The Routines That Keep My Household Afloat

The Routines That Keep My Household Afloat

Now that I’ve been a Mom of two for over a year (and am getting closer and closer to being a Mom of three!) I’ve realized the key to success in my household is creating routines and sticking to them, and how routines might help others even if you’re a parent (or future parent) of one. My household does the best when we stick to established routines, and when we stray from them for too long chaos usually ensues! Below I’ve listed some of the routines that I use to keep my sanity on weekdays, including the kids’ daily routines, my weekday mealtime routine, and most importantly our bedtime routine (is there anything parents want more than more sleep?) 

The Kids’ Daytime Schedule

We typically follow the same schedule Monday through Friday. When the kids wake up I let them play for about half an hour, make breakfast, then let them watch cartoons while I do some laundry or cleaning (yes, I am pro screen time when I need a distraction).

After that we do an at home preschool program by Susie of the Busy Toddler. It’s meant for kids ages 2.5 and up, but my youngest Myles still participates sometimes. The lessons typically involve a song or two, a book, and 2-3 hands on activities. I get most of the suggested books from the library, and the rest of the books and supplies on Amazon.

After “preschool” and more play time I make lunch and put the boys down for a nap. It took a little while to get both of them on the same nap schedule. This involved doing my best to keep Myles awake until after lunch, until he got used to it. Getting them down for a nap at the same time is so worth it, because it guarantees me an hour or two of free time where I can get some things done or take a nap myself (which has been helpful this pregnancy). If you have two children close in age I recommend getting them on the same nap schedule as early as possible. 

After nap time I take them out in the stroller for a walk or some time at the park or library. Then I just let them play until my husband comes home and he takes over while I make dinner. The rest of the evening typically revolves around whatever my husband and I are doing.

Mealtimes

I love to eat but I am not the type of person who loves to cook. I’ve developed a few hacks to make things easier for myself. The first thing I do to make things easier is never taking my kids grocery shopping. I rarely go to the grocery store at all these days, unless I’m running in for a quick item or two. The rest of the time I order groceries through Amazon Prime Now. They are conveniently delivered to my door and as long as you buy at least $35 worth of groceries the delivery fee is free (although you can add on an optional tip for the driver). This means no more struggling with a crying toddler or two while I schlep down aisle after aisle, and grocery shopping no longer raises my blood pressure like it has in the past. 

For breakfast I usually alternate between whole wheat pancakes, Abe’s amazing vegan muffins (I cannot stress enough how amazing they are), cinnamon raisin toast, or scrambled eggs with fresh fruit for my kids. In the future I’d love to expand to some more healthy recipes but for now these options are quick and always work.

Lunch is usually peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Dr. Praegar’s spinach, broccoli, sweet potato or kale littles with veggies or fruit. I don’t experiment much with lunch foods because my oldest Mason is so picky.

Dinner is when I do the most experimenting. I recently restarted my Hello Fresh subscription so that I can learn more vegetarian meals, and we go meat free 3 times a week with their veggie plan. I won’t keep the subscription going forever, but for now it’s a great way to learn new recipes and cooking skills, and having a subscription has definitely increased my interest in cooking. The rest of the week I cook with meat from a farm CSA (community supported agriculture) share. This allows us to purchase 15 lbs of pasture raised, hormone-free meat each month. I purchase my share through Liberty Delight Farms. And once a week we order takeout for dinner (my favorite night of the week).

Bedtime

Thankfully both of my children sleep through the night at this stage (I’m getting ready to start over with baby #3 so wish me luck!) but we got there by moving the kids out of our bedroom, establishing a bedtime routine, and using the cry it out method (aka sleep training) for a little while. Moving the kids out of my bedroom was vital for me. I always start off with co-sleeping before moving my kids to a bassinet or pack n play in my room. But there’s something about having me nearby that just causes my kids to wake up looking for my attention (or milk) more often. I was amazed at how much longer they started sleeping when they left my room. This is only recommended when your kids are about 6 months +.

