How to Save $142+ in New Baby Gear

After having my second baby, I started going through my baby gear again and realized just how much STUFF I had. Some of it I knew I’d use again, but others, I couldn’t help but realize what a waste it had been. I knew I could have saved a LOT of money had I not registered for or purchased myself some of the gear that was taking up so much space in my closets.

Whenever first time parents to be ask me for advice on what they should register for – I tend to give them a list of things they SHOULDN’T register for instead. I think that is just as helpful so they can save money, and even more importantly SPACE, by skipping these unnecessary things.

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Here are 5 things – worth $142.00+ – that you do NOT need for your new baby:

1) Tummy Time Mat – $19.99

Tummy Time Mat

This thing is such a joke. It is essentially a blanket, with a tiny pillow attached and a fake flimsy mirror, so your wee-one can do tummy time. How about this – lay any regular blanket on the floor (you’re going to get a million of them as baby gifts), roll up a swaddle blanket to put under baby’s arms to prop them up, and forget about the mirror (or use a cheap baby floor mirror) and viola! You have your very own tummy time mat and an extra $20 in your pocket!

2) Bumbo Seat with Tray  – $39.99 for seat, $11.99 for tray

Bumbo and tray

You might feel tempted to register for the Bumbo seat and tray. Resist the urge, I assure you this – YOU DO NOT NEED IT. Not only are there studies out there that tell you not to use it, but it is completely unnecessary and just takes up a lot of space. You will have a highchair, you will probably have a bouncer and/or swing. There will be plenty of ways to prop your baby up so he or she isn’t constantly just laying on the floor. I repeat: you don’t need this.

3) Boppy Newborn Lounger – $29.99

Boppy lounger

See above. This is another floor seat you might think you need. I did. Folks, I hate to break it to you, but this is just a pillow.  It only slightly elevates them off the floor. I, too, was sold on the cute print and convenient handle. But I think I only used it a handful of times, and each time thought to myself, why couldn’t I just put him on a pillow?

4) Bottle Warmer – $24.99

Bottle warmer

Maybe I’m just an idiot, but I had a bottle warmer similar to this one and I never did figure out how to make it work. I read the instructions front to back, followed them to a T, but I swear my bottles never seemed any warmer and I always just ended up burning myself on the steam. My advice – leave your milk out for a little bit before you plan to feed baby to naturally get the milk to room temperature. Don’t waste your money here.

5) Infant Shoes, Tutus, Jeans, Etc. – $14.49+

Shoes

I hear you – shoes that are smaller than my index finger are pretty much the cutest thing ever. With a puppy on them? Even cuter. But do you know how freaking hard they are to get on a squirmy baby’s feet? And that babies don’t actually keep them on their feet? A little girl with a tutu on or a little boy in a pair of jeans and suspenders and a bow tie? I KNOW – ridiculously cute. But don’t buy them. I assure you that you’ll get AT LEAST ONE cute and unpractical outfit from a grandma or cousin or friend that will be perfect for some newborn pictures. But that is the one and only time they will ever wear that outfit. The rest of the time, they’re just wearing onesies and sleepers because they’re easy and because they can be more disposable when the outfit happens to be the casualty of a blow out situation.

What other baby items did you realize after the fact that you didn’t need? Am I missing the boat with any on my list above?

2013 in Review

2013 was an AMAZING year! This week, I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers writing their year in review, and I really liked that idea. 2013 was full of weddings, and parties, changes and trips, and overall it was a wonderful year! So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013!

  • In February I started my new blog, Our Little Ivory Tower! I wrote 47 posts in 2013, and I’m excited to see how I can grow my blog in 2014. I absolutely love having a writing outlet and a way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has also been a great way for me to document my life and it serves as a “live” scrapbook.
  • In March my sissy moved to Colorado, which was incredibly sad, but also so exciting for her! She got a promotion working for Victoria Secret, and shortly after moving she got ANOTHER promotion and was given her OWN STORE to manage. She is doing an awesome job and loving being out in Denver!

Mar  VS

  • Also in March, G & I did some fundraising for the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. So many of our family and friends helped by donating and we were able to raise $250 for the local organization to help send veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.
  • In April my bestie Megan invited me to be her +1 for a work trip she earned to Austin, TX! All expenses paid, we spend a long weekend exploring Austin with an awesome group of people, as well as a couple days at an amazing resort. We were pampered, ate like queens, and had an awesome #palsweekend overall. The trip was definitely a top highlight of 2013!

