Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful for the gift of love

We received another well baby check update yesterday.  The well baby checks are such a blessing, at least most of the time.  He is healthy, growing as he should, but with each report we are realizing what we are missing.  The huge milestones for every baby—crawling, sitting up, standing, walking, even little things like waving good-bye and laughter are all passing us by.  We are thankful that we have a healthy little guy.  We are especially thankful for the gift the foster family is giving us.  It is the foster mom who comforts him in the middle of the night, who makes sure he is fed and bathed.  It is the foster mom who is playing with him, hugging him and making him laugh those contagious baby laughs.  The foster family plays with him and treats him like one of the family...I have no idea to what extent they are loving on our little guy, but I know this is a gift from the heart. Unlike adoptions from some countries, South Korea doesn’t have an orphanage system. They put all of the children in foster care.  Our little guy has been with the same family since he was two days old.  While it will no doubt break his heart to leave that foster family, we are so thankful that he has known and seen love since he was born.  The foster family is giving us a gift beyond imagination and their job will no doubt be a heart-breaking job when they pass him over to us.  But we will always remember their gift and sacrifice. 

To all those foster families stateside and abroad:  Thank you for loving on kids, especially this time of year when love and family seem to be extra important.   

Monday, December 17, 2012

Melissa + Doug toys

Confession: as a new mom, and frequent Pinterest-er, I might be slightly obsessed with Melissa & Doug toys. My kid can't even crawl yet but between a local consignment shop, online yardsale site, HomeGoods, Amazon, and even Barnes and Noble I've stockpiled these so far:

1) Jumbo knob puzzles.  I picked up a set of three complete with its own shelf at a local consignment shop.

2) Stack and Sort Board.  This was one of his Christmas presents this year. He can pick up blocks pretty well and this is going to be great when he can start stacking items on the pegs and much later when he can sort the colors & count items. 

3) Shape Sorting Clock.  Again, this is something he can enjoy now and still entertain him later when he can sort colors/numbers and learn how to tell time. These can be found in Amazon and Barnes and Noble stores (10% off with the yearly membership). 

4) License Plate Game.  I loved doing this when I was younger and this is also a sneaky way for him to learn the name and location of all 50 states!

I also plan on picking this up closer to his 1 yr birthday: 

Related items (aka cheaper version of the Melissa & Doug toys ;) ):

2) Eric Carle lacing toys. Several Eric Carle books are part of our nighttime reading routine (esp Very Hungry Caterpillar) so I had to get these. Their version:

They also have all sorts of puzzles with sounds and pattern blocks and boards that I plan on purchasing in the future. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday travels with a 6 month old

I swear I haven't done as much planning (or stressing) about a flight/trip as the one we will be taking next week. I've braved my first flight with the little one (solo even) and was able to bring most of his essentials in a backpack style diaper bag and everything else in a carry-on. Now he's eating solids consistently and will be heading on a two week vacation to his grandparents (where there hasn't been a baby in the house for oh 25 yrs?)...  this is the first time where packing for a little one really is packing for a third person, haha.

We've taken his Rock and Play sleeper for road trips and that's worked out well. When I flew to OH for a wedding, I just had him sleeping on a blanket, on top of the covers next to me. Now though, he's a wriggly little boy who likes scooting upward while on his back as well as rolling over.. in the end, we bought a Pack and Play and had it shipped to my parents house (and leaving it there for our next visit).

Since he is an independent sitter, we've been taking him out of his car seat and putting him a high chair when we go out to eat. When we drove to UT for Thanksgiving, we brought his Bumbo along for a feeding chair. Since I wasn't planning on packing (or re-buying) that, I bought this: Looks like it can fold up so I can put it in my diaper bag (will keep you posted on if this actually folds down that small). Hopefully if it is truly that portable, we can use that a lot more when we go out to dinner. I did find this and it goes on most standard chairs:  I didn't buy it after reading customer reviews. It did say that it was easier to get set up than the similar My Little Seat fabric highchairs. However, it didn't dawn on me until I read the comment but these fabric highchairs aren't high enough to get the baby to table height.. that won't work for my social butterfly cause he needs to see everything!

As far as feeding, I plan on also bringing a couple of these: for quick feeding at the airport or on the plane. Best part is you can totally just squirt it into his mouth! I've also been able to prep some of his first foods so I will also be bringing mashed avocado in one of these: He also loves bananas (another easy prep option that doesn't need refrigeration).

Even though we use cloth diapers, we use disposables when we travel. Last time I flew, my husband helped me prep and we decided that in order to cut down on all the stuff I would be carting around, I needed to pack only the number of diapers (plus 1-2 more) to get through the flights & layover... as soon as I got to my destination, I bought more diapers for the rest of my stay and enough for the return flights and layover.. and left the rest. We are probably going to do the same thing this time around.

Since he's a great traveler, I'm not bringing any more toys than what is already in his diaper bag. He did great on his last flight (even if it wasn't nonstop) and slept most of the time. I am definitely bringing an Aden + Anais blanket for something for him to hopefully nap on (at the airport or if we're lucky enough, an open seat). I'm also probably not bringing our Ergo Sport carrier cause my husband will be another pair of helpful hands (this was a must when I was on my own, though).

As far as future flights, I found a couple of things to keep in mind. This is the next car seat we will be getting soon for him. ( It is FAA approved so we can use it on the airplane, but most importantly allows us to keep him rear facing up to 40 lbs. He won't need to be in a car seat on the plane until he's two so chances are we'll be gate checking this car seat for a while but this product ( will also be good to keep in mind. :)

Hopefully this cuts down on all the stuff we'll be bringing along; inevitably we'll be coming home with more stuff than what we left with haha.

What are some of your tips for holiday traveling with a little one?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Peach Family Christmas

Mama Cowgirl blogged about her Christmas Traditions, which got me thinking. I've been seeing lots of Pinterest pins on fun (new to us) traditions from Elf on the Shelf to decorating the kids doors with streamers. With H being so little, it is sort of a bonus year - we can try things out and see what we want to keep. We are headed out of town for the actual Christmas Day, so Sunday we will be having a "Peach Family Christmas."

