A Mainely Relaxing Vacation

Last week we took our first vacation with James.  We traveled to Maine, a location we chose pretty randomly based on where Southwest flies, wanting to go somewhere we’ve never been, and the presence of a national park.  I choose many travel destinations based on national parks as exploring new (to me) ones is one of my all time favorite things in the world.

It did not disappoint.

Months before the trip, I was really looking forward to it.  My parents traveled with us and I would talk on the phone with my mom about how much fun it would be.  Weeks before the trip, I wasn’t so sure.  I was still excited, but all of the travel logistics seemed really daunting.  James is not one to sleep on the go, he barely sleeps on road trips, so I had visions of him awake for all of the flights and getting crankier and crankier.

Thankfully, that was not the case at all!  I think the three things that made flying relatively easy for us were:

1. Fly when baby is tired: We had to wake up at 3 AM for our first flight.  This was exhausting, but it worked so well, as James slepts for half of the first flight and most of the second flight and was in a great mood for the rest of the day.  for the return flight, we left at 5:30 PM and he slept for almost all of the flights home.  I couldn’t believe it!

2. Bring forgotten favorites: I’ve read the tip to bring new books or toys for baby on the plane, but the thing is James doesn’t really like new stuff.  He isn’t generally interested in a new toy until it’s been on his shelf for a few days and he doesn’t love a book until we’ve read it a few hundred times.  So about a week or two before our trip, I put away all of his favorite books.  When I got them out on the airplane, it was like Christmas morning.  He could NOT have been more excited to see his favorite books again.  They kept him happy for all of his awake time on the flights.

3. Bring small finger foods: I think snacks keep everyone, children and adults, happy when traveling.  For us, puffs, cheerios, and peas helped the most because he eats them one at a time so it takes longer.  We brought more substantial food as well, but he tends to inhale things like pouches in about thirty seconds.

Those three things made the flights pretty easy!

We stayed in AirBnBs for all except the last night of the trip.  Both houses we stayed in had a great outdoor area with lots of grass.

Also, staying in an AirBnB allowed us to hang out after James went to bed, rather than sitting in silence so as not to wake him.  The only downside to renting houses was that they were not nearly as dark as James’s room or a hotel room, so he woke up around 5:30 every day when it got light.

This wasn’t totally terrible, as it allowed us to see some of the things that get really crowded, like popular beaches, when they were almost completely empty.

We were definitely tired by the end though.  When we stayed in a dark hotel room the last night, he slept 12 1/2 hours until 7 AM.  It was glorious.

Honestly, I had read that traveling with babies / small children is more of a trip than a vacation, but with a few exceptions, this was one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve ever taken.

I tend to be very go, go, go when traveling because I want to see everything, but having a baby who naps twice a day really forced me to slow down and spend time reading outside in the beautiful forest where we were staying and simply spending time with my family.  It was wonderful.

We didn’t do as much hiking as we normally would, or see every little thing there was to see, but we did get to slow down and really experience somewhere new.  We got to just be there, instead of rushing around and it was wonderful.

We just booked our next trip, to see family in Wisconsin, and I cannot wait!

Do you like to travel?

Are you go, go, go on vacations or more relaxed?

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Lessons from Running and Parenting

I was on a great, but very hot, run last saturday and my mind started to wander to all of the parallels between what I’ve learned in running and parenting.  So maybe these are just life lessons?  I don’t know, but as soon as I started thinking about it, I thought of so many things that apply to both.  Of course I forgot half of them by the time I got home, but these are the ones I remember.

Do what you can sustain

I believe it was this book (which I don’t love) that said “start as you wish to go on” or something like that.  In regards to parenting, it meant don’t start a bunch of bad habits that you’ll just have to get rid of later.  I definitely did this with letting my little guy fall asleep while he was nursing.  I honestly don’t necessarily regret this, because the memories of him sleeping on my chest are some of my favorite from his newborn days, but I am also really glad we broke the habit before it became a big issue.  We’ve also mostly avoided a bottle and a pacifier, in part because I didn’t want to have to deal with weaning him off of them some day.

