Friday, December 13, 2013

Advice for Traveling With a 9-12 Month Old

We've been blessed enough to have flown a lot in Bennett's little life! When he was a newborn, we took a trip to Seattle and then a trip to Georgia and both times I was SO nervous. I thought the world might actually end the night before our trip. Well.. here's a little secret. Traveling with a little baby is REALLY EASY! You put them in the Ergo, they sleep. You fly. They sleep. You feed them, they sleep. You don't need much with you, an extra burp rag or two and an extra outfit. And those nifty scented bags for the dirty diaper. But everyone helps you because your baby is so tiny and precious and they feel bad for you having to brave the airport alone.

Then we took a break from traveling (also known as summer when you work at a camp) and when it was time to fly again my baby was all grown up into a BIG baby! We flew when Bennett was 9 months, 10 months, and will have another trip tomorrow and he is 11 months! Flying is different when they're bigger so without further ado, I give you: Advice for flying with a big Baby!

1. Bring your husband if at all possible.
Just kidding. No but really, bring him. We've had Zach on three out of eight flights and oh, it's wonderful. It's so much easier to have a 2nd seat for the baby to spread out in, but also help with feeding and diaper changes! And carrying luggage..

2. Do not be afraid to ask for help!!!!!!
Going through security with a baby, stroller, diaper bag (that they have to sort through and swipe your bottles, etc), AND having to remove your shoes, is just NOT easy. Last time, I couldn't figure out how to get my Ergo back on and my shoes back on, and hold B (I didn't have a stroller that time) so I just looked at the TSA guy and said, "Can you hold him for me?". And he did! Made it a lot easier and probably brightened his day a little ;) Now, obviously don't do that if they're super busy or cranky looking. But there was no line and he was just standing there watching me. Also, I always look for someone who looks about my mom's age to sit next to in the terminal and airplane. Works like a charm. They totally want to hold your baby while you re-organize your bag or find your ticket and ID.

3. Wear your baby.
I tried pushing the baby and wearing the diaper bag, and the other way is just easier. If you are taking a stroller & carseat, put the diaper bag in the stroller and push it, and wear the baby. It's easier on your back and it is nice to have both of your hands free. I also feel safer having Bennett on me, like people are less likely to touch him. Please don't touch him, I don't know you or what kind of germies you're carrying around with you. I love our Ergo, and keep my ID, cell phone, and ticket in the zipper pocket on the front of it.

4. Pack light.
I typically check our luggage (thank you Southwest for free checked bags!) and just carry the diaper bag. When I was breastfeeding, it was especially easy. Now that we do bottles, I take 2-3 empty bottles, and a bottle of water to fill them. The little formula container that's pre-measured. An extra outfit for baby. A small thing of wipes, and enough diapers for a change every 2 hours (you just never know!). And a ziploc bag and a target bag. I bring Lysol wipes to wipe down the seat, tray table, etc. Chapstick and hand sanitizer for mama. A flannel receiving blanket to use as a burp cloth or blanket.

5. Sit in the window.
On one airline (Alaska or Delta, can't remember) you have to sit in the window seat because that's where the infant air masks are. Originally, I thought I would have chosen the aisle so I'd have more room. Well it turns out the window really is best. You have a wall to lean against instead of a person, which is great for napping. Also, if it's light out, your baby can look out the window! And if you breastfeed, you can totally cocoon into the window and no one even knows what you're doing. Win-win.

6. Rough schedule
Be easy going when you're traveling. Your baby's routine is going to be completely thrown off. I usually try to change Bennett's diaper RIGHT before boarding, so that if it's a 3 hour flight or less I won't have to change him in the airplane. Well.. unless he poops. Then I just pray it stays in the diaper until I can get outta the seat and into the itty bitty disgusting bathroom they expect you to be able to fit into with a wiggling child.  I feed him extra snacks in the morning to hopefully keep him full, and the bottles when he wants them. It hasn't worked out for him to eat as we take-off yet, but he takes a binky so he's fine. One really awesome thing about airplanes is that they're like giant white noise machines! Bennett typically takes REALLY good naps on the plane. I usually get everything settled, feed him, etc, and once we're up in the air I put him back into the ergo, give his binky, and rock back and forth or bounce in my seat until he settles down. Then we both sleep for a long, long time. It's the bomb.