Here is a look at a few things we tried  this year as a family of three.

Visiting Santa & his Reindeer. Our first attempt to see Santa at Small Town Christmas in Monument, Co  did not go well. Little Peach was overtired and we didn't even get close. We are going to try again this weekend at the Zoo. We have had two great visits with reindeer. The first was at the Festival of the Trees in  Erie, PA and the second was at Small Town Christmas in Monument. The boys (Daddy Peach, Little Peach and a few of our friends' husbands) met Dancer and Prancer, while the ladies peaked in a few of the shops.  What can I say? Our little man loves animals.

Cutting down our own tree in Pike National Forest. (Information on Permits and can be found on the  US Forest Service Webpage.)

Tree Trunk Ornament to commemorate cutting down our own tree.
(Easiest craft ever - mostly because Daddy Peach did all the work. Directions can be found here.)
Salt Dough Ornaments. I may use a different dough recipe next year that is heartier. I did love pressing little Peach's hand into the dough. We also did a print of our key. Here is the recipe I used this year.

Our Travel Ornament Collection. As I posed on Mama Cowgirls post, it is so fun to decorate the tree and remember all the fun trips we have taken over the years. Here are just a few of our favorite ornaments.
We are Texas residents!  

Cable Car from a Christmas Spent in San Francisco and the Sydney Opera House from our Honeymoon. 

I lobster Maine- from a combo wedding -Acadia National Park Trip. 

One of my favorite things about Christmas is going to peoples homes and seeing all the ornaments on peoples trees. A few of  you commented that you also have ornament collections. I would love to see pictures!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snow & Baby

Um... Mom? 

This was our second snow since moving to Colorado. The last snow was a freak storm that came over the mountain in early October. The December storm came with cold temperatures (my car actually read 1 degree) and lots of wind. The snow fell Saturday night. Sunday morning we canceled our  plans in favor of a snugly day at home baking cookies and playing in the snow.

October: This is so fun! 
Little Peach was really tolerant of the snow in October.. he even ventured out on his own. He rolled around, licked the snow and, in general, seemed to be having a good time. Why would anything be different this time?

It's amazing how much wiser kids get in just two months! You can tell just from the top picture  little H was already questioning why we were outside before even put him down.

December: Why Are We Doing This? 
The real fun came when my husband decided to pull him around in the sled that his Aunt B got him for Christmas (which we opened just for this occasion.) We did a few practice rounds in the house. He was laughing and giggling as he was pulled across the carpet. Then we opened the door... I really feel that the picture speaks for itself.

Once we unloaded him from the sled, he was back to his happy self. He laughed as I made a snow angel. Then he laid on hubby's chest, while he made a snow angel. It was at this point that Little Peach got excited and dove head first into the snow. At first he liked it. Then he decided it was just too cold and screamed his head off. He actually screamed loud enough to summon our next door neighbor out into the cold to see what was going on. She had a good laugh at our little snow ball and then we all headed inside for a warm bath.

I'm a believer in "try, try again" so you better believe that during the next snow we will be back out there on our sled!

History repeats itself

I thought I would discuss sleepless nights. It seems like a far and distant being jolted from a deep sleep (I say this sarcastically because I haven't ever been able to sleep deeply since having A) to feed a baby at 2am who was just awake 2 hours ago. I change the diaper, make the bottle, feed the baby, clean up the projectile vomit that she would always do because she had acid reflux, rock her to sleep, take her downstairs because she won't sleep, watch 3am tv and fall asleep with her on my chest on my recliner..those really were the best times. At the time I was too tired to see that it would all fly by in an instant, that I would miss those times like crazy.

A is about 2 1/2 now and recently she has reverted back to waking in the middle of the night. For someone who has not had to tend to a child for over a year in the middle of the night, this is quite exhausting. From about 26 months on she has decided she would wake up, scream for me to get her water or that she wants milk then play in her bed for a few hours before falling asleep again. Last night she actually got out of bed, opened her door, opened my bedroom door and let herself on my bed. I was asleep, husband is out of town so you can imagine the scare I got at 4am. She played in my bed until 7am. It is brutal. Did I mention I am exhausted and pregnant with twins? My body is sore and I can barely keep my eyes open during the day. But when she finally fell asleep at 7am and I woke up around 8 and laid next to her, I began to daydream about what it will be like to have 3 little buddies in bed with me. Ideally I would not want to have my kids get used to crawling in bed with us, but they are so peaceful and cuddly. I look forward to the sleepless nights and the special bond I will build with the twins during those middle of the night feedings...mainly because I know it will get better and they will eventually sleep through the night. Until they turn two at least :)

When it came to sleep training A, I had no idea when to begin or how to go about doing it. She was 10 months old and I was still rocking her to sleep at night and for every nap. I had a friend with a child much younger than A. She would just put her baby in bed, he would cry for a few minutes then fall asleep on his own. She had the same video monitor I had, yet hers was placed on a table away from her. She wasn't concerned with his movements when he was in bed. She wasn't obsessively looking at the monitor every time she heard a noise. She told me she just learned not to worry, that he would be just fine. It was then that My husband and I decided we would sleep train A. We put her to bed that night with a bedtime story and a kiss. I took the monitor downstairs and my husband made me turn the volume all the way down. I still heard her screaming and crying. I was crying as well. I felt that if I just went up and rocked her she would fall asleep much better but realistically I couldn't expect her to depend on me for that always. I needed to let go. That night she cried for 20 minutes. We discussed that if she cried for a half and hour that I would go up and rock her. 20 minutes and she was asleep. The next day she napped with no issues, no rocking. That night she cried for 5 minutes. After that night we would read her a story, kids her goodnight and put her to bed. She would fall asleep without making a peep. She learned how to self soothe and put herself to sleep. I was a proud momma! She is still tat way to this day. Though now she has a special blanket and teddy she has to take to bed with her. She can't fall asleep without those two things, but she does it on her own. In her own big girl toddler bed. That transition was easier, I think, because she learned how to comfort herself. I am not saying this might be the case for all kids, but for her this is true. Sure she has now learned how to get out of said toddler bed, but they do say that history repeats itself. Seeing as how her infant days flew by, which can only mean her toddler days will fly by as well and she will soon be in school and such, I will cherish each and every single moment I can of hearing the pitter patter of her little feet through the hallway and stopping in front of my bedroom door. I will miss that someday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rocking my son to sleep in my underwear (and other things you don't expect after you're expecting)

