At home, DIY

DIY // The easiest raised garden bed ever


Ever since we bought our first house a few months ago I’ve been itching to start a little patio garden out back. It’s been a sort of dream of mine for awhile to grow fresh produce for my family…for health reasons, for teaching purposes (homeschool curriculum down the road?!), and just for the fun of it! I wanted to start while Jameson was young to make sure I got a handle on how things are done by the time he’s old enough to learn about it. And since Arizona has two growing seasons (spring and fall), October was the perfect time to get started.

We have this big old slab of concrete off the patio where the previous home owners had a hot tub, and it’s the perfect little corner for a raised vegetable garden. Good sun exposure, close to a water supply, and empty/ugly enough to need a little spruce up. (Eventually I’d like to add flowers and wall vines and other pretty things like that, but maybe in the spring.)


When I brought the idea of a raised garden bed to Alex, he had two criteria:

#1. It had to be easy to put together. And…

#2. It had to be relatively cheap.

(But not in that order. Ah, my sweet penny-pinching hubby. ❤ I love him so.)

Anyway, challenge accepted. We originally planned to build it completely out of wood, but why do things the easy way when you can find an even easier way? Laziness, my friends. This plan stemmed from laziness. When all was said and done, our raised garden bed was made entirely without the use of any sort of tool. 

And it only cost us about $67.

This is way cheaper than any DIY raised garden bed kit you can find at the store. (The closest I could find was $88 and it wasn’t even as wide or as deep as I wanted mine to be). Following this method allows you to get creative with the size and even the shape of your raised garden bed without costing you a fortune. Plus it looks super cute! Sort of a mix between farmhouse style and urban industrial, which I really like.


We got all our supplies at the good ol’ Home Depot. Probably the only time in the history of our marriage that we went in and came out with everything we needed and avoided an angry whisper argument in the middle of one of the aisles due to our confusion and/or our inability to make quick decisions. (We’re really not the home improvement types.)

The supply list for this do-it-yourself project is very short. Our garden bed is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, with a depth of 1 foot. In total, all we needed were six pieces of redwood (2in x 6in x 6ft each, four of them being full length and two cut in half) and eight planter wall blocks (two for each corner, stacked on top of each other).

After we decided how large we wanted our garden bed to be, the rest was easy. We chose redwood for our lumber because of its resistance to rot and warping ($8.27 per board, but there are even cheaper versions if you’d like). We had a guy at Home Depot cut two of the six foot boards in half, we grabbed two more full-length six foot boards as well as the eight cement blocks ($2.87 each), and we took it all home.


We stacked two cement blocks for each corner of the garden bed (making it about a foot deep), used a little heavy duty glue to keep them solid, and slid two boards in the grooves on each side. Tada! All done!



The most challenging and most expensive part of this project really came after everything was built. We invested in some good, organic soil (in addition to some soil amenities) to make sure we’d have rich, healthy crops. This is where things can get pricey. But that’s for another post. 🙂

This project was really so easy and so much fun. And we already have cute little sprouts popping up all over the veggie garden! Jameson loves to look at all the plants and even give them kisses, and I’m so excited for our first harvest!


Good luck to anyone planning to give urban gardening a try! Trust me, if Alex and I (two of the least handy people on the planet) could get this project rolling…you most certainly can too. 🙂

DIY, Uncategorized

DIY // Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Ohhh my friends. Is your skin getting super dry this winter? Are you looking for a great homemade gift for the holidays? Do you need a snack while you shower? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your search ends here. I present to you the simplest, most moisturizing, most delectable homemade body scrub on the inter webs. 

Only three ingredients and ready in five minutes. This stuff is about to blow. your. mind. (And your taste buds, oh man it tastes just like a cookie.) You might already have all the ingredients just chillin’ in your pantry, waiting to be combined into pure magic.

I don’t know about you, but I love body scrubs. I love how they exfoliate, I love how they moisturize, I love how they smell. But I really can’t justify spending $25+ on one little tub. It’s over too quickly and then I have to shell out more money for another one. This handy sugar scrub recipe, however, takes care of that problem. It’s quick, easy, and made from all natural ingredients…so natural that you can literally have a quick taste while you’re using it. (Or two tastes. Or three.) Yum! That’s my kind of body scrub. 🙂  Homemade beauty products for the win.

Stick it in a cute mason jar ($8 for 12 at Target), add some ribbon and a cute tag (or make one out of cardstock paper and fancy tape like I did), and you’ve got yourself a great holiday gift for your friends and family. Yippee! (Speaking of which, if you’re reading this and we’re friends in real life…act surprised when you get your scrub for Christmas.)

