8 Things I Learned About Taking a Baby on Vacation

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Whew. We just got back from a week in Hilton Head, South Carolina with some of our very best friends, and then I pretty much immediately turned around and toted Grady to my birthplace, Shreveport, Louisiana for a long weekend. It was a whirlwind of crazy things, two of them being fun and stressful, but I feel like I’ve learned some lessons about taking a baby on vacation that I’ll be remembering for our next beach trip in August. Yes we’re nuts. Thankfully, our August trip is in Gulf Shores where another one of my very best friends resides, so if I run out of baby things I can just beg her for them. (Haaaaaaay Arden.)

1. Whenever possible, leave when baby is supposed to go to bed or at the very least, down for a nap. This should give you a few hours (or normal naptime) of peace when you can start the trip off on a good foot with getting gas, stopping for Sonic drinks (duh) and whatever road trip necessities you have.

2. Stock up on whatever will make your kid happy for the duration of the car ride. I learned that babies just don’t like the car for long periods of time. Or at least my baby doesn’t. Even with leaving past his bedtime, we still ended up with a cranky, fussy baby. Tylenol (because they get sore) and toys are mom’s best road trip friends. For older babies, snacks can probably be thrown in there, but mine is still on purees. For even older babies, those portable DVD players probably seem like God Himself reached down from Heaven and nestled them into the grateful and loving arms of moms everywhere. I look forward to these times.

3. Schedule-Shmedule. We’re not on a super tight schedule around here, but our routine is pretty bomb. We both love it and function very well by knowing what baby thing comes next. Plus, Grady is a pretty good baby. He’s still a baby of course, but for the most part, he will sleep and eat and everything else while we’re out and doesn’t have to be at his home base to function. Enter vacation. Crazy trip schedule + cranky, overtired baby + new and foreign place = yeah right on the normal routine. His naps were a fraction of their regular duration, every mealtime was a struggle, putting sunscreen on was as if I were rubbing Tabasco on open wounds. The list goes on and this type-A mom had to learn to roll with the punches.

4. I totally overpacked the wrong things. Because babies fit into clothes for like a minute tops, I packed alllllllllll of his cutest clothes that fit him right now. I thought I could make do with 2 swim shorts, 2 sun shirts, and 2 swim diapers. I did make do, but I definitely wish I would have considered the type of trip we were going on and what I would need most. we pretty much woke up and threw on swim stuff, so I for sure should have brought more of that. Especially the diapers. Those do not dry fast. And I as a first time mom did not understand the cleaning necessities for them. One poopy diaper being washed out in the ocean had me wishing I would have stocked up on those things instead of the cute clothes he wore half of. (He did look dang cute though let’s just be honest.)

bryan and grady

5. Sunscreen. Like all of it. I thankfully did not have to learn the hard way on this because I slathered it on my crying kid as often as I was supposed to. And really, how often do we reapply sunscreen as instructed? I even thought I did a great job on me and I still got sunburned on the first day, so I was grateful that I didn’t have to deal with a hurting baby on top of a hurting mommy.

6. They will have more stuff than you. Expect and accept it. Babies need a bunch of crap, and since mine is on solids now, food crap was added to the list. Seriously though, so much stuff. I wish I had taken a picture of our trunk. Bryan and I shared a bag and each had our personal totes, plus my sister’s bag, aaaaaaaand the rest was either Grady’s stuff, or stuff used for Grady (pumping supplies, nursing pillow, rock-n-play, etc).

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7. Just buy baby food. I usually make mine, but buy it sometimes when I’m in a pinch too. Like an idiot, I brought a bunch of frozen homemade baby food with me that I ended up throwing most of away. I thought I could keep it frozen during the trip, but it all thawed, and Grady couldn’t eat it fast enough before it went bad. Exactly half a day into the trip, I was wishing I had just bought it and left my frozen stuff at home for when I got back. Plus it would have saved me from having to pack and wash and keep track of bowls. Even the pouches can just be squeezed directly onto the spoon. Gaaah, so much baby food down the drain. Hold on, I need a minute.

