Monday, November 17, 2014

Getting older, and looking it

As with most of my blog posts, I have been wanting to write this one for a while. I have been thinking about this topic for the past 6 months, just wondering how to put it into words with out sounding completely lame, well I don't think I can, so I am just going to write about it anyway.

So I am 28 years old
While I am not dumb enough to call this age actually "old" I also have to admit that is not exactly "young" in the most general use of the word. For some reason or another, turning and being 28 has felt pretty hard on me. Now, I know some of you who are older will just role your eyes and say ' Oh, Please!" but just bare with me, It has been hard on me in the fact that this is the first age where I have actually said to myself " Wow, you can't really be young and dumb anymore". Up until this age I never gave age that much thought. I would simply reassure myself that
 "Oh, I am just in my early 20's, or mid 20's, plenty of people this age are still figuring out life and you have plenty of time to figure out yours" 

When your a teenager all you want to do is grow up and be the ever glorified 21! It seems like this amazing age and time to be free and young, and it really is! Than after that, age isn't nearly as exciting, but even so there are alot of things I was looking forward to at that age. I graduated college at 22, got married at 23 and still felt young enough not to have any pressure to have kids anytime soon. I was looking forward to starting a career and being a cool young adult. I remember even wanting to be a few years older, because a lot of people in the working world didn't take a young 20 something very seriously. I wanted to not be seen as some young kid anymore. Turning 25 was an awesome time for me! I had lost some weight and was doing good in my job and felt great! I was still young , but old enough too! Although my dad had always said that age 25 is the last age where you are at the peak of your life (physically) after that starts the slow decline into old age haha. So I was determined to make that age count, and I did. Ultimately, I got pregnant at 25 and had Max at 26 years old. For me, that age was perfect timing. I didn't feel too old, or too young to have a baby. Age wise, my life was turning out the way I always thought it would. And after I had Max I was way too overwhelmed and stressed to even worry about aging or anything else (which is and has been the topic of many other blogs :)  But then all of sudden I was turning 28!\

At this point things had settled down enough with Max and I was back to my normal self, which sadly had some age damage. I started noticing people my own age looking "rough" seeing photos on Facebook or even in real like of people I hadn't seen in years and being able to tell how they aged was a real shocker to me, Before this age, People, women specifically tend to get better looking, but at this age, most of us have hit our PEAK and have started the decline, Some men, on the other hand, tend to get better looking even into their 40's, sorry ladies, its just the way it is. Now, I know in 10, 5 years or even  1 year I will read back on this blog and role my own eyes and think how good I looked then compared to now haha, but this is just to mark my first year int he realization and effect of aging. I started looking at actresses in their late 20s and early 30s to see how the best of women are aging. I recently started watching the show "Once Upon A Time" and the main character on there, Emma is supposed to be 28 years old, when I saw that I kept saying to Jeff, "No way is she 28, she looks so much older!" Don't get me wrong she is still pretty and looks good, but just looked older than 28 to me, That's when the realization hit me that 28 isn't really that young and I was scared people say that about me, So I gave in and IMDB'd her. Jennifer Morrison,
the actress, turned out to be about 30 when she made the first season back in 2011. So, yes, she was older than 28, but not by much and that made me have a little bit of a reality.

Anyway looking at people roughly the same age as me I could really tell who had taken care of themselves and who hadn't. Sorry, but you can tell the ones who tanned and don't wear sunscreen. You can tell the ones who take care of themselves and try to keep up with fashion trends, you can tell the ones who have completely fallen into the "mom world" and sort of given up. Some of us look worse for wear at only age 28.This is just the first year I have been able to actually SEE this aging happening and it kind of through me a little. 