Crying it out is a controversial method, I know some parents can’t stand to hear their little ones’ cries go unanswered and I felt the same way at first. We tried it with my son Mason when he was about 5 months old because I was still getting up multiple times a night and feeling like a zombie at work. The first night of crying it out my husband had to stop me from going to him and I felt so sad. But then when he finally fell asleep, he slept for the rest of the night! On the second night he cried for a much shorter interval before falling asleep. After a few days he barely cried at all. The time it takes to get this method to work can vary but trust me it does work. And both of my kids survived the experience and are happy and very attached to me. 

Some people are amazed at how easily they usually fall asleep at home but it’s because we’ve been doing the same bedtime routine for so long that they’re very used to what comes next. I use Honest Calming Lavender Bubble Bath to help the boys get in a sleepy mood. After bath time I read 1-2 board books that are appropriate for Myles, then take him to his bed and turn on 15 minutes of bedtime music on his Scout dog (I’ve also used a noise machine and night light in the past- the Hatch Baby Rest is amazing, but found that they do fine without it now). I rock him in my arms for 2-3 minutes then lay him down and leave. He’s usually asleep within 10 minutes without any fuss. Then I read 1-2 more advanced books for Mason and repeat the same music/rocking routine with his Scout dog. Sometimes he takes longer to fall asleep but he lays in his crib without crying until he does. Then I give myself a mental pat on the back and relax for about 30 mins before joining my husband for a Netflix show. 

I know a lot of people who co-sleep end up doing so long-term, but once my babies reached the 6 month mark having designated kid-free time every night and sleeping in my bed without them has been so beneficial to my mental health and my marriage.

Those are the most important aspects of my daily routine. I would love to hear your thoughts/tips for establishing a routine in the comments. 

 

Xo,

Courtney

My All-Time Favorite Clothing/Accessories for Pregnancy and Beyond

My All-Time Favorite Clothing/Accessories for Pregnancy and Beyond

I’m currently at the 20 week mark of my pregnancy. That means we’re officially halfway to our new adventure. Actually I’m probably a little more than halfway- my babies have a tendency to come a bit early. Mason made his debut at 38 weeks and Myles made his at 36 weeks. I’m praying I make it to 37 weeks just to be safe and also taking progesterone to help my chances. With my first pregnancy I didn’t really start showing (in an obvious way) until almost third trimester. With my second and third pregnancies my baby bump made a much earlier appearance. That means I’m already reaching for some of my favorite pregnancy items.

Below I’ve listed some of my absolute favorite accessories (and a couple of must-have clothing items) for pregnancy and beyond.

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Everlane Tank Bra

During my first pregnancy all of the hormonal changes left me feeling like I had barbed wire strapped to my chest when I wore bras. I tried switching to wireless bras and nursing bras from maternity stores but I never found anything that was truly comfortable, especially when I had a dramatic increase in cup size (c cup pre-pregnancy to DDD during breastfeeding).

I had pretty much given up on ever feeling comfortable in a bra again until I tried Everlane’s tank bra. It’s so soft and lightweight I barely feel like I’m wearing anything, even with pesky pregnancy hormones. It’s shaped like a sports bra, but has the effortlessness of a bralette, and the low cut is very flattering. Unfortunately, this may not be a great bra for work (there is no padding whatsoever) but it’s perfect for lounge, sleep, and weekend wear. I’ll definitely be wearing these bras well past my pregnancy.

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Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband

I honestly loathe buying maternity jeans and pants. They’re very comfortable, but they can often be a bit of an investment considering the short amount of time you’ll be wearing them, and it’s not always easy to find styles that are as flattering as your pre-pregnancy jeans. A bellaband makes life easier by allowing you to wear your pre-pregnancy jeans much longer. Just keep your jeans unbuttoned and put the bellaband over your waistband. It looks like you’re simply wearing a tank layered under your shirt. You can find the original here and a less expensive version at Target.

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Dwell and Slumber Caftan

Dwell and Slumber has a cult following for a reason. Their caftans make the perfect hospital gown. I changed into mine right after my delivery with Myles and got so many compliments during my hospital stay.  They’re incredibly comfortable and easy to wear without the structure and fussiness of a traditional dress, and they’re more stylish than the standard issue hospital gown. They accommodate a baby bump or postpartum belly perfectly, and the bust unsnaps for easy breastfeeding. During those late nights that turn into early mornings with a new baby, I was so grateful to have these caftans to throw on. You can also belt them and throw on some cute accessories for a casual daytime boho look.

