Back into Mommin’

Well, as you can see it has been a while since I have made a post. Earning a bachelor’s degree while raising a toddler, coaching, and renovating a house can keep ya a little busy.

I’ve been feeling distant and guilty lately on not being able to spend as much time as I have wanted with Genevieve. Our summer was a blast, but once school picked up again classes had me busy with homework and with work on top of it all I was exhausted by the end of the day. She has been in daycare now since January about four times a week, and I have dedicated my Fridays to spending more mother-daughter quality time since the Fall had me so overwhelmed.

It has been a great transition again. She is so resilient in how busy Tyler and I’s lives are, and I absolutely love that about her. Our renovation is nearing the end upstairs (another post on that to come later!), and I can’t wait to get back into our set up of activities and for her to have her own room and space again.

She has been such a trooper having little to no toys out since we moved in- just a small cabinet and tub in the living room. I’ll be honest, I have sucked at toy rotation since going back to school in August. Over the summer, I was great about switching things up every week, and providing a structured activity both before and after her nap in addition to her other work sets.

Now that graduation is on the horizon (just under a month… YAY!), I am so excited to get back into getting that swing on again. In the meantime, we are enjoying our weekends. Trips to a local indoor jump park (think inflatables that you see at field days and birthday parties), museums, the zoo, or just “go shopping’ trip” to Target keeps us entertained.


This last FriYAY we went to St. Paul in the hopes of kicking off our membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Well… apparently everyone else had that same idea since it was spring break (what was I thinking?). There was an hour wait, so we buzzed fifteen minutes over to the Como Zoo & Conservatory. Evie loved the buffalo especially, and crawling through the seal exhibit!


Finally, we made it over to the museum and got to explore the much-anticipated Daniel the Tiger special exhibit. It was everything she could have wanted; mail, the trolley, the whole nine yards!

Bring on graduation and bring on the full-time mommin’. I’ve missed spending time with my little sunshine and I can’t wait to get it back!



Demolition Day 1

Well, we kicked off the upstairs renovation today!

Down came lots of lath and plaster, drop ceiling tiles, drapes, and pulled trim. We pulled all the nails out of the 2×4 boards so that we can reuse them when we reframe the interior walls back in, and the trim got set aside to hopefully put back in as well. I am sure all the trim, doors, and door frames will need to be repainted (I know that is going to my job given Tyler will be doing the heavy lifting) so I am just mentally preparing for how much sweat and elbow grease it will be great it will look after it’s all done.

One of the most exciting things will be to compare the before, during, and after pictures. We only get to see the original layout once, so I am trying to document as much of the process as I can. We did all of this in just around two hours after Tyler got home from work! I think Evie likes demo day, given she gets to watch Sesame Street and drink her bottle the entire time.

We’ve been here a week exactly tomorrow, and it seems to have flown by already. I will go back to school in two weeks which means I need to go through the entire garage and all of the boxes, totes, etc. and divide out the garbage, donate, sell, store, and bring inside items. The hardest part is that a ton of the stuff that would normally go in rooms that would be in use (office, Evie’s room, a true master bedroom) can’t really go in the house right now. So we have way more boxes than we should since Evie’s extra toys for toy rotation are in one, office supplies in another, etc. If I can buckle down and whizz through everything, then the sooner Tyler can build a platform in the beams of the garage and organize it all before winter comes (Winter is coming for all you GOT fans!).

But, two weeks out from the academic year also means it is crunch time for the cheerleading team I coach. We’ve got two-a-day practices twice a week, extra events like Freshman Orientation, out of conference Football Games, Pepfests, fundraisers, etc. If you know me, you know I love being busy. I’ve always been one to put too much on my plate, and it typically bites me in the ass later on when I over commit my schedule. This year my goals are two fold: handle stress better by taking things one day at a time, and enjoy the days as I live them.

How am I doing so far?

Well, I kicked through a wall today in my first “major” home renovation project, so I would say I’m doing pretty damn great!!

New Home, New Chapter

So we finally did it, we bought a house!

We are both so excited to finally have a place we can officially call home.

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Our new place is located in a small town west of Minneapolis. It is a 4 bedroom, 2 bath built in 1905 and it’s absolutely perfect for us! The main level has beautiful hardwood floors, and there’s a large two car garage in the backyard for all of Tyler’s tools. We have plenty of renovations ahead of us: the upstairs needs all new electrical and the layout will change so we can set up a master suite with an additional bathroom, as well as adding stairs in the hallway to the attic that we plan to finish off later into a bonus room.

In the meantime to speed up the upstairs renovations we are all living in the bedroom on the main floor. That means that although we have a 2000+ sq ft house, we are living in roughly 1/2 of that. The main level bedroom is fairly small, and will eventually become an office with a sleeper couch so it can double as a guest room. However, while it will be a roomy office, it is tight sleeping quarters. We can only fit our queen sized bed and a small side table, and with Winnie’s bed at the foot our ours it means Evie is sleeping in the closet. (Yes, just like Harry Potter). Both of our dressers are currently set up in our dining room.


Although she is in the closet, she seems to enjoy her new “room”. It’s worked out great so far since it stays fairly dark during the day, and we can just tilt her crib mattress (that sits on the floor) against the wall to utilize the closet aspect during the day. There are also some curtains that act as a door so it is separate, but doesn’t confine her too much. At the foot of the bed there is a shallow built-in cabinet that we are using to store her clothes and diapers.

