I’ve always got to have snacks handy for my Maggie girl.
My fabulous friend Ashley Newett from Newett Home and @newett_mama makes the cutest bags, shirts, cups etc…you name it! Go check out her etsy shop PracticedPositivity if you need an item or are looking for custom prints.
And just like that our Maggie is ONE (on March 4th)! You’re a happy, funny, snuggly little bundle of love and our dream come true! We’re excited for all the memories we have yet to make, all the birthdays, holidays and milestones yet to be celebrated and all the adventures to be had! What a blessing it is to be your Mom and Dad – to watch you grow everyday and to share with you all the people, places and things we love. This past year has been a blast! Happiest of birthdays to you Margaret June.
In lieu of gifts or a big party for Maggie’s 1st birthday we decided to have a small celebration at home with her Grandparents and Uncle. We created a time capsule filled with letters from family and friends. We will keep the letters sealed away so she can open them on her 18th birthday.
* I thought I should share the idea here so you could make one for your own kiddos too.*
Here is my list of virtually every useful baby item I can think of to help you through the first 6 months (and a few beyond) of parenthood. We’ve tested and approved all of these newborn/baby items! These are products that we’ve used, enjoyed and have worked for us. I am working on being accepted to the Amazon Associates program, so click on those links Mamas! I hope you’ll find these items just as useful as we did (and still do)! A small percentage of the products bought through my page will go towards Maggie’s diaper fund 😉 Many Thanks
<<<Halo Sleepsack 100% Cotton Swaddle Magaret was born a month early so she was a tad too tiny for this when we first brought her home, but we used this swaddle as soon as she reached 6lbs. It’s so much easier than wrapping a swaddle each night. I love the options for “arms in” or “arms out”. And it zips from the bottom up so it’s easy to change your babe in the middle of the night.
Aden + Anais Swaddle Muslin 4-Pack >>> My Aunt got us these adorable cotton muslin swaddles. I wrapped Maggie up in these soft blankets for the first month of her life (other fixed swaddles were too big). I learned how to wrap them by hand at a class in the hospital, but this video is a great way to learn too. They are so versatile and can be used as blankets, car seat covers, burp cloths etc. Here is a sweet picture of my own baby burrito.
<<<Dr. Brown’s Bottles for Breastfed Baby These slow-flow bottles were perfect after a few weeks of breastfeeding when I wanted to introduce pumped bottles (so Dan could help with night-time feedings YESSSSS). Maggie seemed to choke or spit up with any other kind of nipple that wasn’t labeled “slow flow” and I love the vent that reduces gas. I prefer these to the Como Tomo bottles that are difficult to unscrew and tend to smash into her nose when we try to get those last few drops of milk.
Owlet Smart Sock 2 Monitor (Renewed) >>> We have been using this refurbished sleeping monitor from day one. If you purchase a refurbished one, you can save $100 and still get a warranty. Win Win. Our Dr. actually recommended this product to us. Maggie has a mild case of Laryngomalacia (basically scary sounding breathing due to a soft larynx that will correct itself over the next year) so we were nervous to fall asleep at night. This monitor gave us peace of mind and the ability to shut our eyes. The monitor tracks oxygen saturation and heart rate. If either drops below normal, an alarm will sound on the base station as well as your phones (so you can even be notified if you’re away and have a babysitter). I love this little sock. It doesn’t claim to prevent SIDS, but I think any sort of extra monitoring can help.
<<<Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment I use this healing ointment every night as part of our bedtime routine. First a bath, then a mixture of this Aquaphor with a small dot of 1% hydrocotisone Aveeno Cream (her Dr. recommended it, but ask yours first before using). Maggie’s skin has been smooth and clear ever since using this nightly mixture. No more baby rashes or dry skin! This stuff works like a charm. I even started using it on myself 😉 The Aveeno cream clears the irritation and the Aquaphor seals in the skins natural moisture.
DockATot Deluxe (Bananas for You)>>> So I have to admit, I didn’t put this product on our baby shower registry because I thought it was too expensive for what it was (a glorified pillow). But my cousin surprised me with this very generous gift and it is THE BEST! You can use it for co-sleeping, naps or as a comfy place to set your baby down while you need to free your arms up. We bring it everywhere with us.
<<<Munchkin Bottle Brush 2 Pack Great brushes. I like that they have the little rubber brush (hidden in the base) to clean the bottle nipples! Honestly, I’d buy more than a 2-pack… you’ll go through them pretty quickly if you wash all your bottles by hand. I change them out every 4 weeks or so.
