9-12 Month Baby Routines

As promised, this is the last part of the baby-related series of March.  I have written a lot about the importance of routines and patterns in my life.  I have found that routines have become an even more important aspect of my days since Hudson’s arrival.  The tough part with baby routines is that babies are changing SO much from a month-to-month basis that I have found our routines need to be adjusted relatively frequently.  Nap times and nap frequency changes a lot and this has a big impact on the whole day’s routine.  Since Hudson is already almost 10-months old, I am going to focus on his current routine, which I imagine will stay relatively similar for the next couple months.  Every day is different, but I have found that ever since he has turned 9-months, his naps have become extremely predictable.  He is now down to just two naps a day.  He usually has his morning nap at 9 am and his afternoon nap at 2 pm.  There could be a slight variance if his morning nap was shorter, but for the most part, these are the two times he naps.  I have loved having these very predictable times because it allows me to fill in the spaces between naps more easily.  I would probably bore you if I went hour by hour and explained Hudson’s typical routine, so instead I am going to break it down into the three parts of the day and give general ideas and inspiration for 9-12 month old baby routines based on what we have found successful.

Morning Time: 7:00-11:00 am 

  • Wake baby up at a consistent time.

 I used to not do this.  If he slept past 7 am, I would let him.  It is so hard to wake up your baby especially when they are finally, actually asleep.  However, I have found, especially at his age now, that it is much better to get him up around 7 am.  As tempting as it is to allow him to continue to sleep, so I can continue to enjoy my morning quiet time, I am learning that sticking to a wake up time is better for the both of us.

  • Start day slowly.  

The day always seems to be better when I allow those first couple hours of the morning to be a slow start.  I typically never plan anything before his first nap.  This allows for a solid two hours in the morning with the ability to slowly wake up to the day.  We usually read a book or two.  We say good morning to the tree and wall and neighbor’s house outside the window.  We pet Nala and tell her good morning.  I re-heat and sip my coffee.  Now that Hudson is a full-on crawler, I usually let him explore and crawl around in the living room a bit before breakfast.  Of course not all days allow for slower starts, but especially during the week, I really try to move things slowly before 9 am.

  • Get all ready for the day BEFORE nap time

I used to leave Hudson in his pajamas for his first nap, but recently learned it makes much more sense to get him all cleaned up and dressed before I put him down for his nap.  Part of the reason I do this is out of necessity.  He usually is a complete mess after his breakfast.  Quinoa cereal is usually smeared all over his little body.  Bananas are stuck in his hair.  Prunes cover his face.  The other reason I get him all clothed and ready is that I don’t want to waste the time once he wakes up from his nap.  When he wakes up, all I have to do is quickly nurse him, grab the diaper bag, and we are out the door!

Afternoon Time: 11:00 am-2:00 pm

  • Schedule an outing.

Typically, right when Hudson wakes up, we leave the house.  This outing will vary based on the day.  As of recently, it usually is a trip to the park to play with friends in our MOMS Club or a grocery store run at Trader Joe’s or a run in the jogger on the strand.  Sometimes the outing is fun, like baby yoga; and sometimes it is more practical, like running errands.  Especially at this age, what seems to really matter is that we are getting out of the house and he gets the chance to interact with other people and babies.  Anytime I have to go to the grocery store or go to an appointment, I know to schedule it during this time slot.  I also try to have specific outings for certain days of the week.  For example, Wednesdays are usually story time or yoga, Thursdays we always go to Trader Joe’s, and Fridays we usually go to the park or beach.  I find it really helpful to have these weekly patterns.

 

  • Be home for nap time.  

Just as important as the outing is the nap time.  I used to be out during nap time and Hudson would often take his second nap in the carseat.  There are definitely certain days where there is no getting around that, but as much as I can control it, I plan to be home for that 2 pm nap time.  The afternoon nap is a really important time for me to get some rest and get a few things done around the house before Lance gets home.  Also, I find that Hudson gets an overall better rest when he naps in his crib.  I always try to cap our outing to around 12:30-1:00, so we can get back home, feed Hudson lunch, and allow him some freedom to play before he has his last nap of the day.

Evening Time: 4:00-7:00 pm 

  •  Allow for independent play time. 

Hudson typically wakes up around 3:30.  By the time I’ve nursed him and changed his diaper and read a book with him, it is time for me to start dinner.  I use this time to give him some alone time to play on his own.  Hudson is around people a lot of the time, so I really want him to learn how to also be adaptable and learn how to entertain and play on his own.  Usually, I will put some toys in the pack ‘n play for him to play with as I begin to make dinner.

  • Eat dinner together.

We are early dinner eaters.  We usually eat around 5 pm or sometimes even earlier.  Since Hudson has been in a high chair, eating together at the dinner table with all three of us is very important.  It can be hard especially when it takes a lot of energy to get Hudson to eat anything at all, but I think this routine is an essential one for our family. No matter what happened in that day, we will find ourselves together again around the table.  We pray. We eat. We slow down.

  • Create a bedtime routine.

After the dishes are cleared, Lance usually takes Hudson and Nala for a walk around the block.  This is another important part of our routine because it gives Lance some alone time with Hudson, which they both enjoy.  It also gives me time to clean up or take a shower.  Once they return, the bedtime routine officially begins.  This is going to vary from family to family.  Create a routine that works the best for your baby and family.  For us, we give him his bath early.  We used to bathe him right before bed, but found that he needed to play between bath and bed to get fully tired.  Lance is in charge of everything bath-related.  He is the master bath giver.  Again, this time allows for me to just watch Lance be an amazing dad or get a load of laundry folded.  Did I mention that Lance is the best? He really is.  This is a slight side note, but it is so helpful to find routines and parts of the day that your spouse can be in charge of.  Lance and I function as a team.  For the days and weeks to work, we both need to hold our weight.  After bath time, the rest of the evening unfolds with pajamas, a little more play time, a story read, prayers, and milky.  Sound machine is on.  Night time teddy bear is playing music.  Hudson is snuggled up in his sleep sack. And I tip toe out of the room.  Unfortunately, even at 9-months the day does not end here and he typically gets up 3-5 more times until the next morning.  But we’re working on that, aka praying he sleeps through night soon!

Obviously, no day is exactly the same.  Some days we hit this routine spot on.  He naps perfectly.  He plays perfectly.  He sleeps soundly.  But, there are days, many days, that just don’t look like that.  This is our routine for the most part, but the fact is, when you have a baby, sometimes you need to let go of routines on those days that are just a struggle.  You have to be okay with that short nap.  You have to be okay when you cancel the outing.  Routines are good.  Actually, they are great and incredibly helpful, but at the end of the day, they are just a guide.  They need to be adjusted, changed, and added to.

Sunshine & Simplicity

This mama needs sunshine & simplicity.  This past weekend I was reminded how much I missed the sun.  This has by far been the coldest, rainiest winter Southern California has had in years.  As the coldness is slowly drifting away and the sun is making its way back, I am remembering my love for the sun and summer and the beach.  When the seasons shift, I can really feel it in the air.  It is a subtle change, but I can almost always sense it and the shifting seasons always brings me joy.  Even though I experienced that season just a year ago, I so quickly forget the joys found in it.  I become excited for change in weather, clothes, and activities.  This year, I am even more grateful for sunny days since they have been so few.

