Tips for Camping with Baby

20161105_084540
We all slept surprisingly well. Thanks, fresh air!

Last weekend we went camping for the first time with our baby. November is camping
season in Texas, which is still crazy to me, but it’s also a slightly rainy time of year. It rained a little bit, but we powered through! I took a lot of time to prepare, did a bunch of research and I want to share with everyone so hopefully I can help make it less scary to camp with a kiddo. It can be especially daunting to camp with a little one and you might have a lot of excuses not to go, but it can also be SO FUN!

Some tips:

  1. Know your limitations. Don’t plan too much. If you think you’re going to go on a 20 mile hike with your baby in tow or if you want to have every hour of the day planned out, you will probably be kicking yourself for pushing your family too hard or not getting to everything you wanted to do. Just plan to go with the flow for most of the trip. Babies are needy, that will not change when you’re out in the wilderness.
  2. Try to get an idea of how intensely you want to camp and what amenities you want at your park/site. For starters, which of these things are a priority to you?
    • Primitive? Glamping? Somewhere in between?
    • Paved parking
    • Nearby, full bathroom
    • Picnic table
    • Tent pad
    • Close/far neighbors
    • Dumpsters
    • Firewood and fire ring
  3. Have a backup plan for everything you can think of. You may have to change your plans for food, shelter or even the trip itself.
  4. Remember the reasons you’re camping. Take time to enjoy the elements and nature. Instead of relying on your phone to tell you what kind of spider that is, maybe bring a picture book about the local flora and fauna. Field guides are really handy and they’ll never be out of battery/signal.Keep your music low, if you must have it. Respect the other campers and enjoy the sounds of nature.

    20161106_092541
    My kid ended up being entertained by the rocks way longer than I expected.
  5. Accept that baby will dictate a lot of what you do or don’t do. I usually like to spend a major part of the camping trip sitting next to the fire, but that wasn’t really possible with my daughter. There were times she wanted to crawl at the fire, she would get too hot sometimes and there was even one time a huge ember popped out and got stuck to her clothes! So we spent most of the time wandering around the woods or on walks in the stroller.
  6. If you’re camping with a group choose your fellow campers wisely and discuss the baby-specific needs ahead of time. It is nice if you can all help keep an eye on the dangers of the area and be supportive of each other’s needs – like snacks, quiet time for sleeping, entertainment and baby-breaks.

    snapchat-596426363
    It’s nice to camp with buddies.
  7. Try to see things from the baby’s point of view for safety and for fun. This is not an adult camping trip, it’s a baby camping trip. Your baby might get overstimulated or scared of things that are new. On the other hand, your baby might end up chasing a beetle for an hour and be super entertained by the different things in nature.
  8. Don’t be afraid to stray from your normal routines. We ended up using disposable diapers for the trip and the bedtime routine went out the window, to name a few.
  9. Things might get crazy. My husband ended up getting stung by a bee on his tongue and having a mild allergic reaction where his tongue swelled up super huge. It was terrifying but we had good supplies (like Benadryl) packed to help him right away. This is why it’s good to be close to home or a hospital or both. I also keep what I call “The Apothecary” full of natural remedies nearby at all times.
  10. Look up some lists of what to bring and have an up-to-date inventory. Go to classes if possible. REI actually had a free camping class right before we went. It was more for beginners, but they had a lot of good reminders for us and told us some great Texas-specific tidbits. They’re really helpful anyway if you just go there and ask a bunch of questions. You can also visit their site for a camping checklist.

Here are some things I keep in my inventory:

Basic Camping Box

  • Food-making supplies (pot, pan, kettle, tongs, etc.)
  • Lots of batteries
  • Glow sticks and other lights
  • First aid kit (bandages, tape, ointment, tweezers, etc.)
  • Knives
  • Flashlights
  • Tent, sleeping bags and sleeping mats
  • Rope, bungee cords, carabiners

The Apothecary

  • Bentonite Clay
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Coconut Oil
  • Essential Oils (Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary)
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Extra containers for mixing
20161105_085738
Our car was parked really close so I kept only the overnight necessities in the tent and left the rest in the car. Diapers/wipes, clothes to layer, water, flashlight, etc.
20161105_121301
This baby containment chamber was super helpful for setup and other times I needed to keep that munchkin on lockdown.