There is a work bench in the basement where Tyler has his computer set up for his “office”, and in the meantime while we live on the main level I have my desk in the basement as well to keep my school stuff out of the way.

Since Evie had that huge Ikea cube shelf for all of her toys and “work”, I had to get creative as to where we would store her items without having them sprawling across the living room. The dining room has a large wall of built-in cabinets, so I used half for the random kitchen items (barware, small appliances, baking pans, etc.) and the other half is set entirely for Evie. She has the bottom four cabinets that each has a shelf within it for plenty of toy storage.

The main floor is going to be updated later on- as I said about transforming the bedroom to an office all we will need to do for that is switch the door with a single french door for a more open feel. We’ll redo the built-in in the dining room to go with our kitchen renovation.

The kitchen will get updated appliances (including adding a dishwasher!), an eat-in island, and some of the cabinets will switch to open shelving or glass door to make it more open. Off to the back of the kitchen is a main floor bathroom that has a stall shower. We plan to remove the shower to make it a roomy, updated powder room instead since we will be adding a full bathroom upstairs.


That brick you see is actually covering the authentic brick chimney that we’ll try to expose if we can salvage it! Then that wall off the kitchen corners off the stairs to the second level, so we will open that up as well to make it feel bigger.

So, although we only really have the main level right now, I love being home!

One of the best touches? The Backyard.

First thing we are doing is adding a fence for Winnie to be able to sit out and enjoy it. Next Spring we will build a chicken coop and get five chickens that we’ll set up either behind or to the right of the garage. Want to know what is behind the garage?

This gem:

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Yep, that’s right. Our backyard sits adjacent to the backyard of a church’s school. So that means we never have to buy a swing set, and can literally walk to swings, slides, monkey bars, and rocks- lots and lots of rocks (AKA Evie’s favorite). There’s a small baseball field and tons of grass for Winnie to play fetch outside of her yard too!

Can you tell I am super excited?

Tyler and I have never been happier!

The Importance of “Mom Friends”

When you’re a young mother, there is already a level of anxiety that comes with your baby bump. Instead of getting the “Awe congratulations! When are you due?” from strangers, you get the eyebrow raises, looks of pity/disgust, or my personal favorite, “You’re pregnant? But you’re just a baby yourself! I thought you were like 14!” Pregnancy isn’t easy when you could pass for a high schooler (or if you actually are a teen mom), as I experienced first hand. It’s awkward going shopping, it’s awkward going to the doctors, it’s awkward when you announce you’re expecting. From start to finish there is people whispering behind your back (whether they approve or not) and it couldn’t be any more obvious.

I thought when Genevieve was born things would get easier. I figured oh, maybe pushing a stroller will make me appear older and portray my maturity a bit better. Nope. I can’t count on one hand how many times I have heard high school students gasping when I walked by with Evie in tow in the stroller that it was a “real baby” (versus the doll from home-ec class) and “She’s the cheer coach? I thought she was a student!”. How many times I have been asked if I needed a hall pass or what I was doing outside the cafeteria during lunch hour as I checked some items out of the athletic cage during school hours. People introduce me and it comes out that I have a daughter and the same old, “What! I would have never guessed. You look so young!” comes out. Buying some baby supplies when Evie isn’t with me and I am asked if I need a gift certificate.

You get the idea, I don’t need to continue.

Anyway, I am so thankful to have met some really amazing people working at the bakery when I first moved to Minnesota. They have become some great friends and we always had a blast at work, and outside of work. I still hangout with most of them; we go running, shopping, to concerts, yoga, etc. However- none of them have kids. Which is fine! Each and every one of them are always super supportive and excited when Evie is around, or if I can’t do something because she has to come first they understand. Venting about baby stuff is always encouraged, and they are the first to ask for updates or compliment on how big she is getting or what new skill she has mastered.

My mom and I have gotten extremely close since Evie has been here since she is the first I call to ask a question, get an opinion, or just share excitement. But I miss having someone my age that can identify with what I am feeling or doing, and as much as I love my mom, she can’t. She has encouraged me to go out and “make friends”, but I have been so content with my little circle from the bakery and coaching that I haven’t done so. But, I finally got brave.

There was a mom roughly my age (from what I guesstimated via pictures) that I met online (I know it sounds sketchy but hear me out) through when I was starting to look for a Nanny for Evie. She was moving up to the Minnesota in December and had a daughter just under a year old herself. After thorough Facebook stalking I messaged her back and we started to chat. Unfortunately, I didn’t need child care until the summer so she ended up taking another job but I reached out because I know how lonely it is moving to a new place and not really having a way to meet friends such as school or work.

We finally ended up going to lunch a few weeks ago and I couldn’t have been more nervous. Will it be awkward? Will we have stuff to talk about? What if I seem to eager or excited? Will we have things in common? What if her kid and my kid don’t get along? Can kids that young even really not like other people? What if Evie throws a fit and I can’t control her, will she think I am a bad mom? I swallowed my fear, drove to TGI Fridays, and got out of the car.

It was the best decision I made in a long time.IMG_6738

We hit it off great! Honestly, it felt like I have known her forever. The list of things we have in common is ridiculous. Our age. The age of our boyfriends. The general age of our kids. Our pregnancy journeys. Our birth stories. Living away from family. Living with our boyfriend’s family. Breastfeeding. Wanting to be a stay at home mom. Wanting a big family. Being new to Minnesota. Not really wanting to finish college, but knowing part of us still wants to. Trying to buy a house in the Fall. Stressors of living with another family while trying to parent. Not having any “mom” friends close by.

