Wednesday, August 13, 2014

1 Suitcase • 3 People • 11 Days

I've mentioned before how I love to make packing lists, and how said packing lists are very different now that we have a kid. Over the last few trips, I have finally figured out how not to overpack, and for our last two flying trips, we have brought only one suitcase, a carry on size. Before we left for Colorado last month, I took pictures of exactly what I packed so that I could remember for future reference. And since I LOVE reading about what other people pack, I thought I would share it here. (I actually do love reading about it, I wasn't being sarcastic. See some of my all time favorite packing posts here, here, and here.)

A few caveats:
• We did laundry once, which meant we didn't have to pack as much as we would have had to if we hadn't had access to laundry.
• We have a child who requires a car seat, and carseats check for free. If you use a zippered car seat bag, there is room in there with the seat to shove a package of diapers or a packing cube or both. We have never had a problem doing this, and we always put baby stuff in there. We also always have extra space in our backpacks that we could shove those into if someone got weird about it. 

What you see in this picture is everything we brought! The orange packing cube peeking out of my duffel is the "diaper bag" and has diapers and wipes. Since Nash is out of the baby phase, we just needed that and some snacks. And I have a medium sized purse that easily fits in the duffel too.

Our gear:
(Basically everything but the backpack was gifted to us by my parents over various holidays. Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
• Lots and lots of packing cubes of various sizes. Most of them are medium and large E-Bags.
Vera Bradley Grand Traveler (the color I have isn't available anymore)
• REI Daypack (similar one here)
Babies R Us Car Seat Bag (This one has fit both our infant car seat and the convertible one that he is in now, just not at the same time.)

And now, what we brought. The pics are self-explanatory... Because I put words on them.

So there you have it. One suitcase for the entire little family. We aren't packing experts, but we're getting better!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How I Fed My Baby

um, this is about breastfeeding. so don't read this if you don't want to read about that. ok? I don't even say the word nipple though, so it's not that bad. except for just then. that's the only time, I swear...

Have you noticed that it's world breastfeeding week? I have seen no fewer that twenty posts about it over the last few days. Often people accompany their breastfeeding pictures with sentiments like, "The best feeling in the world!" or "It was such hard work, but so glad we stuck with it!" or "Giving my baby the food she was meant to eat!" I'm totally not bashing these women, that's great! It's the way nature intended, but it just didn't work for me.

This is a story I've been wanting to share for a while, and I guess seeing all these pictures of people breastfeeding made me actually do it. Because it is hard, and sometimes no matter how you work at it, it just doesn't happen. So in honor of world breastfeeding week, I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey, or lack there of. If you have had a similar journey, I hope you know that you aren't alone.

This picture is from the day Nash was born. The first time he ever ate. (Can you tell I had just been in labor for 100 years?)

That first day he was super tired, but his nursing was ok. The second day it was totally fine, and we were discharged. He was a champion little eater. It still totally hurt, but it does for everyone at first. When Nash was three days old, we had a mandatory appointment with a lactation nurse. They do this thing where they weigh the baby before and after they eat, and he got about an ounce and a half of milk during the 30 minute feeding. My milk had come in and I hadn't even realized it! I didn't even leak! (That was red flag number one.) Apparently 1.5 ounces for a few day old baby was just fine, and at his 10 day pediatrician appointment, he was back to his birthweight.

The first two weeks were great. He seemed to be really awake during the day compared to other newborns, but he ate well all day long, so he slept well at night. After the first week, he would usually sleep a 5-6 hour stretch followed by a 3-4 hour stretch.

It was right around the 2-3 week mark that things started getting crazy. He had a growth spurt and ate literally every 60-90 minutes for a couple of days. After that, eating time was fussy time. (That was red flag number two.) He would pull away and scream after eating for a minute, so we would switch sides, he would eat for another minute, scream, and on and on. Naps became non-existent, and after his night feeding, it would take 60-90 minutes of him screaming, and me or Mike rocking to get him back to sleep.