I have been aware of wrinkles and people looking older when I was in high school because of the kids moms I used to see. Let me explain, when I was maybe in second grade there was this kid's mom who used to come in and help out a lot in the classroom. I would see her a lot, she was nice and I always thought she was pretty. Fast forward to high school when I hadn't seen this mom in a about 8 years, I suddenly see her again and was shocked! I distinctly remember seeing the extra wrinkles on her face and the way she just "seemed' older. It was really wierd for me. Now, I really don't know how old she was, maybe mid 40s? But I just couldn't believe how much she had changed (or my perception of her) had changed just a few years. Since that time and when I spotted my first forehead wrinkle at the age of 17, I have been concerned about looking too old. Its just one thing that young people tend to take advantage of and not realize will always be there. 
You can ask my little sisters, I bug them about always taking off their makeup at night, especially eye makeup! Using moisturizer, putting sunscreen on and so forth. Sorry girls, but I think you will thank me later:)

Overall, I just wasn't feeling my best at age 28. I just felt like I looked older, and it was making me feel a bit down. The dark circles under my eyes looked deeper, the crows feet by my eyes were getting more noticeable and even my teeth looked less white. Even people who have amazing diets, work out all the time and only drink water, still age in the face. Its true to say. 

Not only was I looking older, but feeling older too, not physically, but emotionally Nearing age 30 make me feel like I should have my life figured out. Mainly with kids. So many of my friends with kids Max's age are pregnant again, or already have another child. I feel like I should know when/if we want to have another kid, because I feel like the biological clock is starting to tick if we want more than one more.  I should know if I ever want to go back to work, I should have my freaking student loan paid off. I should be able to enjoy cooking and be able to be an awesome Mom who cooks for her husband and kids, So many things I thought I would be be this age and not only do I not know, its showing on the lines on my face.

In conclusion, this ended up being a very long, disorganized blog with a lot of typos. 

I'm not really sure how I want to end this blog either....if you made it this far reading you are probably hoping for a big positive finish or something to make that long read worth while. Well, I may disappoint you. 

The truth is....aging is a part of life. A part most young people don't think about. We will not stay young and in our prime forever. Life goes faster the older you get and your body shows your years. Taking care of yourself is important, but just because we look older, doesn't mean we are any worse. 

There will always be someone skinnier, younger, and richer than you no matter what

I still struggle with looking older and often wish I could have my pre- baby 17 year old body and pre wrinkled skin back, but I can't. And as my mom always reminds me, we aren't getting any younger than you are right this second. so  flaunt what you have and be proud of what you have done in your life. My mom is always proud of her age and never was ashamed to admit how old she was. When I was younger I didn't really think much of it, but I can see the merit in that now and it inspires me to try to and be proud of my age and what I look like. Yes, I look older at age 28 then I did at 21 and I will still look older with every passing year, but that is just a fact of life.

Aging doesn't have to be a bad thing. Like everything in life. It is what we make it!

My Mom and I after she convinced me to wear this crop top dress after I was feeling self conscious about it being too "young and edgy" for me. She said "Wear it now because you look amazing and you're only this young now. Don't have regrets because your only going to get older and then you wont get the chance".
Thanks Mom!

-Oh, I want to add that I think women can look fabulous at any age! I am not trying to say we only get uglier as we get older, just that we look older. Beauty is the person, not the age. It is what we make it!








Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Being Thrifty.

So it's been over 6 months since I last blogged! Yikes! I guess I have had a lot of other stuff to do, or I haven't thought anything was interesting enoug to blog about, either way, I am going to try and be better about that.

So this blog, about being thrifty, is something I have wanted to write for a long time, but I know people get weird when talking about money. I am not sure why, but it makes people feel uncomfortable, anxious and sometimes, down right upset when talking about money. I have never been one of these people. To me, money is money. You need it to survive, some people have a lot, some people don't. But as long as you do the best you can with what you have, why should you embarrassed of that? Idk, today, I consider myself a part of the  middle class America, when it comes to family income. Although, when you google salary of middle class American salary it tells you something way higher than what we have, so maybe I'm a lot poorer than I thought? 

