Weekly Reflection

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The past week flew by, but over the weekend I had some time to chill out and pack for our upcoming trip to California. Like every week, last week had its shares of “ups” and “downs.” I’m glad I get to start out this one packing for a trip to see my family and celebrate a highly anticipated wedding! The actual celebration takes place on October 31st, so we won’t be doing any traditional trick-or-treating, however, that hasn’t stopped me from putting up a few festive fall decoration around the house that are currently in tandem with many pink decorations from our gender reveal party.

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While a trip to California is a BIG thing to look forward to, I’ve also been trying to find joy in the little things as well. One of those things being baked goods, [I mean, just look at how festive that frankenstein green pistachio muffin is!] but also just spending some quality time alone with Sugar Plum. I know our days of “mommy and me” time are winding down as we approach my due date.

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And even though we won’t be trick-or-treating, that didn’t stop us from buying bella a little costume to dress up in. Not to mention it will be the perfect outfit to wear to Disneyland this week.

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Have a safe Halloween, everyone! I’ll be taking a little break from blogging while I spend time with family, but you can keep up with me on Instagram: @lilmissmotto

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My Life Has Begun

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Some people think my life ended at 21, the year I got married. Others would argue that it ended at 22, when I got pregnant during my last semester in college, and resolved not to start a career, but to be a stay at home mom. Stay at home mom? Surely, every one knows that’s social/career/romantic/young person suicide. YOUR LIFE IS OVERRRR. I’ve had people tell me that’s why they don’t want to marry young, because their life is just beginning. People tell me “that’s why, even if we marry, we’re going to wait to have kids…” because they don’t want their lives to be over.

What if I told you, my life has only just begun? Let’s take it a step further…. What if I told you I didn’t feel like I had really begun to live my life until I was married? PREPOSTEROUS.

Is it though? I grew up in Southern California, with so many amazing opportunities at my finger tips and yet, that wasn’t enough for me. I moved to Ohio when I got accepted by my DREAM SCHOOL, and yet, I still needed more. I lived in Europe for 4 months, getting to cross off nearly everything on my bucket list and yet I was pining for a boy I had met just before embarking on that journey.

What does is mean for your “life to begin?” I would argue that people use this phrase to indicate that they have finally found what they were created to do. They have found that sweet spot of discovering what they’re good at, and how it applies to what they love to do. People use that phrase when they have found some kind of meaning in their work, or life’s purpose. If this is the case, then I can tell you with 100% certainty that my life began the moment I said those wedding vows. My life’s purpose was only ever enhanced when those vows became incarnate in the form of our children.

That isn’t good enough though, at least not for society. I have people ask me ALREADY what I plan to do when I’m an empty nester. (you know, since I’m WASTING all this time being a stay at home mom…) I’m TWENTY FOUR years old, and people are already asking me about what my life’s purpose will be when my children leave the nest? Are you kidding me? My own mother just turned 50 and she’s still not an “empty nester,” which is the response I *should* offer that question, but instead I mumble and argue that I have a BA, and could easily get my teaching licensure while the kids are in school, therefore being prepared to teach by the time they’re all off to college because THAT is what makes me sound like a productive member to society, not the whole “raising children to the glory of God” business.

Recently I had 2 people tell me that they feel bad for me, because they don’t think I’ve gotten to “live my life,” and that I won’t be able to until I’m liberated from the shackles of motherhood. While I won’t deny that some times it does feel a bit like slavery, this hypocritical feminist view BURNS ME UP. In the words of my husband, as a stay at home mom I am “more useful than [I] have ever been.” He told me, “You’re a woman, and your body was designed to grow babies and to feed those baby’s. If you weren’t using those things, you wouldn’t *fully* be living out what it means to be a woman.” Now before all you career driven women are overcome with some blood lust for my husband, I can assure you he’s no oppressive misogynist. He very cautiously used the word “fully” which is not to say that women who aren’t mothers, aren’t living up to their feminine potential, but instead to say that women who DO utilize these parts are living out their feminine potential to the fullest extent one could. This means that mothers aren’t the epitome of wasted womanhood, or the waste of a life that could have been lived traveling, building a career, clubbing with friends or whatever, but instead a fulfillment of womanhood that far surpasses any of those other events individually.

So, to all my single friends and family who are worried for my poor, purpose-less life: I’m doing fine. In fact, I’m more than fine. I’m living a life that exemplifies the female potential, a life that is full of purpose, and a life that I consciously chose, not out of some blind infatuation for a man, but because I knew my calling. I see where my skills overlap with what I love to do, and that is what I call motherhood.