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Bably Baby Diaper Backpack

When I was in college, I spent one summer babysitting a two-year old boy. His mom had a gorgeous floral Vera Bradley diaper bag that really stuck with me. When I became a mother I celebrated this transition with my own Vera Bradley diaper bag, but it didn’t work out for me. While some people may love it I found it a bit too heavy and cumbersome to work as a shoulder bag. And then when my second son arrived I quickly ran out of room in that bag and other traditional diaper bags that I tried. I transitioned to a diaper backpack, and liked being hands free much better, but I ran out of room in that as well ( clearly I need a lot of stuff for two boys who are 18 months apart).

Not long after I found out about my third pregnancy I went into panic mode thinking about how I would tote around all of the things two toddlers and a baby would need. I started researching as many bags and backpacks as possible, trying to find one that would be large enough and organized enough to accomodate my growing family. I found the answer to my prayers in the Bably Baby Diaper Backpack. Not only is it large, but it’s also extremely organized and has a lot of cool features for a very reasonable price. I love it so much I recently featured it in my Instagram stories. Some of the highlights include 4 insulated drink holders, a wipe dispenser, a tablet slot, packing cubes, a changing pad, a wet bag, and built in stroller clips. You can find this backpack on the Bably Baby website and on Amazon.

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ToteSavvy

If a diaper bag or backpack isn’t your thing, you can stick with a regular tote bag and turn it into a diaper bag with a totesavvy insert. There are different sizes, and the inserts feature a variety of pockets and a changing pad. I know these are a popular addition to luxe totes like the LV Neverfull, but they can work with almost any tote bag. I personally love Everlane’s tote bags. They’re made from buttery leather and are chic and minimal.

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Adidas Casual Sneakers

A chic casual sneaker is a must when you’re going to be pushing a stroller around or running after small children. I love Adidas because they’re comfortable, perfect for running errands or taking my kids out, and stylish. Two of my favorites are the Gazelles and Pharrel Williams’ Tennis Hus.

 

Those are some of my favorite items for pregnancy, postpartum, and life in general. What are your must-haves or gifts that you know another Mom really appreciated?

 

Xo,

Courtney

My Holy Grail Beauty Essentials

My Holy Grail Beauty Essentials

I’ve found that as I get older I’m actually getting more into beauty products- upgrading my skincare routine as well as perfecting my day and night makeup looks. I see it as an important form of self-care now that I’m in my 30s. And as a busy Mom of two I need self-care. Below I’ve listed my absolute favorite skincare and makeup products. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments.

Rodan + Fields Radiant Defense Perfecting Liquid– If you use foundation I’m sure you’ve dealt with the pain of finding the perfect formula. There are so many brands out there and quality varies widely. I’ve tried many brands over the years and struggled to find one that provided just the right amount of coverage, offered the perfect color match, lasted a long time, and didn’t transfer color. Rodan and Fields had the best foundation I’ve tried yet. The formula is so lightweight it feels like a tinted moisturizer, but it really lasts and the color blends perfectly. My skin always looks dewy and illuminated when I put it on.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo– I’ve always had sparse brows and I’ve been filling them in pretty religiously for the past 6 or 7 years (I cringe at some of my old photos before I started filling them in). I finally made the leap and scheduled an appointment with one of the top microblading artists in the DMV area at the end of the April (she’s booked months out and I couldn’t be more excited about this upcoming appointment). But up until now Anastasia Beverly Hills’ brow powder has been a lifesaver. It’s easy to use with an angled brush, the pigment looks very natural and blends easily, and one pot of this magic formula lasts a long time.

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara– Like the search for the perfect foundation, my search for the perfect mascara went on for some time. Too Faced’s Better than Sex mascara offers the most dramatic length of any mascara brand I’ve tried. I love the wand itself and their tips for getting the most length.


