Don't forget a towel.

April 17, 2014

Since turning all of one year old, Liam has entered into the independent, opinionated, active stage of toddlerhood. I've had to put on a new parenting hat. (Which, honestly, I've had to do every few weeks since he's been born. But this one seems a whole lot bigger.)

For the past five nights, he's outright refused to take a real bath. It started on Saturday night when we were out of town, and I chalked it up to being off schedule and in a new place. And then when it happened on Sunday night, I chalked it up to him being tired and in a new place. But then when it happened after we were back home, I was out of excuses for him. 

He doesn't have a diaper rash. He's not sick. He's not too tired. The water temperature is not too hot and not too cold. I didn't switch up the time of his bath all of a sudden.

As soon as his toes hit the water, he was done. Blood-curdling-screams done. 

Cue last night. 

Chris was working and I was on my own to conquer the bath routine. The night before last, Chris held him while I washed his wriggly body with a soapy washrag as fast as humanly possible. My sweaty, sticky, smelly boy who plays hard, hard, hard all day long on the playground and at school desperately needed a real, in-the-tub bath.

We got up to his room and I stripped him down. I brought him into the bathroom, he took one look at the tub, and ran. Ran. Ran to the other side of the room looking back to see if I was behind him.

I scooped him up and dipped his toe in the water.

He screamed. He clung to my arm and neck and whatever he could get his body attached to. He screamed more. I tried to distract him with floating ducks and toys and the soap bottle, and he clung more.

Him clinging to me only gave me a whiff of this boy who seriously, desperately needed a good hose-down.

I pulled him out of the tub, shut the bathroom door, stepped into the tub myself, and looked straight at him.

He looked at me.

I held my hand out.

He took one step forward, two steps back.

This continued for five minutes as I sat in the tub by myself pretending that his toys were the most exciting things he could ever be privileged to own.

(Oh, and he peed on the rug at some point, but whatever.)

I eventually grabbed him and put him in the tub with me. 

His clinging hands held onto my legs and his screams turned into whines. We did the bath thing as quickly as we could, and I got us both out, sopping wet. 

But he was good. And bathed. (And I soon realized that I didn't think the whole me-getting-in-the-tub thing through.)

Some days, some nights, we mamas do what we have to do and it's tiring and brain-numbing and sometimes well beyond the routine and schedule, but we do it without giving it a second thought.

Next time, I'll have a towel handy.

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Finish this.

April 16, 2014

(I'm linking up with Jen and others for "Finish This," a weekly prompted link-up.)

My favorite vacation spot is...the beach or water. I love the sun, the ocean, the sound of just water and sky and nothingness. However, I live with two very sensitive-skinned boys, so I don't know how many family beach trips are in our future. (Girls' trip, anyone?)

If I won a million dollars I would…buy a reasonably-sized house to grow into, give some away through random acts of kindness, and then stock the rest away for our future. I would love the feeling of owning a house outright since we've hopped from rental to rental. 

If I found a genie in a bottle, my three wishes would be...for Liam to have a safe, healthy and happy life knowing God as His one way; to be able to afford to stay at home to raise kids and start a small business that is secretly up my sleeve; to own a home together with my husband in the place we want to settle as a family.

My favorite clothing item leggings from Victoria's Secret. My husband got me a gift card and I went and bought two pairs of the most comfortable leggings ever - black and gray. I'm sure he was super thrilled. They serve as pajamas, lounge clothes, and throw-on-a-tunic-and-get-out-the-house clothes...possibly all in the same day.

What about you? Join in!

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Tips for flying with a baby.

April 09, 2014

In Liam's first nine months, we took four flights together to see my family back in Texas and Mississippi. (Well, ten if you count the each one-way flight and connections. TEN.) I've flown with him at two months, five months, seven months and nine months. I've taken a nonstop flight, I've taken a flight with one stop, and I've taken a long, drawn-out connecting flight. And I've flown solo with him on each of these flights except for one one-way flight.

Deep breath.

Needless to say, I've learned many lessons along the way and I can say I have become a bit more efficient each time. Liam, however, has become a little harder to handle each time as he gets bigger and becomes more active.

In honor of flying with him this weekend for the eleventh and twelfth time in what is now 13 months, here are a few tips when flying with a baby.

1. Have a plan for the security line. 

The one plus about flying with a baby is that you get to skip to the front of the line. That's about the only plus about flying with a baby. (Except that they are free to fly. Free is good.)

Certain airports let you have an escort through security. When I flew from Phoenix to Houston for the first time, my husband was able to help me get through security. On the way back, because I was flying the same airline, I assumed my mom would be able to help me. As it turns out, it's by airport and not airline. Call ahead and don't assume unless you want to talk yourself out of a minor meltdown in the middle of the airport.