I am learning more and more that what makes me happiest is often involved around two things: sun and simplicity.  If we aim to incorporate simple things with sunshine, it is likely everyone will be happier because of it.  Last weekend when we were in San Diego, we had three meals out.  Two of the three were at nicer restaurants.  The other one was at a deli in San Clemente called Billy’s.  Of these three dining experiences, the most enjoyable was at Billy’s, where we ordered veggie sandwiches on squaw bread and sat outside at a table.  It was quiet, peaceful, simple.  And it was one of our very favorite moments of our weekend.  When we were reflecting on our little trip on the drive home, both Lance and I talked about how Billy’s was memorable.  Isn’t that funny how that works?  The most unplanned and simplest part of our entire weekend was the part of the trip that produced the most joy.  I was not stressed about Hudson making a mess or noise.  I was not worried if we were disturbing other people.  I was at peace because we were at Billy’s and we were outside and we had veggie sandwiches and Hudson happily threw puffs everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a nice restaurant, but there is something to the simple plans, the simple food, and the sunshine that has a way of leaving an impression that the fanciest restaurant just can’t touch.

I was again reminded of this truth when Lance and I had date night this past Saturday.  While we typically drive to a relatively nicer restaurant for dates, we chose to do the very opposite and it was one of my very favorite dates in a while.  Instead of drive, we rode bikes from my parents’ house to the strand.  It was bright and sunny and lots of people were out.  It felt like summer.  It felt like freedom.  I love Hudson to pieces of course, but it felt so fun to ride bikes with my husband and for just a couple hours not worry about diapers or a runny nose.  We rode and talked and laughed.  The second plan to our date was to be spontaneous in choosing a place to eat.  This defies every part of our normal character and routine.  But it felt fun to not have a plan, until we realized we are not very good at being spontaneous.  We walked from overpriced restaurant to the next and read fancy menus, but none of them stood out to us.  We kept walking until I suggested we just get Lemonade and bring it down to the beach.  And this is exactly what we did.  And it was perfect.  We sat by a volleyball court and sipped lemonade, ate poke and curried cauliflower and talked about our weekly rose-bud-thorns of the week.  We did not need cloth tablecloths or overpriced food or waiters or glassed waters.  It turns out those things just don’t matter that much to us.  What actually makes a date is the words exchanged, the setting sun, and the twinkle I can see in my husband’s eyes when he looks at me.  Simplicity.  It is easy to run towards the extravagant, the fancy, the over-planned.  You have to really be intentional about living simply at times, especially with the type of culture we are living in.  The culture that tells us to consume, consume, consume.  Especially on special occasions, like date nights and birthdays, it is easy to fall into the trap of over-elaborate and fancy, but if you can take the simple route, there is something so sweet about it.  Simplicity + sunshine.  Good things come from these two.  Even better things come from these two when they are centered around Jesus.  That is the key of the entire equation.  Whether we are at a fancy Italian restaurant or picnicking at the beach, if our hearts are not centered around Jesus and His love, the experience will end flatly.  We need simple things and the sun, but above all else we need The Son.

So, next time you are left wondering how to fill your day, I have a few suggestions.  I would start with Jesus.  What is he putting on your heart?  I would start with prayer.  What do you have to say to Him?  Then I would add some simple things and sunshine.  I would go outside.  I would grab a book and read outside in the warmth of the sun.  I would eat hummus straight out of the container.  I would slice fruit.  I would call a friend.  I have a strong tendency to overcomplicate, over-plan, overspend.  I believe the lies that more is better.  That a higher price tag is better.  That the more crammed into one day must mean more was accomplished.  I am finally learning that this is simply not true.  Veggie sandwiches eaten in the quiet, cool shade of Billy’s deli beats fancy pasta and stuffy restaurants any day.

 

5 Ways To Not Go Crazy Making Baby Food

Before I was even pregnant, I used to dream about being a mom. In these dreams, I would imagine two specific things: planning birthday parties and making my kids snacks. These were two aspects of motherhood that I was so excited about. I am literally living my dreams right now! I am making food for my baby and I am beginning to plan his first birthday party. Why does it not feel as exciting as I had dreamed about a few years ago? Why has my excitement turned to stress and anxiety and control? Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited to plan Hudson’s birthday, but the whole making him homemade, organic baby food is getting old and tiresome. I had this vision of what it would be like. I would create these nutritious and tasty meals for my kids and they would neatly gobble it up and praise me for being such a caring and loving mother. They would eat every crumb. They would thank me for all the time I spent in the kitchen. They would ask for seconds. They would tell all their friends about the amazing meals and snacks their mom makes. I know this all sounds crazy but if I’m honest this is the picture I had playing in my head. I am just a few months in to the food making process and I already know how false this picture is. Most days Nala ends up eating more of the food I make for Hudson. Most days he spits it out and throws his spoon in my face. Most days he gobbles up the sweet store bought applesauce but turns his nose to the chia pudding or kale sweet potato purée I freshly blended up in the Baby Bullet. By the end of the day I am left overwhelmed and frustrated with a dirty kitchen and one very messy baby.

I am learning a lot in the kitchen right now. I am learning my efforts will not always be returned. I am learning that part of feeding a baby is learning to let go of control. And let me tell you, that is a hard one for me. I truly did not realize how controlling I was until I had a baby. What a sin of mine! I am slowly, emphasis on slowly, beginning to let go and be okay with smeared beets all over his high chair and crumbs completely covered on the floors. I am letting go of my ever-so tight grip on that spoon and learning to offer it to him, to allow him to try on his own, to give him more freedom and be okay with the mess that comes with that. This is easier said than done. This is especially hard when I spend so much time looking up recipes, boiling fruits and veggies, grinding up quinoa, and lots of blending. It makes my whole body tense when I see the chicken coconut curry recipe I made thrown on the floor. It drives me slightly crazy when I bake pumpkin flax biscuits and he turns his nose to them. I have said “I give up” countless times to Lance at the dinner table. But, for some reason I find myself in the kitchen the next morning trying something new. It usually ends in the same way, messy floor, messy baby, food mostly eaten by the dog, but I am learning the importance of consistency and trying again and again. There are lots of disaster meals, but there are little victories that keep me returning back to the kitchen, back to the baby cookbook, back to the blender.

I am absolutely no expert when it comes to baby food making. Just a mama that desperately wants a happy, healthy and well-fed little one. So from one mama to the next, here are a few ways to help you not go crazy when it comes to making food for baby:

1. Allow Room for Grace

Like the whole title of my blog, this mama needs grace when it comes to baby food. There seems to be a lot of pressure in the arena of feeding baby. I see other blogs and flip through cookbooks and wonder how anyone has the time or patience? It feels overwhelming. It feels unachievable. Allow room for grace. Realistically, you’re not going to be able to make a new, gourmet recipe every meal. Use leftovers. Dig into that freezer stash. Keep it simple. You don’t need to be a top chef to feed your baby well. Just good ingredients and lots of patience.