Baby Shusher Sound Machine>>> Our little one spent the first few days of her life under a light therapy lamp to help cure her jaundice. We wanted to hold her and snuggle her but were told we had to leave her under the lights as much as possible to get ride of her jaundice. This baby shusher worked like a charm to help calm her down. She would fall asleep to its soothing shushing while holding our finger.
<<<Nurtureland Teething Toys I just started using these a few weeks ago. She seems to really like the silicon texture on these fruit teethers. They are easy for her to hold and I like that I they can stand upright when she’s done playing with them, so I don’t have to lay the drooly chew toy on the table.
Infant Contoured Changing Pad>>> This is the changing pad that I put on top of her changing table/dresser in her room. It comes with a waterproof fabric (which you will definitely need). I put a soft chenille cover over it – but it’s in the wash half the time…cuz babies poop a lot! This pad keeps things tidy and easy to clean.
<<<My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow I went with the boppy pillow at first, but found it to be too small and too soft (still great for tummy time though). This Brest Friend has more structure and two convenient pillow mounds for your baby to rest their head on while feeding. It even has a water bottle holder. Genius.
<<<Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, Night Light and Time-to-Rise Love this idea. So far we’ve only used it for its sound machine feature, but you can also use it to signal your toddler time-to-rise at certain hours. This noise machine is linked to your phone and you can control it from a different room so you don’t have to wake your baby. It has multiple sounds like ocean, rain, nature, TV fuzz, dryer machine, twinkle tunes etc. as well as multiple colors and brightness options. The only complaint I have is that you have to be in a relatively close range to control the machine from your phone – I say about 30 feet or less from the base.
Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up [Amazon Exclusive] >>> We got this as a hand-me-down from a sweet friend. It’s more compact than the bumbo and basically does the same thing except this one is fabric and you can attach toys to it. I like to put Maggie in it while we’re eating lunch or when I need to do something on my own for a hot minute. It helps her sit up and feel like she’s interacting with us – looking around and getting a different perspective instead of just chillin on a blanket.
<<<Lotus Travel Crib – Backpack Portable Love this potable “Pack n Play” style crib. Dan and I like to travel, so we wanted a crib that was light weight and can fit into a backpack or overhead compartment. It’s simple to use and has a fun side zipper so she can crawl in or out. It’s easy for us to participate in an activity with her while we lay on the ground (read a book, play with some toys etc.) and then zip her in when it’s time for a nap.
Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker Classic Toy>>> This toy is for a toddler, but it’s a classic and childhood favorite so I had to add it. The quality of Melissa and Doug toys are always top-notch and the colors are beautiful. This company has a 100% HAPPINESS GUARANTEE on all of their products, so if you aren’t happy with it, give them a call and they’ll make it right. So far (5 month old) Maggie just likes looking at the colors and reaching for them. Stacking will come in time.
<<<Baby Stroller Organizer with Cup Holders Fantastic! It fits almost any stroller with its adjustable velcro straps. It’s so helpful for holding water bottles (or coffee, lots of coffee). wallets, snacks, cell phones etc. I don’t even take it off our stroller. the fabric is easy to clean. I really like the magnetized flap compartment – I usually put a pacifier or my phone in there, so I can grab it with one hand while walking.
Zacro Baby Car Mirror>>> Every parent needs this car mirror if you plan on driving with a rear facing car seat. It’s comforting being able to glance in your rearview mirror and check on your kiddo. There have been many times when Maggie has made a weird noise (or no noise at all) and I’ll get nervous and want to see if she is ok. This mirror fits over the top of the backseat headrest with adjustable straps and can pivot to your preferred angle for an optimal view. Made from shatterproof acrylic material.
<<<Jolly Jumper & Stand Baby Exerciser She just started using the Jolly Jumper a few days ago and so far, it’s a huge hit! The stand is gigantic, but you can fold it up, so no big deal. I also like the idea that you can take it with you (camping or backyard) and you don’t need a door frame to hang it on like other models. The quality and design of this jumper can’t be beat! And Maggie has a great time in it – so many laughs and smiles!
Innovo Hospital Grade Silicone Twister Bulb>>> This one is a keeper! If you’re planning on giving birth in a hospital the nurses will most likely give you the infamous blue aspirator bulb. The one they give you gets the job done, but you can’t see through it or clean in properly. I like the Innovo because you can take the bulb apart and clean it. The tip of the Innovo bulb is smaller so it’s easier to suction out those tiny baby nostrils etc.
