Matt and I don’t always see eye to eye on decor. For one, he has this weird obsession with themes. Personally, I think the vast majority of themed rooms are poorly executed, but I do love touches of bizarre and whimsical.
So when I found this rug, I wasn’t terribly surprised that he had some objections. One of them being that he didn’t think it “went with the room” (“the room” being our study/guest room/everything room… that hasn’t gotten a formal design plan yet…).
Matt: We’d need to replace the album covers with a… thingy… a wheel.
Me: A wheel?
Matt: Yeah, a ship’s wheel. And an anchor. And you’d need to get. a peg leg.
Me: Me? Why me?
Matt: Because you’re the one who wants the rug!
I still really want to find a place in my house for this rug…
Wesley the Crusher is now 11 months old! He’s 24lbs, has 2 teeth (and is working on 2 more), and has almost discovered his knees. He still mostly drags himself around like a walrus, but occasionally we see him move a few feet on all fours. He’s pulling himself up on everything, whether it’s stable or not, and super curious. Luckily for the cats he’s also (gradually) getting more gentle with them.
Poor little guy also just got his first significant illness. He’s had a few colds, and a mild case of croup, but this time he has something that’s really taken a tole on him. It’s pretty scary for the parents when your baby’s temperature climbs to 105, but our pediatrician said that babies tend to run a little hotter, so while it’s definitely a significant fever, it’s not an oh-my-god-my-baby-is-dying fever. The doctor thinks it might be Hand Foot and Mouth since he had a couple red spots on his feet. The spots haven’t spread at all though, so who knows. Either way, he’s doing MUCH better today, but still exhausted.
Traveling With Baby
Over Memorial Day we took Wesley on his first plane trip, fittingly enough, to North Carolina. It was actually a great choice for a first flight because it was 1) fairly short (2 hours in the air), 2) a direct flight, and 3) we were visiting family and they had a bunch of extra baby gear so there was less big stuff we had to lug. We’ll be doing a more intense trip later in the summer, but after this one I’m feeling pretty optimistic.
We got the Summer Infant 3D Lite stroller a couple months ago. Our travel system stroller was way too bulky to be convenient and we knew we’d be navigating airports in the near future. You can get super-cheap umbrella strollers, but the 3D Lite had some great features without being super pricey. We’ve been using it as our everyday stroller, but it small/light enough to work well in airports too.
1) It’s tall enough for parents. This is a common complaint when I was reading reviews of umbrella strollers–unless you’re super-petite the handles tend to be uncomfortably low. This does mean that it’s larger than a lot of other umbrella stroller and it barely fits in the trunk of my Chevy Sonic…but it does fit and all the other features make it totally worth it.
2) Storage! The 3D Lite has a generous basket underneath which I find to be incredibly useful.
4) Sun shade. While it won’t protect your baby from everything, it’s better than nothing for sure!
5) Recline options. The 3D Lite has multiple recline options, and can go almost horizontal, which is awesome if you need some nap time on the go.
Other useful things:
Sticky place mats for eating out (these are way classier, but personally I couldn’t justify the price difference for something that’s designed to be spilled on and thrown out)
Sippy cup/bottle tethers (If your cups have handles, you can just use toy tethers, but ones like these have a non-slip grip designed for bottles)
First aid kit (I already keep one in my diaper bag with some bandaids, and neosporin, for trips I add hyrdrocortisone, a thermometer, and infant Tylenol)
Alcohol wipes (good for cleaning off baby utensils on the go)
Gate check bag(s) (for stroller/car seat). This one worked ok for our stroller, but already has a small rip. At some point I may just take it apart to use as a pattern and make my own.
Mini bottle of dish soap
Travel bottle brush (we use the Como Tomo bottles which have a really wide neck so we didn’t need this, but depending on your bottle style it might be useful)
Depending on where you’re located, this won’t always be an option. If you have the option to fly non-stop DO IT. There will be fewer pressure changes for baby, and less hassle of hauling all your crap around an airport.
