Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween {Army Boy}

Army Boy

We aren't big into Halloween and Hogan is still so young that he can't really enjoy the excitement of Halloween.  We knew we were going to do some sort of simple costume.  I am not crafty at all and can't make anything, so our kids' Halloween costumes will be store bought forever unless someone makes one for us!  We went to K-Mart about 4 days before Halloween to pick up his costume.  We just went in with the mindset that we weren't leaving empty-handed, so we couldn't be picky.  There were still lots of costumes to choose from, I thought the pickings would be slim.  We came across an Army outfit for a little boy and decided to get it.  Wes is very good about making decisions.  He can go in any store and be out in minutes.  I can go in any store and stay hours and leave with nothing.  I'm glad he was there with me.

The Costume

We decided on the Army Boy costume.  It was $19.99 and since we waited until the last minute to get his costume, they were all 50% off, so we paid $10 for it!  It doesn't get better than that.  We're thrifty people.


The outfit came with a flimsy hat that matched, but it was way too big for Hogan.  The costume was a 2T/4T, but it fit perfectly.  The hat did not.  I happened to be in the Dollar Tree a couple of days ago and they had so many neat, little Army gadgets.  I picked him up an Army bowl hat and binoculars.  The hat worked great because it had the elastic band that held it on his head, otherwise he would have never kept it on.  The binoculars were a great asset because it kept him occupied with his costume.  He played with them all night.

Dog Tags

When I was about to get him dressed in his costume yesterday, I happened to remember that I had some dog tags that I had made in elementary school.  I found them in my jewelry box and they worked GREAT!  They were the perfect touch to his costume.  I blurred out the personal info on them, but I think it's so sweet that he was able to wear those dog tags from my childhood.

The Results

We could not have been more pleased with the way his simple costume turned out.  He looked just like a little Army Boy and he had a lot of fun.  You can't beat a $12 costume!

Army Boy

Happy Boy!

He loved his binoculars.


We celebrated Halloween a day early because the weather was great and it is supposed to be rainy and stormy today.  We went to both of the great grandparents' houses and both grandparents' houses.  That's it!  We can't handle taking him anywhere else.  Four places is more than plenty! 

Hogan & Dad at Nana's house.

Watson decided to go as a skeleton for Halloween!

Grace, Hogan, & Anna -  sweet cousins!

He got a little bit of candy, but since he doesn't eat much candy,
he got lots of cookies and crackers!

He does NOT like Frankenstein!

Happy Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo - Andee

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Photo-a-Day Book {Hogan}

Photo-a-Day Book | Hogan

Before Hogan was born, I had decided that I was going to do the Photo-a-Day challenge for him.  The PAD challenge is where you take a picture everyday for a whole year, 365 days.  It sounded simple enough to me.  I thought it would be so neat for him to have a book with a picture of himself from every day throughout his first year.  Here's the story:


Taking a picture of him everyday of that first year was a challenge itself.  Some days I was lucky to get a picture of the side of his face and other days, I was sneaking in his room at 11:30 that night to snap a picture of him.  Nevertheless, we made it and have 365 pictures of him for his book.

Had I started working on his book throughout the year, the task would not have been so daunting.  Instead of doing that, I waited until I snapped that last picture of him on his first birthday before I ever even began the project.  Lucky for me, I'm blessed to be a stay-at-home mom and I used every bit of his nap time for two weeks to get his book done.  So if you attempt to do this for your child, do yourself a favor and work on it weekly or monthly or even just quarterly, just don't wait and do it all at once like I did.

With the exception of a few professional pictures he had taken, I took every picture with my iPhone.  It was just more convenient for me to do it that way.  Throughout the year, I would save the pictures from my phone to our desktop computer and then delete them off of my phone to make room for more pictures.  At the end of the year, I think I had around 20,000 pictures on my computer.  That's why this was such a challenge for me.  I had to sift through all of the thousands of pictures I had taken and find my favorite one from each day.  Once I found it, I had to make sure the eyes weren't red or white and if they were, I had to deal with that issue.

To make it easy on myself when I actually started making the book, I created folders for each month of his first year.  As I found the pic I wanted to use for that day, I would drag it to the appropriate folder and then name it by using the day it was taken.  For example, I took all of his monthly pictures on the 11th of each month, so I would drag the monthly picture to the correct folder and then rename it 11.  I knew I was finished with each month when I had a picture named 1, 2, 3, etc.

Once all of the pictures were saved into their correct folder and renamed with the day it was taken, it was time to begin making the book.