<<<Baby Banz Earmuffs Infant Hearing Protection Really? Yes. Useful when using blenders, moving the lawn, vacuuming, loud wedding DJ’s, worship at church gettin a lil too rowdy 😉 and many other loud activities in life. Put these on your babe and she’ll continue sleeping. Maybe Mag’s is just a chill baby, but she doesn’t seem to mind these on her head.
Wooden Baby Hair Brush Set >>> The soft bristle brush and the silicon scrubber will come in handy from day one. The other brush will be more useful as your little one gets older (or grows more hair). I like the kit, because it has all three types and they’re made well.
<<<Brave Little Camper A cute book that has sounds to go along with the story. Dan is really into camper trailers and camping so this is a fun book for them to read together. As I’m sure you already know, talking and reading to your children is important for their language development – even if they can’t understand you yet. Any book will do!
Be Mindful Retro Scout Baby Carrier Backpack>>> This is a splurge item…not necessary by any means. Currently sitting in our garage – yet to go on an excursion, but it looks really fun. We’re going to wait until she gets a little bigger to use it. The pack can carry a child weighing up to 40lbs, has an adjustable 5 point harness, kickstand + comes with a travel bag and hydration pack. The company has a money-back guarantee if you don’t like it. We can’t wait to use this one at the cabin.
<<<Joovy Spoon Walker A walker / portable play mobile with a removable tray for easy cleaning. The whole walker folds flat for storage and the seat pad is machine washable. There are three height positions. This walker is such a great find and has fabulous reviews.
Pura Vida Ring Sling Baby Carrier>>> Designed by a mom of two, their mission is to help families around the world. All ring slings are backed by a LIFETIME GUARANTEE and 5% OF PROFITS GO TO FAMILIES IN NEED: with each purchase, this company will donate on your behalf to CEPIA, a charity supporting low-income families in Costa Rica. Sling carriers help create a womb-like position & nurture the bond between Mama and baby (Daddies too). This sling is made with eco friendly soft bamboo and linen and copper/rose gold rings. I really like using this sling for around the house while I do chores. There is a useful open pocket that will hold a bottle and pacifier on the end of the fabric. I can just reach down and grab what I need. Great design!
<<<BIBS Baby Pacifier | Made in Denmark I liked this brand of pacifiers the best. The tips of them are rounder and bigger than most, so they stay in your baby’s mouth better. I also like that they have a handle that can attach to a pacifier clip.
Miniware Teething Spoon Set>>> Soft silicone spoons in different colors. They’re easy-to-clean and are ergonomically designed so minis can bite and chew as they learn to feed themselves. These utensils are an ideal weight for toddlers to learn balance and control. And they’re pretty darn cute.
<<<Spectra – S1 Rechargeable Electric Breast Pump I use this pump EVERYDAY if you plan on breastfeeding and want to share the duty, than you’ll need a GOOD pump. This one will do a great job and I love that it’s portable. It will last for 3-30 min pump sessions before needing to be recharged. The pump has different suction levels so you can figure out what suits you best and there is a convenient night light.
Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns>>> Mustela is a wonderful company. I can’t wait to get more stuff from them. We used this shampoo foam for Maggie’s cradle cap and it cured it in 2 washes! It’s gentle and tear-free with natural Avocado oil. It’s a soap-free formula composed of 99% natural ingredients that will protect your baby’s scalp and rinse away cradle cap flakes. Newborn safe.
<<<Munchkin Baby Food Feeder These silicon feeders are fantastic for introducing new foods, room temp or frozen. I like to put breastmilk in mine and pop them in the freezer. Maggie uses them as soothing sucker for her gums. I have yet to try other food, but I’ve heard many parents like to cut up fruit and squish it inside. Babies can gnaw on the pops and they love the fun flavors.
Modern Pacifier Clip for Baby>>> A cute pacifier clip that safely attach to your infant’s clothing to secure your baby’s soothies and mini toys will remain clean and off the floor. Made from high-quality food grade chewbeads BPA free.
<<<Munchkin Puck Baking Soda Cartridge I stick this on the bottom of Maggie’s Ubbi pail. Replace it every 60-90 days for freshest results. It can be used almost anywhere – in garbage cans, diaper bags, refrigerators and more!
Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail>>> I liked the look of this diaper pail and it had great reviews so I put it on our registry. It did not disappoint! We’ll change take out the dirty diapers every 3 days or so and her room doesn’t smell at all! I liked that you don’t have to buy special bags for it (like other brands of diaper pails) and it holds up to 55 diapers! There is also a childproof lock to keep out curious toddlers.