You get the idea- it is insane how alike we are. It is such a breath of fresh air and relief to finally have someone who is literally going through damn near the exact same thing as me. I don’t feel crazy when I vent about little things, because she gets it! Just like when she needs to vent, I get it!

Felicity (her daughter) and Evie had another play date just yesterday where we walked to the park and just sat in the shade for a solid three hours. Three.
Whole. Hours.

Who does that? Who on the planet is content with just sitting, watching your kid crawl through the grass? Who?

I’ll tell you who.

Moms. Moms that can finally be in like company and relax.

When Evie got fussy and needed a nap, we walked back home and I put her down and we continued to just hangout over lunch. It was awesome.

One mom friend: Check.

Needless to say, it feels really good to start meeting people I can really identify with, and that Evie can socialize with. Makes me continue to look forward to life here in Minnesota with my little family!

Grains, or no grains?

I have read before that babies aren’t supposed to have grains, and how this contradicts what pediatricians and parents have been recommending for baby’s first food: rice cereal. What I read made sense- grains are very dense and requires amylase to help digest and break down the food. Because their system is so new and has yet to adapt, it cannot adequately digest the food. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder okay so when can they “suddenly” digest grains? Most sources said after a year or so.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.01.31 PM.pngAfter posting a meal I prepared for Evie that contained oatmeal on our instagram (@eviesjourneyblw), I briefly mentioned that some prefer to wait before offering grains, and I noted that I personally didn’t see an issue with it in moderation. A user commented about the dangers and how it should be prepared ground if offered at all. For me, that just didn’t sit right. How can a baby digest red meat, or other complex proteins, but not a grain? While I appreciated the advice and tip- I am always willing to learn and hear other’s perspectives- it was time I really sat down and investigated the issue I had been avoiding for the past three weeks.

After a few hours of internet scrolling and trolling……

Will I be giving Genevieve grains? Yes.

Each parent has the right and privilege to parent how they see fit. Do what you want- if you agree, cool, if not, whatever. For me, I think grains are okay. I’m not going to offer them at say, every meal but I won’t go grain free either. Like anything else, I believe it is all good in moderation. This article by a pHd educated nutritionist pretty much answered the feeling I had in my gut:

The bottom line is that it is safe to feed babies starchy foods. They can digest them, and they are one part of a varied, balanced diet for babies that are ready to begin eating solid foods.

Amylase & Digestion

The scientist explained that although babies do not have much pancreatic amylase to digest Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.03.15 PM.pngstarchy foods as well as older children and adults, they do have salivary amylase. Right away? No- but by the time they are old enough to safely be eating solid foods (usually 6 months+) the amount of amylase in their mouth is usually sufficient. Picture this: how does a baby eat? Do they just bite and swallow? No. They swish, gum, chew, spit, play, and mash the food in their mouth first. This messy process not only protects them from choking but also helps their saliva begin the process of breaking down food.

Furthermore, in breastfed babies the amount of amylase working for them is increased significantly. Breastmilk has 25x more amylase than cows milk, and 50% of that amylase stays active when it reaches the stomach, even hours after consumed! Can you believe that? Another amazing fact about breastmilk that I am happy to have learned! So, after the salivary amylase starts the job, the amylase in breastmilk will continue the process before the food continues it’s way through the body.

The final stop for nutritional break down is the small intestine, where glucoamylase works as an enzyme further dividing the glucose from the starch in the molecules of food. It’s ironic, because the levels of glucoamylase is “very active” in babies!

Whatever does not get processed by then, moves on to the large intestine where it actually helps feed the microbes that keep the villa thriving. This regulates bowel movements, further digestion, the whole bit.

It’s a good thing I am #TeamGrains since Genevieve already loves her carbs!

For this crunchy mumma, I will be continuing to stick with the philosophy that drew me towards baby led weaning in the first place: I will give my baby the same food I give myself.  That means I have gotten better about what I eat (reducing sodium, watching preparation methods such as frying vs. baking or grilling, organic and all-natural when available, etc.) I don’t  try not to overload on carbs or proteins, so neither will Evie. She keeps me in check to make sure I provide an environment where she learns to love and eat healthy, nutritious food. Years from now when I cannot control what she eats I want the habits and example we leave now to make a mark that if she is hungry, and apple or cucumber is a delicious snack instead of chips or snack mix. I know it is inevitable that she will eat junk food- I myself at six chocolate chip cookies I baked today, but being a parent means you don’t always get to be fun. I don’t and won’t give her crap food. She will get enough of it when we go out to eat, she buys lunch at school, special occasions, and her own choice when she is older. When I no longer have control, I just can hope she sees good examples and makes good choices.

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3 Reasons to Use a Weaning Glass.

Giving your baby a real glass.

One of the concepts of the Montessori method I have briefly touched on is the weaning glass. It discusses giving your baby (yes even your 6 month old!) an actual glass, glass. For Evie I purchased this glass set for roughly $11. They are the perfect size for her! She can grab them with both hands, and if she spills it isn’t dumping a ton of water everywhere. But isn’t that scary? It could break and shatter everywhere! They are just going to throw it around anyway! How expensive it must be to keep replacing them!

So, why give your baby a glass-glass?