With running, I need to work on this in terms of pace!  I’ve never been good about this, but it’s gotten so much worse now that I run less often and am more excited to run.  I go out way too fast at a pace I can’t sustain and then feel like I’m going to throw up for the last mile.  I honestly often recognize this at the beginning of the run, but am having too much fun going fast (for me) to care.  Still, as I start to do longer runs in the next few months in preparation for my half marathon, I need to work on starting at a pace I can sustain.

Take a Break

There were SO many times right after James was born that my husband would try to get me to go lay down or take a break while he hung out with the baby.  I almost always said no.  I didn’t want to miss anything (story of my life).  I felt like James spent so much of his awake time eating and I wanted to be there for the other stuff he did (like open his eyes occasionally…) too.  I now realize that I am a much better and happier mom when I take breaks.  This can mean ignoring the house work that needs to be done during nap time on occasion, or asking my husband if I can go lay down for 15 minutes.  It usually doesn’t take long for me to feel refreshed and semi-energetic again.

The same goes for running, especially in this heat!  I will often finish faster and go further, and certainly feel better, if I take a 1-2 minute walking break when I need to.  This is especially true as I start to increase distance.

Gear is not the Answer

Oh my goodness it is so tempting in both parenting a baby and in running to get all of the gear and gadgets to solve the problem at hand.  I find though that I do better with fewer, higher quality things that I really want.  I never bought a baby swing or bouncer because James didn’t cry much and we didn’t need them, but I knew I wanted a great stroller I could run with.  I know it’s important to have good quality running shoes to avoid injury, but I don’t really need anything else to run.

Consult the Experts but Trust your Gut

This is definitely a hard one for me.  When all else fails, google it.  It is so amazing to have endless information available at the click of a button, but I know I also need to filter it for myself to determine what works best for my body / my baby.

Numbers and Tracking are Useful to an Extent

I’ve always loved math and I really love numbers.  I can easily get caught up in tracking paces or nap lengths to the point where it is unhelpful.  I think numbers are a useful reference and tracking details can be helpful on occasion, but only to a certain extent, because we are not robots.  I may not be able to hit a certain pace on a certain day just because a training plan says so and my baby may not get the “minimum” amount of sleep every day because I can’t force him to sleep, I can only give him the opportunity.

Preparation is better than Planning

This one is really hard for me.  I am a major planner and always have been.  I try to prepare rather than plan though, because running, babies, and life are unpredictable.  I’m trying to remember this and to be more flexible.

Fartlek!

This is what made me think of this topic in the first place.  I want to parent like a fartlek.  A what???  You can read all about it here if you’re not a runner / not familiar with the term, but basically it means “speed play” in Swedish.  A fartlek is a more fun, flexible way of incorporating speed / making progress than say interval training.  To me, it’s like running as a kid, sprinting all out and then slowing down when you’re tired, rather than tracking each speed interval to the second.  It’s less rigid, less scientific, and more about heart.

Do you like to run?

What’s a parenting / life lesson you’ve learned from a hobby?

 

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Six Baby-Friendly Places in Austin, TX

We moved to Austin 4 years ago and one thing I love about living here is that lots of people come to visit!  We’ve gotten to see so many friends who were in town for one reason or another, or who had always wanted to come to Austin and seized the chance to visit.

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite baby-friendly places here that will still give you that Austin vibe if you’re in town.  I’ve always lived in central or south Austin, so that’s where these are focused.

Moontower Saloon

Located in South Austin, this is a great place to go if you’re visiting with small children, but still want to see some live music.  This is a mostly outdoor venue with tons of shade from live oak trees and water misters and fans to keep everyone cool.  Every sunday afternoon, they have live music (usually at 4 PM) and you’re allowed to bring children on Sundays.  This place has a great, very “Austin” atmosphere.  We’ve been going almost every week and love it!

Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza / Jester King Brewery

This has been one of my favorite places since way before we had James, but it is also very family friendly.  It is a pizza place on a farm just outside of Austin and there is also a great little brewery that shares the location.