<<<Cuddle Fleece Blanket Silky and velvety – the best of both comforting materials. She really enjoys this blanket. I have a feeling we’ll be buying more of these with the amount of use it’s getting!
Puracy Organic Baby Care>>> This baby shampoo and lotion won the award for the best baby skincare products by The BUMP. It was developed by doctors and is a natural, plant-powered formula, sulfate-free and NO HARSH CHEMICALS. Maggie uses this cleanser everyday during bath time and it agrees with her skin.
<<<Two Peas Organics SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen You’ll want to keep your newborns out of the sun in general and always consult with your pediatrician before using topical creams, but when your kiddo is old enough for playing in the sun, this is your best bet sunscreen! It’s a certified organic suncreen that is coral reef friendly – no fragrance and no harmful chemicals. It’s great for the whole family. I’ve already used it on Maggie at 4-months and it worked wonderfully with no skin reactions.
L’ovedbaby Organic Cotton Footed Overall>>> Simple and cute. This brand was my favorite when she was a newborn and we wanted her hands to be covered so she wouldn’t scratch her face. They’re 100% cotton, with one leg snaps. Easy enough to change a diaper and resnap in the dark!
<<<Dordor & Gorgor Organic Zip Front Another favorite jammie. I am a huge fan of the one sided zipper footed PJ’s. They are so easy to get on and off and you don’t have to mess with pulling the outfit over your baby’s head and potentially upsetting them. 100% cotton and sports a safety tab over the top of the zipper to prevent the tab from scratching your baby’s chin.
Owlivia Organic Cotton Baby Zip>>> And yet another footed jammie…do you see a trend here? This brand is adorable (with lots of patern options too). The quality is nice and the cotton is thick. It’s not safe to let your kiddos sleep with blankets until they’re older (around 1 year), so the long sleeved arms and legs will keep them warm and comfortable throughout the night.
<<<Kimono Onesie With Mittens, 4 Pack Get these and you’ll be happy! 100% soft cotton. These side snap onsie’s will make your life as a new parent easier! There is no need to disturb your little one by pulling a shirt over their head and the mitten cuffs will help prevent scratching. Maggie lived in side-snap onsie’s with mittens and footed jammies for the first 3 months! I’d only dress her in an outfit for special outings.
Swimsuit>>> A cute swimsuit. If you have a boy, click here. A swimsuit is not going to be necessary for an infant, but it’s kind of fun to include them in the family beach attire (if you live by the beach like us) and because it’s stinking adorable! I’d say it’s more useful once your little one is old enough to go swimming. We can’t wait to start those swim lessons!
<<<Burt’s Bees No-Scratch Mitts Definitely need these if your kiddo is wearing outfits without mittens attached (as a newborn). Poor Maggie would scratch her face if we forgot to use them.
Asunflower Wooden High Chair>>> Dan and I really liked the simplicity of this high chair. No bells or whistles, just an easy to clean, modern chair that we don’t mind looking at everyday. It’s a sturdy chair that will hold up to 88lbs (<– that’s a big baby) and can adjust with your child’s height. The tray and seatbelt are removable for washing.
Babyletto Mercer 3-in-1 Convertible Crib>>> I like the extra storage on the bottom — a great space saver for her small room. The Babyletto Mercer converts into a toddler bed and daybed. This crib is screened for 360 VOCs and over 10,000 chemicals + meets all safety standards and has four adjustable mattress positions.
<<<Little Unicorn Marindale Backpack Baby Diaper Bag A diaper bag that Dan doesn’t mind carrying around too (not girly looking). It’s made of a durable canvas material and you can wear it as a backpack or side sling. The shoulder straps are adjustable and there are 7 roomy pockets. The leather buckles on the front are actually magnetic and there is a top zipper under the flap. There are 4 metal studs on the bottom of the backpack so you can set it down without getting the pack dirty. It’s pretty cool. The only thing I don’t like is if you wear it as a sling pack, the backpack straps are not removable, so they’re awkwardly hanging there. Still a great bag and made very well. Nice looking too!
Chicco Fit 2 Infant & Toddler Car Seat, Arietta >>> Dan and I wanted to get a car seat that would grow with her from infant to toddler. This is a rear-facing car seat for the first 2 years. We brought Maggie home in it, weighing 5lbs 14oz with the infant insert (that comes with the seat). She was definitely tiny in it and the straps were as tight as they could go, but it worked. It’s a deeper car seat compared to others I’ve seen, but I think kids like that feeling of being tucked in. We bought an adapter for our stroller (City Mini GT) and it’s a great travel system – unclicks from the base in the car and click onto the stroller in no time at all. #1-rated Key Fit Infant Car Seat.