1) Control of Error

IMG_5040For me, one of the biggest appeals of the weaning glass was teaching “control of error”. In Montessori, they encourage the child learning cause and effect, action and reaction, from a very young age. When you give a child glass, they learn that if it is thrown, knocked off the table, or slammed that it will break. In order to use the control of error, you need to make sure when a dish breaks that you handle it correctly. I.e., remaining calm, collected, and expressive. So, instead of yelling/scolding (“No! We don’t throw dishes!”) the advise the parent or guardian to softly express the cause/effect (“Uh-oh, we weren’t careful and the glass broke. Let’s clean it up now and try not to break the next one.”). It may seem silly to explain that to an infant, but they will soon realize that breaking a dish is undesired and be careful. Some parents choose to wait closer to a year to start the weaning glass, since their motor skills are more precise.

Conversely, when a child is given plastic the consequences of hurling it across the room, or slamming it in front of them is significantly lower. So when they consistently bang their plate or throw their sippy cup, they will not be able to quickly out grow the phase even as they age.

2) Confidence and Trust

Giving your child glass dish ware reflects in them confidence and trust! Maybe not right away, but as they get older they will know that you can give them precious items and know they can handle it.

This will transfer into their ability to be independent and self-sufficient. They can then be able to carry their tableware to their table setting, and proceed to bring it back to the sink or dishwasher when their are done. When they go out to eat or visit a friend, you won’t have to be concerned about making sure they have “kid friendly” dishes.

3) Safety

There are so many countless studies that have linked BPA and cancer. Hence, the sudden wave to make dishes, toys, bottles, etc. BPA free. The good news is the a majority of products are now safe from that harmful chemical. Unfortunately, there are other chemicals that are still present in plastic dish ware. For instance, melamine is found in that durable, shiny, tableware many families use especially with children since it is so strong. While eating off the material itself is not harmful, microwaving it can release the chemical and lurk into the food.

Glass as been known to be safe and non-toxic. While it may be breakable, if kids can learn to be careful it is a smart option to consider! Using a weaning glass is a great way to get your child used to being careful before approaching larger items like bowls and plates.


Baby Led Weaning: Day One

Today Evie officially started solid food!

Her first meal was watermelon, scrambled eggs, black beans, and a little bit of water. She seemed more interested in her bib than the food in front of her, but once she got a handle on her weaning glass she really enjoyed it! I can’t help but think of how adorable she is, even when she is swiping watermelon slices to the floor…

The Philosophy

We are doing a combination of Baby Led Weaning and Montessori. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, I have a bit more time to devote to the process of weaning, and after researching a bunch of different methods, I identified with these the most. They seem to fit into the lifestyle and morals Tyler and I want to encourage in Genevieve, and seem safe and fairly simple to do. I encourage anyone to research both concepts to learn more about them!

Baby Led Weaning is simply giving the child the same table food you eat. You accommodate it based on their skill level and age. For instance, since Evie is only 6 months she gets stick shaped foods that are easy to gum around in her mouth. So things like steamed vegetables, whole fruits with skin on for easy gripping, and meat in strips. The stick shape helps her grab the food, since at this age she grasps objects with her whole palm.

Montessori goes with the pureed method, but also includes using tableware in the weaning process. A true Montessori weaning involves the use of a weaning table and chair, but also flatware, glasses, and placemats. It encourages the child to learn manners and table etiquette but also practical skills like drinking from a glass, being careful with plates, and using silverware.

We are adapting the things we like from both methods. So, for us that means having Evie at the table with us (BLW), feeding herself independently the same foods we eat, prepared age appropriately (BLW), learning to use an open up (BLW & Mont.), and using tableware when age appropriate (Mont.). When out and about, I have reusable snack bags that have fold-over tops (no ziplock seal) so Evie can reach in and grab her own snacks. As far as cups on the go, we have Munchkin 360 cup. It sports the open-end we like about the Montessori weaning, but the parent-friendly anti-spill top. This way the drinking concept is the same as at home, but less mess!

I don’t see anything wrong with the traditional pureed weaning method, I think it is a great option for busier parents and mainstream babies. Particularly those who have to go to daycare or be watched for a decent part of the week. It is more common therefore child care providers are more comfortable with what they already know! Plus, it doesn’t take as much time (you could argue the other way here, since it involves spoon feeding and possibly preparing baby specific food), and is cleaner in the sense that the parent has control of the food, and liquids are bound to a closed cup.

However, in our case I am home with Genevieve virtually all day, every day. I have ample time to devote to giving her an open-ended chunk on time to play with her food and safely explore and eat, clean up spilled water and liquids, and bathe her afterwards. Its truly a blessing! Being a stay-at-home mom gives me the opportunity to use extended time and energy on weaning, something not very many people can. Since I have the time, I want to use it towards a weaning philosophy I believe will help in the long run, so we are giving it a try!

The Set Up

For her set up, we have the Stokke Tripp Trapp and coordinating baby set, EZPZ Happy Mat Bowl, some towel bibs I purchased on Easy (I plan to make my own since they are fairly simple, but since my sewing machine is buried in the downstairs renovation its a bit impossible right now), and this First Glass Set.


