A New Pair of Shoes = Confidence at EVERY Age…(or is that just my excuse?)

Here I go AGAIN! Writing about the excitement I find in SHOES. Call me a GIRL OBSESSED! ARGH. As you who follow me know, I have written about the importance of shoes for babies in, “It’s All in a Girl’s Shoes,” and the fun of shoes for babies and toddlers in, “Bubblegum Scented Toddler Shoes,” and I’m about to share a combo about the importance, fun and my plain LOVE of shoes! Can a new pair of shoes help build confidence???I purchased my sons each crib shoes (shoes for fun to put on while they are babies and can’t crawl or walk that mainly match their outfits). Sounds like a HUGE waste of money, right? That’s what my hubby said. But I purchased them when they were 4 months old and starting to use the walker in the house and when we would go outside (I bought both pair on clearance at 50% off). I think it’s important that they get used to the feeling of wearing shoes. Like my post about my daughter’s shoes – her first fitting for shoes she was just 10 months old THAT DAY and that same evening, she walked for the first time. I think shoes give them balance and extra confidence a bare foot or sock foot with grippers don’t quite give (my opinion of course!) There are so many cute shoes for girls – (I could’ve spent a fortune but I DIDN’T!) But for my twin sons, I decided to go with Robeez which are known for having a snug fit that are more difficult for baby to kick off.

Why Robeez? “Robeez footwear mimics bare feet by flexing and bending with every step. Supporting not constricting growing feet, they promote good balance and unrestricted growth, while protecting little feet from the world. They stay on too, with elasticized ankles to ensure a perfectly snug fit.” From Why Robeez? They also have a downloadable shoe sizing chart (download Robeez Foot Sizing Chart). Love these little shoes with their orange soles for summer!  

This is my little Maxton who took to “walking” immediately in his walker just like his agile big sister. He will also soon be crawling and I am putting his Robeez on to ensure he has enough “GRIP.” So that’s my story on confidence for my boys!

You recall my post about bubblegum scented toddler shoes made by Mini Melissa? I decided against them just a few months ago because I wasn’t 100% sold on a pair of plastic shoes for a toddler (even though I grew up in the original era of “jellies” and had a ton!) The Melissa Brand shoes smell like bubblegum. Yes, bubblegum. They are a sustainable plastic shoe that is infused with a perfume that smells like bubblegum. Made of PVC recycled plastic, these “mini” versions of the adult Melissa line, are seriously “adorbs.” I must say, I was on the fence as to whether or not I wanted Mattelyn sporting a pair of bubblegum scented plastic shoes. But the sales associate assured me this is one of their biggest sellers for toddler sandals in the spring and summer season. WHO KNEW. While shopping recently for a pair of new shoes for myself POST PREGNANCY, we ran to the children’s department at Von Maur so Mattelyn could look at the train they have displayed and to “smell the Melissa’s,” now something Mattelyn likes to do. LOL. 😉 And lo and behold, the very pair of black Mary Janes with brown bows that I fell in love with were on sale 50% OFF. Yep, we bought them.

Mattelyn was thrilled, wore them out of the store, and sat in her car seat knotted like a pretzel with both feet pulled to her nose repeating, “Mmmmm! Smell, mama!” That evening (and every evening since) she runs to put on her new shoes and tells her daddy everyday when he gets home from work, “Look my new shoes.” So cute, I had to share!

And, Mama got a new pair of shoes too. My first pair of shoes for “going out” after my pregnancies. (Read, first pair of HEELS since giving birth). I LIVED in heels in my not so long ago previous life as a career woman. You couldn’t find me without heels on one, because I am 5’2″ tall (or should I say short!?) And two, I worked in a fast-paced downtown advertising agency and my title of Executive ensured I would wear heels the rest of my life! (Which was fine by me!) But even when they came out with tennis shoes with platforms, I was IN because I just couldn’t wear a pair of flat shoes. Needless to say, as with everything else – EVERYTHING CHANGED WITH BABIES. I am sure I will get back to my heels someday – but for now, none of my old heels fit (my feet grew a 1/2 inch with both pregnancies). So I have a GORGEOUS array of beautiful shoes just waiting to be donated. I can’t part with quite yet, but I did get rid of my first “round” with the birth of Mattelyn. Second round is soon! My birthday is today and my anniversary with my husband was yesterday. So this weekend, we are leaving the babes at home with my mother and father-in-law who have offered to drive up to stay the weekend to watch them – – that is two 7 month old twins and a rambunctious 2 year old. I am nervous about leaving them – the thought of not saying goodnight and giving hugs and kisses is REALLY difficult for me. Plus, I am hormonal as all get out…just ending breast feeding. I may have some post partum baby blues! They will be in loving care with their Mimi and Papa and I have no worries that way, it is just the initial leaving them all. *I am positive I will cry all the way downtown. Poor hubby.* I tried on a pair of new shoe boots with a good, sturdy, thicker heel that is only 3″ tall. They are a neutral color and I think will be a perfect complement to my attire for Saturday night’s outing on the Riverwalk along Chicago’s Riverfront that we are planning to do with a couple of close friends of ours who live downtown. I am excited and somehow, in my warped mind, I think having a new pair of shoes will give me the confidence and extra excitement I need to GET ME OUT THE DOOR Saturday night! (I will post a picture of me and my new shoes during our date night Saturday if you are interested at all in seeing them!)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Please share your favorite shoes for baby, toddler or yourself! I always want to know what I’m missing out on!