Fenty Beauty Match Stix Trio– I’ve always been intimidated by contouring, but the Fenty Beauty Match stix make contouring and highlighting so easy. You can choose the perfect shade of concealer, the perfect contour color, and a pretty highlighter shade by matching it to your Fenty foundation shade. Being able to do a simple contour has really upgraded my night out makeup looks.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick-I love matte liquid lipstick because it makes my lips look fuller. My husband has even accused me of altering my lips in photos when I’m wearing it. Anastasia Beverly Hills offers gorgeous colors in a formula with staying power. I’ve really been getting in to red lipstick lately and I love the shade “Seraphine” for the perfect ruby red, and mixing “Heathers” and “Tulip” for a vampy shade of red.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment– I love all Sunday Riley products but the Lactic Acid Treatment is perfect for exfoliating your skin. My skin always looks more even and my pores look smaller after using it.
What are your favorite makeup and skincare products?
Xo,
Courtney

7 Brands That Actually Make Cute Clothing for Girls AND Boys

7 Brands That Actually Make Cute Clothing for Girls AND Boys

I’ve always loved fashion so I look forward to trying to put together cute outfits for my boys. As other boy moms can probably tell you, it’s a challenge to find cute and trendy items for boys. We typically get the short end of the stick- scrolling past delicate dresses and coordinating headbands on instagram, walking past aisle after aisle of colorful leggings and t-shirts with darling details, only to head to our much smaller section of dinosaur and truck prints in the same shades of blue, brown, and green.

Thankfully I’ve learned where to shop to pick up items for my boys that are actually fashionable. Right now I’m in spring shopping mode so I wanted to take some time to share my favorite brands that I feel really make an effort to give Moms of boys and girls equally cute options.

Zara-


Zara carries trendy pieces, classics with a fun twist, and minimal/natural styles. If you’re a bit of a hipster it’s easy to find styles you’ll love at Zara. They also have really sweet messages on some of their tees and sweatshirts.

Gap Kids


The Gap is my go to for denim, outerwear and accessories. They have a ton of cute options for boys, and their pieces are great quality and on-trend. One of my favorite Gap items is a denim jacket, they always offer a classic version but they also put an adorable spin on their denim jacket pretty much every season.

Janie and Jack


If you love to dress your children in classic styles, Janie and Jack carries adorable high-end pieces that are the perfect blend of classic and preppy. I love this brand for special occasion pieces.

Hugo Loves Tiki


If your style is modern and fun, Hugo Loves Tiki offers playtime friendly styles in really bright allover prints. You can also shop their end of season sales for amazing discounts.

Jamie Kay-


If you prefer neutral and natural styles, Jamie Kay has perfected the minimal look in their online shop. A lot of pieces are gender neutral and they’re made of soft, high-quality fabrics.

Ralph Lauren


I love Ralph Lauren tees and shirts, the polo brand is so All-American and iconic. I find great deals by shopping Ralph Lauren’s end of season sales online.

Carters-


Carters is my go to for onesies, casual t-shirts and pajamas. They typically offer email discounts daily.

 

Those are my top brands that don’t make me feel like I’m sacrificing style when I shop for my boys. I love brands that focus on producing cute clothing for everyone. What are your favorites when shopping for your little ones or buying gifts for others? Let me know in the comments.

 

Xo,

Courtney

 

My Top 5 Subscriptions

My Top 5 Subscriptions

As a millennial and as a mother I love a good subscription box. There’s something exciting about getting a package of goodies in the mail every month, especially when the contents are varied. I’ve tried a lot of subscription boxes carrying everything from food to makeup and skincare to baby items. Some boxes were amazing and others either weren’t customized enough to suit my needs (pretty much every beauty box) or were just generally a waste of money. Read on for 5 boxes that I think are actually worth a subscription. If you’ve tried any of the following boxes or if there are others that you love, please let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Winc– If you love wine, this subscription box is perfect for you. They send a box of wine bottles customized to fit your flavor preference profile. You can choose four white, four red, or a mix. And your feedback after each box helps determine what they send you next. This is a subscription that I tried out pre-babies, but as a Mom of two a box of wine delivered to my doorstep sounds amazing right now. If you don’t know much about wine all of the choices out there can be pretty daunting. This makes it easier to sample different kinds of wine and learn what you like and don’t like. Wine tasting at a Vineyard is a nice experience to learn more about wine too, but this subscription is fun and convenient. 