<<<Indestructibles: My Neighborhood This company makes fantastic indestructible baby books. They are chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic and you can even through them in your washing machine! Delightful for babies to page through on their own or with Mom or Dad or an older sibling. All of their books have bright pictures and minimal text.
Sophie The Giraffe Teether and Squeaker>>> A classic French baby toy that is too cute to pass up. Sophie la giraffe, the most beloved teether for over 55 years. Made of 100% natural rubber from the Hevea tree and squeaks when you squeeze her.
<<<Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Single Stroller I did A LOT of research before selecting ours. It’s so easy to use, you can close it up with one hand. There is a pull tab in the middle of the seat — you just pull it up and the stroller collapses in half. When you’re ready to open it up again, you just hold the handle bars, unsnap the side lock and stand up. It’s so compact! The man who sold it to me, said “it’s compact enough to ride on the Disnelyland tram with it.” SOLD. Checkout the video in the link to see how it works. I got a different car seat to pair with it as a travel system (I heard the city mini car seat wasn’t great) so I got this one instead with this adapter. Works Perfectly.
Boogie Wipes>>> Glorified baby wipes that smell good and are gentle on your kiddos face. Soothes and moisturizes with aloe, chamomile and vitamin E. Hypoallergenic and free of alcohol.
<<<Exergen Temporal Scan Forehead Artery Baby Thermometer This one is perfect for little kids, just press down the button and hold it while you sweep from the middle of the forehead to the side of the temple, then let go of the button. You can get your kids temp in seconds vs. struggling with a thermometer that takes 3 minutes. It’s fast and babies don’t mind it.
Skip Hop Moby Bath Tear-Free Waterfall Rinser Bath Cup>>> There is a rubber lip that you can place on your babies forehead while you pour water. The rubber lip will stop water from dripping in you kiddos face. Honestly the curve of the lip is a bit wide for newborns, but it’s going to work perfectly when Maggie’s head gets bigger as a toddler.
<<<Nursing Breastfeeding Cover Scarf I bought this one for myself and loved it. I accidentally left it on top of her stroller while I was jogging and it blew off somewhere on the boardwalk. If you see it, please pick it up for me 😉 I want it back! It’s a great cover for breastfeeding, stretching over your stroller or car seat and you can use it as a scarf or a grocery cart blanket.
Munchkin Mist Wipe Warmer>>> It seems a tad silly, but this wipe warmer will help your baby stay calm and happy — at least that has been our experience. Maggie seems to enjoy the warm wipes and stays in a dream-like state during night time diaper changes. I think the cold wipes, shock the kiddos and wake them up. It holds up to 100 wipes. We use the Costco brand and 1 pack fits to the brim!
<<<Will You Be My Sunshine A cute book with adorable pictures. Sharing this message with your little love of any age is reassuring and comforting. A wonderful gift idea for showers, birthdays, and first libraries.
Starry Globe Nightlight>>> A wonderful nightlight. I wouldn’t recommend this item to be within reach of your baby (as it’s made of ceramic), but it looks great on a dresser or table. This lamp has a warm glow that casts little stars on the walls. Magical! It’s the perfect light to illuminate the pillow-forts you’ll make with your young kids.
<<<Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor This is the monitor we use in addition to the owlet (first time parents over here). The picture quality is great during the day and the night vision works well (just a tad fuzzy). I like that you can zoom in and talk to your baby on an intercom from the portable screen. The only thing I’m bummed about is the range. We live in a small house and our living room is about 30 feet from the back bedroom and we’ll loose signal from time to time. I think it does best when there is only one wall of separation and less than 30ft. I still think it’s one of the best video monitors out there and it does a good job.
Munchkin White Hot Inflatable Duck Tub >>> We just got this one a few weeks ago and it will come in handy when we go camping. It’s a portable tub! It would be difficult to wash a newborn in this one, but I think a 6th month old and up would enjoy this cute tub. We take it out in the backyard and fill it with warm water and help Maggie splash around in it. She’s about 5 months and still needs help sitting up in it.
<<<Sealy Flex Cool 2-Stage Waterproof Airy Dual Firmness Toddler & Baby Crib Mattress Waterproof surface with soft cotton. PVC-free cover is breathable, while a waterproof barrier lining helps prevent liquids from seeping inside that can cause mold, mildew, and odor. 204 durability-tested coils for premium firmness. This mattress offers a firmer infant side and a softer toddler side. An award winning brand, made in the US and meets or exceeds all flammability, lead, phthalate and CPSIA testing.
