This summer we are driving through five different states in order to visit my family and the Mister's family. That is a lot of miles. And when you have a toddler in the backseat, that is a lot of miles. We wanted to try and figure out the best way to make the drive and still be able to keep our sanity. We did half of the trip driving through the night, and half of the trip during the day. We learned a lot, and we learned which way is better! So we came up with a few tips on how to take a roadtrip with a toddler!
1. Drive at Night. The most important, helpful, and best tip I can give you is to drive at night. This is great for multiple reasons. First, your toddler can sleep the whole way and you won't have to worry about feeding him, listening to him cry because he wants to get out, or taking him out every time you stop to get gas. We first drove through the night over Christmas last year and it completely changed our road trip. The Mister and I were able to enjoy each other's company, Little J slept the whole way, and we only had to stop to use the bathroom and get gas. Another good thing about driving at night is that as long as you bring some snacks, you don't have to stop and buy a whole meal (or two). So the only times you do stop can be to fill up and then you can get back on the road quickly. Saving time and making things easy! Also, don't try and sleep for a few hours and then wake up at like three and then leave. We did this thinking Little J would go back to sleep in his car seat and he just sat and stared around for two hours. Then he only had two 45-minute naps the rest of the trip. He was good, but not every toddler will be good, so just plan ahead and get them to fall asleep in their car seat instead of crib in the first place.
2. Bring New Toys. In the chance that you can't drive at night, or that your child wakes up, make sure you bring a new new toys to distract your little. New toys are always great for long trips because toddlers seem more keen to play with them than their toys they already have. So a new toy can help distract your toddler from the fact that he is in a car seat (and has been for several hours).
3. Put Him in Comfortable Clothes. If you are going to be driving through the night, I highly suggest just putting your toddler in some pajamas. If not, other comfy clothes (like stretchy pants and a light t-shirt) are the best thing to dress your toddler in. Car seats straps are supposed to keep them in there tight and snug, so you want to give your toddler the comfort you can by dressing them in comfy clothes. I don't know about you but I am always in a better mood when I have comfy clothes on in the car. Why would a toddler be any different? You pretty much want to take away all variables that can cause problems on a roadtrip.
4. Bring Snacks for You and Your Toddler. Before you leave, make sure you have good, healthy snacks to keep you and your toddler full and happy. My husband and I usually bring a cooler with drinks and a bag with different snacks. That way, we won't have to buy things on the way. The key here is variety. Bring both salty and sweet things. This is true for your toddler's snacks, too. Sometimes Little J is particular about what snacks he will eat, so you want to make sure you have a lot for them to choose from. Hopefully you can drive through the night and won't have to worry about feeding your toddler, but you will still need to eat so make sure you have some good energizing snacks.
5. Have Some Car Games Prepared. This is more for the adults in the car who are driving, but it always helps have some fun car games to help keep you awake while driving at night. There's the alphabet game (a little harder in the dark), the person, place, or thing game (our personal favorite), 20 questions, or the picnic game. Having a game you can play helps keep your mind active so you are less likely to get drowsy and fall asleep. Which obviously is bad on any road trip.
6. Leave Room Next to the Car Seat for You. Whether you are driving through the night or not, you want to make sure that you leave a seat open next to the car seat in case your little wakes up or just gets super grumpy. You want to be able to sit there and keep your toddler busy and happy if the need arises, and if you have packed the backseat full of things, you won't be able to fit and you may just have to sit there listening to him cry and scream. Ideally, you won't be sitting there for much of the trip, but you want to make sure that if you have to, you have a space that you can sit and occupy your toddler.
7. Have a Changing Station in the Car. This may seem unnecessary when there are changing tables inside gas stations and rest stops, but if you are driving through the night, this is important. Taking your baby into the gas station with all those bright lights is probably going to wake him up and make it harder for him to go back to sleep. Ideally, your toddler will sleep through the trip and won't have to be changed until he wakes up, but if he wakes up in the middle of the trip with a poopy diaper you are obviously going to change it. And it's much nicer to have everything you need and room to change him right there with you. Even if it is just in the seat next to the car seat. Less stimulation while awake means an easier time going back to sleep.