This was basically what my entire day was like for the next two months. Just screaming.

The only naps that were taken were in a carrier. And we couldn't sit down. He had to be in the carrier and moving.

Since he wouldn't nap and he fussed when eating, we thought maybe he had reflux. We tried medication for a few weeks, but there was no difference.

My mom came to visit when he was 8 weeks old, and she sort of suspected that he just wasn't getting enough milk. One night (after cluster feeding and bedtime feeding) Nash wouldn't settle down, so we decided to try giving him a bottle of formula just to see. He ate 5 ounces, which is a TON, especially since he had finished all of his feedings for the day so he should theoretically be full. For some reason I still didn't really believe he was starving, so I figured I would see what his weight was at his 2 month check-up a few days later, and we kept giving him a little bottle of formula at bedtime just in case.

The confirmation came when Nash's weight had dropped from the 75th percentile at birth to the 25th percentile at two months. I was convinced.

I went to the lactation center at the hospital the next day. A baby of his weight should have been getting 4 oz a feeding. They did the weighing thing before and after a feeding, and he was only getting ONE OUNCE! Yikes. That was a real punch in the gut. The nurse I met with that day was kind of militant, and she said that in addition to Nash sleeping so well at night, giving him a bottle the last 4 days made my supply drop. Ok... She prescribed a strict regimen that would get my supply up, all I had to do was put forth some effort. She also wanted me to talk to my OB about prescribing me a heart medication, because in some people this heart medicine has a weird milk increasing side effect. When she said that most OBs won't prescribe it (you know, since it's a HEART medication), I was like, "Um, nope." But I had the rest of her regimen in hand. The next 3 weeks were a nightmare.

I had to nurse like normal (which basically was a lot of fussing and screaming because there wasn't enough), then offer a bottle of formula so that he would get full. Then I had to pump to try to increase my milk supply. THEN, since Nash was eating every 2 hours, I would get a 20-30 minute break (during which I would try to get Nash to take a nap in the carrier) and start all over again. I would also have to pump after he went to bed, but before I went to bed, and I would have to wake up every few hours to pump in the middle of the night even though my baby slept all night long. Pumping took 20 minutes a side and the most I ever got was 3 ounces. Most of the time I got 1 ounce, even those middle of the night pumpings.

I was also taking fenugreek, a separate herb elixer, eating one million calories and countless grams of protein, drinking tons of water, and crying a lot. Haha! It was exhausting! Did I mention this just happened to coincide with my husband's final month of grad school, so I was basically doing all of this on my own? (Not that he isn't super helpful, he is! He just had a LOT going on that month that had to get done so he could graduate.)

After 3 weeks of this craziness we went back to the lactation center to see how much my supply had increased. Instead of 1 ounce per feeding, he got 1.4 ounces! Yeah, we still weren't even close. The nurse I met with this time was SO MUCH nicer, and she said to me, "What do you want? Is breastfeeding your baby the most important thing to you or is it a happy baby?" She knew that my body just wasn't doing what my baby needed it to do, and she made me realize that a happy, full baby is more important than how he gets fed. She was releasing me from feeling any guilt, because she could see that what we had been doing the last few weeks wasn't sustainable, and it also wasn't increasing my supply, so what was the point? I basically love that nurse.

So we began formula feeding and never looked back. I would still nurse before giving him the bottle, but within a month he had stopped all together. And guess what? I don't feel bad about it. Not even a little. I'm not sad breastfeeding didn't work, because a bottle worked so well. He was happy, I was happy. It was a win win. Also, this study just came out. Of course breast milk has so many great immune boosters, but long term, there is no difference between breast fed and bottle fed kids.

The point is, however you feed your kid, great job. You're feeding them, that's all that matters.

And just for fun, check out Nash a day or two before we found out he was starving. His arms were SO skinny and his face was gaunt.

And one month later, a few weeks into formula feeding. So much better!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Colorado 2014: Vacation by Cities

We got back last week from spending eleven fantastic days in Colorado with family and friends! We were so grateful for so much time there, and it was a great mix of relaxing days and seeing people and places all over. Here are some of the things we did, not necessarily in chronological order.