Seating is all outside and very spread out under a pavilion and in a field.  There are also lawn games set up and they sometimes have live music.  This may be my favorite pizza ever, it is SO good!

Deep Eddy

I briefly mentioned this place last week, but it is a really nice pool right on the Colorado River.  I believe it’s spring fed and it is zero entry, so great for kids.  I had actually never been here until recently because we used to live right next to Barton Springs, so always went there, but I think I may like Deep Eddy even better.

Unlike Barton Springs, the pool is paved, and because it has a big shallow end, parts of it are not as cold (Barton Springs is spring fed and SO cold).  It is super family friendly with lots of kids around.  The parking lot here fills up on the weekend, but there is plenty of parking around in the neighborhood.  If you go here, I definitely recommend hitting up Juiceland on your way out, I love their juices and smoothies!

Zilker Park / Zoo

In addition to being a huge park with plenty of space for picnics / playing catch / crawling around, Zilker has some hidden gems.  It has a really cute little free zoo with rescue animals.  This is by no means your typical zoo as it only has native Texas animals, but it’s free, so definitely worth stopping by.

Zilker also has a train that goes through the park (we haven’t done this yet, but are thinking of doing it for James’s first birthday) and it has some great short hiking trails over by the zoo.  I’ve never seen these trails crowded and there are some pretty nice views.

Kerbey Lane Cafe

Austin is so casual and so many places have outside seating, that almost any restaurant here is somewhat baby / kid-friendly.  I love Kerbey Lane though because as soon as baby is eating finger foods, you will be able to order them something.  They have lots of breakfast sides, so you can easily order one scrambled egg, or toast, or fruit for a little one.  They also have a kids menu and we just discovered kids eat free on Tuesdays!  This was also one of my favorite restaurants before having a baby.  They have breakfast all day (as in 24 hours) and $2 mimosas.  Everything on the menu is good.  It does get really crowded at brunch time on the weekend though, so I recommend checking it out for dinner or during the week.  There are several locations now.  The original (not surprisingly, the one on Kerbey Lane) is the cutest and has the best vibe, but they all have delicious food.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

This is somewhere I didn’t discover until we moved further south last summer, but I love it!  This place has beautiful trails and a really great kids’ space where children can water the flowers, build structures out of bamboo, etc.  I also love the Arboretum trail, which leads to a big space full of wooden swings under oak trees.  There is an admissions fee, but it is worth it!  It is especially beautiful in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom, but this is also when it’s the most crowded.

Honorable Mentions:

Clarksville Splash Pad – This is a really nice park and splash pad in a cute neighborhood that is worth checking out.  At least during the week, this is surprisingly not very crowded.

Phil’s Burgers – At least the South Lamar location has a nice playground and is attached to an Amy’s Ice Cream (delicious).

Book People – This is a great bookstore right next to the flagship Whole Foods near downtown.

McKinney Falls – This is a small, but really great, state park within the Austin city limits.  It has some trails, but most people go for the swimming holes.

Austin Greenbelt – This is a trail running all throughout Austin with many different entrances.  At times, there are great natural swimming holes along the trail, but they dry up when it doesn’t rain.

Lady Bird Lake / Town Lake Trail – This is a nice trail for running, walking, or biking.  It does get crowded on the weekends, but has some nice views of the skyline.  You can also rent canoes or kayaks at several points along the trail.

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Friday Favorites

Good morning and happy Friday!

I don’t usually do a Friday Favorites post, but so many little things are making me happy this week, I wanted to share.

The Best Birthday

It was my birthday last week and it was seriously the best day.  My husband took the day off of work and planned a whole day of fun things he knows I love.  He is not a planner by nature, so honestly just the fact that he planned things made my day.  We went to Starbucks in the morning and it was actually nice out so we could sit outside.