7. Use the gate check option for your stroller/carseat.
The first time I flew, I gate checked my stroller and carseat. It was super easy and nice to have somewhere to put Bennett down in in the terminal. You just fold it up when you get down the tunnel, and then magically it's in that exact same place when you arrive at your destination. Cool, huh? Well the 2nd time I flew, I saw the lady in front of me checking hers at the ticket counter. So I asked the ticket agent and she said, "honestly, I don't recommend doing it this way. It just gets thrown around with the luggage and often times gets damaged." Then I thought about it, if you are supposed to replace carseats even in the tiniest of automobile accidents because of hairline fractures in the plastic, isn't this like way worse? So now we always gatecheck ours. Its safer, and it's nice to have through security. If you're flying alone and trying to get your stroller/carseat/shoes/diaper bag/carrier on the belt through security, please refer to point #2! :)

8. Dress you and baby in layers.
You never know if you're gonna be freezing or having hot flashes. Much easier if you can add or remove layers! Also, slip-on shoes make the security check much easier.

9. Take a deep breath!
You can do this! I have heard many stories of people being rude on planes, but I've never experienced it. People have generally been very helpful and kind! Take a deep breath, give yourself a mental peptalk, and enjoy your travels :) A happy mama = a happy baby!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Being in the Picture & a Photo Canvas

Have you guys seen the articles about moms being in the pictures more? I've been reading them since Bennett was born and I think it's really important! There are a few awesome one geared towards new moms, but this one is my favorite.

I did gain more weight than I'd have chosen during pregnancy, and since having Bennett I haven't prioritized getting back "in shape" (I say that loosely because I'm pretty sure I've never been in shape, haha!). All the mama blogs and articles have really helped me accept my post pregnancy, post c-section body. 

We had some newborn photos taken by my amazing friend Breanna, and this fall I REALLY wanted to get family photos done again! Bennett has changed so much this year and I love having family pictures up. We had our photos done just around the corner from the camp we work at :)

Signazon contacted me at the perfect time! They asked me to choose a product from their website, and I was originally going to choose some business tools for my essential oils team. Then I saw they had photo canvases! I've always wanted one :)

I love having the blown up family picture to look at! It was so easy to order and Signazon shipped it within 24 hours of placing my order. I am excited to print smaller pictures to put around it!

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Truth About Me

So lately I've been trying to get myself back in the blogging habit. I really miss it, writing is an amazing outlet and helps me to find my voice when I can't make sense of my thoughts. It's also brought forth some incredible friendships, which has been awesome.

I bought myself a pretty new blog design, I've made more of an effort to get posts up semi-frequently, and I've been trying to redo my "About Me" section. I need to redo all my pages at the top, because my life is not beauty-full or crafty anymore, but I want to focus on the About Me page. That's where I click first when I visit new blogs so I thought it needed an update.

The thing is, I can't quite figure out what to write. I've been a mom now for 11 months (tomorrow) and I'm finally coming out of a kind of newborn fog, turned busy summer, turned pouty fall because I felt so sorry for myself.

I'm finally feeling normal again but motherhood does something to you. It's very humbling but also eye-opening to reality. There is no hiding anything. It's the most real thing I've ever experienced.

In this very real time in my life, these are the things that come to mind when I try to think of what to write "about me":