• Lots of time on my parent's deck, watching storms come in over the mountains.
• Naps with dogs.
• Nash got to catch up with some of his little lady friends (and us with their parents).
This was them in Colorado last July, and now this July. Time flies.
His fun little friend who is just 2 weeks older than him.
• Noodles & Co. (twice), Sonic, Chick-Fil-A (three times), and Dunkin Donuts.
• Alcoholic otter pops made by my mom, along with lots of her other excellent cooking.
• Fire pits and s'mores and sunsets.
• Lots of great time with my family.

• Breakfast at The Buff with my sister and my good friend Tory. With a view of the flatirons, no less!
• Tried some fun beers at Avery Brewing Company.

• Went to service at Ascent Community Church, co-led by my college ministry pastor and the youth pastor that I did middle school ministry with while I was in college.
• Dinner with the Colorado fun friends and families!

Fort Collins
• We got to meet this sweet little boy, the son of my good friend Taylor!
Future best buds.
• Lunch at La Luz. The potato burrito was amazing!
• Then we sampled a few beers at Odell...

• Mike and I (and Kaela!) saw The Avett Brothers (and rainbows) at Red Rocks! It was such an amazing show at the best venue in the world.

• Got to taste some Breckenridge bourbon.
• Ate lunch at an old favorite, Kenosha Steakhouse.

• Spent the night at my family's cabin. Unfortunately the altitude did not agree with Nash, so I had to drive him back down to Denver at 4 am. Womp womp.
• At least Mike, my dad, and my sister got to stop at another old favorite when they drove back at a much more reasonable hour.

• Toured (and tasted) Stranahan's with friends.
• Dinner and margaritas at the Rio. Duh.
• A quick beer at Our Mutual Friend. I got to try a Brett beer. Finally!
• Went to a really fun lecture series put on by The Denver Museum of Contemporary Art called Mixed Taste. We saw Soul Food and Salvador Dali, and it was really fun, especially because the Soul Food speaker brought samples. :)

Whenever we weren't out and about, we were probably parked on my parents couch watching movies. It was magical. Special thanks to all of the friends who took time off of work, spent time driving, etc to hang out with us. And a VERY special thanks to my parents for hosting us, and to them and my sister for being so fun and for babysitting. :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

June Recap

Ok, I know June isn't over yet. Small detail.

Also, I'm going to start with May 31st. Our friends Chad and Ashley got married in downtown Seattle! It was such a beautiful wedding, and it was extra fun because several of our good friends from Colorado flew in for it since Ashley is a Colorado girl too.

my hot date and me
Mike left directly from the wedding to go to a conference in Montreal. He took a cab to the airport and caught a red eye. LOOOONG night for him. I got to spend the next few days hanging out with friends who were still in town enjoying the amazing weather.
a little doof at Gasworks Park
Nash and I had dinner at the beach one night. I do love living in the Pacific Northwest.
Next up: the Butler birthday extravaganza.

June 5: Noah's 1st birthday (If you haven't heard Noah's story, visit his mama's blog.)
It was a sad day, but it was also really neat to see how many lives he has changed in one short year. We decorated his special place with balloons and we wore rainbows and we missed him very much.

Over that weekend, we were able to get together with Mike's family to celebrate all of the family June birthdays. Noah on the 5th, me on the 10th, and Mike and his brother John on the 11th. We had BBQ at a park and the boys threw the football around for a while.
Big Butler birthday party at the park

pre-birthday party with some local craft beers while Mike's parents babysat
June 10: My 31st birthday (I can't say thirty and flirty and thriving anymore.)
My mom and sister flew in that morning for a visit! We just ordered pizza, my brother and his wife and baby came over, and we all hung out. That's basically what I always do for my birthday.