XO ~ Your Shoe Obsessed Mama

A Couple of Tutus Makes a SWEET Visit Even Sweeter!

Ludlam.6.2015-0119-3Two years ago when Mattelyn was born, I, along with tons of other mom and dads-to-be, went out and purchased a DSLR camera to “capture” those important, special, fleeting moments with a newborn baby. And, like so many other mommy’s and daddy’s, I increasingly began to take horrible photos that I was frustrated with. I spent some time researching “why is my photo blurry,” “why is my photo so dark?” As my photos improved, my creative light began to shine. I really began thinking about every time I took a photo. I look at professional’s photos and feel INSPIRED. I connect with their vision and then see my own. I definitely haven’t found “my look” yet but I’m working towards it. And here I am, two years later, actually shooting in manual (never thought that day would come) and I am getting more confident in the shots I am getting as they’re increasingly “closer to what I envisioned.” With that, I have shared my photos intermittently through Instagram and Facebook and have received some very gracious (and rewarding) compliments/comments. As apprehensive as I am, I have now begun “officially” calling this a hobby because I upgraded my camera (still not a full-frame yet) to a Canon 70D (mainly for the high-definition video it takes), and purchased a new professional lens, (yes, only one! But it’s a start…). I have yet to take a real camera shooting course or an editing course, but between nap times, many late nights and the rare moments to myself, I have managed to teach myself a few things. I have dabbled in some online work and I believe I can now finally say I am okay with most of my photos.

(I wish I was the type of person that just EXUDED confidence in everything I do and had full-on ability to just OWN my work without hesitation, but alas, that isn’t me! So I am my biggest critic to date).


That said, we were just blessed to have my sister-in-law and her beautiful family visit us from West Palm Beach, Florida. Not only are they a GORGEOUS little group of people, but she was “willing” to allow me to practice my first “mini-shoot” on location to capture some moments with her beautiful family and to hopefully get a family portrait for them. I am FINALLY happy with these photos after I shot them – I downloaded and am used to taking 200 photos to get TWO that I REALLY LIKE. This time, however, I was careful when shooting and thought about the sunlight and the time of day. Although I still struggle because I have a two year old crying and holding onto me the whole time no matter what, I still feel I got what I set out for. And my sis-in-law, (isn’t she to die for gorgeous??? In person, too!), was gracious enough to agree she loved them and would let me finally share something I believe in.

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So in short, I want to share my first attempt at a family other than my own and a mini-shoot. As a hobbyist, I can finally say I now know what I would like to be doing in my professional life (if I didn’t have three babies)! 😉 Shooting family and friends!!! Providing them with what I see when I look at them. Which is all the beauty in the world! This is now my passion and I hope to improve greatly. Who knows, someday maybe I will get the nerve and time to start something??? Until then, here’s a slide show of some of my favorite shots. The little 2 year old spunky brunette is my daughter Mattelyn and the 4 year old cutie pie is my niece Chayse and the 2 year old handsome man is my nephew Ryder.

I still have A LOT of work, but I am happy with where I’ve come in two years and I wanted to share with any of you that may be on this same journey – maybe we can exchange ideas!!! Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. And, I need more practice!

XO ~ Stephanie

This is How We Roll…(Literally)

I STRUGGLED with the thought of having three babies two and under in age. I worried that I would be homebound and wouldn’t be able to get out and about with them. I didn’t want Mattelyn who is barely two to suffer because the boys were infants and summer was just around the corner. I knew by this time, the boys would be 6 months old. At this age with only one, Mattelyn and I were very mobile. We took 3 – 5 mile walks daily in her stroller. We met daddy at work downtown Chicago and we never missed a play date. We went to restaurants with her in tow twice weekly, proudly. I knew our socializing would change and I was very aware that my mobility was about to change. I stressed about it. A LOT. I sent messages to other mamas of multiples, I researched all of the strollers that would work for three babies. I looked at specialty stores, I googled, searched Instagram, FaceBook and all of my family with babies. I exhausted my resources and quite frankly, everyone was tired of hearing me think about it out loud. I finally made a decision and my husband (and his parents) lovingly went along with my decision. And I am so glad I didn’t listen to the nay-sayers that said I wouldn’t be mobile with all three in the first year. Or that said I should worry about a stroller AFTER they were already here. Nope – I am super glad I did it when I did. There isn’t time to get ALL OF THIS TOGETHER NOW.