8. Darken the Window. One thing we noticed when driving through the night was that sometimes when we stopped to fill up with gas, the lights from the gas station would shine down right onto Little J's face. So something you may want to consider is rolling a towel or small blanket up in the window so that when you stop (or there are lights on the road), they won't shine right in your toddler's sleeping face. If you aren't driving through the night, then you probably don't want to block your child's view or they won't be as happy, but if you are driving through the night (the easy way to roadtrip), then darkening the window is a good idea.
9. Have a Backup Plan. What do I mean? I mean bring the one that that you don't like to let your child have but that will calm him down instantly. For us, it's the iPad and episodes of Bob the Builder. I don't really like letting him play with it, but there was a point when we had about 45 minutes left in our drive and he was just not having it anymore so we gave him the iPad to watch some Bob and play some fun games he likes (check out Sago Mini). It worked like a charm. And yes, this is the last resort.
Do you have any other tips for taking a roadtrip with a toddler? I promise driving through the night will be the best way to go! It will revolutionize your drive!!
Monday, July 21, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
As soon as we found out we were having a girl, I started dreaming up all kinds of girly things to make for her. Actually, I was dreaming about it long before, but those things actually became possible when we found out our baby was a girl. One of the things I dreamed up was a sparkly gold polka-dot bodysuit. I knew it would be perfect, and I knew I had to make it. So I did. And it is perfect.
Lucky for me, we already had lots of plain white bodysuits laying around (courtesy of Little J), and two years ago, my mom got me a Cricut Mini for Christmas. I knew there was no way I would be cutting out all these little polka-dots by hand, and my Cricut Mini was the perfect tool to get perfectly round, identical little circles. For the iron-on I used the Cricut Glitter Iron-on in gold, which had somewhat confusing directions, but was easy to work with besides that.
Anyway, on to the tutorial!!
First, you need to get all your materials together. You will need a Cricut Mini (or other Cricut machine), the Cricut Iron-on in gold, and a white bodysuit. You will also need your computer and the Cricut Craft Room software, scissors, an iron, an ironing board, and a piece of fabric to place between the iron-on backing and the iron. But the basic materials are super simple.
And like I said before, I loved using my Cricut Mini for this project. It made it way faster than if I had tried to cut out circles by hand, and I just had to design the project using the Cricut Craft Room software and then watch my machine do the work!
Once you have everything you need, you will need to cut your iron-on so that it will fit onto your Cricut cutting mat. Super easy so I didn't take a picture.
Next, put the iron-on onto the cutting mat. This is where I got most confused with the Cricut directions. They say to place the iron-on sheet, "liner side down," onto the cutting mat, so of course I thought that the shiny plasticky side was the liner. NO. Do not get confused and cut the wrong side of your iron-on! You will waste a lot of it! Place the glittery shiny plasticky side down when you are putting it on the cutting mat. This is important. You want the dull ugly side facing up.
If you haven't already, use the Cricut Craft Room software to design your dots. I just did it so I could fit as many 1" circles as possible on the mat. I think I used about 35 polka-dots total, but it depends on how close together you want them. Also, if you are only going to do the front, don't do that many. I did both sides though because I think it's lame when patterns only go on one side of a shirt. So, just put lots of little circles on there.
Next, you want to cut your iron-on using the Cricut Mini. I had to set the pressure to 3 and the depth to 4. I know it says 3 for both, but mine actually didn't cut through on that and I had to redo it. You may want to do it on 3 and 3 for one circle to check and see if it will work for you (maybe my blade isn't sharp?). But if it doesn't work, then set your depth one higher.
Once your circles are all cut, unload the cutting mat and peel apart the layers.
After you peeled the layers apart, cut the circles apart. I just cut the plastic into squares. Then you want to lay the dots on the bodysuit, glitter side up.
At first I arranged the dots one at a time, but then I realized how much faster it would be do to all the dots on one side at a time. Follow the application instructions on the Cricut Iron-on sheet. Make sure you use a piece of fabric or thin towel between the dots and the iron. Press for 15 seconds.
