Camping with a Baby

We took our first family camping trip over the weekend. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, but still have everything we needed in order for Little Squeak to be comfortable and happy. She loves being outdoors, so we were very excited to give this a shot. I had a big how to post planned out in my head. I even started documenting the clothes we took with us, so I could show you all just how we did it.

Then we got there.

Then things fell apart. See, I usually just use my backpacking backpacks to pack for car camping. Usually it works. But I’m learning that being organized with a baby means being able to access what you need, when you need it without having to dig. Everything was organized when we left home, but as soon as I needed something from the bottom of my backpack, all of our stuff was spread out across the back of our car and it quickly became impossible to find anything. Combine this with the fact that our daughter loves being outside and, consequently, refused to sleep until well past her normal bed time, then add in the fact that it was super windy. Squeak managed to sleep, but the grown-ups probably got 5 hours of sleep combined. We packed up at 5:30 in the morning and blearily drove home. So I don’t have any secrets to share for an awesome camping trip with a baby. Would I do it again? Absolutely! We survived, and she got to experience being outside in a new way. She slept in a tent, she gazed at the campfire, she watched the sun slowly thin out the darkness in the early morning. I don’t regret it a single bit. I’m still very, very tired, but am so grateful that we are able to share something so simple that we love so much with our daughter.

I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about camping with a baby to take the plunge. Be prepared to lose some sleep, but do it anyway! Ask for tips, but make your own choices about what to bring based on how you think your baby will react. We brought a pack n play so that we would have a place to set her down, and it was worth every inch of space it took up. We bought a bigger tent and new sleeping pads, plus a little fleece suit for her at Goodwill. Other than that, we made do with what we had. My biggest tip, though, is to find a way to stay organized. Next time I’m going to pack in a regular suitcase or two. Or a reusable grocery bag. Or rubbermaid bins. I haven’t decided yet. Whatever we choose, it will be a system that provides easy access to whatever we might need at any given point without having to do much digging. It will be easy to load in the car. That’s my biggest takeaway from this first little trip. Maybe I’ll have more specific tips for you as we refine our system.

I lost a lot of momentum for getting things done at the end of the year. I guess all my energy was going into growing the little life within me. It was so worth slowing down for. And it’s taken some time, but things are starting to feel normal again, even if very different.
It all happened the night of January 10th into the morning of the 11th. My water broke at 9pm, and our little squeak joined us at 9:30 the next morning. She was born at home and weighed seven pounds, six ounces. I’ve written out most of her birth story in my journal and I may or may not share it here. It’s all a matter of how much time I’m able to devote to blogging from my phone. Yes, that’s what it’s come to, so please forgive any autocorrect typos.
I have a pre-birth post that I started and never finished, too. Maybe I will share that one day. For right now, I’m trying to decide how to move forward with this blog. I’m debating whether or not to start a new one, actually. I’m sure I can find plenty to write about regarding simple living with a baby, but I’m going to incorporate Montessori method into our home life, and I feel like that deserves more focused attention. At the very least, it deserves its own series on this blog. That is probably the easiest way to go, which means it’s probably more likely to actually happen. Just things to think about. Hopefully I will have more naptime posts coming your way soon.

A Recap: My August Break

Well, this post was supposed to go out on September 17th, but I just realized that I had published it privately. So here we are, over a month later. I’ve taken a lot more photos since I put this together, but I’ve also been sleeping a lot more as I’ve come into the third trimester of my pregnancy, which means I haven’t been terribly active online. So, from last month, here’s my August Break photo collection.

 

I have been feeling highly motivated to write and share lately. Unfortunately, as soon as I got over the morning sickness from my pregnancy, I started getting migraines! It’s been a while since I have gone more than a week without a headache of some sort. Such a pain. When a headache hits, I lose all momentum. So all of my projects (blogging, knitting, decluttering, cooking) have taken a back seat to self-care. My life and routine have slowed down A LOT.

