Sunday, April 28, 2013

Traveling with a sweet baby

Well, it was another whirlwind weekend for us in the Abel household, holy canoli!  We brought Ledoux on her very first 'real' trip!  We have taken a couple roadies here and there, but nothing like this!  Lee's little brother and his wife are having a baby girl, and this weekend was their baby shower.  Paired with the promise we made to visit Texas (where Lee is from) before Ledoux turned one, we decided this was the perfect weekend to go visit, go to the baby shower, and introduce our little doodlebug to all of her family in Texas!  Here is what our weekend looked like:

Can you say crazy?  CRAZY.  When I booked all of this, I thought it looked pretty good on paper.  I mean, how bad can it be to do all of this? In a weekend?  With a baby?  Shucks, this will be nothing.  Oh my gosh, what the hell was I thinking?  Clearly, I must have had a glass  bottle of wine when I put together this travel itinerary. No, I am not kidding.  I must have had a bottle of wine.  The visit was totally worth it, but never again in my life will I choose price of tickets over ease of travel.  At the time that I did all of my brilliant travel plans, I was more worried about price (mostly because we were getting ready to close on our house and I wanted to save where I could...) and less concerned with the fact that I was going to do all of this with an 8 month old in a weekend. 

I have a post in the works about Ledoux's trip to Texas (stay tuned later in the week!) but I felt it important to share my words of wisdom (or lack thereof) when it comes to traveling with a small little babe, to save any of you brave mamas getting ready to venture out on your first big airplane adventure with the wee one.

1.) Don't drink and book your travel.

2.) Think ease over cost.  If you are going to travel, wait until you can afford to choose the flights and times that work best for you.  Translation: don't do priceline.  I did priceline, and in an effort to find the best possible price for tickets (I was on a serious hunt!), I chose the 'name your own price' option, and selected the box that said search 'surrounding airports'...which ended up scheduling me for flights out of Phoenix (rather than Tucson, where I live, and is about 110 miles from the Phoenix airport.)  Oh, and the flight back was at the un-godly hour of 6:30 am. Texas time.  Which is 4:30 am my time.  Which means we had to be up and at the airport at 2:30 am our time.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Priceline is great, but not so great when you have a baby to consider, and no flexibility in the times/schedules of flights.  The cheaper fare is not worth the hassle. Two years ago, when it was just me and Lee, I could have cared less.  Today, I care.  Also, when possible, pay the extra moo-lah for direct flights.  The worst thing is having to land, wake up your sleeping babe, and then have a layover.  And then do it all over again.  (I am exhausted just thinking about this!)

3.) Speaking of layovers, if you do have one, make sure it is long enough to go have a drink you have plenty of toys to keep the babe busy.  I didn't go overboard, but brought a blanket (for her to sit if she ever just sits), a rattle, a teether, and a couple of her favorite toy books to play with.  Let's face it, she'd rather play with my water bottle anyway. Or my beer mug at the airport bar. :)

4.) When choosing your flights, plan them around feeding times. The flights I happened to get corresponded perfectly with Ledoux's feeding times.  So each time the plane took off, we had a bottle ready to go, and gave it to her as the plane left the ground.  This worked well for two reasons: the bottle helped put her to sleep for the majority of the flight, and her ears didn't get sensitive to the pressure change because she was sucking/swallowing on something during takeoff.

5.) If possible (meaning you are traveling in the US) keep the baby, and yourselves, on the same schedule.  With the time changes, it can be hard to keep their routines consistent.  But we did, and it was great.  Although Texas was 2 hours ahead of time, we kept Ledoux on her Arizona schedule, so her feedings/naps/bedtime did not change, even though the time change did.  It may be a little inconvenient, but I would rather have a happy baby then the alternative! (For example, in Ledoux's world, she wakes up at 6 am, which was 8 am Texas time.  Instead of waking her up, we let her sleep until her normal wake up time, so she was on Arizona time the whole time we were there.)  Yes, it meant we didn't get going quite as early, and had lunch a little later, but we also had a happy baby. On a side note, why the heck do we have time zones?  Add that to the list of things that really suck when you have a baby.

6.) Leave the car seat and pack and play at home.  Unless you are super attached to them, leave them.  Rental car companies have car seats, and I gladly paid $10 extra for one versus lugging it around the airport and dealing with the hassle.  Also, when booking your hotels, call ahead and make sure they have cribs.  I brought my own bedding for the crib, but just had the hotel bring the actual crib to our room.  It was so nice to not look like a pack mule in the airport, pulling all of that stuff along with me.

7.) Baby doesn't need an ID card to travel.  Actually, unless your baby looks 2, they don't need any documentation.  Lee and I were halfway to Phoenix when we realized we had nothing to prove Ledoux was ours, or when she was born, or who she was, etc... and had a moment of panic.  After frantically calling the airline, we were reassured to find out they needed nothing unless there may be a question as to her age (meaning she might be close to 2 years old, which is the age that babies must have a paid seat). 