I rocked my 4 month old son to sleep in my underwear tonight because he puked all over my clothes after I fed him one too many bottles. They don't tell you about that in the books. Oh, and this isn't the first time it's happened either. Oh no, I've rocked a sleepy baby quite a few times in my underwear, so you would think this would have been included in my preparational readings. It's always the same story. My baby seems more hungry than usual, and he just keeps eating, so I just keep feeding him...but there's this voice in the back of my head that says that he's probably not actually hungry anymore. I mean, how could he be? He's eaten a TON. He probably just has a burp that I can't seem to pat out of him and so he thinks he's hungry. But I keep feeding him, because a mom's worst fear is putting her baby to bed hungry. I mean, what kind of mother puts their baby to bed hungry? A bad one. And I refuse to be a bad mother, so I feed my baby until he pukes...

I also did not expect that my son would be able to shoot poop 4 feet and hit a wall.
Or that baby poop would be ridiculously difficult to get out of clothes (I figured out the secret recipe to get it out, if you are interested: Rub Zout into the stain, then wash on warm with Tide with Bleach. If your washer has these settings, delay the wash for an hour (to allow the Zout to break up the stain), auto-soak, and extra rinse.) Works like a charm.

I did not expect that in the chaos of having a new baby at home, a disposable diaper could accidentally end up in a load of laundry, and that disposable diapers explode in the washing machine into a million tiny gelatinous beads that get all over EVERYTHING! (If this happens to you, don't panic like I did. Just rewash the load and dry like normal.)

I did not expect babies to poop in the bathtub.

I did not expect babies to scream bloody murder when you change their diaper (and my husband thought that newborn babies laid still while you changed their diapers!).

I did not expect nursing to hurt like a piranha was nibbling my nipple off for an entire 2 months.

I did not expect to get so frustrated with my baby in the middle of the night when I was severely sleep deprived.

I did not expect it to be so hard to find time to shower, or eat, or brush my teeth (I forgot again today).

I did not expect babies to be so demanding.

I did not expect that I would live for my baby's smile.

I did not expect my baby's laugh to be so funny to me.

I did not expect to rock my baby to sleep for an hour because I couldn't get enough of his warm sweet breath on my cheek.

I did not expect the ferocity of the love I feel for a person I've known for such a short amount of time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Well, we sent off a care package for our little guy; it included a stuffed lion and a stuffed frog and several clothing items.  As usual, it was a bittersweet moment, trying to be included in his life right now, with the understanding that we really aren’t. He is simply too young to understand the process and planning swirling around him.  
             The conversations of late has been what family traditions to pass along…which traditions from each of our families should we keep and which should we let go by the wayside and what new ones should we create? 
                So far, the only one we have figured out was probably accidental.  We have traditionally put up our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, (except for our first Christmas, when we were in the middle of a move to our current location).  While my husband and I have exchanged a few gifts each Christmas, we prefer to spend a majority of our resources on adventures…from hiking, to snow shoeing, to sea kayaking, etc.  We want to create memories and experiences with each other and want to pass that concept along to our little guy.  Last weekend, we even went shopping for a kid carrier/backpack so that he could go with us.   Certainly, we are looking forward to giving him gifts and enjoying Christmas through his eyes, but we are really looking forward to the traditions of family adventures.  We are also hoping that we never achieve the National Lampoon’s family vacation status.   

                I’m curious, how have you combined family traditions and/or made new ones?  What kinds of traditions were important for you to pass along, which ones weren’t?  

Prepping for cold weather

Our Thanksgiving and Christmas trips gave me a new reason to shop for Little Bee. Living in Southern California I didn't really have to worry about outerwear. Following car seat safety guidelines (, we just put a thick blanket on top of him after he was all buckled in. That and he has really chunked up over the last 3 mos so I had to factor that in... But we have Utah and Midwestern roots so of course I had to find him an adorable yet functional something right? :)

After looking oohing and aahing at the cute puffy coats at Children's Place, Old Navy, Crazy 8, etc, I was still torn. The last thing I wanted to do in the rush-to-get-out-the-door-to-get-to _____ was stuff a wiggly baby into a coat, take it off and buckle him into the car seat, place it backwards on him... siiiiiigh...

Plan B: Get him this ( Looked great and I could already imagine him all warm and snuggled in his car seat. But what if I wanted to have him out of the car seat to play outside?? Hmm...

Days before we left for our week long Thanksgiving trip, we found something at Target that was a cross between a sleep sack and a medium weight hooded coat with a cut out between his legs for the buckle. He dubbed "The Snowbeast" by my loving husband haha. He can't really kick his legs... all he can do is move both of them forward and roll when he's in it. It kept him warm so I really can't complain.

But I also fell in love as soon as I saw this (so I put it on the Christmas wishlist): Luckily, he has two adoring aunts who are more than happy to spoil him!

What outerwear did you get for your little one's first winter?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Diaper bag essentials for our 6 month old

Every parenting adventure has taught my husband and I what works and what doesn't. Especially when it comes to leaving the house. Luckily our little man is a wonderful traveler making it possible for us to go out to eat when he was 2 weeks old and travel to Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Vegas, Disneyland, Ohio, and Utah.

At one point, I did have a tiny bag of emergency diapers & wipes in each car as well as an emergency kit in the diaper bag that included band aids, stain remover, ponytail holder. Over time, we figured out exactly what we needed to bring on our adventures.

1) My go to diaper bag is the Thirty One Organizing Utility Tote. It has 5 exterior pockets and 2 mesh pockets. I did use the diaper bag/backpack we were gifted when I flew alone with baby but I find I can pack more and keep things better organized with the Thirty One bag.