Condense your Baggage
When it was just me and Matt flying, we’d travel with 2 carry-on suitcases + my purse. Easy-peasy. This time around we knew we were going to have to check luggage. We had 1 medium-sized suitcase we packed for everyone (rather than individual suitcases for each traveler). This not only cut down on baggage fees, but allowed us more free hands. Just keep in mind, airlines tend to charge an extra fee if your bag exceeds a certain weight so if you pack heavy, weigh your bag and check policies beforehand.
In addition to our checked bag, I also packed an emergency carry-on suitcase. This was basically the everything-goes-wrong-and-holy-shit-now-it’s-the-zombie-apocalypse bag. I had a couple changes of clothes for Wesley (in addition to the back-up outfits in my diaper bag), one change of clothes for me and Matt (because babies tend to poop on you at the most inconvenient times), a 2 day supply of diapers, and extra formula.* Once we checked our bag we were left with one carry-on suitcase, a diaper bag, my purse, and a stroller. Strollers and car seats are typically exempt from baggage limits, but always check your airline’s policies.
You Don’t Need it All
If you’re going to visit family/friends, check with them ahead of time to see if they have (or can borrow) larger baby items–car seat, pack-n-play, highchair/booster. If you’re not, check with your rental car company to see if they also rent car seats, and check with your hotel to see if they provide cribs. Even if things cost a bit extra, it may be worth your sanity to not have to lug EVERYTHING around with you.
If you do need to Bring All the Things, you may want to invest in some travel-specific gear (which may not be worth it unless you’re a frequent traveler). The Cosco Scenera seems to be a popular choice for travel since it’s FAA rated (so you can use it on the plane), it’s lightweight (about 10lbs), and fairly easy to install. You can also get things that let you strap the car seat to your luggage, or convert it into a stroller. If you think you’ll need a highchair (like if you’re staying in an Air BNB, or with non-baby family/friends), I’m personally eying this one for our next trip. It’s inexpensive, condenses pretty darn flat, and still provides a boost to get baby at the right table height.
*Which promptly got my bag flagged by security because I was traveling with a large box of powder. They just had to run some magic swab over the box and we were good to go.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know we just got back from (almost) a week in Raleigh, NC. Matt’s brother lives out there so we decided to take a relaxing Memorial Day vacation. Crazily enough it was also cooler in NC than in MN so we lucked out and beat the crazy 100 degree heat wave in St Paul.
It wasn’t the world’s most exciting vacation, but it was relaxing which is possibly even better. Wesley got to spend some time with his cousins (ages 6 and 3) and had a blast. Matt and I got to chill poolside with Moscow Mules,* so it was really a win-win.
Wesley got to go “swimming” (read: floating) for the first time. He was a little concerned at first, then fell asleep in his float.
We saw a Balloon Fest sans balloons (too windy).
Walks were had.
Barbecue was eaten.
Museums were explored.
And I was massively jealous of all the magnolia trees.
*Ok, that was really just me and the in-laws. Matt is pretty convinced that the only mixed drink worth having is a G&T.
First of all, Happy Mothers Day to all the mother, grandmothers, step-mothers, and mothers-to-be out there. You are all AMAZING.
A lot has happened in the last month! Our little chunker has continued to grow and finally has teeth (2, with more on the way)! And is mobile! He’s not exactly “crawling,” but he is dragging himself across the floor with determination.* One of the daycare teachers compared him to a seal. We’re not quite sure if he will ever actually discover he has knees or not. He’s also (just in the last few days) figured out how to sit up on his own. He’ll be on his belly, push himself onto his hands, walk his back legs forward so his butt is way up in the air, then tip it to one side and push off with his hands so he’ll fall back and hopefully land on his bum. It’s quite the production but he does seem to be getting slighting more efficient at that at least.
A while back I did a round-up of my favorite IKEA staples. Now here’s another for the parents.
I love these bibs! Compact, wipeable, machine washable (air dry), and dirt cheap. Even our daycare uses these. We have some Bumpkins bibs too and while the crumb-catcher pocket is nice, these ones are a great travel backup since I don’t have to worry about losing them.
This is just an IKEA classic! The moose is pretty darn cute on it’s own, but this sheep hack for it? There are no other words than “totes adorbs.” If you’re feeling nerdy and creative I think you could totally hack it into a unicorn or dragon too.