8.) Buy your diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, etc. when you get to your destination. Who wants to pay those ridiculous baggage fees? And lug around heavy bags?  I opted to stock Ledoux's diaper bag with enough dipeys, wipes, and food to last us a full day...and bought the rest when we got to Texas. (Hellooooo, excuse to go to Target!) Not having an entire suitcase full of all of that stuff was great.  I also planned out each outfit (from baby bow to outfit to shoes) and put them in ziploc bags to save space.  It made it super easy to pick out her outfits, as I just pulled out a bag.  Of course, in baby land, you always pack way more than you need in case of a nasty little blow out surprise.

9.) Plan ahead. Easy enough, right?  I checked in online to our flights and printed our boarding passes, paid our nasty baggage fees online, and had everything ready to roll out the door the night before.  It made it all so much easier that we didn't have to stand in line to check in at the airport, and could just drop off our bags and head to security.  Obvi, with a baby, even as prepared as you are, something will still come up--- so control what you can.  These things, I can control.  The blowout all over her new babygap outfit as we walked out the door? Uncontrollable.  It's always something *fake smile*

So there you have it, my tips for traveling with baby!  All in all, the travel itself was much easier than I had imagined, thanks to these little things we did.  I am all about easy travel, mostly because travel is just stressful by nature.  And on a side note, I really got a kick out of the people who would look at us and our baby, and quickly go sit on the other side of the airport like we had the plague.  I laughed on the inside knowing that I knew what they were thinking... "Please don't let me have to sit next to them on the airplane..."  Trust me rude airport people, we probably don't want to sit next to you either.
So excited to go on her first trip!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your sooo vain...

"Your so vain, you probably think this song is about you..."
Kissing the baby in the mirror

OK, now that you have that catchy tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day, and the most hilarious scene from 'How to lose a guy in ten days' running through your brain (your welcome!), let's talk about babies and mirrors.  Have you ever noticed how much your baby LOVES starting at his/herself? Oh my goodness, everywhere we go, Ledoux is finding her reflection and staring at herself.  It can be the car window, in can be a store front, heck, it can even a spoon that gives off a faint reflection.  If there is any chance she can look at herself, she can do it.  And the funniest thing about all of this?  It has nothing to do with vanity (at least, not yet...I don't think.)

When I was putting together Ledoux's nursery before she was born, my mother gave me an unbreakable, totally baby safe mirror to hang by her changing table to look at herself... and at the time, I remember thinking "why on earth will she ever want to stare at herself?" Fast forward to today, that might be my favorite thing that Ledoux has right now (and I am pretty sure, it is one of hers too!)  This mirror is plastic/acrylic, so there is no chance of her hitting it hard and shattering it.  She can eat it, she can lick it, and her new thing is giving the 'baby in the mirror' kisses. (If you go to, and search for unbreakable mirrors, there are tons to choose from. Ours is similar to this one:  I got this one because I can attatch it to the wall, or put it on the floor to play on for when we did tummy time.)

So if your little babe is still little (think newborn-8 months or so), they may not be able to differentiate between the baby in the mirror and themselves, but around the 8 month mark, babies start developing self awareness-a very important thing!  Go purchase some cheap different sized, baby safe mirrors and let your baby have at it.  Unsure of what to do with it (other than put it in front of them)?  Here are some ideas!

1.) Put the mirror in the bathtub.  Ledoux LOVES this! Bath time is already something she enjoys, and when she realized there was a mirror, she loved it!  I propped it in front of her, and then we put it under the water.  Watching her face as she tried to figure out how there was a baby, under the water, was so fun.  You can see the wheels in her little head moving.

2.) If you haven't already, put a mirror in front of her car seat, so your babe can see him/herself.  (Bonus: you can see baby too!)  Ledoux just sits there and talks to herself in the car, I always wonder what "they" are talking about.

3.) Help develop that self awareness--sit in front of the mirror with your babe, and say "who is that baby?"  Ledoux is starting to notice that she is that baby, which is pretty neat to see!  Test to see if your baby has put the connection together by putting a little bit of baby food on your finger, and while looking in the mirror, putting it on her cheek.  Does she reach for the mirror to wipe it off, or herself?  If she reaches for herself, hooray!  That self awareness is coming along.  And if not, that's OK too, babies all develop differently.

4.) Sit in front of the mirror and make different faces.  A calm face, a happy face... and see if your babe changes expression with you.

5.) Play peek-a-boo in the mirror.  Easy- just grab a towel and put it over the mirror, and then take it off quickly and say "Peek a boo!"  Games likes this can occupy a sweet babe for, well, minutes.  Which in mommy time, is like hours.

6.) Put the mirror on the floor, and sing a silly song, while pointing out her nose, her lips, her fingers, etc.  Any excuse I have to sing, American Idol style, into a mirror I will take... so this is one of our favorite games.  (However the hubby hates it, hes just jealous he can't sing like Ledoux and I can...)

7.) If your baby is a bit older, put some shaving cream or baby safe finger paints on the mirror and let them go to town.  To see their faces when they wipe away the paint/shaving cream and see their reflection is priceless.  Yes, it will be a mess, but that is the fun of it all!