I had a really great August, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent taking photos for the August Break. Today, all I want to do is share some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them!image

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Tuft & Needle Mattress Upgrade: Initial Impressions

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and I mentioned that we were going to get a new mattress soon. “Everyone gets a new mattress when they’re pregnant!” she exclaimed. I had never had confirmation on this idea, but it’s one that totally makes sense to me. Most people I know have had the same mattress for years and put off buying a new one because they are expensive and they just haven’t found a good enough reason to make that leap. But what better reason is there than an achey, temperamental body that makes it hard to get a good night sleep? If you combine that factor with the idea that pretty soon there may be a third person sleeping sideways in your bed, even upgrading to a bigger mattress begins to make sense. And that’s exactly what we decided to do. We upgraded to a king size mattress, which in turn has inspired a bit of a bedroom makeover (which were trying to manage simply and frugally, and I will write more about later). For now, I want to focus on the mattress.

After looking around at our options, we decided to go with a Tuft and Needle 5″ king size mattress, which set us back $500. The company offers free shipping and a 30 return policy, plus really great customer service. There is a catch, though, and that’s that you have to purchase the mattress sight unseen. One of the cool things about Tuft & Needle is that they produce and sell the mattresses themselves, so you don’t get any of the markup you would with other mattresses that have a middleman involved in the sales process. I personally love that, but it means that you can’t test out the mattress before you buy it, which can be a little nerve-wracking. I was reassured by the 30 day return policy, but I still felt like I needed to do as much research as possible to make sure that I knew what we were getting ourselves into.

I dug into the company’s website, obviously, and I liked what I saw. All of the materials are sourced in the U.S., and the mattress is actually recyclable. Sweet. I checked the Amazon reviews next because they are “the highest rated mattress” on Amazon, and I noticed a couple of things. The five star reviews all looked good, so I looked at the less-than-five star reviews. The really low ones basically said two things: this mattress is too firm for me, and there’s no way this company is legit with so many positive reviews… they must be paying people off to up their ratings. Hmmm. The bulk of the 4 star reviews were actually people who had ordered but not received their mattresses and just wanted to share their promo code (they are currently giving you a code to share with friends that gives both the user and the sharer of the code $50 off…). That certainly didn’t help me decide whether or not this was a scam, and probably doesn’t help any other conflicted would-be buyers either.

So I dug a little deeper.

And I found this article, which actually gives a little more background on the company’s founders. They formed Tuft and Needle after leaving jobs in the tech industry and take the quality of their product seriously. They take customer feedback seriously and use it to make improvements to their product. I like that. I also learned that they regularly donate mattresses to foster children who are in need of a bed of their own. I really like that.

Finally, I found a couple of reviews on blogs that really helped me feel good about giving this mattress a shot. I looked at Our Freaking Budget and the Surly Biker, specifically.

So, what do I think after just one night of sleeping on this thing? I’m a fan. We set our 5 inch mattress up on the floor because we didn’t want to take our new bed frame out of the box if we weren’t going to keep it, and I was amazed. I’ve been sleeping with a body pillow for over a year now, and since I got pregnant it has been crucial to my being able to sleep without aching hips and shoulders. At this stage in my pregnancy, I haven’t been able to spend more than a few minutes on my side without the body pillow before I get uncomfortable. This morning, I rolled over to face my husband, free of aches from the night, and was able to lie there and talk to him COMFORTABLY until we were ready to get up. This is just crazy to me. All from a five inch mattress placed directly on the floor. I can’t wait to try it with the bed.

The other really great thing was that the mattress doesn’t transfer movement the way our old spring mattress did. I toss and turn a lot, typically, and with the Tuft & Needle, it didn’t bother my husband at all. And I didn’t wake up when he got in and out of bed, either.

As many have said in their reviews, the bed feels firm when you lie on it. This is good for us, as we both tend to like firm mattresses. My hips and low back, though, need a firm mattress that is a little more forgiving, and that’s just what this is. You can press your hand into the mattress and it yields to your touch, but when you lie down it doesn’t allow your whole body to sink, just the parts that make the firmest contact (i.e. hips and shoulders for pregnant side sleepers). It’s barely noticeable, but it makes a huge, huge difference.