2) Infantino Diaper Tote. This was my very first diaper bag and I still carry it in the larger bag. It has an attached changing pad and holds disposable diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, Boudreaux's Buttpaste; I also clipped the roll of scented disposable trash bags to it (great for soiled clothes too). I can just grab it for diaper changes without lugging around the rest of the bag (absolutely genius for tiny airplane bathrooms).

3) Bottle(s) and bottled water (stashed in exterior pockets). Formula dispenser, extra onesie, wet bag.

4) Aden + Anais swaddle blanket. We use it for everything and don't have to bring a separate burp cloth anymore.

5) Extra bib, pacifier wipes, tiny bag with essentials for emergency baths in the sink (luckily this hasn't happened.. yet): baby shampoo/body wash, washcloth, baby lotion.

7) He is consistently eating 2 meals of solids now but still on bottle feeds when outside the house. When this changes, I plan to include: place mat , Bumkin bib, bowl/food container, and spoon.

What are some of your diaper bag essentials?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Just a few thoughts

*A little background information. My name is Yaneris. I have been blogging for almost 3 years, since the birth of my daughter Adrianna. My husband is military and we are currently stationed in Massachusetts. I actually know Elizabeth and her husband from our previous duty station, we all (the group of ladies we were friends with) stagger got engaged and married shortly after one another. We had our daughter on July 2010 and began to try again for a second child at the end of 2011. We suffered three devastating, basically unexplained, miscarriages in the span of 9 months. Recently, in October actually, we found out we were expecting again and for an even better twist, we found out we naturally conceived TWINS! I am about 11 weeks along and due sometime in June, official due date July 3rd, I will likely not go to 40 weeks. Thanks for inviting me to share my mothering experience on this blog, I have a wealth of knowledge I can share though I am by no means an expert. I learn as I go, which really is the best way isn't it? I am a SAHM and LOVE IT! Nice to meet you all!*

Here is my baby (not so baby) girl!
Blog post from my personal blog, diapersandadream 
So far, this pregnancy has been fairly similar to my pregnancy with Adrianna. I do feel more appreciative this time around, however. I think it has to do with being naive with my first pregnancy. I felt like nothing would happen to me, all would be ok and it was fairly uneventful. I find myself being more nervous this time around...rightfully so. I am constantly thinking about what can go wrong and look forward to being reassured with ultrasounds and multiple OB visits.

With my longest pregnancy which ended in miscarriage, I wrote a 10 week update post. I have been hesitant about blogging since I am just shy of 11 weeks, I guess I just don't want to jinx myself. I want to be happy. I want to be worry free and just enjoy this pregnancy. This will likely be my last pregnancy. I may change my mind according to what the sex of the babies are, but I feel 80% positive this will be matter what. I feel like I have been blessed this time around and I don't want to test fate anymore. When pregnant with Adrianna, Joe and I (ok maybe just me) dreamed about a big family with 4 or 5 children. I can't go through a loss again, I just can't. I feel like I want to sit back and enjoy every pregnancy craving, nauseas moment, kick, sleepless night that this pregnancy will bring. Besides feeling anxiety for the actual pregnancy, I want to share some of the anxieties I am currently feeling about having multiples.

I have a 2 1/2 year old who needs me. She loves me and loves to be the center of my world. I only have to arms and there is only one of me. I feel like she will feel replaced, big time. It is a constant fear of mine. Like she will resent her siblings. I fear that she will feel left out. That if the babies are both boys she will not be able to connect with them and have a relationship with them because they will be boys. I have two brothers and although we played as kids, we didn't get close until we got older. I am afraid that if I have to girls, they will bond with each other and be each other's best friend leaving Adrianna out from that unique bond. If I have one of each, I feel like it will be the best scenario for Adrianna....but I am, again, not being picky. I will take two healthy babies, no matter the sex. I am just slightly worried. I fear that my need to make sure the twins get enough time with me will cause chaos in my head. I want to be sure each gets equal skin to skin, alone time, together time with me and with each is a lot to juggle. I fear expenses. We didn't pay for formula with Adrianna because she had a milk protein allergy so was on prescribed formula which insurance covered in full. Joe and I talked about me nursing our next child as much as possible to get the experience we didn't get with Adrianna and also to cut costs (lets be honest). How can I nurse two babies? Is that even possible? Will I even produce enough milk? I am going to be a human cow. I am never going to sleep again. This is my biggest anxiety. I fear that I wont be able to handle 3 kids. As in going to the grocery store, shopping, leaving the house in general. Did I mention we are moving shortly after the twins are born. I have anxiety about that too. I don't know how long or if they will be born early (38 weeks is our current goal, my OB is optimistic) and have to be in the NICU for a while. Will this delay our move? I fear that Adrianna's birthday will take a back seat because of the birth of the twins...her birthday is July 9th, I am due July 3rd but will likely birth in June sometime (I hope).

These are all of my current concerns among others related to my actual pregnancy....will I carry to 38 weeks? Will the babies be healthy? Will I actually have twins or is something going to happen to one of them? (morbid thought, I know but it is a very real fear). Will I be on bedrest. Sometimes I want to fast forward, but maybe not knowing is better. I would rather try and be happy and enjoy my time now than look into the future and see that one of my fears will actually come true. Make sense? Yea I know, doesn't make sense to me either sometimes.

All I know is that after the amazing birth of my first born, 3 miscarriages and finding out I am pregnant with twins, I am choosing not to question anything much right now....when I try and figure out how this actually happened I get chills. It gives me goosebumps. It is crazy how life works out. This is one of 3 significant times in my life where I have turned to God and He has granted me the answer to my prayers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Four Gift Rule: Want, Need, Wear & Read (Gift Ideas)

I've been seeing this all over Pinterest lately. I really love the sentiment, although I can't really promise that I'll be sticking to just four gifts for the little one. I do think that it makes a nice way to think about gift giving and organizing things.

Gift suggestions for a baby's first or second Christmas has been a hot topic with my mom friends. I want to do something to satisfy my need to have our first holiday as a family and family members love giving gifts to baby... but I also know that he has no idea what is going on. In general  I try to limit the amount of "crap" that comes into this house. That being said here are 10 gift ideas (based on nothing but my own thoughts.)