I liked the high chair because I wanted one that could pull up to the table, a concept that is important in both Baby Led Weaning and Montessori style weaning. Having the baby at the table gives them confidence in their ego (Montessori), and includes them in mealtime by allowing them to observe and copy their family while eating (BLW). I went with the placemats since she would be at the table, and although Montessori encourages giving bowls and what not right away, since she wasn’t at a lower weaning table I decided the placemats would be more user and mommy friendly. We have the bowl, regular “plate”, and snack size happy mats. For now I just used to bowl since she isn’t eating all that much.

The weaning glasses are a concept I am very excited about! both BLW and Montessori encourage the use of open glasses, i.e. no sippy cup for a few reasons. 1) The open glass is better for their developing teeth 2) it is more friendly for breastfed babies because the way they suck in a sippy is different, so many of them have a tough time at first 3) by using glass, the child learns control of error in their environment- meaning they will soon learn that glass breaks & breaking is IMG_5049undesirable, and will learn to be careful. It does take a change in mindset to get used to giving your baby glassware, because yes- there will be a few broken dishes! But I think in the long run it is worth it. I read a few different articles about the concept, and a great one is At Home With Montessori. She goes into detail on all the full-fledged Montessori weaning items and philosophy.

Eating Time

For her first meal, as I already mentioned, I chose watermelon sliced in stick shapes, scrambled eggs, black beans, and water. Most people probably will flip out since I gave her eggs, since eggs are an allergen item. However, BLW encourages introducing common allergens, and not doing the traditional “one new item at a time”. Unless there is a family history of an allergy, they advise just watching baby and treating allergens as normal food items. The watermelon was what we had in the kitchen as far as fruit, and since it was juicy I figured she would like it. I wanted to give her a protein option, and since we didn’t really have any meat, but black beans were leftover from quesadilla night, I decided why not! They are smaller, so an older baby with a pincer grasp would do better with them (8 months+), but since they are soft and mushy I figured it would be a good item to practice that motor skill with.

During the age 6-7 months we are going to do one meal a day, and for right now that is breakfast. I have the most time early in the morning since I am not rushed to run errands or cook dinner for the rest of the family. Since eating with baby and having an open-end of time is critical to BLW, I didn’t want to worry about rushing her, the chaos of having to cook and clean up a big family meal, and inconsistent meal times of dinner. Plus, Evie is always in a good mood when she wakes up, and is already full from her morning nursing. Since all her nutrients come from breastmilk, BLW emphasizes giving the baby a bottle or nursing prior to their solid food meal. That way they don’t fill up on hard-to-digest food and miss out on the nutrients from their milk. Each family is different! I am sure lunch or dinner might work better for some people, but for us breakfast works great.

Around 8 months I plan to add lunch into her schedule, and then around 10 months start her at dinner. But, like I said, some families might do dinner first since that is when they are home, then breakfast, and lunch last since it is with a child care provider. Or maybe mid-day is when they have the most time, so they will do lunch first. Who cares! Whatever works, works!

That’s all for today!

More to come on Evie’s BLW/Mont. weaning journey 🙂



Bear Turns One!

I have never been a baby person.

IMG_4994Since we moved around a lot, I was never around any of my cousins when they were little, and never really was friends with anyone with little siblings. I remember holding my cousin Brayden for a few minutes, but other than that not much. I think due to this lack of social interaction with babies, they made me fairly uncomfortable when I got older. My older sister was always keen to babysit, (I mean who doesn’t want a pay day right?), and my parents pushed and pushed me to get into it when I became of age. I did it a few times more than once because my mom agreed I would for me but that is beside the point, but once I could start working at a regular part-time job I stopped.

Never really hung out with babies after that.

Then I met Tyler. I remember flying out to go to the Marine Corps Ball with him, and we stayed with his brother and sister-in-law (the same ones we now live with). It was the first time I met his Niece, Abigail. She was 2, and for some odd reason we got along really well. We played barbies, she played with my clothes from the suitcase, she snuggled with Winnie since she was a cute little puppy. I was surprised at myself for enjoying my time with her, but even more surprised she liked me (then again, I think anyone playing barbies would be fun for her!). Its amazing to think that she was so little when I first met her, since now she is 5!

So as I watched Abby get older, really without realizing how fast she was growing up since Tyler and I lived in Wisconsin and saw her a few times throughout the year, it was a different experience with Elyse. We were living in the same house when she was born, so I was a little stressed about the whole baby situation (let alone being pregnant myself). I had no idea how to hold a baby, talk to a baby, entertain a baby, keep them from crying, nothing. I wasn’t really nervous for my own child- I knew my maternal instincts would kick in. But someone else’s? It gave me a whole other bout of anxiety.

She was born while I still had finals, which I was happy about to give them some time to get settled in with their new baby before I moved in officially. The first night I got back she was asleep in the master bedroom, so it wasn’t too different at first. Then she woke up, and after eating Joe asked if I wanted to hold her.

I was terrified.

But, Joe & Tyler were persistent that I “practice” so I sat down in the recliner and they put her in my lap. She was sleeping, and super calm. I just didn’t want to wake her up!

I am not sure if it was because she could tell I was pregnant, or if she was just in that sleepy newborn phase, but she slept, and slept, and slept. The guys helped me recline my seat, covered us in a blanket, and we both conked out. So, my first experience with a baby was a good one!

Living with their family has taught me so much about parenting, and motherhood. I basically got to watch first hand what I was going to be going through and doing in the next six months, and I was soaking it all in like a sponge. I don’t think anyone will realize how much having Elyse in my life impacted me as a mom. She was the perfect little squishy snuggly baby to observe and “practice” my mom skills on. Heidi was so open and nurturing about answering my questions and letting me interact with her new baby girl, I couldn’t have had anyone else better to learn from.

