Little Man

Traveling Tips with Baby

Hello Lovelies,

I am sorry for the lack of posting these past weeks, Eli and I have been traveling! I wanted to share a few things I learned along the way, for all of you who are nervous at the idea of taking your first excursion with your little one (much like I was).

Having never traveled with a baby, I started the week feeling a little anxious. But after doing a little research, making a list and praying over the situation, I felt much more composed- even excited! My biggest mental hurdle was getting over the “unknown” of how the 2.5 hour plane rides were going to play out. I came to the realization that all I could do was cover Eli’s comfort needs and bring entertainment. After that, I had to let go. Everybody understands babies are unpredictable…right?

God came through in a huge way. Our first plane ride, he left 5 seats open in the back of the plane and provided friendly flight attendants who allowed us to take up all of them ourselves. On the way home, My sister and I were able to get seats together in the back, and were surrounded by 2 other babies, and 3 kids! I have to say, Eli did much better than I expected, and the trip turned out to be a really wonderful bonding experience with him.

Here are a few tips that I learned along the way…

1. Book the right flight and the right seat.

Book your plane ticket for times when your baby is sleepy, such as nap or bedtime. They may crash for the majority of the flight. Choose a seat that is as far back on the plane as possible, you will be less disturbing and have more privacy. Choose a window seat. Window seats are ideal for moms because the corner provides support and privacy while breastfeeding, you are able to control the amount of light let through the window, and the view can serve as entertainment for baby.

2. Make a detailed list.

Packing can be a daunting task for just one person, but when you add a baby in the mix, it gets even more overwhelming. The strategy I found works best is to have an ongoing list that I can add to throughout my day. I start with the list early in the morning, and as we use things, I jot them down. This way, I catch all of those little things we use everyday but I otherwise might forget about.

Example: Bath time (bath soap, wash cloths, a few toys, bath hoodie)

After you have a general list, divide it into sections: Mom, Baby, Airport. The Mom and Baby list should include things going in your check on bag, the airport list should include items you need for traveling (diaper bag, stroller, carrier of choice, carseat, and suitcase). The diaper bag, because full of important contents, can be made into an additional list. Am I sounding crazy OCD yet?!

Cheat Sheet: Traveling with Baby

3. Brush up on the ins and outs of the airport.

I have only flown a few times in my life, and always feel intimidated by airport procedures. Doing a little research calmed my nerves in this department. Here are a few tips I came across.

It’s best to check your bag and carseat at the counter- the carseat flies free of charge, and will be returned with your luggage at baggage claim.  Check your stroller at the gate right before boarding the plane. This is a free service as well, and is super convenient. Your stroller will be waiting for you right outside the plane when you land. Organize liquid items in a baggie and place it at the top of your diaper bag for easy removal during security checks.

4. Tackle travel gear.

First, purchase things that you may not already have. We needed a compact umbrella stroller because all we had was our large one. We also bought a portable high chair that we could use on any table. I decided to also bring along my Ergo carrier, which was great to have on hand the times I didn’t want to use the stroller. If you have a younger baby, the Moby is a great option as well.

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For larger items such as cribs, look into rental services near your destination or arrival airport. Babies Travel Too was the company I planned on using, but my sweet Nana bought a crib instead. You can often rent carseats, strollers, high chairs, cribs, and even large toys for pretty reasonable prices.

If you’re like me and have your man handle things like carseat bases, make sure to practice putting it in and taking it out of the car YOURSELF. Being familiar with the installation will save you time and headache!

5. Decide what you will buy when you get there.

Don’t feel the need to pack everything you can think of. Most likely, you will have a store close by and can purchase things like diapers, wipes, and food for baby once you get to where you are going!

6. Stock up on a few snacks and new toys.

I thought it might be nice to bring a few new toys that Eli has never seen. This was my attempt to keep his interest. Snacks are always a good backup when nothing else is working-at least with my son. Target sells our favorites.