Munchkin Scented Diaper Bag Dispenser>>> Funny but useful. I’ve been asked twice now…”what kind of dog do you have?” Ha-ha. But all jokes aside, this mini scented trash bag dispenser is great when you need to change your baby’s diaper and there is no trashcan in sight. Just put that stinky diaper in one of these bags and tuck it back in your pack or car until you can dispose of it properly.
<<<Hefty Trash Bags – Lavender & Sweet Vanilla The best smelling trash bags that you’ll ever smell. So babies poop a TON! They are stinky little poop machines. I use these trash bags inside our diaper pail, as well as in our kitchen. They help keep our house smelling fresh and clean. I don’t think we’ll ever want to go back to the unscented ones!
Ergobaby Carrier, 360 with Cool Air Mesh>>> The Ergo carrier is definitely my favorite way to carry Mags. Slings are fun and look cool, but they’re only comfortable for awhile. Maggie will actually fall asleep in an Ergo. I own the 360 non-mesh one. It was a hand-me-down from my bud and she preferred the mesh one, so that’s the link I’m giving you. I’m sure any Ergo you get will be a good one! P.S. You’ll need the infant insert if you plan on using it for your baby that is under 12 lbs.
<<<Glider Bassinet Cradle We were gifted this amazing bassinet (ours is in white) Maggie slept in it until 4 1/2 months and then we moved her to bigger crib. This glider is as smooth as butter, quiet and the perfect height to roll up on the side of your bed. It was easy to turn over and pick her up in the middle of the night… or reach my arm out and gently rock her if she got fussy. We really enjoyed this classic bassinet.
Dreft Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent>>> Gawwwww this smells so good. There is nothing quite like the scent of your babe wrapped in a freshly washed Dreft blanket. Newborn skin is extremely sensitive and this detergent is hypoallergenic and very gentle on baby skin. And let’s be honest…babies have blowouts quite often and you’ll appreciate a laundry detergent with a delightful smell.
Child Safety Magnetic Locks We haven’t baby proofed the house yet (Maggie is still too young), but these are on our list. I’ve had numerous friends say that the magnetic safety locks are the best. Their little ones were too smart for the cheapo hook locks and figured out how to open them within a few weeks. These are the best reviewed safety locks for your cabinets and drawers.
Bebe au Lait Muslin Bandana Bib, Dottie>>> Pleasantly pleased with this drool bib. Around 4 months, Maggie started drooling….puddles of drool. I put this cute bandana on her so her outfit doesn’t get soaked. Bebe an Lait has lots of adorable prints.
Not Pictured, but still just as useful…I just got tired of coding 😉 ↓ Below↓
It’s been awhile. Hi. Life has been busy, REAL busy. And so soooo good. We found out that we were expecting a little girl last summer and she arrived a month early!
Introducing the newest member to our family… Margaret June
She’s a dream come true! A happy and healthy little babe. We’re all settling into our family of 3 and soaking up these beautiful days and nights with our tiny new human…she’s growing too fast! Slow down kiddo! Here are a few bump pics, Maggie’s arrival and life since her debut. We love you baby girl. We are so excited you are finally here!
Holy smokes…this place. The thick jungles, monkeys, beautiful mossy temples and sculptures are all here and it’s an AFFORDABLE vacation paradise. Rooms from $20 bucks a night. Yes there is lots of rain and the buzz of the jungle will keep you up at night, but it’s so worth it. Ubud is gorgeous. We stayed here for a few days, visiting temples, hiking the ridge walk, floating in pools and running from aggressive monkeys (funny story).
Where we stayed: DD Ubud Jungle Villa Jalan Raya Cebok, Banjar Cebok, Kedisan, Tegallalang, Kedisan, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia T: +62 851-0007-4102
We stayed at DD Ubud Jungle Villas – private villas in the middle of the jungle. Romantic and rustic. You’ll have to be OK with a gecko chirping in your rafters and sharing your outside bathroom with a frog, but that’s a part of the magic in my book. The villa’s are about 15 min from the city center. There were two vans that will drop you off and pick you up for free each day if you want to spend your day in town and your evening at the villa (very convenient). The rooms even come with a mini fridge and coffee maker! We would shop in town and bring back food and drinks to snack on during the evenings and mornings.
I think my favorite part was listing to the rain at night and waking up to a hot jungle with breakfast and coffee on the porch.