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Yield: fills one 8oz mason jar

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (soft but solid)
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional add-ins: cinnamon, a little honey, essential oils, vitamin E oil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Soften coconut oil in microwave for a few seconds, if necessary.
  2. Add all ingredients into a standing mixer, food processor, or mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together on medium-high speed for a minute or two until the coconut oil begins to break down and mixture resembles creamy cookie dough.
  4. Place in mason jar and make it look pretty. 🙂

Note: If you mix it for too long, the coconut oil will start to melt and your scrub will be almost liquid. No worries, though, just put it in the fridge or freezer for a few, wait for it to solidify, and whip it up again.


Store your scrub at room temperature. I keep mine in the shower and so far our bathroom has stayed cool enough for the scrub to remain in its creamy/solid state. Over time, though, it may melt down and become runny because of the steam in the shower. Again, just pop it in the fridge for a bit until it returns to the consistency you prefer. 


Enjoy! xo

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Recipes

Sugar and Spice Baked Oatmeal

Okay get ready. If you’re a fan of baked oatmeal (or oatmeal in any capacity) you MUST stop what you’re doing and try this recipe right now. No I’m serious, RIGHT NOW. (By the way, I’ve never posted a recipe on my blog before and I’m really not much of a chef, so that should tell you just how yummy and simple this dish really is.)

I’ve been on a major baked oatmeal kick as of late. There are so many tasty versions floating around out there (like, a ton) but fear not! I tried a bunch of them over and over to bring you the best (it was a huge sacrifice, but I did it all for you). I took what I loved about each recipe, added my own ideas, and tada! This is my favorite recipe by far; sweet sugar and spicy cinnamon come together for the tastiest combination. Legit the most comforting comfort food you could make and perfect for cold, wintry mornings (or, you know, 80 degree afternoons like we’re currently having in Phoenix). 


It’s so easy to make and reheats really well, which means breakfast is quick and delicious every morning. Even Jameson, the pickiest little eater ever, gobbles it up. And it’s freezable! Just cut it up into square portions and you’ve got meals for days. But the best part? Cheap. This probably costs $5 at the most. 

Sugar and Spice Baked Oatmeal

Yield: 8 servings (9 x 13 inch pan)

Prep time: 5 minutes 

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats (quick-cooking oats work too)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. In a standing mixer (or mixing bowl) whisk together all ingredients. 
  3. Pour into prepped baking dish and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until oatmeal is set in the middle.
  4. Serve and enjoy! (Oh I’m so excited for you to taste it.)

Optional: Serve with milk or cream, yogurt, fresh fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon, whatever tastes right! 

Freezer instructions: Portion into squares and store in individual plastic baggies. Thaw in microwave on low power for about a minute, add a splash of milk, and then microwave on regular power for another minute. 

What are you waiting for?! Please give this a try! And then let me know how much you love it. 🙂

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Helpful Tidbits, Personal Writing

12 lessons from my first year of parenting

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It’s been a hot second since I’ve written something for my blog. I’ve been in sort of a writing slump the past few weeks, honestly. I have all these ideas of things I want to write about but then Jameson goes down for a nap and I have to choose between writing for my blog or doing some necessary housework or just SITTING for a second. Sitting usually wins.

BUT I really want to write about this, my first year of parenting. I want to document what God has taught me and I want it to hopefully be of some help to other new mommies who are currently in the thick of it. It’s been so good for me to meditate on the things I’ve learned in this year…to see what has been useful and to know what I’ll do differently if we’re ever blessed with another baby.

So here we are. Year one is complete. My sweet, snugly, wild, adventurous, wonderful baby boy is officially a toddler and he’s heading bright-eyed and bushy-tailed into his second year of life. This first year has challenged and changed me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. It has been painful at times, exhausting and confusing, stressful and exciting, so much fun, and so fulfilling. There’s nothing I’ve found in this world (apart from the salvation I have in Christ) that I love or cherish as much as motherhood.