Once you press all the dots on, let them cool at least a minute. If you don't wait, they will pull off when you try and peel off the plastic layer. Repeat again on the other side. Pull off all the plastic stickies and then you are done! And you have a beautiful gold polka-dot bodysuit perfect for any fashionable baby girl. Yay! I can't wait to put our little baby girl in her new outfit when she is born in September!!
Monday, July 7, 2014
One of my favorite treats growing up was the Double Doozie Sugar Cookies from the Great American Cookie Company at the mall. My sister and I would always beg my mom to buy us one and we would never be able to finish them. Now that I am older and my sweet tooth has definitely stuck around, I still have to fight the temptation not to buy one every time I am at the mall. But lucky (or unlucky) for me, I have figured out how to make a super fast and easy cookie at home, that tastes just like the ones at the mall! And is WAY cheaper!!
The best thing about this cookie is that it uses three store-bought ingredients, and is super fast to make. I tested out a few different brands before I came up with the perfect combination of sugar cookie and frosting. And oh my goodness, it really is just as good as those sugary treats from the mall.
The secret to making the famous Double Doozie at home is to use Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough and Betty Crocker Whipped Fluffy White frosting. Add sugar sprinkles and ta-dah! It is perfect!
These are the perfect little treat if you are in a bind and don't have time to make your own frosting and cookies, but still want a delicious treat that kids (and parents) will love. It's so easy and seriously, I can't tell you how yummy these taste. They were gone so fast.
Easy Double Doozie Sugar Cookies
Makes about 12-15 Double Doozies
- 1 roll of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough
- 1 can of Betty Crocker Whipped Fluffy White frosting
- Multicolored sugar sprinkles
- Place 1/2" balls of sugar cookie dough on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Using a glass, press into circles (but not too thin). Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles. Bake according to package instructions, but lean on the shorter time side because you want them soft and chewy.
- Let cool and then using a piping bag (it's easy and looks better, but isn't necessary), put a hearty amount of frosting on the back of one of the cookies. Sandwich it with another cookie, pressing softly and not hard enough that the frosting will ooze out completely.
- Then you are done. Seriously, that is it.
Anyway, once I discovered this secret to homemade Double Doozie Sugar Cookies I knew I couldn't keep it to myself. And I am sure once my littles are big enough that I have to start sending them places with treats, these will be frequently made in my kitchen.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
A few nights ago I put Little J down for bed at the same time as I always do. About an hour later, he was still awake, which was odd, and then he started crying. Usually when he cries he will go back to sleep. Unfortunately for us, he kept crying for about 20 minutes. I put down what I was doing and I went in to give him his pacifier and hold him for a bit so he could calm down. After about 10 minutes I put him back in his crib so he could go back to sleep. Immediately he started screaming. I left the room and he kept screaming for a few minutes. I reluctantly went back in to try and calm him down. I had other things I wanted to be doing. The time after Little J goes to bed before bed is some of the only time I get to do what I want to do. Any mom knows that there are some things you just can't do when your littles are awake. So as I was sitting there rocking Little J in the dark trying to get him to go back to sleep, I kept listing off all the things I wanted to get done and all the things I could have been doing instead of sitting there trying to get my 15-month-old back to sleep. I know, not my proudest moment.
But then it hit me. Nothing in this world, nothing I could possibly be doing at that moment, was more important than sitting in that chair holding my son. Nothing was as important as giving him the comfort he needed so he could fall back asleep. Basically, nothing was as important as being there at that moment to help my son.
Nothing is as important as your kids and your family. Sure, it is important to have a good job and to work for what you need in life. Sure, it is important to take care of yourself and make sure you give yourself time that you need. But families are the most important thing in the world. Without families, we wouldn't exist.
So next time I am playing with Little J or hear him crying at 2am, I am going to remember that nothing is as important as giving him the time he needs without complaining and without doing it half-heartedly. The Mister and I are the most important people in his world right now and I definitely want to do my part to keep it that way and raise him right.
Because that is what being a mommy is all about.
Monday, June 30, 2014
There are pros and cons about shopping both in store and online. In store you can try on the clothes and different sizes, but there isn't as big of a selection. Online you have a wider selection and you can easily search for exactly what you want, but you don't have the option to try on and you have to pay for shipping. So for your convenience (and because I am excited about finding these cute clothes), here are the best (and my favorite) places to shop for maternity clothes, both in store and online!