2. Be Well-Stocked

The fact of the matter is I just don’t have the time or energy to make fresh, homemade food for every meal. Don’t be afraid of the occasional pouch bought at the store or teething crackers from the package. Hudson loves Happy Baby Organic teething crackers and literally did not even want a bite of the made with love pumpkin teething biscuits that came hot out of the oven for him. Some battles are just not worth fighting. We both are happier when I just buy the packaged crackers. Also, when I am pinched for time it is super helpful to just pull a veggie or fruit pouch from the cabinet. I also think it is a great idea to make baby food ahead of time and get a freezer stash going. I wish I did a better job at this, but I always have at least a few servings of pears or peas in the freezer. On those crazy nights, I can just pop it out and it will be ready in just a few. Also I love to have at least one leftover serving from the dinner meal that I can use as a lunch for him the next day. I also found myself on days where the freezer and cabinet were empty and I did not want to go through the tedious process of chopping, boiling, and blending; that I gravitated towards easy foods like avocados and bananas. It is nice to always have a bowl of these easy to mash foods. Final thing that helped in terms of being well-stocked is to have a big container of applesauce on hand. Apples blend great with all sorts of other fruits, veggies, and cereal. I tried making homemade applesauce at the beginning, but it honestly is just easier to buy it. I found myself putting the time in to make it and it barely made much at all. I just get the organic jar at Trader Joe’s and this saves time and allows me to quickly add it to his oatmeal in the morning.

3. Be Adventurous at Home

Restaurants with a baby or kid are already stressful, there is no need to add to it by brining foods they don’t already eat well. Introducing new flavors and textures and even spices early on is super important, but there is a time and a place. A nice restaurant might not be the best place to bring beets. And I am saying that from lived experience. It happened and let’s just say there was red everywhere. Now, when we go out, I try to plan accordingly. I’ll try and give him a veggie or some type of food he doesn’t eat as easily before we leave and then when we are out, I’ll feed him something I am confident he will eat well. For example, I might order a side of avocado or bring a pouch that he has shown to already really enjoy. Be adventurous with your little one. Try new foods. Throw in chia seeds. Add the garlic. But maybe try these more out of the box foods at home.

4. Make Meals for Whole Family

This is a big one! You can’t really do this for the first couple months they are eating, but once they are around 8-9 months they can really eat what you are eating as long as it is blended or chopped tiny. Finding recipes that worked well for the whole family has been the best thing for us. I checked out this book from the library, Growing Up Gourmet. I think I’ll need to eventually just purchase a copy because I use it basically every day. There is a whole section of the book dedicated to meals for the whole family. Most of the recipes are relatively healthy, delicious, and easy to keep dairy-free. It makes my life so much easier to just have one dinner to make. The only thing I need to do differently is blend up Hudson’s portion. Hearty soups are great because they have lots of veggies, flavor and are easy to blend.

5. Don’t Give Up

“I give up!” is my go-to phrase at the dinner table. Making homemade meals for baby is no joke. It’s hard work and it’s even harder when your baby throws it everywhere and cries every time the spoon is near. You are going to be tempted to just buy the purées packed with sugar and close up the kitchen. I know I have. But there is something really fun about making your own meals for baby and trying new flavors. Keep trying. Stay consistent. Keep offering lots of vegetables. Don’t give up. Also make it fun. Hudson’s pediatrician reminded me at our last appointment that feeding baby should be fun. At this point, most of their nutrition primarily comes from milk. This is really just for practice and starting healthy habits. As much as you can, keep it light and fun. I definitely fail in this area a lot of time, but I am trying.

No matter how you choose to feed baby: homemade, store bought, purées, baby led weaning, formula, breastmilk; what really matters is the heart behind it and a growing baby. Each family is different. What works for you, might just not be possible for the next. As long as baby is given the nutrients and love he or she needs, then you are doing a great job! It is easy to let the stress get in the way of it all, but I am daily learning to let go and enjoy the messy and unpredictable process of feeding baby.

5 Choices to Help Get Out of that Slump

At the start of the New Year I felt a sense of motivation and determination that I have not felt in a while.  I was getting up early every morning.  I was writing every day.  I was having consistent, quiet prayer time before Hudson woke up.  I was not touching social media and was reading voraciously.  I was scrapbooking a ton.  I was running with joy.  I was going to baby story time, baby yoga, baby play dates.  I am not exactly sure what happened but somewhere in the course of the past couple weeks I have fallen into a major slump.  I have turned off my weekly alarm clock that was set to 6 am.  I have chosen to scroll through Facebook, instead of read and have been on the same chapter of Searching For Sunday for weeks now.  I am dreading my runs and workouts.  I am doing them, but that sense of performance and pressure and pain from college running is slowly beginning to seep back into my running soles.  I have writer’s block and I seem to constantly be hitting the delete tab.  The words are just not coming out the way I intend for them to.  I have not been to baby story time in weeks.  I keep finding really good excuses as to why we can’t go out.  I have not touched my scrapbooking table.  Pictures have been messily scattered all over the coffee table untouched for many days.  I just can’t seem to muster up the creative energy to continue it.

I am so tired.  My once abundant milk supply has also hit a major slump and I literally feel like I am running dry.  I keep training like I am in college, but the reality is I am not.  I go to the track and run basically the same workouts I used to but instead of going to the training room to have an ice bath and go home to just relax and revel in the fact that I have no responsibilities, I go home to immediately needing to nurse Hudson.  My body is rebelling.  I can’t do it all.  I am running myself to the ground and I am just now feeling it.

All of this to say, I am in a slump.  I know I will get out soon, but like Dr. Seuss said, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”  It is true.  It is easy to sit and wallow in the slump. It is easy to read the post on how to un-slump, but a different story to actually get out of it.  And the thing is, I think a lot of us know what we should do, but it sure can be hard to push yourself to do what you know long-term will be good for you.  There are a few things that usually help ease me out of a slump.  The key word is ease.  It does not happen all at once, but typically if I can consistently make a few small, but important choices throughout my day, I will slowly and surely find myself on the other side.  When it comes to the difficult task of un-slumping yourself, here are 5 small choices to help in the process:

  1. Wake Up Early

This one is tough because when I am in this low place, I really have a hard time getting out of bed period, but especially getting out of bed before 7 am.  The problem here is by hitting snooze and choosing to sleep longer, I am actually making my day start off on a bad note and this just further perpetuates the slump.  So, as much as I really, really want to ignore the alarm and snooze, it is so important that I make that first choice of stepping out of my bed.  It is hard.  But it matters.  Last night, I intentionally chose to set my alarm for 5:10 am and get up when Lance does.  This small choice is already making a big difference in my day.

2. Listen to Life-Giving Words

For me, that is a sermon or a podcast.  Yesterday, I listened to a sermon by Tim Chaddick and it changed my outlook, my day, and my heart.  Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to give you exactly what you need to hear.  The sermon was on ambition and work that is pleasing to God.  It was so powerful.  I am linking to it here. Part of the reason I have been in this particular place is because I feel like I am lacking purpose.  I feel like I try so hard, but then it does not matter.  I try so hard to make organic, homemade food for Hudson, and then he hates it and tosses it to Nala.  I try so hard to keep the house in order, but then the next hour, I see dirt and Nala’s hair all over the floors again.  I try so hard to be a good runner again, but my body is just not the same as college.  I try so hard to be a good writer, but no one reads this except my husband and mom (or so it feels). These are all the emotions running through my heart and mind and then I choose to play this sermon as I am doing dishes.  And I hear the words of Paul:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

And my whole body sighed relief.  This is enough.  What I am doing is enough.  I might not be in a fancy office or have the influence I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am doing important work and God delights in this.  This is all to explain the power and importance in allowing others to speak into your days to help point you back to the cross and to the love of God.  It is so easy to forget.  If I could I would listen to sermons on repeat in my head because that is how much I need daily and momentary reminders.  So, listen and consume content that is life-giving.  Allow the Holy Spirit to run through you and change your heart.  It will happen if you let it.