I knew I wanted his book to be professionally made.  I just thought it would hold up better that way.  After researching several different websites, like Blurb, Shutterfly, etc., I decided to go with MyPublisher for this project.  Not only did they send me a promotion for a really great deal, they also have the simplest operating system to use.  It was quick and easy to do and the results were even more amazing than I had hoped for!

MyPublisher offers several different options for your book.  You can design your own layout, determine how many pictures go on each page, add text, and all sorts of other options.

Hogan's Book

I chose to use one of Hogan's newborn pictures for the cover of his book.  This book is hardcover and you can choose to either have the image printed directly on the book or a jacket for the book.  I chose to have it printed onto the book because I worked in a library at one time and those jackets were just a pain!  When I received his book in the mail and opened the box, I could not believe how beautiful it was.  It is exactly like looking at a yearbook from your high school days.  The pages are thick and the color is exactly like it appears when you're making the book on the computer.  The overall quality is just incredible.

I didn't take a picture of every page, but I did take a few just to show you how the layout looks once it's actually printed.  I used the Oh Baby Boy layout.

This page is optional.  I added it because I thought with it being his first year book that it was appropriate.

On these two pages, I used a 5-picture layout on the left and a 4-picture layout on the right.

Another 5-picture layout page.

6-picture and 5-picture layout.

This 9-picture layout was probably the one I used the most.  I was trying to fit 365 pictures into one book and I didn't want it to be as thick as a phone book, so this worked best for me.


My book ended up being a total of 57 pages.  I chose the 8x12 inch book.  I received an offer via email from MyPublisher for 58% off of my book purchase.  The total before my discount was $72.62 and what I actually paid was $30.00.  After tax {$2.55} and shipping {$10.99 via FedEx}, I paid $43.54 total!  I know that probably still seems like a lot, but versus every other website I checked, I would have paid at least $100 for the book and I doubt the quality would have been anything like what this one is.

Closing that Chapter

After I finished the book and actually got it in the mail, I realized that that chapter of my life is officially over, the chapter of Hogan's first year.  It is definitely bittersweet, but thankfully I will be starting another Photo-a-Day book in January.  And this time, I will NOT wait until he's a year old to start it!

Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo - Andee

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Baby Must Haves | Bedtime

Andee's List of Bedtime Must Haves

Last time I did bath time must haves, this time I'm going to give you my must haves for bedtime.  This is probably my most important list because bedtime has always caused me the most anxiety, especially when Hogan was a newborn.  I have always had a fear of SIDS and it caused me to lose sleep thinking about Hogan breathing while he slept.  When I finally got bedtime the way I wanted, I no longer worried about SIDS and I slept better than I had ever slept just knowing that my baby was safe in his own bed.  My number one rule when we decided to have kids, was that they were going to sleep in their own beds.  Hogan is 13 months old and has never slept in our bed.  There have been a couple of times where he was teething and I might pick him up at 5:30 am and lay him in bed with me for an hour or so, but never all night.  I just felt like all of us would sleep better in our own beds.

Sound Machine

I did a lot of reading while I was pregnant with Hogan.  One of the things I read was that sound machines help prevent SIDS.  This immediately caught my attention.  White noise supposedly keeps your baby from falling into too deep of a sleep that he or she won't wake up.  I bought one right away.  Hogan has slept with his sound machine every night and also every nap time since the day he was born.  He is 13 months old now and still sleeps with it.  The one we have, the MyBaby by Homedics SoundSpa - Lullaby Relaxation Machine, has lots of different settings.  It will play lullabies, rain, ocean, etc., and it also has a projector that plays little pictures on the wall or ceiling for your baby to watch.  He sleeps with the rain, it's just what we decided on when he was little.  Also, because whatever he listens to, we also listen to over the monitor.  We've used ours every day for a year and it's still going strong.  I definitely recommend this one.  It's $24.99 at Target.

Rock N' Play Sleeper

I was introduced to these by a friend at work.  She told me they were the best things for newborns to sleep in.  They are slightly elevated, so it keeps them from lying flat on their back all night and they also rock, which every baby loves.  Hogan slept in his Rock N' Play beside our bed until he was three months old, then I transitioned him to his crib and he's been there ever since.  These are so easy to travel with and we did a lot of travelling when he was a baby, so it worked perfectly for us.  This is very high up there on my must haves list.  They are usually around $75 at Target, Rock N' Play Sleeper, but they are worth every penny, I promise!

