Life Lately

Good morning and happy Friday!

This is our last weekend at home until New Years (yikes!), so we’re planning to soak  up lots of relaxing family time and do a few of our favorite holiday things around town.

It’s been a little bit of a rough week as I got my wisdom teeth out on Tuesday, which went fine, but is obviously not fun.  We also had a week of cold and rainy weather, but it was all worth it when we got SNOW last night!

You guys, it was 85 degrees here on Monday and snow is quite unusual here in Austin, especially in early December, so this was a pretty magical surprise.  I noticed it was snowing right as we were putting James to bed, so of course we brought him out in his jammies to see it.  He wasn’t too impressed.  We tried again this morning, but he really doesn’t have the proper shoes / mittens to enjoy it without getting too cold.  Still, I am loving sitting here drinking coffee and watching the snow fall off the trees this morning.

Here are a few other snapshots of our life lately!

Eating / Drinking

Unsweetened Cranberry Juice – my brother-in-law was drinking this when I was in Wisconsin and I gave it a try.  It is super tart (duh) and I love it.  I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I really like tart things, and I think this is delicious over ice.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I think it would be great mixed with club soda too.

Lemon Poppyseed Scones – These tiny scones are so cute and they freeze so well!  I tried freezing them both before and after baking and both worked well, but I think they’re a little better frozen before baking.  It’s fun to have them in the freezer and be able to just pop a couple in the oven for a morning treat.

Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Fruit – You guys, this is my new obsession.  First because it is delicious, but also because it makes the best toddler snack!  I don’t mind buying puffs for trips and things like that, but they’re not my first choice for an every day snack.  These are crunchy and delicious and the only ingredient is fruit.  I’ve only tried the raspberries, but am going to get a bunch more kinds when I go back to Trader Joe’s.

Reading

A ‘3 Gift Christmas’ can be Magical – We are not doing this this year, and I’m not sure we ever would, but I do sort of love the idea of a more minimalist Christmas.

Car Seat Guide – We had to switch James to a convertible car seat pretty early because he is super tall, but I wish I had had these guides when we were choosing!  A reader sent them to me recently and I think they would be super helpful for anyone looking for a new car seat – I find this type of safety-related decision so overwhelming.

If you’re looking for more weekend reading, check out my latest two articles on Motherly 🙂

Thinking

About reframing.  I’ve mentioned my favorite podcast many times, but one thing Gretchen and Elizabeth talk about a lot is “reframing” – changing the way you think about something, even when you can’t change the situation.  I’ve been trying to do this with my wisdom teeth this week.  While getting them removed was painful and no fun, I feel so grateful that we have good dental insurance and I could do it without it being a big deal.

I’ve also been reframing how I feel about this very busy month.  While yes, it’s been a little bit stressful at times, it’s all because of a family wedding I’m super excited about, a family vacation, and Christmas, my absolute favorite holiday.

I find this reframing strategy so helpful!

Loving

This baby / toddler stage.  James is so, so much fun lately.  He has been super happy and independent and my new favorite thing he does is dance.  It is the absolute cutest thing 🙂

Looking forward to

My sister’s wedding! And Disney World! And Christmas!  Basically, all the things 🙂

What have you been up to lately?  Please share!

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Traveling with Littles – Balancing Routine with Excitement

Good morning!

How is your December so far?  Mine is busy, but happy!

I am by no means an expert on traveling with a baby, but we’ve had a few very successful trips recently.  With holiday travel coming up for many, I wanted to share a few tips that have made our trips fun and relaxing for both our little one and us.

I would love to hear any tips you have for traveling with young children in the comments!

1. Create a “home base”

This is the number one thing that has helped us in traveling with a baby / young toddler.  If you can baby proof a whole room wherever you are staying, that is excellent, but even a little corner of a room can really help.  It’s important for a baby to have a space that’s his own, where he can move and explore without constantly hearing “no”.  It is also super helpful for allowing the parents to relax!

In Maine, there was a sun-room we could easily baby-proof.  When we visited my husband’s family in Wisconsin last week, my mother in law set up a little corner of the living room for James.  She set out a blanket to define the space, and cleared off the lowest shelf of a book shelf and set a few toys there.  This was so effective, that we did the same thing in our own living room as soon as we got home!