Baby-Specific things I brought

  • Extra diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets
  • Toys for interacting with the environment – mostly to dig and scoop dirt
  • Lots of snacks and water
  • Fence corral for times I needed her to be contained
  • Towels/cloths for “hobo showers” and a ton of other reasons
  • Sleep sacks and varying thicknesses of pajamas
  • Lots of socks – some for warmth, some for protection or just to get dirty
  • Teething tablets
  • Something that smells a lot like home to snuggle with when things get real

Survival basics

  • Knives
  • Thermal blanket
  • Waterproof matches
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Sight mirror
  • Local map

Making Friends

img_0303

Being new in town AND being a new mom can make me feel a lot like I’m floating on a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean with only a tiger to keep me company. Ring any bells?

I have never been one to have a posse of chicks to call on for gossip or girls night out stuff. Being a mom, though, it really helps to have something of a Tribe. Now, I’m of the opinion that a Tribe can consist of anybody, parent or not, male or female, etc., but it can be intimidating as crap to find other moms to hang out with. What if we don’t like each other? What if our kids don’t like each other? What if I seem crazy? What if they find out I actually am crazy?

I’ve started making mental notes of what I should do and what I should probably not do.  I have done a lot of the Dos and a lot of Don’ts, and I’ve had a lot of them done to me. Let’s begin!

 

Scenario: You find a new mom online who seems very cool and fun to hang out with.

Do: “Hey there, I like your style! Want to go grab a beer sometime and let our kids freak out the squares?”

Don’t: “Oh my god, you’re so pretty! Can I come over and play with your hair? I have a brush….”

 

Scenario: You’re hanging out with someone new and they start to breastfeed their baby.

Do: “Isn’t it cool that our bodies make this perfect nutrition for our babies? What a sweetie. I’m going to see if mine wants to nurse.”

Don’t: **Stare at the breastfeeding kid awkwardly trying to find something to say, notice you might be having a letdown and stare at your own boobs for a while. Mumble something like, “Ow, n-nipples.” and stumble away.**

 

Scenario: It’s a nice day outside. It’s just you and your offspring. Kids need to blow off some steam.

Do: Go outside to a park. Actually try to find other parents who you might get along with and strike up a conversation. Share contact info if you hit it off with someone or make an actual second “date”.

Don’t: Stay home and cry into your toilet because of your crippling, nauseating fear of rejection.

 

Scenario: You’re at a place with lots of kids and families, like a concert or festival.

Do: Be the cool parent who brings the fun toys like a bubble machine or a wagon. The kids will want to come play with your kid and you’ll have somethings to talk about with the other parents. Enjoy the event as a group.

Don’t: Stare at your effing phone while your child plays with other kids and parents. Engage everybody. I swear it makes you seem so much cooler and in-demand if you’re NOT on your phone all the time like a damn movie star.

 

Scenario: You actually convinced some other mom to come over to your house for a play date. Your house does not look like an Ikea show room, is kind of covered in toys and you can not find out where that smell is coming from.

Do: “Dang, it looks like the munchkin and I got a little caught up in the Legos this morning. They’re so much cooler nowadays! Let’s go sit out back because it smells like a dead body in here. Diaper problems, am I right? Let me just pour us some wine, first.”

Don’t: “I’m so sorry this place is such a wreck. I swear it doesn’t always look like this. I’m going to go clean my toilet. Here’s the TV remote, maybe you can figure it out, I’m lost. Are you hungry? I’ll go cook something. Sorry my house is so boring. Do you think your kid is having fun?”

 

Scenario: You meet someone at a park and your kids are playing while you sit back and chill.