1. Citrus Lane - We have been getting one of these monthly packages since little peach came into this world and it is one of my favorite little splurges. These monthly packages are tailored to your child age and are delivered to your door. (Pictured above is the August "Back to School" box from the Citrus Lane webpage.) They have introduced us to so many wonderful products. This is now my go to baby shower gift.

2. HABA Toys - We were lucky enough to get a few of the baby toys at a shower and they have been some of  our favorite. Haba is a German company and the toys are on the expensive end, but my (wiser and more experienced  mom friends ensure me that they last forever. The Magica Rattle has been one of Little Peach's favorites, but I have my eyes on some blocks that can grow with my little one. Haba also makes a few pull toys that Little Peach really enjoyed at  the children's museum.

3. Jellycat Books - My mom purchased "If I Were a Cow" for Little Peach and he is obsessed. I mean he carries it around by the tail and giggles when we read it at night. There is a whole collection of these books. Given his current obsession with dogs "If I Were a Puppy" will be making an appearance in his stocking.

4. Little People Nativity - How can you not find these short little people adorable. I know this breaks my plastic toy rule, but I can't resist. Nativities are my Christmas Decoration of Choice.. so of course we needed a child friendly one. (As a note, Haba also makes one that is wooden and gorgeous, but seems pricey for a baby.)  If the Nativity is not your thing you can't go wrong with any of the Little People set.

5. CitiBlocks  - These little flat blocks are also popular at children's museums. They were also very popular with the two boys of the mom I learned it all from, so of course they make my list. CitiBlocks are the complete opposite of the Haba blocks I love, everyone one is exactly the same and they don't come in a variety of colors. They are great though because little hands can grasp them and you can build almost anything with them. Check out the Gallery for examples.

6.  That's not my... Books - Much like the Jellycat Books these come in a variety of options. We received "That's Not My Plane."  As with other touch books, our little one loves the interaction he gets when we read it to him. It also makes a nice travel companion since it is both a toy and a book. It is a bed time favorite in our house.

7. Hardware Board or Melissa and Doug Latch Puzzle - My husband made the most amazing Hardware Board for Little Peach. Its in our Playroom (which you can see more about here). This is such a simple project - buy a piece of wood, buy some things at the hardware store and attach to board. As early as 6 months, Little Peach would play with this on the floor. Now that he is standing, we have attached it to the wall and he loves it... its usually where I find him when he crawls away. The Melissa and Dough Latch Puzzle is also great - we ran into it at the Erie Children's Museum. It is way too complicated for Little Peach to open any of the latches, but he enjoyed trying.

8. B Fun Keys - These pretend keys took my Stroller Strides group by storm! (And for a good reason.) I have a few sets of "keys" for my little one to play with, but just recently he has realized that these are not real keys. That is where the B Fun Keys really surpass all the other key toys - they look real, without you having to worry about your  keys.

9. Kid-O Boats, Planes & Trucks - Again, I was lucky enough to get one of these as a gift early on. Turns out ... they are amazing. They are cute and Little Peach can grab and manipulate them. I know they are a toy that will last because my husband is also quite taken by them! I can't resist the little floating ducks!

10. I'm reserving number 10 for a big ticket item. There are just so many things out there that your kid may love - hopefully you have a friend who has one so you can try it out first. So this spot is for the the jump-a-roo, exersaucer, walking toy, water table, wagon or kid chair that will take up way too much floor space, but you will love. (We inherited  both a jump-a-roo and an exersaucer and it is like watching a baby go to the amusement park.)

This is also the place I should mention that a very dear "auntie" sent Little Peach a sled - that we have every intention on pulling him around on during the next snow. If that snow should come on Sunday, we will be opening that package early!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ma Chauffeur in 5 – Believing in a smooth ride

Even though I’ve only been a mom for four months now, I learned within hours of my son's birth that finding just five minutes for myself each day would be a challenge.  My blog entries will be your excuse to finding your five minutes even if it means you read it aloud to your little one while he’s watching you on the toilet.

This past weekend my husband, my four-month old son, B, and I were going to bring our 1949 Packard “Hugo” home.  My husband was going to drive Hugo while B and I followed him in our SUV. 

You don’t know this about B yet, but he doesn’t travel well AT ALL in the car.  He always wants someone in the backseat with him, and “Miss Bee,” one of his favorite toys, although this formula doesn’t always guarantee a smooth ride.

Since the ride home was 40 minutes, we were planning to pick up my Dad to ride in the backseat with B.  Just minutes before we were to pick up my Dad, something came over my husband and I. B was so sound asleep, we decided that I would try to make the ride back home with B alone in the back seat.  Do you see where this memorable adventure is headed?

I was feeling pretty confident in our decision, that is until we hit a bump as we pulled into the driveway to pick up Hugo.  You guessed it.  B woke up! You can only imagine the look on my face.  I was praying he would fall back asleep.  Once I saw his poopy face, I knew we were in for a long ride home, longer than 40 minutes.

It was less than 5 minutes after B woke up that I called my husband to pull over.  B needed a diaper change and feeding.  After a change and feeding, B was wide awake.  My husband suggested he sit in the backseat with B and we drive around the neighborhood until he fell asleep. I thought it was a brilliant idea! We just didn’t discuss how long we would drive around for. 

We had only been driving for a few minutes and I was ready to call my Dad. My husband suggested we drive for 15 minutes. I knew sooner or later we would need to do this so I kept driving and praying.

Fifteen minutes seemed like an eternity, especially driving up and down the same three streets.  My husband acted like he was asleep while B watched him.  When I had given up 12 minutes ago, now B was asleep.  My husband quietly jumped out of the SUV to get back into Hugo. I still had my doubts that B would wake up and cry.  Forty minutes later we pulled into our driveway, B still soundly sleeping.  Mission accomplished!

Looking back on this experience, I learned life lessons that aren’t taught, but rather come with personal experience.

#1) Don’t worry...until whatever you’re worrying about actually happens.  I anticipated the ride home with B would be full of tears and screams.  Little did I know, it was one of the most peaceful rides.

