8 Things I Learned About Taking a Baby on Vacation

beach

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).

pool

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.).

bryan and grady2

Love, Alex

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Dear Pregnancy Books and Websites…

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In my brief experience with pregnancy thus far, I have noticed some things. These are not pretty things, nor “glowy” things. These are real things. These are the things I wish I could have known. While realistically I know that it would be nearly impossible to pass along every single “what to expect” situation of pregnancy, but c’mon. I need some sassy girlfriend to lay some truth bombs on me for what is quickly becoming “the period in life we shall not speak of.”

I thought I’d compile a list of my findings so far. Not to worry, I’ll give an equally TMI updated version later on, as I am just now almost to the halfway point.

1. The age-old lesson of “Morning sickness isn’t actually just for mornings…” is old news. How about telling me what morning sickness is really like. In my head, morning sickness was this thing where you’d feel nauseous, throw up, and move on with your life until later when you’d do it again. I had no idea the crap-fest that is “morning” sickness. I was clueless to the fact that I would find myself praying to the heavens that I could throw up because then I’d feel better from the misery that is constant nausea. But that answered prayer is never as sweet as you’d think, huh? You lose a little piece of your self-esteem every time you have to throw up in a public space. Side of the road, at work, during a class you’re taking at your church…you haven’t quite experienced pregnancy until your knees become acquainted with the cold, hard floor of a public restroom…that’s my new motto any way. My favorite time was when we (grown adults) thought it was a good idea to hit up Denny’s at 11 pm when everyone had been consuming various amounts of alcohol throughout the evening. There is sick irony in an experience where you are the only one in the group who has not drank a drop…and are also the only one in the group who throws up in the Denny’s parking lot.

2. I grew up in a very open household. Everyone knew when anyone else in the family had any kind of bodily function. And then there was me. While it doesn’t weird or gross me out when others do, I’ve never been the “oversharing type.” It would have been nice if someone had told me that in pregnancy, that adorable privacy evacuates the premises. My dignity is hanging on by a thread at this point. I have lost the give-a-crap for when my husband and many other members of my tribe know the happenings of “the miracle inside me.”

3. I had to learn pretty quickly that eating is a whole new ball game. The books and websites clued me in to the whole backwards “eat when you’re nauseous and you’ll feel better” phenomenon, but no one told me about how aversions weren’t just for when you suddenly don’t like the taste of foods you previously loved or could stand the smell of. I wish I had known that this sweet, sweet baby of mine would be quick fickle about what I am allowed and not allowed to eat while it is sidling my resources and nourishments for 9 months. “Oh, you thought you could eat that delicious potato salad? Think again. Oooh soup, yum. HAHA. How about I make you bloated for 24 hours?”

4. For some women who I hate, the “starting to show” process is cute and dreamy. For me, this whole chubby-looking phase is lasting much longer than I’d like. The websites talk about the precious bump. No one tells you that it doesn’t look like that until MULTIPLE MONTHS of just looking like you have a slight beer belly.

5. I was unprepared for the fact that things I previously loved to do would be come a source of self-loathing. For example, I feel like I’ve made my love for cooking pretty clear in this blog, social media, and general conversation. I have cooked approximately 3 complete meals since I’ve been pregnant. The smell alone is enough to get me, and that’s not even mentioning the effort. I’ve found myself telling Bryan very sweetly that we can have whatever he feels like making or we can go out, whatever floats his boat. We’ve gone out mostly, in case you were wondering. Our monthly grocery budget is like $50 these days.

6. Whining about how you feel is much more rewarding than one might think. I told Bryan the other day that I really wish I could be one of those cool wives where when this was all over and done with he could look at me fondly and think to himself (and tell all the people) that I never even complained at all and took this process like a champ. “HAHAHAHAHAHA” We said in unison. I’ve complained every 5 minutes on average, as pregnancy sucks much more than everyone else lets on. Maybe next time (if there is one), I will suck it up and be that awesome non-complaining wife, although I imagine that version of Alex is like a unicorn or leprechaun… in likelihood that is.