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7. Wear easy travel clothes.

Slip on shoes, criss cross shirts/dresses (for nursing), and sweaters are great choices. Layering is always a good idea for you and baby because you won’t have too much control over the temperature on the plane. Dress in comfortable, loose cotton clothes and let baby do the same. You will both be happier flyers. Packing an extra shirt for you, and outfit for baby couldn’t hurt.

8. Pacifi or breastfeed during takeoff and landing.

Your ears hurt, and so do babies when rapidly changing altitudes. Ease their pain by giving them a pacifier, or breastfeeding. The sucking will encourage their ears to pop.

9. Make baby feel at home. 

Bring familiar items on the plane, and for when you get to your destination. Blankets, comfort items, favorite toys, even crib sheets and noise makers may help your little one feel more at ease.

10. Relax. Make memories. Sing, sing, sing.

Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. Relax. There may be some bumps along the way, but there is no doubt you will learn from your experience, and even make some memories.

Last but not least…when in doubt, sing. This is the easiest way to sooth and quiet baby. Who cares if the people in front of you do the infamous head turn. I’m sure they would rather hear a cheerful song than a screaming baby!

Best Ever Travel Products Roundup:

Hook ‘n’ Stroll Stroller Accessory, Mudpuppy Flash CardsChew BeadsJJ Cole Pacifier Clip, Rumparooz Diaper Cover (extra security over disposables!), Munchkin Disposable Diaper Bags, Wet Ones, Oxo Tot Snack DiskSecure-A-Toy

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I hope some of these tips give you some gumption to travel too! Please feel free to share any travel tips/tricks you have learned along the way!

 

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Let’s Get Forreals

Forreals: an emotional way to agree with something. (According to Urban Dictionary)

My Mom calls me on FaceTime each morning so that she can see Little Man, and yesterday morning was no exception. I waited for the call as I was scraping Eli’s breakfast remains off the floor, contemplating pulling out my new Awesome Carpet Cleaner to remove the fresh stains. I decided to leave them. A 6:15 wake up call + leaky diaper + fussy baby + refusal of breakfast + refusal of toys + husband out of town + inspection guys coming at who knows what hour today + I’m starving and haven’t had breakfast, or coffee, or gone to the bathroom, or brushed my teeth yet, sent me  into a breakdown. I sat on the phone, crying like an emotional basket case, describing my morning to my Mom. She gave me encouragement then did what she knew I needed, let my sister know.

Later, my sweet sister called to check on me. They just moved to Oklahoma for her husband’s medical school residency, and I miss her terribly. Almost every week prior to the move, we got together with our kids and were able to catch up, and encourage each other. Um, did I say I miss her?

Being a wiser, more experienced mother of two precious girls, she was able to relate to what I was going through. This thing called motherhood is tough. It is a job in which you give every bit of yourself, and get little in return. It is a perfect picture of servanthood and selflessness.

We decided to make a pact to encourage one another, and to encourage other mothers through our blogs. We both have blogs that we check everyday, that we really love reading. But, sometimes after we get finished reading them, we feel worse about ourselves. I’m not creative enough, my house isn’t pretty enough, I don’t cook as well as her, my kids aren’t as well behaved, how does she look that good? how does she have time for all of that?

Blogs are wonderful because they inspire us. But often times the blogger only shares the “good” parts of his/her life. I am guilty of this too. It is almost as if a blog is a blissful diary with perfect snapshots and entries of our lives. But we are forgetting one important part: the ugly. The tough spots are what help us grow and allow us to become relatable to others. Don’t we all, deep down inside, just want to know that we aren’t alone? That we aren’t the only ones who don’t have it all figured out?

I want a make a promise to you all, whoever is reading out there, that I am going to be much more intentional about sharing the “nitty gritty” bits of my life, along with the good. Hopefully in doing this, I can encourage and uplift you even more!

