Have I told you lately how much I LOVE my e-friends? Brandi of Little Brim Baby is one of my more recent, yet totally fabulous, e-friends. She and I “met” as contributors on Buy Modern Baby and have a little friendship brewing thanks to some shared connections and blogging of course. Because we sometimes get to Washington D.C., I think there is a small chance that I might get to meet her in real life someday too! How fabulous would that be? I am so thrilled to welcome her to Fancy mama Fridays today. Brandi brings a fresh perspective and is a total gear junkie! If you want information on baby gear, specifically diaper bags and strollers, swing by her site (please swing by Little Brim Baby anyway-she’s awesome!) or visit both of us on Buy Modern Baby blog. Please give a warm Friday welcome to my e-friend and co-contributor Brandi! -Jessica

Jessica: I know some about you from following along on Instagram and your blog, but please tell us about you.
Brandi: Hi, Jessica! I am a baby-gearing, diaper-bagging, and parenting humor blogger living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. I commute two or more hours each day (depending on traffic, time of day, and phase of the moon) to my full-time job outside of the home. In my free time I contribute diaper bag, stroller, and feeding gear content for Buy Modern Baby and write twice a week for Child Mode. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and trying to keep up with Pinterest (though still miserably failing at meal planning). A goal of mine is to get back to doing a 5K event once a month as I had done the year before my son was born, but the county that we live in is known for their beautiful vineyards and wineries, so I tend to instead frequent them in the warmer months to enjoy the atmosphere.

Jessica: Ha! I’ve never heard you describe yourself as a humor blogger, but it’s totally fitting! Your Instagram feed cracks me up regularly, plus let’s be real! Surviving parenthood without humor would be tough at best. Tell us about your family.
Brandi: My husband and I met in college at Georgia Southern University, so have known each other for over 14 years, and have been married for almost four years now. After practicing to make sure we had no chance of sharing discipline styles with our dog (a Boxer named Tug), we decided to start a family. We welcomed our son in to our lives just 15 months ago. Our “kids” have grown to be as thick as thieves, and we couldn’t be happier watching our son’s joy in seeing his dog every day.

It is absolutely the little things nowadays that make me feel fancy.

Jessica: I love that! I had a dog growing up and that bond is pretty sweet. And I can just imagine the cuteness of your beautiful blue-eyed boy playing with your pup. Tell me your number one tip for keeping things fancy with your little one.
Brandi:  Fancy is not a word most people would associate with me, so I am truly flattered that you asked me to be a part of this series. To me, being fancy is taking a quick minute to paint my nails before my hour-long commute, or running the dishwasher every night and having the kitchen counters clear of clutter. It is absolutely the little things nowadays that make me feel fancy. What makes my life easier regularly is our schedule. My husband and I both work full time jobs, so we have to completely split our parenting duties now. It makes our schedule more efficient, and time is everything when you’re a working, commuting parent.

Jessica: That’s what Live the fancy life is all about! You are totally fancy! I told you in an email before and I’ll say it again here, I buy $4.99 bottles of sparkling wine and call it champagne. That is fancy to me! It just adds a little something! But, not everything is fun and games with parenting. What is the hardest part of being a mama for you?
Brandi: The hardest part of being a mama, for me, is having my son in daycare. Before becoming a mother, I had never intended on being a stay-at-home-mom. I assumed that I would continue on in my career path, have my child in daycare, and that’s just what would be the best fit for our family. But after our son was born, I was overwhelmed with not having any family nearby that was able to help out, and soon found myself in some dark places suffering with postpartum depression. It is still hard for me to talk about now, but I just keep myself surrounded by positive people, and that has made a world of difference. Joining Instagram and using it as a medium for me posting small bits of positivity initially has, for me, exploded in to an amazing community of supportive people. It inspires me daily.

Jessica: Thanks for sharing that. I too had postpartum depression and feel like it’s not discussed much. None of my friends really experienced or shared that they did so I felt very alone for months. Mamas out there-if you are experiencing it and want to just talk with someone who made it through, email me. Seriously! Sorry Brandi, I took a bit of a detour there. Let’s get to the good parts. What is the best part of being a mama for you?
Brandi: The best part about physically being a mama, for me, absolutely, is breastfeeding. This has been especially important as a working mom. Since my son was eight weeks old, the minute I picked him up from daycare he has wanted that bonding, nurturing time together. It has been the easiest and most relaxing time of the day for us, and it grounds him after being in a sometimes over-stimulating environment all day. The same could go for me. The bond that was formed from within minutes of my son’s birth has also been crucial in helping me work through depression this past year. It was the light in my tunnel.