7. Out of all the things I’ve feared in life, permanent body damage takes the crown. I am still unaware of all the changes to my body that I can look forward to. The other day I found out more body parts that I can plan on…ahem…*tearing* in my near future. I am also currently warding off stretch-marks like it’s my job. I hear coconut oil is the secret, so coconut oil-rubbing is my new daily ritual. I wish these cutesy websites could have a page where they lay it all on the line. I know that some moms-to-be would rather it be an unpleasant surprise, but I’d much prefer that sassy girlfriend be like “Look girl, this is the crap that will happen to you.”

8. Pregnancy Hormones are not as bad as the movies make them out to be. I figured with my PMS record that I would be a friggin’ mess while pregnant. This is one of the few pleasant surprises to come of this. I have not cried because there is no more juice, Bryan left the toilet seat up, or because man, Luke and Lorelei really are the perfect couple, and I’m a crier. I have only been irrationally angry like once. I am also aware that I am jynxing myself by posting about this awesomeness, so Bryan, prepare yourself.

9. Pregnancy guilt is much easier to shrug off than I thought it would be. I have always had a bad case of the “Wanting People to Like Me”s. I’ve learned much more in later years about ridding myself of this awful disease, but I still worried about caring what people think once I was pregnant. Much to my delight, my mom’s long-standing advice of “Know what you believe and why you believe it” has come in handy. “You’re drinking caffeine while you’re pregnant? There’s really no safe amount you know.” YEP. “You’re not even going to try to have a natural childbirth before getting an epidural?” NOPE. To each her own people, to each her own.

10. Because we all know how precious I am, I’ve saved the sweet one for last. The mom support group is so much more important than could have ever imagined. I’m sorry for taking advantage of you before I knew the effect you had. Please don’t abandon me for my ignorance in my time of need. Even though, yes, some of the advice and comments can get annoying (as in any situation), for the most part every seasoned veteran has been helpful and understanding. I like to think that pregnancy is as ridiculous for others as it is for me, and I’ve found so much support for this theory in those who love me. So thank you, other moms, I promise to never disregard your knowledge again… for the most part.

This Isn’t Really My Jam, But…

In addition to my ramblings on this site, my personal blog, I also write articles for business blogs. One of which is my very talented husband’s photography company, 6th & Burnside.

This is the most recent blog posting I wrote for it, and I am sharing it here because I think it applies to so many other areas than photography. Really any passion we have and want to take further needs to be put through the ringer that is these 10 steps. I’m hardly my usual hilarious self in it, as you’ll notice exactly zero self-deprecation and ridiculous language such as “like” and “for reals.” I hope you can muscle through any writing without clever rhetoric beginning with “So…”

So… here it is guys!

Being a Photographer 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Fitting in

We’ve all been there. We have a great idea, passion, talent/hopeful talent and want to start making money on it. This is specifically for those of us who enjoy being behind a camera, but I think it applies well to people in lots of business ventures. One of the hardest parts is breaking into the market and being respected in your field by your peers and those who’ve come before you. After being in the photography world for almost 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of beginners come and go, and have learned a few things about what it takes to fit into your field.

 

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Photo of: Bryan Fittin & Josh Noren (www.joshnoren.com) Photo Credits: Andrew Lisle

 

1.      Stay humble! No one likes a guy who bought a semi-nice camera and a cheap version of Photoshop and calls himself a photographer. Or even those who have some money to blow and buy a really nice camera and all the latest software and then call themselves photographers. It’s fun to play around and we certainly think photography is the bomb, but it takes a lot of time, sweat, training, and practice to get to a point of quality work. People will have much more respect for you and will be more willing to give you paying gigs if you’re humble about your skills. You’ve got to walk before you can run, so get out there and learn the ropes before you go around acting like a big shot.

 

2.      Reach out to respected professionals. There is so much good that can come out of learning from those you look up to. Most photographers love to talk about photography! That should go without saying, and if you come across someone who is unwilling to help you, then run away quickly and find someone else. Everyone we know and associate with in the business would love to let you tag along on shoots, do an internship, an apprenticeship, whatever you want to call it. We have an intern program in our company, and are getting to work with an amazing college student with a passion for photography right now. She is getting to learn a lot, build up her portfolio and resume’, and earn a little money to boot! No one is stopping you from doing the same. And hey, it never hurts to get one someone’s contact list for second-shooters while you’re still learning. I know she’s at the top of ours!

