First Family Vacation

In early May we went on our first family vacation since Gretchen was born, and we brought along her Gpop and Gran Jan as well as Aunt Sarah and Uncle Steven.  To save money and have room to haul all of our beach gear we drove, splitting it up between two days.  Gretchen did really well in the car with a steady stream of snacks, books, and Daniel Tiger as well as her first feature length films: Finding Nemo and Frozen.

Destination: Pensacola Beach, Florida.

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the view from our deck!

When planning this trip we were really open to any part of Florida where we could find a house ON the beach that was handicap accessible for Gran Jan.  I was really surprised at how hard it was to find this kind of lodging for a state known for catering to older folks.  After lots of time on VRBO I narrowed it down to a couple of houses but Spikes Beach Place was perfect. 4 bedrooms, roll in shower and roll under sink, wider doorways, and an elevator!   It passed the accessibility test with flying colors AND is newly remodeled, fully stocked, and RIGHT ON THE BEACH!  Even though we booked last winter we still just barely managed to book in time to get one of the last weeks available, clearly this place is popular and people come back year after year.  I was worried it would be too cool the first week of May but it was actually ideal weather.  70s-80s every day, only rained once, and since it was post-spring break and pre-summer vacation it wasn’t crowded either.  Like I said, perfect.

We learned a few weeks before our trip that Gretchen hates sand.  And by hate I mean screams and flips out if she touches it.  Little kink in our plan for a beach vacation but we made it work with the help of beach blankets, towels, and water shoes to keep her feet off of the sand.  She did way better than expected and even played with the sand, as long as she was sitting on the blanket and not in the sand.

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had to have this adorable whale suit and hat from iplay!  

My family is amazingly chill and great to travel with.  I was really glad Gretchen got to spend so much time with her extended family playing on the beach, reading books, and being silly.  Lots of great memories were made.  Now for more pictures!

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first time at the ocean at 22 months old.  

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this beach wheelchair was AWESOME and allowed Gran Jan to join us on the beach.  Rented from Funny Cars and was only about $125 for the week!  Breaks down into 2 pieces so it’s easy to transport despite its size.   

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we went on a dolphin cruise on one of our date nights.  

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got sand on her hands, toddler problems.  

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left the stroller at home and took our toddler tula, which was perfect for our day trips to the Naval Aviation Museum and the Gulfarium.

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the whole family on the boardwalk

favorites: 6-12 months

Yes I know Gretchen is almost 16 months old but I’m finally getting around to this!  Gotta do it before I forget!  I already wrote about our favorites for birth-6 months here.

SLEEPING:

sleep sacks:  Initially we used long sleeved fleece sleepsacks from Carters, but Gretchen outgrew the length around 9 months.  At that point we switched to sleeveless sleepsacks from Halo and Aden and Anais cozy sleepsacks.  You can find the Halo sacks used at consignment sales for about $3 a piece and many are in like new condition.

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Carters long sleeved fleece sack

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A&A cozy sleepsack

motorola video monitor:  we transitioned Gretchen to the crib in her room around 6 months and the video monitor has been awesome for spying on her and giving us peace of mind.  I can watch her to determine if her sounds mean she’s upset, stuck in the slats of the crib, or just playing around.

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I seeeeeee youuuuuu

loveywe didn’t introduce a lovey until Gretchen was 6 months old.  She had ditched the pacifier at this point so we wanted to introduce a different comfort object.  Angel Dear loveys came highly recommended so I got a set of the pink hippos.  Later on I got another set so she has 4 and we rotate them out as they get gross (she chews on the ears).  These are small, soft, and adorable.  It stays in the crib, we don’t allow her to carry it around.  We do take it on road trips as it helps her sleep on long rides.

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FEEDING:

fisher price space saver:  I didn’t want a large high chair taking up space in our dining room, so the space savers was the right choice for us.  My only real complaint about it is that the straps get really dirty and I don’t think they can be removed, at least not easily.  We’ve traveled with our space saver which is so convenient when visiting great grandparents or friends that don’t have a high chair, it will also come in handy on vacation next year!