TX

  • At the end of April, I helped to host my dear friend Tiffany’s bachelorette party in Des Moines, which was a blast with old and new friends.

bachelorette party

  • In May I celebrated another bachelorette, my roommate from college Katie, in Nashville! It was my first time to ‘Music City’ and I loved every minute of it. We danced to country music, bought cowboy boots, and drank till the sun came up. It was another amazing girlfriends trip!

Nashvegas

  • In June I got to stand up as a bridesmaid in Tiffany and Nick’s wedding. It was one of the most fun bridal parties I’ve ever been a part of and the wedding was beautiful and classy and SO much fun.

Malcom Wedding

  • In July G & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! He posted this on Facebook which absolutely melted my heart 🙂 He’s not a big “sharer” on Facebook, so that made it all the more special. It’s good to be me, too!

Facebook

Anniversary

  • Also in July, I was a bridesmaid in Katie and Sean’s wedding in the Quad Cities. It was a gorgeous wedding and incredibly special and truly a wedding I will never forget.

Laird Sisters

  • In August we attended my 10 year class reunion. I rode in our class float, watched old class videos from elementary and high school days, and enjoyed catching up with my classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years!

Class of 2003

  • In September we went out to Colorado with my parents to visit Marlee and Andrew. We went to a Reds/Rockies game, hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and had a lot of family fun time.

Mountains Family

  • Also in September, we traveled to Missouri for our friends Stephanie and Horacio’s wedding. So many of our friends who G grew up with were there, and we had a great time dancing the night away and catching up with old friends.

Wedding fun

  • In October I got to go to Las Vegas for work to exhibit at the NBWA Tradeshow. Not only was it beautiful weather while we were there, I learned a lot and even had some time to explore the city.

Las Vegas

  • In November I participated in NaBloPoMo and blogged {almost} every day in the month of November. We also spent Thanksgiving in Fort Dodge with the Ivorys, and went to G’s cousin’s wedding.

Ivorys

  • In December my sister got engaged!!! Her fiance Andrew took her up into the mountains for a relaxing weekend, and ended it by putting a beautiful ring on her finger. We are looking forward to the wedding planning to come in 2014, and a wedding in 2015! I’m so excited for them and excited for Andrew to become a part of our family.

Future Newbergs

  • Also in December, I decorated for Christmas  and we went to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. We also got together in Cedar Falls with G’s family to open presents and enjoy a really fun lunch at a Japanese steakhouse.

Christmas Tree

As you can see, 2013 was a really exciting and eventful year. We’re expecting another fun and and crazy year in 2014, and I can’t wait to share it all with you again. My goal for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to document the year {thanks for the idea, Mix and Match Mama!}, and to take time to enjoy my family and friends, because life is too short to not be around those you love.

Tonight G & I are going to ring in the New Year together by going out for a fancy dinner at 350 First and possibly to a movie, then probably home to watch the ball drop on TV. I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will spend Jan 1 relaxing and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play LSU in the Outback Bowl! GOOOOO HAWKS!

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and look forward to seeing you all in 2014!

TGIF! – NaBloPoMo Day 8

I’m so excited it’s Friday because I have been looking forward to this weekend since we left Colorado in September! My sissy is home to celebrate the holidays! I know, I know…..we’re a little early! But my sis is a Victoria Secret rock star in Colorado and this is her last weekend free before the holiday shopping madness begins. (Helllllllo Black Friday–it’s almost here!)

At first we were planning to all out “do Christmas“. But then we decided we would just do a little Thanksgiving and a little Christmas this weekend, then mail the rest of our gifts in December. So that was good because I was WAY BEHIND and did not have my shopping completely done. And getting perfect, thoughtful gifts takes time, friends!

So I’m blogging on my lunch hour from my phone (isn’t technology amazing??) so I can just enjoy my family tonight and not have to worry about my daily post,  and after work we’ll hop in the car and head up to Traer for a family-fun weekend {and likely lots and lots of wine!} Tomorrow my mama is making turkey and potatoes and stuffing and all our other holiday favorites and we will enjoy a weekend of hanging out, EATING TOO MUCH, and relaxing before the ACTUAL holiday season begins. The holidays are about being with the people you love and that’s exactly what I get to do this weekend!!! So Happy pre-Thanksgiving, and Merry early Christmas!!

What are your plans for this weekend?? Any other early holiday-ers???