8.) Show your baby the reflection the mirror makes when the sun hits it.  Ledoux just discovered that if she moves her little handheld mirror, the sun makes lights on the wall.  I literally saw the learning going on when she made that connection... and it was awesome.  She took the mirror and would move it a little to the left, a little to the right, and try to find the light relection on the wall.

8.) Lastly, and most simple...just put the mirror on the floor for them to play with.  If your baby does tummy time, put the baby on top of it.  Give them time to just explore.  We have this little mirror, which is self standing, that we really like:

So there you have it, a fun and easy way to keep baby occupied (and you can do your makeup at the same time! Just kidding.  Kind of.  Multitasking people!)  I hope your week is flying by... I know ours is!  There is no rest between work and finishing the never ending task of moving!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our weekend in pictures

Whoosh.  What a whirlwind weekend.  This might possibly be one of the only free moments I have to do my blog, so I am taking full advantage!  Moving is no joke... and we have been going NON-STOP since Thursday evening trying to move out one of one house, and in to another... that was still under minor "construction."  As if all that moving entails isn't crazy enough, my sweet baby Ledoux has went gone from a baby who scoots, to a full on speed crawler, and I am totally not prepared!  A post on baby-proofing for dummies (like myself!) is coming soon, but until then... here is our weekend in a series of snapshots!
The first visitors (about 5,000 of them) to our new home. 
African-ized Bees.  Right above our door.  Fabulous.
Apparently Bees are no joke here in Tucson, they are aggressive and kill birds, dogs, etc.
Needless to say, $250 later, they are gone with the wind, fabulous.  Ok, sorry, I had to, and if you aren't a Real Housewives of Atlanta fan, ignore that. It won't make sense.
Silly little baby really likes her new house!
 I learned an important lesson.  Don't try and do one last coat of  black chalkboard paint when a newly crawling baby is in the room.  I am obsessed with the idea of chalkboard walls.  I would have one in every room of my house if my husband would let me.  Buutttttt I settled one two.  One in our guest bath, and one in Ledoux's room.  Which happens to have white carpet.  That should have been my first clue that I should be careful and probably not attempt to speed paint.  But I am going to blame this accident on being a new mom (with no clue my baby can crawl across the room in .5 seconds flat.)  I had no idea that as soon as I opened up the can of paint, my baby (who was on the complete other side of the room, playing with her toys) would make it to the paint can, and pull it over.  All over the carpet.  I wanted to die.  Lee and I cleaned as much as we could (but all we had in the house was hand soap and paper towels...remember, we just moved in...) and now have a black stain in the middle of her room.  Well, its a memory, right?  Or a great excuse to get new flooring.  Potatoe-potato.
Speaking of a newly crawling, standing baby... **when** she naps, she is OUT.  Her little body is always on the move, and she gets more tired than ever lately. Another good snapshot from this weekend? A picture of her dirty little piggies at the end of the day.  The picture doesn't show how dirrrrrty they were, but trust me, they were brown with dirt.  Def a bath night.

We did alot of work outside... if you look close, you can see my pool boy (aka the hubs!)  I think this is one chore he can get used to...any chore that actually requires him to be by or in the pool, in the sun, on a Saturday (and most likely a beer in his hand) is a chore he can handle.  We also got our pool fence installed, so the doggies and baby are safe.
Doodle and I were working really hard too, helping daddy move furniture... "A little to the left, noooo, to the right...."
Ok, that's a lie.  We were enjoying the sunshine.
And finally, our family rules.  My favorite on this list is the "We do loud well."  If you knew us, you would know how true this is. Especially me and my squealing, screaming with glee baby.
There are still a couple hours left in this weekend, so Lee and I are going to take Doo and head out grocery shopping...not because we really need groceries, but we want a beer.  Oh, didn't you know?  Our grocery store serves beer and wine, and you can drink it while you shop.  Ummmm, can someone say genius? WOW.  After this weekend, I think a trip to the grocery store is very well deserved.  (Said no one, ever.  Until now!) I hope you all had a great weekend, and hopefully, one a little more relaxing than ours!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Choosing a childcare that is best for your baby...

Hi blog friends!

It is the day us mommies (and dads!) dread... the day when maternity leave is up, and it is time to go back to work, and leave our sweet little baby in the hands of someone else.  For some lucky enough to stay at home with your babies, what a blessing!  For others, help comes in the faces of grandparents, aunts, friends... but for alot of us, our only choice is to bring our sweet babies to childcare.

I went back to work when Ledoux turned 3 months...hardest day of my life.  I cried for weeks before (perhaps some of those tears were because I actually had to return to work, lets be honest) but I was devastated at the thought that I would have to leave my baby with someone else.  And scared. So scared.  There was no way anyone could take as good of care of Ledoux as myself.  This, in alot of ways, is so true.  Then I remembered, isn't there a saying "It takes a community to raise a child?"  I think it is something like that.  Anyway, at the end of the day, my only option was to trust that someone else would love, nurture, and help me raise my sweet baby.  And giving that trust to someone else is soooo hard.  But I did it.