After the little guy’s morning nap, we went to Deep Eddy (a great pool in Austin) and Kerby Lane Cafe, one of my favorite restaurants.  We hung out at home in the afternoon, so as not to torture the little guy, and then my husband got happy hour supplies so we could have an at home date night, which I love.  He got cheeses and crackers and wine and the cutest little birthday cake and we just hung out and listened to music and played cards.  Also, my friend Laura had her beautiful baby girl so we share a birthday!  It was a wonderful day.

Running App

I mentioned recently I signed up for a half marathon with my brother.  It’s not until January, but I am already SO excited because it’s been a really long time since I’ve run any races.  I lost the charger to my Garmin GPS watch, but just started using the app called Running and really like it so far.  I have no idea if this is the best one, I just chose a free one with really good ratings.  I don’t really know how accurate it is, but it seems in line with my general paces on the treadmill, so it’s good enough for me.  I feel like the “current pace” is all over the place, but the per mile pace and distance seem about right.  It’s nice to have some way to track my running progress again!

Pineapple Shorts

(Image from Old Navy Site)

I’m a little bit in love with these shorts I got last week at Old Navy.  They are having the biggest sale and I went in to get a few longer shirts to wear with leggings, but couldn’t help picking up these shorts too.  I’m obsessed.

Your Self-Confident Baby

I know I mentioned this book, by Magda Gerber, earlier in the week, but I just finished it and really love it.  I’m considering doing a post on the differences I saw between RIE and Montessori because I find it really interesting.  This has also inspired me to go back and re-read some of my Montessori books we well.

Backyard Play Time

Now that we’ve been staying home more, we’ve been enjoying more time in the backyard.  Yes, it has been ridiculously hot, but our backyard has a lot of shade so it’s not too bad.  I bring a big blanket out and some books and things for James to play with.

Sometimes I also fill up the kiddie pool so he can go in there if he wants.  He spends some time on the blanket and also crawls around inspecting sticks and trying to eat leaves.  We both really enjoy it!

Jessica Smith TV

Other than walking and running, I’ve kind of gotten out of the habit of other workouts.  I think it started with the great short nap fiasco that occurred when James was around six months.  I just never really got back into the habit.  Honestly, running and hiking and walking are the only workouts I truly love doing.  But, I know strength is important, especially as we get older, and I do like it when I feel stronger.  So I’m trying to get back into doing other workouts, but I want them to be short and sweet since I don’t love doing them.  I’m loving the twenty to thirty minute HIIT and strength workouts on JessicaSmithTV.  I also love FitnessType.  I was all about her ten to twenty minute HIIT workouts right after I had James and his naps were super unpredictable.  She has a wide range or easy to hard workouts too.

What’s making you happy this week?

Do you have any favorite online workouts I should try?

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Monthly Meal Planning Experiment

As I mentioned last week, I’m rethinking how I meal plan and grocery shop.  I’m doing this for three reasons:

  1. I started hating to cook.  I’ve enjoyed cooking since I was a little girl, but it started becoming a task I semi-dreaded.
  2. I like going to Trader Joe’s, but I don’t love buying meat there (not as good of selection or prices in my opinion).  I like buying meat from either Sprouts or HEB (huge local store), but I really don’t like going to more than one grocery store a week.
  3. We were eating the same boring things all of the time.  I wasn’t thinking at all about recipes until the night / hour before grocery shopping and so just made the same things over and over again.

It was clearly time for a change!

I decided trying to meal plan on a monthly, rather than weekly basis.  This way, I could get my cookbooks out once instead of every week, which clearly wasn’t happening.  Also, I could make a consolidated list of everything I needed from a non-Trader Joe’s store and just go there once a month, instead of debating every week which store to go to for what we needed that week.

So far, it is working great!

The initial process of going through cookbooks and making a grocery list for each week was time consuming, but it was also fun.  I chose a few cookbooks and then chose one recipe per week from each book.

This month, I used Thug Kitchen, Oh She Glows Every Day, Salad Love, and America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.

I also chose some things to make from my Baby Led Weaning Cookbook and The Big Book of Recipes for Babies, Toddlers, and Children.  James can now eat a lot of the same things we do, but it was fun to find recipes tailored to him and things like healthy sugar-free muffins, etc.