Breakfast… for pennies! We’d stock up on goodies from Ubuds market and keep them in our fridge at night. Instant coffee with bottled water 😉 + Salak (or snake fruit) taste a bit like crunchy green apples and mangosteen (my fav) tastes like a combo of peaches, sweet strawberries and vanilla. They’re so good.
Evening swim overlooking the jungle
Such ambiance – the path leading down to our villa was beautiful and so slippery! I ate IT walking down in the rain one night. I had a giant bruise on my booty for the rest of the trip. After inspecting myself for broken bones, we had a good laugh.
We walked around town and stumbled across Pura Taman Saraswati Temple.A lotus pond surrounds the temple with a path leading down the center. There are restaurants within the temple walls that you can have lunch at while enjoying the view.
I’d highly suggest Campuhan Ridge Walk,it’s beautiful! Start it early in the morning so the sun won’t fry you alive. We started our walk around 10:00AM and wished we did it even earlier…it’s scorching! Bring LOTS of water, sunscreen and a hat. The hike is definitely worth the sweat! Some of the best views in Ubud.
^^^Our buddy Dany joined us half way through Ubud. What a trooper – she was ready for a full day of trekking through rice terraces and coffee tasting after 21 sleepless hours of traveling!
Coffee tasting at Bali Pulina. The tasting is free (or maybe we got a deal bacause we brought our driver buddy with us) but I think it’s free. You’ll have to pay for tasting the Luwak coffee if you dare (cat poo coffee). It was a fun and cheap tour that takes about 30 min. They have a fantastic view of a valley rice terrace while you sip your coffee and tea. They serve, lemon tea, ginger tea, ginger coffee, ginseng coffee (my favorite), chocolate coffee, pure cacao, vanilla coffee and Bali Pulina coffee were all tasty and free! There is a shop at the end of the tour where you can buy the tea and coffee that you like.
^^^Dany roasting coffee beans.
^^^View from the tasting deck at Bali Pulina coffee plantation.
A walk through the Tegallalang Rice Terrace. If you hire a driver, they’ll most likely drop you off by the shops on the far side. You’ll start by walking down a staircase where you’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the terrace. We hiked down and up to the other side…the further you hike in the more “donation stations” you’ll run into – giving you access to go deeper into the terrace and away from the majority of the tourists. I think we spent about $3 USD each.
Ducking into the Ubud market on a rainy morning. And when it rains here it RAINS! Bring an umbrella when you’re out and be sure to haggle, haggle, haggle if you plan on going to the market! It’s fun, frustrating, and hilarious! I think markets are one of my favorite places to checkout when we travel. Ubud’s market has everything from fruit and veggies to knock-off purses, coconut bowls, Bintang shirts, fake designer watches, leather bags and beautiful macrame wall art. I usually like to offer 1/3 of the asking price and then settle around 1/2ish. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and sometimes you won’t, but it’s all fun.
^^^Guys and their jewelry. Barong a Balinese Hindu God – guardian and protector spirit portrayed as a lion/bear like creature with long fangs. Villagers still believed in the supernatural protective power of animals to this day.
^^^After Shopping around the market, we stopped for matcha latte’s and taro ice cream in a covered cafe on Jalan(street) Karna on the side of the market.
Sun’s out scooters out! Getting around bali can be quite difficult if you aren’t used to riding motorbikes. Almost everyone uses them for transportation here. We saw 3 kids under 10 and their dog all on one scooter! If you don’t feel comfortable riding one, you can always hire a driver, but they cost more and they’re harder to get around in traffic. Roads in Bali are narrow and crowded – especially Ubud. They even have motorcycle uber-like apps ( GO-JEK or Grab app) where you can hire a scooter driver and you can hop on the back.
^^^The Sacred Monkey Forest! What an awesome place. The monkeys are a bit scary here, so be aware and try not to make eye contact with them (I guess they find it threatening). But the experience is like no other! Make sure you don’t store any food items in your backpack. They’ll find them. Entry Cost: 20,000 IDR = $1.64 USD.
^^^Monkey on the bridge
^^^Best sign EVER!
^^^Monkey Incident #1: This monkey decided he liked the rustling of the plastic bag sticking out of Dan’s pack. He proceeded to sit on Dan’s head, rip the bag open and chew on our art that we had just bought from the market. Damn you little monkey! I clapped at him and made eye contact (my bad). He hissed, jumped off Dan and tried to attack me while I ran away screaming. Fun times.