Hello Fresh-This is one that pretty much everyone has heard of even if you haven’t tried it. Its one of the most popular dinner subscription boxes for a reason. Hello Fresh sends you recipes and ingredients to make 3 meals a week. The recipes are generally delicious and take 1 person about 30 minutes to make. I also tried this subscription out before I had kids. My husband and I did the vegetarian plan and I loved learning new vegetarian recipes (I’m not a vegetarian btw, but I try to go meatless as often as possible). And I loved that I didn’t have to go hunting for exotic ingredients in the grocery store. When our family expanded we stopped this subscription, but I honestly learned so many cooking tips from the recipe cards that the length of time that I did have it was invaluable. It’s also nice that you can keep the recipe cards and recreate the meals anytime. I loved Hello Fresh so much that I’m considering signing up again. 

Bluum– I was gifted a subscription to Bluum when I was pregnant with my oldest son Mason. They send a box of pregnancy or baby related items depending on how far along you are or how old your baby is. When I was pregnant I received things like belly cream, affirmation cards for delivery day, and ointment to help with breastfeeding. After the baby came I started getting things like toys, bottles, skincare products for babies etc. One of my favorite boxes included a pack of cleaning tablets and wipes for cleaning bottles on the go. This came in handy so many times when bottles fell on the ground while we were out and about, and once when we stayed overnight in a hotel room and I forgot to pack my bottle brush and soap. I love that things I never would have thought of on my own like that were included in the boxes. 

Little Spoon– Some of you may have seen the beginning of my journey with homemade baby food on my instagram stories. With my oldest Mason I bought all of his baby food but stuck with organic brands. This time around with Myles I was determined to make all of my own baby food since I’m currently a stay at home Mom. But the reality of having a baby and a toddler means there’s less time for chopping, peeling, and steaming than I had hoped and I needed a backup plan. Little Spoon delivers organic fresh meals (using HPP) that are tailored to your baby’s developmental stage and preferences. I love that they use over 80 ingredients. Some of the similar cold-pressed brands available online have a limited number of ingredients so there’s less variety than what Little Spoon offers. I also appreciate that Little Spoon uses a lot of vegetables. I think some brands rely too heavily on sweet fruit. Little Spoon comes in convenient packages that include a tiny spoon (sn: I’m also guilty of relying too much on pouches in the past, which can promote lazy eating habits). And Myles loves it so far. 

Yumble– Once Mason moved past the baby food stage I struggled with coming up with a variety of lunches for him that were nutritious while I was working. Yumble was almost a lifesaver. They deliver organic toddler meals that are balanced, easy to reheat and so tasty I often found myself eating them. It didn’t work out because I had such a picky eater on my hands that most of the meals went to waste. But if your toddler isn’t as picky, or if you have a slightly older child this might work really well for your family especially if you’re a working parent. 

Those are my top 5 subscriptions. What are your favorites? Anything you’re thinking about trying? If it might make my life a little easier let me know! 

Xo,

Courtney

Style Inspiration: Meghan Markle

Style Inspiration: Meghan Markle

Now that fall is just around the corner, I’m thinking a lot about my fall wardrobe, which needs an update (I was pregnant during the last two fall seasons). I’ve been searching the internet for inspiration to plan a cool capsule wardrobe that’s mom friendly. (If you’re unfamiliar with capsule wardrobes or how to plan one from scratch, check out The Real Chic Life’s post).  I got a lot of inspiration from Meghan Markle, She’s pretty much everyone’s muse right now, and I’ve written about her style before on my old blog Law Books and Lipstick when her outfits on Suits had everyone envious of her business casual style. Meghan’s wardrobe is obviously very polished and ladylike right now, but her pre-royal wardrobe was a master class in casual, effortless chic. Here are a few outfits that I think are Mom friendly and easy to adapt:

A relaxed button down shirt looks polished and timeless in the fall, and distressed jeans make the shirt look more casual, especially when paired with flats. This classic combo is perfect for a playdate, running errands, etc. Oversized sunglasses also are classic and stylish. I purchased the magazine tote version of Meghan’s bag from Everlane. Both options are perfect for tossing everything you need in on the go.