Anyway, I feel like it's okay to talk about money, because if have hardly had any before. In college, and immediately after,  I worked several jobs just to make payments. I recall several times where I put 50 cents- 1$ of gas in my car so I could make it work without running out of gas,just so I could use all the tips is made that night into a tank of gas. I used to go to laundramats and not use dyer sheets, because it didn't want to pay 5$ for them. Back in the days when people didn't have passwords on their wifi, I knew every place in the house that I could sit to steal the neighbors wifi. I would eat a left over baked potato from work every night for dinner, because that was the only food they would have to throw out at the end of have nights and I could get it for free:) Now, I wasn't destitute or anything, I just learned how to live life REALLy cheap! I saved where I could so I could occasionally afford the things I wanted to. 
Although, I don't have to scrimp anymore, I still really like to save money where I can. It gives me a thrill to know I paid way less than someone else for an item. I love it when someone compliments my outfit and asks when I got it and I say "the thrift store!" . I love admitting to someone that I scored an awesome deal on something, or that I got it used. I am not ashamed of being cheap At All! Now, I do spend money on things, but saving the small stuff makes me feel better about spending on the important things. So, here is a list of ways I save money, and please comment on this blog if you have any other great money saving ideas!

1. Like mentioned above, go to thrift stores! I really do like to shop, and when I really feel like buying something I just visit my local thrift stores. Yes, sometimes there is just a bunch of junk in them, but searching for good stuff is part of the fun! More often then not, you can find a great deal on everything! Plus, most thrift stores/ second hand stores profits go towards some sort of charity. So not only are spending way less, you are helping someone else out too. Plus there are some awesome thrift store apps I use to buy clothes for Max and myself. My favorite one is called thredUP. It has lots of womens and kids clothes for great deals!

2. Facebook yard sale pages. These are great because you can request that you are looking for something specific, or you can just browse around. Plus, you can negotiate on pricing. Being a military spouse, pretty much EVERY single base has at least 1 Facebook resale page, it is super easy, plus I know every community or city/ town has them too, just search for your town and I'm sure you'll find a ton! These aren't just good for buying, but also for selling any used item you have that you are not longer using. Take advantage of these sites people!

3. Do your research. If I am looking for a specific item, I always look around online first. The search up always starts with Amazon.com for me. I scour reviews from other buyers and the when I decide the item will work for me, I immediately browse around online to find if I can buy it anywhere cheaper. Usually Amazon wins out as the cheapest, but not always. Speaking of Amazon, if you are a frequent buyer (like me) sing up for Amazon prime. It is a yearly subscription that allows free shipping on a lot of items! Really worth it if you buy even just a few things a year! Also on Amazon, (can you tell how much I LOVE Amazon!) they have an option called "subscribe and save" where items that you usually purchase on a regular basis can be automatically shipped to you with a pretty good discount. This is an awesome service for things like diapers, vitamins, or food that you buy all the time. Cheaper and it just come to you in the mail as often as you want! If there is something you get often, check it out on Amazon subscribe and save! So I could go on and on about Amazon and their services....I just love them!

4. Coupon. Ok so I am not a crazy couponer. I don't have a stockpile or get most of my groceries for free. I do however, think saving a few bucks every week at the grocery store really adds up. It can be difficult to get started and I'm not always the best couponer, but I work at it. For me, I only use coupons for things I would regularly buy anyway. Maybe I'll switch a brand name here and there if it's a good deal. On average, I save about 10-15$ bucks a grocery store run, so maybe 35ish$ a month that I saved. That's 420$ a year! That's your MOT and ROAD TAX for the year if you love in the UK!  Coupons rules vary per store and state, and getting coupons is different too. If you're interested in couponing just google it for your area and I'm sure you'll find tons of info of how to save!