Everyone says time flies and that your baby will grow up right before your eyes.

I knew that’s what they said. As I saw Abby grow up, the aging was more obvious since I didn’t see her everyday. One day she was playing “puppy”, and the next time she was saying words like “compliment” and forming long, articulate sentences that even my college peers would struggle with. But with Elyse, the time was subtle. You’d realize when she hit another milestone, or when it was time to take the belly-sticker-month pictures, but since we saw her everyday it was just Elyse being Elyse. Making dinosaur noises, laughing at people coughing, gagging at invisible (like there was literally nothing in her mouth) pieces of food. Just being goofy, cuddly, Elyse.

And then just like that, it was her birthday.. 

Happy First Birthday Lyse-Bear. You might not really care or notice me, but you have left such a wonderful impression on my heart. We love you!!

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Splurging on a Budget

Both of my parents grew up frugally.

IMG_3908My father’s parents are notorious for saving money, and its amazing to see the fruits of their labor as they do loads of traveling in their retirement. It must’ve been hard for my father and his siblings growing up though, because they certainly did not have the newest toys and gadgets, and had to DIY as much as they could (before DIYing got popular).

My mother grew up on a farm, before her parents divorced making their finances even dimmer. She put herself through college by working two jobs and eating ramen noodles every night, paid for her own wedding, and bought most of her baby necessities herself when she got pregnant.

To 95% of my peers, I grew up extremely fortunate. I wouldn’t disagree.Especially here in the Midwest (not saying there is anything wrong with the midwest), our lifestyle was luxurious. But that isn’t to say my parents didn’t work their asses of to achieve it. My dad was an officer in the Coast Guard after attending the academy, and when they decided to have children my mother was a stay at home mom. If you think you make a lot of money by being in the military- even on the officer side -please reevaluate your perspective and think again. That is by far not the case. Yes, the military blesses you with ample benefits. You have wonderful healthcare, housing (should you so choose to live in) or a housing allowance, dental insurance, are eligible for USAA Banking which provides excellent resources for car loans, mortgages, etc. So yes, the military is fabulous! But my parents certainly never made us grow up spoiled (at least not in the stereotypical “bratty” spoiled)

I have had chores since I can remember. I was taught how to balance a checkbook when myIMG_2914 dad opened a debit account for me when I was 13 (or somewhere around that age). I had to get a job as soon as I was able to (that means 15 with a work permit!), and from then on purchase my own gas, make up and toiletries, clothing, and outings with friends. I was also supposed to save for college. Now, granted, my parents were very helpful. They would buy my school supplies, if I went through a growth spurt and needed a bunch of new clothes they would give me $100 for new jeans/etc.

(What is her point in telling us all this?)

Well, now that I am on my own with Tyler, we don’t exactly make much. Having a baby is expensive. Currently, we are living with his brother and sister-in-law and their two daughters. Its fine- for now. But everyone knows tensions eventually run high when you live with family, especially as adults when you each have your own family, parenting styles, and finances. After delivering Genevieve, I was feeling down. Long story short I was feeling depressed, insecure, and lonely. I decided to treat myself, something I whole heartedly believe in. You are always going to have bills to pay, always going to be in a “crappy” financial situation. While it is important to work towards paying off debt and getting to a better state, if you are going to go about it unhappy, it defeats the purpose. I bought myself a pair of Tieks designer ballet flats with some money my Grandma had sent me. When they finally came in I was so thrilled I posted them everywhere- Facebook, Instagram, and just ranted about how amazing they were (because they are fantastic). Well, I guess I offended some people. I guess to some people I was irresponsible and rude for spending that much money on shoes when I should be putting it away for future rent or bills, or what have you. Little did they know that those shoes were the one thing I had done for myself in months after spiraling into a depression in an attempt to cheer myself up and have something positive. It was brought up that I should explain that I used gift money to purchase them, that they were in a sense a giftI am sorry but I do not, and will not, explain my purchases to anyone so that they are justified. It is nobody’s business but my own and Tyler’s how I afforded something. So, instead of feeling excited and pleased with my purchase I spent the next few weeks debating on returning them, deleting all posts about them on social media, and feeling like I had to walk on eggshells.

"Never get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life."


So in order to force motivate myself to get back into the shape I used to be in, I signed up for a Spartan Sprint Race, a few 5ks, and a 10k this upcoming year. The Spartan Race sin June, and is going to be the most intense for me since it involves obstacles that are damn difficult to do. But I wanted something to intimidate me into getting fit (the pricey registration fee makes me want to get my money’s worth too). Thankfully, I have a few friends and Tyler is in it with me too! So it is going to be exciting.

I have been trying to start running, since the race is about 5 miles long. However, now that Tyler is working in the busy season a moment without baby is few and far in between. A creature of habit I am, so I like to do the same things at the same times every day. When Tyler can’t consistently be home on time on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can run, I get bitchy cranky, even though it is something I know he can’t help. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until baby is at least 6-8 months old before using a jogging stroller due to the jostling of the stroller at faster speeds, to make sure they can stabilize their core and head better.

Well my friends, Evie will be 6 months next week!!

