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In part two of this series, I'll be listing some recommended items for helping the new parents welcome baby! For photos and current pricing, click on the product name for a hyperlink! Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to share your recommendations!

1. Marimekko Bib

These are so durable, easy to use, and most important....clean! Just rinse with soap and water underneath the faucet and hang to dry!You can also machine wash for a deeper clean and hang to dry. The bib clasps with a soft velcro and have a pocket in front to catch the run off from baby. You can find all kinds of designs online. They run around $20 for one and around $38 for a set of two. They seem a bit pricey, but trust me-they are so worth it!

2. Phase 5 Bottles

My aunt and cousin surprised me with these at my shower and I am so glad! I love how durable and safe these are to use. They have a glass interior and plastic exterior so if baby drops it, it doesn't shatter! They are very easy to cean and are BPA free! You can find them at www.5phases.com, at Kohls, or on Amazon. They run around $20 for a 4oz bottle starter set and around $40 for a full starter set. They are so durable we haven't even had to use the glass or nipple replacements!

3. Hallmark Gift Card

So mom can go shopping for all of her baby sentimental needs!

4. Gift card to a nice restaurant or coffee house

So mom and dad can have a date after baby is born!

5. Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets

These are a must have-especially for summer babies! They work great to swaddle baby, drape over mom during breastfeeding, lay on the floor for tummy time, wipe spit-up, cover baby when they are in the stroller/carseat, etc. They are so useful, durable, and easy to clean! I LOVE their beautiful designs, too! You can find them at Target for around $40 for a set of four, or you can pay a bit more for organic cotton at adenandanais.com. They have so many beautiful prints to choose from and they are SUPER durable!

6. Baby Banz Headphones

Life shouldn't stop once you've had a baby! We bought these to protect baby's ears when we're on the dance floor at weddings, at loud sporting events, or concerts. They are so worth the investment and they are super adorable! You can find them on Amazon or at Buy Buy Baby. They are usually around $20. 

7. Ingenuity Booster Seat

Save money and space and get the new parents this smaller and efficient booster seat! It has a removeable and easily-stored tray that you can snap on, and an insert that you can remove when baby needs more room in the chair! We could start using this to prop up our little one around 4 months and just strap it onto our dining room chairs when she joins us at the table during meals! It's super easy to wipe it down and the detachable tray is dishwasher safe and fits easily into the sink for washing. It is very light and can be taken with you to grandma and grandpa's house or for a family night out at a restaurant. Runs around $40 and can be found at Babies R Us or Target.

8. Amazon Prime Membership

We have saved SO. MUCH. MONEY. on shipping for the various odds and ends we've needed to buy for baby. From diapers to clothing to baby gear-this membership pays for itself! It is $99 a year and has so many benefits. Not only do you get free shipping on almost every item you are looking for, but you also have access to free online streaming of great movies, family-friendly programming, tv shows, and music. 

9. J.J. Cole Diaper Changing Clutch

This is one of my favorite baby products! It's super durable, cute, and is easy to throw into your diaper bag or stroller when you're on the go! You can even buy a spare to keep in your car or keep at Grandma and Grandpa's house. There is a concealed inside pocket to store wipes and diapers! The interior lining is waterproof and easy to clean. It runs around $20 at Target, Babies R Us, or Buy Buy Baby.

10. Eye Spy or Peek-a-boo Bag

These are a hit with little ones! They just love to sift through them, shake them up, and search for the interesting objects inside! You can find them on Amazon for around $17. They are totally worth it!

I hope this blog series was helpful to you! If you have any further questions on a product, don't hesitate to contact me!

*I do not make any commission from these recommendations. I am just passing on my motherly advice!

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It is RAINING babies right now. Every where I turn, it seems another friend or family member is pregnant! I LOVE babies and we are so blessed to live in an age where there are so many thoughtful, useful, and clever gifts to shower on expectant mothers. 