3. Exercise 

This one is kind of like getting up early.  I am the least motivated to workout when I am in this rut, but usually the best fix is to get out and run or make it into a yoga class.  Yesterday I literally went from bawling on the couch to running a 4-mile tempo on the strand.  And let me tell you, every fiber of my body wanted to just stay put on the couch, but I went and I am glad I did.  It allowed me to breathe and focus on something other than how I was feeling.  It gave me space to have rhythm.  It gave me the time to pray.  This might not be the thing for everyone, but getting outside and breathing air can be so helpful.

4. Connect with People

We are built for connection.  In my slumps, it is really easy to cancel plans and stay home.  And sometimes I do this.  But, as much as I can, I need to keep plans and connect with friends and family.  I need this.  Hudson needs this.  And maybe it is not going out, but it is having people come to you.  Invite people over.  Make play dates.  Put events on the calendar and commit to them.  Trust me, this can be the hardest one for me, but this connection is so important.  I almost always walk away from time with others feeling happier and rejuvenated.  Also, it is so important to have a few people in your life that you can talk about being not okay.  Just yesterday, both my husband and my mom prayed over me as I bursted into tears to both of them explaining how I felt.  What a blessing to have people in my life that will not only listen and love me, but will bring my pain to the Lord.  How thankful I am for that!

5. Pray!

This leads me to the fifth and most important choice.  Choose to pray.  When I am on fire in my faith, I tend to pray aloud in the mornings.  The words flow easily and I have a great enthusiasm to speak out my prayers.  When I hit these types of slumps in both my life and my faith, I tend to not even be motivated to voice out my prayers.  Some mornings I feel so tired and unmotivated, it feels hard to even voice prayers.  Thankfully God even hears my sad little whimpers that are left unspoken.  Earlier this week, my heart was given so much relief when I read the words in Matthew 6:

“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.  Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him”  Matthew 6:7-8

Even on those mornings where it is hard to muster out the words, the Lord knows what I need.  He knows my heart.  When I pray I am not going to some distant god, I am speaking to my Father who deeply loves and cares for my well-being.  Therefore, I don’t need to worry about phrasing things in the most eloquent way or even saying them aloud.  He knows what I need.  He knows how I am feeling.  There is just so much relief in this. So when I pray in these slumps, even if my prayers are fragmented or if it is difficult for me to find the right words, I can know that the Lord will meet me where I am and offer me an abundance of peace and grace.

Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.  And it is not as simple as checking off a few things on a list.  However, I am learning that by focusing less on the slump and more on daily and intentionally choosing these five things: wake up early, listen to life-giving words, exercise, connect with people, and pray; I am able to more easily transition out of the slump and onto flat ground where I can go back to running with joy.

 

5 Practical Tips in Creating a Nursery

Hudson’s nursery has easily become one of my favorite rooms in our house.  It is the room that I seem to spend the most time in.  Especially early on, I felt like I was sitting in the glider of his nursery more than I was in my own bed.  We got new carpet in this room right before he was born and now there literally is a round mark of discoloration on this carpet right by the glider because my feet have been planted there countless hours nursing.  My perfectionist tendencies hate this mark, but there is part of me that is proud to see that spot on the carpet.  It represents something.  It shows commitment.  It shows love.  It shows patience.  I love that mark on the carpet.  The nursery is the room in our house that has existed for the shortest amount of time, but in these past 9 months, that room has been well-lived in. There have been tons and tons of tears shared in that room, not just the cries of a baby.  There have been many prayers prayed over that crib.  There have been many stories read and lots and lots of rockings to sleep.  That room has a presence.  It already holds so much of our hearts.  I am so thankful for this space.

If you are preparing a nursery for your little one on the way, chances are you have spent a good amount of time on Pinterest.  I would obsessively scroll on Pinterest as I dreamed to re-create those perfectly designed rooms in our own house.  Pinterest is such a great source of inspiration, but if you are anything like me, it is easy to see all those perfect pins and be overwhelmed.  I love our nursery for Hudson, but it does not look like a lot of the pins I pinned on my board.  It does not look like a lot of the features I see bloggers post about.  It is simple.  It is gray.  It is moon-themed.  And I love it.  I love it more than any of those pins because this one is actually ours.  It is lived in.  It has a spot on the carpet where my tired feet have been planted hours on end.  It has permanent milk drippings on the bookshelf where I used to always place my nipple shield.  It has the faint smell of lavender and milk and diapers.  You can’t pin those things.  They just happen with life and they are some of the most beautiful parts of his room.  So when working on your baby nursery, don’t let the perfect world of Pinterest overwhelm you.  Keep it simple, fill it with love, and think long-term with it. Here are 5 practical tips for nursery building:

  1. Think Neutral

While there is nothing wrong with painting the walls of the nursery blue or pink, choosing a more neutral wall color with accents of splashes of color, not only looks great, but also allows the room to easily transform for other purposes.  If you plan on having more babies, this makes it so the room could easily function as a nursery for the opposite gender.  We went with gray and tried to incorporate wall decor that had blue touches.  The crib and dresser are also neutrally and could easily function for a girl.  The more neutral you keep the walls and furniture, the more freedom you have to add more fun pieces to the rest of the room.

2. Choose a Theme Loosely 

When first deciding on how to create the nursery, I felt like there needed to be a clear theme.  I learned that it is sometimes better to not have the nursery overly themed and instead have a more general, looser theme.  I think without even choosing a specific theme, we found ourselves naturally gravitating towards grays, whites, stars, and moons.  Notice the patterns and colors you keep coming back to.  Allow these natural tendencies to guide the theme of your room.  Hudson’s nursery has a moon theme to it, but it is not overly moon-like (besides the moon light, of course).  If or once you choose a theme, just sprinkle it in, there is no need to have moons and stars on every square space.  A little goes a long way.

3. Add Lots of Personal Touches 

My favorite part of Hudson’s room is that his name is all over the place.  One of the first things I knew I wanted in his room was to have his name hanging above his crib.  I spent so many hours searching for a site that sold all six letters I needed.  It seemed like wherever I looked, one letter was always out of stock.  This search for letters nearly drove me crazy.  Until I realized I was looking in all the wrong places.  I was looking at places like Pottery Barn.  Each letter would have been about $10 there.  Instead, my mom found all six letters at Michael’s for less than half the price of the PB letters.  And they look great!  So for projects like this, don’t think you need to get everything from the PB Baby catalog, sometimes craft stores have the perfect supplies.  Besides over the crib, Hudson’s name is in probably six other locations of his room.  I love how the room feels very much his.  As much you can, personalize and handcraft pieces that make the nursery feel like yours.  When Lance and I found out we were having a boy, that very next weekend we went to Color Me Mine to make a plaque with his name on it.  This plaque now hangs in his room and is extra special since we made it.

