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Staring Down The Sun bio picture

    We were wondering if you were wondering what we were wondering........
    So this is us wondering and having fun doing it. My name is Zak. Her name is Karey. Married three ish years ago and living in sunny San Clemente California, we spend our time trying to enjoy our baby Johnny, friends, family, food and the occasional rousing night of Karaoke. Along the way we like to share the things we enJOY, so stick around and we will give you some primal recipes, crossfit-type workouts, favorite local spots or home projects that we have tried.

    Zak it up a notch and get Karey'd away...


26 New Mama Gift Ideas

There we are coming home with Johnny for the first time! We had NO IDEA what we were in for …;)

Being a parent for the first time means not knowing what you will need and therefore you don’t know what to ask for when that little bundle of joy finally comes home. Having been single and baby-less for most of my life I seriously had no idea what went on or how I could best help my friends with new babies besides taking pictures. Now I know and I’m happy to share. If you would like some ideas on gifts or things you can do for your new mama friends, here are some places you can start. They say that it takes a village to raise a child and for us that could not have been more true. While we were at the hospital our family was at our house deep cleaning, doing laundry, and filling up our fridge so that when we came home it was a retreat. It was such a gift I cried. We also had a Meal Tidings website put together for us where our dinners were pretty much taken care of for the first month. We had them come 2-3 times a week instead of everyday so that we could have time to eat leftovers. It was great to have friends come by and bring us food and meet Johnny at the same time. That first month was so hard for us I can barely remember it, so these things were a big deal. I would highly recommend checking with your friend to see if they have this meal plan setup, and if not, offer to set it up for them (ask for the email addresses before she goes into labor). Ok, ideas. Here goes:

  1. Target nursing tanks. these things are still all I wear for now, they are the best.
  2. Large water bottle. the 32 oz camelbak  eddy bottle is my favorite. she will be drinking so much water and will need water ready ALL the time.
  3. Pacifier wine stopper and wine. I got that wine stopper as a gift and it makes me smile every time I look at it. it reminds me of amazing friends and that I can drink again! And that cab… is GOOD.
  4. Hand cream. she will be washing her hands so much that they will dry out SO BAD. a really nice lotion would be a great gift.
  5. A little clutch or wristlet that can fit into a diaper bag. Her old purse will no longer work well.
  6. Amazon gift card. Or better yet, give her Amazon Prime or share your membership with her for a couple months. She will be ordering all sorts of things at the 3 am feeding from her iPhone. True story.
  7. Photo session. Come over to visit and bring your camera. One of my best friends Jen Disney did this for us and it was such a gift. I had no energy to take pictures of Johnny or even set up a session at that point so to have her do that for us without me asking was huge.
  8. The wonder weeks app and book… or itunes gift card for all the new apps she might need now.
  9. Lactation cookies. make these for her and give her the recipe. If you do this, note that brewers yeast is different from active yeast. Brewers yeast can be found at places like Whole Foods, and here in San Clemente I found it at Hansons.
  10. Find out her favorite coffee drink and drop it off. Find out if she prefers decaf or regular.
  11. Homemade peri pads. these were amazing. I ran out and needed more than one package.
  12. The Honest Co. gift certificate. She won’t have time to research them now but eventually she will and at least will want to try them out if she hasn’t already. Their diapers are awesome. I love their hand sanitizer, the baby bottom wash, the sunscreen (safe for baby), and their laundry detergent and well pretty much everything.
  13. Kind bars.. or any kind of protein bar she likes to eat while nursing. She will be starving and needing to eat quite a bit and having something to store next to the glider she will most likely be nursing in will be helpful.
  14. A magazine for reading while pumping.
  15. Hands-free pumping bra. I didn’t get one of these at first and it took 3 days to have time to even send my mom to go get one for me. She was that busy helping us. Once I got it, it was amazing.
  16. Oatmeal. For the breastfeeding mama. It helps with lactation and was recommended by my consultant.
  17. Come over just to hold the baby and let her take a nap. This is a big deal and will be hard for her to accept even though she will probably fall asleep mid-conversation. Bring her some ear plugs. Any tiny noise that baby makes will pull her out of a sweet slumber so those little things are quite helpful.
  18. Make her a gift with the stats of the baby to put in the nursery. Our talented friend made this and its a family memento now.
  19. Clean and/or pick up the house while she is napping. Or help her find a house cleaner and set it up.
  20. Dark maxi skirt (I still use my target black maxi skirt all the time)
  21. Short and stretchy jersey skirts from h&m. Really great for warmer weather and they are forgiving since they are so stretchy. And cheap! This last week they were 2 for $10.
  22. Call /text before visiting and see what size diapers they are using and bring a pack plus wipes. She will go through these much faster than she thinks!
  23. Find out what she needs from Target and make a run for her… or even better, watch the baby while she runs to target in between feedings to find some clothes to fit her new body.
  24. Lululemon wunder under pant cotton roll down. These are amazing. I call them my team uniform. I have them in black and grey, and they can be worn everywhere, not just workouts.
  25. Get her grocery list from Trader Joes and make the run for her.
  26. Come over in the morning and bring some breakfast and coffee. Hold the baby while she goes back to sleep. Mornings were always the hardest for me because I would wake up feeling so exhausted that it hurt. Getting to go back to bed was a gift.