And this is what I have learned…

  1. Nothing lasts forever. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that every hard thing you face in the first year (and beyond) is just a phase. Your baby will grow out of all those things that seem endless right now. But that also means that your baby will also grow out of your favorite things, too. Like those sleepy newborn yawns and stretches, the inchworm crawling, even the toddling around like a drunk sailor. All of it will pass you by eventually. Each new stage brings with it some hard things, but many many more wonderful things. Have fun with the good, wait out the bad.
  2. You know your baby best. Take all advice you get with a grain of salt. Some of it will be extremely wise and useful, some of it will be total crap (well-meaning crap, but crap all the same). Sift through it with your husband, on your own, with your Biblical lens on. You know what will work for you and for your child and it doesn’t have to match exactly what anyone else recommends.
  3. Don’t stress the scheduling thing.  “Get on a schedule, get on a schedule, get on a schedule…if you want to live.” I actually heard this advice when I was pregnant! Yes, scheduling will save your sanity down the road…but you don’t have to force it. I tried sleep training Jameson WAY too early and he just wasn’t ready. All it did was stress me out and make me feel like a failure because I couldn’t figure out how to get my baby to sleep at regular intervals throughout the day. I was angry all the time because I felt like Jameson wasn’t doing what he was “supposed to be doing” until one day I said ENOUGH! And let him sleep how and when he wanted to. Eventually we got into a routine and now he’s very scheduled, but I could have saved us both a whole lot of anxiety in those early days if I had taken a breath and focused on enjoying our time together, rather than how I was going to get him to take a “good” nap at the “right time.”
  4. Take a shower every day. Really, just do it. Even if you think you don’t have time. Even if you don’t trust anyone (not even your husband, lol sorry Alex) to take care of your infant. Hand someone that baby and take a shower. It’ll make you feel human again. Sometimes ten minutes (all by yourself!) is all you need to recharge.
  5. Don’t feel guilty about not enjoying everything. One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve received this year is the ever so well-meaning, “Enjoy every moment! Even the hard ones!” Well, I’m telling you right now…no mother enjoys every single moment. I certainly didn’t enjoy spending the night trying to get my three month old to stay asleep for more than 40 minutes straight at a time (YEAH, GOOD TIMES!!!). It can be so hard when people tell you that it “goes by so fast” and to “soak it all in” when it’s all you can do to not drown in a sea of spit up and restless sleep. Feeling frustrated or overwhelmed does not mean you aren’t thankful for motherhood or that you don’t love your child. It means that you’re feeling very real things that every mother feels. God can (and does) fortify you in your weakness. He is your refuge and your strength, and he is a very present help in your times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
  6. Find reasons to get out of the house a few times a week. For me, actually, more like at least once a day haha. I go a little nuts if I don’t. And it doesn’t have to cost money! Jameson and I have been known to hit up the garden center of Home Depot just to look at the flowers from time to time. The library is always a hit, too. Go on a walk or to the park or have a play date with some friends. It doesn’t matter, just get your booties out of the house. It can be hard at first, especially if your baby hates his car seat as much as Jameson used to hate his. But once you feel more comfortable, even just a half hour outside can change your whole day. I promise it’s worth it! It breaks up the monotony of your day and keeps you both from going stir crazy.
  7. Join a playgroup. This is along the same lines as number 6, but I feel it’s important. I only recently learned this but I wish I had sooner! Playgroups are an awesome opportunity for you to connect with other moms going through the same things, get advice, share stories, teach your kids about sharing and playing nice, and basically just get the chance to see that you’re not alone. Your library will probably have playgroups already scheduled for your child’s age range, which can be a great jumping off point. Or just start your own! My sister and I started meeting up with a few moms from our church and it’s already been such a blessing. Find your people. Join a playgroup.
  8. Put the camera down every so often. This is something I’m still learning and still working on. Taking pictures is so easy these days. Our phones come programmed with really nice cameras and they’re pretty much always with us. I’m tempted every day to try and document as much as I can. Jameson will do something cute and my very first instinct is to grab my phone and take a picture or video. But I don’t want it to be that way! I don’t want my teenage kids to someday come up to me asking for stories of their childhoods and me being like, “Hold on let me pull up my dusty old Instagram account.” No! I want real stories that I remember because I was fully present, no camera between my child and me. So even though I feel this pressure to capture every single adorable thing my baby does, sometimes I force myself not to. Sometimes it’s better to make a memory and keep it just for yourself.
  9. Make your marriage a priority. I’m writing this mostly as a reminder to myself. When all is said and done, when the kids are grown up and leading their own lives, it’ll be you and your spouse. It will always be you and your spouse. Your marriage should come even before your relationship with your kids. I know that sounds weird to say, especially in our culture, but it’s a lesson we need to learn if we want to be a good example for our children. I don’t mean neglect your kids and run off to spend tons of alone time with your husband, but carving out intentional time to be together (however that looks for you two) must be a priority. Your marriage should be “the foundation upon which all other aspects of family life [are] built” (Voddie Baucham Jr., Family Driven Faith). Discipline, discipleship, counseling, advice, every choice you make for your kids…it should all stem from the two of you working together as one for your family.
  10. Spend time praying over your child. I don’t just mean those moments throughout the day where you’re like, “Lord, give me strength right now because I’m about to LOSE MY MIND.” (Although that’s good, too.) I mean setting aside some time each day to pray thoughtfully and specifically for your child. I started making this more of a priority a few months ago and it has changed how I deal with difficulties in parenting so much. I chose a specific time of day (happens to be right after I put Jameson down for bed) and I just spend a few minutes every night in prayer over him. Sometimes I just thank God for a wonderful day with Jameson. Sometimes I pray for his future wife. Sometimes I’m on my knees next to his crib begging for forgiveness for all my shortcomings of the day, asking God to show me how to parent him better and lead him to Christ. Ever since I started doing this, I’ve found that I’m much more likely to turn to prayer during the day when we hit rough patches and it has been so good for both of us.
  11. Change your attitudes and actions first. This is probably one of the most important things God has taught me this year. You cannot parent well (at least not in the Biblical sense) if you’re too busy dealing with anger and frustration inside yourself. When Jameson is going crazy and I start feeling sorry for myself for having to deal with this (or worse, start feeling angry at Jameson for not doing what I want him to do)…I lose all hope of responding to the situation in a Godly, productive way. If, however, I turn to the Lord for help and begin trying to change my areas of sin, it suddenly becomes immensely easier to address the problem with gentleness.
  12. Give more grace. Every breath we take, every time our hearts beat, every moment of every day, we are experiencing God’s grace. He never tires of us even in our darkest, most sinful hour. We should be the same with our children. When they cry through the night, give them grace. When they spill their yogurt on your nice clean floor, give them grace. When they come to you whining and crying with a snotty nose for the 100th time that morning, give them grace.