NaBloPoMo – Day 2

Today I’m writing from my in-law’s house in Fort Dodge, Iowa, drinking a G&T my father-in-law made for me. Strong & Deeeeelish! G, his brother & dad went hunting at 5 AM this morning, and my mother-in-law and I went to a bridal shower {at a much more reasonable hour} for G’s cousin’s future wife. Tonight we have G’s grandma’s 70th birthday fiesta! We’re having tacos and enchiladas, and all kinds of other yummy Mexican foods. I made my famous guac, too! Lots of family time, lots of little kiddos running around, and I can’t wait for dinner time tonight!

This morning I enjoyed a stroll through Target, with my first Starbucks Peppermint Mocha of the season, and scored some awesome deals. I mean it’s November 2nd, so Halloween stuff is 70% off–whoo!! You may remember my post from when I was forced bought into the idea of the Target Red Card. You know, the one where you save 5% every time use your card at Target. Well, when I got home with my three bags worth of “stuff”, I thought of an article I read a couple days ago called “11 Life Lessons You Get from Shopping at Target.” It hit REALLY close to home…..especially Number 1 and Number 5. You have to read the list; it is spot on for anyone who is an avid Target shopper like myself.

Last night I enjoyed looking up other NaBloPoMo blogs, getting ideas for my own blog and seeing who else was participating. You can see the blogroll here (I’m #953). I am excited to start following new blogs and hopefully gain some new followers myself. I want to improve my writing and make myself get into the habit of daily blogging. Thank you for joining me along the way and welcome to any new readers! Put a comment below if you are a fellow NaBloPoMo-er & I look forward to any suggestions you may have!

Summer Catch Up

Wow, I have sure been a terrible blogger this summer! I blame it on how busy we’ve been, but should have been updating the site more often to keep everyone in the loop of our crazy life. Here is a quick recap of our busy but exciting summer–full of weddings, bachelorette parties, vacations and fun.

In May I took my first trip to Nashville for my college roommate Katie’s bachelorette party. I absolutely fell in LOVE with the city of Nashville and can’t wait to go back some day to see more. We toured the Ryman Auditorium and spend our time on the strip listening to live bands, drinking cold beers, and buying cowboy boots.

Katie's Nashville Weekend

Nashville Boots

In June I was honored to be a bridesmaid in my beautiful friend Tiffany Rohret’s wedding in Des Moines to her now husband Nick Malcom. Wow–let me say, what a FUN wedding and awesome wedding party. I had such a great time and it couldn’t have been any more amazing of a day. Congrats Nick and Tiffy!

Photo Booth Pictures

Bus Cheers

In July I got to be a bridesmaid again in the Quad Cities as my college roommate and long time bestie Katie Laird married Sean Allen. Another beautiful wedding and perfect day. And it was so much fun seeing so many friends who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.

Laird-Allen Wedding

Laird Sisters

We also celebrated our 2nd anniversary and went to Okoboji, Iowa with Greg’s family for a little get away. We took our annual anniversary picture on the dock. I love this tradition we’ve started!

2nd Anniversary Tradition

In August I had my 10 year class reunion and loved going back to Traer to see so many family and friends. We had a 10 year reunion float in the Winding Stairs Days parade and watched old VHS tapes from elementary and high school at a party at the Traer Country Club. It was a blast catching up with high school friends, and I even found myself doing a shot of Blueberry Moonshine with old friends who I hadn’t seen in forever. It was a blast!

North Tama Class of 2003 10 Year Reunion

For Labor Day weekend we took our big trip of the summer out to Denver to see my sister and her boyfriend in their new home! We traveled with my parents and had SUCH an amazing time. It was G’s first trip to Colorado and he loved the mountains and especially our first time white water rafting. We also went to a Reds/Rockies game, Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder, and of course found time to check out the adorable neighborhood my sister lives in (near City Park). We had an absolute blast and cannot wait to find time to go visit again.

Denver View

One Up Bar

Reds/Rockies Game

Mountain Man

Colorado View

Stream

And last in the highlights we traveled to St. Joseph Missouri in September to go to our friends Steph and Horacio’s wedding. Another beautiful wedding and fun weekend road trip.

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Bride and Groom

This weekend I went tailgating in Iowa City for my other college roommate, Kim Franz’ bachelorette party and got to watch the Hawkeyes smoke Western Michigan (thank goodness!) Another wonderful weekend in the books with good friends, and can’t wait for Kim and Brandon’s wedding in February.

