April 8, 2014

5 Things You Learn Baby’s First Year





5 Things you Learn Baby's First Year

As we celebrate Violet’s first birthday this week, I wanted to take some time and look back at what we’ve learned in her first year of life—the only time she’ll ever be a baby. I hope these little lessons help other new parents out there.

Five Things You Learn the First Year

1)  A FLEXIBLE Schedule is King. I read something before quitting my job and following my husband to Vegas (read more here) that stay-at-home moms can become too obsessive about scheduling. I thought “Yeah, right!” Then it happened. My girlfriends asked me to do lunch one day and I told them that I had to grocery shop. What? Why? Because Tuesdays at 11 (after Violet’s morning nap) is when we go to the grocery store. I quickly called them back and told them I’d be there. I went to the grocery store at 3 and we both survived. On the other hand, I’ve seen moms not put babies on a schedule at all and it seems too chaotic. Without a schedule, how do you know when your baby is hungry verses tired or just cranky? Your baby needs a schedule, but you need to live life, too. I really believe a flexible schedule…one that you stick to, but can bend the rules sometimes too, is the best medicine.


2)   SLEEP Makes the World Go Round. When you first have a baby…you are pumped. You run on adrenalin. The baby wakes up every 3 hours, no problem because you’ve got this! Then…that adrenalin runs out. For me it was around 6 weeks. At 7 weeks we started sleep training Vi and it worked like a charm. Get this book “12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old” and get it now! I knew it was special when she was 10 weeks old. Andy and I put Violet down for the night, we went down stairs and his parents (who had 3 babies) said, “That’s it?” They were amazed that we could just put her down and she went to sleep…and stayed asleep for nearly 12 hours! You have to let them cry it out at first, but it’s better (and healthier) for everyone once the baby is sleeping through the night.


3)  Carve out Time for your Baby. As Violet turns 1, I’ve been having a lot of “Did I soak it all in?” feelings. You know what? I think I did pretty well. Babies are babies for only a year. I’ve heard that a lot. It’s true, even though the days can be long, it still goes by fast. Once all of the craziness of Violet’s first few months was over (quitting, being homeless, being separated from Andy and a cross-country trip) and we moved to Vegas, I knew I needed to make sure I was really enjoying her and that she really got quality mommy time. So, each morning she gets 1 hour of my full attention. No phone, no computer, we do nothing but play and learn until it’s time for breakfast. That way I know that no matter what happens that day, I appreciated her and all of her baby cuteness.


4)  Buy a FEW Outfits you Love. This one may seem kind of random, but it’s one thing I would change. If you don’t care what clothes your baby wears (and there’s nothing wrong with that) skip to number 5. Violet has some beautiful clothes, most of them were gifts. I hardly every put her in play clothes. By that I mean, I bought some cheap outfits (or received some cheap outfits that I didn’t take back) that she has never worn. Because of that I have major guilt when I look into her closet. If I could do it over again, I would buy a few nice (but comfortable) things from stores I love and do her laundry more often. I know this will change as she gets older and starts coming home with popsicle and grass stains on her clothes, but babies are so fun to dress up…and again, they are only babies for a year.


5)  Make the Best Plans…Then LAUGH on the Days They don’t work. You have to plan ahead once you have a baby.   You can’t go grocery shopping if it’s time for the baby to eat or sleep…and when you do go to the grocery store you better have a paci, diapers, wipes and maybe a burp cloth or two. You have to plan ahead in order to avoid little disasters. However, some disasters are unavoidable. You’re going to get peed on at some point…or even worse. Your baby will have a public meltdown. She will projectile vomit on a relative. These things happen and there’s no sense in worrying or making a big deal over it. Your life isn’t awful because your baby decided to be a baby today. Catalog the memory and remember that one day it will make a great story.


And remember this “Comparison is the thief joy.”