(And give yourself grace, too. You are doing better than you think you are, and God is on your side.)

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At home, DIY

DIY // Front door makeover

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Yay!!! I finally finished my first home improvement project for our new house and I’m so excited about how it turned out! Ever since I can remember it’s been a dream of mine to live in a house with a red front door. And even though our new house has almost everything on my dream home wish list, the front door was definitely in need of a face lift.

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Sad. It just looked so sad. First of all, it was painted this weird creamish color (terribly done, by the way, streaks just everywhere) which faded it completely into the side of the house. No character or charm to report there. And second of all, the previous home owners had a large dog who apparently liked to scratch at their front door and lay right up against it, so it had taken quite a beating (not to mention it was filthy and it smelled like dog, ew). I couldn’t just leave it like that.

So, I did a some quick Pinterest research, looked at a few front door painting tutorials and thought to myself, I can fix that. (“Holes” quote, anyone? Anyone?) And so I did! And you can too if your front door is as desperate for some personality as ours was.

I’m putting together my own DIY tutorial now to add what I’ve learned to the mix. There are some things that worked great for me and some things I wish I had known beforehand, both of which I’ll share with you today. But first, here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. 120 grit sandpaper
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. High density foam rollers (at least two) – make sure they’re relatively small so you have more precision with where you get the paint
  4. Small foam paint brushes (at least two)
  5. Primer (we got about one quart)
  6. The red paint! (about one quart)
  7. **Optional: spray paint for the hardware

We went to Home Depot for everything. I picked up some sample paint chips a few weeks prior, went back and forth a zillion times on which color I liked best, and finally settled on a gorgeous shade called Red Delicious (by Glidden). Make sure you ask for the exterior version of whatever paint you choose, as your door will be exposed to the elements.

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Your first step will be to remove all the hardware and tape up the holes from the inside so that no dust/dirt can get in your house. Then, if you’d like, remove your entire door and place it somewhere you won’t mind dripping paint on (I laid out a few garbage bags on our back patio and put the door on top). I’ve read that you can do this entire project with your door still in its frame, but we chose to take it out completely because #1, it’s summer in Arizona and we couldn’t have our door just hanging open while the paint dried all day… #2, I didn’t want to spend all day trying to keep Jameson away from it… and #3, I didn’t want to take any chances with paint dripping and ruining the project. But it’s entirely up to you! If you’re using the foam rollers you probably won’t have issues with dripping anyway.