Best Places to Shop for Maternity Clothes In Store
Old Navy. Old Navy is one of my favorite places to get the basics. A few weeks ago I went and got some really cute solid tees that had small details and weren't flashy. They also have shorts, tank tops, skirts, pants, and even active wear. And the best part is that Old Navy is pretty cheap! Not all stores actually have the maternity section in them, so make sure you call before you go. If you are lucky enough to have a maternity section in your local Old Navy, I highly recommend checking it out.
Target. Another one of my favorite maternity stores. The Liz Lange Maternity line is the best. The shirts are so comfortable, the swimsuits are adorable, and the maxi dresses are perfect. They have a wider selection of clothes online too, but both this pregnancy and last my favorite maternity shirts have been from Target. And honestly, who doesn't love an excuse to go to Target?
Gap. A little bit pricier, but they usually have a clearance section. The Gap Maternity sections are in the back of Gap Baby stores (at least in the ones I've seen) so you have to have a Gap Baby in order to get the maternity line in stores. They have the cutest pants I have seen, and even though they are pricier, check the clearance section! I also love their long dresses. My mom got me a cute jersey dress and it has been amazing as it has gotten hotter. Any excuse to only put on one piece of clothing is a good one for a pregnant lady. So go check them out. Seriously.
Best Places to Shop for Maternity Clothes Online
Zulily. I only discovered Zulily a few months ago but I love it! They have daily deals up to 70% off for moms, babies, and kids, and they always have really nice maternity clothes for cheap. I ordered both my swimsuit (worth $90, paid $30) and a pair of jean shorts (worth about twice as much as I paid, I can't remember exact numbers) from Zulily and have loved them! I like this site because of the variety they offer, and because you can find deals from different brands. There's a reason I am mentioning it first on my online list! It really is amazing. You at least have to check them out once.
Pink Blush. I actually think Pink Blush might be my favorite for stylish maternity clothes out of all of these. Their dresses are amazing, they have so many cute tops, and they even sell maternity leggings. Which I honestly didn't even know existed until like two weeks ago. And they are all at good prices, too, so you don't have to feel bad about looking cute! And the colors of their clothes are like all my favorite colors. Basically, I want everything on their site. I even bought my bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding from their site (because I will be 8-months-pregnant at her wedding!). I promise you will not be disappointed when you look at their site.
ASOS. They are a little more expensive, but still super cute. My favorite things on their site are the dresses, and they have several different brands on the site, too. They also have really cute swimsuits and jeans, and all the clothes are really flattering (which is important when you have a giant round ball for a stomach). My second choice for a bridesmaid dress was on this site, so you know it's good.
Seraphine. Seraphine is a company based out of the UK and while their clothes are probably the most expensive on my list, there is a reason I am including it here. The clothes are a more elegant style, and yes, even Kate Middleton wore their clothes while she was pregnant. I think a good word to describe these clothes is "flirty" but without being scandalous. They use lace, ruffles, bows, and what I am going to call "flutters." Definitely a girly brand. So if you have some extra money or you are looking for a nice present for yourself, I would check out Seraphine.
Dorothy Perkins. This brand uses a lot of florals and pastels in their clothes, and they are super feminine and cute. They don't have a huge selection online, but I really like the clothes that I saw when I was on the site. They have some good "little black dresses" that are maternity dresses, and they are moderately priced. They also have several things that use lace, so I am pretty much in love with those. It's a cute site if your style is very feminine.
So those are (in my opinion) the best places to shop for maternity clothes, both in store and online. Do you think I missed any? What are your favorite places to buy maternity clothes?? I would love to hear!
Monday, June 23, 2014
Now I know it can be hard to cut your wedding dress (just ask me, I actually did two years ago!), but this necklace only requires a tiny piece and are you really ever going to wear your dress again? I personally decided that I could save my veil for my daughters to wear on their wedding days if they want because even though my dress was perfect, I am sure it will be out of style in 20 years. So this is a much better use of my dress!
I am SO HAPPY with the way this turned out! This project has been something I have wanted to do ever since starting my craft blog and cutting up my wedding dress. I love wearing it, and I love that it is a reminder of the love I have for the Mister and the promises we have made to each other. And I love getting to tell people that it is made from my wedding dress!!