 

3.      Make sure you have some second-shooting under your belt to build up a portfolio. Before doing wedding photography, you absolutely need to have some experience! Of course I’m using weddings as an example, but they are stressful! We’ve seen many a photographer get way overwhelmed and in over their heads because they had no idea how fast-paced and demanding it is. Like I said before, work with some other professionals, have some shooting and experience on your portfolio, and have someone else look at your work often to make sure you’re ready to break into the world of professional photography.

 

4.      Be teachable. Don’t let your fear of a bad critique get in the way of humbling yourself to ask others’ opinions. Asking a professional to do a portfolio examination often will set you apart from the rest and instantly gain you respect among your peers. Editing can be tricky stuff and technique is what separates people with cameras from those who deserve to be making money doing photography. Reach out and ask for help as often as it takes to be ready to market yourself as a professional photographer.

 

5.      Stay away from cliché work. Nothing screams “I’m new and don’t know what I’m doing!” more than posting tired, cliché stuff on social media. We’re talking your train track poses, making a heart with your hands, and you know, all that is the sunset photo. Don’t do it. There are plenty of lighting and editing clichés too, but we’ll let your selected professional mentor handle that one.

 

6.      Learn how to market yourself in the type of photography you want to do. Starting out, you’re going to be doing a lot of stuff for your friends, and that’s great! But keep in mind what kind of photography you ultimately want to do, and target what your clients see most based on that. For instance, we ultimately want to market ourselves more to bands and musicians, but we do A TON of family, landscape, wedding, etc photography as well. What we choose to post and feature of those shoots is work that will still market to that music crowd. When choosing your featured work from your collection, focus on photos with the color scheme, posing, and general mood that will best fit your target audience.

 

7.      Volunteer! This is one of the fastest ways to get in with professionals and to be able to serve at the same time. There are a number of charities geared at photography, but the one we serve in most prominently is Help Portrait. There is a branch in most major cities and it is a charity that does photos for families in need around the holidays and for high school seniors in the spring. They will have everyone come and set up “studios” usually in church classrooms and will schedule “clients” in 30 minute sessions for you throughout the day. A good way to get involved up front is to volunteer as an ambassador or an assistant in your first year with the organization. Other ways to volunteer are to donate sessions to your pastor, someone you know who volunteers a lot of their time to worthy causes, or have people sign up for a drawing to donate a session to someone they know who deserves it. 

Alex and I at a Help Portrait Event//Photo Credits: Phillip Thomas (novo-studio.com) // http://www.helpportraitnwa.org

 

 

8.      Invest in a professional website. This one is important. Running your business off of Facebook may be fine for a very short while, but if you are serious about getting into this line of work, invest some funds into a working, clean-looking, professional photography site. If you are starting out and don’t have the cash-flow just yet, pay a graphic design student a small amount to get you up and running. This will invest in their future and give them some good practice as well. Make sure they give you the rights to edit it, so if needed, you can later have a more skilled professional designer touch it up.

 

9.      Let your pricing and marketing reflect your skill level. This key item goes all the way to the beginning of the list in staying humble. If you’re just starting out (this includes your first 2-3 years), there is zero chance you are skilled enough to be charging professional pricing. Don’t be vague about your skill-set. Be up front with your clients in that you are just starting out and don’t market yourself as a master photographer and charge them like one. This will likely lead to frustrations on both ends with the work they get back and will definitely lose you a referral. It’s better to leave your client pleasantly surprised by your great work than very unpleasantly surprised by your lack thereof.

 

10.  Have fun with photography and remember why you love it. Every photographer struggles with keeping it fun and not just a job. We encourage everyone to grab their friends from time to time to practice new techniques, new poses, new lighting, and just to have fun with shooting and editing! When you’re starting out, this is absolutely essential for practicing and building your portfolio as well. It is great to have those beginning photos to go back to and remember why you even wanted to do this in the first place. (And to keep you humble on your beginnings!)