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Door removed and ready for sanding
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Our ghetto solution to no front door

Once your door is ready, you can start to sand it down. I guess sanding isn’t necessary for everyone, but for us it was. I wanted to get off that top layer of ugly cream paint (plus nasty dirt and grime) and give my new primer and paint a clean surface to grab onto. No need to break your back over it, though! A light overall sanding (with special focus on any rough parts or imperfections) will do the trick. When you’re done, wipe the door down with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust.

Next, prime your door using a foam roller. I used this deep gray primer that was recommended to me by the nice men at Home Depot. (The can says “white” but it was actually the gray version.)

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Our door only needed one coat of primer but the original paint was pretty light to begin with and, again, I was using a deep gray shade of primer. You may need a second coat if you’re painting over a dark color door, or if you’re using a white primer. The guys at Home Depot told me that red is tricky in general to get thick and even coverage with so it’s better to be liberal with your priming than to get stuck doing like six coats of red later on.

Give your primer an hour or two to dry and then break out the red! There is a particular order you need to follow when painting a six panel door to get that smooth finish. There are a couple of slight variations, but I found a general example online to follow and I love how my door turned out. Here are the steps (shown as I painted on the primer, which isn’t necessary but I did it to give myself practice before starting on the red):

  1. Paint the insert parts using a paintbrush or a small foam brush. (I used a paintbrush but in hindsight I wish I had used a foam brush because the regular paintbrush leaves brush strokes. Not absolutely crazy about that, but oh well!)
  2. Paint the raised panels using a foam roller.
  3. Paint vertically between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  4. Paint horizontally between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  5. Paint vertically along the two edges of the door.

Give your door a good 3-4 hours to dry really well before you start on the second coat of red (advice given to me once again by my friends at the Home Depot). I only needed to do two coats of red total and I still had a little bit of red paint leftover from the quart I bought (I actually ended up using some of that to touch up around the peephole). After you’re done with the second coat give the door a few more hours to dry again before you reattach it to the frame and close it. Otherwise it will stick to the weather stripping and mess up your beautiful work!

Once the door was done and lookin’ real purty, I knew I couldn’t just leave the hardware all brassy and outdated. But I also didn’t want to buy all new stuff either because $$$. So I did a little more Pinterest research and found a great alternative… spray paint! Seriously, so cheap (I think the can was like $7) and so easy too (I just sprayed the hardware, let it dry, and screwed it back in). And the results look awesome and super professional! I used an oil-rubbed bronze shade and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.

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I left a little gold on the deadbolt because I was afraid of tampering with the lock’s functioning, but I may go back and touch it up carefully. And when we repaint the outside of the house (hopefully this winter), we’re planning to fix up the door casing as well. For now, though, the front door makeover is complete! What do you think??

DSC_8566I’m absolutely loving it. Makes my heart so happy! I also added a couple of pretty plants to make the patio more welcoming, and eventually I’d like to replace that light with something to match my newly bronzed hardware (because right now it is yeesh). But that’s for a later time! For now, I live in a house with a red front door and I am happy. 🙂

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Helpful Tidbits

Hospital & Postpartum Survival Kit

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for, oh I don’t know, eight months now. I came up with the idea almost immediately after Jameson was born and really wanted to put it together as a way to hopefully help some future mamas. But, you know, I got busy aka distracted. Life, amiright? Anyway, better late than never! I hope you find this list of items you might need for the hospital and for your postpartum recovery helpful in some way. Please let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I labored naturally at home and Jameson was born just about an hour after we arrived at the hospital. Because of this, I didn’t bring any labor-specific items to the hospital and we only stayed one night. If you have opted for a C-section or want to be prepared in case you end up needing to stay longer in the hospital for any reason, you may need to tweak this list here and there.

FOR BABY

A few (swaddle) blankets – Only if they’re sentimental or wanted for pictures, though. The hospital will provide and send you home with plenty of their own swaddle blankets.

A few simple outfits – Again, only if you plan on dressing your baby in the hospital. We ended up just keeping Jameson in a diaper and swaddling him up because 1) it was easier to change him; 2) they run all kinds of tests while you’re there and it’s much quicker if the baby isn’t covered in clothes; and 3) skin-to-skin bonding is recommended, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

Going home outfit and a spare going home outfit – Normally I would say this is overkill because really, what are the chances that your itty bitty one will completely destroy his meticulously chosen outfit moments before being loaded into the car seat for the first time? 100% likely with Jameson. I was literally strapping him in his car seat when – BAM! – poop explosion. So he ended up coming home in a random onesie I had jammed in his diaper bag.

