6 Core Design Principles of “Baby Chic” Decor

Y’know that old saying “Where there’s a baby there’s baby stuff?” No? Oh. Maybe that’s because I just made it up. Anyway it should be an “old saying” because it’s true: Where there’s a baby there’s baby stuff. Babies are small and compact and take up very little space but their stuff is a whole other story.

When Dave and I bought our first house last March, I spent hours reading design blogs looking for decor inspiration. We’ve done lots of work on the house to make it feel like our own–we painted the walls and ceiling in every room (except the bathroom, which we hope to gut one day), tore up the smelly carpet on the second level and painted the floorboards white, and bought some new furniture. There’s still a long list of “to do’s,” but overall the place is getting closer and closer to how I imagined it would look.

Except…. except for all of the baby gear. While I was ecstatic about having a baby, plastic objects in loud primary colours weren’t exactly part of my decor daydreams. Maybe you can relate? If so, here are some tips for incorporating the core “design principles” of “baby chic” decor into your home.

1. Interlocking foam tiles double as an area rug in your living or family room. The colourful ones with animal faces are particularly “funky.”

Is it an area rug, or baby's play area? Super hard to tell right?!

Delightful area rug, or baby’s play mat? You tell me.

2. Mismatched dining chairs are all the rage and who says one of those chairs can’t be a infant’s highchair?

Pin-worthy, amiright?

Totttaalllyyyy Pin-worthy, amiright?

3. Embrace the industrial look by hanging a metal Jolly Jumper door clamp from an archway so baby can get her exercie on.

It's for the baby, honest...

That looks normal, I guess.

4. Save money on living room furniture by replacing an armchair with an bouncy chair.

babybouncychair

You could put a boring adult chair in this spot, but the “baby La-Z-Boy” (as I like to call it) is “quirky” and “unexpected.”

5. Store toys and books in decorative baskets in each room–your baby will enjoy them and adult guests can entertain themselves if the conversation gets boring.

Could anything be more cheerful?

If a smiling caterpillar doesn’t bring you joy, your heart is clearly made of stone.

6. I never realized how much character an ExerSaucer adds to a kitchen. Everyone should get one, baby or no baby.

exersaucer

I would’ve preferred a kitchen island with granite countertops, but, actually, the barnyard motif works.

Whenever I feel like I’m going to scream because there’s a folded stroller base in my dining room or a Bumbo chair in the bathroom, I just look at my dreamy, perfectly-turned-out “home” on Pinterest and feel instantly calmer. After a minute of fantasizing about living in a house that is so tidy (and without a single Fisher Price item in sight), I remember that these styled interiors look pretty in pictures, but in reality, it’s nice to have a home that feels lived in–a place where a family goes about their real, hectic, and often messy lives together, baby-gear clutter and all. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

How To Prepare For Date Night, Mama-Styles

Stilettos. Eyeliner. Breast pads. Oh, how date-night essentials change when you’ve got a baby.

Last week Dave and I went on a date for the first time since Olivia was born. We figured it was high time we got gussied up for a romantic night on the town. Plus, Grandma and Grandpa offered to babysit.

Like all things in my life, my date-night primping routine isn’t the same since becoming a mom. What used to be an indulgent ritual of applying makeup, listening to Robyn (and taking dance breaks, of course) and sipping a glass of wine has now become a harried process full of interruptions to feed, soothe, change and entertain my four-month-old daughter. I started getting ready for our date around noon and, by the time we left the house around 6:00, I had managed to put on a (non-nursing) bra, straighten my hair and slap on some lipstick. It might not seem like much, but compared to my go-to uniform of a messy ponytail and sweatpants, I looked downright glamorous.

date night with a baby

Sad but true: It seems the last time we got our photo taken while out on a date was on our honeymoon… in 2012.

Here are a few tips for any new moms planning to venture out on a date night soon:

1. Make sure you have time to apply eyeliner to both eyelids before you draw your first line.

2. Mask the chemically scent of diaper cream and baby wipes that has seeped into your pores with a light spritz of perfume.

3. If you’ll be out for more than a couple hours, stuff your bra with breast pads to avoid the embarrassing effects of leaky boobs.

4. Triple-check your hair for spit-up before leaving the house.

5. Pack a purse. Sure, your diaper bag makes for a cute purse during the day, but nothing ruins a killer date-night outfit like a travel change pad and a week’s worth of Pampers.

6. After months of pregnancy and breastfeeding, your alcohol tolerance has likely plummeted, so, as tempting as it may be, you might want to pass on that second glass of wine.

Luckily, the one thing that hasn’t changed about date night with a baby is that it’s still a perfect way to connect with your partner without distractions from whatever’s on the TV, or the nagging chime of the dryer indicating there’s more laundry to fold. And the really awesome part of date night as parents is that when it’s over, you can tiptoe into the nursery together and gaze at your little babe asleep in her crib, feeling grateful that you had some time away, but also so very happy to be home.

Spit Up is the New Black: My First 3 Months of Motherhood

The truth is, I loved her before I even laid eyes on her. Before she appeared on the ultrasound monitor as a tiny white speck. Before we heard the intoxicating sound of her heart thump-thumping at 150 beats per minute. Before we knew she was a she. I loved her even then.