4. Invest in Long-Term Pieces 

This one is very practical.  Choose items, specifically furniture that can act as pieces that will be useful past the baby stage.  I wrote about this in last Saturday’s post, but you definitely want to invest in items that can grow with baby.  You want to make sure the crib transforms into a big kid bed.  Also, try to think how pieces you purchase can function in multiple ways. We got a dresser that easily could act as a dresser when they are much older and could even be a dresser in a guest room eventually.  We used this dresser as the changing table by putting the changing pad just on top.  Babies grow SO fast.  It is important to construct a nursery that will still feel suitable in a few years when baby is not a baby anymore.5. Organize Everything 

Thinking about how you are going to organize things in your nursery is also key.  Hudson’s nursery is in a pretty tiny room, so we had to make sure we were maximizing storage space.  We used the dresser for most of his foldable clothes, blankets, and towels.  In the closet, we put a smaller dresser inside, which was very helpful for storing clothes that were too big for him.  After my baby showers, I washed all the clothes and organized them in specific drawers based on size.  I put all the newborn items in the dresser that was outside of the closet.  At the time this was tedious, but it was so helpful when we came home from the hospital and it made it really easy to transition old clothes out and his new clothes in every season.  Along with the extra dresser, I bought one of those hanging shelves that go in the closet.  Any extra storage space is a huge help.  We used these shelves mostly for storing swaddles, bibs and extra blankets.  Another storage piece that was essential was this organizer cube I got at Target.  This was a really great purchase and pretty affordable.  I bought two of the fabric bins to put in the cubes to use as storage for toys and the two others shelves I used for books.  This item looks nice and minimalistic in his room and also holds lots of books and toys.

It can be easy to put extra pressure on yourself to create the perfect nursery with beautiful wallpaper, papier-mâché flowers decorated on the walls, and everything from Restoration Hardware. I was there. I felt so much pressure to create the perfect, Pinterest worthy nursery. But eventually I got over it. And now 9 months in, I learned the brand of furniture doesn’t matter. The theme on the the walls doesn’t matter. The name of the paint color doesn’t really matter. What matters is not found on Pinterest. What matter is not sold at the fancy baby stores. It is love. It is hours upon hours of nursing, kissing, soothing, rocking, singing, praying, reading, crying. This is what makes a nursery. This is what makes his room my very favorite.

Starting Slow, Finishing Strong

This mama needs to start slow.  In college, I used to be able to roll out of bed, slide on my shoes, and hit the pavement at a 6-something-minute pace.  Emphasis here on used to.  The funny thing is that college for me was not even that long ago, I am just three years out, but my sense of pace has already greatly shifted, both in a literal and figurative sense.  My pace in terms of running has definitely changed.  My current pace now is what I used to think of as a slow, shakeout run.  But it is not just running, it is an overall life pace that I can feel is shifting as I type this.  In college, it was about going.  It was about jumping into cold pools before the sun rose.  It was about midnights in libraries and drinking coffee at 1am.  It was about miles and miles; pages on pages; words upon words.  It was all about speed and getting things done.  Trust me, I am still all about getting things done and accomplished, but my pace is entirely different.  I need to start slow.  I need to warm-up.  I need to lie in bed just a few extra minutes and wake up as I read just a couple pages.  I need to sit and sip in silence.  I need to stay in pajamas just a bit longer.  I need to hold my baby and not worry about my to-do list for just a few moments longer.  I need to take it slow.

I am all about the slower starts, the lazy mornings, the clear schedules.  My whole essence thirsts for the slower pace.  This easing into things is becoming essential to me.  It is essential for how I run and also how I live.  The danger in this, however, is when we stay in the slow and never learn to shift gears into the uncomfortable.  I start slow, but I never finish there.  While starting slow is key to me, shifting gears into uncomfortable speeds is also required.  I was reminded of this inherit need for speed (ignore the cliche rhyme) last week when I returned to the track.  My feet literally have not touched a track in just about 3 years.  Last time I was on a track was June 2016 in Kansas for my last collegiate 5k.  So, it has been some time.  And I could feel this separation.  I was doing a 10 by 400 meter workout with my dad so kindly agreeing to take my splits.  The first one felt raw and scary and too fast.  The second, third and fourth felt like I had made a mistake in choosing to workout at the track.  The fifth and sixth one felt completely numb, yet still painful.  But it was the seventh one that made sense.  It was in that seventh 400 meters that I hit my stride.  I felt back at home.  I remembered the turns and the straight aways and where to settle and where to push.  Don’t get me wrong.  The 7th-10th 400 were still painful and uncomfortable, but by number 7 I knew I would finish.  I knew I would not slow down.  Is this not life? It is hard, hard, hard, and then you hit a point of endurance.  It does not necessarily get easy, but it becomes endurable.  You become stronger, more confident, and more fierce, that by number 7 you know you are not stopping.

It is a great balancing act to create a life that holds both the slow and the burning speed.  It takes trial and error.  There are days that will feel too slow and days that have way too much intensity.  So you adjust.  You learn.  You create good patterns and break the ones that always put you into ruts.  I am learning that timing and structure are key elements in helping me balance the slow with the quick.  Here are 5 things that help me achieve this balance:

  1. Start Day Slow

I need to start my days at a very slow pace.  If I know I have a commitment or somewhere to be early, I get up even earlier to allow for the space to wake up.  I no longer can just roll out of bed.  I need time.  I need coffee.  I need scripture.  I think a huge part of being able to work hard throughout the day is allowing the start of the day to be slow and gentle, not rushed and frantic.

2. List and Schedule 

I am a list-oriented person.  I really struggle when I do not have lists to guide me.  I am always at the grocery store or Target, with a list in hand.  Even if it is the smallest errand, if I don’t write down: puffs, detergent, tea, and salad, I will become distracted or waste time.  Lists keep me focused.  I need them.  The same is true with my days.  As a teacher, I was my most productive self because I have the schedule of bells ringing throughout the day that kept me extremely structured.  As a stay-at-home mom, I must create these bells on my own.  For those mamas that work in the home, it can be so easy to waste our days.  It is essential to list out the “work” that must be done.  Not only list out what needs to happen in that day, but schedule it in so you know exactly when it will happen.  This helps keep me focused, so when I am doing the work elements, I am not thinking about yoga class and when I am in yoga, I am not thinking about laundry or dishes.  This is the ideal mindset and I don’t always succeed, but this is the goal.  List and schedule, so the lines of work and rest don’t run and bleed into each other.

3. Commit and Don’t Back Down

For me, one of the most important practices when balancing working hard and resting well is making sure I stay committed. It is so easy to back down and choose the easy route. It is so much easier to not do the hard work. It is also very easy to skip your time of rest and choose to do “the more important” things. Achieving balance happens best when we keep our commitments. Once I start backing out of commitments, I easily begin to fall into ruts. Even on the crazy, full days, if I have a workout scheduled, I need to follow through. It is that simple.

4. Schedule Rest 

This is one I am trying to currently figure out. Rest does not come naturally to me. I am learning that if I don’t schedule it, just like I would something important, like a meeting or a workout, it won’t happen. Some days I follow through and take this time of rest seriously, while others I ignore it and prioritize other things. Part of starting slow, and finishing strong, means that there also must be a middle time of slow and quiet and calm. For me, this does not usually mean taking a nap at 1pm. It looks more like grabbing a book and getting off my feet for 15 minutes. It looks like stopping. It looks like sitting. It looks like espresso in my favorite mug right after Hudson falls asleep for his final nap. It ultimately looks like surrendering to the Lord and relying on His strength, not my own work and capabilities and production.