5. Spend money on things that count. For me. I'll spend a good amount of money on things you are going to use for years! I will always pay good money for a good pair of jeans. How often do you and will you wear a pair of jeans? A lot! How often do you wear that cute 40$ tank top? Maybe a few times? No comparison. It's the same with kids stuff, which we all know can cost an arm and a leg. Spend a money of a good quality car seat that you can use for many years, don't spend 100$ on a brand new baby swing that you will maybe use for 4 months. Those are the things you can buy used. Send money on things that are important to you. For me, I get my hair cut and colored often. I mean I get my hair cut every 6-8 weeks and colored every other time. For some women that seems like a lot, and it does add up with costs. However, my sister used to say, "Your hair is the only accessory you carry every single day, so take care of it". I like splurging on my hair, and because I save else where, it makes it ok. Now, I am sure everyone else has things that are important to them to spend money on and that's ok too. Just think about what is most important to you to spend money on, and go down the list. The bottom stuff you can either go without, or buy used. It's pretty simple:)

Well, that's my basic list, thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing other ways to save!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

European Discoveries

So one of the reasons I started this blog, nearly 2 years ago, was to tell all my friends and family, who are an ocean away, about my life in Europe. Well, looking at all my previous blog posts, it hasn't really been used for those purposes. It has been mostly filled with new mom struggles and high lights . Well, what can I say, that has basically been my life while I lived here, so  I didn't have too much time to enjoy and discover my surroundings. But now that Max is nearing the big TWO, and I feel like I have a little bit of a handle on this "mom" thing. I have recently been able to do and learn a lot more about this amazing country/continent that I live in!
 I have a huge, jam packed,and  fun filled summer planned as I do intend to blog about our trips and keep everyone updated about those places! I can't wait to get out more and explore this amazing place while I can!
So basically, this blog will serve as a compacted, random overview of what I have learned, experienced and discovered about Europe thus far.

- I feel like this a little random to start out with, but something I have really noticed about British people, at least the people in the area that I live, will travel far but not near. Travel to other countries is much more prevalent here. It seems like with any chance to take a holiday (vacation), the people here jump at it and go. They will travel to Spain, Greece, and other far away places, but they won't travel to a city a few hours away. For example, the girl who does my hair, who happens to be the same age as me, said she hadn't been to London in over 20 years... and she has lived in this same place( which is about 2 hours away from London) her whole life. What? I have found that that is not uncommon for Brits. They will explore other countries, but won't travel to other cities within England. I am not sure why this is, but thought it was interesting.
Oh, and when I am talking to random Brits, most all of them have been to the US before. And when I ask which part, the majority say.....Florida. I still think this is weird, as I always thought it would be New York , Los Angeles, or even Las Vegas, but apparently, Florida is the most popular US destination. (from the people I have talked with)

-I have learned so much more about geography! So I am not sure if you saw that link floating around Facebook a while ago about random Europeans trying to name the US states, but everyone thought it was hilarious.  Here it is- http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2013/11/27/brits-suck-at-labeling-the-united-states-15-pics/ However, I thought they did really good considering, you give that same map to the average American adult and see if they can do much better. Or even worse, try and get the average American to name the European countries! http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/americans-try-to-place-european-countries-on-a-map . Anyway, I am proud to say I can name the location of the majority of European countries and actually know the locations of the major England cities. I have to admit that before I came here, I didn't even have any idea where in England, London was located. (go a head you try and find it on a blank map of England!) Plus, I can now determine the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England... They are different, but also the same, it is very confusing, but I think I have it now:)

- I really like milk in my black tea now. I never would have considered putting milk in my tea back home, but I find myself loving a good British  tea with milk and sugar around 2pm....aww just love it! I have a feeling it will be one of the things I take back to the states with me.

- People are the same, and yet completely different from Americans. When looking at it broadly, British families are just the same as American families. They take their kids to the park, enjoy dinners together, go out to with friends, hang out and so much more. All in all, we do the same things, just differently. Houses and pantries are tiny here, so no one bulk grocery shops! They buy enough groceries for a few days and then head back to the store a few days later.

-Even small things, that I noticed are different. For example, outdoor swimming pools in England are almost non existent! I did some research and found like 4 in the entire country. Back in the US, even colder states have outdoor swimming pools at least open for a few months. I truly miss swimming with the sun beating down on me.