When I was pregnant with our little one, I found it SO overwhelming to build a registry. There is SO MUCH out there! We felt incredibly blessed that so many people wanted to come to our shower and spoil our family! During that time, my husband and I were in a tight financial place so every gift was very welcomed and NEEDED.

So, as I was researching item after item, I kept thinking to myself, "Will I actually end up using this or will it end up collecting dust? When will I need this item? Can I do without this item? Is there a simpler way of doing this baby-caring task that doesn't involve a big and bulky piece of equipment?"

As you go shopping for the expectant moms in your life, or if you are expecting a baby of your own, here is a list of thoughtful items I've put together that many of us don't know of or think about! In this installment, I will be recommending items for the expectant mother during her pregnancy. In part two, I will cover recommended items to put in a registry or give at a baby shower!

For moms during their pregnancy:

1. Baby Bargains

This book is AWESOME. A friend recommended this to me and it was a life and money saver! They come out with a new addition every year so it is up-do-date on all the latest trends and products in babyland. It contains honest reviews and safety ratings on everything from baby-wearing wraps to diapers to cribs to strollers, etc. The main thing I loved about this book was that it's main goal was to help you save money by simplifying the baby gear buying process so you don't overspend on things you don't need, and when you do spend money, it's money well-spent. This makes a great "Congratulations, you're pregnant!" gift!

2. Hallmark Gift Card

Moms, let's be honest. We are SO sentimental and thoughtful. It's one of the amazing gifts God gave us as women! When I was expecting, I wanted to catalogue every milestone and sentimental moment! It only got more intense when baby was born! Hallmark has some BEAUTIFUL gifts and creative ways to memorialize the motherhood journey. I love their picture frames for holding ultrasound images and I really love their archival and acid-free photo albums. I REALLY love their beautiful and thoughtful Baby's First Year books! We have this one and just love it! It even contains tailored pages for mom's whose babes are growing in their hearts instead of their wombs! 

Also, if you are thinking about making a creative birth announcement for baby's grandparents, you can surprise them with this really neat story book where the grandparent can record their voice, reading the book to baby! There are many other titles to choose from.

3. Pool Membership

Find out where the expectant mom's local YMCA or health club is and offer to buy her a pool membership for her pregnancy. When I was pregnant, it felt SO GOOD to walk in the pool when my legs were tired and swollen from being so pregnant-especially in the final months! We were strapped for cash, but felt it was necessary to keep me healthy and sane during the last trimester. 

4. Pregnancy Journal

A friend of ours gifted us with a pregnancy journal so that I could catalogue every emotion, thought, discomfort, health concern, baby movement, etc. I love reading over it and know I will look back at it should we find ourselves blessed with another pregnancy! It is also a thoughtful way to remind the mom-to-be that her journey is so important and sacred! 

5. Pregnancy Devotional

Motherhood is physical, emotional, and also very spiritual! Here is a BEAUTIFUL testiment to the sacred vocation of motherhood. It can be read as a devotional. My brother gave this to me several years ago and I loved reading it in the months and days leading up to our baby's birth. I found it comforting, encouraging, empowering, and so relevant-even though it was written over fifty years ago! Here is the link so you can view and print it off for free!

How to Have a Baby, by April Oursler Armstrong

Another beautiful devotional I found was A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. I didn't find it in time to use it myself, but it looks really neat. If you get it and try it, let me know what you think!

6. Massage Gift Certificate

When our baby was born, my neck and shoulders became SO sore from bending over and admiring our newborn and from breastfeeding. My husband is very good at giving shoulder rubs, so thankfully I didn't need the skills of a professional masseuse. Not all moms are so lucky! A massage certificate for her to use before or after birth is a great gift! It doesn't have to be a long massage-even a 15 minute chair massage at those walk-by masseuses at a shopping mall work great!

7. Hospital Self-Care Kit

Labor can be very unpredictable, so no matter how long the hospital stay is, here are some thoughtful items to put together for the mom-to-be so she can feel loved and pampered-even during delivery and recovery!