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great high chair, but those Green Sprouts bibs suck, don’t buy them.

organic pouches: I never got into making my own baby food, and baby led weaning didn’t really take off with Gretchen until closer to 10 months, so we used store bought purees.  Initially Gerber until I read about the traces of lead found in their food, then we switched to organic pouches such as plum organics, happy baby, sprout, and ellas.  I shopped around for good deals. BRU and Buy Buy Baby often have sales on plumb organics where they are $1 a pouch.  You can find coupons on the brand’s FB pages and Target often puts pouches on sale so you can combine target sales/coupons with manufacturer coupons.  Also emailing the companies and requesting coupons worked out for me.  Zulily also has sales on these pouches from time to time if you watch.  Just make sure you factor in shipping to see if it’s really a good deal.  I split shipping with a local friend during one sale and now share a Zulily unlimited account with her, which greatly reduced my shipping costs!

boon screw on spoons:  We loved these things.  If you use pouches regularly pick up a couple of packs of these screw on spoons.  Walmart also sells a knock off version.  Makes feeding on the go or even at home quick and there’s so little clean up.  Before I was putting the puree in a bowl and feeding her with  a spoon.  Once I got the screw ons it meant fewer dishes :)

munchkin sippy cups: Gretchen was not interested in a sippy until about 10 months.  Instead of going and buying a bunch of different kinds I asked my mom friends to bring their rejected sippy cups over to playgroup so that we could try several different kinds and figure out what she liked.  It worked and we then went out and bought a bunch of the type she preferred and returned the ones she didn’t like to our friends.

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omg i was so relieved when she finally started using that cup!

PLAYING:

exersaucer & jumperoo- we used these daily from about 6 months to 9-10 months.  Gretchen would get a little time in them each day while we were trying to get things done around the house.  She loved playing with the toys and bouncing like a maniac.  Just beware, we’ve had our one and only poop blowout in a cloth diaper in the jumperoo (pooperoo we called it that day).  The compression on the diaper can cause explosions.  I got my exersaucer and jumperoo at a consignment sale.  There are always tons to choose from and I was able to get both for $50 total in excellent used condition, score!  They take up space but it’s only for a short period of time.  Now they are in the basement for the next baby and I’ll resell them after that.

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such a bald little baby!

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jumped herself into exhaustion

b. toys parum pa pum- we started Kindermusik classes when Gretchen was about 6 months old and she LOVED it.  She loves to listen to music and bee bop around and shake the instruments.  She loves this instrument set and I like that you can store all of the instruments inside the drum.   Great for travelling since you can tuck some other toys in there for the ride too!

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CLOTHING:

jammies- we LOVE the Children’s Place zip up sleepers.  Everything else I care more about style than brand :)  But most of Gretchen’s clothes are Carters, Baby Gap, Old Navy, Circo, with a smattering of gymboree and crazy 8 (I’m picky about the cutesy stuff).  I buy about half of Gretchen’s clothes new (on sale) and the other half at consignment sales.

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OTHER STUFF:

ergo- I will admit that I never really got on the baby wearing bandwagon.  I tried a K-tan when Gretchen was little but didn’t get a good fit and she is so squirmy that it wasn’t very comfortable for either of us.  Also I get hot easily so baby wearing doesn’t really appeal to me for that reason.  We use the Ergo quite a bit though when we’re on family outings without the stroller.  Especially great for the farmers market, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, etc.  Tyler wears her in the Ergo and she loves it now.  We have the Ergo straps set to Tyler’s measurements so he can just slip it on when needed without having to adjust.

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loves being worn by daddy

maxi cosi pria 70- there are SO many carseats to choose from, holy cow it is overwhelming.  I knew we wanted to keep Gretchen rear facing until at least 2 so I needed a seat that can accomodate that.  I talked to lots of friends about what they use and checked out some online forums to see what carseats people found fit well in their Mazda 5, since that’s the car the seat would be going into.  We ordered our seat from albeebaby during a sale.  I got a $50 gift card that I was able to use to buy some toys and stroller accessories I’d been wanting.  I believe I paid $250 and got the gift card on top of that.  Gretchen seems comfortable in this seat and it was not too hard to install and fits well behind our passenger seat and allows us to have enough leg room.   Especially love the cupholder!

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shopping cart cover- this is something that I know a lot of moms don’t use or ridicule, but I swear by it.  Gretchen only got sick twice during her first year.  Once a cold, and once a stomach bug.  I don’t know that a cart cover gets credit for that but it may have helped.  I know stores have wipes for their carts but those are inside the store and usually we part next to the cart corral and I put her right in a cart, making it so I don’t have to carry her and my bags in and out of the store.   I like that the cover is soft and prevents pinching and you can clip toys to it.  I just keep it in the car and wash it every so often, it’s not really a hassle for me.  I ordered my cover on zulily, it is Infantino brand.

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15 months

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weight and other stats:  23 lbs 12 oz (82nd %), 32 in (90th %), head is 19.25 (99th %).

size: packed up all the 12 month clothes.  She now wears 12-18 month, 18 month, and a few 18-24 although they are a bit big.

sleeping:  A little after Gretchen’s first birthday we realized why she hadn’t been STTN very often, she was waking up feeling wet and unable to go back to sleep.  All we had to do was add a stay dry fleece liner to her diapers and she started STTN again!  She has woken up some nights due to teething/growth spurts but most of the time she STTN these days.