Until he was a year old, I was a working, pumping, commuting mom, and although pumping was draining (literally!), it was the highlight of my days since it allowed me the time to stop, slow down, and focus on providing for my baby. It has made me respect my body more, even though I am at my highest weight to date, aside from pregnancy. My plan has always been to let my son wean whenever he wants, so each day I embrace him a little more knowing that it could be the last time we nurse together. I could go on and on about this all day and talk about supplementing formula in the early weeks, how it didn’t work out for him, tips on pumping at work, and traveling, but I will just leave it as this: for us, it worked. And it has changed my life forever for the better.

Nobody honestly prepares you for the changes your marriage will go through when having your first child.

Jessica: I love that you had such a great experience and that it worked so well for your family. K, let’s get to the dirt. Tell me something real about you. 
Nobody honestly prepares you for the changes your marriage will go through when having your first child. I joked that if we could stay married through that first year, than we could make it through anything. It certainly is challenging, and perhaps even more so for us since we have not hired a babysitter and have only had three nights out in the last 15 months when family was able to babysit, but we’re making it work. We may be the tortoise to everyone’s hare, but we’ll get there.

Jessica: My husband and I have talked about that a lot too. It is unlike any other experience in your life. It’s filled with so much beauty and so many challenges. Oh, and exhaustion. I sincerely apologize to any ladies out there who are pregnant or who haven’t had a child yet. I’m not trying to scare you at all. I hated when people told me horror stories, so please please know that it is mostly good stuff! I promise! Brandi, tell me what you keep in your mama toolbox?
Brandi: Ooooo, a product question! I wrote a post on the top infant toys that my son loved over at Bunny and Dolly, if you want to check those out. For now, in the toddler age, that list has changed.

My iPhone: When a baby is born, the parent should be given an iPhone. From entertaining myself during cluster feeding nursing sessions, to recipes, to staying in touch with family and friends, to taking a million photos of my son each day, this phone has made me a better mother.

My momAgenda Planner: I love a paper planner, and this one gets use daily. After reading Emily’s post from last week, however, I am going to have to look up her gorgeous system!

A Durable Diaper Bag: I am obsessed with diaper bags. Right now I am loving the Baby Cargo Georgi Bag for its roominess and functionality. Plus, it’s only $47-$60 at Target or Amazon!

Boba Baby Carrier. True story: Boba offered me a role as a Brand Ambassador with them since I was practically one step short of moving in to their office because I love their product so much. Wearing my son has been essential in keeping our bond close when running errands after daycare, giving him a safe place to nap while not at home, and minimizing stimulation when he becomes too overwhelmed. Toddlers are in a delicate balance between having independent energy and needing koala-like comforting. My Boba carrier helps me to easily maintain that balance.

Wean Green Glass Cubes: My son is obsessed with playing with this lid and snapping it on to the container. It is shatter-proof and is the perfect size for little fingers greedily grabbing yogurt bites.

Wooden Toys: My son loves a peg stacking toy we received from a Little Pnuts Special Delivery box. It’s his favorite toy in the house right now.

Diaper Bag Essentials: Sippy Cup (the ZoLi Bot is our favorite), Snacks (Nibbly Fingers), Coloring Book & Crayons, Bibs, and Board Books.

Blankets: The aden + anais swaddle blankets are his favorite to carry around the house, and he sleeps with their silky-edged Issie blanket. They go everywhere with us.

…try and be kind to yourself. It can all be so overwhelming, but what you will find is that you are never alone.

Jessica: A lot of those items were in my first year to year and half toolbox too! Now Brandi, for your final question, what one piece of advice would you share with new moms?
Brandi: “Trust your instincts.” It was said to me a million times, but I never listened and had to learn my lesson the hard way. I tried to stay by the books, ignoring my gut at times, and it would have been in my son’s, and my, best interests if I had just followed my instincts for whatever problems have come our way. This is exactly why parents are more relaxed with their second child. Also, if I can add a second piece of advice (and I need to take this advice myself), try and be kind to yourself. It can all be so overwhelming, but what you will find is that you are never alone. Share your experiences and your struggles.

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