• ,

    Baby Registry Recommendations

    I found the process of registering for baby stuff to be wildly overwhelming and insanely time consuming. Here’s what I would do if I had to do it again.

    A couple things to keep in mind regarding my advice. I physically cannot breast feed so I went into this knowing I would formula feed and there is zero consideration of any breastfeeding items you may need/want. Also, I will spend if I know/think I will get mileage out of it. If it will be short lived, I will not spend more for the cutest item.

    Update: I went through this again when my kids were 16 months old and 4 months old to include a few additions now that we have two under two. All of those additions are italicized.

    Big Ticket Must Haves

    These are some of the bigger items that I love and would definitely buy again (and really appreciate those who purchased some of these items for us).

    Keekaroo Peanut Changer
    Probably Quinn’s favorite place to lay in her first few months, easy to wash and wipe down, it’s just absolutely awesome. If anyone registers for this, I am totally buying it for them. In the newborn phase we used it on the floor, on the counter (ew), and just generally all over the place until we found our groove (and set up a second changing station downstairs). Can’t say enough about it.

    Update: we currently have three of these. One upstairs, one downstairs, one at the beach. STILL LOVE IT.

    DockATot Deluxe+
    TOTALLY thought this thing was a ridiculous scam – and it absolutely is a pricey little pillow – but Quinn LIVED in it. She relaxed and slept in this thing all over the house for the first few months. When she was maybe five weeks old, we also put it into her bassinet and she started sleeping through the night right away. HUGE fan of it. Once she grew out of it, we/she loved it so much that we purchased the Grand Dock for her in her crib. Even though she only used it a few months and now just sleeps in the crib or Pack ‘n Play, I feel it was money well spent when I consider per-use cost. Also, recommend getting an extra cover since they can’t go in the dryer.

    Update: Parker loves this too and has also slept in the Deluxe and now the Grand.

    UPPAbaby VISTA Stroller
    This stroller is an absolute luxury and by far my most-researched item. Let me break down why I spent here because it essentially comes down to one thing – we knew we wanted two children and we knew we wanted them close in age. We expected they would both be in a stroller at the same time. I researched and spent with that in mind – this is to efficiently maneuver with two kids who won’t be ready to walk on their own.

    What I LOVE: It comes with a bassinet and a seat that clip in and out incredibly easily. The UPPAbaby MESA car seat also pops right in to it, the stroller glides smoothly and it’s easy to fold. It’s also SO easy to flip the toddler seat from front to back facing – with a refluxy baby, we initially wanted her facing us and we still switch her to face us when we are walking into a really cold, strong wind or something like that. She weighs about 20 pounds and we can lift her and flip her easily – though I am fairly certain they probably do not recommend doing it that way. It has really great sun protection with an extra little UV50+ canopy that folds down on both the stroller and the bassinet.

    What I DO NOT love: The bassinet is totally useless as an actual bassinet and really only helpful for strolling. Not a huge problem but just kind of annoying since they don’t stay in a bassinet long anyway. The sides are too soft, it doesn’t have its own stand, it’s just not an ideal bassinet for when baby sleeps in your room when they first come home, in my opinion.

    Also, it’s so dang expensive and does not come with reflectors or cup holders. We purchased two cup holders (Mom and Dad are both thirsty) and two sets of reflectors since the front wheels spin. We also have this SKIP*HOP stroller organizer and it’s great.

    PRO TIP: They did redesign the VISTA so the V2 is what’s out now. Pretty sure mine is the version right before – the 2018. The differences are subtle (some with the new have even marveled they like mine better)and I saved a few hundred bucks so definitely check that out. Mine is a silver frame, black leather, cloth is in the Jordan colorway. Here are the additional components we purchased so we can accommodate little brother on this ride: RumbleSeat, Upper Seat Adapter, Lower Adapter.

    OXO Tot Sprout Highchair
    This high chair is super easy to clean. It’s also study and doesn’t have a huge base so I don’t trip all over it. Easy on the eyes too! It fits perfectly at our kitchen table in place of one of the chairs.

    Additional Must Haves

    Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker
    If she wasn’t in her Dockatot, she was here. Quinn LOVED this seat, it is perfect for awake and she actually napped in it some too.

    Parker also loves it!

    Fisher-Price Funtime Gelli Mat Play Mat
    Perfect for baby to play and roll comfortably. We loved it because Quinn spit up ALL DAY, EVERY DAY and this made clean up so much easier.

    Update: We still use it daily, Parker lays on it while we play around him.