  • I usually forget to pay my credit card bill. It's a really (really) bad habit, and I have reminders set, see the emails, and still just forget. Luckily I don't put much money on it, otherwise it would get ugly fast. Anyways, I'm working on this. 
  • I'm 25 years old and I still don't know what it's like to just be me. I envy people who are so comfortable in their own skin. I don't know if it stems from moving so much when I was growing up or just a lack of confidence, but I feel like I have to morph into someone else depending who I'm around. Be gentle and sweet around the meek type, be loud and funny around the boisterous type. I hate that. I'm seriously praying and working on it, and also on figuring out just who I am.
  • I do not look cute very often. I'm a stay at home mom, and not one of the ones who wakes up before the baby, puts on new clothes, and a little bit of make up to freshen up. I wake up after my baby's been crying for long enough, brush my teeth with him in my arms, and usually wear the same ponytail and pajamas I slept in until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. You better warn me before you stop by because I probably haven't put a bra on yet.
  • I don't think I'm a very good friend. I really love having close friendships, I thrive off that intimacy. I just don't feel like I'm good at being that friend! Love me through it..
  • I like to be surrounded by people. I love when my house is full of friends, family, acquaintances, etc.
  • My house is ALWAYS messy. I don't get it. I promise I do pick up and clean. It's just a mess all.the.time.
  • I'm soooo hard on myself. Like, in all aspects of life. It's hard for me to admit or accept when I am actually doing well at something. A few months ago, I started using Young Living Essential Oils, and subsequently became a distributor. I am having serious financial success with these, yet each month I think, "I'm probably done. Anyone who would want some EOs has already bought them, so this is the month that it ends." Well thank you friends, because this has yet to happen. As hard as it is for me to say, I'm doing really well with this! And honestly, the best part is, these oils are dramatically helping people and their families with their health! *pat myself on the back*
  • I have learned more about LOVE in the last 11 months than in my entire life. I understand when people say "Jesus can never love you any more or any less than he does. He just loves you." I get it now. I get why my parents did so much for us. You just do. You just love them.
  • I usually have good intentions. With my words, with my actions, whatever. I have good intentions. My biggest frustration is when people assume I have bad/mean intentions. I don't. 
  • I'm really good at talking about things. Talk about them all the ding dong day. Doing them? Not so much. :)
And there ya go. I'll wait awhile before re-writing my About Me section so as not to scare anyone away :) Also, I went and paid my credit card before publishing this post. Phew.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bennett's First Halloween!

Most people don't know this about my hunk of a husband, but he's actually a real live cowboy. He even has a degree in cowboy. Like for reals. 

Anyways, when I saw this little costume I just COULD NOT pass it up! I thought I would do something clever and/or creative but this little moo-cow just takes the cake :)

and he's off.. this baby is just not into sitting still anymore!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Our October

This October was a whirlwind. It started off with a lovely visit with my inlaws, followed unexpectedly by saying goodbye to my adored grandpa, "papa", and ended with Zach and I making some big decisions and learning a lot about ourselves.

Bennett with his Nana! We love you Nana :)

my sweet punkin :)

Our sweet little family! (yes the sun was in our eyes)

Bennett was all tuckered out after having fun at Bates Nut Farm.

Our family! At the most delish restaurant - Point Loma Seafood 

I seriously love this face.

My grandpa had a heart attack so Bennett and I quick boarded a plane the next day so I could get up there to say goodbye. It was incredibly hard, incredibly emotional, and I really don't have the words to write about it yet. I LOVED my Papa, have some of my favorite memories with him. It really hasn't sunken in that he is gone. 

My beautiful grandparents. I rest in the peace of knowing they are both in heaven - with Jesus - and hopefully hand in hand with one another :)

Bennett thought that playing the piano was REALLY fun!

Z & I had some big decisions to make but decided to stay where we are and work on ourselves. We have made personal goals to better ourselves. Mine include getting outside each day, doing devotions each day, and not letting myself believe negative self-talk. So far I'm doing alright with them!

I also embarked on an oily business journey, which you can definitely expect to hear more about :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our September

September was a busy one! We've had lots of visits from family, which were wonderful. It was still really warm on the mountain, and even warmer in town.

Oh, and I went to ELLEN!! My lovely friend Julie invited me to go to the premiere with her, and it was amazing.
Front row!! Which wasn't as cool as we thought, since we were RIGHT next to the audience manager and producers, we weren't really on camera at all. And all the camera were right in front of us so we couldn't see Ellen for a lot of it, BUT that's totally ok because we were still there!!!

Thanks, Aunt Ellen for the 50" TVs!!