 Starting out in any field is rough, but following these key elements is a great start to being respected by those who have committed to hard work to get to where they are. We’ve all put in our time and hard knocks along the way. No one was born perfect at this amazing line of work that we are privileged to be a part of. If anyone acts like they know everything there is to know, then stay away from them.

We say all of this with love as people who have been beginners. We’ve learned so much along the way and want to be able to help others succeed. People with cameras (Are you catching on that this is a common term among people in the business?) just cheapen the market and slay the reputation of good photographers. You definitely don’t want to be passed off as a cocky amateur early on in your career, so stay humble, reach out to those you respect, and put in the work and you’ll be just fine. Welcome to photography!

I Will Be There.

In light of my last post, I have some thoughts and brags about my fitness/nutrition over the past couple of days. You see, in true Alex form, I typed that post on Friday, and didn’t get around to posting it until yesterday. Ahhh the life of a type-A perfectionist. Forced procrastination, I know you’re all jealous. That being said, I’ve had 3 days to put my awesome plan into effect. GET EXCITED FOR ANOTHER LIST!

Thought 1: I genuinely feel like I am more motivated now than ever before, even more than my wedding, and that’s saying something!

Thought 2: I have learned that I will not die or have a conniption if I skip on the pizza we ordered into work, the leftover mac and cheese that I made from scratch (OMG), and the sweet tea. Who knew?!

Thought 3: You guys, I did it, I caved. I vowed that I was done with MyFitnessPal forever and now I’m not anymore. It’s not that I don’t love the app/program, it’s great! It’s just that I become crazy uptight OCD girl while I’m using it, and then I get soooo disappointed in myself when I go over my calorie limit or something. I’m starting clean and trying to use it as a guideline, not a lifeline. I also started weighing myself again, another thing that I vowed to stop doing. This time around, I am weighing myself on Friday mornings. That’s it. No more obsessive “Oh my gosh I didn’t lose any weight in the last 24 hours!”

There was Dickies BBQ. I limited myself. I am awesome right now.

There was Dickies BBQ. I limited myself. I am awesome right now.

Thought 4: They may be cheesy, fake, ridiculous, what-have-you, but I LOVE those little fitness inspirational meme things! They really do work and get me going. Yesterday during my workout, I pulled up my Pinterest board “Fittin Getting Fit” (Yes I came up with that all on my own and it is in the rankings for most clever thing I’ve thought of, thank you for asking.) and scrolled through the pins to keep me motivated when I wanted to quite literally throw in the towel. They are also great for the times before the gym when you’re reeeeeally thinking that Chinese, the couch, and my shows sound just wonderful.

Thought 5: My ultimate goal is to be a size 6 by the end of June, the time of my brother’s wedding. Apparently I am so ridiculously lazy and inefficient in getting crap done that I need teeny-tiny baby goals as well. The other day, my husband, who is a freaking genius and knows me so well, told me I should estimate the amount of weight I would need to lose by then and divide it up to see how many pounds per week it would be. So I did! And it turns out I only need to lose 2 pounds a week which is TOTALLY doable! Now that my goal seems within reach, I know I can absolutely do this! (And yes I am aware that this seems like a fairly “duh” concept, but as someone who is afraid of the scale, pounds aren’t exactly on the forefront of my mind.)

Last thought: I am learning to use what used to squelch my enthusiasm and make me sad to motivate me even more. I’ll admit it, I am usually THAT girl looking at other women in the gym and comparing myself to them. Now I still do that, but instead of wanting to quit because of it, I say to myself that I will be there. I WILL BE THERE. I WILL BE THERE.

Although this is not a fitness blog, I am committing to be open and honest on there about my progress. I may even post some before photos in the near future! I’ll be working on the courage for that one. 🙂

The Daily Fav Day 28: This thing is finally ending!

I don’t know how you’ve felt about this whole thing, but I am getting very tired of talking about myself. I’m out, finished, finisimo. I didn’t think the day would come when I ran out of things to tell about Alex Fittin. I’m sure this will be similar to when you get off the phone with someone, only to remember a gazillion things you forgot to say to them.