So the past few weeks I have been trolling Craigslist and Yard Sale groups on Facebook for a good deal. After ample research (because ya’ll know I am a planner), I wanted to go with a “good” brand. Not that there is anything wrong with the “cheaper” brands for joggers (Graco, Schwinn, Jeep), but the design is just not there. I personally have a Grace Travel System myself, which I love! Its convenient, lightweight, and stylish. But for jogging, I personally am not comfortable with Graco. Read up BabyGearLab‘s review of 13 different ones, and make your own opinion! The “better” joggers had a better suspension system to make all the high speed bumps smoother for your little one, as well as varied steering options (swivel vs. fixed wheel), and were lighter in weight.

I immediately knew I wanted the #1 or #2 rated stroller- unfortunately both were over $400 brand new. I figured I would have to deal with a budget brand stroller in the meantime, and continued my search. I was minutes away from purchasing a used Schwinn for $40, when I came across an add for the BOB Revolution. It’s like God had answered my prayers. It had a swivel wheel- with the option to lock into a fixed position (perfect since I couldn’t decide which I wanted), a large canopy sunshade, was lightweight, and in a gender neutral color. It. Was. Perfect. 

It was only $200.


Okay- I get it. I was aiming for under $60 really. But come on! A $480 stroller for $200?? That’s a steal! And the quality is impeccable. We all know you get what you pay for! I wanted something to last me through Genevieve, and potentially even my next child! It had to withstand taking Winnie on two-three walks everyday (I use my other stroller for this currently, but it would be nice to have something a bit more “rugged” and not have to unload/load it into my car everyday #FirstWorldProblemsIKnow), going on runs three times a week, and the occasional race or trail hike. Do you really think a Graco Jogger or cheapo already used one is going to withstand all that? Nope, because I don’t.

So, I bought it.

The Catch?

Tyler was going to be irritated I spent that much. He would say I should have waited until the next paycheck (but by then it would have been snatched by someone else!), and I knew that there would be people seeing me with a pricey stroller wondering how and why I purchased such an expensive item when we can’t afford to get our own place.

But you know what? I don’t care. Not saying I don’t care about Tyler- he was actually only mad about the fact that I didn’t communicate, which is 100% fair. But I don’t care what people think. If you want to sit there and assume I am spending my money irresponsibly, or that I am naive and have no realistic grip on reality and finances because I am young and my boyfriend/baby daddy basically pays for everything, fine.  But the fact of the matter is, I don’t owe them, or anyone else, an explanation, justification, or reason for my purchase.

I know that I am going to use it every day, and get my money’s worth. They can just take their opinions and shove it up their ***.

In Conclusion,

This whole post was basically a big vent-sesh in an effort to reassure myself that I am doing the right thing. I don’t owe anyone anything, I owe it to myself to stay healthy and happy and that is what this purchase is doing. Does is blow spending $200 instead of paying that towards a credit card? Yes. But, it is going to allow me the opportunity to exercise consistency, exercise my dog, and get my baby fresh air. In my eyes, it will pay itself off in a jiffy.

Plus, Genevieve looks cute as shit in it. Just saying’ 😉

10 Reasons to Choose Baby Led Weaning

This nugget is going to be 6 months old in just IMG_4140a little under three weeks. 6. Whole.

Where did the past half of a year go? How did I manage to exclusively breastfeed this long minus a few instances of formula when I didn’t have enough milk in the freezer?

However I managed to survive the first six months of motherhood, I find myself faced with the onset of weaning, and introducing solid foods. My original goal was to breastfeed for six months, then after that I would take it one step at a time. While I have come to dislike breastfeeding (See Why I Hate Breastfeeding) I know that it is the best for my child, and I know I can make it work. So, my new goal is to breastfeed until she is one year, and no longer physically needs (I do know it is beneficial to breastfeed longer) my milk.

If you know me, you know that I am a planner. I love to do research, and figure out all the options out there before committing to something. When I first found out I was pregnant, I figured I would get an epidural even though I am terrified of needles. After researching and hearing more about the benefits and success of natural unmedicated births, I decided to switch gears (Read my birth story here). I assumed I would formula feed, since I have always been self conscious and awkward about my breasts and body. Again, after reading, and discussion, I set my sights on breastfeeding. So, why would it be any other different for feeding my child solids?

To be honest, I planned on going the common puree method. I pinned baby food recipes, my mom got me baby food cookbooks, and I added a food processor to my baby registry. Until on day, amidst all my pinnings, I came across baby led weaning.

What is Baby led weaning?

That my friends, is something I would need to write an entire post about. To keep things brief, it is simply feeding your baby whatever food you and your family are eating in its regular form. So, taking a scoop of mashed potatoes and some steak and putting it on the high chair. You cut the steak into strips, and thats it. Baby has his meal. Baby feeds himself. You get to eat your meal. Voila!

To learn more about what Baby Led Weaning is, I highly recommend this book. It might be a bit repetitive, but it explains the concept clearly. Here are the top ten reasons why I am going to use the BLW approach, and why I would recommend it to anyone.

I have yet to begin feeding my daughter solid food- although I plan to use the BLW approach, keep in mind I have not yet started the process. More posts about our experience to come!