I was insanely blessed by all of these things. There are more ideas over at Elise Blaha’s blog at this post here. She pretty much nailed it so take notes on that one. Hoping this is helpful!


May 23, 2014 - 8:54 am

Jen Disney - So great!!!

Lessons learned in parenting so far.

I had some ideas of how things were going to go once Johnny got here, ideas that were good with intention but naive with experience, which is I suppose always to be expected in some way. One of these things for us was breastfeeding. We did all of our research and knew that yes, breastfeeding is best, but didn’t learn too much beforehand because some things you just have to learn at the time it comes to cross that bridge. (I still believe this.) So in my mind, Johnny was going to be exclusively breastfed for,  A) the reasons posted all over Kaiser’s walls, and B) it is free. After learning about Johnny being tongue-tied amongst other anatomy issues totaling 4 obstacles, we had a bit of an uphill battle with this one. Breastfeeding is so natural, so it should come naturally right?? Wrong. So very, very, wrong. I fought and am continuing to fight for this but it has come at a cost and I didn’t understand it prior to being on this side of things, the side that includes 3 months of pumping every 2-3 hours and constant training with a fussy baby on how to latch on the minimum of 8 feedings per day. It is a lot to say the least.

I was cleaning out my nightstand and came across this the other day… it is our schedule from the first few weeks we had with Johnny. It makes me exhausted even more just looking at it:

Our first appointment with the lactation consultant lasted for almost 3 hours and it would be another month before the weekly appointments were down to an hour or so. I have never made enough milk and with the advice of our consultants and pediatrician we had to supplement Johnny with formula from the very beginning. This was for me, a huge bummer. I was so sad that my body didn’t produce enough of what Johnny needed, and sad that Johnny had a really hard time learning the one skill he needed to know at the time. However, this brings me awareness to that fact that I am grateful for modern medicine and that our timing in this world happened to coincide with what we have available to us in this modern age. If we had a choice, if it could come naturally we would be all over that. Unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards for us and I’m learning how to give myself grace for that and especially giving Johnny grace for what he is able to do and/or not do at this stage. I’m learning that when you become a parent that you are dealt a hand of cards and that is what you have to work with, you have to play the hand you have been given to the best of your ability. Grace has always been a hard one for me to extend to myself and I know God is using our son to teach me in this area to give it to myself and then towards others.

Anne Lamott once said that the most powerful sermon in the world is “Me too.”

If you’re having a hard time with some of the cards you have been dealt, me too. We are such a work in progress.

Grace is growing here.



(This picture was taken when Johnny was just over 2 weeks old. We had finally gotten him back to his birth weight after pretty much feeding him around the clock, and we were exhausted. (See above schedule.) It included feeding through syringes and pumping around the clock, so it was time to start feeding again by the time we finished. No sleep. It was crazy. I had come home from his appointment where he was given a thumbs up on his weight and I was so, so relieved. I could just enjoy the moment and enjoy our little guy. It was such a gift. I will never forget it.)

P.S. I found this article the other day and think it is worth linking to:

Cousin Time!

Over Easter we had such a great time hanging out with my cousin’s from Arizona, and it was their first time getting to meet Johnny in person! They loved on Johnny so much, it was really sweet to have them here and the time went by way too fast, as always. We love you guys, thanks for spoiling Johnny!

Happy Easter!

From our new little family to yours…

We spent the day with our family, starting out in San Clemente with Karey’s side of the fam and then working our way up to Tustin for Zak’s side of the fam. Johnny was dressed up like a mini Zak… what can I say, I wanted to make our photos of his first Easter extra fun.

He is risen!