** Don’t bother with diapers & wipes because the hospital will provide everything you need (and more!) and the ones you brought will just take up space. Grab those hospital freebies like they’re going out of style.

FOR THE HUBS

Sweatshirt – One of the top recommendations I got when asking people for advice on what Alex should pack. They were right! Our room got chilly and he was glad he had it.

Nice camera – In all likelihood, you won’t be taking many pictures (you’ll be busy, you know, being a mom and all). Decide who will be in charge of taking pictures, whether that’s a professional or your husband with your good camera, and make sure you pack the charger.

Other electronics – Phone, chargers, possibly something to watch movies on (Alex and I brought my iPad and watched The Office on Netflix while Jameson snuggled with us in bed).

Comfortable Clothing & Toiletries You know the drill.

FOR YOU!

Ready for the nitty gritty? We’ll start off easy…

A copy of your birth plan – If you have one. I never even used mine (I knew how I wanted my labor to go and my midwife was extremely accommodating) but it might be nice to have on hand, especially if you think it would be helpful to have your preferences clearly laid out in writing for the doctors and nurses.

Anything you might need for labor – As I mentioned above, I labored almost entirely at home so I didn’t bring anything. But this could include special music, a focus item, a Bible with specific verses marked to read during labor…

Hair ties – Maybe one or two. My hair was a hot mess after delivery so I just threw it in a pony and that was that.

Chapstick – Always good to have.

Loose-fitting pajamas/other outfits – If you want to avoid the hospital gowns. Some people really prefer to be in their own clothes, which I totally get. I personally just stayed in the hospital gown the entire time (didn’t even wear a bra) because it was convenient for nursing, convenient for all those frequent doctor checks, I didn’t care if it got ruined, and I was really just too lazy to get changed. Seriously. Next time I deliver a baby I’ll probably bring one pair of pj’s just in case and that’s it.

**Clothing recommended to me: Yoga or sweat pants, flowy shirts, a nightgown, and a robe. Make sure you’re not too attached to any of these items since they could get rather…stained. Ew.

Nursing bra and/or nursing tank – If you’re planning on breastfeeding. Again, I ended up not even wearing mine but I would still recommend bringing one anyway.

Socks and/or slippers – I believe hospitals recommend you bring those with good grip on the bottom, just in case you decide to wear them while laboring and want to walk around.

Flip flops – A definite must. I wore those bad boys right into the shower. I don’t care how many chemicals have cleaned that bathroom, I knew what was coming out of me (yep, gross) and I knew I wasn’t the first to be in that situation.

Toiletries – The hospital does supply you with shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. so you could skip this if you want to pack light. I, however, am the kind of person who likes to use the products I’m used to. Don’t forget your toothbrush, though! 🙂

Beauty supplies – The only thing I used in this category was a little bit of mascara so I didn’t look like a total zombie in our first family pictures. But I did pack my straightener as well. (I didn’t yet know that you don’t really have that kind of time with a newborn. Ah, youth.)

Going home outfit – Keep in mind that you will probably look about six months pregnant even after delivery (boo!) so choose something comfortable and roomy. I wore leggings and a long, loose shirt.

Nipple cream (for all you nursing mamas) – Yup, now we’re getting into it. You probably won’t know what works best for you until a few days in so just grab a brand and try it out. I used Lanolin by Lansinoh but I’ve also heard great things about Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter if you prefer lanolin-free.

Depend for Women – Hey, you don’t want your baby to be the only one in diapers do you?! Yeaaahhh. To be quite frank, you’re going to be bleeding a lot. It’s going to look like a murder scene in your pants every time you use the bathroom. The hospital has these mesh thunder-pad panties that lots of women swear by, but they never fit me very well. I wore them at the hospital just because I paid a buttload of money for that hospital stay and darn it, I’m getting me some mesh panties! But once I got home I switched to Depends (picked up at Target) and they fit much better. Plus, soooo sexy! Seriously though, I much prefer diaper-wearing to worrying about a regular pad sliding around my underwear all day and night. Once the bleeding subsides a little in a couple of weeks you can switch to the regular pads (I did), or just keep on rocking the diaper.

TO HAVE READY AT HOME

(your postpartum care)

Perineal Irrigation Bottle – Found on Amazon here, or stolen from your hospital. Use to clean…er…down under.

Dermoplast – The blue kind, not the red kind. The hospital will probably send you home with some but I had more ready for me at home and I’m so glad I did. This stuff will numb the heck out of your nether-regions, which is definitely what you want (whether you had tearing/stitches or not).