And before you get overwhelmed and think "I can't do that! It's too hard!" I just want to tell you that this took me about 10 minutes to make. So no matter what your craft skill level is, you can make this!!
All you will need to make this pendant are:
- One piece of lace from your wedding dress
- A 14mm, 16mm, or 20mm glass circle and pendant tray (I got mine from Candy Tiles Studio on Etsy. They were incredibly helpful and put up with me asking for a very specific custom request)
- FabriTac permanent adhesive (I got this at Michael's)
- A small square of cardstock or posterboard
- E6000 super glue (I got this at Michael's)
- A pen
Then trace your stone on the cardboard to make a tiny pattern. I found that it was a lot easier to do it this way than to use the stone directly on the fabric when I was cutting
Then cut out your pattern.
Just a quick tip, don't stick your pattern inside the pendant tray to make sure it fits. It will get stuck and you will be in trouble.
Next, you will want to decide what part of the lace you want to be seen through the glass stone. Just lay the stone on the fabric until you figure out where you want it.
Guess what! You now have a beautiful pendant charm made out of your wedding dress that you can wear on a necklace!
Also, as a side note, it took me forever to find a chain small enough that it would fit through the hole of my charm. I couldn't find one at Jo-Ann or Michael's, so I finally just ended up getting one off of Etsy. I had to send the charm in to her so she could put it on the chain, but it was worth it!!
Also, on a completely different note, I just got an Instagram!!! Yay! So you should find me and follow me @lifewmylittles and it will be wonderful. Thanks everyone!
Monday, June 16, 2014
A Notebook and Pen. From the day we got home from the hospital to the day I stopped breastfeeding, I recorded what time and for how long my son would eat. The doctor at the hospital recommended writing it down so I could make sure Little J was eating often enough, and it was really helpful! I wrote down the times I started and stopped and what sides I started and stopped on (so I wouldn't get engorged). I also ended up recording when I gave him his vitamin D, when he had a bath, and how many wet and dirty diapers he had (only for the first few weeks). There is a lot to remember when you have a baby so writing down how often you nurse is really helpful. And I kept my notebook on a side table next to my chair so I would always have it handy.
A Clock. Preferably a digital clock so you can be more exact, but this goes along with writing down how long your baby eats. It really helps to have a clock right there so that you can know how long your baby is eating. Sometimes they may eat for less and you might want to remember that so next time they can eat more. It's just super helpful to have the clock right there with you if you are recording how long they eat. You can also use the clock on your phone or tablet or whatever if you want.
Lanolin (Nipple Cream). This stuff is a lifesaver, especially in those first few weeks when your nipples aren't used to breastfeeding. There are few things worse than a dry, cracked nipple, and lanolin really helps when nothing else will. It's like super thick, almost waxy, lotion and it saves you. I used a little tube of Lansinoh lanolin, and since you don't need a lot when you use it, I only went through one tube. But definitely get this before your baby is born because you will need it and don't want to be stuck without it.
Nursing Bras. You definitely want to invest in a nice nursing bra (or two). I can't imagine trying to breastfeed without one. I actually got a cotton one and then a regular underwire one so that I had one to sleep in and one that was more supportive during the day. As long as your baby is nursing through the night, you will want to sleep in a nursing bra, and having the cotton one is much more comfortable than an underwire one at night. I got my bras at Target and loved them. They lasted the whole time I nursed Little J and are still in great shape so I'll be able to use them with baby girl, too.
Nursing Pads. When you breastfeed your baby, you will leak. It can be a lot or a little, but you definitely don't want to be out in public and soak through your shirt. Nursing pads are absorbent little pads that you just stick inside your bra and they save you from embarrassing leaks. If you don't know, there are disposable and washable nursing pads. I started out with some cute washable ones to save money, but after only a few weeks, they were not absorbent at all and would be soaked through after just a few feedings. I switched to the Babies R Us disposable nursing pads and they worked like a charm throughout the rest of the time I was nursing Little J. And you won't need to change them as much or even use them as much once your baby has been nursing for a long time because your body adjusts to how much milk your baby eats, but you still want to have some handy especially during the night. Anyway, these are definitely essential.