5. Finish Strong

In a race, the goal is always to finish strong. No matter how fast you started or even if you lost a shoe in the first 100 meters, finishing strong is what matters. Just like certain runs, I end my days on burn out. I collapse. I stop. I trudge my feet. This is not what I want for my life. I want to end each day stronger than when I woke up. And sometimes I fail. I hit a wall and waste hours watching the Bachelor. I hate how I do this, but it is the truth. I don’t always finish my days strong. I sometimes, oftentimes, crawl into bed, emptied and exhausted and fixed to a screen. The best ways for me to avoid this place is to set limits on work and screens, so by 8 or 9 pm, I can fill up, spend time with Lance, and rest in knowing that enough has been done. If I don’t have clear time limits, I can quickly crumble into a place of weakness and mindlessness.

There is a time for the slow and a time for the head down, grinding, uncomfortable pace too. I have strong tendencies to live in the extremes. I have days where I stay in pajamas too long. I have days where I am-consumed with work and cleaning. Some days I get it terribly wrong, today might be one of those, but my prayer for today is that I can continue to strive at living a more balanced pace, so I can ultimately be more in-tune to the Lord’s will for my life.

 

 

8 Essential Baby Products You Actually Need

As a soon-to-mom, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of baby products out there.  I can distinctly remember the first time Lance and I went to Buy Buy Baby to register. We walked up and down the aisles and it seemed like in order to be the best prepared parents, we needed it all.  This is exactly what all the brands and stores want you to think.  But it simply is not true.  We definitely got sucked into some of the hype over brands and the newest baby tech products, but the truth is some of the most basic, simplest, and lowest price tag items we got, were the ones that were most useful and are still the ones we are using on a daily basis nine months later.  Hopefully, this list can help guide you through the aisle as you determine what is essential and what is just not.  Side note: this list became very long, so I chose to not include any nursing/feeding items and will dedicate a full post to those items in the very near future.  Second side note: This will probably be of little interest to current parents.  This list is really intended for those beginning to plan for baby.

  1. Travel System Carseat/Stroller

To me, this should be your first priority because it really is the first thing you will actually need before going home from the hospital.  The hospital literally will provide you with everything you need for baby those first few days.  Diapers, wipes, and swaddles are all provided for you.  And to be honest, that is mostly all you need those first few days anyways.  We brought a diaper bag full of things for Hudson.  The reality is we did not need really any of it.  But, the one thing you will actually need before you can leave the hospital is a carseat.  You will definitely want to get a carseat that is part of a travel system, so you can easily snap carseat from base in the car to the stroller.  Especially in the early days, this made such a difference when he would always be sleeping in his carseat.  It made the transition out of the car so easy.  There are literally so many options and some very steep price tags.  I know there is a lot of hype around certain brands and I think if you can afford it and really value name brands then buy that UPPAbaby stroller, but paying over $1,000 for a stroller is just not our jam.  We were gifted the Chicco Bravo Travel System and we have found it to be very reliable.  It might not be as fancy looking, but it does the job it needs to.  When finding the right carseat-stroller combo, don’t feel like you need to get the most expensive one.  There are so many great and durable ones that are less than half the price of the super expensive ones.

2. Bassinet and Crib 

I know everyone has their opinion on what is best for where baby should sleep those first few months and honestly it really comes down to personal preference.  For us, we chose to have Hudson sleep in a bassinet right next to our bed for basically the first 4 months.  We were able to borrow a bassinet from my sister-in-law which was very helpful.  It can really start to add up with all the new things you need to purchase, so if you can borrow or inherit someone’s bassinet I think that is a great way to go because the reality is that you will only be using it for a few months.  We really liked the Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper.  I know there is a lot of talk about the SNOO bassinet and how helpful it can be to getting your baby to actually sleep, but again the price tag is over $1,000.  It is one thing to spend that much on a carseat/stroller that you will use on a daily basis for over a year, but your baby will likely only be in a bassinet for the first few months.  Along with a bassinet, you will likely want to have a crib that you will be able to transition baby into.  We chose our crib based off the style we were going for the nursery.  This is another big expense, so I think it is important that you make sure you choose a crib that grows with baby.  The crib we got, which I am linking to here, will literally be able to become a big kid bed for Hudson.  While cribs are also pretty expensive, this is an investment that your baby can use for years!

3. Velcro Swaddles and Muslin Swaddles

This is one of those items that we found extremely useful and necessary for getting Hudson to sleep, but I am also aware that some parents find that their babies hate to be swaddled.  According to Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block and creator of the SNOO, swaddling is an essential step to getting your baby to sleep through the night.  Babies have the startle reflex, so without a swaddle, they can easily wake themselves up.  I can remember being in the hospital and obsessing over how perfectly and tightly the nurses swaddled him.  We would ask over and over again for them to show us, in hopes that by the time we were home that we would be master swaddlers like them.  No matter how hard I tried or how many Youtube videos I watched, I never seemed to swaddle Hudson tightly enough and he almost always got his arms out.  Hence, the velcro swaddles quickly became our friends and were the swaddles we used every single night.  There are a ton of brands out there, but we really liked the SwaddleMe ones.  A piece of advice with the swaddles: start by registering for just a couple so you can try it out and see if it works with your baby.  I know a lot of people end up with a ton of swaddles and a lot of them will just sit in the closet. For us, these really worked so we used multiple ones per day.  I would also suggest registering for larger sizes, so you can continue using them once baby gets slightly heavier, but remember you definitely need to stop swaddling baby’s arms once they begin to roll. Along with these velcro swaddles, we also used muslin swaddles all the time.  We did not swaddle him in these as much, but they were super handy to have around, especially since we had a baby with acid reflux that was spitting up multiple times every feeding.  We really like the prints and feel of the Aden & Anais swaddles.  These really are multi-purposeful and we would go through 5 plus a day early on, so it is nice to have a large stash of these.  They also are great to use as a cover over the carseat and stroller and act as the perfect blanket especially during the hotter, summer months.

4. Diapers, Wipes, and Changing Table Scale

Obviously, you are going to need lots of diapers and lots of wipes. But like I mentioned earlier, you really do not need to pack any for the hospital because they will provide all of that for you.  You will use plenty of diapers at home, so I would really take advantage of using the supplies offered to you at the hospital.  The amount of diapers we went through was shocking to us as new parents.  Early on, were going through 10-15 diapers a day.  That number decreases over time, but the fact is diaper expenses can really start to add up.  I know Honest diapers are beautiful, but I really do not think they are worth the extra cost.  I found that they did not feel as soft as Pampers.  While they are very stylish and I loved the fun prints we were gifted (thanks mom!), they just are not as practical and they end up in the trash in just a few hours.  It is also nice to get diapers that have that yellow line that turns blue to indicate a wet diaper.  The Pampers Swaddlers are the ones used in the hospital and were my favorite for him as a newborn.  As he got older and we moved to size 1 and beyond, we started getting the Kirkland Signature Supreme diapers from Costco.  These are slightly more affordable and they feel very similar to Pampers.  With wipes, I wasn’t too particular and personally did not notice a huge difference, but I think it is always best to get wipes that are unscented or sensitive.  We get the Amazon brand wipes and love them.  Again slightly more affordable and they are durable, but still nice and soft. Along with diapers and wipes, it is nice to have a spot to consistently change baby.  A changing table is definitely not needed. We just put a changing pad on top of his dresser.  In terms of changing pads, I really wish we had gotten a changing pad that also acted as a baby scale.  This is something we did not have and it is the one thing I wished we received. I had no idea how obsessive I would become over his weight gain.  I literally drove to the hospital every week to use their lactation room to nurse Hudson and then weigh him to make sure he was gaining sufficient weight.  It was a bit of a hassle to make this trip every week, so it would have saved a lot of stress if we had a baby scale at home.  From what I have heard and just based off what I have read, the Hatch Baby Grow seems to be amazing.  This is definitely one of those high-tech baby products I wish we invested in.  It functions as a scale and connects to an app that tells you exactly how much baby is eating per feed.  Especially for nursing mamas, this is such a useful tool because it can be extremely stressful when you are uncertain how many ounces baby is intaking.  This product would have saved me a TON of tears and drives to the hospital.