#2) Listen and try.  While I wasn’t thinking clearly and wanted the easy way out (to call my Dad), my husband had a plan and it worked!

#3) Get a back seat mirror if you don’t already have one.  I can’t tell you how many times I looked at the mirror during that ride home. I bought that mirror for $20 and I would have paid $100 for it.  I breathed easier seeing B’s face whenever I wanted to, not to mention keep the roads safer.

#4) Never underestimate the power of prayer.  Prayer was probably not necessary in this situation, BUT it gave me hope.

#5) Don’t give up.  I’m disappointed that I didn’t believe in myself and B at first. Here’s to believing this holiday season. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas time!

The Christmas season is a little different with a one-year old still living with his foster family across the ocean.  This year has already (hopefully) had a list of “lasts.”  The last time we set up the tree with the ornament s somewhat evenly spaced, probably the last time without some fresh home-made glittery, popsicle-stick kind of ornaments, the last time we can set out certain decorations within arm’s reach, the last time for toyless Christmases, the last time we don’t have to worry about finding a babysitter for a Christmas party and probably the last time for a while that we will sleep in on Christmas day. 

Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are enjoying this season, but with a heavier heart than usual; we are missing a vital person in our celebrations.   We are sending our little guy a Christmas box in care of his foster family. I’ll include a blanket, some clothes and maybe a toy.  Each set of grandparents is sending us a gift for his room. This year, he doesn’t know who we are—let alone probably get the concept of gifts but we want to be able to tell him that his whole family planned for him for a long time.  The band Third Day has a song that strikes a chord with us…they sing about missing a child who was still in China for Christmas “It is Christmastime again but you’re not home, your family is here but you are somewhere else alone”…it is a bittersweet song. That song brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it, yet I know there will be a day he will be home with us.

What has been fun this year is I have purchased several snowmen families—each family has a dad, mom and a kiddo.  We have been purchasing ornaments and decorations that have a family focus vs. a couple focus.  This year, when we take our traditional picture in front of the Christmas tree we will be holding a picture of our little guy. 

I would love to hear how you’ve celebrated Christmas with a kiddo not yet home. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Salt Dough Ornaments

I love to involve baby Peach in my crafts whenever possible. Salt dough ornaments seemed like the perfect pick.

It's a simple enough recipe -  1/2 cup salt, 1 cup flower,  1/2 cup water and a 250 degree oven. After combining the ingredients in a mixer and kneading it by hand to a good consistency, roll it out. Grab some cookie cutters, press your fingers, keys, whatever into it and bake. Tada. Cute little keepsake ornaments. I finished mine off with some marker decorations and midge podge spray.

I let little H eat a bit of the dough - the salty taste was not very pleasing so he cut that out and actually had fun mushing it around in his hands. A bib is certainly necessary for this activity.

If you have older children there are lots of fun ways to decorate these ornaments with glitter etc. Here is another blog post with lots of good decoration ideas.  This was quite enough chaos for us!

We had a great time. Much like when I had Baby Peach paint his pumpkin, he had no idea what was going on. He was all smiles though during the activity. Daddy Peach whisked Baby Peach upstairs for a bath as soon as we were done, giving me time to scrape the dough out of his high chair.

Any suggestions for other holiday crafts I could 'do' with my little one?

To see some other holiday crafts that did not involve Baby Peach you can check out my craft blog here.

It did NOT taste good! 
So I can eat this? 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Holidays: Gift Giving & Managing Expectations

When I found out I was pregnant, Christmas was one of the things I was most excited about. I had all these plans for Christmas as a new little family. I now realize that Baby Peach has not a clue what is going on. However, if we are having fun, Baby Peach is having fun.

With this in mind, I've lowered my expectations for Baby peach, but plowed ahead with holiday plans. Here is what is on our Holiday agenda.

Meeting Santa at our town's "Small Town Christmas" - tears and all together fear completely expected.

Cutting Our Tree From The National Forest - the Best Man from our wedding lives just north of us. (Interestingly. His wife and I share a name and profession!) They did this last year with their daughter so they are going to show us the ropes

House & Tree Decorating - I assume Baby Peach will enjoy pulling ornaments off the low hanging branches

Presents Galore - I can't help it! I'm sure H will enjoy the boxes more than the gifts, but I'm still excited about giving H a few things. I've even hidden his wrapped gifts, fully aware he could play with them everyday and have no idea.

That leads me to this question - What Holiday activities are you planning to do with your little one? What will they be getting this year?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mom & Baby Activities (or How to Get Out of the House with an Infant)

This is an excerpt from a previous post from my craft blog, Peach Stitches. I though it would be applicable here! 

I've never had trouble filling my days -I always have some project in the wings just waiting to get finished. When little H came along, I knew I would need to make use of his nap time and dad time for my crafty endeavors. However, I never gave any thought to what I would do with all the time that H was awake. At our last base, I had a whole group of pregnant friends and friends with kids. I figured my days would be filled with all the activities I was constantly trying to fit in around work - walks with the girls, play-dates, trips to Starbucks... then we moved.

I knew how to make friends before having a baby - work, socials, shopping. Before the baby, I could make plans at a moments notice and do just about everything. Now I have to consider nap times, meal times, and the fact that little H requires at least part of my attention all the time. So new plan. I would have to find a few new mom friends and some new mom-baby activities.

Luckily, most moms are looking for something similar, so there are a variety of groups that cater to moms looking to hang out with other moms. After a Facebook conversation with one of my best friends (also a new mom), I thought a list of mom-baby activities might be helpful. (Plus this way I will have all the links in one place!)

Most of these national organizations have local chapters that offer a variety of activities. It is certainly about finding the right fit for you and your kid so give them a try- most let you try an activity or two for free. Feel free to add any additional resources you know about. (I'm certainly no expert!)