I never had a giant wooden train set growing up, but I loved playing with the ones set up at stores. The LILLABO series makes the tracks much more affordable (although the trains themselves are a little boring). Although they advertise as being compatible with other big-name sets (Brio, Thomas, etc), my research tells me the tracks themselves don’t fit perfectly with other brands. The takeaway is save on the tracks, but splurge on the trains.
IKEA is awesome for kids rugs because most of them are inexpensive enough that your kid can destroy them and no harm, no foul. The have a couple cool play-mat options too.
Spring has finally sprung in MN! One thing people say about the more Northern states is that it’s really nice to have four seasons… what they don’t say is that the four seasons happen all in one week and the rest of the year is half freezing cold and half boiling hot.
We’re reasonably confident that we won’t be getting any more snow, so I started to make some progress on the garden. Last time I talk about about my plans for the back yard, but I actually started with our front yard (probably because it was the smallest section).
We just recently got gutters so I was able to tackle the planting beds in the front of the house.
My first step was marking out the desired shape of the bed and clearing out the grass on the planting side. Then I picked up some inexpensive plastic edging so I could prevent the grass from encroaching again. The edging isn’t too hard to install, but I do recommend letting letting it sit in the sun for a couple hours to soften a bit (it says to do so in the instructions, but I didn’t because I’m impatient). Having a mallet to drive in the stakes is very useful as well (I could get them most of the way by hand, but needed a mallet to finish it).
While I was picking up the edging, I also raided the plant section. The selection wasn’t what I was hoping for (but then, it’s been a looooong winter). I knew I wanted to get a large-ish bush for the corner of the house. I was thinking forsythia, but settled on a Purple Leaf Sand Cherry. Not only does it flower, it also has lovely red-purple leaves so it will add color for most of the year.
Now that I had the red bush, I wanted a few other things for color that wouldn’t clash horribly. I settled on Eureka Bronze Leaf Begonia (annual–purpley leaves, white flowers), Chelsey Coral mums (annual–coral-pink flowers), Vista Red and White Salvia (white to pinkish-red flowers), Wine and Roses Gladiolus (pinky/purple/burgundy flowers), and some Snow-in-Summer (ground-cover, silvery green leaves, white flowers). I already had some white hydrangeas; they’re still in their early stages but they should fill out nicely against the house over time.
I planned by layout by separating the individual plantings and placing them before actually digging any holes. This helps you get a better idea of the final look… especially if you’re like me and can’t visualize gardening to save your life. I’ve been watching a couple gardening shows on Netflix and the best advice (for me anyway) was to not think about it as gardening, but to think about it as an art installation, or (in my case) a design-build project. I pay attention to the light requirements and the estimated heights and then I rely on the basic design principals in the same way I would for an interior project.
And then I cross my fingers and pray nothing dies off immediately.
I did manage to get everything dug in this weekend. Like I mentioned earlier, I still need to thin out of the lilies on the left and I have a sedum I want to migrate, but after all the other work I was spent.
It doesn’t look like much yet. Over time I plan to work in more perennials, but I’d like to see how the more dominant plants fill over time before I make more permanent additions.
Matt has plans to re-build the front steps, probably some time this summer, which should also increase our curb appeal. I’m also anxiously awaiting the day we decide to repaint/reside the house–getting rid of the drab brown should drastically increase our curb appeal!
I’m on the hunt for some shade-loving plants for the right side of the house. My quickie online research shows that hydrangeas are shade tolerant, I’m not sure if they’d like quite as much shade as exists under our pine tree (which is less “shade” and more “complete absence of light”). I also need some red/purple/pinky shade plants to balance out some of the color. Any plant-savvy people out there with suggestions for me? I’d love to hear them!
Look who’s 9 months! He’s also 22 1/2 pounds and getting awfully heavy to tote around.
Not much new to report on the baby front. Wesley’s still not crawling (although he’s mastered spinning in circles) and still no teeth (but drooling like crazy and getting a little cranky at times). He’s starting to show a little bit of motivation when it comes to crawling, especially if he sees the cats.