-Cozy slippers or socks with bottom grips

-Non-scented chapstick or lip gloss-I LOVE Waxelene-you can find this at Whole Foods. It is safe for everyone and is all-natural

-Green Tea packets-this is safe for pregnant and nursing mommas. A hot cup of tea during my recovery was so nice! Not every hospital cafeteria has this. 

-Hair head bands with grip-my hair was a mess during and post-birth, and having a working hair band to pull back all of the fly-aways was so nice!

-Hair ties

-Natural mint essential oil-I would rub this just under my nose. It helped me relax and covered up the weird smells of the hospital

-Soft bathrobe (if mom doesn't already have one)

-Fragrance free lotion-Hospitals can be very dry and this is something that can be used to rub on sore feet and calves pre/post-birth

-Large water bottle with straw-Sometimes the nurses don't refill your water as quickly and as often as you like, so having a large container to keep you hydrated is very necessary! The straw makes drinking easier while you're in labor and need the use of your arms!

-Large pack of sensitive and fragrance-free diaper wipes-No body tells you what a mess birth can be...um....down there. So having wet wipes on hand to keep you feeling fresh and clean is really helpful! These are also great for cleaning up messes, washing off make-up, etc. 

-Maxi-pads-See above reasons

-Writing pens

-Pack of Kleenex

-Mint Sugar-free gum

-Throat lozenges-because the hospital can be very dry

-Contacts case and solution, if they use contact lenses

-Small bottle of hand sanitizer

8. Organize a Meal Train

Once the new proud parents and baby are home and resting, it is a HUGE relief not having to plan and prep meals. You can use an online organizer like http://www.takethemameal.com/index.php to plan a meal schedule so friends and family can pitch in a meal or more during the first few weeks after baby arrives!

Tips: Make sure to check in with the parents-to-be to find out any dietary needs, a drop off location, best times to drop off, and a contact phone number. Also, be sure to confirm that it's okay to give out their address. This meal organization site is password protected, so only those given the password can see the meal recipient's contact info.

*I do not make any commission from these recommendations. I am just passing on my motherly advice!

Today we welcome a friend of mine named Julie. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, she has some wonderful insight and advice on the gifts we have as women and how we can use them to serve God and others!

 

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We're in the dead of winter and if you're stuck in the Midwest like me, our winters feel sooooooooo long and cold! This soup is a comforting treat that will make you feel so good! There is no cream involved, yet this soup has a texture like a bisque.

This soup is loosely based on a pumpkin soup recipe that I tried years ago, but because I had a hard time finding pumpkin purée without any added sugars or preservatives in it, I used butternut squash instead. I also added a little more of this and a little more of that....and eventually this recipe came out of it. I hope you enjoy it! Another added plus is if you keep the spices and salt out, your baby might love it, too! Ours sure does!

This year, my husband and I are committing to complete at least one Catholic-themed book each month in hopes of broadening our knowledge of the Catholic faith and to find some gems of inspiration and encouragement. Here are the books we hope to cover. I will try and post a review as we complete each one. If you've read any of them, leave a comment as to why you liked or didn't like it!

January: Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith by Bishop Robert Barron

February: Beautiful Mercy: Experiencing God's Unconditional Love So We Can Share It With Others by Pope Francis, Matthew Kelly, Cardinal Wuerl, Fr. Larry Richards, Fr. Michael Gaitley, and others

March: Intimate Graces: How Practicing the Works of Mercy Brings Out the Best in Marriage by Teresa Tomeo and Dominick Pastore

April: The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

May: Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler

June: The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism by Devin Rose

July: Confessions of a Megachurch Pastor by Allen Hunt

August and September: Footprints in a Darkened Forest by Archbishop Fulton Sheen

October: Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly

November: The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

December: Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings 1941-44 by Alfred Delp, S.J.