Do: “Aww, look, they’re playing together! I love that hat. Hey, do you watch Blacklist? Oh man, kids are so weird.”

Don’t: “My kid is such an a-hole. He always hits babies. Sorry he’s yelling like a jerk. Can I give him some of your snacks?”

 

Making friends is kind of like dating. Now that we have kids it’s like dating, but with some real baggage. Baggage that needs to have a lot of attention and might start screaming because you’re trying to get all the toilet paper out of its mouth. Remember that other parents probably think you have your shit together. Just try not to let your crazy flag fly too early and be respectful of the boundaries and differences of other families. You’re cooler than you think.

Tips for Road Trips with Baby

snapchat-4745607972659303490
Our drive from Wisconsin to Texas. Can you see a tiny baby back there?

So I have gone on a bunch of car trips with my baby. We drove from Wisconsin to Texas when she was 2 months old (4 days at 5 hours each) and we have had lots of shorter trips of an hour or three. If you’re anything like me, and I know you are, the sound of your baby screaming in the car while you’re stuck strapped into the front seat is like having your soul ripped from your body and nothing is good and everything is terrible and “How can I make it stop, right now?” is the only thing you can think. Right?

Here are my tips for taking a road trip with a baby:

  1. First of all, make sure all basic needs are met. I know this is obvious, but I have caught myself saying stupid things like, “Her diaper’s not THAT wet and we really need to gtfo.” Don’t do that. It’s not worth it. The only thing that gives me some peace of mind when I’m stuck up front with a screaming baby in the back is knowing that she’s got her basic needs met. Otherwise I obsess about what horrible condition I’ve left her in and I’m a terrible parent and everything is bad.
  2. Definitely look up the proper way to strap your kid into the seat before you go on a big trip. I know, you drive with your kid every day, but there are a TON of parents who strap their kids in wrong every day. Use this as an excuse for you and your driving partner (if applicable) to brush up on the rules. It’s more complicated than it looks. Basics for straps: chest buckle at armpits, 5 points (2 over shoulders, 2 at hips, 1 between legs), check the level and you SHOULD’T be able to pinch any fabric from the straps.
  3. Timing. Plan your trip at the optimal time for you and your baby if you have the option. Does your baby nap really well/horrible in the car? When s/he wakes up will you be in a good place to change diaper and feed if needed? Will the sun be in baby’s face the entire trip? Are you going to hit traffic right at the 2 hour mark (or whenever) when you know baby is going to need to get out?
  4. If you have the option, consider sitting in back with your baby while someone else drives. You can make eye-contact and play games. I know that seeing my baby helps me freak out less when she’s screaming, as long as I know she’s ok. I also happen to be well-endowed enough to nurse my kid from the seat next to her, and that has saved us so much time on our big trips! See instructions for the Back Seat Dangler here!
  5. Find some fun kid music. I can’t stand a lot of kid songs, but I love the ones that are from grown-up singers but made especially for the kids. For example, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman have an album called “Not for Kids Only,” Ziggy Marley has “Family Time” and Keller Williams has one called “Kids” that is my favorite. Not sure if those are your bag of tea, but they help me on the trips. We all sing and it keeps things light. Sometimes I will sing to her when she’s crying at it makes me feel better, even if she is still fussy.
  6. Finally, if you’re traveling for several days, plan your stops ahead of time. You do not want to be stuck searching for a hotel when your baby has been suffering for hours and you so badly just want to get out of the car. If given the choice for extra days on the road with less hours in the car, or less days in the car and more hours of driving per day, choose wisely. We chose the former and I am very glad for it. We had to pay for an extra hotel room, and we “lost” a day, but it was worth it to have every day less stressful. You know your family, though.

Let me know if these are helpful or if you have any of your own tips. I find car travel to be the hardest way to travel with a baby. Sometimes even 45 minutes can be rough.

