2016 New Year’s Resolutions

OMG, I haven’t updated in a month!!!  It has been quite a hectic last few weeks with the holiday season.  Hope everyone enjoyed it with family.  And now it’s 2016!!!  How the heck did that happen?!  Anyhoo, here are my resolutions for this year.

  1. Try to be off the grid more!
    Is that possible in 2016?  Yes and no.  For me it means to check Facebook less.  I am really aiming to not be the parent that has their head buried in their phone while their child is happily playing independently.  While I still want my children to learn to play independently, I still want to observe the little quirks that make them unique.  If that at all makes sense to any of you.  The goal is just to stay present in the moments and take it all in.  However, you’ll still find me taking a few videos or photos for Instagram.
  2. Mom’s Night Out!!!
    The one thing I miss about SF are the mom’s I met while there. While I have mom friends here, we rarely were ever away from the kids.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s also difficult to have a very meaningful conversation especially now that our children are walking.  It’s usually a quick chat about a topic for 2 minutes before our children wander away from each other.  So I am trying to organize a monthly mom’s night out; away from the kids, away from the husbands so that we can reconnect as women over cocktails and food.  The first one went really well.  I just need to plan that second one.
  3. Be more active!
    Since moving back to the DC suburbs, it is really really easy to fall into that sedentary lifestyle–just sit on the couch or park bench and watch the kids play.  There’s just something culturally different between the East and West Coasts and our views on activity.  While I still play soccer, that’s not nearly enough to what I was doing in SF.  Granted the weather is a lot warmer and nicer there, that’s still not an excuse to not be outdoors and enjoying life.  So I’ve been taking advantage of the wetland preserve a mile away, which my son loves.  I have a zoo membership this year, which both kids absolutely love doing.  And we’ve gone to museums, which thankfully are mostly free here in DC.  We still walk to our local playgrounds.  But it’s nice to go out on a hike or walk, especially now Sammy just wants to walk all over the place (forget about baby wearing or stroller walking).
  4. Take pictures!
    I still primarily  use my iPhone to take pictures, but this year I really want to start using my DSLR more.  I used it a lot during my son’s first years of life, but I just haven’t done so with my daughter.  I always end up forgetting to bring it, but more often than not I’m just lazy about taking pictures.  This year it will change, even though I haven’t used it yet this year!!!  But we have some amazing trips (both with and without  kids!) planned this year, so it will definitely encourage me to pull it out and use it more.

So those are my resolutions that I hope to keep up this year.  I feel like it won’t be difficult, and I don’t want to say kids are the excuse.  What are your resolutions this year?

Advertisements

Maxi Skirt Heaven

IMG_0038

So I usually don’t like maxi dresses/skirts (unless I’m heavily pregnant) just because the length of it is always an issue when you are 5’2″.  But Stitch Fix sent me this great maxi skirt by Loveappella.  The light material is great for summer, the pattern is fun, and the length is absolutely perfect.  I matched it with an old Gap nursing shirt similar to this, but more form fitting.  Sammy is also chewing on her favorite Chewbeads.  If you’ve never heard of Chewbeads and your baby is teething, these things are awesome!!!  They look like any other fashion necklace out there, but these are made out of silicone.  If I wear Sammy, I don’t have to bring a teething toy when I wear her because she loves the Chewbeads.  I confess that I have worn my Chewbeads out sans baby as well just cause they look really nice.  And my shoes are the Rainbow flip flops I live in when it’s summer time.  It’s a great outfit to run errands in or for play dates on a warm summer day.

And in case you are wondering, that’s a Beach Front Baby Water Sling.  It’s made out of a jersey mesh material that’s perfect for a hot summer day and for when you want to take your baby with you into water like a swimming pool, sprayground, or calm ocean water.  It dries super quick and keeps Sammy cool, although I minimize the wearing just because we both get really sweaty and hot in the summer.

Alcatraz Trip

alcatrazSo we (and by we, really me) decided that we were going to pack up the kids and go to Alcatraz. There was an art installation by Ai Weiwei that was in its last week at Alcatraz, and so I managed to find tickets for the first boat out on a Saturday–which is 8:45am!!!  I was a bit hesitant about going with an infant and toddler, but it was actually pretty easy (mostly because no one had a meltdown).