Anyway, for my last day of the Daily Fav, I’ve decided to recap the past month and list some things that I didn’t know how to make an entire post out of. Woo Hoo! So here goes, in one sentence for each:

1. The Paprika App: By far the best recipe/grocery app on the market and definitely worth the $5.

2. Coffee: The thing I need through an IV right to the bloodline.

3. Going to the Movies: Still by far the best date out there, and a wonderful excuse for popcorn.

4. The Pioneer Woman: My cooking kindred spirit and someone I heavily embarrassed myself to at a book signing.

5. The Arkansas Razorbacks: Best sports team to be a fan of ever, period.

6. Big Buddha Flats: MY FAVORITE SHOES-ALL SEASONS.

7. Dark Chocolate: I mean really, do I need to explain this?

8. Bastille: One of the only bands I would go full-hipster for.

9. Stand-Up Comedy: The thing that keeps me young and immature.

10: Television: My shameless, not-so-guilty pleasure that I know way too much the perfect amount about.

11. Giving Presents: This slightly outweighs my love of getting presents.

12. Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien: I cannot choose between them I cannot.

13: Coca-cola: The one unhealthy habit I’m not planning on getting rid of.

14: Valentine’s Day: I just think it’s cute ok?

15: Candy Crush: Have they created a cure for this addiction yet?

16: My dogs: I mean for real, just look at them.

17: Elvis Duran and the Morning Show: My besties that don’t even know me.

18: Mac and Cheese: Hands down the best comfort food there is.

19: Photography: Pretty much just utter amazement at my husband’s talent.

20: Triathlons: Pretty much the only reason I don’t weigh more than I do.

21: Pop Culture: Basically I’m a ninja at all things trivia and current.

22: The Grove Church: It contains so much of the Bryan/Alex history and is our second home.

23: My Loved Ones: So many good feels for these special and wonderful people.

24: Hibachi Food: My birthday vice every year.

25: Travel: I’ve been able to go on some awesome trips in my life, and hopefully it was only the beginning.

26: Classic Rock: I have the music taste of a middle-aged man.

27: Cooking/Food: No please, give me an excuse to cook something.

 

In addition to these favorite things of mine, here are some honorable mentions:

Jen Hatmaker, social media, reading, office supplies, jewel tones, fun travel cups, holding babies, concerts…

…and probably a million more I can’t think of right now.

I hope you guys have at least a little bit enjoyed this look into me and the people and things that I love.

xoxo

The Daily Fav Day 15: Candy Crush!

I failed. I fell into the black hole trap that is Candy Crush. I fell early too. I was the one running around telling people not to download it because the would be sucked in too. This game is ridiculous, time-wasting, and childish. And I love it!

Below is another list within a list of reasons why Candy Crush sucks/is awesome:

1. I am the sole reason that Bryan has never downloaded or played this game. Seriously, he hates it. For no other reason than the fact that it is such a distraction for me.

2. I sadly and embarrassingly have definitely spent money on this thing. I’m sorry but when I am one jelly bubble away from moving on a this freaking level I’ve been stuck in for a week, $0.99 seems worth it at the time of my insanity.

3. These people are freaking genius. How they got grown adults to obsess over a game of candy, lollipops, and rainbows and PAY THEM MONEY FOR IT is beyond me. They make almost $100K a day on this thing.

4. I don’t log it into my Facebook. I do this a) because it’s annoying when other people send me requests, and b) because I am apparently too stupid to figure out how to get lives from other people because I can’t figure it out and I’ve tried it several times.

5. A few months ago, my phone had to be reset and apparently I had removed the option to save my progress in Candy Crush and so it deleted everything I had before like, August. It’s a little very, very sad how angry it made me.

6. This game made me hate chocolate, and I am angry about that. Other players know where I’m at with this.

7. See how ridiculous I sound? Seriously don’t play it. Ever.

PS: I am fully aware of how idiotic this is (See: entire post), but I won’t stop and you can’t make me. So there!