I did ALOT of research on what made a quality program.  I am lucky, in that my Masters is in Education and Early Childhood, and my mother is the department head of the Early Childhood department at a local I had some tools in my belt when the time came to select who I was going to trust with the most important job in the world... my child's care.  TIMEOUT: I just said the most important job in the world.  If you haven't thought about this yet, think about it.  These are the professionals we are entrusting to raise the next generation of our cities, states, country, future... they are shaping the minds and development of our children.  If that isn't the most important job EVER, I don't know what is.  Ok, I am off my soapbox.  When it comes to choosing your child's care, there are so many things to consider, so I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of important things you may not think of when it comes to selecting who you will trust...

How could I leave this silly little face?
1.) What is the name of the program? Ok, you are thinking this is silly, but this is my biggest pet peeve.  Think about it...would you want to bring your baby to somewhere called Kidz 4ever, or Skool Time?  WOW.  That just screams professional, doesn't it?  A place of education... that doesn't even spell their name correctly?  And it is on purpose?  EEK.  Also, if the world "babysitter" or "daycare" is in their name, look elsewhere.  A quality program will refer to themselves as childcare.

2.) Education of staff.  Do I need to continue?  DO NOT bring your baby somewhere that doesn't value education of their staff.  You need to ask the director of the program, and each teacher that will interact with your baby, what their education level is.  If they haven't made it past high school... or look at you like your question is cray cray, leave. now.  Early childhood is an ever evolving field, with new discoveries being made daily as it relates to your baby... Your baby deserves the best, which starts with the people who will be with your baby everyday.  The first question I asked when visiting programs was education level.  I was looking for either a staff who holds their CDA or AA in early childhood (of course I prefer a BA!), or currently enrolled in a program. 

3.) Staff Retention.  What is the turnover of the staff?  How long have the teachers been in the field of early childhood and working with young children?  The people working with my baby need to be passionate about the field... continuity of care is CRITICAL with our babes (meaning they bond and have the same teacher, consistently.)  In a center with high turnover, that is not going to happen, which will leave your baby lacking a strong bond with their main teacher.  I also ask how long they have/want to be in the Early Childhood field.  I do not want someone watching my baby who is teaching as a job... I want it to be their career. 

4.) Spend at least 3 days in the classroom.  This is important for multiple reasons.  First, you want to help your sweet baby transition (especially if they have never been away from you!).  On day one, you spend a couple hours with your babe in the room.  The next day, perhaps you stay for an hour, and leave for an hour.  The third day, leave your baby for a full 2 hours.  It really helps the transition easier.  I also do this simply because I want to see what the teachers are like, what the dynamic of the classroom is like... are the teachers responsive to the needs of the babies?  What happens when there are two babies crying?  How is the day scheduled? Talk to the teachers... what does your gut tell you?

5.) Accreditation.  Is the program accredited?  Easy as that.  Did you even know that childcare programs can be accredited.  Yep.  They can.  And the quality ones are.  Accreditation holds the childcare program to a standard that is far higher than the others, which means the quality of care is going to be higher.  Period.  And with accreditation comes a higher probability that the staff is educated (or in the process).  Accreditation and the means in which quality is measured differs from state to state, but a good place to start is by asking the director of the program. If they give you a deer in the headlights look, run. fast.  If they start telling you, that's a good sign, but ask them what standards their accreditation requires.  Knowing they are accredited is great... but if you don't know what the accreditation requires, what good does that do you?  NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) is a biggie-- they set the standard for early care in alot of ways.

6.) Go to your local childcare licensing agency.  You can find yours simply by googling "childcare licensing in... (your state)"  Did you know that all licensed programs have visits by them to make sure they are meeting the requirements for licensing?  Any and all infractions, warnings, and penalties are public information and you need to know what they have been warned/written up/fined for.  In Arizona (where I live) I can find the information online about any licensed program in the state.  Anything, from cleaning products not being locked up to major things like child abuse, will be listed. 

7.) What is the teacher to child ratio.  This one is easy... the less children, the more teachers, the better.  In an infant room, I look for nothing more than 1 teacher to 4 babies (which is still high to me...)  I am lucky that my baby is in a room that is 1:3 right now, which is awesome. 

This is a list that is living... meaning I think of new things that I want to share with the mommies out there ALL THE TIME.  I wrote all of these questions, and more, down and did an interview with every center I visited.  And then I compared my notes. That being said, I will continue to share things that may not be top of mind as I think of them. I cannot stress enough how critical quality care is for our children, especially early care.  Hopefully, someone out there will be able to use some of this to help find a great place to help in raising their sweet babies.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

8 Months!

I am pretty sure I start out every monthly update post with the sentence "How is it possible my little baby is already...", but seriously.  How is it possible by sweet baby is already 8 months old?  I am blown away that she has been in our lives for 8 months already... I feel like just yesterday we were on our way to the hospital.  They weren't kidding when they said time flies when you have a little babe. This last month has been one for the record books, I am fairly certain that it can't be topped! Lots of new memories, milestones, and life changes.  Wooosh!