And this was the one time we were on screen. Julie's excited and my hair and make up look pretty good ;-)

 I love when Zach's parents visit! We get to spend lots of quality time at home, they play with Bennett so I can sleep in, my father in law does projects around our house (score!) and I get to chit chat with my wonderful mother in law. It's the best. This time we went to Carlsbad after church and walked along one of the beaches. It was so pretty!

My mama and aunt Mimi came to visit for a long weekend. It was so good to have them. So so so good. We went apple picking in Julian, walked around and bought fun gifts, and rode the zipline at camp! And, of course spent the majority of the time just playing with Bennett :)

And my cute fall wreath that's on our door :)

September was such a good month. Any time with family is my favorite time!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

[Bennett Clark] 9 months

Ahh 9 months old. This was a hard one for me. Maybe because its 3/4 the way to a year, maybe because 9 months just sounds BIG to me. I still feel like you're my newborn baby, and yet all the other babies around us are now smaller and newer than you. We've learned a lot together!

At your check-up you were 18.5 lbs and 29 inches (I think...). I lost the paper that tells us, but I know you were around 40th percentile for weight -- WOOHOO! -- and 60th for height, and 75th for head circumference. I knew you were smart ;)

Playing with the doctor's stool while we were waiting for him.

You eat A LOT, and chew on everything! You eat about half food and half formula now. Every bite you take you say "mmmm" which is adorable. Your favorites are apples, blue berries (which are sadly out of season and hard to find), avocado, and sweet potatoes. You still have not had any meat, simply because I can't do pureed meat and you don't have enough teef for shredded or ground meat yet.

chewing on the table at chick-fil-a

you ate two whole pickles without even wincing.

You drool a lot. Like a leaking faucet. You love your binky. And you're just as sweet as you can be. I love how happy you make people :)

The best thing ever happened this month, you started saying MAMA!!! I can't even describe how happy it makes me to hear you say it! Over and over again "mamamamamamamamamama" I just love it.

You are super strong and super fast. You love to look at us and then crawl away really fast while giggling. It's a-dor-a-ble. You also love to be held. When you want up, you crawl over to us, stand up, and start bouncing up and down. Also a-dor-a-ble.

You got your first haircut this month, and it turned out really cute! However, you didn't make it a very easy photo oppurtunity:

It's ok. I forgive you.
Little man, it's an absolute joy to be your mama. I pray that you remain strong-willed, and use it to be an example to others. That you would grow up and love the Lord. You would cling to what's good. You would be strong, courageous, and kind. I love you Bennett baby.
xoxoo, Mama

ps. please oh please, just SLEEP!!

[Bennett Clark] 8 Months

It breaks my heart how behind I've gotten with blogging! Each month I let other things stop me, like not having the right pictures uploaded or needing to laundry and dishes during naptime. Well, the laundry is a-washing and the dishes are a-soaking and I've got lots and lots of pictures to share! (oh blogging... you bring out the cheese in me.)

I have lists in my phone of all his little accomplishments from 4-6 months and then at 7 months I guess I just thought I'd remember. WRONG. So we'll start at 8 months and go from there.


You are the absolute sweetest. You light up the room when you smile. I've heard more than a handful of people tell me you should be in modeling. More than a handful of people say, "I usually don't like babies but I am so fond of him!" You truly are a little charmer. You are an easy-going, full of joy, cuddly, busy-body, always hungry, ultra ticklish little guy. You don't miss a beat, you're very observant like your mommy and daddy.

You LOVE to play with your kitties! They are so patient with you, too. You like to grab their tails and you think they're playing a game of keep away with you, but I think they're actually trying to wave you away. Regardless, you get the best belly laugh when you're playing with them!

We've come up with a way to corral you into the living room by moving the ottoman to block the way out, and we call it baby jail. You know. If someone isn't in jail with you you do.not. like it. It's pretty convenient though, and all your toys are in here! You are obsessed with stealing the remotes, cell phones, and papers off of the couch though. We have given you your own remote, but you're a smart little guy who knows that's not the one we are using :) Your favorite toy is a wooden spoon.