Kim's Bachelorette Party

There were plenty of other weekend funs throughout the summer, but way too many to recap. Now we’re slowing down for awhile…done with weddings for the year except G’s cousin Thanksgiving weekend. The fall weather has arrived and we’re enjoying our Sundays filled with football and relaxing.

Next I will have to catch you up on the crafts I’ve been making, house projects we’ve completed and ones we hope to finish soon, and more Pinterest bests and worsts, which I’ve found plenty of lately! Hope everyone else is enjoying this beautiful fall and harvest!

Mountains, Memories, and Miss Marlee

It’s a mixed emotions type day for me today. My baby sister {okay, I guess she’s 24} is in a moving truck with her boyfriend headed across the Midwest on their way to Denver, Colorado to start a new job in a new city.  I have mixed emotions because I am SO happy and excited for her, but I’m also sad and of course a little jealous of her new adventure. It also makes me reminisce on my own past, and look forward for her future. I know she has an exciting ride ahead of her and can’t wait to see where this journey leads her! I’m so proud of my sister and know that even though we’ll all miss her and Andrew, this is all just part of God’s plan for them!

CIMG0179

10 years ago, I packed up and drove my little red Jeep out to Colorado, too. I cried the whole 10 hours there {seriously—the whole way}, not sure I was making the right decision. I was headed to Boulder to start my freshman year of college at the University of Colorado. I remember when I got my acceptance letter from Colorado [& I cried for days because I was so happy]. THIS was where I was going to start my adult life and where I was going to go to college. THIS was where I would first be out in the world on my own. At 18, as it turned out, I was too far from home to be happy and I only lasted a year in Boulder before I was ready to come back to be an Iowa Hawkeye. I cried the whole 10 hours home, again, not sure I was making the right decision.

Sometimes I look back and wonder what would have been if I had stayed in Colorado. Who would my friends be today? What would my job be? Where would I live? But when I think about that—I have to also think about what I would have had to give up in order for that to happen, and I realize that for certain, everything happens for a reason.

First, I wouldn’t have gotten to be a part of Zeta Tau Alpha. I joined a sorority so I could meet new people at Iowa, especially since I was a transfer student and didn’t have the experience at Iowa living in the dorms. During rush, I didn’t think Zeta was my first choice–but I sure am glad they saw something in me and asked me to be a part of their organization. Being in ZTA introduced me to some of the most incredible friends I could have ever met. These women touched my life, helped me grow into who I am today, and became family. I know being in a sorority isn’t for everyone, but it was one of the best decisions I made for me, and I am thankful my parents were supportive and helped me be a part of the organization that I am still proud to be active in today.

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Second, had I not followed my heart and moved back, I wouldn’t have ever lived or worked at The Lodge. Who knew it would be such an important part of my life!?  My roommate at The Lodge was a “random roommate” assigned by the office staff. Little did I know that the wild blonde girl in a short jean skirt would take a liking to me, the underage, badly dressed brunette, and become my 3rd sister and a bridesmaid in my wedding years later. I am truly blessed that Katie and I were thrown together like we were and are still such close friends….that wasn’t by chance, but I’m certain by fate.

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And of course….if it hadn’t been for The Lodge and the rowdy group of boys from Fort Dodge with whom I became fast friends, I would have never met my husband and soul mate. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him, and I thank God every day for placing him in my life.

Lastly, had I not moved back from Colorado to graduate from Iowa, I might not have moved to Des Moines after college. And if I hadn’t moved to Des Moines after college, I may not have gotten the opportunity to spend a year and a half living with my sister as an adult, and becoming closer to her than I ever imagined we would. Living with my sister as an adult was truly one of the best experiences of my life, and I don’t know that I’ve ever really told her that. Getting the opportunity to know her as a friend is something I will always cherish, and I hope she looks back on that time fondly as well. When I moved out it was a happy time because I was moving to be in Ohio with G, but it was also sad because I knew that we would probably never get the chance to live together again.

216_557357274539_8939_nSinging “Wanna Be” by Spice Girls–our “go-to” Karaoke song! 7535_763721498979_632307_nBefore the Britney Spears concert!!

Now as she moves on with this next chapter in her life, as her older (and wiser) sister, I hope she takes time to experience all of the wonderful things Colorado has to offer. I hope she makes life long new friends, has lots of success in her career, and remembers how much those of us in Iowa miss and love her. I pray she follows her heart and continues to grow in her relationship with her boyfriend. I am so proud to be her sister and will miss her very much. But don’t worry, Mar and Andrew–we will be out to visit very soon!! 🙂