Sleeping?  I am so lucky.  My baby sleeps, like a rock, every night.  Knock on wood. She goes down between 6:30 and 7 pm, and stays asleep til 615-645 am.  We have a solid night time routine which works so well for us, and Ledoux likes the consistency of it, I think it helps her wind down.  Lately, is has been pretty funny... she is so tired by the end of the day, she gets a case of the "sleepy sillys" and just goes ape shit eating her dinner and during bath time. Her new thing? Pretending to eat her baby food at dinner, and then spitting it out, rasberry style (so that it goes squirting EVERYWHERE).  I have given up ever having a clean shirt and pants by the end of the night, and I often wake up the next morning with baby food in my hair.  and on my arms. and legs. and anywhere else she may have blown it.

Eating? She is becoming less and less interested in bottles, and more and more interested in actual food!  I got her the size 3 nipples for her baby bottles, so the milk flow is quicker, because she gets very un-interested in it very fast.  She would much rather be 1.) Playing or 2.) eating real food.  She eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday now- so that might also be the reason the bottles aren't as exciting as the used to be.  She is getting fuller, faster, on baby food and has less need for a bottle maybe?  She also started eating snacks this week- her favorites are baby mum mums (rice cracker things) and yogurt melts.  I am terrified she will choke, but she has to learn sooner or later!  In school, there is a little girl who is older than Ledoux, and eats "big kid" lunches, and Ledoux has started trying to take her food, (straight up mean girl style!) soooo I suppose it is time to start letting her try it out.  Judging by the picture below, Ledoux has no issues with eating.
So full

Health?  No problem-os.  She hasn't had any colds or anything... healthy little baby :)

Likes?  Ledoux loves strawberries in her little munchkin feeder (a little mesh bag).  She loves her new, big girl car seat because she can see everything that is going on, and just talks up a storm in the car now.  She also loves Target.  No, seriously.  As soon as she sees that big, red cart her legs start kicking like crazy! (like mommy, like baby) When I am bored and she is getting stir crazy ,we like to go there and it will keep her occupied for an hour, just walking the aisles and people watching.  Her other new favorite thing to do is stand up...she kind of reminds me of one of those meerkats at the zoo- you know, those animals that are always standing up, looking around?

Dislikes? Old men with glasses.  If an older man with glasses walks up and talks to her, she will start screaming. She also hates the vacuum.  I think it is the loud noise, poor baby gets so scared and just screams!
Passed out in her new big girl seat!

Milestones: What a month for my baby!!!! She is crawling. all over the place.  everywhere.  Oh my goodness its like trying to wrangle in a greased little piggy! The minute I put her down, she is on the other side of the room.  I cannot leave her alone for more than half a second without her getting into something.  And she has also started pulling herself up, so not only is she crawling across the floor, but pulling herself up on to everything.  I always said I hated the newborn stage, because they didn't do anything... and now I am wishing I could go back in time.  I am exhausted at the end of the day.  Time to baby proof everything, and get a baby corral for my little animal!  Ledoux also started sitting in her new, big girl car seat.  I wasn't ready to make the transition (mostly because it means my baby really is big enough to move up to a bigger seat!), but her little piggys were falling out of the newborn/infant seat.  Tear!

How are mommy and daddy?  Daddy is pretty much a big deal at work, already getting promoted (in less than 5 months!)  He is doing so well at his new job, and loving it!  We are so lucky to have gotten out of the Military, and already have Lee doing so great in a civilian career!  We also just bought a house!!  We are so excited, and are knee deep in the move-in process.  In fact, right now, we have the entire house being painted, pool fence being installed, and furniture being delivered.  We sold pretty much all of our old furniture, and bought all new, nice stuff!  It feels so fun to be starting over! Our goal is to be 100% moved in this weekend. Some of our fave features of the new house include an intercom system (so we can talk to each other by pressing a button from any room in the house) and it also blares music throughout the house and outside (but you can turn off the music in every room, so if Ledoux is napping, we can turn it off in her room.)  We also are in LOVE with the laundry shoot (mostly because I think it is fun to throw stuff down it!) the outdoor fans.  But....above all of this... my most favorite room?  The guest bathroom is a chalkboard bathroom.  Perhaps it is a bit silly, but what house have you ever been in that has a guest bathroom that is chalkboard walls?  SO EXCITED.  I will post pictures once I am done with it, but it is going to blow your mind.  And if it doesn't, than you clearly are no fun at all!

Cheers from our desert oasis!

We are also getting excited to meet all of the new babies that are arriving soon- we know so many people who are having little babes this summer!  Here is a picture of Ledoux and her soon to be BFF, Aubrey Ryan!
A 4-d pic of Doo's soon to be BFF Aubrey!

Next weekend will be Ledoux's very first airplane trip to Texas to meet all of her family there!  Slightly nervous about flying (and packing!) with a baby, but we are excited to introduce her to everyone!  Keep an eye out for posts about that upcoming adventure, I can see posts about how to (and how not to) travel with babies in the future! Any advice any mommies have for us?!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Surviving the first 6 weeks of mommy-hood!