Babies are just perpetual mess makers, aren’t they? They spit up, they poop (sometimes explosively), they don’t know how to wipe their own noses, they mash food into every crevice imaginable… I could go on.
It can see overwhelming dealing with the never-ending flow of bodily excretions, but once you have a routine down it’s really not that bad.
And of course, the general disclaimer before we begin: I am not affiliated with any of the products mentioned. These are all things I’ve found through my own independent research.
Let’s just start at the bottom, shall we? Keeping baby’s tushy clean is necessary from day 1. We had a few assorted sample packs of Huggies and Pampers wipes, but we’ve defaulted to Amazon Elements pretty much from the beginning. They’re free of added fragrances, parabens, dyes, alcohol, phthalates, bronopol, and methylisothiazolinone, but at a much better price point than Water Wipes. We just buy the regular unscented and have never had an issue with skin sensitivity.
Honestly, 9 months out and we have yet to have an issue with diaper rash. Every so often we see a small redish splotch and we’ll just hit it with some diaper cream (we use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, although I’m honestly not a huge fan of the very powdery scent). We also probably change Wesley’s diaper more frequently than we really need to, but hey, if it’s helped prevent uncomfortable diaper rash then I’ll stick with it. (If you’re curious about what kind of diapers we use, we started with Pampers Swaddlers for the first couple months, then switched to Target brand, and his daycare gets their diapers from Costco)
Once you introduce solids, the mess takes on a whole new level! We have this high chair, and while it’s been working out just fine, I would probably switch up my recommendation to a high chair that doesn’t have a cover/detached cushion but rather is fully wipe-able (like this one by Oxo). The cushion on ours is machine washable (but air dry, it does dry fast though), but I’m going to experiment in making something a little lower-maintenance.
Once you give your baby any finger foods they will also instantly realize that these foods can also be dropped on the floor. If you have wood/vinyl/tile floors, this isn’t a huge issue, but we have an area rug in our dining room and didn’t want to be constantly scrubbing ground-in carrot out of it. I picked up this splat-mat which was both well reviewed and one of the cheaper options. I happen to like that it’s just clear vinyl so it doesn’t compete with decor. So far we haven’t had issues with tripping or slipping with it either. The vinyl has a LOT of creases from it being folding during shipment, but I heard you can use a blow-drier to soften them out (it’s on my to-do list)
Ah yes, laundry. The thing everyone warns you about once you add a baby to the mix. Honestly it hasn’t been that big a deal for us–really just an extra load of laundry every week. It does involve some extra stain treatment work though.
When we’re dealing with the aftermath of a blow-out, any casualty clothing items get rinsed out in our utility sink. When I’m ready to do laundry I’ll use a stain treatment spray (OxiClean Max Force has been working well for me so far). I also toss in a scoop of OxiClean laundry booster and use a fragrance/dye free detergent. I use these same products on my own laundry too (although I usually skip the laundry booster), mostly because I hate scented detergents (but who really want a different laundry product for every member of the family?).
For REALLY tough stains, I break out the big guns. You may have already caught on that I’m a bit of an OxiClean fan girl, but seriously, this stuff works really well. If you follow the instructions for a more concentrated soak you’ll be able to remove almost any stain. To whiten your whites (without compromising colors) the OxiClean White Revive is a frickin miracle worker. I use it on our bedding all the time since skin oils make whites get really dingy. It works equally well on spit-up, poop, and beets too.
Spring may have sprung in a lot of places by now, but not in Minnesota.
This is the current state of our yard and no, this isn’t a belated April Fool’s joke.
I am so sick of winter right now. I want sunshine! I want warm weather! I want to actually be able to spend some time outside!
We’ve definitely made progress in our backyard, but it’s still pretty sad. I realize gardening takes time and we’ve had a lot of demo to do, but with the current weather I’m positively itching for an outdoor space I can enjoy.
We should be getting a proper patio poured this summer (hopefully before Wesley’s birthday?). We have an lovely little park just a couple blocks away so we don’t need a to try and cram in a eyesore swing set. My goal for the backyard is to make it geared towards adults, but still child-friendly. I also want something reasonably low-maintenance.