Tips for Plane Travel with Baby

September was a very busy month for us!  We had a surprise birthday party for my mom, flew to Wisconsin for my brother-in-law’s wedding, got two cats, my baby turned one, my husband turned 32 and we had our three year wedding anniversary. I do feel a bit like a dried-up, quivering husk of a woman, but I feel accomplished.

This was not our first time traveling with our baby. We drove 4 days with her when we moved to Texas when she was 2 months. Then, when she was 3 months we flew to DC for a family reunion.  So I learned a lot about traveling with a baby and I wanted to share!

Tips for traveling on a plane:

  1. Plan to take longer for all trips, but be smart about it. Don’t plan way too much extra time in an airport because that could be dreadful for everyone. Just plan enough extra time to change diaper, change outfit (possibly mom, too), have a quick meal and some run around time.  We got away with the standard of arriving 2 hours early, but you can add an hour if you think you’ll have crazy things happen.
  2. Use the family boarding option if you can. You will get on earlier and hopefully get a better seat. Hubby and I cheated and took up 3 seats, when we paid for 2, and put our toddler down in the middle and basically dared anyone to come take that seat. Luckily none of our flights were completely full and nobody bothered us about it. Freebie!
  3. Family boarding is also nice because here you can get in good with other parents. If nothing else you now have someone to eye-roll with when you’re the one with the hysterical child and trying not to make eye contact with all of the other pissed off people. Bonus: you can probably bum a diaper, snack, etc. off them if you get desperate. Because you know you will forget SOMETHING.
  4. Along the same lines, find the “grandparent” looking people who are lovingly eyeing your kiddo. They might not exist, but if they do you can have a built-in peekaboo buddy.
  5. Bring shiny new toys that you don’t mind losing. We went to the dollar store and got a bunch of light-up things and plastic utensils (spatulas and whisks) that I could bring out and wow her with when she was getting antsy. Just be kind to those nearby and don’t bring noisy toys.

    20160907_130842
    Everyone was having fun.
  6. We caved and downloaded a couple baby apps. I liked the “sandbox” ones where you can just put the apps you want into them and lock the rest of the phone. Kids World was the one I used for my Android. I found some drawing ones for my iPad and there was a way to lock the screen in the settings for my iPad so you just triple click the home button. I was honestly pretty glad she didn’t fall in love with them.
  7. Nurse a lot if you have the option. Know that it can be really painful for babies who can’t quite pop their ears during takeoff and landing. If you’re not nursing, bring sippy cups or something else to suck on. I heard that blowing up a balloon is the best thing for landing because it helps them focus on something and it pops their ears. I didn’t try that because mine was too little.
  8. Bring lots of snacks if you’re baby is eating solids. We love lunch meat as a distraction. I have no idea why it works so well. I also did a bunch of teething crackers.
  9. When all else fails, lift baby up to look at all the passengers behind you. SOMEONE will get all excited and flirt with your baby and buy you at least 5 minutes of feeling better.
  10. If nothing works and your baby is a sniveling mess, just know that you are not the only person to have to go through this and you guys will be ok. Whenever I start to feel self conscious about something with baby I remember to look at my baby, think about what she’s going through and feeling. Don’t focus on what everybody else is going through. Let them fight their own battles. Be there for your little one.
20160913_150429
Success! Zzzz

Cats and Babies

I’ve recently acquired two cats. I’m not upset about this at all, but I’m taking a minute to adjust to what it means to have a baby and cats. I can’t help but see some similarities. Let me list a few for discussion.

  1. Cats and babies prefer trash to toys. Old lids, toilet paper rolls and empty water bottles do NOT go in the trash can.
  2. Both are afraid of the vacuum. Darn.
  3. I have more pictures of them my phone than anything else.  Also, people don’t really want to see them as much as I want to show them.
  4. They like to pull cords and dangling things knocking everything down in a huge crash making me think everybody is dead.
  5. I’m constantly dealing with their bodily functions. At any given moment I am very likely to have at least somebody’s vomit, urine or feces on me. Probably a nice cocktail of it all.
  6. Neither is really picky of whether they are eating cat food or baby’s food.
  7. If I can’t find them, they’re probably in the toilet.