Holy Canoli...never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be writing a post about mommy anything... much less how to survive it!  That being said, I had a total mommy meltdown this morning after bringing Ledoux to school...her teacher, Miss Heather, mentioned that she thought Doodle was ready to start eating more solids (as in actual solids...not the mushy baby food stuff!) and I realized, holy shit balls batman, my baby is not a "baby" anymore... she is almost a toddler. Where the heck did the time go?  I was that mom... eyes tearing up, not ready to accept the fact that my baby was getting to big. (Oh, and then tonight, she crawled.  I don't want to talk about it yet... I will cry!)

So all of this reminded me that ALL of our close friends are having babies. soon.  Let's do the count: 4 of my closest girl friends, 3 of which are due within 2 weeks of each other (and within one week, give or take, from Doo's first birthday), Lee's younger brother and his wifey, Lee's best friend... That right there is 6 new babies coming into this world.  All within 3 weeks.  Let's not even start speculating about what they were all doing around the same time...(obvi!)  Clearly, I cannot wait to have yet another excuse to troll the baby gap aisles for newborn baby clothes (as if I needed an excuse!) and start the arranged marriages between them all,  but even more than that, I have really enjoyed being the go-to know it all when it comes to babies.  (WHAT?? If you knew me pre-baby, you would understand how shocking this really is!)  Those first few weeks were rough, hell, the first few months were rough... so I thought it fitting to write a post about some of the things I wish I would have known in those first 6 weeks.  So here it goes... perhaps this will help all of the mommies to be :)

1. Think of the first 3 months as your 4th trimester- think of it this way: this is your 4th trimester. Your little baby knows nothing about this world, and is brand new. It is up to you to transition them to this crazy world... and it cannot be done overnight. Make the environment for your baby as "womb friendly" as possible, meaning swaddle them (the tighter, the better!), sway them, "swoosh" at them (make the swooshing sound) and use a white noise machine. As your baby adjusts to the outside, you will do less and less of these things. You are attached (literally, in some cases) to this little baby 24/7, so although the baby is now outside of your body, your job is far from over.

2. Share your feelings!- You will compare yourself to every other mommy out there.  And you will read baby blogs and stories and will think to yourself "How am I such a hot mess, and they are so perfect?" Don't get it twisted girlies, those people do not have it all together.  We all go through the same things, so be open about it!  You will find comfort in opening up, and seeing that others will too.

3. Shower Daily- Serious.  Just for a minute.  You will feel better.

4. Baby blues are real. You are exhausted, you are emotional (hellooooo hormones!), you are adapting to a new life, and as the mommy- you are the babe's main life line.  You feel huge, un-attractive, and sometimes a bit like a milking cow.  Um Hello! Who wouldn't have the baby blues?  Its ok.  I cried everyday. For 3 weeks. It is completely overwhelming.  Trust me, it will get better, and if it doesn't, tell your doctor! They can help you get back to your normal self.

5. Welcome help: You cannot do everything with baby, and cook, clean, etc. If someone offers to help, let them help.  And if someone doesn't offer to help, ask them to. This is not the time to have the "I can do it all" attitude.  You need to rest.  When baby sleeps, mommy sleeps.  I thought I would be able to do it all- until I came home from the hospital and realized it was impossible.  I am so thankful that I had a supportive hubby to play Mr. Mom... but if you don't have that same situation, find someone who can support and help you. 

6. Make meals before hand :  This is some of the best advice ever.  Take the time now, while you are in full on nesting mode, to make food and freeze eat.  Think lasagnas, enchiladas, etc.  You can easily pop it in the oven and eat a home made meal, in no time flat.

7. If you need to cry, cry! Nothing is better then sitting in the shower, let the water hit your back, and crying.

8. Nap when baby naps. My friend Andi gave me to best advice ever: think of your sleep as power naps.  Throw your idea of sleep out the window (no more 8+ hours a night for a while, sorry...)but instead, think of your your sleep as power napping.  You take the naps when your baby sleeps.  If baby falls asleep, turn off the tv and the phone, and do the same.  Your only focus is baby, and you simply cannot be the best mommy you can be if you aren't well rested.

9. Walk away- You are not a bad mommy if you have to take what I call a mental health break. If you have done everything in your power (your baby is clean, fed, changed, swaddled, and still crying) and you are at your breaking point, put him/her in a safe place and walk away. Regroup, find yourself, and go back.  I did this more than once... even just having 30 seconds to regroup was helpful.  If you have help, have them step in so you can take a moment and have a break.  You are not a bad mommy!

10. Breast Feeding is HARD- Breast feeding is hard work and typically does not happen naturally and requires alot of planning, trying, and frustration. Is it best for your baby?  Yes. But please Mommy's, don't get down on yourself if you find that you have to supplement.  Heck, some Mommy's have to do formula exclusively.  No one out there knows what is best for YOUR baby but you.  I had a low supply, and beat myself up about the fact that I couldn't make enough milk for my  baby.  And then I realized, I was sressing out and beating myself up about not being able to feed her the way I wanted to... key word being "I"... so because I wanted it to go one way, my baby wasn't eating enough.  How in the heck does that make any sense? so what did I do? I supplemented with formula.  At the end of the day, I have a healthy, happy baby, and I was a mommy who wasn't stressed out and beating myself up at every feeding.  There is nothing I hate more than people who make you feel bad about deciding how you will feed your baby.  Trust me, everyone has an opinion (most pro-BFing), but it is soooo not the end of the world if it doesn't work out for you.