-Another thing, people really don't wear shorts...I mean they do sometimes, but its not a staple of clothing. it just doesn't get warm enough, and along the clothing line. It is true that Brits dress way nicer than Americans. I honestly have never seen sweat pants and a hug baggy t-shirts on Brits. Never would they ever be seen in pajama pants! And thank goodness, I do wish Americans would take some note of this and realize it doesn't hurt you to throw on a tad nicer clothing...

-A thing I have enjoyed about living here is the random words they have that are different from America. Learning to say "crisps" when talking about potato chips and saying "chips" when talking about french fries are some of the small things that are fun about being here. More things than you think, have different names here in England and despite popular belief in the US, most people call the bathroom the "toilet" not the "loo". I have only seen the toilet labeled the "loo" once since being here and I remember it distinctly.

- Something that does bug me about here is that everything closes so early! Malls and stores close at 5 or 6 on weekdays and usually earlier on weekends and it is hard to find open stores at all on Sundays. I often wonder when the working person has time to go to these stores. All it would take is for one store to stay open late, even until 8pm and they would see how awesome it it for business lol. Idk, maybe there is a law against open hours (they do have some strange rules like that) .

I know I have more to share, but that is all that is coming into my head now, keep a look out for more European based blogs though!


****Some of the things we have planned coming up are:  Horse Races at Newmarket Races in 2 weeks,  Glamping (glamorous camping) in Wales  for my birthday weekend, also a  long Memorials Day weekend in Cornwall (most southern part of England with beaches). Also Jeffrey is going to Normandy for a long ruck march and to view the battlefields for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day (Max and I haven't decided if we will be joining yet), but lastly we have a Paris trip planned in July to of course visit all around Paris and Paris Disney!



-

Friday, March 21, 2014

Living is a Calculated Risk

So, everyday that I scroll through my Facebook page (which, lets face it, is several time every single day) I am flooded with news articles that have been shared by my friends. The ones that always pop out to me are the articles about a new certain type of miracle food that helps prevent cancer, or will make you live longer. Everyday sometime new is apparently "discovered" that is "proven" to keep you healthier. One day doctors (well, the doctors that are always quoted on these circulating articles) are telling us to get some sun because it contains vitamin D, which is good for your health, but wait, not too much, make sure you wear sunscreen, or wait, sunscreen is toxic, don't wear it, its evil, but don't get sunburned either, you could get melanoma, but wait still get sun on you or you will get a deficiency, and get sick....

It seems like now-a-days there is an article "proving" everything you wish to believe. I have seen article after article shared on Facebook about so many terrible things you can do from articles about how Ipad's can melt your childs brain to how no one should use shampoo because it gives you brain cancer, to how eating even one helping of french fries from Mcdonalds will make you die earlier....Now, the majority of these articles make some sense, and I know people share them because they generally are trying to help and raise awareness for things they believe can be prevented. But, so many people love to glorify their way of life and health, that I can't help but be reminded that we don't have any control over how or when we die.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying to do whatever you want because in the end it doesn't matter, I am not endorsing un-healthy lifestyles, nor am I endorsing super healthy lifestyles. I think people should do whatever makes them happy and realize that everything we do in our lives is simply a calculated risk.
 In reality, if you wanted to live the longest and be the healthiest person, if that is your goal, you could work out all day, eat only home grown fruits and vegetables, raw milk and sleep exactly 8 hours every single night. Never sit around and watch TV, don't ever call anyone on the phone (cell phones can give you brain caner too, haven't you heard?), don't drive anywhere to meet anyone (car accidents are one of the most likely way people die) never take public transportation (OMG have you seen all those reports about how germ filled the subway is? you could get sick!) Maybe you could sit and learn things on your computer (Oh wait, no, that screen will make you go blind) Maybe you could read, an actual book that is, (is that still safe?).

Does anyone live like that? Maybe a select paranoid few, but really the majority of us take these risks everyday. Why? so we can live a full and  happy life. Everyone needs to do what they think is best for themselves and their own family or course, but I can't help but wonder about when everyone got so worked up about safety? Again, I am not saying safety is bad and we shouldn't do anything to protect ourselves from the dangers of this world, but lets face it, you can't protect yourself from everything if you want to actually live life.