Angelcare Monitor

THIS IS THE BIGGEST, MOST ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE ON MY LIST!!!  Like I said earlier, I have the biggest fear of SIDS.  When Hogan was about two weeks old, I could NOT sleep.  I'd stay awake all night watching him sleep to make sure he was breathing.  I'd set my alarm for the top of every hour so I could wake up and make sure he was breathing.  It was awful and I was miserable.  A friend of mine, Kayla, had her son two weeks before me.  We texted a lot while we were pregnant and right after we had our babies.  I was telling her about it one night and she told me to try the Angel Care Monitor because it alerts you if your baby stops breathing.  It was too good to be true, I thought.  I ordered one that night.  When you read the reviews on the monitor, you will see a lot of people say that it gives you false alarms or that the alarm goes off when the baby is breathing.  Here's my experience with this:  The alarm never goes off if the baby is breathing.  I think lots of times, the baby may be in a position that the sensor pad can't feel the movement, so it sets the alarm off.  The older Hogan gets, the easier it is for him to get in the corner of his crib and that's when the alarm goes off.  When he's in the corner and the sensor pad is in the middle of his crib, it can't feel him breathe, so the alarm will go off.  I sometimes have to get up in the middle of the night and move him back to the middle of his crib, but it's not a big deal for me.  Let me say, I would much rather have the false alarms than to have nothing at all protecting my baby.  There are several different sensor levels you can choose from.  I think we have ours set on the medium level and it works great.  When he was small, I had it on the highest level because I wanted to be sure it alerted me.  We bought our Angelcare Monitor at Target for around $90.  We paid about $75 for our regular monitor we had before we bought this one.  For a few extra bucks, why not go with this one?  As long as you install your monitor correctly, you shouldn't have to worry about many false alarms.


There are so many people that will tell you "don't do this" or "don't do that."  When I give advice, I try not to do that.  I like to just give my experience with certain things.  You can decide for yourself whether you're going to do it or not.  Advice is just that, advice.  Take it or leave it, you are the mom and you are ultimately the one that has to decide what is best for your baby.

Bumper Pad

When I was expecting Hogan, I was asked several times if I was going to use a bumper pad.  I hadn't put much thought into it at that point, so I would just say that I hadn't decided.  I researched it a little bit and everything I came across said that bumper pads were no longer considered safe due to the risk of SIDS.  Having my fear of SIDS, I immediately ruled out a bumper pad.  Well, at three months, when I put Hogan in his crib full-time, it worked out great.  He wasn't rolling over or moving much in his sleep at that time.  At four months, when he started rolling over, it was a different story.  He would scream and I'd go check on him and either his arm or his leg had gotten caught in between the slats of his crib.  After this happened three times in a matter of days, I was afraid he was going to end up breaking a limb trying to free himself.  I went to the store that day and bought a bumper pad.  Since I wanted one that day, I couldn't be picky, so I ended up with this stars themed one in the picture.  I didn't care what it looked like, as long as it protected my baby.  Once I got the bumper pad, he never got stuck in his crib again.  If you're unsure about using one or not, I'd just say that you can try it without one like I did and if you decide you need one, buy it.

Waterproof Crib Pad

This is the mattress pad we have.  It's the Circo Absorbent Crib Pad from Target.  It is $9.99.  Hogan is a year old and we have washed and dried ours countless times and it's still like brand new.  We have a baby that has slept 12-13 hours every night since he was 2 months old, so there's nothing you can do about leaking diapers when they sleep that long, it's inevitable.  So, these are a must.  I would recommend buying two.  We only have one and there are lots of times I'm waiting on his to get out of the dryer so I can make his bed for nap time.  I'm sure there are several different versions of these, this is just the one we got and it has worked great for us.  You'll definitely want to protect his mattress from pee so it doesn't smell like that!

Crib Sheets

We did not buy baby bedding because I did not want a bumper pad or a crib blanket, so we just bought a bed skirt and crib sheets from Target and Buy Buy Baby.  We have three crib sheets and we rotate them out.  The Chevron Crib Sheet is $9.99 at Target and has held up great with all of the wash cycles it has been through.  Like the mattress pad, I recommend having more than one crib sheet.  It's just convenient.


Again, due to my fear of SIDS, I did not put a blanket in the crib with Hogan until he was almost six months old.  I would just make sure to dress him in warm pajamas and socks.  My sister always said I was a cruel mama because of that, but I just couldn't help it.  At six months, I finally started letting him sleep with a blanket.  He always wanted the blanket right in his face, like in the picture above.  For the first couple of months, I would only let him sleep with crocheted blankets that had holes in them.  I felt like if he had the blanket in his face, at least he could breathe through the holes.  That was just my logic to make myself feel better.  I would suggest swaddlers or swaddling with a receiving blanket if you are like I am about blankets in the crib.