11. Burp often- easily stated.  Burp them, it will get the gas and air bubbles out and help prevent colic and babies that have upset little tummies.  Which translates in you not having a screaming baby.

12. Keep Snacks, Magazines, and your DVR close by- nursing is a FULL time job. When you breast feed your baby it will feel like it is a never ending task. My baby was a comfort sucker, and every night, like clockwork, starting at 6pm, she would nurse FOR HOURS.  That isn't an exaggeration.  Also, remember that baby goes from the time the feeding was started not the end time of the feeding (which means she start at 1 pm, you end at 2 pm, and baby is ready again at 3 pm). Keeping things within reach before your feeding session is started will make breast feeding much easier. 

13. Keep those Maternity Clothes! 2 reasons: first of all, your skinny pre-baby jeans are not going to fit... don't depress yourself with trying.  And two, you want to be comfortable... and there is nothing more comfy then maternity clothes. period.  I may or may not still wear my maternity leggings and tank tops sometimes.  :)

14.) It gets better.  I remember thinking to myself, what is so great about this?  All my baby does is cry, eat, and poop.  I do not see the magic in this baby stuff.  And slowly, but surely, Ledoux started growing up and showing her personality.  And playing.  And smiling.  And now, looking back, all I can say is trust me... if you don't love it yet, thats ok.  You will.  It will come!

And just a reminder, time goes by so fast...cherish every moment (as hard as it can be at 3 am when your baby is screaming.)  Trust me, it gets better! So much better! And yes, baby will eventually start sleeping through the night :)  Here are two pics that proove how fast time flies.  Ledoux's first bath at 7 days old, and a bath last week.  What a change!

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Friday, April 5, 2013


We bought a house!  EEEEEEEEK!   
Signing his life away, 150 pages later...
Ever since we moved to Tucson in November, we knew our goal was to buy a house, our FIRST house. ASAP. I was sick of renting...after spending all of our relationship and marriage in the Military, this was our first chance to actually be in a position that we could buy.  And we were sooooo excited! ...but we had to secure jobs, save money, ladi-da-di-da... you know how it goes.  Patience isn't exactly a strong point of mine, at all! I had no clue that buying a home would require so much- it got to the point that I was certain they were going to ask for blood samples, our first born child, a complete family history of disease... ok maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously! After putting in our first 3 offers (2 of which were offers above the asking price) and getting out-offered each time, we got pretty discouraged. 
And then, we walked in this house.  And fell in love. And finally, after what seems like forever, we are done.  And it is OUR house. We got everything we wanted, from size to location, even a pool...and we have just under an acre of land (what the heck are we going to do with an acre of cactus!?)  It is super secluded, which Lee and I love, and was a must for us.  No neighbors close by, no traffic noise, just our own piece of the world that we can enjoy.

And I am not going to lie, our backyard kind of screams "Party!" So I foresee alot of very fun Saturday afternoons out by the pool.

We are actually really excited to start the process of making this house our home. Our first thing on the agenda is starting with paint colors!  Our plan for this weekend?  A couple gallons of paint, some beer, and a lot of work!  We have the whole month of April to move out of our current place, and into our new place, so we are excited to be able to take our time and not have to rush. 

And, being the crazy mom that I am, here is a pic of my sweet, confused looking baby this morning... I am pretty sure she is saying "so you are telling me we have to move again? This will be my third house in 8 months!"  Well, yes baby, I am.  But this will be the last time, for a long time.  I promise :)

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yep, I am totally a mom now!

OK, ok... Obvi I know I am a mommy.  My sweet baby girl, who has decided she likes to wake up bright and early at 5 am to start her day, reminds me of that every morning. (Seriously baby, 5 am?) Ugh.  Anyway, so many things have happened this week that have really put life in perspective, and the choices I make no longer benefit me (or have much to do with me), but rather... are all about her. 

-I know I am mommy now because 6:30 am is sleeping in.  Pre baby, there is no way my butt was out of bed before 8 am... and that was early for me.  Wow, gone are those days!

-I know I am mommy because I had 2 tickets to George Strait's final concert this weekend.  Paid BIG money for them before Ledoux was born, thinking then that by the time she was 8 months old, we would feel comfortable leaving her for a full weekend.  Hell to the no.  After days of it weighing on me, I realized I wasn't ready to leave her for a full weekend.  So I sold my coveted tickets to the highest bidder, and will instead be spending my weekend buying a washer/dryer at Sears. WOW.  If that isn't the sign of life changes, I don't know what is.