June 11: Mike's 33rd birthday! (and John too!)
We went out while my mom and sister babysat! We had margaritas, way too much Mexican food, and ended the night at our favorite neighborhood pub.
June 11th was also the due date of Noah's baby brother, but it came and went with no baby. Then on Sunday, June 15th (which just so happens to have been Father's Day!) we got the call!

Baby Miles was born that morning, and we got to meet him when he was just a few hours old!
I might have started weeping uncontrollably when I walked in, I pulled it together for this pic.
I have never cried such happy tears in my whole life!
We also came back a few hours later with Nash! I had never visited people in the hospital after having a baby before I had my own baby. When Nash was born our hospital was super strict about visitors checking in, and no kids were allowed unless it was a new baby's sibling. I just assumed that all hospitals were like that, so the day after Noah was born and we went to visit, we left Nash with my sister. When we got there, we walked right in and didn't have to sign in or anything. It makes me crazy to think about that we could have totally brought Nash with us that day, and it makes me so sad that Nash and Noah never got to meet. Needless to say, we were so excited for this to happen!
We are so so so grateful that he is here and he is healthy! We visited Miles (and his mom and dad) at home a few days later, and oh my goodness. I can't explain how much joy we had seeing them with their baby boy AT HOME! Not that any of the pain from last year has gone away at all, but oh man, Mr. Miles has brought an incredible amount of joy into the world with him. Love that little dude.
Due to the arrival of baby Miles and my family being in town at the same time, Nash got lots of grandparent time this month!
eating ice cream with Papa (Mike's dad)
eating doughnuts with my mom (I promise we feed him food other than sweets)
lots of family in town to celebrate my grandmother's 75th birthday
Nash is now a 27 pound 34 inch tall 15 month old. He wears 2T and never stops moving. He has been fussy lately due to getting in 4 molars at once, but the last few days he has been more back to normal, whatever normal is for a toddler. He just figured out how to climb onto furniture, and now he does it all day long. Sometimes he climbs up, and lays back like he's going to watch a movie or something. But that only lasts for about 15 seconds before he climbs down and does it all over again.

We also recently acquired a bike trailer for free! Thanks, Buy Nothing Bothell! Nash loves it, even though he has to wear a helmet. (Go here to see if there is a Buy Nothing group in your area. It's such an awesome community.)

We also made a summer fun to do list. Our bike trailer helped us cross the first item off of the list: bike ride! We are excited to cross off more!

pardon my 6 year old handwriting :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Baby-proof Your Entire House for $14

If there is one word to best describe me it would be lazy. That's why when I bought those plastic latches to baby-proof our cabinets, and they were super difficult to line up and install correctly, I gave up after installing zero of them.


But I love my son, and I don't want him to eat Lysol, or soap, or trash. Actually, I just really don't want to put everything away that he would pull out from the cabinets. I should also add that the way our house is set up (tri-level) it is very easy to keep Nash contained and supervised. Even if I am on a different floor, it's so open that I can almost always see him. Baby proofing is not a replacement for supervision, it just buys you some time. :)

Cheap Baby Proofing Idea #1:
Rubber Bands - free

Just loop them tightly around your cabinet pulls. Whatever you do, don't try the latches like this one. We did. Not only was it baby-proof, it was also adult proof. Like I seriously couldn't get it off of our bathroom cabinets. I was a little bit freaking out thinking we would need to unscrew the knobs, but then I FINALLY got it off. Then I returned them.

Cheap Baby Proofing Idea #2
Fabric Baby Gate - $6.00

Our lowest level is our tv room, and it's also where all of the toys are. We needed a gate to block off the bottom of that staircase to keep Nash down there.

The problem is, baby gates are ugly. No offense. Also, I have always had issues with opening/expanding/collapsing them in my babysitting/nannying/Sunday school teaching days. I always just ended up stepping over them.

But let's just say that childbirth doesn't do your tailbone any favors, especially when you push for 5 hours. AKA it still hurts a lot 14 months later, so stepping over a baby gate multiple times a day (especially with a 27 pound baby) wasn't going to work. I thought one of those retractable baby gates would be awesome, but it turns out those are more money than we wanted to spend.