A Comfy Chair. A few months before Little J was born we bought a new couch and recliner set and they were so comfortable. We decided to put the recliner in Little J's room and use that instead of buying a rocking chair because once I was done nursing him we could still use the chair. It was so comfortable and made nursing really comfortable for me. The few times we would travel and stay with family, I would have to nurse him while sitting in bed and no amount of pillows would prevent the backache that came with nursing in bed. Even in the hospital when I tried nursing him in the chair there it was difficult. So I am a strong advocate of having a comfy chair to nurse your baby in. Obviously it doesn't have to be a recliner, a padded rocking chair is also a great idea. Having the comfy chair really is for your benefit and it helps you enjoy breastfeeding and not get backaches.
A Tablet. Another thing I loved having while breastfeeding Little J was my Kindle Fire. Nursing can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes (especially in the beginning). And just sitting there watching them can get old, no matter how cute and precious they are. Having a tablet where you can get online or watch a show is amazing! And it really helped me during night feedings when I would be half-asleep and trying to stay awake to hold Little J and make sure he was eating.
Nursing Cover. If you are going to ever be out in public for more than a few hours, you will definitely need one of these. I started off with a nursing cover that just covered the front of me and had a strap that went around my neck, and that was a disaster. I was always worried about Little J kicking or moving around and having the whole world get a glimpse. Plus, it was really hard to keep my shirt down in the back and up in the front when he was nursing. So I decided to make a new cover! It was one of the nursing shawl things and it was SO MUCH BETTER. It provided full coverage and was so much more comfortable. Places like Bamboobies have nursing shawls you can buy, or you can just make one yourself like I did for way cheap using the tutorial I found on Coterie. It really does make a huge difference in how easy nursing is in public for you when you have a good nursing cover that provides maximum coverage.
Boppy Pillow. I used this the entire time I breastfed Little J. The few times we traveled and I didn't have it with me, I tried using a regular pillow or nothing and it just wasn't the same. The Boppy makes it so much easier because you don't have to hold your baby as much and you can have an arm free for doing other things (like being on your tablet). And your Boppy can be used for tummy time and helping baby sit up too, so it's got multiple uses. I really wouldn't try nursing without one because it made such a huge difference and again, helped me not have a sore back.
Breast Pump. I would recommend a breast pump for both the end and beginning of breastfeeding. In the beginning, you can get engorged while your body tries to adjust to how often and how much your baby eats. A breast pump can really help alleviate the pain and discomfort that comes along with that. And towards the end when you are trying to wean (or having to wean) your baby, you will want to use a breast pump again so you aren't getting super engorged. Obviously if you are weaning your baby you will have to wean yourself, too, but the pump really helps make it easier. Another reason why having a breast pump is handy because if your baby has baby food for a meal or you have to be away from baby during a time you would feed them, you can pump and help yourself not get engorged. Really, a breast pump is for your comfort and while it can also help your baby learn to drink breastmilk from a bottle, it is mostly for you.
Breastmilk Storage Bags. This goes along with having a breast pump. If you are going to be using a pump, you will need a place to store the milk, and storage bags are the ideal choice because you can easily put them in the freezer and save milk for a few months if needed. Plus, it's sort of sad to pour freshly pumped breastmilk down the drain. I know you didn't consciously work to make it, but it's still something you produced and it's nice to be able to keep it for your baby for later. I used the Lansinoh storage bags and they were perfect. I never had problems with leaking or anything.
Burp Rags. The last breastfeeding essential is one I got a ton of as baby gifts (not complaining, though!). Burp rags are super important because if you have a baby who spits up when you burp them, you won't want that getting all over your clothes. I also used my burp rags while I was nursing by tucking them into my bra so that if Little J didn't quite get everything, it didn't run down and get my bra wet. Burp rags are really handy and I definitely wouldn't start feeding my baby without one close.
So there you have it, my complete list of breastfeeding essentials! Breastfeeding can be awkward and hard at first, but it really is worth it to breastfeed your baby, and these things help make it the best experience it can be!
What was something that you consider a breastfeeding essential? Is there anything I missed that you wouldn't breastfeed without??