New York Recap

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As I announced on Friday, the husband and I were in New York City this past weekend, attending comic con! While we mostly hung around the convention center doing nerdy things, we also had time to explore a bit of the city. I wanted to share all my favorite things with you guys in a post, so here it goes! [I plan to do a separate post on the convention for all you nerdy followers, but this will just be a recap of my favorite city spots and places to eat…]

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First things first, if you want a chic place to stay near the convention center or Hell’s Kitchen, then I’d highly recommend the Yotel. You can’t miss the signature purple neon of this place if you’re on 10th ave. They have killer free coffee all day [which, even though coffee has been giving me acid reflux, I seriously couldn’t resist a cup…] and in the mornings, they have really delicious muffins for free. It’s clean, updated, and only a 5-10 minute walk to the convention center which made it perfect for this trip.

Our favorite place for a meal was Friedman’s on W 31st street. I cannot say enough good things about this place. All of their food was fresh, they has a wide variety of gluten free options, and the staff was so friendly and helpful despite being overwhelmed with business from people leaving the convention at night. J and I both got salads, but they must have housemade dressings because I am telling you, I have never had a better balsamic vinaigrette in my LIFE.

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You all know I love my sweets, and while I was disappointed that I didn’t get to visit the Manhattan Carlo’s Bakery, it ended up being a blessing because I got to go to this delicious cookie spot instead. Schmackary’s has THE BEST cookies. We got an Oatmeal Scotchie [oatmeal and butterscotch], The Monster [oats, PB, m&m’s, semi sweet chocolate chips], Red Velvet, Caramel Delight [chocolate cookie with caramel in the middle and a tiny sprinkle of coconut], Funfetti [reminiscent of the funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles (also my favorite from the bunch)], and Maple bacon. It was hard for us not to eat these all in one sitting, and pictured above it me sneaking half a cookie in the airport terminal while hubs was using the restroom…

As you know, J and I are Catholic, which means we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to go to mass at St. Patrick’s. This is some thing that was on my bucket list last time we were in NYC, but we just never made it there since there was a convenient little Franciscan Friary down the street from us. This time we walked the 10 blocks it took to get to St. Patrick’s and I’m so glad we did! Not only was it a beautiful mass, knowing that the pope had just recently visited, but we also got to walk through Times Square, a farmers market, and Rockefeller Center on our way to the church. So, even though most of our time was spent inside the convention center, we got to do a quick walking tour of NYC on our way to mass. [Not to mention, the streets are almost empty early on a Sunday morning, which made our walk much more enjoyable, and less rushed.]

Overall, it was just a really fun trip! It was definitely tough on my pregnant body, and I had to keep a close eye for swelling and take every opportunity possible to sit down and rest my hips… but I am so glad I was able to have this short little “babymoon” with my husband.

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Babies on a Plane

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This is not a repeat post, I promise. You probably remember my post on flying with babies and also my “Diaper Bag Essentials” post, but I wanted to do an updated version for babes over 12 months. Maybe you haven’t heard, but most domestic airlines will let kids under 2 fly for free on your lap. This is amazing news for us, since we normally fly with $300+ tickets to California. This is bad news for us because we fly to California and it’s always a 6 hour trek [at least]. When Sugar Plum was smaller, she would nurse, sleep for half the flight, and when she was awake, she’d quietly look at the rest f the passengers or just want some thing to bite on. I laugh now when I think about how stressed out I used to be traveling with her at that age. Now we have a rowdy one year old who can crawl, walk, play, and needs so much stimulation that I’m already having nightmares about a never-ending flight the next time we go to visit my family. I think the saying goes “proper planning prevents poor performance”? I don’t know – it’s some thing like that – and that’s why I am already planning.

We recently did a 5 hour car trip for Labor Day weekend, and I felt like that was good practice. In fact, I would argue that flying is easier then car trips because both parents can give their full attention to the baby, there are some options to move around [as opposed to being strapped in a car seat], and I feel like it’s easier to do certain activities like coloring or eating. Also, most flights nowadays make you have a layover somewhere, which sounds like a hassle, but to me its the perfect halftime. I can change baby in a decent sized bathroom, grab a hot meal, and stretch out my legs while providing a change of scenery for baby.