I can’t be the only one noticing these things! Reader! Please let me know the similarities of your [insert pet type] and child in the comments.

 

Just for fun, something I’ve pondered recently is this, “If I call my cats my ‘fur babies’ is it weird to call my human my ‘skin baby’?”

 

A Friendly Note

Dear Other Person at Target,

Remember when you didn’t stop for my baby and me when we were on the crosswalk, then you parked, did your shopping and when you came out it looked like someone had smeared a poopy diaper all over your windshield?  Man, that was crazy!

Welp, have a great day!

Things I Didn’t Know Until I Had a Kid

I know a lot of bloggers do these but I like reading them so I thought I’d make my own.

  • Inspecting every poop with zeal, horror and delight.
  • I would be afraid of terms I never knew existed before (rebreathing asphyxiation, nipple confusion, etc.)
  • So scared. All the time. Constantly checking to see if my child is breathing.
  • I obsess over things like napping schedule. How was she behaving before/after? How long was the nap? Where was the nap?
  • I actually think she looks cute no matter what she wears. Before I had her I’d get an outfit and be like, “Nah, she’d look dumb in this.” Actually, no, she looks fantastic.
  • It might take a really long time to make certain relationship connections like trusting my baby, wanting to be close to my Hubs again and that everyone else is NOT actually out to destroy my baby.
  • She’s going to get hurt occasionally and it’s going to KILL me. Especially when it’s my fault. Though she might forget about it in minutes, I will agonize over it.
  • Babies have different cry sounds and I know mine and what they mean (hungry, sleepy, scared).
  • Yoga pants (or as I call them, “pants”) actually make me feel LESS revolting.
    Guilt.
  • Baby crying is gruesome. I was told this, but I always thought it was because it was annoying and loud. In reality it is so terrible because it is heartbreaking, crippling.
  • My soul melts out of my ears and nothing in the world is good. I know if I cried like that I would not be ok. I would be traumatized.
  • Finally, yes, you will feel stupid amounts of love for your baby at some point that you say weird shit like, “I just want to eat your hair!” in the grocery store and people will look at you with trepidation.

Baby Wipes

One day I was thinking about how I hated the residue and fibers that baby wipes left on my hands and it dawned on me that I put that stuff on my baby’s hey-now every day, all day!  I had heard of people making their own baby wipes, and I already clean poop off her cloth diapers, so I did some research and came up with a recipe I like.

FYI, I don’t usually measure things, but I tried to come up with a good set of measurements here for you guys, because I like you.  I also don’t know if “big squirt” and “little dribble” are really universal measurements.

Here goes:

  • Cut up all those extra receiving blankets (that never really seemed to serve a purpose to me) into about 10x10in squares.  I like them bigger, some people like them smaller.
  • Boil 6 or 8 cups of filtered water – you can do the rest while the water heats up.
  • In 4 pint jars (I like narrow mouth), add the following to the bottom of each:
  • 1 Tbs. Pure Witch Hazel – no alcohol please, I like Thayers
  • 1 Tbs. Pure Aloe.
  • 1 Tbs. Oil – Lots of options here.  I prefer Sweet Almond or Apricot because they are really close to natural skin oils, don’t have much of a smell and are liquid at room temperature.
  • 1 tsp Pure Castile soap – I go Dr. Bronner’s
  • 10 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract – So good to have around because it’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal.  Tons of uses, too.
  • 10 drops essential oils – I mix it up every time.  Tea tree and eucalyptus smells great.
  • Fill the rest of the jars with the boiled water – CAREFUL! – and put the lid on.

So now you have the Wipe Solution in jars.  I use an old plastic wipes container – the kind that snaps closed and has a pretty good seal – and put my cut pieces of fabric in there then pour a jar of solution over them.