I chose four recipes per week, because we tend to have leftovers and just like to do our own thing some nights (e.g., my husband makes tacos and I make eggs or some kind of grain salad bowl).

After choosing the recipes, I made grocery lists for each different week, and then a separate list of things I’d need from HEB.  My husband graciously went and got the HEB stuff because it gets super crowded and it’s huge and I kind of hate going there.

This is our third week of the new plan and so far it is GREAT!

I’m back to grocer shopping once a week and I’m actually excited about the things I’m making again, woohoo!  I didn’t track this, but I’m fairly confident it’s good for the grocery budget too since fewer grocery trips means fewer impulse kombucha purchases on my part.

I’m already looking forward to choosing cookbooks and recipes for next month.

Do you meal plan or just wing it?

Do you have a favorite grocery store?

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5 Easy First Foods – Baby Led Weaning

I’ve been meaning to write about this for so long.  The time has finally come!

When I first started researching baby led weaning (BLW), what I most wanted to know was HOW.  As in, the details.  As in exactly what foods to start with, what shape / size to cut them in, and how / how long to cut them.

While I loved the idea of BLW, I was also a little fearful of choking.  I read plenty about how the baby’s gag reflex is further up on their tongue to prevent choking, but I was still a little scared.

I am by no means an expert (please talk to your doctor if you have any questions / concerns about how to feed your baby), but I wanted to share what foods worked well for James when he was first beginning, and the best ways we found to prepare them.

1. Avocado

We chose avocado for James’s first food because a ripe avocado is so squishy that I didn’t worry about choking.  I of course also love that it is a super healthy food full of good for you fats.  I also liked that I didn’t have to worry about cooking it to the right consistency.  Easy all around!  Reflecting back, I think avocado is a fine first food, but maybe a little bit difficult for baby to grasp due to how slippery it is.  You can coat the slices in ground flax or something similar, but I didn’t want to introduce two foods at the same time at first, so we didn’t do this for a while.

James found a solution by bending over and slurping the avocado off of his place mat like a catfish…so it all worked out in the end.  Next time though, I would probably start with something else like….

2. Roasted Sweet Potato

This was James’s favorite food for a long time and I think it was in part because of the taste and in part because it was so easy for him to eat.  The first time I made sweet potato for him, I cut it in thin strips and roasted it.  This didn’t work well for him, probably because I cut the strips too thin (again, fear of choking).

I then started cutting them in rounds with a crinkle cutter and true love was born!  I coat them in lots of coconut oil or avocado oil (using lots of oil makes them softer…and delicious) and roast at 400 degrees for thirty minutes.  Sometimes I sprinkle with turmeric or cinnamon.  I leave the peel on and James has learned to spit it out, but I would probably remove the peel if I offered it as a first food.  I think roasted sweet potatoes would make a great first food!

3. Steamed Broccoli

This is a messy one, but James has always loved it and still does today.  It is super easy for baby to hold the stem of the broccoli and gum the florets off.  I tried roasting because I think it tastes better, but at least for James, it was much easier to eat when steamed because it gets softer.  I got a steamer basket and I steam it for about ten minutes, until a form goes easily into the stem part.  I like to drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic.  I buy frozen broccoli (and also frozen green beans) so that I always have it on hand and it takes very little time to prepare.

4. Banana

A ripe banana is super easy for baby to eat.  I read that you could just give baby half a banana, removing a ring of peel around the top, so that it’s still easy for them to hold (as in the above photo).  I tried this, but James was taking huge bites and it made me nervous.  I now separate the banana half into three sections using my fingers – this is easy if it’s ripe.  At first, I would cut these three sections in half length-wise to prevent choking, though this may be totally unnecessary depending on how ripe the banana is.

5. Melon

We didn’t plan it, but one of James’s first foods was seedless watermelon.  We were out at an event and they had some beautiful looking watermelon and I realized how easy it would be for him to eat.  He loved it and I actually think that’s where he really made the connection that food is to eat and tastes delicious because he was much more into eating, rather than just playing with his food, after that day.  He ate pretty much the whole slice…and was covered in sticky juice.