Some sort of stool softener – Just…yeah. Take it.

Lansinoh soothies gel pads – For nursing mamas, found on Amazon here. I didn’t actually use these so I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve heard they work wonders on sore or damaged nipples and I wish I had bought some.

More Depend for Women – Just buy a whole bunch. C’mon, you know you want to.

And that’s it! I would really recommend checking out The Postpartum Experience on Lucie’s List as well, especially if you’re not sure what to expect in terms of your delivery, what happens at the hospital, what happens afterwards, and so on. Meg breaks everything down so easily and she’s a riot. Can’t recommend her work enough!

Let me know if I missed anything important! I’d love to hear what worked well in your experience.

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Helpful Tidbits, Life with Jameson

Tips for flying solo with a baby

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Waiting for the plane with my sister and my niece.
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The only picture I took from Jameson’s first plane ride!

Jameson and I recently got back from a week-long trip to Georgia for a visit with some family, so I thought I’d write up a little something with some tips and tricks I learned from the vacation – specifically, my advice for flying alone with a baby for the first time. Granted, I did fly with my sister as well, but since she had her infant too we were kind of on our own for the most part. So I still count the experience as “flying solo with a baby.” 🙂

I know there’s plenty of wisdom out there from well-seasoned flying mamas but I thought I’d add my experience to the mix too, just in case it can be helpful to someone!

{Each flight was approximately 4 hours total and Jameson was seven and a half months old at the time.}

BEFORE YOU GO

Keep a running packing list going in the week leading up to your trip – Any time you think of something you’ll need, write it down so you won’t forget it when you’re packing.

Buy a few cheap toys to break out once you’re on the plane I got a few from the Dollar Store and a few from the dollar section at Target. Jameson loved the newness of them and they kept him interested for longer than his old toys (which I definitely packed too many of haha).

Plan out your luggage – Figure out exactly how many bags and other large items you’ll be taking and which of those you’ll be checking vs. carrying on. I ended up with 1) one duffle bag which I carried on, 2) my backpack-style diaper bag (highly recommended so you can free up your hands) which I carried on as my “personal item,” 3) one Pack ‘n Play which I checked before going through security, 4) one car seat which I checked before security as well, and 5) one stroller which I brought up to the gate and the airline employees put under the plane for me.

Keep ALL your baby’s needed items for the flight in ONE bag  (for example, your diaper bag)  You don’t want to be scrambling through several bags looking for a specific item mid-flight.

Less is more with packing! – Babies don’t mind re-wearing outfits (especially pj’s) so pick your favorites and add just a few extras. If you’re staying somewhere where you’ll have access to a washer/dryer, even better! I definitely over-packed on clothes for Jameson and he ended up not even using half the outfits.

Roll up your baby’s tops and bottoms together in your suitcase This helps you save space and makes it easy to grab a matching outfit.

Ziploc bag it up – If you’re flying carry-on like we did, make sure each of your liquids are 3 fluid ounces or less in size and put them all in one big Ziploc bag. Keep that bag near the top of your suitcase or somewhere easy for you to find as you’re going through security. Do the same with your other questionable items, like electronics. The last thing you’ll want is to be fumbling around your suitcase trying to locate all your liquids and electronics while simultaneously managing a wiggly baby.

Pack enough diapers and wipes for the flight only Plan on buying more once you arrive at your destination, especially if you’re short on space like I was. (Same advice goes for baby formula/baby food if you need it.)

Bring an empty sippy cup  Buy your baby’s favorite drink at the airport once you’re through security.

 

AT THE AIRPORT

** You’ll most likely be allowed to go through shorter versions of all the lines (checking in, security, plane boarding) because you’re traveling with a baby so make sure you ask someone if you’re not sure where to go!

Bag up your car seat – (if you plan on checking it rather than buying a plane seat for it) Bring along one of those oversized black garbage bags so your car seat won’t get dirty when it’s tossed under the plane. It’s not cute, but it does the job. Make sure you also fill out a tag with your info on it and attach it somewhere on the outside of the garbage bag, in case other people have the same idea.

If you decide to bring your car seat up to the gate, remember you can still check it there along with your stroller so have a garbage bag handy for that situation too.

Wear your baby through the airport – Serious. Life. Saver. I have the Ergobaby 360. Since I didn’t have my husband for extra help, I needed to free up my hands as much as possible. I had my carry-on duffle bag in the stroller, my backpack diaper bag on my back, and Jameson in the carrier on my front (allowing me to actually push the stroller). I’m sure I looked like a pack mule but what are ya gonna do?