5. Onesies, Zip-Up Footie Pajamas, and Socks 

Clothing is the one thing everyone will want to gift you and it is super fun to add adorable pieces to your registry, but especially early on the basics are what really matter.  Also, your baby will likely outgrow clothing SUPER quick.  We found that we barely needed to purchase much clothing at all since we were given so many pieces.  Of all the cute, little outfits we received, the items that were most useful and practical early on were lots of onesies, zip-up pajamas and socks.  Hudson was constantly spitting up the first few months so we went through a lot of outfits per day.  It was super helpful to have a good assortment of simple onesies to change him into throughout the day.  For pajamas, the footie zip-up ones were by far our favorite.  Especially in the early days when you have to change diapers in the middle of the night, it is so much easier to have pajamas that simply zip, rather than have to struggle in the dark with those dreaded little snaps.  We also were gifted some really cute pairs of shoes, but we found that Hudson would always just kick them off and hated having them on his feet.  Even now at 9-months, Hudson still just wears socks!

6. Baby Bath

Basically from the time we brought Hudson home we have been giving him baths every night in his bath tub, which we place on the kitchen sink.  For the first month this just consisted of placing him in the bath and pouring water on him and using washcloths, but after his umbilical cord fell off, he has had full on baths in his baby bath tub.  We have really liked the Boon SOAK tub.  It is nothing too fancy, but it is a great size, fits on our counter well, and holds Hudson in just the right position. This is one of those products that we literally use every night.  Along with the tub, we are obsessed with Johnson’s Bedtime bath and lotion.  We have also used baby Aveeno products, but it just does not compare to the sweet, lavender smell of Johnson’s.  The smell is just the best and the use of the lotion after his bath has become a part of our night time routine that we both enjoy.  I will dedicate a whole post in the future to go in greater detail on our entire night time routine.

7. Baby Carrier 

Strollers are not always the most convenient especially when you want to walk on the beach or take a hike.  For these situations, a baby carrier is essential.  Again, there are lots of brands and different types.  There is Ergo, BABYBJORN, the Moby Wrap, and the list goes on and on.  We have the Ergo 360 carrier, which we love.  It seems like there are a lot of great brands for carriers, but whatever brand you go with, I do think it is best to have the function to face baby both in and out.  Facing baby in is great for the first few months, but by six-months it is likely your baby will be much more interested in the world around you and will prefer to look out.  You also want to check what the weight requirements are for each carrier.  The Ergo 360 carrier was one we were not able to use right away, but we also were given my sister-in-law’s original Ergo, which comes with the infant insert, so this was a carrier we were able to use even in his first month. I personally never got very into the baby wraps.  I found them to be way too complicated, but I know a lot of people like using the wraps when baby is very small.  It really is all a matter of preference.

8. Pacifiers

I know not all babies take a pacifier, but Hudson did and we found it to be especially helpful.  It was a great way to soothe him down when he was especially little and fussy.  We would never leave the house without an emergency binky.  It has definitely saved us a few times.  Pacifiers are especially helpful at the doctor’s office during shots and for sleeping.  Before Hudson was born, I would always see babies with the WubbaNub and thought Hudson would like them too, but he never liked them.  I am not even sure the brand of pacifiers we use, it is just the really basic ones, but he loves them! The nipples of each brand can be very different so if you plan on offering a pacifier, maybe try a few brands before you buy tons.  And I would recommend getting tons!  Binkys seem to be like socks.  They are lost so easily! It is always a good idea to have an extra in the diaper bag.

 

 

 

 

When You Bring Your Baby to a Wedding…

This mama needs to let go.  I need to let go of quite a lot.  Control, schedules, and perfection are just a few of the many examples.  I firmly believe that the Lord reveals the status of our heart through change and challenges.  Before becoming a mom to Hudson, I had no idea how deep and enslaving my sins of approval and control were.  Before, I thought of myself as a relatively relaxed, easy-going type of person, but as a new mom, I have been nothing but anxious, controlling and paranoid.  I used to care less about schedules and if plans changed, I could easily bounce back, but now when Hudson does not follow the schedule I have in my head, the wheels slowly start to fall off.  Control is just one part of the mess, the other ruling force is my deep need of human approval.  This I have always known has been festering in my heart, but motherhood just brought it out in even greater force.  I never thought I could care so much about how a complete stranger views me as a mother.  It is insanity.  All of this was made especially clear this weekend when Lance and I took Hudson to his first wedding.  Let me explain.

It started with a long run and the rain.  The wedding was in Palm Springs and Lance and I knew we would have Hudson, so we thought it would make more sense to skip a hotel and just drive home so he could sleep in his own crib.  The plan was to first get our long run done and then drive to Palm Springs and head home around 7 pm just un time for Hudson’s bedtime.  Saturday morning came and it was raining.  Instead of running with the jogger, we dropped Hudson off at his Grammy’s and we went to get our miles in.  In theory, this was a great idea and it was nice to squeeze in a run before the madness, but this probably did not help my mood and patience later in the day.  So tip #1 when bringing a baby to a wedding: skip the long, strenuous exercise beforehand.  It is best to not go into the day with baby already in a place of depletion and dehydration.  This was the first mistake.  Then, came the drive.  If you are bringing your baby with you to a wedding, hopefully you don’t have too long of a drive.  For us, we had about 2 hours.  Heading into this drive, I had the perfect plan.  He had a really short nap during our run so I figured by the time we were driving, he would be tired and ready for a nice, long nap.  In my head, the whole day rested on this part of the plan.  Hudson would sleep basically the entire drive, I would nurse him when we got there, he would be the most perfect baby during the ceremony because he would be rested and full, and then he would continue this perfect behavior into the reception.  I had the perfect plan.  And the fact of the matter is that most of it did not happen.  And that would have been perfectly okay, but my own attitude and need for control, did not allow for flexibility or adaption, so by the drive home I was miserable, cranky and annoyed.  That leads to tip #2: go into the event unattached to your plans.  There is nothing wrong with having a specific plan and schedule, but I would recommend creating a few options because the likelihood that the first one will happen with all the excitement of a big event is slim.  Since I was so set on the fact that he would sleep the entire drive there, I did not plan for an alternative.  I did not pack his favorite Mickey Mouse CD that almost always calms and soothes him.  Therefore, about an hour in, we had a screaming baby in the back of our car.  This is what started my own internal meltdown.  I ever so slowly began to crumble apart as I felt my carefully thought out plan slipping away from my fingers.  I was losing control.  So by the time we got to the church, Hudson was already exhausted since he only slept for about 30 minutes and had been awake and crying since 12pm, which was already about 2 hours ago.  I tried to be super flexible and told myself it is what it is, but when I went to nurse him and he refused, I lost it.  I could handle him not napping, but him also refusing to nurse threw me into panic mode.  This was all minutes before the ceremony began.  I wish I could tell you, I just let it all go and fully was present and enjoyed the ceremony, but then I became obsessed with every little peep Hudson made.  I basically convinced myself that everyone within the church, including the priest, thought I was a terrible mom.  I know this sounds crazy typed up, but this was all very real in my head.  Hudson did not even cry during the whole ceremony, but all his cute, little cooing noises sounded like loud sirens in that quiet and formal church.  This is where we can find tip #3.  While tip #2 was all about letting go of plans, tip #3 is to have a plan.  While I had planned out the napping and sleep schedules and the pajamas were packed, Lance and I never voiced a plan for the ceremony if Hudson did not fully sit silent (which I don’t think many babies can do for a straight hour).  A lot of my issues of control and approval are linked to Lance.  I am so used to solely taking care of Hudson during the day that when my overly eager and helpful and amazing husband steps in, I don’t always handle it gracefully.  Lance could sense I was not in the best place after the plans in my head were slowly starting to crumble so he kept taking Hudson during the ceremony to relieve me.  I should of been thankful.  I should have been relieved.  But instead this created even greater anxiety within me as I felt control further taken away from me.  I looked over at the other mom with the baby and she seemed to be cool as a cucumber and handling everything so well on her own.  I, on the other hand, was a sweaty and anxious mess.  I was on the edge of my seat.  I was so panicky that Lance was taking more of the responsibilities that I as Hudson’s mother should be taking.  While Lance taking Hudson and bringing him out of the church should have been helpful, it only created more anxiety and frustration within me.  So the point here is that if you are going to be with your spouse, it is important to talk about a plan before the ceremony.  Decide how you are going to share responsibility.  Create a game plan.  This would have saved a lot of unneeded emotion.

