment or seven when I may have wanted to run away or hide.

I look forward to sharing my daily adventures, successes, advice on how to minimize challenges. I look forward to celebrating the triumphs and sometimes even the tears in my posts. I also want to learn about you (please, comment below!) and in doing so, gather pearls of wisdom to add to my parental bag of tricks.


Meet Our New Mom Bloggers: Jacqueline Koutsoufis

Jacqueline KoutsoufisHello everyone! I’m Jacqueline (also known as Jackie), one of the new moms who will be joining the Merrimack Valley Moms Blog.

I have been married to my husband, Daniel, for thirteen years. We have five wonderful, all very different and somewhat complex, children who range in ages from two to twelve.

Kaitlyn is my oldest daughter, who is twelve. She is an amazing, smart young lady who is full of wit and helps whenever and whoever she can. Kaitlyn battles asthma and gerd, but she doesn’t let that stop her from trying something new.

Emily is next at the great age of ten. She is my happy-go-lucky girl who is struggling with ADD/ADHD while entering middle school and starting a new school. She makes friends easily and there is no one that doesn’t like her wherever she goes.

At the wonderful age of nine, Anthony is my only boy. He is my lovable, happy guy who loves to make everyone happy. At the young age of two he was diagnosed with autism and a speech delay. Anthony works hard every day to make progress and to keep his anxiety under control.

Madelyn is my seven-year-old daughter. She is a spit fire who loves to help whenever she is able. She also has ADHD/ADD. She is a creative, happy girl who likes to give me a run for my money.

My youngest is Rebecca, who is almost three. She is your typical toddler/ preschooler who is stubborn, smart, and full of energy. She has given me a run for my money from the day she was born. She has had some minor health problems from day one and continues to struggle a bit.

Jacqueline KoutsoufisAnd if five kids weren’t enough, we have a chocolate lab and three cats in our house. The more the merrier, we like to say. What’s just one more?

I spent the first eight years home with my children before I decided to go back to school and work. I am a medical assistant who is currently working in the home healthcare field. I have been blessed with a great job that has become more of family than a job.

I hope to blog about what is near and dear to me, and I hope to share some comic relief in our daily struggles, from dealing with children with special needs and IEP’s, to the nightly homework battle. You’ll see my sarcastic sense of humor as I try to stay sane with the daily tantrums and a hectic daily life. And, I’d like to give moms some hope when things seem to be difficult, to show you that you are not alone.

I look forward to hearing from you! I hope you get some good laughs like I do when I sit back and play my day over in my head.


Meet Our New Mom Bloggers: Danielle McFadden

Meet our newest Merrimack Valley Mom Blogger, Danielle McFadden

in this video introduction.

Feel free to follow along with Danielle on social media:

Twitter@DMcFaddenLowell

Instagram@danimcfadden


Meet Our New Mom Bloggers: Kate Henderson

Kate HendersonMy name is Kate Henderson, and I am a mom of two. My big boy, AJ, is five; my little girl, Charlie, is two. My husband, Scott, and I have been married for just over eight years. He is a software engineer and is really the only person in the world who would put up with me. Kudos to Scott!

After more than a decade in “Corporate America,” I am now (mostly) happily a stay-at-home mom. Actually, I’m a mom without a “paying” job who doesn’t stay home much at all. Between swim lessons, ballet, library, school, gym, baseball, ice skating…and studying for my own career change, we’re not home much. Did I mention I’m the president of my local mother’s club and training for a half marathon? Yup, “stay at home” doesn’t describe us much at all. Thankfully, my little one is quite happy to nap in the car.

I love shoes, bad TV, reading, cooking, and spending time with my friends.

I also love being a mom. And I love mom topics. I am a self-professed car-seat guru (keep ‘em rear facing as long as possible!) and I think raising kids is about the funniest thing you can do. You can expect lots of humor from me, with the occasional missive on keeping those kiddos safe, while not setting off helicopter warnings. Education is a hot topic for me right now, and you’ll see lots of “home learning” ideas.

If you’re looking for tips on staying sane or organized, I am not the one for you. But I promise a glimpse into my life will amuse you and may even make you feel a little better about the chaos (or lack thereof) of your own life!


Meet Our New Mom Bloggers: Vallery Schofield-Miller

Hey everyone, just a few words to introduce myself to you all. I’m Vallery, and I am one of the new moms who will be blogging for the Merrimack Valley Moms Blog.

Vallery Schofield-MillerMy husband and I have been married for 11 years. We have two adventurous, funny, creative children: Matthew, who is seven, and Kelsie, who just turned six.  I have just returned to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for seven years.  I enjoyed staying home, seeing them grow and achieve many goals, even though there were days when I felt like if I had to talk to a little person any longer I would just instantaneously combust!! I love being a social, outgoing person. We teach Matthew and Kelsie to be open and honest even when they have done something they shouldn’t have. Kelsie is EXTREMELY outgoing. (Which you will read about one day, so be warned- she gives me a run for my money!) Matthew is more the “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” type. He does, however, have his moments!

We have two dogs and two cats! We love our pets.

I love to read. I’am a very big James Patterson and Janet Evanovich fan.

I plan on blogging about topics that are important to families, such as quick and easy recipes for working parents; how to throw parties for any reason on a budget; and how to be creative with household items. I will also write about special needs issues that are near and dear to me. I’ll write about health issues, as I have just been diagnosed with arthritis in my legs. I do promise to make my blog posts insightful and productive for everyday life, so curl up in your favorite chair with your favorite beverage and get ready for some laughs and great ideas. I look forward to your responses. ENJOY!!!