The whole place is actually handicap friendly, which means you can easily take the stroller.  We actually kept Oliver in the stroller most of the time because it was a lot of walking, and I knew that he would get tired of walking.  From the dock to the prison is a pretty steep hill for young kids, but it was probably the safest for Oliver to walk so long as you let your fellow travelers go ahead of you.  The prison has way too many people milling about and it was just easier to keep Oliver in his stroller.  So if you do ’86 the stroller, just be prepared to shield your child from the stampede as he/she slowly saunters about.

There is no food on Alcatraz!!!  There’s a snack bar on the boat that sells hot drinks and then junky food, like hot dogs and nachos.  It’s probably safest to pack some snacks for your wee ones and yourself.  You also aren’t allowed to eat in the prison, but the people there didn’t mind Oliver munching away when he was in his stroller.  You can eat by the dock, and there are benches to make it more comfortable.  You can only drink water in the prison; all other drinks must be consumed outside.

I kept Sammy in the Ergo, which was super easy.  If baby wearing is still comfortable for you, I highly recommend doing that as it just eliminates navigating a stroller through a crowd.  It also meant that Sammy could just easily take a nap whenever and where ever without me missing a beat.

However, I did have to pause my audio tour to feed Sammy.  You could technically try feeding the baby in a jail cell, which would make for an amusing photo.  But there are many people trying to take photos of themselves in these cells, so it’s best not to monopolize the time with your feeding session.  I fed Sammy in the library; we sat on the bench closest to the wall so that she wouldn’t be so distracted by the hoards of people coming into the library or walking down the halls.  The cafeteria also has many benches.  Outside the prison, there’s a few benches when you go through the warden’s office, although that area is pretty busy because you do have a great view of San Francisco from there.  There’s also a bench at the entrance to the prison and then the benches by the dock.

As for the prison itself… it’s great for the adults, not very valuable for young kids.  I kept telling Oliver this was the place where bad people used to live.  But he didn’t really care.  We also brought Oliver’s Leap Frog laptop with him to keep him occupied.  Ordinarily this would be problem, say in a museum.  But since your Alcatraz ticket comes with an audio tour, no one got distracted by the noises coming from his toy (from what I could tell at least).  He did walk around a little bit in the prison, once for a photo of him in solitary confinement and then another point because he was tired of being in his stroller.  But again, it was easiest to keep  him in the stroller because of the crowd.

The first boat that leaves for Alcatraz is 8:45am, but you have to show up 30 minutes early to sort out tickets and wait in line to get on the boat.  I believe the boats leave every 30 minutes.  The 8:45 start time was super early for us, but it worked out in the end.  It just made for a very long day.  For an adult, you will spend at least 2 hours on the island, but you should probably tack on an additional half hour to an hour to that when you are with children.  Because my husband and I have already done Alcatraz in the past, we just did the parts we enjoyed.  So we were able to make it back to the mainland in time for a noon lunch.

Alcatraz is definitely doable with young kids.  Just make sure you are very prepared and take your time while you are there.  I know that sounds counterintuitive as a parent because you are just anticipating that meltdown.  But if you are well prepared you can prevent the meltdowns and actually enjoy your tour!

The 5th Leap

IMG_4295We are in the midst of a Wonder Week, and while it isn’t so bad as when Oliver went through his, it leaves me really tired. On top of that there’s just the daily duties like laundry to do. Baby wearing is helpful for a lot of parents out there. While I don’t mind wearing Sammy, she does not sleep if there’s a lot of bending over, like picking up toys.

I felt bad wearing her and eating because she would be covered in crumbs. But now that she is bigger, she can fit in the Ergo. So I use the hood to cover her while I eat. Haha, but seriously it works!  When she was smaller I used the Boba wrap and a Maya ring sling, which definitely did not have anything to protect her pretty head from crumbs!

IMG_4291Other times, she only falls asleep when I hold her.  And then I am held hostage and only hope that the remote control to the TV and my fully charged iPhone are within arms length.  Any unnecessary movement will wake up Sammy, and then all bets are off.

Our night sleeps have now gone from 7-8 hours to 5 hours, which is nothing to complain about compared to others.  But when you are used to a good stretch of sleep, it throws you for a loop.  If you haven’t invested in coffee stock, you should totally look into it cause that’s what gets me through the mornings.

Ahhh, the mommy life.  One day it will get better, I know it.

P.S.  Did I mention we are moving across the country next month?  No packing being done by this mama!!!

Crunchy Parenting

I think because I started cloth diapering my son people assume I am a “crunchy mom”.  In actuality I am just a cheap mom, and my husband and I probably lean more on the side of main stream parenting than not.