1. It is the safest method for baby.

What? If it is the safest why do so many families do purees? Here is the thing- majority of families will introduce purees or rice cereal (with formula or breastmilk) at age 4-6 months. Pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is 6 months or older to begin solids of any form, because her digestive tract is still immature to properly digest and absorb nutrients from substances other than milk or formula. So it isn’t the fact that spoon feeding itself is dangerous, it is the fact that many families start their child far too early. Unfortunately, feeding a baby rice cereal or purees (which many start early in hopes of their child sleeping through the night, when research shows that this does nothing in relation to sleeping longer) can strip the child’s intestine of villa needed to absorb nutrients. Therefore, the baby struggles to digest it, and it can cause issues absorbing nutrients later on.

2. Easy!

How much easier can it be to simply take what you already cooked for yourself, and just give some to your baby? Nothing can top that! Eating out? Easy- just share your plate. There are some guidelines to BLW- obviously food should be soft enough to be mashed by the gums (you wouldn’t give your 6 month old a raw carrot for instance, rather a steamed carrot), but it is far easier than purees and spoon feeding.

You don’t have to feed your baby- no more airplanes, or coaxing your child to eat. No more scooping the food back into his mouth out as he spits it out (probably naturally due to the thrust reflex if you are starting before 6 months). They will grab the food and play with it, and eventually learn to put it in their mouths.

3. Cheap.

Im a penny pincher. Yes, I splurge on items I will use often and think should be good quality (I will advocate strongly for my Tieks Ballet Flats, Aveda Shampoo and Conditioner, Kitchenmaid Mixer, etc.). But, when it comes to saving money and doing it yourself, I will. Why spend money on jars of pureed food with added sugar and preservatives when you can give your baby part of the nutritious meal you made?

4. Fun learning experience!

Your baby will thoroughly enjoy BLW. Its messy, its fun, and exciting. They will get to experience new flavors and textures (you don’t need to shy away from spices besides anything overly spicy or salty), colors and food groups. Instead of fighting you to grab at the spoon and explore what you want to shove down her throat, baby will get to eat at his or her own pace and examine their meal.

5. Self Control.

BLW puts baby in control. They eat when they want, and stop when they want. No more “just one more bite” or “they didn’t eat X tablespoons”. It promotes them listening to their body and cues of when they are hungry or full. When baby gets older, they will be able to understand when they need food or not, just like they know when to ask for the breast or a bottle. When we spoon feed, we take that away from them. I truly think that this is a contributing factor to obesity in children (not saying that every spoon fed family is promoting obesity- I just think it is a factor) since the child loses control of the ability to express when they are full. This is along the same lines as to why parenting experts are no longer promoting the “clean plate” guideline.

6. Promotes Family Time and Manners.

Manners? For an infant? Not exactly. But it promotes including them in meal time, versus feeding them before or after the family meal. They get to watch their family members, enjoy conversation, and pay more attention to your habits (i.e. good manners or bad manners). From the research I have done, BLW children learn to use utensils earlier, and mimic other habits of their families and parents. It brings the baby to the table instead of eating before or after everyone else, therefore they will mimic and learn faster!

7. Less likely to be a picky eater!!

Picky eating. I can’t stand it. I once knew a mom who made three separate meals for her kids- one who wanted mac n cheese, another chicken tenders, and a third rice. No. I won’t do it.

When you give your child what you eat, and no other option, they will eat it! You give your baby what you eat, and they trust you so they will eat it! Granted they will most likely not like a few things and that is normal- but a child who is extremely picky normally does so because of watching their parents. If you don’t make a big deal about “giving veggies” they won’t know any different. Plus, they will see you eating it and want the same thing!

8. Convenient.

Eating out? Awesome! Baby can share your meal. No need to buy off of the nasty kids menu (i’ve seen how they make the kids meals- its packaged precooked macaroni and reheated veggies) only to have your child refuse to eat it and waste the money. If you are worried about your kid eating most of your food… get real. They will probably want to play with it yes, but they won’t realistically eat so you won’t get enough. Besides- restaurant portions are oversized anyway 😉

In the car? Forget buying the little puff snacks or yogurt melts. Give the kid a banana! The peel makes it naturally easy to hold on to, and its perfect for gnawing on. Or what about a pear? Need something dry and packaged? How about a hard boiled egg? Veggie sticks? It is easy to keep things healthy with BLW since they are used to eating the same items at dinner.

9. Anyone can feed baby!

I’ve heard nightmare stories about “Grandpa is the only one who can get him to eat his peas” or “She will only eat potatoes if I give it to her”. Well, thankfully with baby led weaning it doesn’t matter who gives baby the food, because they are feeding themselves! Anyone can put the food on the plate and they will just go to town.

Along with this, is that they can eat anywhere. This might fit better in the “convenient” tip- but you don’t always need a high chair. Plop baby in your laps and sit at the table and they are good to go. No need to worry about having a method to prop them up so you can shovel food in their mouths.

10. It is tried and trusted!

Many people don’t consider baby led weaning a new concept. Families have been doing it for years. The thing is- no one talked about it. Everyone struggled with coaxing their kids to eat purees because it wasn’t natural. But if they talked about giving table food right away instead of the puree-lumpy-soft-solid food graduation program, they were gawked at. When they gave their child table food and things went better, they just kept it to themselves.

If you ask grandmas and grandpas, they often won’t know any other way. Purees weren’t really a thing until mid-century when microwaves and blenders became popular. Until then, they weren’t an option. Your only choice was to give your baby developmentally ready food choices like soft vegetables and fruits, and tender meats. Isn’t it amazing how consumerism can change our parenting methods? We can control it by taking things back to the basics!!