You are a  super fast, strong crawler, and love to be standing up (while holding on to someone or something). You can even walk along the couches, too! I cannot believe how big you are getting, and soo quickly. Just a few months ago we were celebrating that you grab something you were looking at, and now you are walking around the furniture. I love to watch you grow and develop but I miss your tiny sleepy snuggles!

You got your first two teeth this month! There is no better way to describe that process than H-E-L-L. When it was naptime, you would stand in your crib and scream for up to an hour before I would give up and just lay down with you so you would sleep. Same thing at night, you would cry and cry and cry and finally we'd bring you in our bed and let you sleep there. When I finally realized why my angel baby was acting this way, and got you some Advil in your system, it helped immensely! Then two little teefs popped out in the bottom of your mouth, and as if you weren't cute enough already, you got 10x cuter. Didn't even know that was possible.

Your daddy loves playing with you when he is home, and you LIGHT UP when he comes through the door! It's my favorite to watch!

We love you so much little man. Now please let us sleep at night?

xox, Mama

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Refine my Heart

Sometimes I ask God to refine my heart, or to make me more like him. What does that even mean? It sounds like a simple prayer. Lately I've been learning that it isn't so simple. A few weeks ago I texted two friends that I felt like I was completely falling apart. One responded, "that's ok, sometimes you have to be broken in order to know how to put the pieces back together correctly" and the other responded, "because God wants us to be more like him and he has to break us to refine us. i wish the answer was easier and simpler." (yes, i have some pretty cool friends)

I do struggle with depression and I have this awful notion that I have to be "good enough." In lots of aspects of my life I don't feel good enough (I've written about this before). When I feel broken or sad or like a mess, my first instinct is to curl up on the couch and feel sorry for myself. which usually helps nothing.

It's in these times that lies from Satan creep in. and it's in these times that I let them. I let myself believe them. and then it makes it worse. its an awful tornado of lies, belief, sadness, despair, and hopelessness. I know during these cycles the Holy Spirit tries to whisper to me, but with all the "noise" surrounding me, I don't hear it. When I fill my life with gossip, negativity, and fleshly desires, there is no room for the Holy Spirit to be heard. It's in these times that i need God most, that I tend to push him away most.

all these pregnancy and post-pregnancy hormones make life difficult to deal with sometimes, especially since I tend to have depression anyways. My depression shows up in irritability and laziness for the most part. and then when I've been lazy for awhile, I start believing the lie of I'm not good enough again. If I were good enough, I'd get up off the couch and be a better mom, wife, friend, etc.

So what am I missing here? I'm missing the grace and forgiveness of Jesus, friends.  I googled, "what is grace" and google says: the free and unmerited favor of God. 

Mind blowing, really, that Jesus offers us FREE, UNMERITED favor and we miss it, forget it, don't let it in. Let Him in. Back to my original point (sorry.. been awhile since I blogged, I'm long winded), I have been asking God to refine my heart. And he has been, because He is a God who answers prayers. This refining, though? It's painful. I'm learning a lot about myself that I don't particularly care for. I'm glad that my eyes are being opened to these things though, so I can change them. 

I'm going through a bible study called Stuck - which is amazing by the way - and this week's lesson is about being broken. In the video, she narrates the lesson while you watch a potter form clay on a wheel. It was in that instance that it clicked. In the bible, we are compared to clay so often but it just didn't click til then. I am asking God to refine me and make me new. In order to do that, he needs to break me down and put me back together correctly, JUST like a potter with clay. 

But what I need to remember, is that when I'm broken, I'm not STUCK laying in a heap of pieces. As I 
learn and grow, I'm being formed again, more like Christ, in his likeness. He is making me new, better, and in my mind I think "shinier and prettier".. but maybe that's just because I like glitter.

So as I pray these words, "Lord, refine me", I am learning more and more of what that really means, and also what it looks like. I might not be pretty in the meantime but I'm so excited for how he is so 
carefully molding me.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
 after you have suffered a little while, 
will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Home Organization

I had the pleasure of working with the Julie Minton of Simply Beautiful. My husband and I moved into our house when I was 8 months pregnant, and although our baby is now 7 months old, we just never took the time to fully move in. Julie came into our house and helped us make it our home. She was such a pleasure to work with, and really made the experience fun (never thought I would say that about cleaning and organizing!).