By the way, the airport will most likely allow you to wear your baby through security too, which is a HUGE help. Just know that they’ll check your hands for gun residue, but this only takes a few extra seconds.

Choose easy-to-eat foods if you’re grabbing something before the flight – (which I recommend you do if your baby is young and may potentially throw your in-flight food around the plane, like Jameson certainly would have). I chose a Chipotle burrito which was a big mistake because it turned into a mess and I couldn’t eat it very well while also taking care of Jameson. Pick something you can eat with one hand, like pizza.

 

ON THE PLANE

Bring sanitizing wipes and wipe down everything as soon as you get on the plane – I totally spaced on this and Jameson inevitably found a way to stick his mouth on all sorts of gross things around him (the back of the seat, the tray, etc.). I was wishing I had remembered something stronger than just baby wipes.

Dress comfortably and conveniently – I had Jameson in a t-shirt, sweatpants, and socks. That was it. I didn’t want to be in that teeny airplane bathroom trying to snap on a onesie or zip up a sweatshirt as the plane is rocking and Jameson is wiggling all over. The sweatpants were easy on, easy off. For me I just made sure I was wearing a nursing-friendly shirt, jeans with pockets for my phone/ID, and slip-on shoes for going through security. **Bring an extra outfit for your little one and maybe an extra shirt for you if you’re checking your bags and won’t have access to them during the flight. You know, just in case your baby decides to have a poop explosion mid-air. (It didn’t happen to me, but I’ve heard stories…)

Choose an aisle seat if you have the opportunity – I can’t tell you how nice it was to have easy access to the aisle when Jameson needed a diaper change or needed to stretch his legs for a little bit. Plus it gave me extra room for nursing. If you have a sensitive baby, an aisle seat would also give you the opportunity to easily walk up and down the aisle when the seat belt sign is off.

Avoid ordering food or drinks unless you absolutely need to – Little ones can be grabby. 🙂 I just drank from the water bottle I bought at the airport and snacked on Cheerios with Jameson. I wasn’t too hungry because of the messy burrito I had just eaten/sort of dropped everywhere at the airport.

Wear your nursing cover at all times if you breastfeed – Seriously, this was a great idea I got from someone else. I have an awesome cover from Covered Goods which can be worn as a scarf as well. I pulled it down when needed and wore it as a scarf the rest of the time. Having it on the whole flight made it SO much easier to just quickly nurse Jameson as soon as he was showing signs of wanting to eat (or whenever he was fussy and just needed to be close to me).

Feed your little one during take-off and landing – The pressure changes can really bother some babies’ ears, but the sucking and swallowing helps them regulate the pressure so it’s more comfortable. If you’re breastfeeding, this is easy. Just whip out your boob as the plane is lifting off or beginning its descent. If you’re bottle feeding it may be a little trickier, but you should be just fine as long as you have this advice in the back of your mind while you’re preparing the formula you’ll need for the flight.

Have all your distractions ready to go and rotate through them throughout the flight – Our flight was four hours which is a long time for a baby to sit in one place, so I came prepared with plenty of entertainment. Snacks, quiet toys, my iPad pre-loaded with baby games, comfort items like Jameson’s blankie, etc. As soon as Jameson got bored with one, we switched to another and kept working our way through.

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST

My number one piece of advice – Try to relax and don’t stress too much about what other people are thinking. Babies fuss and sometimes cry and they have just as much right to be on that plane as anyone else. You’ll find that most people are so nice and so helpful, especially if you’re flying alone. Almost everyone has either flown with their own kids in the past, is currently flying with their own kids, or at least has a moderate liking for babies in general. They get it. They don’t mind. They know you’re doing your best and they know you can’t control what kids do. And the ones who do mind usually stick their headphones in/can’t hear your kid crying over all the other sounds on the plane anyway.

In all honestly, you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by how well your little one does (I certainly was with Jameson!). If, for whatever reason, your baby is having an extra cranky day…just do your best and know that you will get through this and you will make it to your destination in one piece!

And…don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. 🙂 The people around you will probably be more than happy to give you a hand lifting your bags or play peekaboo with your baby to get a cute smile. Everyone was so kind and very complimentary of Jameson on both of our flights and we made some really nice acquaintances during our travels.

Best of luck to you and I hope you have a wonderful vacation!

 

Do you have any tips for flying solo with an infant? Let me know if there’s something I should add to the list!