 

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Gumptions

Thrifty Shopping

Last week I decided it was time to clean out Eli’s dresser. For some reason, every three months I fall into a sense of denial about Little Man growing out of his clothes. For days, I stretched and tugged his outfits like they were an old pair of skinny jeans I wanted to fit back into, but I was still unable to comfortably button him up. I knew it was time. He needed to go up a size.

I sat him on the floor with me, gave him a bucket of toys, and got to work. My current organization strategy is simply to label garbage bags with sizes, fill them up, and toss them in the closet for our next child. One ambitious day in the future, I will revisit the bags, and put them in more attractive, organized bins.

Fifteen minutes later, I had all of his outfits folded and categorized in piles, ready to be bagged. I stepped out of the room for one minute to grab a sharpie and garbage bags, only to come back to find Eli…in a pile of clothes, squealing with delight as he pulled one article of clothing at a time from my neat piles, tossing them left and right. The combination of the clothes and toys sprawled across the floor made his nursery look like a baby bomb had just gone off. I smiled at him, stuffed the clothes in the bags, and called it a day.

Revisiting the multitude of clothes we had crammed in his dresser helped me realize just how many clothes went months without being worn. I had my “go-to” outfits that were easy to take on and off, were soft, and cute. He wore these the most, and little else. I plan on using these clothes again when we have more children, but I still felt guilty spending all that money on clothes that we really didn’t need.

A gracious family friend had given us two full bags of clothes that her son had outgrown when Eli was first born. I had already washed and sized these, so I pulled them out to see what else we needed. I thought about what Eli had actually worn the past three months, and made a minimal list of the basic essentials he would need this summer.

Instead of heading to the mall, or hopping on my computer to order brand new clothes, we packed up and went to Once Upon A Child. This store buys and sells gently used clothing, among other things, for a fraction of the retail cost. Yes, they are used. Yes, some of you might be cringing right now. But I don’t mind. There are things that I believe are worth buying new, but other things that I think are a much better value and investment to buy used. I know now just how little infant clothes get worn, because they can only fit in them for short periods of time. This, combined with a good wash, and a reliable brand name is all I need for convincing.

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I purchased:

3 button down shirts

2 rompers

3 pair of overalls

3 polos

3 pair of shorts

For only $50! That’s an average of $3.57 per item! 

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I was really excited to count up the savings and we didn’t have to compromise on style or quality. All of the clothes were originally from Gap, Gymboree, Children’s Place, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, and Ralph Lauren. Win, Win!

So if you are in need of some new seasonal clothes for your little one, consider buying used! It really is fun hunting down deals and seeing what you can find.

Happy saving!

 

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Cook-ing, Little Man

BLW Tools, Tips, & Recipes

As promised, I wanted to follow up with my first post about Baby-Led Weaning. If you missed this post, pop over and read it before you continue! This is a somewhat lengthy post, but I wanted to include everything so that you lovelies wouldn’t have to jump around too much to find the information!

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BLW is really fun and easy, and one of the biggest perks is that it doesn’t require fancy equipment. When I was pregnant, I knew I would opt out of buying store bought baby food because I wanted to save money and experiment with making my own. Then I learned about BLW and realized that I could actually cook for my baby without all of the specialized equipment, or hassle of pureeing everything. The only items I needed to start were the following.

Tools:

Steamer– you can buy a specialty steamer, but it’s really not necessary. There are many alternatives. You could buy steaming bowls that nestle inside your saucepans; you could also just use a saucepan with a tiny bit of water at the bottom, covering it with a lid to create steam. If you don’t mind microwaving, you could get an inexpensive microwave steamer. In a pinch, I have even used a microwave safe glass bowl, put a little water in the bottom, covered with press and seal, and poked some holes in the top for a DIY steamer! Works like a charm. Whatever you decide, you will need a steamer to soften fruit and vegetables so that your little one can easily break it apart without any teeth.