I guess this topic has been in my mind since becoming a parent. Even before Max was born I did and looked up everything about how to keep my baby safe. Tiny things from like what type of non- toxic detergent to use on his clothes to plastic toys he shouldn't touch. I was determined to have a perfectly safe child. However, a year and half into this parenting thing, I have realized that I can't prevent everything, as scary as that sounds, its true. We can do our best to keep drawers locked, chocking hazards at unreachable levels, and to offer healthy foods. I could keep him locked inside and never let him ride a bike or eat ice cream or even watch kid movies, I could protect him from so many things that I think harmful, but should I? If I let him ride a bike, he will probably fall off at some point, scrape up his leg, maybe even break his arm....I could prevent him from having this pain by simply not letting him ride a bike....but is it worth taking away the pain and also taking away the joy that comes with bike riding? This topic, like so many deserves a healthy balance of acceptance that we can't control everything, with the fact that we can prevent only a little.

To reiterate for the third time, I think my friends that live super healthy and safe lives are great, and if that is what makes their lives full and happy, then good for them, but I personally have accepted that I don't really control my life. God does. I will do my best to raise my child up in a happy healthy environment, but I have also accepted that there are many things I can't control. Am I going to worry that my child will end up obese because we eat fast food once a week? No. Am I going to worry that my flight might crash when I fly home to visit my family? No. I have decided some risks are worth taking to live my life to the fullest, the way I think God intended all of us to do. I know that there is the chance that something bad could always happen, but if we focus on that all the time, then we have no time to focus on the good or happy parts of life. We all are going to die one day, no matter how green you eat, how many time a week you work out, or how much you protect yourself. So, might as well life you life to the fullest every day and not worry about the bad things that inevitably will happen at some point. We only have one life to live, make the most of it!

-Sorry, this blog is a bit unorganized, but it was just my thoughts for the day so take it or leave it:)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Toddler Must Haves

So I wrote a blog similar to this about baby items that were a must have for our family, but I thought it was about time to address the needs of an older baby/ toddler. As a child grows, so does the things that he needs and wants so we have found ourselves always looking for the next item that will be "the best kid things we have ever bought!". Max is nearly 1 1/2 and here are a list of a few things that I would totally recommend to parents with kids around his age! All of these things we have used all the time and well worth the money we have spent on them!

(in no particular order)

1. Baby Place Mat. Every single time we take this out in a public place, someone will come up to us and ask where we got this place mat or comment and how such a good idea it is. I have to say, for 10$ this is an absolute must buy! Now, if your kids aren't at the eating table food stage yet, than let me explain what this is. Super simple, you just unroll it and stick it the table when you are out to eat and BAM, you have a clean surface to put your baby's food that they cannot easily throw (like a napkin, or even worse a ceramic plate for a restaurant). It just rolls up super easy when you are done and all you have to do is throw it in the dishwasher when you get home. Fits easily in diapers bags even has a little lip to catch food that doesn't quite make it into baby's mouth. They have plastic throw away versions of these that work in quite the same way, but cost more and you have to constantly buy more too. With baby/kid things I always try to go for the reusable item and this is it. I do have to admit that this particular one doesn't always stick to every single surface and Max sometimes can now pull the whole thing up and food goes everywhere (but I don't think there is much you can do about that at this stage no matter what). But we have used this item for almost a year and it still has plenty of life left in it!. http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Infant-Tiny-Diner-Green/dp/B007F9YPDM/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1389618773&sr=8-9&keywords=baby+PLacemat


2.Skidder Shoes  . These are really more like socks as the only thing that separates them is the rubbery sole.  They are perfect for when a kid is just learning to walk and needs some extra resistance on the ground. We have found they are also useful when you just need to slip shoes on the kid really quick to head out the door and don't want to mess with the shoes and sock business. We use them inside too when its too chilly for Max to walk about barefoot on our cold tile floor, but socks just make it too slippery. We used these all during the summer as they stay on feet well and have just the right amount of foot coverage over a sandal without making them too hot! Not great for for the rainy and chilly weather, but I plan on buying more this next summer! We love them!

