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 babble.com

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 outofedwards.blogspot.com). 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 Travel.com

* 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. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mama Bee, an introduction

My name is Mama Bee and my life has been busy busy busy in the last three yrs!!

After grad school and working for a little while in Michigan, I moved back to Ohio, got engaged, got married, went house hunting in CA the weekend after the wedding, drove across the country with my husband two months later, went on a "babymoon" on our one yr anniversary, and had our baby boy three mos later!

Life certainly has not slowed down since May... we still manage to have plenty of adventures & travel, just now with a little one in tow... :)

Products that got us through the first few mos

**Disclaimer**: I am by no means an expert in the best baby products available. So when I started preparing for Baby Boy, I turned to my seasoned mommy friends (& customer reviews on Amazon) for advice.

Here is my list of items that helped my husband & I get through the first three months (otherwise known as the trial and error period haha).

Feeding: Tommee Tippee bottles. Especially loved the formula containers that can be stored inside the bottle. Genius.

Diapers: We are using cloth with snap closures, specifically a combination of BumGenius and Flip Covers. We haven't quite made the leap to full time in cloth yet but will soon. Other accessories we needed in this category: BG diaper sprayer, g diaper small wet bag (for 1-2 diapers) which is perfect for a tiny diaper bag, PlanetWise medium wet bag (with 2 sections so you can keep a change of clothes in one section & diapers in the other), PlanetWise diaper pail liner (to throw everything into the laundry).

Sleep: Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper. We used it for daytime naps ever since he was born. At night we did a combination of the bassinet portion of the Pack and Play and the crib. The sleeper was perfect for road trips and during family visits (when he'd be sleeping in our room). It also provided a semi reclined position to reduce his frequent spitting up.

Bathing: Summer Infant Right Height Tub. It snaps into a future step stool (love multitasking products) so you don't have to lean into the tub to bathe the baby. Love the newborn insert and am still using it (gives him support so he can happily kick splash away).

Diaper bag: thirty-one All in One Tote for everyday use (i.e. quick trips). I use the larger Organizing Utility Tote with its 7 external pockets for traveling... everything is so easy to find & it's crazy how much stuff you can fit in it.

Other essentials:
-Summer Infant SwaddleMe: with all the SIDS warnings & struggling with how to keep the baby warm at night, we got several of these as registry gifts along with a couple of Miracle Blankets. He kept breaking his hands free so we learned to swaddle him with his arms free. We used them every night for the first 2 months. In the end, he didn't really need to be swaddled to go to sleep but still glad we had them.
-Sleep Sheep On The Go: another great just in case item :) After watching and the reading The Five S's, we knew white noise was the way to go and the Sleep Sheep would be perfect for maintaining routines even when traveling. We used it a lot in the first two months as well.
-Ergo Sport: This was absolutely fantastic for flying solo with baby. I had him strapped to my front, diaper bag/backpack on the back, leaving my hands free to manage my carry-on through the airport.
-Moby wrap: perfect to take him to baseball games & while walking all over museums & such. Disadvantage: didn't use it as much as I wanted to during the summer cause he got really hot in it.
-Brica Day & Night Musical Auto Mirror. We don't use it a ton but it's great because he hates sitting in the dark when he's awake (we keep a nightlight on in the nursery for this reason).

What baby essentials did you find you just could not live without?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mama Peach, An Introduction

Just a quick hello to introduce myself. I'm Mama Peach. I'm a Georgia girl at heart, an attorney by trade, a military spouse by marriage and a SAHM by choice.

My little peach was born in April 2012 in California at UCLA. Someone was watching out for me because despite a wrapped cord I was lucky enough to have a natural and quick delivery - only 30 min at the hospital! I can't say enough about my amazing delivery experience: ny husband was a wonderful coach and advocate, my doula had prepared us both well for exactly what we encountered, my mother was incredibly supportive, even though I'm pretty sure she thought all the "hypnobirthing mumbo jumbo" was crazy talk and my labor and delivery nurse was caring enough to yell at me the moment I needed it! (I mean this in all seriousness.)

Although my delivery was amazing in ways I can't even describe, the most rewarding part has been every day I've had with baby peach since then. He continues to amaze and amuse me from the little things that make him giggle and the mundane things that frighten him, from the way he makes toys from trash to the way he takes on new skills with reckless abandon.

I would love to box up each little moment and replay it over and over, but instead I'll share the highlights with you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Baby Handbook (or Why We Blog)

Look, they don't give you a handbook when you have a baby, and I'm not even sure that any of this advice will be sound, but at least you will know you're not alone.

When I was talking to each of the other moms about starting a mommy blog so that we could all share the funny things that happen and the crazy things we try, we all discussed how all the baby pages are full of people who want to compare their children or tell you how you are mothering wrong. I've been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by women who are willing to share their experiences in a judgement free way. I truly believe that being a mom is about sharing those funny stories so you know your not alone. Plus, everyone needs something good to read when your Google-ing during your 3am feeding. (Now would be a good time to mention that I have actually Googled all of the following: "dropped iphone on baby's head," "baby prefers left breast, what's wrong with right one," "breaking free of swaddle" and of course "baby not sleeping" "when will baby sleep through the night" and "baby sleeping all the time!")

Anyway, we all decided this would be a good way for us to remember how much fun it is to have a little baby and, at the same time, share the conversations we have been having on Facebook and through texting about what has worked for us and sometimes, more importantly, what hasn't worked. Most of all, though, I hope to share some laughs about the funny things that have happened to us, because at the end of the day, it's nice to know you're not alone.