(You would think that security would see a struggling mom traveling solo with an infant and offer to help. But they don't. And they didn't.)

Everything has to go through security: your car seat, your stroller, all bottles (assuming they are pre-filled with liquid), your iPad or laptop, your shoes, and even the baby's bib and pacifier. No one trusts a baby these days.

So, plan accordingly. I take the bottles out ahead of time and place them in the stroller cupholders. I also grab my iPad and have it out. When I get to the security line, the iPad, bottles and my shoes go into the bin. Then, I take Liam out and undo the car seat with my free hand. The car seat goes onto the belt - make sure it's upside down or else - and my stroller has to get manually checked because it doesn't fit through the conveyor belt. I go through the security machine with Liam and meet all of my items on the other side. It's not the easiest, but if you're lucky, kind strangers will help. (Thank you, sweet, sweet strangers.)

2. Check your car seat and stroller at the gate. 

Flying solo with a baby has made me realize that I need my hands free as much as possible: the security line, bathroom trips, coffee breaks, wandering around to kill an hour or two. By checking the stroller and car seat at the gate right as I am boarding the plane, it means that I can easily cart him and my carry-on bag around without looking like a complete hot mess. 

However, make sure you check in with the gate attendant prior to boarding so they can tag your stroller and car seat. (I know from experience that should you forget this little tidbit, they will not be happy. And you will feel their wrath.)

This is also helpful so that you don't have to use your checked bag allotment towards a stroller and car seat - not to mention how expensive car seat carriers can be. The cheapest one I have found that is guaranteed to hold up for more than one flight costs about $40 - almost as much as two checked bags. (Thank you, Southwest, for relieving this cost.)

3. Bring a bag that's easy to carry. 

In my babyless days, I would pick out my cutest tote and fill it with magazines, books, my laptop, my iPad, snacks and a light jacket, and then I would sit back and enjoy my peaceful flight to whatever destination I chose, enjoying a glass of wine or a cup of coffee along the way.

Enter: baby.

Now I carry a bag purely for survival. The only thing in the bag that has anything to do with me is my iPad - because it encompasses my books, magazines and laptop all in one - and a wristlet with my ID, cards and phone. Everything else revolves around Liam: diapers, wipes, prepared bottles, a blanket, burpcloths, changes of clothes, toys, pacifiers, and snacks. 

Fortunately, my diaper bag has straps that can easily turn it into a backpack. This has been so helpful when traveling solo. You want to bring a bag that's easy to carry, easy to shove under the seat, and easy to access during the flight at least 6,000 times (5,000 if you're lucky.)

Make sure to pack it by priority. Have the bottles easy to grab, and place the diapers and burp cloths near the top. It's real awkward trying to balance a baby in your arms while reaching down under your seat to grab whatever-you-need while feeling around the bag trying to find said item while remaining buckled in because that seatbelt light won't go off while attempting to keep some personal space between you and your neighbor. 

4. Whatever you think you need, bring more. 

If they usually take three bottles in the amount of time you'll be traveling (from the moment you get to the airport until the moment you get to your final destination of a hotel our house), bring four to five. If you think they'll go through three diapers, bring six. If you think they won't ruin an outfit in the span of a two-hour flight, think again and bring two changes of clothes. 

Flights get delayed, babies get antsy, and spit-up happens at the worst time, like as you're boarding the plane. In fact, I would even recommend bringing an extra shirt for yourself unless you want to spend a two-hour flight covered in spit-up. (Been there, done that.)

5. Be prepared for a diaper change. 

No matter if you change the baby right as you are getting ready to board, plan on doing a diaper change mid-flight, especially if they are really young.

One time when flying, Liam's diaper was soaked (even though he had just been changed less than an hour prior). I made my way back to the tiny airplane bathroom to change him. I sat on the closed toilet, put him on his back in my lap, and somehow managed to change his wriggly body. When I got back to my seat, I realized I left his shorts in the bathroom. 

I rang for the flight attendant and asked if she could get them for me. She came back with the shorts and said, "Just for future reference, we do have a bathroom with a changing station. It's on the other side."

So there's that. Ask where the changing station is before heading in for a diaper change.

6. Take care of yourself, too. 

Make a bathroom trip before you board the plane, because it's next to impossible to go to the bathroom in an airplane while holding a baby. I've done it. And I don't wish that on anyone. 

Grab a water bottle for your bag. Don't you love those complimentary drinks they pass out mid-flight? So does your baby. Unless you're willing to chug it, you can give it up now. Grab a bottled drink of choice so you can have a safe, mess-free drink on-hand during the flight. (Although they will give you a cup with a lid if you ask.)