Being a first time mom, I had never swaddled a baby before.  I came across these swaddlers at TJ Maxx a few days before I had Hogan.  I bought this one, the brand is Blankets & Beyond.  It's minky dot and so soft.  It was only $12.99!  It has velcro on the insides that keeps it attached and together, it's super easy.  Hogan LOVED his and would sleep in it all night.  Sometimes, when he would get fussy, we would put him in it and it would immediately calm him down.  These are a must for me and they are also safer than a regular blanket thrown on top of your baby.  I got this one over a year ago, but my sister just had a baby and I bought her a purple one very similar to this one at TJ Maxx, so I know they still have them.  There are several different versions of these.  I know Target has lots of different types of swaddlers.  This is the only one I've tried, but I'm sure some of the other ones are just as great.  They just may not be as nice to your pocket book as this one is!


Consistency pays off.  In the beginning, it may seem like it's not working, but it will eventually take hold.  We always had a night-time routine when Hogan was a baby.  We would feed him, then bathe him, change his diaper, and then we'd all go in our room and play on our bed for about ten minutes.  After playtime, we'd lay him in his bed and he would go to sleep on his own.  We always put him in bed awake so that he would learn to fall asleep on his own.  He's never had trouble putting himself to sleep and he sleeps in the dark with no TV, just his sound machine.  Now that he's older and has a mouthful of teeth, our routine has changed a bit, but it's still consistent.  He has a cup of milk, playtime, diaper change, we all go in the bathroom and brush his teeth together, then we all lay him down in his bed together and he puts himself to sleep.  {I say we ALL, because Bogey does the night-time routine with us.}  We were blessed with a baby that sleeps well and I am hoping that Watson will take after his big brother.


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Thanks for stopping by!

xoxo - Andee

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My First Haircut {Hogan}

My First Haircut

Our first haircut experience.  Let's just start out by saying that it was nothing like I expected.  I don't know why, but in my mind I had this plan of how everything would go.  Hogan would sit in the chair and get his haircut, smiling the whole time, all while I snapped a hundred pictures.  Um, no.  Not how it happened at all.  It never even occurred to me that he may be scared, scream, cry, or anything of this nature.  He's such a mild mannered child and I rarely have to deal with him crying in public.  There have been a handful of times that I can remember that happening in his first year.  While we were getting ready to leave for his haircut, Wes said, "He may not even let him cut his hair."  That's the first time it occurred to me that he might not like it.

Before Pictures

Hogan could have definitely waited on getting his first haircut, but the back was getting too long for our liking and his bangs were touching his eyebrows.  He had some cute, little curls that flipped out over his ears, but they sometimes made people confuse him for a girl.

Going In!

They were actually both getting haircuts.  I can't tell which one was more nervous!

The Chair

Like I said, I just wasn't prepared for what was to come.  Hogan hated the chair.  Tony tried sitting him in the children's chair, but he screamed as loud as he could.  We tried him sitting in Wes' lap next, not happening.

Look at that face!

Our last option was Mama's lap.  Here's how that went...

We were finally able to get him calmed down a bit.

The First Snip

Word to the wise, make sure you remember to get the first snip of his hair.  With all of the chaos, I forgot all about it and when the haircut was over, I was trying to collect hair off of the floor.  I was able to get a little, but it was a challenge.

The look on his face in these pictures says it all.  Scared. To.  Death.

Through it all, we were able to get one picture of him actually smiling.

After Pictures

He got to enjoy his sucker while Dad got his haircut.

Two, handsome babes!

Afterwards, we had to go home and change clothes because we were all covered in hair.

Before & After

The First Morning With My New Haircut

Brushing my new hair-do!


This is just a little advice from a first-time mom and her first haircut experience with her child.

1.  We took every one of his favorite toys, nothing helped.
2.  The only thing that seemed to calm him down was when we pulled up a Mickey Mouse episode on my phone.
3.  They WILL cry.
4.  You MIGHT cry.  Luckily, I was able to remain calm and laugh, but that's not my nature at all.  I'm usually the one that gets stressed and panicky.
5.  You will both survive.  When you think there's no way the stylist is going to be able to cut his hair, they will.
6.  Take them to someone you know, they'll have more patience.
7.  Don't forget to take before pictures, just for keepsake.
8.  Take extra clothes.  You'll be covered in hair afterwards.
9.  Do not go alone.  Go with your spouse, or a friend, anyone.
10.  Just enjoy it.  Through all of the tears he shed and the screams, I love thinking back on it and laughing.  Through it all, we were able to have fun.

We decided to take Hogan to Tony Brown for his first haircut.  All of the men in Wes' family have gone to him for years, so Hogan had to follow, of course.  He was so good with him.  I can't imagine having to cut the hair of a screaming, squirmy child, but he made it look easy!

Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo - Andee