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eating:  from day to day you never really know what she’s going to eat.  There are some things she consistently loves: cheese, scrambled eggs, blueberries, strawberries.  And lot of other things she may love or hate: , pita bread, any other fruit, any other veggie, chicken, black beans, waffles.  She eats better at daycare with the peer pressure than she does at home.  She drinks lots of water and lots of milk, but she doesn’t like to drink with her meals, only in between them.   She has learned to sign “eat”, “more”, and “all done”.   She just recently learned how to feed herself yogurt and applesauce with a spoon.  Although it gets pretty messy so we usually only do that on bath nights.

likes:  walking, climbing the stairs, mama’s necklaces, books, pushing her push toy around, hanging out in her cozy coupe, playing with the neighborhood kids, making everyone laugh when she says “uh oh!”, hugging her stuffed animals, balls, babbling to herself, shoes, climbing up on the furniture, music class, playing with her pugs.

dislikes: being told “no”, having her treasures taken away, waking up from naps, vegetables, being left alone in a room, people eating when she’s not, being in the car without snacks.

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30 by 30 check in

It’s been over 4 months since I made my 30 by 30 list and I figured I’d update on what I’ve crossed off the list so far.

30th birthday girls trip- went to Annapolis with 6 of my best friends for a long weekend in July

kick my Dr. Pepper addiction- I quit it cold turkey in May and since then have been able to cut back to just a couple a week, we no longer keep it in the house.

read a parenting book- Read Nurture Shock in June, it was fantastic!  Highly recommend.

learn and teach Gretchen some baby signs- so far Gretchen knows “all done” and “milk”, our Kindermusik class this fall is incorporating sign language, I’m excited to teach her more signs.

send 5 handwritten notes to friends/family- did this after my girls trip to let my friends know how much I love them!

find a new charity to donate to- we started donating to a local food bank that partners with the United Way. Tyler’s company does a 100% match.

 

Still have lots to do!

I Support You: An Interview

Created by Cary Lynn Davis

If you are friends with me on Facebook you’ve probably seen me post a few things about the I Support You movement.  Check out the inspiring posts about it over on the Fearless Formula Feeder, Mama By the Bay, and I am Not the Babysitter as well as this quick overview from HuffPo.

Here’s what the I Support You Movement is all about:

The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents.  We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics.  I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding. We have chosen to announce this movement during World Breastfeeding Week, to honor the commitment of those who fight for better support for breastfeeding moms; we are inspired by this, but believe that by changing the focus to supporting all parents, we can truly provoke positive change without putting the needs of some mothers above the needs of others. The “I Support You” movement aims:

1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.

2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences.

3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.

4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.

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This movement is near and dear to my heart.  If you know me or have read my story here on my blog you know my breastfeeding experience was a struggle and ultimately we combo fed for three months and then exclusively formula fed for the remainder of Gretchen’s first year.

I’m joining the movement and raising awareness by interviewing my friend Brie, who has some great insight to share regarding infant feeding and how we can all support each other.

Describe your infant feeding experience in a few sentences: (breastfeeding, pumping, any supplementing, etc)

Charlie was exclusively breastfed from birth to 6.5 months and we were lucky enough to have a pretty easy time of it from the start. I returned to work when he was 3 months old and pumped for him at work, and nursed at home. At about 6.5 months, his demand outstripped my supply so we supplemented with a few formula bottles a week. He is now 10 months old and I plan to continue nursing indefinitely, but I will quit pumping at a year.

What has been the hardest part of your breastfeeding experience this last year?

I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be lose my personal space and freedom. Since Charlie nurses a lot and I pump 2-3 times a day, I get “touched out” very easily these days and don’t like to cuddle or snuggle as much as I used to! And I really would love to be able to take an occasional day trip alone without worrying about pumping or nursing.

Tell me about a time you didn’t feel supported in your feeding choices.

Now that Charlie is getting older, people are starting to ask when I’m weaning him. People are really supportive of breastfeeding until your kid starts walking and talking and sprouting teeth, and then it becomes weird to a lot of people. Recently, when I asked an eye doctor about a medication he had prescribed and whether it was safe for nursing, he asked how old my baby was and “when do you plan on cutting THAT off?” I told him that nursing was cheap and easy and I had no plans to and he definitely raised an eyebrow.

Tell me about a time you felt supported.

I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve pretty much always felt supported, except by random strangers whose opinion I don’t care about! My husband, family, and friends have all been behind me 100% from the start.

What has been your proudest moment thus far related to feeding your son?

Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve felt much pride along the way. I feed my baby, and that was always a given. I was fortunate enough that breastfeeding came pretty easily to us, and we didn’t really struggle much. I’m just doing what needs to get done in the easiest way I know how, like any other mom out there. Breastfeeding, for me, isn’t really an accomplishment since so much of our success has just been dumb luck. I’m proud that I have a totally awesome, healthy, adorable 10 month old, but how he got there is just kind of a fact of life.

How do you show your support for other moms struggling with feeding issues? What words of wisdom can you share?

As far as supporting other moms, I think it’s so important to never judge or make assumptions. Be open about your own experiences but understand that everyone is different.

When it comes to wisdom, just remember that nobody gets a medal for how they feed their baby. Formula has actually improved my breastfeeding relationship with my son–I’m no longer stressing over “just one more ounce” when I can easily top off a bottle of breastmilk with an ounce or two of formula. The first time I gave my son a bottle of formula, I cried because I felt so much relief and it was such a non-event!

 
Brie holding Charlie and Gretchen earlier this year.  I love how Charlie has his hand on her boob all BACK OFF GRETCHEN!  THESE BE MINE!! And Gretchen’s like “I dunno if we can be friends since you are a Mizzou fan.”  Fortunately they seem to have put the rivalry behind them and are buddies now.

Gretchen’s 1st Birthday Party

First birthday parties are definitely more for the parents than for the kids.  I had a ton of fun planning and executing this party.  It was a great way to celebrate surviving the first year of parenthood!  Originally I was planning on some kind of whale themed party since I love whales, but then I ran across some inspiration photos on pinterest that made me change everything.  You can see my planning board on pinterest here.  Behold, Gretchen’s pink lemonade party!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

source list:

‘happy birthday banner’, cake topper, cupcake toppers: pinwheel lane on etsy

invitation design: LemonadeDesignStudio on etsy

coordinating pennet banner: Rugrat Design on etsy

stickers/envelope seals (not pictured but here’s the link): Chickabug on etsy

balloons: fun party in Shawnee, KS

poufs and chevron straws: SimplyNesting on etsy

lanterns: clearance from Target

paper plates, napkins, utensils: Target

mason jar lids and pink & yellow dotted cups: LolaLovesAParty on etsy

cupcake wrappers: amazon “dress my cupcake”

food label tags: GiggleBees on etsy

utensil basket: hobby lobby

highchair: craigslist find and a couple of coats of pink spray paint!

24 inch wooden 1 and G: zulily, painted by my sister

mini lemonade stand: wooden crate purchased at Joanns, assembled by my dad and painted by my sister

birthday outfit: Carters

lemonade play set: BeginAgain toys 

guest book: Pinkalicious and the Pink Drink

cupcakes and smash cake: dolce baking company in Prairie Village, KS

cupcake stand and yellow chevron tray: Crate and Barrel

12 months

weight and other stats:  21 lbs 11 oz (76th%), 30.5 in long (88th %), and her head is still in the 99th %, not a surprise!

size: 12 months and a few 12-18 month items.  All the 9 month clothing has been packed away.

sleeping:  pretty much never STTN this last month.  May be teeth (her canines and molars are coming in), may just be a phase we’re in.  We are considering doing some kind of night time sleep training soon, after we are done with our travels and after she has transitioned off of formula.  I don’t think she really needs the middle of the night bottle(s) so we’ll probably address that soon.  Still taking one morning nap and 1-2 in the afternoon.

eating:  After 11 months of daily tracking every.single.bottle. I stopped tracking her formula intake a couple of weeks ago.  It was weird but also freeing :)   Gretchen really started to eat  a variety of foods this last month, which was exciting.  Some of the things she now eats regularly: broccoli, tomatoes, black beans, cauliflower, banana, cheese, peaches, strawberries, plain and greek yogurt, puffs, mum mums.  We still have a bunch of pouches leftover but usually mix them up with yogurt instead of feeding them to her straight.  She really got the hang of the sippy cup this last month, although she refuses to take anything but water out of it.  We tried formula and pedialyte (when she had a stomach bug) and she refused the cup both times.  She had her first taste of something sweet, a bit of birthday cake while we were visiting Tyler’s family.  We continue to introduce new foods to her but she tosses much of it to the pugs, which they love of course!  Spaghetti was rejected tonight, although she did smear the sauce all over her head.

likes:  Saying “dada” and breaking her mama’s heart ;), pulling up on everything, cruising, crawling, exploring, giving high 5s, turning the tv on and off, babbling, swimming, playing with her cousins, going up the stairs, trying to go down the stairs, finger puppets, looking at the covers of books (but not the pages), walking with her push toys, blowing raspberries, taking off her diapers.

dislikes: long car rides, being told no and being blocked from grabbing stuff she wants, when we leave the room after a middle of the night feeding.