Now, as far as how I am modifying what to pack, this is what I have planned:

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Food – Pack a snack for every hour you’ll be traveling. I know this may seem like overkill, but if your kid asks for a snack every hour, at least you’ll have one. Even if they don’t want a snack every hour, you’ll have back up snacks in case there is a delay and you don’t want to pay for airport food. *Sigh* It was so much easier when I could just nurse my little babe…

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Beverages – We carry these bottles through security empty [just to avoid the hassle of “claiming” liquids, though, if you have formula or milk, you ARE allowed to take these things through security with a baby] then fill up the water bottle with the filter at a drinking fountain. We periodically fill up the baby cup with our filtered water bottle, so everyone has some thing to drink!

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Entertainment – This is always the hardest category because you don’t want to pack too much to where toys are falling out of your bag when you go to reach for you ID, but at the same time, you want to have enough to keep a little one occupied. I pick a skinny book like our Dr. Seuss books, because they slip into the back of a backpack nicely and don’t take up too much room. Our daughter loves books, and is content to sit and flip through the pages for long periods of time so I’m hoping this will be a good activity to calm her down. Crayons and paper are also items I’ve packed. The paper is a thin little booklet from he dollar store, so again, it shouldn’t take up much room; and crayons are generally less messy than markers. If that isn’t stimulating enough, I have her “cell phone” packed, which lights up and makes different noises when you press it. Since the plane engine is so loud, it won’t disturb other passengers to have my baby play with this normally noisy toy, as a lot of its sounds are significantly muted once we’ve taken off [and anyway, it’s better to listen to the ABC’s on repeat then to hear a baby scream, amirite?]. Of course I will have my actual phone on me. The Samsung galaxy comes with a built-in “kids mode” where you can let your kids play with your phone to their heart’s content, and not have to worry about them deleting your contacts or moving around your apps. It is a password protected part of the phone that only has children’s applications on it.

As much as I’m hoping she’ll eat and sleep for me on this flight, I’m prepared for the worst! We’ve traveled so much just in the past year, so I’m sure we will slip back into our vacation groove, but it’s always to be prepared for the worst. How do you keep your child content for hours at a time?

Flying with Baby

Its one of the most terrifying things you’ll ever do as a parent.

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How am I going to get through security with all my baby crap?
What if she screams the entire time?
What if the other passengers gang up on me with dirty looks?

Throw those worries out the window. I have compiled my best travel tips and tricks for you all! I’m from California, as you know… But did you know its a whopping 5+ hour trip to get there!? We just got home from our Christmas trip so I thought I’d share how I survived with you all!  Now I have already provided you with my diaper bag essentials, but this is the mega list of essentials for traveling with baby!

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Tip 1: I know Im usually all for the fashionable diaper bag, but for a trip like this, its better to use the backpack in tandum with some type of baby carrier. This leaves your hands free to hand TSA agents boarding passes/IDs and they also let you keep the baby in it’s carrier throughout the security checkpoint.

What you’ll need:
-changing mat: not only is it good for avoiding yucky changing tables, but this one is plush enough for impromptu naps during layovers in the terminal.
-hand sanitizer: for after a messy diaper change, or for after touching anything in the airport really…
-arm&hammer trash baggies: to contain messes and smelly diapers
-A small book: entertainment
-A small toy: preferably one that can clip onto your bag
-food: depending on how old your babe is you may or maynot need this. My cousin is a nurse and she says to add 1/2 a dose of ibuprofen to these pouches to help baby’s ears and help them sleep on long flights.
-boogie wipes: airplanes are dry, and these wipes with saline, help a lot.
-extra clothes: for some reason, babies get explosive poops at high altitudes… you can never be over prepared!
-desitin: Do not forego the desitin because chances are baby will end up sitting in a wet diaper for longer than normal and will need some relief!
-cup/bottle/breast/something to suck: to avoid baby screaming during ascent and descent, nurse or feed you baby at these times. The sucking helps baby’s ears pop.

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Tip 2: I recommend tucking your extra outfits into a couple of the arm&hammer bags. When destruction inevitably strikes, you can take the clean outfit out, and put the messed out fit in.

Tip 3: I am a big advocate of wearing your baby through security in a wrap. You don’t have to mess with a stroller, and they just frisk you with that little wand thingy, without requiring you to take your baby out of the wrap. Baby in the front, diaper bag on your back… its too easy!

Tip 4: make sure you put your desitin, baby food, and hand sanitizer in a sandwich-sized ziplock bag before you go,  since most airports still require you to “claim” any liquids you have.

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Tip 5: Obviously, don’t forget these essentials! I said in my diaper bag post to bring 1 diaper for every hour you’re gone… Well, bring extra when flying. There may be unexpected delays and you’ll end up being gone longer than expected without the proper supplies.