    Dr. Brown’s Options+ 9 oz. Wide-Neck Baby Bottles
    Love these bottles! LOVE THEM and have used them since we brought her home from the hospital. We have 12 – good number, we run the dishwasher just about every day.

    Update: We have waaay more than 12 now but still love them! We only broke one and it was because it rolled off the bathroom counter onto a tile floor. They’ve fallen MANY times without breaking before and since.

    Oxo Tot Dishwasher Basket
    Must. Have. We had the Dr. Brown’s version and, I feel badly saying it but, it was big, hard to fill, and only fit pieces for three bottles. This one is WAY better, we have two and keep them both in the top rack 24/7.

    Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack
    We have this and two of the trees and two of the flowers. They’re cute. They may not be your jam but you will probably need something to hang the bottle pieces to dry.

    VTech DM221 Digital Audio Baby Monitor with Talk-Back Intercom System
    We use this audio monitor and a Nest cam. I didn’t like the little arm-mount things for most of the video monitors, just my personal preference. This is working out super well for us. We take the audio monitor with us to the beach or my parents’ house.

    Update: We now have four of the audio monitors and three of the Nest cams. It worked so well that we got the audio for both bedrooms, my parents’ house, and Quinn’s room at the beach. Same with the Nest cams, minus my mom and dad’s.

    HALO SleepSack
    Swaddling is hard, this made it so much easier at bedtime. Quinn did not love to be swaddled so that part didn’t last long but even now, approaching eight months, she rocks one of these to bed every night over a sleeper.

    SKIP*HOP Pronto! Signature Changing Station
    This thing is awesome. Pro tip, courtesy of my mother, stow a few plastic grocery bags in the front pocket for the dirty diapers – so much less awkward to dispose than when you’re holding it in your hand. While we have two of these travel wipes dispensers, a friend passed down one more like this (but Frozen) and I prefer it. The softer version just fits into the changing station slot a little more simply and I think it keeps the wipes more fresh.

    SKIP*HOP Style Driven Backseat Mirror
    Perfect for scoping out that sweet babe on the go.

    Baby Delight Go With Me Eclipse Portable Playard
    We just started baby jail the last month or so and this one is AWESOME. So easy to set up and take down and looks like it will be a piece of cake to travel with it. Good for inside or outside.

    Update: We still love it, have a couple of them now.

    Dr. Brown’s Formula Dispenser
    Love this little thing, it makes it SO easy to make a bottle on the go.

    The First Years American Red Cross Deluxe Nail Clipper with Magnifier
    That little one that comes in the kit we all get is for the birds! This one is SO much easier to use and I don’t even use the magnifier part. Love it. Buy it.

    Update: Here are a few items I would add!

    Inglesina Fast Table Chair

    We have it in black and a friend passed one down in navy, they’re so awesome, we keep them at our place and my parents’ down at the beach, no need for a high chair. Just discovered this AMAZING little placemat/tray via a friend’s recommendation, to go with them too.

    Sound Machine

    We did not use a sound machine for Quinn until Parker came home. After we heard her say, “baby,” on the monitor in the middle of the night when we were up with Parker, we plugged in this one gifted to us from a friend. It’s fantastic, she went right back to her 12+-hour nights. We use it for naps too.

    Baby Brezza – Formula Pro Advanced Mixing System WiFi

    Ok so I wouldn’t say it’s a MUST but this is certainly a really-nice-to-have item. It’s basically a Keurig for baby bottles. As noted, we exclusively formula feed and our water takes FOREVER to get warm in the middle of the night. This was a game changer. We got it a few months before Parker arrived and have not looked back. I have used the wifi feature once – the day we got it when I was seeing if it worked.

    SKIP*HOP® Moby® Smart Sling™ 3-Stage Tub in Grey

    Leaving this off the first time was an oversight, it’s fantastic.

    HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper Essentia

    I had no idea the baby would need to sleep in our room right away. This was a day-two-at-home-with-Quinn purchase. It’s great right up against the bed, easy to lean into and swivel around to get up and down around. It’s also been great across the room with #2 when I wasn’t as nervous. There is a swankier version that vibrates and such, I don’t feel like we needed that but I’m sure it couldn’t hurt.

    Can’t Get Enough

    • Burp cloths – the reusable cloth diapers are the best for this.
    • Wash cloths – we like these.
    • Bibs – we use them to catch drool, spit up and food. I would say white isn’t the best color – formula and foods stain!
    • White onesies
    • Zippers – zippers are always better than snaps. Five hundred snaps in the middle of the night when the baby is kicking angrily because he or she wants to eat is tough.
    • Babelvit Booties – big fan, via Amazon.
    • Of this fan for the summer – clips right onto the stroller.
    • Safety – we clip these to the cup holders on the stroller and wrapped this around the bottom of the front of the stroller – good for dusky/dark walks. I was surprised at how much more vulnerable I felt once I had the stroller.
    • Kirkland wipes and diapers have been awesome for us since day one – highly recommend if you have a Costco membership.

