My Thoughts On First Birthdays

Unpopular opinion time.

A baby’s first birthday is a big deal, there is no denying that. But how big should it be?

Liam will be a whole year old in 15 days, and Kyle and I have made the decision to not throw him a birthday party. I know, I know. I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaws up off the floor and compose yourselves.

That’s right. No party. No big cake, no balloons, no streamers. Why not? Let me tell you.

A lot of things need to be considered before diving into throwing a huge bash for your little bundle of joy, who is not so little anymore. The first thing you should consider, in my opinion, is your CHILD. Specifically, their personality. Yes, your one-year-old does have a personality.

First and foremost, this is your child’s party. A celebration of their life up to this point, and their accomplishments and milestones from their first year. And who wants to have a party thrown for them and have a miserable time? All babies are different, so this may not be relatable to some, but it certainly is for my little guy.

Liam, much like his mama, has a bit of social anxiety. He only lets a very select few hold him, and if you are lucky enough to let him grace you with his cuteness, it is only for a short period before he panics, and searches for mommy and daddy. I suppose, in a way, I am partially to blame for this… sort of. You see, I’m a stay-at-home-mom in a small town, where I don’t know a single soul. We only have one vehicle, but I don’t drive anyway. My fiance works 70-80 hours a week, and on his one day off every other week, socializing isn’t exactly at the top of our to-do list. No, it goes more like: rushed grocery shopping, rushed bill paying, rushed odds and ends, rushed trip to the laundromat to do our mountain of laundry… you get the idea.

So, baby and I don’t get much human interaction, aside from family get-togethers for major holidays, and occasional, planned meet-ups with Kyle’s mother (who is pretty much the only person Liam will remain content with). I wish it were different. I wish Liam was the kind of baby who could be passed around a room full of strangers, and keep a smile on his face. I’ve received so many judgmental glances from family members, when they beg to hold him, even after my warnings about his stranger anxiety, and then he fusses after a solid 60 seconds.

That’s just how he is.

So, back to my original point. Does your baby handle strangers well? Or even family? If not, then is it really worth it to put them in an uncomfortable situation, just so you can attend a party? No. Not to me.

Next up, we have noise. Now, Liam handles noise well. Heck, he’s a noisy boy himself. He handles loud TVs, music, sudden noises, peoples’ voices, etc., all really well. But many babies don’t. Large, noisy crowds, even if filled with familiar faces, can be very stressful for little ones. Even in the arms of mommy or daddy. Popping balloons, screaming little kids, and other sudden loud noises can make for a very bad time if your baby doesn’t handle noise well. And, as we all know, nothing kills the mood at a party quite like an inconsolable, screaming baby.

Now, remember how I said this is a party for your child? Well, it is, but it is also a party for YOU. You, your partner, whatever. This is a celebration of you, and everything you’ve made it through over the last year as well. All of the late nights, early morning, poopy diapers, feedings, stepped on toys, tears and fits, teething pain, baby-proofing as they learned to crawl and walk, and chasing them throughout the house. It is a celebration for you as well. So, while keeping your baby’s personality in mind, what do YOU want?

For me, there’s the stress. I stress easily. I don’t like parties. Even my own. I don’t like birthday parties, I don’t like New Years or Christmas parties, or Halloween parties. Like I said, social anxiety. Even with family. I don’t like feeling like I’m being secretly (or not-so-secretly) judged for every decision I make. I also have a tight budget, and stress out easily when I need to plan get-togethers. So… why go through the stress of planning, cleaning, buying party supplies, blowing up balloons, dealing with who to invite, settling on a date that accommodates peoples’ schedules, maybe even finding a location, if you’re not going to enjoy yourself either? If you’re unhappy, your baby will be unhappy.

That does not sound like a good time to me.

Will they even remember their first birthday party? Probably not. Will they remember how much stress you put on yourself to pick the perfect napkins to match the plates? Doubt it. Will they even know what is happening? Nah. I’d much rather make some baby-friendly cupcakes (don’t even get my started on my opinion of spending oodles on fancy smash cakes…), and snap a few cute pictures, surrounded by the people who have had the biggest impact in Liam’s life up to this point.

So why do it? Because your family want to celebrate? Because you’re afraid of being judged? Well, with all due respect, it is not their baby. Pressure from family plays a huge roll in the decisions we make as parents, and it definitely shouldn’t. This is YOUR baby. This is YOUR time to celebrate. There will be other holidays, and other birthdays. But, in my opinion, this one is a big one, and should be for you and your little one.