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Another alternative to a classic button down is a chambray button down. When paired with a statement coat or trench this comfortable all denim look is very chic with minimal effort.

My leather jacket is probably my favorite item in my fall wardrobe. This edgy item pairs well with almost everything. You can throw on a very casual outfit for running around with your kids like Meghan’s jeans and tee on the left, and the look is instantly elevated with a leather jacket. Leather jackets also add a cool factor to dresses when you’re going out for date nights or events.

A simple workout outfit becomes more stylish on the street when paired with a structured light jacket and accessories like scarves and sunglasses.

That’s it for now, I’ll add more celeb style inspiration in future posts. Who’s your favorite celeb for style inspiration? And what are your go to pieces for fall?

Wishing you self-care,

Courtney

 

My Top 3 Baby Gadgets

My Top 3 Baby Gadgets

My youngest son Myles is officially 1 month old! I’m celebrating the fact that we made it through the first month of the newborn period (not to mention 17 months with my oldest son Mason). The newborn period is rough. Thankfully Myles is pretty much the calmest, easiest baby ever (so far, fingers crossed that this lasts) which is a pretty stark contrast to what we experienced the first time around with Mason. But feeling more experienced because I’m a second time parent makes a huge difference as well. There are also a few products/gadgets that I love that make things easier with both of my sons. None of these things are necessities, you only need the basics and a lot of love to raise a happy baby, but I’m grateful to have added these things to my routine.  Here are my top 3 favorites in no particular order. This is NOT a sponsored post, just my opinion. If there are other baby products that make/made your life easier please let me know in the comments!

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Hatch Baby Rest Night Light & Sound Machine– My oldest son Mason was never a very good sleeper. During the newborn period he woke up every 1.5 hours, and didn’t start sleeping 3-4 hour stretches until he was about 4 months old. I was a walking zombie for those first 4 months! He continued waking up 1-3 times throughout the night for the next several months, long after I had gone back to work and needed more rest. After he turned 1, I was desperate for a solution that would help him really sleep through the night. I read about how helpful sound machines can be and decided to purchase the Hatch because it can be programmed and turned on and off with your iPhone (perfect for when you want to make an adjustment to the sound without actually stepping back into the room and waking up your little one).

The first night went beautifully, I played ocean sounds and he slept through the night without waking up once!  Since the sound machine became a regular part of Mason’s bedtime routine he rarely wakes during the night. Myles doesn’t need it yet, he goes to sleep pretty easily and needs to wake up every 2-3 hours to eat anyways right now, but when he gets older I will probably purchase a second one for him until he moves into the room with Mason.

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Moonlite Storybook Projector– The hatch nursery sound machine might help Mason stay asleep longer but the Moonlite Storybook projector is the main tool that helps me get him to sleep at his bedtime every night. It attaches to your phone and projects a story onto the wall (via different story reels that you purchase), with a corresponding phone app that gives you the text of the story with lullaby music and sound effects. Being able to use it to read to him in the dark allows me to get him to the point where he’s really sleepy before I put him in his crib, plus using it every night gives us built-in bonding time.

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Snuggle Me Organic Sensory Lounger– I co-slept with Mason until he was about 6 months old. I know that’s not recommended, but it worked best for us as a family while I was breastfeeding. I’m also co-sleeping with Myles but I knew this time around I wanted to put him in something that would make me feel a little more secure, and I debated between the Dock a Tot and the Snuggle Me. I went with the Snuggle Me because it has a patented design that hugs the baby and promotes sleep. So far I love it! Myles always looks so snug and comfortable in it and it’s easy to tote around and wash.

There are definitely some other products that should get a mention for making our lives a little easier (including one of my favorite items that just came to mind- the Gathre mat that I use under Mason’s highchair) but I’d love to hear from you! And if you don’t have kids but you’ve purchased a baby gift for someone else that you know was useful, let us know.

Wishing you self-care,

Courtney