In our bedroom, we had unpacked boxes and piles of clothes that didn't fit, shoes, scarves, and belts spilling out of the closet, and a layer of dust covering all the clutter on our dressers.  In just a few hours, Julie had completely redone our closet, with only adding a couple of shoe racks and a basket for hats. It is now pleasing to look at rather than being a stressful to do list! She worked with what we had and created a nice reading nook in a corner of our bedroom that was previously full of boxes.

Downstairs was covered in a mess of mail, baby items, and unfinished projects.  Julie helped us to come up with better storage options to keep our things off the floor, a more aesthetic design for our bookshelves, and an awesome way to organize mail as it comes in. We were able to add a few decorative pieces because Julie used what we had for storage, my budget allowed for more fun items.

Not only was I left with a beautiful home, Julie was a joy to work with throughout. She was encouraging, supportive, never laughed at my horrible messes, and could tell when I was getting overwhelmed with everything. She took her time to make sure we were completely happy with the end results. She was very respectful of our (small) budget, and made sure we were able to accomplish everything we wanted to with the amount I gave her.

If you are looking for a little help with organization, decorating, rearranging, etc, I cannot recommend Julie enough! You won't be disappointed :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bennett Clark [7 months]

This is the perfect picture for this age! He is constantly flapping his arms around and so smiley!

This baby is on the move! He wants so badly to crawl, and gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth. Someone yesterday called it "revving his engine". He is a roley poley and can barrel roll across the room if he wants something. He loves kicking his legs at all times, and when he gets excited he waves his arms up and down and laughs!  He reaches for everything with his whole body, and gets frustrated when he can't reach! He prefers to be standing more than sitting, so he spends a lot of play time in the exersaucer and Johnny Jump-Up :)
Bennett's first beach trip. Swamis, Encinitas.

Bennett can say "dada," "mama," and "baba" (he came up with this on his own). He has quieter days, and days where he talks non stop. Those are my favorite :) He has the sweetest little voice. I absolutely love when I'm driving and the car is quiet and then out of no where I'll hear a high pitched squeal or coo or a low grunt (such a boy). My heart hurts with joy at his noises!

Smiling at his noises (pretend you can hear them)

Bennett is so easy going and independent. I have heard multiple times, "Does that baby ever cry?" and "you have such an easy baby!" I do consider us truly blessed, and I give all the glory to God for that. We prayed for his temperament while I was pregnant and the Lord answered our prayers so faithfully! He loves to play by himself or with other people, and if he is alone for awhile and someone comes to play with him, he will shriek with excitement! When we go to camp for meals, he generally just sits in his stroller and watches everyone. Such a good baby :)
GBC beach day. Moonlight Beach.

He still loves his binky! We have to make sure not to leave the house without one. At bedtime and naps, he gets a Wubbanub, so cool. He has a giraffe that his daddy named, "Ralphie". We are cloth diapering on days we're home, but if we are out and about all day I find it much easier to use disposables.
B & mama on my 25th birthday
My handsome guys.
Bennett is a great little eater. He hasn't disliked anything yet, but his favorite food is definitely apples! He gets so excited. I've started signing "more" and "all done" but he just stares at me and giggles when I do it :) He eats food 2-3 times a day, and I'm pretty sure it's one of his favorite things.

His other favorite things are baths, naps, and kitties!

Hadley pretends she doesn't like Bennett, but she always ends up next to him.. :) He gets SO excited when she walks up to him!

Mini Dada :) With his yellow polo, khaki shorts, and the remote :)

Booty in the air! Cutest ever!

And the most adorable giggling Bennett video:

Sweet Bennett, you have taught me more about love, joy, patience, laughter, and perseverance than I ever thought there was to know. You make me a better person, because I want to be the best I can for you. You make me feel happiness I never knew existed, and fear that the greatest gift I've ever received  (you) will somehow be taken from me. You make my heart burst little man. I love you so much!
xoxo, your mama.