    Probably Could Have Skipped

    • Diaper pail – diapers smell. At our house, the dirty go straight outside and wet go into the kitchen trash, which is emptied once a day.
    • Formula mixing pitcher – you can’t really make bottles ahead, they don’t keep that long, I didn’t realize that.
    • Clothes and blankets – we were gifted enough clothes to get us going and then we just supplemented once she was here and we had a better idea what we needed. Blankets rolled in for a long time – we use them all, they’re awesome, but a hot gift item so I wouldn’t buy them. Update: With baby #2 tons of people bought us clothes, TONS OF CLOTHES.

  • Am I Done Blogging?

    a vintage typewriter

    A lot of you have asked if I was done with my blog, and many of you have shared that you really hope I’m not. It’s meant so much more than I can adequately describe to hear your stories of the impact of my story. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    I’m not done blogging. At the end of 2017, I started really digging into my genetic mutation. I was doing a lot of research, being connected with some amazing thought leaders and learning a lot. Research changes so quickly that it was interesting to see how much more is known now than when I was originally identified as having an ATM mutation.  Unfortunately, I was also learning how much we still really don’t know.

    As I learned more, I started to get conflicting opinions. Conflicting opinions on things that mattered a lot to me – like if we have children, we can potentially remove the ATM mutation by undergoing IVF, thus drastically decreasing the chance that breast cancer will wreak havoc on ANOTHER generation of my family. Some recommended it to us, others suggested ATM mutation or not, I probably still would have been diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Then there are others who think my mutation could possibly indicate the increased likelihood of cancers in addition to breast cancer. It was too much, too confusing.

    First of all, I sort of leaned on the genetic mutation. It sounds weird to say it that way but it’s a reason. It’s a reason something so nasty happened to me when I was so young. It was beyond my control. Then when someone says that they don’t actually believe it was the reason for my cancer – and that someone is a pretty big deal in the cancer genetics world – it was a little shattering.

    Layer all that on the tiny sliver of a possibility that maybe I am more likely than the average person to get another type of cancer too and my brain was beginning to melt.

    The reality is, we still don’t know what we don’t know and it’s incredibly frustrating and scary. But at the same time, we have come SO FAR. I know that but I just needed a minute to step away from all of this and recalibrate. I’ve spent the last few months channeling the serenity prayer.

    After a few months, I think I have a better grasp of the difference and I am ready to keep going. Thanks for continuing on this crazy journey with me. More soon!

  • One Year Since My Last Surgery

    empty picture frame standing on cabinet next to house plant

    One year ago yesterday, I finished the surgical process for breast reconstruction. My amazing plastic surgeon removed my tissue expanders and placed my final, 550-cc implants. I only say the size because some people don’t get that after this process, I literally don’t have breast tissue, you have an implant in the place of what was there.

     Lamenting the fact that no one would sneak me food while I waited in pre-op. RUDE.
    Lamenting the fact that no one would sneak me food while I waited in pre-op. RUDE.

    A year later, I have mixed feelings on how far I have come. On one hand, I thought that I would have less random nerve pain. I thought the chunks of skin in the front of my armpits would have smoothed out and felt less awkward/uncomfortable to the touch. I thought I would have settled into a fitness and healthy eating routine and lost all of the extra, I-am-depressed-I-have-cancer-and-let-myself-comfort-eat weight.

    On the other hand, my scars look AMAZING and the exchange surgery was wildly successful so I don’t need any revisions. Since the final surgery, I was able to sit down with Tara at Pink Ink Tattoo which helped with the cosmetic finish so it’s less of a mind warp when I look in the mirror. I feel so much more comfortable in my skin and in control of my body again. Things are starting to feel more normal to the touch which is great. It’s never exciting to feel like your body feels fake.

    I guess I am still settling into the new normal. It’s a work in progress. My body will never be the same but it’s still my body. I will never get used to the fact that because I don’t have a thick layer of my own circulation over the implants, it feels like ice packs on my chest when it’s cold. It’s definitely annoying not to be able to better regulate my temperature there, no matter how many layers I add. It’s also pretty great to know there’s no cancer growing in there either though so I think I will take it!

  • ,

    My Number One Tip to Surviving Cancer

    If I could offer only one tip to someone who had just been diagnosed with cancer, it would be to find a way to connect with other survivors. That has hands down been the most instrumental key to getting through this without losing my mind completely.