Sheet pans– one of my favorite ways to cook fruits and vegetables is to roast them in the oven. They soften, caramelize, and take on a completely different flavor than when they are steamed. Now, I know all of you who do even minor cooking have sheet pans lying around. I have found it useful to have half sheet pans and quarter sheet pans. Half are great for roasting a lot of vegetables at once, so they have room to be spread out in a single layer. Quarters are convenient for smaller portions. The ones linked are my favorites.

A simple food processor– I know what you’re thinking, I thought you just said you don’t puree foods! I use my food processor for making dips and spreads that can go on things like toast, rice cakes, english muffins, and fruits and vegetables. The Kitchenaid model that I got as a wedding gift fits the bill, but if you are looking for a less expensive option, I also love my compact Cuisinart Smart Stick.

*I am not a fan of specialty food equipment, or things that only serve one purpose. I like the idea of having tools in the kitchen that I can use in multiple ways. A steamer, sheet pans, and food processors will be used in my kitchen, baby or no baby, for years to come!

High chair– one of the principles of BLW is for the child to be apart of the dining experience. This means they sit at the table with the family and eat the same food. In doing this, they learn the important social aspects of mealtime. We own the Trip Trap Highchair by Stokke, and absolutely love it.

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It was an investment piece, and it will adapt with Eli as he grows. There are less expensive options that provide the same experience. Two of my favorite alternatives are the Keekaroo Height Right and the Inglesina Fast Table Chair.

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Bibs– stock up on a lot of these, you will need one for every meal. I would recommend making a few of your own that don’t attach with velcro, Eli figured out how to pull his velcro ones off after a few short weeks!

Splash Mat– you can buy these online, or do what I did and purchase a $2 shower curtain liner. BIGGER SURFACE AREA. I’m thinking about making my own cuter splash mat, so lookout for a DIY post in a few weeks.

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Tips:

1. When preparing meals, think “finger” shaped. This shape is the easiest for babies to manage in the beginning.

2. Buy organic when you can, and rinse all fruit and vegetables before cutting them.

3. Leave the peel and skins on fruit and vegetables, this makes even the slipperiest foods easier to grasp. You will be amazed at how they manage to eat around it. Examples: avocado, banana, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi, cucumber.

4. Give your baby more than one option to choose from at meals. A variety is best.

5. Don’t be afraid to introduce herbs and spices. Eli has tried just about every fresh and dried herb, and loves cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Avoid salt.

6. Wait until your baby reaches a year old to introduce allergy prone foods such as egg whites, nuts, shellfish, and cows milk.

7. Read up on choking hazards, and know what to do if and when your baby chokes. When they are first learning, they tend to swallow things too quickly. This is normal, and they will learn how to manage quantities better in a few weeks.

8. Rinse their mouth with water. This is the perfect time to introduce a sippy cup if you haven’t already.

9. Be prepared to get messy! This is how your baby is learning and exploring, embrace it!

10. Be patient. Your baby will most likely need between 20-30 minutes to enjoy a meal. An hour before Eli takes a nap, we eat. This gives him 30 minutes to eat, and 30 minutes for me to get him cleaned up, changed, and nursed before nap.

11. Enjoy the process. Don’t be offended if your little one doesn’t gobble up everything you prepare. Introduce it later and see if they have changed their preferences. Know that it is normal for babies to eat a lot one day, and not much the next. They are “weaning” and learning how to regulate how much they need or want to eat. Trust them. Just continue with milk feedings.

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Now for the fun part! Here are a few recipe ideas to try with your little one! I tried to combine flavors, textures, and colors that go well together. Who says babies should have bland, boring meals? I hope you find them helpful. Some of these recipes are more appropriate once your baby has gotten the hang of swallowing and using the pincher reflex. I have noted those below.