He still loves melon of all kinds and I think it’s a particularly great food to offer during teething.  It can take James a long time to eat a big piece of melon, and if it’s cold from the fridge, it seems to be a good way to help ease the discomfort on his gums.

These are of course just a few foods you could begin with, as many doctors are now saying it is safe to give baby most foods from the beginning, if they are starting solids 6 months or later.  I think the biggest thing I learned was to experiment with the shapes / cooking method to find something that works for your individual baby.

We didn’t offer it until recently because I just didn’t think of it, but I also think beets would be a great first food (golden beets if you don’t want the mess).  They sell pre-steamed beets with no other ingredients at Trader Joe’s that I’ve started buying for James and he loves them!  Other early foods we had success with included thin strips of pears (microwaved a bit if not soft enough) and egg yolk (fried and cut into strips, or scrambled once baby can grasp smaller pieces).

If you eat meat, salmon and meatballs have been the easiest forms of meat we’ve found for James (I used the meatball recipe in the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook).

Now James can eat pretty much anything, but I have very fond memories of his first adventures in eating.

I should also mention, we wound up doing a hybrid of BLW and offering foods with a spoon, which I’ll likely write more about soon.

If you have kids, did you try baby led weaning, spoon feeding, or a mix?  What was baby’s first food?

What is your earliest food memory?

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July Goals

Happy belated 4th of July!

How it is July already, I have no idea, but I believe it because it has been HOT.  We are all about early morning walks and playing in the kiddie pool these days and I don’t see that changing for some time.  I can’t handle being inside all day, so we make it work.

Anyway, along with a new month comes new goals.

First a recap of last month’s goals:

Introduce Daily / Weekly Checklist: Definitely did not do this, BUT, I did finally start wearing sunscreen on my face every day, which was one of the reasons I wanted to start a checklist.  The key was to get one I love. I love anything rose scented, so love how this one smells and enjoy putting it on.  It also feels really light.  The only problem is if I put it on and go running, it gets in my eyes and really stings.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a face sunscreen that doesn’t sting your eyes?

Delete Email Subscriptions: I’ll give myself a B+ on this one.  I was really diligent at the beginning of the month and unsubscribed from a bunch…then I was told by several people that there are things that will do this for you automatically.  I have not yet signed up for one of those, but hopefully my husband will read this and do it for me (he is my personal IT guy, I am terrible at all things technology).

Complete the Playroom: Yes!  I am super close on this one and I love it!  I just need to hang the final pictures and I will do a post sharing it soon.  It is simple, but it has been wonderful to have another space that’s really set up for James, especially with limited bursts of outside play time in this heat.

Okay, onward and upward, July goals!

Complete my Monthly Meal Plan Experiment:  I’m posting more about this soon, but I was feeling a serious lack of creativity in the cooking department.  That coupled with always feeling like I was running out of things and needing to make multiple grocery trips each week led me to rethink the way I was meal planning.  My goal this month is to stick with the new plan and hone it a bit more for efficiency’s sake.

Write (apart from the blog) 3 Times per Week:  After maybe a year’s hiatus, I’ve finally gotten back to a personal writing project I started some time ago.  I think because of the mental effort required, I’m always resistant to working on it, but always feel so good when I do.  I’m going to try to work on it three times a week this month.  I’ve already put it on the calendar, so I think that will help as I tend to stick to things once they’re scheduled.  I’m still working on how to balance this with blogging, hence the skipped posts recently.

Reflect on the Next Year:  This one is a little vague, but probably the most important.  I always said I wanted to stay home with James for the first year, but then what….  I’m feeling very torn about whether / when to go back to work right now.  I visited the school where I taught last week and it felt SO good to be there and see all of the wonderful children and coworkers I love.  Then I have great mornings at home with James and think about the more rushed pace that would be necessary to get out of the house early each morning.  I am SO fortunate in that I could go back part-time, and in that my husband doesn’t care either way whether I go back.  I just need to spend some serious time thinking it over!