While there were a few little bumps in the road, we survived the ceremony and even though my head told me otherwise, Hudson overall did so well.  After the ceremony, there was an hour of time before the cocktail hour.  Right when we put Hudson in his carseat, he immediately fell asleep.  He was exhausted.  This was the one, unplanned part of the whole day and it was actually the one part that worked out perfectly.  Hudson ended up taking a good nap and Lance and I were able to do one of our favorite things: drive around, look at houses and dream about our future.  As we did this, all the nerves and anxiety finally began to leave me.  Things were good.  We even got the chance to stop at a park we spent time at a few months ago when on vacation.  The park was perfect and peaceful.  There were a few dogs running about.  The light giggles of children on the playground floated around us.  Hudson woke up right when we got to the park.  We got to stretch our legs, walk around, and Hudson finally was ready for milky.  The lesson here is that when you go to a wedding with a baby, you need to be okay with having a slight detour from the rest of the party guests.  I am assuming most of the guests went right to the hotel where the reception was being held.  For us, that was not what made the most sense.  For us, what the three of us needed most was nap time, a quiet drive, and the park.  And that is okay.  We eventually got to the hotel, slightly later, but we got there with happier parents and a happy, full, and rested baby.  So tip #4 when you bring your baby to a wedding is don’t compare.  The experience you have at a wedding with a baby is very different than without one.  Know this ahead of time and be okay with spending your time differently.  Be okay with taking your baby to the park in-between ceremony and reception.  Be okay with leaving right after dinner and speeches because it is bedtime.  Be okay with drinking Shirley Temples instead of wine because of nursing.  Be okay with having a colder dinner because you have a baby on your lap that needs entertaining.  Be okay with lugging around your big diaper bag and not your cute, Kate Spade purse.  The truth is, we had a great time and I am pretty sure Hudson did too.  He was taking everything in.  But, it was a very different time than if we did not have a baby.  So, when deciding if you should take your little one to a wedding, you need to decide what type of experience you are looking for.  Do you want to not worry and just enjoy your time?  Well, then I would probably not bring your baby.  But, if you are willing to have a different type of wedding experience and embrace the fact that this is just how life with a baby is, then you should (if it is okay with the bride and groom, of course!).  Our life is so very different now than a year ago.  We are more tired.  Toys are strewn all over our living room floor.  Our schedules revolve around naps and feeding times.  But, our hearts have never been more full.  This is our life.  It is messy and hard at times and chaotic and not nearly as controlled as I would like it, but it is ours and it is beautiful and I am so thankful.  Sometimes you get the opportunity to press pause and go to a wedding and forget for a few hours all the new responsibilities you have, but sometimes you don’t get that opportunity.  Sometimes you have to bring your new life into these situations and simply adjust.

Let me end with this: bringing a baby to a wedding, is not the most glamourous.  It is not always the most fun.  But, I am pretty sure I am going to remember it in ways that I would not remember it if Hudson was not with us.  That curious little boy with his vest and red bow tie will forever be engraved in my heart.  I will always remember watching the groom dance with his glowing mother as I held on to Hudson and dreamed about one day dancing with him on his wedding day.  I will always have that photo booth picture with our other friends at our table and our silly, goofy, wide-eyed boy by our side.  So the truth is, when you bring your baby to wedding…you fall just a bit more in love.

 

 

Seasonal Reflections & New March Series

Happy March!  It is crazy to me that spring is almost here.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a case of spring fever.  I am ready for more sunshine.  I am ready for later sunsets.  I am ready for Easter and pastel dresses.  I am ready for renewal and blooming and change.  There is something about springtime.  I love it almost as much as I love fall.  My moods often seem to be cyclical with the seasons.  In summer, I feel bright and happy and carefree. In fall, I feel a sense of warmth and harvest.  In winter, I feel a little down.  And in spring, I almost always feel a sense of hope and renewal.  Change is coming.  My heart knows He will Rise.  There is so much hope at this time of year.  The impossible feels possible.

A year ago, I had a growing belly and a heart full of hope of new life.  Fast-forward a year later, and I now have a curious, joyful, and playful 9-month old.  A year ago, Lance and I anticipated Hudson’s arrival with a sense of longing and hope.  Now, we have this little boy and our hearts are still brimming with hope.  Hudson is still very much a baby, but recently I have been getting strong glimmers of what this little baby will be like as a boy and eventually as a man.  This crinkly-nosed baby with lots to say, points me to a boy that will be playful and silly and confident.  That boy then points me to a man that will have a bold faith in the Lord.  Do you see what I mean?  There is so much hope!  I can see our sweet Hudson figuring out things daily.  I see him hold things with a look of puzzlement and pure wonder.  I see him slowly figuring out the world around him.  He knows what he likes (milky from mommy, Nala kisses, warm baths).  He also is very certain as to what he does not like (anything green, sleeping, a clean face).  He is becoming a little person! And Lance and I are loving this time.  We are filled with hope for the man he will become.

Speaking of babies, for the month of March, we will be entering a new series on all things babies.  While I am literally just nine-months into motherhood, I feel like I have learned a ton in these past few months and want to pass it on.  This will be a 4-part Saturday series covering the following:

  1. Essential Baby Gear
  2. Nursery Inspiration
  3. Food Making for Baby 
  4. Baby Sleep and Play Schedules 

Riveting topics, I know!  Hopefully, I hooked you and I will see you back here next Saturday morning for all things baby gear.  To me, this was really overwhelming as a first time mom because I felt like I needed to get everything top of the line and have all the best gadgets for baby.  Truth is, there are a lot of things you don’t need, but there are some key things you really do need that will make life so much easier.  To find out more, come back to this very place and read all about my top list of essential baby products.  And don’t worry it won’t be things as obvious as cribs and diapers, but I will talk about these things as well.