Now, that’s not to say it has to be just you guys. We may not be throwing a party, but we want Kyle’s mother to be there. She loves Liam just as much as we do, and I honestly couldn’t imagine her not being there to celebrate this milestone with us. But, honestly, she’s the only one I want there. Just the three of us, and Liam’s grandma.

Of course, as I said before, this may not be relatable to some. Maybe your idea of celebrating all that you’ve accomplished as a family is to throw a big bash. Maybe you have a loving, supportive  family, and they make you feel comfortable, and you want them there with you. And maybe your baby takes after you, and is outgoing. Maybe they love being bounced, cuddled, and smothered with love and affection from everyone they meet. But not all babies (or parents) are like that. And that is perfectly fine.

These are just a few of the reasons why I’ve decided that I don’t want to throw a big party for my little guy. I want to quietly celebrate all that we have overcome, and accomplished, in the first year of his life. I want to reflect back on each and every special moment with the man that I love, and our sweet boy.

I know you want to make memories, but that doesn’t mean that you need to include everyone in the making of them.

Unless you want to, of course.

But, when he turns two… that’s another story.

Thank you for reading!

Jan

Holiday Toy Haul Ratings (6-36m): Part 2

Hello, friends! Happy 2016! I hope you all had a safe and fantastic holiday. I won’t talk too much about our New Year’s here, since this is another toy rating blog, but we did have a good time doing things with family, and Liam got tons of new clothes, books, and toys, which I will tell you all about in upcoming post, hopefully sometime soon. But here we go with five more toys!

Just like last time, I will post the name and link for each toy, as well as an image. Beneath these, I will be using a 4-star system, rating each toy on their:
Attractiveness: Colors, shapes, detail, and how well it captured and kept my son’s attention.
Interactivity: Age settings, movement, how much can he do with it, etc.
Noise: (If applicable) Music, sounds, volume control, sound quality.
Quality: Flimsy plastic, not baby-proof, etc.
Overall Score: A mix of my opinion and my son’s opinions.
I will also list Pros and Cons.

1. B. LucKeys Toy Car Keys with Lights and Sound
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Keys are made from stainless steel, and are easy to clean. They look and sound like real keys, which keeps baby’s attention. Makes several realistic car noises. Light up.
Cons: Price. We found these keys at Target (though they are only available in-store), and just like with the B. Toys HiPhone, we only paid around $10. However, both toys are listed well over $35 on Amazon. Not sure why. No volume control, but the noise isn’t loud to begin with.

2. Fisher-Price Musical Lion Walker
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Volume control. Piano keys play notes and tunes. Has a tiny mirror with flippy animal images, and several other little gizmos for baby. Lion’s nose lights up (is also a button they can press). Walker makes noise as baby walks with it.
Cons: Walker is a bit on the lighter side, while pushing it, baby knocked it over easily. Wheels do not turn. Not many play options for babies who aren’t interested in pushing it.

3. VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Very interactive and realistic. Is an actual “touch screen”! Screen lights up in several patterns. Screen slides to reveal two, different screens, each with different activities (number keys and music/sounds). Each number key does several commands. House button (to the right of the “0”) allows you to program your home phone number, so that you can teach your little one!
Cons: No volume control. Screen looks cheap. Lights in screen are red, as opposed to blue or white, and show up dull. Have read reviews about the lights/sensitivity in the screen not working after a short time, but no issues so far.
** As of 2/24/16, this toy no longer works. It repeats the same tune all day long, and no other buttons work. We had to turn it off permanently.

4. Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers – Crawl ‘n Pop! Turtle
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟✰✰
Noise: 🌟✰✰✰
Quality: 🌟🌟✰✰
Overall: 🌟🌟✰✰
Pros: Cute and colorful. Shapes are easy to put into their corresponding spots. Baby enjoys chewing on shapes.
Cons: No volume control, and VERY noisy when moving. Moves somewhat erratically, as opposed to a straight line. The popping noise it makes when popping the shapes out is very loud and may startle baby. Shapes sometimes get stuck and do not pop. If the turtle is not turned on, shapes do not stay in place very well, and may fall out. Cute toy, until you turn it on.