Do you have any goals for July?

If you have kids, did you go back to work right away or stay home with them?

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Birth Reflections – Why I’m Glad I got an Epidural

I thought about not writing this because I know this is a hugely personal decision and people have strong opinions.  In the end though, I decided to share.

There are so many (beautiful) birth stories out there about natural births, which is wonderful, but when I was pregnant, it made it almost seem (to me) like it’s the only legitimate way to give birth, like if you have an epidural, you should just keep quiet about it.  This may just be because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, I don’t know, but that’s definitely how it seemed to me.

I went into the whole birth experience unsure of whether I wanted to get an epidural.  I didn’t really have any strong feelings against it, but my head was also full of all of those natural birth stories I’d read…gotta love the internet.

I wrote more about James’s birth here, but in short, I was induced and did not react well to the medication.  I started having strong contractions just over a minute apart right away and they eventually had to pull the medication and give me some kind of shot because the contractions were so strong and frequent for so long that James’s heart rate was dropping.

Things continued to be painful, but not unbearable until my water broke (about 15 hours later).  After that, I “gave in” and got the epidural.  I wish I had gotten it sooner.

When the pain subsided, I immediately felt so happy and excited to welcome our little guy into the world.  Before the epidural, there was no way I could sleep because it hurt too much.  After it, there was no way I could sleep because I was too freaking excited.  It allowed me to be present and take in the moment.  I lay awake just daydreaming about what he would be like and have the fondest memories about the hours before his birth.

The epidural may have also helped move things along for me, as before it I was hardly dilated at all and a few hours later I was 9 cm.  I know this can happen sometimes as it calms you down, but I also know things may have just moved along because my water broke…who knows.

All Smiles Right Before Pushing

The happy mood continued all the time through the pushing stage.  I was joking with the nurses in between contractions and continued to be unbelievably excited.  Granted, I had a pretty easy time of this part of labor and it only took around 40 minutes.  Still, I’m pretty sure I would not have felt so happy and light if I hadn’t gotten the epidural.

Again, this is just a reflection on my personal experience, but for me, “giving in” and getting the drugs turned a stressful / really tense night into an extremely happy and exciting time that I cherish.  Would I get one again next time?  Who knows, but I will certainly put less pressure on myself not to.

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Twelve Questions

I wanted to mix it up today and do a little “get to know you” survey.  Feel free to answer one (or all) of the questions in the comments, I’d love to get to know you too!

1. At which store would you like to max out your credit card?

Anthropologie.  I want to live in that store.

2. What was your favorite tv show growing up?

Full House all the way!

3. Do you play any musical instruments?

Not well, but I took harp lessons for years.  I’d love to get back into it so I can play songs for our little guy, but I need to learn how to change strings first because some of the strings on my harp have popped.

4. What is your favorite cereal?

I don’t really eat cereal for breakfast, but I love it as a snack / dessert.  As children, my sister and I both randomly loved Cracklin’ Oat Bran, which we called “tv cereal” due to its shape.  I still think it’s delicious.  We also loved corn pops though, because they had the best prizes….

5. What was the worst punishment you ever received in school?

I have always been a rule follower and only remember one punishment in school…and I sort of loved it.  In my high school, seniors were allowed to leave campus, but only at lunch time.  My best friend and I had a free period and she wanted to go get donuts, so we went.  It was a free period, we weren’t even skipping class, but of course we got caught.  The principal liked us and clearly wasn’t really mad, I think he thought it was funny.  Still, he gave us detention.  We had to come in on a weekend and organize some lost and found closet.  I don’t love cleaning, but I love organizing.  We found some old American Girl books in the closet and my friend read them aloud while I color coded all of the clothes in the lost and found…it was strangely fun lol.

6. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

1 – Visit every US national park, or at least the continental ones.

2 – Visit every continent, except Antarctica

3 – Travel to the Galapagos!

Apparently, I want to travel more….