Recipes:

Breakfast

Rice Cake with Cottage Cheese and Steamed Peaches

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Strawberries, Banana in Peel, and Oatmeal Balls

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*Oatmeal Balls are best for more experiences eaters.

Tropical Fruit: Mango, Kiwi, and Pineapple

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Whole Wheat English Muffin with Blueberry Cream Cheese and Steamed Peaches

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*Toast the muffin to make it easier to grasp. Combine 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup blueberries in a mixer until blueberries are smooshed and distributed evenly.

Egg Yolk Omelet, Sliced Cherry Tomatoes, and Potato Wedges with Chives

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Only use the egg yolk, and cook completely. I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they cook quickly and have a buttery flavor.

Lunch

Roasted Vegetables

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*Cut into finger shapes, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender. Stir every 5 minutes.

Toasted Breadsticks with Hummus and Orange Slices

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*Hummus Recipe

Flaked Salmon and Dipped Cucumbers

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil over the salmon, and bake at 350 degrees until slightly firm when pressed in the center, about 10-12 minutes. Flake with a fork. Green Herb Dip (omit salt and pepper).

Cheese Toast with Steamed Apples

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*Place a slice of all natural deli cheese (I like Sargento) on a slice of bread. Toast at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bread is toasted, about 5 minutes. Apples are great sprinkled with cinnamon.

Dinner 

Fusilli Spaghetti with Steamed Broccoli

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*Pasta best for more experienced eaters. Cook pasta according to package directions. Mix in an organic spaghetti sauce, such as Muir Glen. Top with fresh basil and parmesan.

Rice Cake with Black Bean Dip and Avocado

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*Black Bean Dip (omit the pumpkin seeds and salt)

Basmati Rice and Red Beans

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Simply drain and rinse the beans, then smoosh them with a fork.

Pesto Rigatoni with Mushrooms and Peas

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*Best for more experienced eaters. You can make your own pesto, or buy a jarred sauce. I prefer Classico brand because it does not have nuts. Saute mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, 5-7 minutes until soft. I use frozen peas and mix them with the pasta once cooked; it thaws them perfectly. Top with shredded parmesan.

English Muffin Pizza

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*Slice a whole wheat english muffin and spread with an organic pasta sauce, such and Muir Glen. Top with all natural shredded mozzarella, such as Sargento. Sprinkle with dried italian seasoning, or other dried herb of your preference. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and muffin is toasted.

Favorite “Quick Snacks”

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*You can purchase all of these at target.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share any meals that your little one enjoys! I love to get new ideas!

 

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Gumptions

Friday Favorite: Good Reads

I wish I liked to read novels. Sitting around a book club circle discussing character growth and plot dynamics sounds so appealing to me. But, the truth is I get more engrossed in nonfiction, books that teach me something. Design books are always in my reading rotation, here are two of my favorites.

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The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well by Deborah Needleman is one of my all time favorite design books. This past week, I read it for the third time, and was just as inspired as during my previous reads. The book is filled with beautiful watercolor drawings and practical, thoughtful design ideas for each room. Some of her chapters include topics such as: “Glamifications,” “Pillow Recipe” for the perfectly made bed, and “A Well Stocked Pantry”. In short-essay form, she wittily explains how to personalize your home so that it reflects your lifestyle. I love the rawness of this book, and how it speaks to the everyday woman who wants a beautiful, functional home that her family can comfortably and happily dwell in.

Inspired You by Miss Mustard Seed is a wonderful summer read. This blogger is known for her easy DIY projects, and more famously, her furniture refinishing techniques and tutorials. I love her thrifty suggestions, and the underlying spiritual roots of the book.

Our homes are never going to be perfect; they are a continual work in progress, much like ourselves. They are structures that should welcome us, serve us, and provide us with a place to make memories. They should make us feel comfortable and, for a time, relieve us of the pressures and business that happens outside their walls. These two books will dive even deeper into this notion, and provide ways to make your home reach it’s full potential! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, happy reading!

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