Here you can see Max wearing Skidder shoes as he is outside playing with his Papa (Jeffrey's Dad)




3. Baby Back Pack! There are many different kinds, brands and styles you can get for a baby back pack and since I obviously haven't tried them all, I won't go into which is better. I can only say that we have LOVED ours! If you plan on doing any sort of traveling I for sure recommend one of these! We take this thing anywhere and it is so much easier to maneuver through crowded streets, un-even terrain and well anywhere, compared to a stroller! Max loves riding in this too and can even nap in it! I recommend one of these to anyone who wants to be able to take a baby/toddler out places and be hand free! It is comfortable and has pockets for food and drinks. Also has a sun/rain shade we can put on the top if weather is bad! Love Love! -Oh the brand we have is Kelty!

Max was about 9 months old here and the crib wrap was just becoming necessary 
4. Crib Wrap. I'm not sure why, but kids like to chew on things! They are sort of like dogs in that anything that can be chewed on, will be chewed on! Once your baby is old enough to stand up in his crib, he will start chewing on the crib too! We were lucky enough to find this gem before the chew marks got too bad. It is machine washable, easy to put on and take off and really durable. We only purchased one for the side of the crib that faces out, (the side he mostly stands on) but if I ever have another child, we will for sure get one for every top part of the crib. http://www.amazon.com/Trend-Lab-CribWrap-Fleece-Cover/dp/B00208NUOI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1389620099&sr=8-2&keywords=crib+wrap

5. Snack cups. Pretty simple, kids like to eat snacks, and make messes. These cups allow you to put goldfish, cheerios, apple slices, or anything you want, in a safe spill proof container. The top works so that the child can only put his hand in to get the snacks, but if the cup is thrown or turned upside down you don't have a huge mess to clean up! Another item that we use almost daily and are perfect for the car too!http://www.amazon.com/Munchkin-Snack-Catchers-Colors-Vary/dp/B000GB0NZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389620998&sr=8-1&keywords=toddler+snack+cup

6.  Food pouches! I didn't think I would be using these as long as I have, but let me say now that I am so so so so thankful for them! With a picky eater on my hands, it is very tough to get Max to eat any vegetables and on a day when all i can get him to eat is cheese, bread and food pouches, I thank God that at least he is getting some veggies from those pouches. For those who don't know ,  the food pouches are basically just pureed fruits and vegetables in a easy to eat pouch. They have tons of different brands as well, but the ones we like the best are Happy Tot and Ella's Kitchen. Both have good combos of mixed fruits and vegetables, and they actually taste decent (yes I have tasted them lol). You can also get these pouches in actual food like pureed chicken or beef, (for babies who are still eating only pureed foods), but max never liked those. Max eats at least 2 of these a day and now sucks them down in under a minute lol. We buy on Amazon (what a shock ha ...sarcasm)  and get a great deal when you subscribe to them and use Amazon Mom. I think we will be using these for years to come as the are a great snack on the go and a super healthy option at that! - Note: these do tend to make some pretty horrendous messes, especially in the beginning when you child still hasn't
figured out exactly how to do it, but still worth it I think!

7. Toddler Belt. Not sure if it is common for young toddler to find pants that fit, but it is for my child.
He is a little on the short side and not really very thin, but we always seemed to have the hardest time getting his jeans and pants (the ones without elastic waist) to stay up. I am not sure why the pants were so big in the waist, but we managed to find this toddler belt. It simply goes through the belt loops in the back of the pants and snaps tight to hold the pants up! It is very adjustable and easy to use, and you don't have to take on and off during diaper changes either! We use it all the time and pan on using it for years if we still can't find pants than fit Max correctly! http://www.amazon.com/Dapper-Snapper-Toddler-Belt-BLACK/dp/B003IXVFLO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389622038&sr=8-1&keywords=toddler+belt

Well, there you have it. Some of our favorite toddler item so far!