He is in a stage where he loves to run around and explore, so he did not stay in that corner the whole time, but he seemed to really love having a “home base” to return to after exploring other parts of the house.

2. Bring or Buy familiar foods

My son is not picky (yet…), and it’s really fun to introduce him to new foods when we travel, but I still like to make sure we have a few of his staple favorites on hand.

I like to pack a few of these favorites, so we don’t have to rush to a grocery store as soon as we arrive somewhere.  I generally pack a small container of frozen peas, string cheese, and frozen pancakes (I make a big batch and freeze some, so generally have these on hand).  Of course, I also bring lots of puffs and pouches, just in case 🙂

3. Build in free time

What kind of vacationer are you?  I definitely used to be a “do all the things” traveler, but no more!  At least not quite as much….

Exploring new places as a family is awesome, but I find that letting the little guy have a big chunk of time every day to just be goes a long way toward making everyone happy.  If you’re staying somewhere without much space, find a local park or play place!

4. Protect bedtime

Naps and bedtime may get a little wonky on travel days, but in my experience, more than one day in a row of missed naps or late bedtimes is pretty much a disaster.  We make sure James gets to bed on time, with rare exceptions.  Granted, we’ve never stayed in a hotel room with him, just Air BnB’s or family homes where we could continue hanging out after he went to bed, so I’m sure that would be trickier in a small hotel room.

5. Surprise him with favorite books

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I like to put away a few of James’s all-time favorite books a few weeks before we travel, and surprise him with them on the trip.  He is always so excited to see the books he loves and is happy to read them about a hundred times in a row, which is particularly helpful on airplanes.

Do you have any tips for traveling with little ones?  Please share!

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December Goals and NaNoWriMo Recap

Good morning and happy Friday!  I didn’t mean to disappear lately, but things have been very busy!  We just got back from Wisconsin on Wednesday and now it seems like all the things need to happen to prepare for Christmas and some upcoming trips.

I will likely be blogging less this month, but will pop in when I can 🙂

Here is a recap of last month’s goals, and my goals for December.  I would love to read yours in the comments!

November Goals

I had only one goal in November, which was to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  This was a little bit of a last minute decision, and I am so happy I did it!

NaNoWriMo is basically a free program designed to help people write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November.  Most adult fiction is longer than that, so it’s not really a whole book, but it’s a sizable chunnk.

I sort of wish this challenge were in October instead, as I, like many people, traveled for Thanksgiving, which makes it harder.  Knowing I had upcoming travel planned, I focused on this goal big time in the beginning of November and completed the goal on November 18!  This way I could just relax and spend time with family and friends for the week we were away for Thanksgiving.

Two things were key for me in succeeding – Completing an outline of what I wanted to write before November 1 and writing at the same time every day.

I know some people don’t like to write from an outline, but for me, it was extremely helpful in making it easier to keep writing when I was perhaps too tired or not feeling creative enough to make big decisions about the story.

Writing every morning, usually at 5 AM, also worked really well for me.  I was generally done with the daily word goal (1667 words) by the time James was up for the day.  I often wrote more later in the day, but having the minimum done took the pressure off.

I definitely recommend NaNoWriMo for anyone trying to start a writing habit!  There is also no reason you could not complete a challenge like this on your own, or with a friend, in a different month of course.

December Goals

Does survival count as a goal?  Just kidding, but this month is going to be a whirlwind, even more than most years – for good reasons though!  My sister is getting married and we are going on a family vacation before Christmas this year.  Then we’re traveling for Christmas as well.  It’s going to be nuts, but hopefully very fun too.

I’m mostly done with Christmas shopping at least, so that’s something!

I’m only setting two goals for the month, and they are really more intentions than goals.

1. Read the Bible daily

I already know I will likely miss some days, but I’m going to stick to this as much as possible because it’s so easy to lose sight of the meaning behind Christmas.  I personally like this site for daily readings.  I’m also going to try to read to James daily from his children’s Bible I got him for his Baptism, at least while we are in town.

2. Set Reasonable Expectations

I wrote a little about this here, but I am working on having reasonable expectations for holidays, and experiences in general.  I am really excited about both our vacation and Christmas, but I know they will be 1000 times more enjoyable if I don’t try to fit in every tradition and every fun activity.  I just want to spend time with family and see James’s little smile.  That will be more than enough.

Do you have Demember goals?

Is this a crazy month for you?

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