Monkey Incident #2: I left a bag full of fruit at the ticket counter so the nice lady could protect it for us while we walked around the sanctuary. I picked it up from her when we were leaving. We walked down the street and my arm was yanked back…I thought I was being mugged. Nope, just a big ass monkey stealing my bag of fruit. He had been watching me. I fought with him and pulled back until the bag broke and the fruit went flying everywhere. He scurried to pick up what he could hold and ran back into the forest to share his bounty with his friends. Terrifying and hilarious.
^^^So many mandalas! A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism. Mandalas offer balancing elements, symbolizing unity and harmony for Hindus, it means “circle” and represents the universe. It’s also a spiritual and ritual symbol which stands for protection, good luck, and the notion that life is never ending. Lovely. We found these all over Bali, especially in Ubud.
Refreshing drinks after being robbed by a monkey
^^^from our walk around town
– Northern Bali and Sekumpul –
We hired a driver from our place in Ubud to drive us to Lovina – a beach town on the northern coast of Bali (which I wouldn’t fully recommend staying here), it’s somewhat necessary if you want to see Sekumpul. The ride from Ubud to Lovina is about 2 hours on a map – up and over a big mountain with a windy road if you have a fast driver. We had a cautious driver (thank the lord), so it took us about 3-4 hours with a food stop along the way. This road is one of the steepest roads I’ve seen and I wouldn’t recommend driving a motorcycle or even a car of your own…hire a driver who knows this road!
Lovina was once a thriving tourist town, but in the early 2000’s there was a terrorist bombing which scared off most of the tourists. Things have gone down hill ever since. It’s sad really, to see the socio-economic impact on towns when terrorism has left its mark. This town was empty, “this is the aftermath of a bomb, this is what bombs do, this is what terrorists do. This is not just one initial bomb, two initial bombs this is the domino effect, the aftermath of terrorism.” — Gloria Goodwin.
We stayed in the massive Sunari Beach Resort…it looked like what once was a royal palace by the beach with at least 200 rooms, but the place was empty and the rooms were abandoned, paint was peeling, doors missing and the garden overgrown. It was creepy and dilapidated. Some call it a ghost resort. Don’t believe the pictures on the internet. We ended up staying in a room with a missing door knob, so we pushed furniture up against the door during the night. We were the only ones at the hotel! The town had an eerie feeling. Have you ever felt a place that gives you chills?
Now I don’t want to contribute to making Lovina’s situation any worse, but I do want to be honest. I wouldn’t go back. Maybe you’ll like the ultra quiet fishing beaches and no tourists. But none us felt comfortable here. To make a longer story short, we were recommended to stay here (probably a friend of a friend helping a guy out) so we hunkered down for the evening and arranged an early morning driver to take us to Sekumpul Waterfall! And boy was it worth it! (Below)
The picture doesn’t even do it justice! It’s breathtaking! We literally had to gasp when we came up on this view. It’s about 262 feet of cascading magic! It’s crowned the most beautiful waterfall in Bali. Our driver dropped us off in a dirt parking lot. We were practically forced to hire a guide (although I’ve heard of people avoiding them and finding it on their own without any trouble). We paid around $40 for a group of 4 of us to get a guide for Sekumpul. I know…that’s crazy expensive for Bali, but our driver was giving us a glare and the group of “tour guides” sitting under an awning smoking Lucky’s seemed hard-up for some business. We didn’t want to piss-off the man in charge of watching our luggage so we agreed. A nice young guy 20 something (really into tatoo’s), walked us through a small village – a windy stone path lined with modest houses, flowers and cacao trees. We bought a fresh pod from from a farmer and shared it while we walked. The trail came to a steep cliff side. 20 minutes or so of switch backs and then we made it to the bottom of the canyon. What a spectacular place! And we had it all to ourselves. Bring your bathing suits…you can swim at the base of the falls. So fantastic! – worth the long car ride, creepy Lovina hotel and over priced guide! All worth it. I don’t think it can be topped!
^^^Fresh Cacao pod fruit! It sort of tastes like creamy, sweet citrus. This is where chocolate comes from! You can eat the pulp and leave the seeds for drying/roasting and then grinding into 100% pure cacao. Mix it with milk, sugar and cacao butter and you’ll get milk chocolate.
^^^Hiking along the Sekumpul river to get to the base of the the waterfall.
Ginseng coffee and boiled peanuts on the way to Canngu. A typical Indonesian snack.
^^^We stopped by a monkey hangout by Danau Buyan (Buleleng) crater lake. They were the cutest and so much friendlier than Ubud monkeys! And they REALLY love bananas. Now onward to Canggu for the last week of our trip.