All of the planning ahead of time has made for this to all be possible. And it works.

I wanted to share with my followers as I know some of you are here as mommy’s and daddy’s and some of you are pregnant with twins or have newborn twins with a toddler and are facing the exact same dilemma I was 6 months ago.

(Knowing that things change on a DAILY basis in the world of baby and baby products, I am writing this from the viewpoint that this is what I found to make the most sense in November 2014 and I find still relevant now 6 months later in 2015, for us as a family of 5 with 3 little ones).

The Baby Jogger City Select  was MY stroller of choice!

Criteria for me (pregnant mom of twins with 19 month old daughter at the time):

* Holds two car seats PLUS my toddler daughter. Should I get a triple or quad stroller? They are so expensive, difficult to maneuver and it’s hard to find somewhere that sells those strollers (and we live in Chicagoland). You can view them online but you can’t physically push it around in advance of purchase. The City Select stroller has 16 different configurations and an add on option of a Glider Board that your toddler can stand on and “hitch a ride” for quick jaunts. We use it EVERYWHERE. To walk to the park, a quick trip to the post office, the grocery store for some missing ingredient for dinner, a stroll through the mall…it is the perfect solution (for us). My daughter jumps on and also has the option of jumping off (carefully when the stroller is stopped) and walking when she wants. (This is all dependent on your child and a talk about it and what you expect of them is critical and key to its success. Our daughter (26 months old) loves the “freedom.”)

My daughter is napping, reclined in the City Mini stroller and my twin sons are napping in their car seats in the City Select stroller

For longer walks and mall shopping for the duration, we use her City Mini stroller so she can relax and recline when it’s nap time. You won’t likely be doing these outings on your own anyway. LOL. * Maneuverable – I am small in stature (5’2″) and although small and mighty, I have other things I am worrying about (babies plus a two year old). I don’t need to figure out in the middle of an outing whether I can “drive” this stroller in and out of my establishments with ease or not. At that point in time, I will have mustered ALL OF MY ENERGY just getting out of the house. (We love our City Select Mini, (award winning), stroller we used for Mattelyn. It is AWESOME. But that is another post!)

* Light in weight – I now need to hoist two car seats in and out of the mini van (ugh – mini van – not hoisting car seats), PLUS the stroller.

*  INTUITIVE – It’s gotta’ work! The first time. And it has to be SMART. Just like the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner (another post – some things you just have to bite the bullet and pay for). When I get it out of the car, it “pops” into place. No other way of explaining it – it’s awesome. I pull it out and it locks into place. Same arrangement when I am leaving, I can easily fold it up – it’s also a simple “pop” which doesn’t seem possible – but it is.

* Small – It has to FIT. I mean fit everywhere. In the car, in the house, in the garage. I need it to be a space monkey and just get in when I need it to. Most of the time, we keep BOTH the City Mini and the City Select in the back of the van. I can easily lift either or both out and the space isn’t huge in the back of a Chrysler Town & Country.

* Safe – there are locks all over this stroller – just like the City Mini.

* There’s a Video for every stroller they sell on their Website (there are hundreds on YouTube, too) and they are worth the watch! Before you purchase AND AFTER you purchase. Watch it on your smart phone. Bookmark it. Bookmark it, text the URL and message it to your hubby. When he is alone, he will watch it too. They are less than 5 minutes each.

*Word to the wise –

(This is going to sound crazy – but I have also recommended crazier like “using” your breast pump before you need it while still pregnant – I am going to recommend the same here…)

Your hubby is busy. So are you. Difference is, he wants to think he can do it all right the first time without ever practicing, watching a YouTube vide or reading directions. And he will try to set up this easy stroller system after a stressful car ride (because he’s not around the chaos all week), in a parking lot, in front of people after never having practiced it before. He will get frustrated and will have a few choice words. This is a SYSTEM. It HAS TO BE to accomplish all it does. I highly recommend doing this – set up a time where you both “practice” getting the stroller and BOTH car seats out of the mini van. Include dolls so it’s more “real.” Begin IN the driver’s seat and proceed as though you have somewhere to be. It isn’t brain surgery but it is like anything else – the more practice, the better you both will be. Which also means the more success you will have in this stroller system working for you. You can time each other and see who accomplishes it faster. Trust me – this will prove invaluable once they’re here! I PROMISE.

Best of Luck! And I certainly hope this at least breaks down a few of the reasons we chose the City Select stroller making a decision easier for you. This was a very frustrating situation for both my hubby and I. I had many in my quest tell me to just “baby wear” one twin – in a Baby Bjorn or some other carrier. This is okay if it’s just you and the other twin without a demanding two year old that has little patience and still needs/requires help in and out of their car seat (positioned in the back of the mini van). I found it difficult to wear one and be multi-functional with my toddler daughter. If you have any other recommendation, please feel free to comment here! I have followers that are pregnant with twins and may read this and use it for decision making in their purchases!

XO ~ Stephanie