But all of that was the equivalent of a summer-camp crush compared to the to the tidal wave of love that washed over me when I finally met her. Olivia. Our daughter. The love of our lives.

baby smiles

She came into the world at 1:44am on July 2, 2014–a beautiful, squawking, seven-pound bundle of joy with cherry-red lips and a very full bladder: she peed on me as the doctor held her above my belly to let Dave cut the umbilical cord. Ha! The girl knows how to make an entrance. When I held her tiny newborn body against mine for the first time, it felt like my heart was a volcano erupting warm rivers of love and gratitude all over the delivery room, out into the hallways of Mount Sinai Hospital, and through the streets of the entire city.

The first six weeks of motherhood were a dizzying whirlwind of diaper changes, round-the-clock feedings and sleepless nights. I’m not going to lie: it was utterly exhausting. How come no one talks about how much time a mom spends nursing her newborn? Sure, all of the books I read told me that babies need to eat eight to twelve times per day but I was thinking each feeding would be ten minutes, max. I’m here to set the record straight: if you plan to breastfeed at some point in your life, prepare to be a 24-hour all-baby-can-eat milk buffet. Feedings sometimes took up to an hour, which basically equals eight hours a day (or more), which basically amounts to a full-time job.

Getting out of the house with a newborn is an adventure in and of itself. It’s staggering that infants–such tiny little creatures–have so much gear. Every outing requires an intense round of mental gymnastics as you sort out what you’ll need (a car seat, a stroller, a carrier–all three?) and making sure you know how each item works before you leave. You don’t want to cause a traffic jam in the mall parking lot because you don’t know how to collapse the stroller. (Hint, though: most of this stuff is only a quick Google away.)

Things got easier around the two-month mark. She started sleeping for longer stretches and she was happy to take a bottle. “I get to make dinner?!” I exclaimed the first time that Dave came home from work and fed her from a bottle in the evening. I had never embraced the task of preparing a meal with such enthusiasm. Dicing onions and heating olive oil in a frying pan helped me connect with my pre-baby self, someone that felt a little lost to me during the first few weeks of motherhood.

I love being a mom (I love being her mom), but it took time to adjust to this new role. All aspects of my life changed overnight, including my marriage (date night… what’s that?!); my social life (while 5 p.m. once kicked off “happy hour” and after-work drinks with friends, it now signals the beginning of what the experts call “the witching hour,” a three-hour period in the evenings when babies are particularly fussy); and my exercise routine (my running shoes haven’t seen the light of day since I don’t even know when).

Sometimes I still I miss the days when I had the freedom to do these things whenever I pleased. A simpler time when I didn’t spend most of the day with a nursing pillow strapped around my naked torso. But then I catch a smile on our daughter’s adorable face, or hear her sweet coos and giggles, or smell her delicious baby scent, and all of that longing disappears. I’ll be reacquainted with my sneakers soon enough. For now, I’m savouring every sleep-deprived moment with this beautiful little soul.

Help! Breastfeeding Has Turned Me Into A Baked Goods Addict

Let me start by stating that I’m very grateful that I can breastfeed my baby. I know that it doesn’t work for all mothers and babies for a variety of reasons, and I’m thankful that it has worked for me and my daughter. It’s been a wonderful bonding experience.

However, breastfeeding has turned me into a bottomless pit. I’m hungry all of the time. And of course I don’t crave kale and arugula. (Does anyone crave leafy greens?) I yearn for full-fat lattes and date squares. Salted chocolate chip cookies. Freshly-baked scones. Almond croissants. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Homemade blueberry pie with French vanilla ice cream. I want it all! Right now!

I indulge in these cravings on a semi-regular basis because, well, it takes a lot of energy to feed a human baby! And because sometimes I’m just too exhausted to muster the willpower not to. Sure, breastfeeding burns a lot of calories–I’ve read anywhere from 200 to 800 calories per day (the Internet can be so reliable)-but in my experience it’s not quite enough to balance out the extra energy I’m consuming. It’s maddening to juggle two constant, conflicting desires: to (a) eat fattening baked goods with abandon and (b) fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Yes, I want to have my seven-layer chocolate cake and eat it, too. It’s an exhausting and frustrating mental battle, and when I get tired and frustrated, y’know what I wanna to do? EAT BAKED GOODS!!

And so I do… and I enjoy every last bite!

Since I’ve got sweets on the mind, I thought I’d share this recipe for Hello Dollies–one of my all-time favourite comfort foods. I know I say a lot of recipes are super easy to make, but this one is downright rudimentary. You don’t even have to stir the ingredients together! They might not be the prettiest treats on Pinterest, but who cares how they look when they taste so ridiculously delicious?

1/4 cup butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325°F

Melt butter in 8″ x 8″ pan. Add graham cracker crumbs and press firmly into pan to create crust. Arrange remaining ingredients over crust in order given, without stirring or mixing. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan before cutting into squares.

Love You, Dad

Words cannot express how deeply I love this shot of my mom and dad. (Same thing goes for the two incredible people in it.)

It was taken in 1976, before they were spouses or parents or homeowners. I love their goofiness (totally inherited some of that). Their proto-hipster cool. Their closeness.

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