I realize that it’s possible that I may have just really wanted to like the bed, so I’m going to give it a few weeks, then post again. I’m really optimistic, though. And who knows, maybe I’ll even include the promo code next time.

UPDATE: Ha! I just realized that I had left my notes about what I wanted to write at the bottom of this post! I made this big show of not sharing my code, and then there it was in the notes. I’m deleting them now, though, and I wanted to give you a little update. We love, love, love our mattress. It’s even better now that we have it on a bed frame. I keep calling it a magic bed because I can be super achy and uncomfortable at the end of the day, but if I get into bed everything feels better almost right away! Plus, I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, even when I’m wide awake. Both of these things are big shifts for me! So, with that in mind, I’m intentionally sharing my code this time! If you are thinking about buying one of these mattresses, feel free to use my code!  It’s:  https://www.tuftandneedle.com/r/9SfpctL-

Bring on September

Last week, after a full day of work mid-pregnancy, I felt fried. I tucked myself into bed with a cup of Tulsi tea & mellow bluegrass playing on Spotify at 5 pm. I was craving the weight of blankets and the buoyancy of pillows. The weather is beginning to cool here in Colorado, and I felt like indulging in it.

It’s technically still summer, but with the temperatures we had last week, it felt like fall enough for me. I am from Houston, after all. I have been waking up early on the cooler days, throwing on one of my hand-me-down maternity sweaters, and walking to the store for breakfast foods. I just can’t get over it– the cool in the air, the warmth of the sun on my skin. The flood of memories that hit me every perfectly fall morning.

As much as I love the world around me all year long, fall is my absolute favorite. I’m a September baby. Plus, I got married in September, so now there’s even more to celebrate. Fall fills me with optimism. I get excited about knitting and tea, books and sweaters all over again. Even as the world around me begins to shed its skin in preparation for winter, everything feels new and full of promise. I find myself digging out blankets and seeking cool evenings on the front porch. I long for evenings in, playing board games. I crave the colors, and the warmth that we feed ourselves. I seek out the grey morning light because even the grey days have always held an underlying sense of looking-forward-to for me. Come on fall, I’m ready! Let’s celebrate and clear the way for the new life that’s headed our way in 2015!

Today Is…

A lot has changed in the past year. I got married. I got pregnant. And I’ve gone from teaching 7+ yoga classes per week to one day of teaching. Right now, I’m teaching three classes, two public and one private, on Thursdays and that’s it. On Thursdays, my focus shifts away from my other job (at a small publishing company) and my other responsibilities, and settles on myself and how I can best show up. How can I best show up for the families that come to me to share yoga with their little littles (18 months – 3 years old, usually), and what I can offer of my own experience to the women who find their way to my prenatal yoga classes on their journey to becoming mothers? Usually showing up, for me, means being present and able to connect. Sometimes it means having a solid plan for what I’m going to do, but more often it means letting go of attachment to any plans I may have had and listening to what my students really need on that particular day.

That’s where I was on Thursday, and turns out that’s where I needed to be. Most of my mamas, whom I’ve been working with for over half of their pregnancy in some cases, are getting closer and closer to meeting their babies. This means weightier babies, which means more physical concerns to address. It also means they are bumping up against the big decisions that pregnancy brings in a much more immediate way. Figuring out how to tend to one’s own needs at the end of a pregnancy can be a challenge; we often put the needs of others before our own, and it isn’t always easy to let that go and put ourselves (and our babies) first. With all of the looming change in my students’ lives, I think what they really needed was for someone to be present, listen, and, when appropriate, respond. Just showing up as fully as I possibly could seemed much more appropriate than any scripted theme or class plan I could have put together.