8. Take advantage of people offering help. Because OMG vacation should not be as stressful as it definitely can be with a baby. When people offer to hold your kid so you can eat or go to play candy crush in the bathroom, for the love of all things good, LET THEM. Having people on your team makes babying sooooo much easier, especially on vacation.

We are pretty #blessed (Sorry.).

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Love, Alex

So much to do and I’m doing this instead.

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In the wise words of Jim Gaffigan, “you ever have so much to do that you just take a nap?” That’s where I’m at, you guys. My house looks like a tornado went through it, we’re going on vacation next week WITH A BABY FOR THE FIRST TIME, I’ve done zero packing or purchasing the necessary items to TAKE A BABY ON VACATION TO THE BEACH because even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know where anything is in my house because it looks like a tornado went through it. We’ve come full circle. So now you can see why I am sitting at my bar on my laptop instead of doing I don’t know, anything productive. (Even if you can’t, please just nod and smile.)

I’m also slightly distracted by the fact that a very important conversation regarding that whole adoption thing is happening at some point today. If you’re the praying type, we could use it.

Speaking of the house. I’m still in that honeymoon phase where I get in bed every night and say to Bryan “I can’t believe we get to live here.” I want to stay this way. I really don’t want to get complacent and start thinking of this house as anything besides such a blessing that isn’t really mine, but is God’s to be used for His glory. So bring on the parties, bring on the small groups, bring on the bridal/baby/wedding showers, the guests, the students needing a place to crash, and on and on.

The next subject on my mind: vacation WITH A BABY. You guys. I’m kind of stressed about this, which I realize is ironic given the fact that it’s vacation. This is Grady’s first time outside of like a 100 mile radius and most definitely his first overnight trip besides to my parents’ house. And it’s the beach, and the ocean. I need your tips! What’s your best advice for babies at the beach? Especially babies at a beach I’ve never been to. Also, babies on long road trips? Bring it on, readers!

INSANITY and the 4-month Sleep Regression

As you could probably guess by my super-clever title, we have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 4-month sleep regression. For those of you that have not pushed a baby out of you, have a baby pulled from you, or signed all the forms ever made in order to adopt a baby, the 4-month sleep regression is apparently the time when babies start to sleep like normal humans and not babies. So instead of sleeping really hard-core all of the time, they have sleep cycles like we do. Many babies apparently have no idea what to do during the lighter part of the cycle, so they decide that whining and fussing until you come hang with them is the most reasonable course of action.

Ain't no rest for the wicked. Or Grady. Or me apparently.

Ain’t no rest for the wicked. Or Grady. Or me apparently.

Thaaaaanks babyyyy.

Well, I have been slacking on my INSANITY workouts for the past week while recovering from a cold and Monday was my welcome back. After not getting a ton of sleep, this is even more annoying than usual.

Sidenote: OMG you guys, being sick with a kid sucks. I mean, I knew that in theory it sucked, but all I had was a cold and I wanted to throw in the towel. Holla for family who are willing to get up all night with your kid for a day so you don’t have to.

Anyway, INSANITY. Goodness. I am so tired and sore. But y’all. I’m doing it. I’m actually so proud of myself.

This is a photo of me after INSANITY that Bryan asked me to send to him and for some reason, I decided that it was a good idea.

This is a photo of me after INSANITY that Bryan asked me to send to him and for some reason, I decided that it was a good idea. I’m too lazy to take off my makeup on the regular, so black smudges are a constant thing.

I still don’t LGN (not even close) (<–Is that not the most annoying acronym/word?), but I am getting there and for some reason, today I feel good about it. Tomorrow may be a different story, but today I am proud of myself.

Little Joys

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I’m typing this while laying in bed. Not that that’s important, I just thought it was worth mentioning. I’ve never written a blog post from bed before. I should make it a new thing. This is comfy.