    To boil it down simply, no one else understands.

    I mean that with so much respect for the rest of the people in my life. We all know someone with cancer, few have even carried someone through a battle with cancer, others have lost someone to cancer, some are health care professionals. Each have a varying, and sometimes intimate, understanding of what you are going through and play a very important role in your support system. Still, no matter how close you were, unless you have been diagnosed with cancer, you do not truly get it.

    I say this as much for those who have been or will be diagnosed as I do for those who love them. It is important to push your loved ones to find other people who have lived this. You just can’t provide them that angle of support and it’s so, so important.

    When I was diagnosed, I did some reading online and found very few young women sharing a first person account. Then I launched this blog and started posting on social media. It was through hashtags on Instagram that I became connected with Anna Crollman who runs My Cancer Chic. We realized we lived close to one another and decided to meet for coffee.

    In those two hours, I gained so much relief. We talked about the things people say and how they impact you emotionally (“At least you got a free boob job out of it!”). We analyzed the toughness of the tissue expanders and the challenges that come with removing and rebuilding part of your body. We covered the guilt of not being 100% and how that impacts your relationships.

    In two hours, our discussion got more personal than I had talked with people I have known for decades.  She and other survivors have helped me realize the anxiety and depression I battle isn’t just me – almost all of us battle that. It’s just a different level of understanding and depth of communication. You never have to worry about making one of the other survivors uncomfortable, they just get it. As my Aunt Sue told me when I was diagnosed, “What did you want to join this club for?” And it’s absolutely this crappy club you never wanted to join but once you find the others, you realize you are not alone and you have unlocked this amazing network full of good.

    Anna runs one of the Face 2 Face Networks for the Young Survival Coalition. She pulls together monthly meetings designed to help young women face breast cancer together. I try to get to the meetings as often as possible because every time I connect with these women, I leave feeling so energized and refreshed. It’s truly therapy for me, much like writing this blog. It’s the same way I feel about the time I spend working with Komen.

    In the last few months people I know have connected me to other young women recently diagnosed and I am so glad to have this network continue to grow – though I would be even more glad if it suddenly stopped growing and we found a way to end this disease. In the meantime, I will keep connecting and encouraging others to do the same. It truly impacts my mental health – and no one should go through this without the support of a fellow survivor.

    If you know someone who has been diagnosed, please never hesitate to send them my information.

    To all my survivor sisters, thank you for being you. I would be lost without your love and support. Keep kicking butt and taking names. We are all badasses. And to the rest of my tribe, thanks for understanding that I will never really be done with this. I am forever changed and always adjusting to the new normal. I appreciate you supporting me in that effort.

  • Honeymoon in Greece: What do we need to know?

    As most of you know by now, we were married on May 21, 2016. While we planned to spend the following two weeks in Hawaii, my widespread DCIS had other plans and we had to cancel our honeymoon. Instead, I had a bilateral mastectomy on May 24 and we spent the night at Rex Hospital after my surgery.

     Recovery 2: Excellent service but not very romantic. I took this selfie in the middle of the night to send as proof of life and a smile to our immediate family. When they had to leave, I was barely awake. My new husband dutifully slept by my side in a recliner. 
    Recovery 2: Excellent service but not very romantic. I took this selfie in the middle of the night to send as proof of life and a smile to our immediate family. When they had to leave, I was barely awake. My new husband dutifully slept by my side in a recliner. 

    While the fabulous Terika did wake me up every four hours for a nice cocktail of meds, this fuzzy night and the challenging weeks that followed were not exactly honeymoon material. 

    I am PUMPED to share that we leave next week for our REAL honeymoon in Greece! We are hitting Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. Don’t worry, it’s ok that I share that because our house won’t be empty, our spoiled cat has live-in caretakers coming to attend to his diva needs.

    This is our first time booking a trip through Costco Travel so I am excited to let you know how that goes – we have heard great things. 

    SO WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW?! All of you world travelers, I need your every Greece tip. What attractions are not to be missed? Which foods and beverages do you still crave? Any hot spots we need to hit up? What do you wish you had packed when you went? Please comment below and let me know!

    This trip is so well deserved and I can’t wait to spend some serious quality time with my husband and finally celebrate our marriage and our health. Thanks in advance for your tips, can’t wait to tell you all about it when we get home! xo

About Me

Hi, I’m Kate. 👋 I love to write, cheer on my favorite teams, and laugh till I cry. I am a happily married toddler mom and I have had breast cancer twice before the age of 40.

Follow Me On