Cloth Diapering

So yes, we cloth diaper in the beginning.  Why?  Because a newborn goes through A LOT of diapers in the beginning–something like 12 times a day.  But when you are washing the diapers yourself to reuse them, it actually will work out cheaper when you reuse them with your second child (which is what we are doing).  The initial cost is a lot, but ultimately in the end you may even make out a profit when compared to disposables (I plan on selling my used cloth diapers when we are done with children).  It also really isn’t difficult, especially when you are dealing with breast milk.  You are already doing a lot of laundry anyways, what’s one more load of diapers every other day?

Why I don’t think I am crunchy?  We stop cloth diapering when the kid grows out of the diapers or starts solids, whatever comes first.  It’s harder to deal with solid poop (like putting the poop in the toilet, spraying, treating, etc.).  We start using disposables, and at this point they aren’t going through as many diapers as they were in the beginning.  Now we probably go through 3-5 diapers a day.  And it’s just easier to roll the poopy diaper up and toss it in the trash while my kid tries to break free from the diaper changing–there’s just no time to deal with cloth diapers then.  We have always used disposables at night and whenever we are going out of the house for the entire day.

Co-Sleeping

I guess we did a form of co-sleeping in the beginning.  We had something similar to a co-sleeper that we used next to our bed.  It made sense cause the newborn will be fed every 2-3 hours in the beginning.  It was also nice to know that he was still breathing cause I could easily just look over and stick my hand on his chest (yes, I did that a few times that first couple of weeks).

Why I don’t think I’m crunchy?  Cause we immediately stopped this sleeping arrangement when we sleep trained him when we knew he could sleep through the night.  My husband and I wanted an independent child who has the ability to put himself to sleep on his own.  Admittedly it was selfish at first; it was completing exhausting for both my husband and I to physically put him to sleep EVERY SINGLE TIME.  We were no longer sleeping well again, which meant that we were not pleasant to him or each other during the day.  We also realized we couldn’t have him sleep in our bed with us.  As easy as it was for him to fall asleep next to me in our bed, I would never sleep well between him kicking me out of bed or just the sheer worry that either my husband or I would crush him.  Though it was tough at first, we now have a son who is able to sleep on his own after we tell him goodnight for both naps and night time sleep.  He doesn’t need a pacifier to soothe himself; just his own voice singing himself to sleep.  He very rarely wakes up in the middle of the night and our naps have more often than not been good, long naps.

I do admit that we occasionally have him sleep with us.  These special occasions are when he is sick (basically he’s miserable with a fever) or we are in a hotel cause he just won’t go to sleep in a hotel.  Otherwise, he’s a good sleeper and we in turn as parents sleep well.

Baby-led Weaning

Yes, this is quite a progressive parenting choice.  Babies usually get their first taste of solids at 3 or 4 months, something like rice cereal.  But here’s a progressive method of introducing solids that requires you to delay the introduction of solids till at least 6 months and the parent should be ok with the baby not really consuming foods in the beginning.  This was totally us, after a trial and failure at purees (but at 6 months instead of 3 months like it was suggested to us).

Why I don’t think I’m crunchy?  I did this because I was tired of struggling to get my son to eat solids food.  It was honestly just easier to give him the food we were eating and letting him explore vs. trying to force food down his throat while one parent ate food.  This ended up being my son and husband having dinner together and me eating later.  From that point forward, it was just pleasant to (kind of) eat dinner as a whole family, which we still do now.  It wasn’t because we believe that baby-led weaning is the best way to introduce solids.  I mean if my son took to purees easily, we would have done that.  But again, we did what was easiest and less stressful for us as a family.

Baby Wearing

Yes, we wore my son in the beginning.  It was nice to have him close to us and bond in that way.  He enjoyed it, and we figured out which carriers worked best for us.

Why I don’t think I’m crunchy?  We didn’t nearly wear him a lot when compared to other parents.  The only times we wore him were times we could not use the car seat and/or stroller.  Again, it was out of convenience.  This new baby will probably be worn more than her brother just because he will be in the stroller (and I don’t want to buy a new double stroller for the both of them to use).

So while others may think (judge) that I am a crunchy mom and that my husband is a crunchy dad, in actuality we just parent how we think fits our family’s needs.  This is usually whatever is easiest and convenient.  As I told my friend earlier today, there’s no right or wrong way to parent.  If you find the balance, you and your partner are on the same page, and you are happy (albeit, tired) at the end of the day, then you are doing it right.