So we focused on coming back to the breath even when there are pressing matters that deserve our attention. Interestingly, in my experience, being able to settle in to the moment and stay with the breath doesn’t mean that the things we want to be thinking about don’t matter; rather, it is a valuable tool in helping us make sense of the forces that are pulling us in different directions. It is often in the silence that the solution can be found. It is often in the space in between our thoughts that we can really recognize our instincts and intuition. If we can connect to that, those big decisions become a little more clear, a little less muddy. Not any less complicated, but at least a little bit less confusing because we have some sense of where we, at our center, want to go. Where we need to go. This is why I teach yoga, and this is why I choose to teach yoga to populations facing transition and deep personal growth (pregnant women, new moms, toddlers and preschoolers, middle schoolers and high schoolers…). So Thursday was worth shelving my other commitments and projects for. Well worth it.

I’m participating in the August Break this year, so I’ve been taking a lot of pictures. I’m using it as an opportunity to reconnect to creativity— photography and writing, primarily— and disconnect from TV and mindless surfing of the web. The August Break was created by Susannah Conway a few years back to give bloggers a break from blogging, but I haven’t been present here in so long, it feels like a good time to step back from what’s been distracting me and reconnect to who and where I want to be. A writer. A maker.

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Thursday’s prompt was “today is…”. The only picture I took was of a cookie with a bite out of it.
But that’s okay because I needed to set aside my preoccupation with capturing moments to be able to show up completely. So I ran with it a bit more yesterday. It was a day of weaving in loose ends. Sorting through all of the maternity clothes I’ve been gifted lately.

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Catching up on work at my “other job.” Tidying up a bit. Writing. Photo-ing. Making the effort to find extra little moments to revel in this journey.

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It wasn’t picture perfect, but who cares?  My life has never been picture perfect. I value experience and connection over image and stuff, and there was connection in my day, too– an evening of Happy Hour and patio sitting with the husband. I was perfectly happy with my virgin drink, chowing down on half-priced chicken wings. It felt like we were able to carve through some of the mess, both literal and mental, that accumulates throughout the week and make space for ourselves to just be. Share. Explore. Wander. Enjoy. And Love Love Love.

Being Productive

Sometimes I follow the path of the unproductive. It is hard for me to leave the internet alone. It started in high school, when I first got my own computer in my room. Every morning for the second half of my senior year I would check in on AOL after my shower. It’s always been a waste of time, and it’s something I hear a lot about when I tune in to the minimalist/mindfulness communities. I even saw an article recently about the one thing productive people don’t do first thing in the morning: check email. I agree that time spent online first thing in the morning is time that likely could be better spent. I find myself taking issue with this article and this mindset in general, though, because of the insistent use of the word productive. I suppose using “productive” in the title draws in readers. We live in a very competitive era; our presence online compounds this. There’s a lot of value placed on getting ahead making a name for yourself.

Personally, when I start to think about life in terms of maximizing my productivity, it amps up my anxiety and fills my head with “shoulds” and I start to have a hard time being still and giving myself permission to do nothing. This is a problem because I’ve found that I’m at my most creative when I have space for unstructured time in my day; space to write, to practice yoga or just sit quietly, spaced to settle in and become present. Most often, since I’m a morning person, I find the space in the morning before my husband wakes up. I try to use this time to do things I wouldn’t do when he’s awake. Things like writing and yoga. Things that feed my spirit and help me find the best version of myself. Things that help me set mindful and present tone for my day. And yes, sometimes I still get sucked into my computer. Sometimes I get hijacked by my to-do list, but if I allowed my productivity to be my priority, my to do list would dominate me. When you live by to-do lists, there’s always more to add, always more to get done.

So, starting today, I’m going to try to remove productive for my day-to-day vocabulary I’m setting my sites on presence. We are made to thrive on our work drive on work that resonates with us and fills us, but we’ve been programmed to believe that busy is better. From now on, when I feel like I’ve made huge strides in my business in one day I’m going to call fulfilling instead of productive. When I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of things out of the way, maybe things I didn’t want to do or things I’ve been putting off, I’ll call it clean slate day. When Jack and I have a day full of adventures, that should be exciting, joyful, and memorable, not productive. I want every day with Jack to feel like that. Sharing our love, sharing the adventure. Not producing or reducing our time to a measure of how much we can get done. Productive has become a blanket term; by eliminating it we can be more specific, nuanced, and celebratory with our language, and, consequently, more honest in our communication.