Remind yourself that you will most likely never see any of the people on the flight again (except at baggage claim, of course). The baby will cry and it will sound so much louder and more dramatic to you than anyone else on the plane - I promise. 

You're doing the best you can.

Also read: Thank you, fellow passengers. (A post dedicated to the grace-filled strangers we've flown with along the way.)

Any questions or additional tips? Let me know in the comments!

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Liam's twelfth month.

April 03, 2014

Liam turned one on March 14th... a few weeks ago. Here's to life slowing down a bit in April!

Growing: At his one-year appointment (one year!), he weighed 23 pounds 10 ounces (84th percentile) and was 32 inches long (99th percentile). Just for comparison, Chris weighed 25 pounds and was 32 inches long at one year! He got his sixth tooth on his birthday, so he has four top teeth and two bottom.

Wearing: He's in all 18 and 18-24 month clothes, and all 24-month pajamas. I am thinking he'll break into 24-month/2T clothes in the next couple of months. He is still in size 4 diapers.

Eating: A few days before his birthday, I started weaning him off his bottles one by one. On his birthday, we switched him cold turkey to milk out of sippy cups and he hasn't looked back. It was a much easier transition than I anticipated and the bottles have all been packed up! He still eats three big meals a day with a couple of snacks in the afternoon. His favorite foods are blueberries (he always eat those first!), cheese and bananas.

Doing: He is walking up a storm and practically running. This boy is so incredibly busy and active, it's crazy. He is also learning how to throw quite the tantrum when he just wants to be held or fed or you-name-it. He'll plop himself down and look up at me with a fake whine, and it's kind of funny, actually. On the flip side, he likes to be right next to us often. He'll put his arms up and fall into my lap, or just come next to me and lean.

Loving: He loves being outside, riding in his new truck, and being wherever we are at all times.

Read all of Liam's monthly updates here.

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Dear Liam, You are one year old.

Dear Liam,

You are one year old. One year. It has been a busy, crazy, exciting year for all of us and this is such a milestone for our family.

You have accomplished so much in this last year and I am in awe of all you continue to do. I watched you hit milestone after milestone, and your busy self kept you going. 

You were never a baby that just sat still or played independently. (And I am now seeing that you won't be this as a toddler, either!) This was tiring, mostly, but also exciting to see what you would do next. By 3 months, you were rolling around. By 5 months, you were sitting up by yourself. By 6 months, you were crawling away. By 7 months, you were standing, trying to figure out your next move. And by 10 months, you were walking and it was all over from there. It happened too fast, buddy. You were always on the move.

But the main attribute I've noticed about you, and it was made even more clear in your twelfth month, is that you are such an easygoing kid. You were a great sleeper from the very beginning and you dropped nighttime bottles without a hitch. You have always been easily entertained, and you sit back and let me cart you from store to store which make errands with a little one so much easier. You took on solid foods like a champ and you still eat whatever I offer you. Food is food, in your book. 

The biggest indicator was when I switched you from bottles of formula to sippy cups of milk on your one-year birthday. You didn't even look back. You've officially been bottle-free since you turned one and my anxieties and hesitations about how hard the transition would be never had to come to fruition. You just did it. 

Truth is, your busyness and easygoing personality are an answer to my unspoken prayer: God, how do I do this?

I am anxiety-prone and you've made me into a mama who can relax a bit and enjoy you. You fall and you get up like it was nothing. I switch up your bottle routine and you just eat more at meal time to make up for it. I toss you into the car seat when we've both had a long day and you just sit back and go with the flow, which usually leads us to Target, if I'm being honest.

And if I'm being honest, your busyness has been exhausting at times. There isn't a moment I am with you that I can just sit. I can't really trust you in the other room by yourself because you are most likely pulling things off of the dining table. If we are outside, you're off and running. If you're in the grocery cart, you're looking for an escape route. By the end of the day, I am tired. But once you're in bed and I've sat down for a few minutes, I sneak into your room where your tired body is sound asleep. Sometimes I even pick you up and rock you, and you nuzzle your hot face into my neck and in that moment, you are still. And I can hold you and rock your sleeping self, something your awake self doesn't let me do too often.

You are so much more a toddler now than a baby, always going, going, going. I appreciate the still moments as much as I appreciate the not so still moments, and I am learning to be ever present through all of them.

Here's to another good, growing, grace-filled year, buddy.

I love you,

Read all of my monthly letters to Liam here.

And just so you think his monthly photo sessions are all cooperative with lots of smiles:

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