We do have some annoying limitations with our backyard:
Walkway right smack down a middle. Sure we could technically move it, or make it more organic-looking, but unfortunately a straight line is much easier to shovel, so I think it has to stay put.
Lots of shade. This is both a perk and a drawback. On one hand, the shady yard keeps our house cool and keeps makes the Minnesota summers a little more pleasant outside too (because despite current appearances, summers can get pretty boiling here).
I’m kind of an incompetent gardener so I need things are are hard to kill. I’ve already managed to kill off the Bishop’s Weed that came with some plants from our friends’ yard, and that’s supposed to be practically impossible. I’m thinking lots of rocks.
Here are some things I’ve been eyeing for a little inspiration:
I love the mix of planters and in-ground plants. I think it adds some lovely textures (and fills in some space with non-killable things).
This mix of two sitting areas is pretty cute. I’m thinking of having a defined dining section and lounge/fire pit section.
The back corner by our lilac kills off e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. My hostas are sad, my ferns are sad, my transplanted creeping charlie and bishop’s weed remain a few sad little strands… I’m thinking to compensate for the lack of lush plants with rocks and do an alpine-ish style garden over there.
I want to try and cover the back our our garage with a trellis and vines. I also think it would be cool to frame it out with a mini pergola like this.
There’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s definitely not all happening this year. It is fun to daydream about though!
Now, for all the green-thumbs out there: What are your favorite resources for gardening (especially for beginners)? Do you have any Minnesota-hardy (USDA Zone 4b), low-maintenance, shade-tolerant, plant suggestions?
8 months??? Already?! I feel like I just wrote up his 7 month update last week.
He’s still quite the little chunker and has passed the 20lb mark–22lbs 10oz! We just had to retire pretty much all of his 9 month clothes because they were getting too snug. Some of his 12 month clothes ride up over his giant belly already too.
Still no teeth, but the drool is pouring out of this boy! I’ve had to start keeping drool bibs on him so he doesn’t soak through his shirt. No locomotion yet either. I’m not concerned about his disinterest in crawling from a developmental standpoint, but I am anxious to see him moving just because I think it will be fun. I’ve been told to enjoy his immobile phase while it last though.
Even if crawling hasn’t really made his radar, Wesley is showing more and more interest in food. Baby Led Weaning didn’t work out as we planned so he’s still mostly on purees. We do keep offering soft/disolvable foods so he can work on mashing them himself, but he hasn’t quite mastered that yet.
Wesley does really seem to prefer food blends over a single pureed fruit/veg puree. I started picking up pouches by Happy Baby to use as taste tests. If Wesley seems to enjoy the combo then I’ll work on making my own version at home since relying on the pouches can get pretty pricey and making your own baby food is really easy.
The best way to cook food for baby is apparently steaming or roasting. Personally I tend to roast veggies, but steam fruits.
Don’t be afraid of seasonings!* I’ll roast carrots with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some pepper or dill and then puree. I’ll add a dash of cinnamon to an apple/sweet potato blend. Think about what flavors you like in your food, but start off on the mild side
You can make a big batch at once and freeze off portions using an ice cube tray (a standard ice cube tray compartment seems to be approximately 1oz). Once the cubes are frozen I just dump them into a freezer bag, labeled with the type of food and the date made, then defrost as needed.
And a couple of recipes that have been a hit:
Beets & Apples (aka Beeples)
1/2 large beet (or one small beet)
Peel your beet, then wrap in tin foil (with a drizzle of olive oil). Roast until tender.
Peel and chop your apples. Cook on the stove until soft (think applesauce).
Puree beets and apples in a food process. Add a small amount of water if you’d like a thinner consistency.
Oh, and a word of warning if you feed your kid beets. That red color? It goes right through them. So if your baby has purple poop the next day, don’t panic.
Carrots and Strawberries
2 cups carrot (peeled, roughly chopped)
1/2 cup strawberries (roughly chopped)
Toss the carrots with a drizzle of olive oil and roast until tender.
Puree the carrots and strawberries in a food processor, adding water to achieve your desired consistency (I probably added about 1/4 cup).