I had a vague idea of a fabric gate of some kind. I googled my little heart out, but wasn't finding exactly what I wanted. I bought four of those sticky hooks and used some fabric and elastic I already had to make basically a giant rectangle with elastic loops at each corner. I used two pieces of fabric and sewed them together like a giant pillowcase, then just didn't put any stuffing inside.

It's super easy to unhook one of the top corners to walk through, or hook it off to the side.

So far so good! Nash could absolutely escape if he wanted to, but I think the fact that it is opaque fabric (as opposed to a mesh or lattice baby gate) means that he isn't very interested by what's on the other side, because he can't see over there. I mean, he knows the stairs are there, but since all of his toys are down there in that room, he is more interested in those.

Cheap Baby Proofing Idea #3
Entertainment Center Cover - $1.50

In the same room, we have a small shelf thing that holds our Tivo, Blu-Ray, and X-Box. All of the flashing lights are very tempting to a tiny little boy. So tempting that one day in the time it took me to change laundry loads 20 feet away from him, he turned on the X-Box, ejected the disk, and hung from the tray until it broke. It took Mike 90 minutes and some YouTube videos to fix it. He is a saint.

We thought about trying to add a door, but then we would need a latch too, and it would never really match. I decided to try a super lazy and cheap fix and see if it worked. $1.50 worth of black fabric later, and we were good to go.

I have some plastic snaps and the snap tool (I don't know what it's called) from my mom, so I doubled up my 1/2 yard of black cotton, and put a snap in each corner. Then I super glued the other half of the snaps to the inside of the little entertainment center. I didn't even hem the fabric. Because I'm lazy.

And it hides all of this junk!

Again, he can undo the snaps, but he knows he isn't supposed to, so for the most part, he doesn't go there. And not seeing all the little lights flashing at him makes it a lot less tempting.

Regular Baby Proofing Stuff That We Actually Paid For

Wall straps for our tall bookshelves - $4.00

Outlet covers - $2.50

And there it is. We kept it simple. No toilet locks (we just keep the lids down and close the bathroom door) and no doorknob covers, he can't reach them yet). Does anyone else have any baby-proofing tips to share?

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 2014

What the heck have we been doing? You know, besides taking day trips to other countries...

• Mike's mom was here at the beginning of the month, and my mom is here right now. It's fun to see them interact with Nash since he is becoming more and more like a little person, and less like a baby. (Some moms get all weepy about that, but I love it. He's so cute and fun at this age! Except when he's throwing a fit.)

• Easter happened. The 12 month size suit that I bought when I was pregnant somehow magically fit! Ok, it was a bit short and a bit snug. Oh well. It still looked pretty cute!

• My baby nephew Miles will be here in less than two months, and I can't wait! Six of his mama's best friends and I are throwing a shower for them next month. I have been doing stuff for it since like February. I have literally spent hours planning and replanning the menu. It's a way for me to channel my excitement into something productive! Haha! But then when you multiply that excitement by 7, it's out of control! Miles is going to be one spoiled baby. Oh well. :)

• We're painting... again. Remember when we painted our entire house? Well, we never actually painted the pre-primed baseboards that we installed, so we're trying to get it done. While we're at it, we are painting all of the remaining wood doors and window trim in our living room and upstairs hallway. Our house is officially wood trim free!!!!!!!!!!! (Except for the master bathroom aka The Chokie aka WE WILL NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN aka the room that I try to pretend doesn't exist.) Maybe someday I'll take pictures of it. Maybe. Everything is a hot mess right now, but Manny doesn't care.

• Mike and I have been trying to make healthier eating choices, which for us means eating smaller portions and only going to Taco Bell once a month. Easter candy and summer beers have been derailing me. Oh well.

• My friend texted some of us moms and asked for some outdoor toy ideas since it's summer. She lives in Colorado. It's 55 and raining in Seattle today. Thanks for rubbing it in.

• I bought coral boat shoes. I HAD to.