-When I go to the mall, I make a bee-line to Baby Gap and Baby H&M.  I really could care less (most of the time) to even look at stuff for myself.  My impulse shopping buys are for her.  I kind of think of her as my favorite little accessory.

-Would I rather go out for a night on the town, or stay home with a glass of wine, making baby bows? Hands down, baby bows.  I take so much pride knowing my baby has the cutest bows to match every. single. outfit. I'm not kidding.  In the mornings, I actually spend 20 minutes making her a matching bow, before we leave the house.  I'm officially obsessed.  And if you saw how many bows my baby had, you would die.  Either because you would love it.  Or think I am crazy.  To each their own.

-My workouts now go something like this: Baby is sleeping.  Run as fast as I can until she wakes up.  30 minutes later, shes awake, and I am done.  No more 90 minute workouts for this girl.  If I can pencil in 30 minutes on the treadmill, its a win!

-I get anxiety if I am away from my baby for more than 6-8 hours.  Being at work is so hard, knowing that I could be at home, playing with my baby. 

-Speaking of work, it used to be my #1 priority, above all else.  I worked in the morning. in the afternoon. at night. on the weekends.  No work life balance.  Now, although important, it is not my main priority.  My baby and hubby are.  Family is forever, jobs? Not so much.  I'd rather die someday knowing I have my family, rather than a job that took me away from them. 

-I look at my dream car (the CLS550) and now think, "How the hell would a stroller fit in that? And my dipey bag? And a car seat?"  Gosh, so much for me driving that car.  It will have to be my mid-life crisis car.  If I ever have millions of dollars.  I never thought I would see the day I choose function over a car.  (Don't get it twisted, other areas of my life are still style all the way!)

-My wine if my lifeline.  Enough said about this.

-I love it when my baby poops.  Ok, let me clarify.  I don't love poop at all.  But I pay close attention to when, and what it looks like, when she does.  If your not a mom yet, you probably think this is disgusting.  Just you wait.  I am no longer afraid of any bodily fluid.  Seriously.

-And finally, I know I am a mommy because although I love to look super cute, if I have a stain on my shirt of spit up on my pants...its not that serious.  I am not going to freak out and change my clothes right away.  Let's face it, its going to happen again, multiple tines, today.  Clean clothes are a thing of the past.

I am sure I could continue this list forever, but I think you get the point.  I am a mommy.  And I love everything that word means.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Activities with babies! This week... MUSIC!

Ok, I don't know about you, but sometimes I find myself twiddling my thumbs and thinking to myself, is there cheaper and more meaningful way to help my baby learn (and by learn, I mean learning through play!) I have all the fun (and sometimes, expensive) toys, I interact with her daily, but is there more? (and if I can do more and cheaper...bonus!)  I am always seeking out new activities to do with our sweet little ones, that are not only FUN, but also teaching and enhancing their development! (And they don't cost a ton of money!)

Yes- this is my babe's new favorite toy.

This week, it's all about music!  All you need are the things you already have around your home!  We all have empty soda cans, formula tins, extra bottles, plastic water bottles, etc. laying around the house (and if you don't, you will eventually, right?!)  I bet you also have a bag of dried beans, dried pasta/rice, or random paperclips from your office.  Here is the thing, infants just LOVE noises- they observe noises, they make noises, they are soaking it all in.  So why not make music with your baby?  Ok... I am not talking about singing Kumbaya (but if thats your thang, go for it!), or doing a recording session.  It is so much more simple than that!  Ready? Set? Go...!
Take your empty tubes and fill them with different things.  I filled a baby food jar with rice (and hot glued the lid on it!), a water bottle with a quarter of the water in it and added jingle bells (that I had from Christmas time!) and a baby bottle that I don't use filled with dried kidney beans from our cupboard.  Ledoux LOVED it!  She had so much fun playing with the new noises, and banging the tubes against the floor.  Of course, with anything, make sure you keep an eye on your babe at all times while they are playing (you don't want your 'instruments' to come open!)  I double triple made sure the containers I used were secure (you can't have too much duct tape and hot glue!) and was on the floor playing with her the whole time.

Sooooo now that you have your fabulous instruments constructed, what now?  Try doing these things with it:

  • Shake it (like a salt shaker).. Ok, sorry for the musical reference.  I couldn't help myself :)  But seriously, shake it with your babe and different speeds!
  • Roll it: roll it on the floor, down an incline, help your baby discover all the different ways to play with it!
  • Drum it: exactly what it sounds like!
  • Play "copy the sounds!" You make a sound, and then encourage your baby to make the same sounds/beats/shakes
  • Have a DANCE PARTY! Ledoux isn't walking or talking yet, but that doesn't stop me from making lots of noise and dancing with her!  Blast some music, shake your instruments (and your bum!) and have some fun... Not gonna lie, I kinda want to have a dance party right now. (I still can't get the shake it like a salt shaker song out of my head...!)  I think Ledoux and I might have to pull that one up on the Ipod and dance to it with our shakers now! 
Oh- and on a totally random and unrelated note, I wanted to share some advice with all of the mamas out there... Don't ever put you babe in arms reach of a wine bottle.  Your welcome. :)

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