5. Oball Rattle and Roll Car
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: Colorful, fun design. Comes in 4 different colors (my son has the red and blue pictured). Durable. Surprisingly quiet for a “rattle” toy, but still makes enough noise to satisfy baby. Moves very fast with just a tiny push. Doubles as a teether. Baby can put fingers into holes for extra grip.
Cons: Wheels are a bit loud when on hard surfaces. A bit too lightweight.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope these posts are helping at least a few people with potential gift ideas! I’ll be writing another post or two soon, depending on how many more toys I have left to score.

Hope you’re all enjoying 2016 so far!

Jan

Holiday Toy Haul Ratings (6-36m): Part 1

Hello, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and got to spend some quality time with your friends, loved ones, pets, or even some quiet time with yourself. We had a pretty good Christmas on this end. We celebrated our Christmas on the 24th, and went to Kyle’s mother’s in the afternoon to open presents with the rest of the family, after opening presents at our house. It was loads of fun!

Liam received lots of fun, learning toys, so I decided that I wanted to post a multi-part toy haul series, telling you about the toys that he got (all in the 6-36 month age range), and what we think of them after playing with them all. Just in case anyone needed any gift ideas for their little ones, or other peoples, in the future!

The reason I chose to do a series is because we have one more family Christmas to go to in January, and then Liam’s first birthday (omg!), which is also in late January.

I will post the name and link for each toy, as well as an image. Beneath these, I will be using a 4-star system, rating each toy on their:
Attractiveness: Colors, shapes, detail, and how well it captured and kept my son’s attention.
Interactivity: Age settings, movement, how much can he do with it, etc.
Noise: (If applicable) Music, sounds, volume control, sound quality.
Quality: Flimsy plastic, not baby-proof, etc.
Overall Score: A mix of my opinion and my son’s opinions.
I will also list Pros and Cons.

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As you can see, he is pleased with his haul! I will only be rating the toys today, and not any of the books or his toddler learning kit. We’ll see if I do those in the future. I will be rating 5 toys today!

1. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟✰✰
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Pros: 3 levels of play, grows with your baby. Good learning tool for body parts and colors. Has over 50+ songs, phrases. Colorful. Heart lights up. Volume control.
Cons: Flimsy material, not sturdy. Looks and feels a bit cheap. Can feel the sound discs in the hands, feet, and ears, which makes it less cuddly that it appears. Sound is a bit high-pitched, even with the volume on the lower setting. We already have the My Pal Scout toy, but Puppy seems slightly less popular in our household.

2. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: N/A
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: Colorful and timeless. Rings double as durable teether. Caught baby’s attention, and he squealed happily when he got the rings on by himself.
Cons: Base is not flat, it is curved, which makes it tip over easily when baby tries to put rings on.

3. B. Toys HiPhone
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟✰
Quality: 🌟🌟✰✰
Overall: 🌟🌟✰✰
Pros: Personalized message recording, touch screen that reads off numbers, several realistic messages and songs. Looks like a “real” phone, caught baby’s attention. No volume control, but volume is lower than other baby toys I have seen.
Cons: Price on Amazon is very expensive, but you can buy from Target for around $10. Cheaply made. The Home button and Record/Play buttons stopped working less than an hour after opening. They now work only occasionally. The phone is for ages 18+ months, but doesn’t appear to do well with baby drool. As of yesterday, half of the lights in the screen stopped working. Baby has since lost interest.

4. VTech Musical Rhymes Book
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: Caught and kept baby’s attention immediately and is a current favorite. Parent can play and read with baby, or baby can play alone without issue. No volume control, but noise is not too loud. Very colorful. Two play settings for music or story. Several classic nursery rhymes, as well as instrumental noises. Pages turn and have objects to move on each page. Buttons are colorful and easy to press. Volume control.
Cons: None.

5. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Smart Train
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Attractiveness: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Interactivity: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Noise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Quality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: Another very fun favorite (for both of us). Volume control. 3 levels of play, including colors, shapes, and the alphabet. Comes with 3 removable figures, and two train parts, and no assembly. Very interactive. Train can be set to move across the room while singing the ABC’s, and baby loved to crawl after it. Fun learning toy.
Cons: Frog figure is a bit small, despite being a 3-36 month toy. Baby did put it in his mouth, but was not able to fit it in entirely. Be watchful with smaller toddlers.

So there you go! I hope this helped give you guys some ideas for future gifts (or post-holiday exchanges). We’ve been having a lot of fun learning and exploring! I can’t wait to post more.

Happy holidays, and thanks for reading!

Jan