Military Spouse Clubs - most have a play group or other child friendly options
MOPS - Mothers of  Preschoolers
La Leche League International -  I haven't been to one of these yet, but I have several friends who loved the breastfeeding support groups.
Stroller Strides - play groups in addition to a whole host of fitness options. This has been my life saver. It gives me a reason to get out of the house, knocks "workout" off my to do list and provides access to a bunch of mom's who have been through what I've been through.
Gymboree Classes  - We haven't checked these out yet, but my Stroller Strides mom's swear by them for an indoor winter activity. It is on my to do list for after the Holidays.
Pottery Barn Kids Story Time - Every Tuesday at 11am with some weekend special events. Call your local store to confirm.
Bring your Baby Matinee - There isn't one here in the springs, but I went in Atlanta and loved the idea that I could bring my baby to the movies with me. I wish this was offered at more theaters.
Monkey Bizness & Little Monkey Bizness  - These are not available everywhere (yet) but one just opened in the Springs. You pay per kid (different rates for walkers and crawlers), but adults are free. There are bounce houses and a variety of little climbing and play structures. It is quite fun and a great place to go for a play date so you have another mom to talk to.

Public Library - Library story times are our favorite! Since I can't link to all the public libraries here are my favorites from the places we have been this summer: Pikes Peak Library District (Colorado Springs), USAFA Base LibraryHampstead Public Library (Montgomery, AL),  Fulton County Library (Atlanta, GA)

YMCA  - The Pikes Peak YMCA's offer 2 hours of child care so you can work out (something the base gyms don't offer) as well as a variety of classes for children, families, and individuals. H and I will hopefully be taking a swimming class very soon!

Montgomery Zoo - This place deserves (and will hopefully get) its whole own blog post at Out of Edwards. They have great activities for families and kids, in addition to the normal fun you would have at the zoo. I can't wait for H to be old enough to try out one of their Stroller Safari's. Again, check out your local zoo because they are bound to have these type of activities.

Children's Museums - I know your thinking that your child is too little for a children's museum. While many activities are aimed at slightly older kids. H has been to Children's Museums in Denver, EriePittsburgh and played for a full two hours. (He is a bit ahead of the curve on the mobile side for a 7 month old, but we see plenty of other babies there having a good time.) For the most part H is free at these museums so I only have to pay admission for the adults with us. We ended up getting a membership to the museum in Denver that offers membership benefits at other museums.

One more resource to check out - the Rookie Mom's Blog has a list of activities to try with kids of any age. I particularly found their list of "25 Things to Try during Maternity Leave" helpful at giving me suggestions to get out of the house with the little one.

A special thanks to everyone who has helped me fill my days with activities H and I can both enjoy.

After reading all sorts of stories about losing your old "non mom" friends in Parenting magazines,  I also want to thank my non-mom friends that continue to hang out with H and I. These ladies have accompanied us to the zoo, park and even had us in their homes. They always smile when H throws one of his fits. I have a special place in my heart for my friends that have accommodated my life change with such grace.

This is stating the obvious, but nights away from the little ones really do make the heart grow fonder ... so don't discard those activates you enjoyed before baby either. Now I just need to find a good babysitter! (Update: I've found a wonderful young lady across the street that H just adores. She is everything you would want in a babysitter - she tells me he missed me (we are having a lot of of separation anxiety these day) but reassures me that they had a great time. Plus, he is always asleep when I get home!) 

*Update 12/2012 - 10 Things You Should Do During Baby's First Year from

Ma Chauffeur truly does exist

Ok, I’m here and I’m there, and I’m everywhere.  Is it that obvious that I’ve been reading Dr. Seuss to my 4-month old B?  Right now he is napping across the Boppy on my lap and his nap is supposed to last another hour, but then again he woke up an hour early this morning so you do the math. Anyway, here’s to a quick intro.

I was born, raised, and now live and work in suburban Detroit.  I’ve been married to the love of my life for 1 ½ years and together we created our little miracle, B, who was born this past July.  Besides being a SAHM, I work from home for the CFO of a Big 10 University, I'm the CEO of my own company Motor City Vintage Rentals and, of course, our household.

Even though I absolutely love all of my “real” jobs, my most satisfying job doesn’t give me a monetary paycheck, but a paycheck of sweet giggles, ear to ear smiles, wet kisses, tight hugs, and crocodile tears. I'll gladly accept nose burning farts too. I might not always do everything perfectly, especially as a new Mom, but at least I can sleep peacefully until 3:45a.m. knowing I tried.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Have Baby... Must Travel

How to travel with a child seems to be one of the most googled topics for parents. Travel is also a topic that causes me a lot of needless anxiety.

We love to travel. Before Baby Peach came along we traveled all the time, we would just pick up and go wherever the wind blew us (see Anyway, I wasn't sure how things would change when baby peach arrived but thanks to an ill timed PCS he has learned to be a good traveler. He has been to 13 states in his first 6 months. It's not always easy, but we always survive.

We are currently preparing for a Thanksgiving Trip to Erie, PA and then a Christmas Trip to Puerto Rico. This got me thinking about what to pack, new challenges now that he has started solids and how to let him be active when we are cooped up.

So here is how we have survived in the past. I would love additional ideas, tips or even just your travel stories. I promise to report back what will likely be an eventful trip.


Baby Peach loves the Ergo. I've tried a sling and a the Baby Bijorn, but the Ergo is comfortable for me, offers three wearing positions (front, side,back) and I can take it on an off myself.

If your flying you can wear your baby through the metal detector. Just make sure your carrier has no metal pieces. You will need to have your hands swabbed after you load everything up on the conveyer belt, but it's a small price to pay to have your little one against you when you go through security.

(Before I knew I could wear him I tried going through security with a squirmy baby in arms and it was terrible. I didn't know it was terrible 'till unrealized I could have two hands free!)

Your baby should be comfortable in the carrier so try it out a few days before your trip. I also attach a binky to the carrier so it's handy.

Finally, you should know that you cannot keep your baby in the carrier for take off and landing. FAA regulations require your baby to be out of the carrier. This can be really annoying if your baby is asleep when you board. With the Ergo, I just unclip the back and pull the shoulder straps down so if baby is asleep he can stay asleep and I can easily get him back into the carrier once we are up in the air. (This is less important if you are traveling with another adult.)