ARE YOU BORED YET? SORRY.

Anyway.

I thought I’d share a quick list of the joys that motherhood has brought me so far. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where I want to cry. Just the other day, I told my baby child that he was being kind of a butthead BECAUSE HE WAS OK. But much of the time, this non-mushy mama feels all the feels and smiles all the smiles. So here you go. The best things:

1. Whenever I wake him up and he immediately smiles at me…just before stretching and doing this hilarious duck face every.single.time.

2. He’s been making this surprised face lately that’s just so funny. Like when we mock-throw him in the air, he will open his mouth really wide and gasp. It’s almost like he’s overacting on purpose. Putting on a show. The other day, he had been with my parents all night so I could sleep off a cold, and when we walked in he did the surprised face like “OMG you’re here. I could just die I’m so happy!” (You have to say it in a southern belle accent, otherwise it doesn’t sound as funny as it seemed that day.

3. We just started solids, so he is learning how to swallow nonmilk food and not spit it all over the place and me. So he gets frustrated and will whine a lot during these feeding times, even as they are getting better. But the best part is that he will whine and fuss, but as soon as I make a big deal out of him taking a bite and swallowing it correctly (“Yay Grady! Good job buddy!”), he immediately stops whining and gets this huge grin on his face….and then back to the whining and stuffing his bib in his mouth, but I digress.

4. We try really hard to communicate to Grady that people are ok if we say they are. We want him to have a healthy fear of stranger-danger, but not of the babysitter or friend at church that wants to hold him. However, he has started the phase where he categorizes people as “mommy” and “not mommy.” Most of the time, he’s cool with “not mommy,” just as long as “mommy” is within eyesight. Anyway, the other day he turned his shoulder to my mom for the first time while I was holding him and she tried to take him. For a second, my mama heart was full because realizing that he loves me too and wants to stay with me is huge.

5. He has started squealing, especially when he thinks something is funny. So anytime we do something repetitively during playtime like tickle him and then stop and then tickle him again or give him raspberries on his belly, he anticipates the next time and will squeal with excitement. It makes me smile just thinking about how cute it is.

Ok, that’s enough mushy for now. I have realized how different I am in regards to my son compared to my usual non-touchy-feely self. I’m down with it. He makes me so happy.

Love, Alex

Surviving.

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Ok. I feel like maybe I am finally in a place to gather my feelings and share them without crying, saying something stupid, or yelling at my husband for zero reason at all. (Whatever. How DARE he put his jeans in the wrong laundry bag.)

The aftermath of having a baby sucks. Hard. I’m over it.

No one tells you that 3 months later your clothes still won’t fit, your marriage will be really really hard for a while, you will cry more than you’ve eve cried in your life, and that you will feel such bipolar emotions, at the same time, all day every day.

Oh my gosh this baby is the best thing to ever happen to me.”

“Oh my gosh my life is over!”

All of this is worth it for this precious baby boy.”

“I may never seep again!”

I’ve never ugly-cried to my husband so much in the history of the world. I’ve caught myself thinking back to when I just wanted so badly to impress this guy. After what he has seen of me, let’s hope that good impression has lasted him through.

Oh my what his eyes had just seen. (Sorry it's blurry, I obvi wasn't the picture-taker.)

Oh my what his eyes had just seen. (Sorry it’s blurry, I obvi wasn’t the picture-taker.)

I wish someone would have told me that I would only want to watch Psych because I couldn’t watch anything that made me feel things. Or that I would find myself saying “I’m sad today.” because there was just no other way to describe how I felt. I wish someone would have told me (and Bryan) that it would be a while before our needs would be met fully by each other. Most of all, I wish someone would have told me how long it would take to start feeling better.

It’s not that I expected to feel great immediately, but my for-real expectation was like two weeks to a month.

Lol no. Grady is 3 months old today and I am just now feeling like my head is above water. It’s all about survival. And the worst part is that next week will feel entirely different and I’ll probably come crashing down again. I can only hope that the memories of the good days will hold me through the bad ones. 