Apples and Sweet Potatoes (haven’t made this one yet, but trying it tonight!)
1 sweet potato
Cinnamon to taste
Peel your sweet potato, then wrap in tin foil (with a drizzle of olive oil). Roast until tender.
Peel and chop your apples. Cook on the stove until soft (think applesauce).
Puree sweet potatoes and apples in a food process. Add a small amount of water if you’d like a thinner consistency. Blend in a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.
If you take the time to measure out how much applesauce 1 apple makes you can use store-bought (unsweetened) applesauce in its place. Or you can make a big batch of applesauce and divide it out between a couple recipes at once.
I also tried making him British-style mushy peas, but that one kind of flopped. I blamed it on my use of frozen peas so I’ll have to try it again the proper way…maybe with a little mint.
*As always though, check with your pediatrician if you’re unsure about what is appropriate to introduce when.
We’ve officially started work on our bedroom makeover!* It’s slow goings, because baby, but I got one whole wall painted the other weekend! Whoohoo! A wall!
The bedroom plan was to have a dramatic, dark accent wall behind the bed, so I decided to start there.
Gorgeous, no? The color is Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray… although don’t be fooled by the name because it is decidedly greenish-blue.
I painted the baseboard along that wall at the same time (yup, white trim EVERYWHERE) so we could shove our bed back into place. I’ll probably be tackling one wall at a time so it will look pretty hodge-podgey for a while. I’m also going to wait until spring to paint the radiator because I really want to be able to open windows for that!
I had hoped to make some more progress by now, but cold and flu season took a pretty nasty toll on me, so it’s been sitting like this for a few weeks. We do have a headboard up now too, so those pictures (and tutorial) will be coming soon!
*Although, is it really a makeover if it wasn’t really “made” in the first place?
Ufff… we’re finally starting to slow down on the weight front! At 7 months Wesley is still hovering under the 20lb mark at 19lbs and 10oz. He seems to have finally fought off the persistent Daycare Cold and also managed to pass Hand Foot and Mouth to me without actually getting it himself. Yay?
Wesley is still an amazingly chill little boy! He’s been doing great at daycare and is a very happy boy at home too. The cats have really started to catch his eye, and it is SO cute to watch his face light up when Schmutz walks up to him (Mort is a bit more cautious and I can’t say I blame him… especially after Wesley started chewing on his tail when it got within reach). Wesley is also a lazy little boy so he doesn’t seem to have a lot of motivation to crawl yet, but I’m sure it will happen eventually. Usually when we put him on his tummy he just sprawls dramatically and makes pathetic noises.
Wesley actually has 2 different jumpers. The one they have at daycare is one of the ginormous, super-springy ones and he adores it! We got this one (which has a smaller footprint) for at home. He really likes all the toys on it and has just figured out how to get some spring out of it. He definitely bounces much more at daycare though.
This Batman teether constantly saves the day! Almost anytime he gets fussy, handing him this will stop the crying. Batman fixes everything.
I have never gotten so many belly laughs out this boy than when we’re playing with this caterpillar. He loves the big cartoon-y eyes and all the different textures. The velcro is pretty darn strong right out of the box, so he’s not strong enough to pull it apart yet, but he’ll get there.
Matt really wanted to get him So Many Stars, illustrated by Andy Warhol and it looks like we’re on our way to raising a little art snob. The text may leave a little something to be desired, but this may be Wesley’s favorite book illustration-wise.
Introducing him to foods has been going slowly. He seems to really like fruits, but isn’t so sure about veggies yet (oh, and if you’re wondering how the Baby Led Weaning is going, he actually does WAY better with purees…we still offer him “mashable” foods periodically though). His absolute favorite food seems to be this Happy Baby yogurt. Now, I’m not even remotely a “crunchy” mom. “Organic” carries very little weight me and I don’t actually believe GMOs are going to destroy us all.* What I do love about this brand though is that there is no added sugar (or sugar substitute!) in the yogurt. Where’s my adult-sized no-added-sugar yogurt???? Bonus: Wesley likes the banana-sweet potato flavor (although the peach-mango seems to be his fav) so we’re able to sneak in some veggies. Boo-ya!