7. What is the worst pet you have ever had?

Hermit Crabs.  I got a couple of hermit crabs for my class a couple of years ago and they were the most boring pets ever.  This is likely because they’re nocturnal, so never came out when we were at school, and were super afraid of people.  They’re probably much more interesting if you have them at home and can see them at night.  I obviously should have done more research here….

8. What is a food you associate with vacation?

Pop tarts!  We didn’t eat these on a regular basis as kids, but I clearly remember being allowed to pick out a flavor before a trip (I think mostly before road trips to visit my grandfather’s ranch).  Choosing was always such a tough decision!  I think I like the strawberry ones best though.

9. What is your favorite place you’ve ever vacationed?

South Africa!  My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and it was so beautiful.  We did a mix of exploring the coast, wine tasting, and safari, but the safari was definitely the best part.  Alaska is probably my second favorite and I really want to go back.

10.  What really makes you angry?

Too many things… I actually have a pretty bad temper, which surprises people who don’t know me that well.  One thing that makes me really mad though is drivers who try to drive up to the front of a line of cars and skip the line.  There was this one turn I always made on my way home from work with one really wide lane and people would always do this…makes me unreasonably angry.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch and play?

My favorite to watch is college football (Hook ’em Horns!) and my favorite to play is basketball (or running if that counts).

12. What fictional place would you most like to go?

Hogwarts!  I’m not big into science fiction or fantasy in general, but love Harry Potter.

Play along in the comments!

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Father’s Day Weekend Highlights

Good morning!

We had a busy weekend celebrating my Dad and my husband.

I drove to Houston last Wednesday so that I could celebrate with my Dad, and drove back to Austin Saturday afternoon to also celebrate Father’s Day with my husband on Sunday.

It was a lot of driving, but so worth it.  I wanted to share a few highlights from our long weekend today:

1. Seeing my Dad

I’ve always been really close to my Dad and there were many years when I couldn’t make it home for Fathers’ Day when I lived across the country.

While a three-ish hour drive may be inconvenient, it is absolutely worth it!

My Dad has been really busy, so we just made him brunch at home to celebrate.  We made these pear ginger muffins, eggs, potatoes, and yogurt parfaits with this granola recipe (we used coconut oil instead of canola) – so good!

(Seeing my mom and sister was also a highlight, just focusing on my Dad for father’s day 🙂

2. Celebrating my husband’s first father’s day

As I wrote on Friday, he is such a wonderful dad and it was really fun to celebrate with him.

 

I snapped these photos of our little buddy last week and framed one for him.

I also made him waffles – two brunches in one weekend is always a win in my book 🙂

3. Watching James Explore

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but James has started pulling up on things and it has been quite an adventure!  He has always been extremely active, so he of course pulls up constantly now, which means I need to be about two inches away from him since he regularly lets go and tumbles backward.

It’s been a bit of a transition for him to need so much supervision, but he gets the biggest grin on his face every time he pulls up.

He also seemed to really enjoy exploring my parents’ house in general.  He was very excited with so many new things to see.  He fell in love with this one lamp they have and would get the biggest smile whenever he saw it.  He was also enamored with their pet cockatiels.

4. Outside Time

Now that it’s reaching over 100 degrees (!!!), we’ve had to get a bit more creative with outside time, but it is still happening and is always a highlight.

We now regularly go for walks first thing in the morning, which I love, and gets us out before the heat of the day.

James also really loves crawling around in the grass, so we’ll find a shady spot and let him explore.  He particularly loves seeing bugs and flowers.  We also gave him a mint leaf from my mom’s herb garden and he enjoyed chewing on it for like an hour – he smelled really good!

5. Dining Out

James has recently gotten really good at picking up little pieces of food.  He can eat little bits of many of the foods we eat now.  As a result of this, it is pretty easy to take him to restaurants at the moment.  There is almost always something we can order him and he takes a long time to eat something like a strip of bread, so he stays entertained.

I know this won’t last forever and that as he gets more efficient at eating, it may not occupy him for as long, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

It was a wonderful weekend full of family time and we’re looking forward to another fun week ahead.

What was the best part of your weekend?

What did you do for Father’s Day?

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