Tip 6: My babe is EBF, but if you have a baby on formula or on purees, there are separate guidelines for bringing food through security. Usually, the rule for liquids is you can have no more than 3, 3 ounce containers. Luckily, they are a little more laid back with baby food, but make sure you “claim” your items to a TSA agent before sending your bags through the x-ray.

FOR THE MOMMY:

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Mommy needs to be prepared too! Wear some thing comfortable, but not too cute [as baby may have an accident on you! [Tip 6: try to squeeze an extra shirt for yourself in that diaper bag!] If you’re a nursing mama, make sure its a nursing top or something else that gives you quick, easy access. I also bought this cute “pearl” necklace from “Mommy Designs” on etsy. It’s made out of safe silicone that baby can chew on. Its a good way to sneak in a second toy that also makes your look a little cuter.

My last “mommy essential” is yoga pants. I guess that’s no surprise… but I’m still going to give an explanation: 1) they are incredibly comfortable 2) if your child has an accident, or some thing spills on you, wearing black really helps to camouflage all the messes.  Happy traveling!

Diaper Bag Essentials

As a first time mom, I’ve learned many lessons the hard way. Our little Sugar Plum has become a seasoned traveler for only having been alive for 5 months, and I’ve had to come up with a solid list of essentials to survive all the trips we’ve been taking. I get a lot of questions about my favorite products are, so here are the things I couldn’t live without on a day-to-day basis.

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First of all, why do I have a diaper BACKPACK instead of a diaper bag? Well for one thing, I wear my baby in a sling or a wrap… most of the time its a wrap. I had a diaper bag at first, but it kept throwing me off balance. I mean, I have a 12 + pound baby wrapped to my chest while trying to hold 3+ pounds of stuff on only one of my shoulders. The back pack distributes the weight more evenly, is hand free, and offers more room and compartments for storing things. Baby in the front, essentials in the back!

I have broken my essential items into three categories: diaper changing, clothing, and teething.

Diaper changing:

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travel pack of wipes: pretty self-explanatory. you need wipes.
5 diapers: some one once told me to bring a diaper for each hour that you’re gone. I’m almost never gone for 5 hours without stopping, so that’s the average number I like to keep handy.
changing pad: this kate spade one has a cute print on one side, and plastic on the other for easy wiping.
butt paste: I have a travel size tube I always keep handy. For the times when I am traveling for 3+ hours, I need to give sugar plum a little smear of cream on her booty to avoid rashes. You can also keep Desitin handy, but I find butt paste to be a little more potent, and therefore more effective.
hand sanitizer: also self- explanatory… I know most of the time, you’ll be changing your baby in a place with a sink and soap, but trust me– some times you won’t! I’ve changed Sugar Plum in airport terminals, the backseat of our minivan, the great outdoors, etc.
arm&hammer, baking soda bags: This is one item I never would have thought to buy on my own [they were a shower gift]– in fact, I didn’t even know they existed, but these have saved me soooo many times. Sugar Plum has accidents from time to time, like any baby. So how do we contain those accidents until we can get home and do laundry? Baking soda bags. They contain the mess AND the smell. They’re also great if you don’t want to stink up some one else’s garbage; just put the dirty diaper in one of these bags, and that baking soda should contain the stench.

Clothing:

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Bib: sometimes I’ll put a bib on Sugar Plum before we leave the house, but she still soaks through them fairly quickly. Its good to have a back-up, or just to have one on hand if you forgot to put one on your babe before heading out the door.
extra onesie: Back to having accidents… its always good to have a back up outfit! I don’t keep anything fancy in my diaper bag, usually just a plain onesie; long sleeve or short sleeve depending on the weather.
burp cloth: some times babies spit up…. on you. You’ll be using this frequently to clean yourself up.

Teething:

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Bink: Our little one rarely takes a pacifier, but its good to have just in case she wants it. Plus, the MAM brand comes in a microwavable sterilizer case!
Teether: Our favorite is Sophie the Giraffe. This smaller version easily slips into one of the pockets in our backpack. Its good for play time, or for when your babe has sore gums. The “S” curve makes it easy for Sugar Plum to grasp her little hands around, and hold it herself.
Teething medicine: I always keep a small dose of teething medicine in my bag. It doesn’t take up that much space, and while its rare for me to use it, its worth having on hand if your little one starts having a melt down while your out running errands.
Those are my must-haves! What do you have to have in your diaper bag?