Three months later, I’ve graduated to reruns of Gilmore Girls. Maybe next week I’ll be ready for crime shows again. I also started triathlon training again. Nothing like having to get new workout clothes because my regular ones are too small. #Irony.

**Side Note: My family is doing a biggest loser competition! We are all going to beach in August, so we have until August 1st to lose the biggest percentile of our goal, lest we lose $50 instead. Cameron (my brother) doesn’t get to play and therefore is our moderator and if he is upset about it then he can just TAKE HIS SKINNINESS AND CRY HIMSELF A RIVER.**

Oh! And I made myself a chore chart because the house was driving my crazy. Plus organization and the charting of the chores was therapeutic, duh.

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

So there you have it. All of my emotions and thoughts from the past 3 months word-vomited before you.

It feels good to do life again. Just don’t misplace any laundry around me and hopefully I can keep my cool a little longer.

Love, Alex

Grady’s Nursery!

Nothing to see here, just being a mom, not posting on my blog. Ugh. Ok fine, here’s another picture of my kid.

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Up on dat drool game.

Despite my best efforts and complete lack of skills, Grady has a pretty bomb nursery. It’s bear themed (What else?) and I had some amazing help with almost every aspect, mostly from my amazing craft-queen of a friend, Rachel Hamen. She has a super successful Etsy shop called One Crafty Foxx where she sells everything from themed party decor packages to t-shirt designs to witty kitchen signs. She’s my go-to for all things crafty or design-oriented and she should totally be yours too!

I hope you also enjoy a virtual tour of our baby room, complete with my meaningless commentary.

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My grandfather painted this bed gray for us. It was so sweet and cute. He was extremely concerned about the paint being safe to have around Grady and went to great lengths to ensure that the bed was perfect for our little guy.

My grandfather painted this bed gray for us. It was so sweet and cute. He was extremely concerned about the paint being safe to have around Grady and went to great lengths to ensure that the bed was perfect for our little guy.

Bryan's second mom had that quilt made. When I found out we were getting a quilt, I was a little worried because I am not a quilt person at all, but I couldn't love this more! It's adorable and fits the room perfectly. Those cute pillows were handmade by my friend Kim, who maintains my sanity on a regular basis.

Bryan’s second mom had that quilt made. When I found out we were getting a quilt, I was a little worried because I am not a quilt person at all, but I couldn’t love this more! It’s adorable and fits the room perfectly. Those cute pillows were handmade by my friend Kim, who maintains my sanity on a regular basis.

These are a Rachel specialty. She found the perfect colors to go with everything and did the silhouettes exactly like I wanted. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

These are a Rachel specialty. She found the perfect colors to go with everything and did the silhouettes exactly like I wanted. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx&nbsp;

What kid wouldn't love  fake bear rug? Mali and Phoebe like it too, unfortunately.

What kid wouldn’t love fake bear rug? Mali and Phoebe like it too, unfortunately.

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Rachel was the main host for my baby shower, and since she knew she was helping with my nursery, she made decoration for the shower that could double as nursery decor. This bunting was one of those items, and I loved it so much I used it in TWO different places in the room.

This shelf was custom made by Bryan's sister Alicia who has a business called Burnside Woodworking. She is amazing at this stuff and did I mention that SHE MADE THIS BASED ON A SMALL IPHONE PHOTO THAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PATTERN AT ALL? Seriously, girl's got skills.

This shelf was custom made by Bryan’s sister Alicia who has a business called Burnside Woodworking. She is amazing at this stuff and did I mention that SHE MADE THIS BASED ON A SMALL IPHONE PHOTO THAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PATTERN AT ALL? Seriously, girl’s got skills.

We have a bear shelf. you guys! A bear shelf! Just so awesome.

We have a bear shelf. you guys! A bear shelf! Just so awesome.