I just can't stomach traveling with our Baby Jogger Stroller. When Baby Peach was little we traveled with a used Snap N'Go. It took quite a beating, making me glad we don't travel with our other stroller. For our upcoming trip I purchased an umbrella stroller. I did quite a bit of research and ended up with a mid-priced uppababy. I haven't tried it out yet though - so I'll have to get back to you.

Most airlines will let you gate check or regular check your car seat and stroller. I've done both.

The advantage of regular checking your stuff is that you don't have to carry your stuff through the airport. The disadvantage is the among of abuse it takes and waiting for it on the other end. (Strollers and car seats typically come up on the oversize items carrousel.)

The advantage of gate checking is that you can put all your stuff in the stroller to roll it through the airport, you can use the stroller and handicap TSA line (which is always shorter), you have it incase wearing your baby become tiring. The disadvantage is having to pack it up and put it back together in the jetway, having to lug it into the bathroom, having to take every elevator instead of escalator and having to put it all on and off the security belt.

I've done it both ways and use ally make a game time decision. If my flight is not direct I always gate check.

I always bring our own carseat. I know you can rent them with your rental car, but I'm just too paranoid. Again you can gate check or regular check your car seat on most airlines for free. I have a car seat travel bag that is awesome. It has kept my seat clean and intact - we have used it with both the Britax Chaperone and Britax Marathon. Additionally with most infant carrier seats you do not need to travel with the base.

An advantage to gate checking the car seat is that if there is an open seat on the plane most airlines will let you bring the infant carrier onto the plane without paying for the seat. On delta this has happened to us twice out of 10 flights.

I also know people that travel with a pack n' play or a portable crib.  So far I've been lucky enough to be staying places that provide one for us. Any one have recommendations for one of these?  H often ends up in the bed with us while we are traveling and then I worry about loose blankets etc. Any co-sleepers out there that use something when they travel?

Thanksgiving was our first trip with little H eating solids. The good news is he basically eats whatever we are eating. The bad news is, on the road, its hard to find fresh food to feed him. We purchased some plum organics and ella's kitchen baby food to fill in the gaps. Luckily, this months Citrus Lane package included spoons that fit right on the end of the baby food pouch. We've been huge fans of the Beba Spoons, but on the plane they just make too big of a mess. These little attachment spoons are perfect when you need to feed on the go. I packed one of our handy plastic bumkins bibs with a pouch, the twist on spoons and a few pouches of food in a gallon bag and we were good to go.

As a note, check the size of your baby food. The plum organics food was two different sizes and the larger ones need to be screened by holding a strip above them. It is not a big deal but will add time to you going through security. (Also this way you won't be caught off guard.) You can bring as much baby food as you think you might need.

I also always make sure to have a bottle or swaddle (for breast feeding) readily available. H likes to nurse when he gets nervous and the new people and surroundings can cause some anxiety for him. Nursing also puts him to sleep, which is always good for a plane ride.

I can't believe I almost forgot to mention two of my favorite feeding products for travel. First, our travel high chair. I didn't pack it on our Thanksgiving trip and I regret it! Chicco makes one that we ended up returning, because despite all its fancy features (like its ability to spin and a large tray) we had trouble getting it on to tables. I also pondered getting the baby jogger one that uses the seat to our stroller, but then I realized that I don't travel with the stroller all the time so that would be an issue. We ended up with the Italian Inglesina and love it. I haven't found a table it can't fit on! It does not have a tray so I just use table toppers to lessen our mess. Actually, it works out better since it can be hard to clean a tray on the go.

Finally. The Munchie Mug! My kid is obsessed with Cheerios. A few of the ladies at Stroller Strides turned me on to these great snack carries. They come with a lid in addition to the lid you can stick your hands through. H is too little to use it himself, but being able to have a snack carrier I could reach into and feed him from without the risk of spilling while walking through the airport is awesome. The mug is more expensive then its munchinkin counterpart, but is made with fabric so it is soft on baby's hands and is near impossible to spill.

A week before the trip I pull out a variety of H's favorite toys and sequester them for the trip. I put them in a plastic bag in our carry-on so that we have easy access. Rotating favorite toys is a great way to keep H occupied. Just keep in mind not to bring any noisy toys that may be annoying to other passengers. We also brought a few of H's favorite touch books.

There are some great webpages and blogs out there dedicated to baby travel. Here's a few I've found helpful.
Have Baby Will

* Update 12/2012*  Wonderful Article from Babble on keeping baby safe when Traveling

Here is a link to the TSA Regulations regarding getting through security with children. 

I would love to hear what products or items you have found useful on your trips!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mama Cowgirl, A little about me

            I mostly grew up in Oklahoma, at least that is where I call home and the place that calls to my heart during the holidays.  My grandparents raised beef cattle and wheat and I was there getting dirty and taking it all in as often as I could.  I thought I would live in Oklahoma forever and then met an Air Force guy that I loved way more than Oklahoma.  We got hitched and moved to the west coast five months later.  I am now the owner and creative designer of my own custom scrapbook business and work from home. 

My husband and I have hiked in various places over the past few years—from Montana to Utah to Southern California, we have put many miles on our trail shoes. In fact, I joke that in most of our pictures our faces are streaked with sweat and dirt.  We really enjoy the time together being outdoors and the road-less traveled though.  We decided we wanted to add to our adventures and add another dirt-streaked face to our pictures J.  In July of 2011 we put in an application with an agency specializing in international adoption.  In May 2012, we were matched with a little guy from South Korea and are hoping to travel to get him between March to May of 2013.  Preparing for a little guy who is already mobile brings with it a whole different set of concerns than a newborn does. While I am a little nervous about those challenges, I also fully embrace the off and running concept. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of running my own business and staying at home with our little guy.   

As an adoptive parent, I feel like I have the gestation period of an elephant.  We have pictures of him, we’ve picked out a name, we’ve bought furniture, we’ve purchased bedding, and we’ve even bought him some clothes, toys and books.  And still we have no end date, so we wait.  This is the adventure we are on now. In a few more months, hopefully we will be chasing a little boy.   I’m sure the next 18 years+ will be quite the dirt-streaked adventure and no doubt well worth it.