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That birth plaque may be one of the things I'm most obsessed with. Maybe. There's too much. I asked Rachel to make a stats sign and she whipped this up in like a day. She's awesome. She can do whatever animal and custom colors for this bad boy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

That birth plaque may be one of the things I’m most obsessed with. Maybe. There’s too much. I asked Rachel to make a stats sign and she whipped this up in like a day. She’s awesome. She can do whatever animal and custom colors for this bad boy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

Found that lamp at Walmart y'all. Not kidding.

Found that lamp at Walmart y’all. Not kidding. Also my grandfather made this table for me and painted it the same color as the bed. Tornado Woodcrafters for the win!

What even is the point of a toy bin without a bear on it? Says my husband. #BearsForLife

What even is the point of a toy bin without a bear on it? Says my husband. #BearsForLife

This is the coolest wall in the room. Rachel made everything on it (save for the coat hook). That ombre bear cutout? Good gosh she's good.

This is the coolest wall in the room. Rachel made everything on it (save for the coat hook). That ombre bear cutout? BY HAND. Good gosh she’s good.

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A bear hook for a bear coat. What else?

A bear hook for a bear coat. What else?

Shout out to Brian Bailey of the Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville for this bad boy. So, so cool.

Shout out to Brian Bailey of the Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville for this bad boy. So, so cool.

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Bryan took and edited like 80 photos of this bear because he loves it so much. I’m only leaving you with 2, but trust me, I can give you the hookup on photos of this bear if you want.

Did you think there would be anything that didn't have a bear on it? WRONG! Even his clothes hamper is with the program.

Did you think there would be anything that didn’t have a bear on it? WRONG! Even his clothes hamper is with the program.

Another crafty friend of mine painted Grady's name on this for me. She's super talented as well and you can find her at

Another crafty friend of mine painted Grady’s name on this for me. She’s super talented as well and you can find her at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkvarlaStudios?ref=search_shop_redirect

Obviously I have some extremely talented friends. My nursery would never have looked like it does without their help and we are so grateful. Anyone who can sit down with me and catch my non-vision and somehow turn it into a reality deserves high praise and all of the chai tea, so one more HUGE shout-out to my amazing friend Rachel Hamen at One Crafty Foxx.

All photos taken by Sixth and Burnside Photography.

Love, Alex

Pfff Babies

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You know what type-A people LOOOOVE? Routines and structure, duh. You know what babies give zero effs about? Your routines and structure.

Ugh.

So after about 4 weeks of beating my head against the wall trying to implement Babywise………I’ve given up.

That’s right, you heard me. I threw the towel in and called it quits. I’m sure that it was much less dramatic of an experience than I am pretending it was. In my head, I arm-swiped the changing table and deleted my baby-tracker app, but in reality I just cried and wailed “I can’t do this anymooooooore.” IT WAS MONUMENTAL TO ME, OK?

For reals though. I so want Grady to fit into the perfect routine and sleep pattern and be super happy all of the time. What I didn’t plan for was when his stomach hurt so he didn’t sleep when he was “supposed to,” or when I am a new mom and just want to hold him all of the time and not feel guilty about it or like I am ruining him forever and ever.

I felt like such a failure as a mom because I was following all of the rules and it still wasn’t working. As if human babies follow a formula. I was stressing him out too. Since I became a quitter, he has slept better and become a much happier baby.

I think Babywise is great in some ways, and I plan on keeping a good bunch of it in mind. Everyone told me to take it with a grain of salt, but as I am a anal-retentive crazy person, I of course went full-force until I burnt myself out. I was so stressed and upset because he wasn’t logically doing what he was supposed to (I know right?!), that I feel like I missed out on some of the sweet moments along the way.

I am so guilty of this in so many ways. I get so set on trying to cram that square peg into whatever structured hole it’s “supposed” to go in that I miss the cues that it isn’t working, or that perhaps God has provided a better way.

I’ve decided that I am just going to do whatever I feel like doing in regards to Grady, and he will just have to be along for the ride. Now if I could just learn to be along for the ride for my Parent.