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What you Learn the First Year


5 Things You Learn the First Year

March 27, 2014

How To Do the Grand Canyon in a Day…With a Baby-Travel Tips and Review

How to do a Grand Canyon in a Day with a Baby News Anchor To Homemaker

We had the best New Years Eve ever this past December, we went to Grand Canyon National Park for 24 hours.  It was just as stunning as I thought it would be. Pictures can’t do it justice, but I’ll try with a couple.

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These pictures were taken on New Years Eve. In the Winter the North Rim is closed, only the South Rim is open.  All of these pictures were taken from the South Rim.   I have a lot of experience traveling with our little one, we’ve gone cross-country road trip, a long weekend trip to California, a cross-country plane trip and much more that I haven’t written about just yet.  This trip was very easy…here’s how we did it!

How to Do the Grand Canyon in 24 Hours with a Baby

Stay at a Hotel inside the Park.  This made everything much simpler.  We could walk out of our room and BAM, Grand Canyon.  We wanted to stay at El Tovar, but it was booked. BOOK EARLY.  We stayed at the Kachina Lodge, which is right next door.  The rooms are fine, not fantastic, but they are fine.

Do the Trail of Time.  It’s right outside the El Tovar and Kachina.  Since we were staying for such a short time, we just wanted to soak in the sights… we weren’t concerned with doing serious hiking.  The Trail of Time is PAVED.  My husband used his super hiking baby carrier because he had just gotten it for Christmas, but we could have used a stroller.

Take the Bus Back to the Hotel.  Chances are the baby is tired by now.  There’s a bus system in the park…it’s very easy to follow.  Just hop on and you’ll be back in 10 minutes.

Watch the Sunset.  We did this from outside Kachina, but this was not the best view.  If you have time, hop on the bus and go to the Western part of the South Rim.  The concierge desk at El Tovar is very helpful.  They can give you the best location to get off at.  Don’t forget to bring a bottle of bubbly like we did…everyone was jealous!





Eat Dinner at the El Tovar Dining Room- Make a reservation!  If you are not staying at El Tovar, you can only book a MONTH out.  Yes, you read that right, a month.  The restaurant is very good.  And it’s worth it.  It’s not the type of restaurant you would normally bring a baby to, but because you’re at a National Park…it’s just fine.  It’s not a super quiet restaurant and Vi (who was 8 months old at the time) did great.

Here are our pictures from the next day.

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Watch the Sunrise- Let’s face it, if you have a baby…you’re up anyways.  If your baby gets up really early, catch a bus to one of the best spots.  Again, ask the concierge at El Tovar for a suggestion.  Violet is not a super early riser, so we just watched it from outside Kachina.  It may not have been the best spot, but it was still lovely.

Eat Breakfast at El Tovar- Yes, you just ate there there the night before, but the breakfast there is also really good!  Be bolder than we were and ask for a window seat.  Gorgeous view.

Go To the West Part of the South Rim- So parking really stinks inside the park, but this is worth taking your car to…especially if you’re leaving after.  There are a lot of stops along the rim trail.  We drove to the end and got out and walked a bit.  My favorite spots were Powell Point and Pima Point. Powell has a very cool monument and amazing views.  You can see (and hear) the river from Pima Point.

This is how we did it in 24 hours.  We had a great time!  I would only change one thing about our trip…I wish we would have scouted out the best views for sunrise/sunset.  Other than that, it was quite perfect.  Don’t forget if you are military (like we are) you get into the park for free!

Where have you taken your little ones lately? Let me know in the comments section.

Want more travel advice?  Check out How to Drive Cross Country with a Baby and a Dog and How to Fly Alone with a Baby 

March 11, 2014

How To Fly with a Baby ALONE

5 Tips to Fly with a Baby Alone

A couple of weeks ago I was the most nervous I’ve ever been.  Like, ever.  I was even more nervous than I was traveling cross-country with my baby.  I had to fly with sweet Vi by myself for over 4 hours.  But on the way to the airport something amazing happened.  My good friend Ruth texted me and told me “You got this.” It changed my attitude. Instead of fear, I was going to be super-mom. And super-mom you are when it’s just you, a baby and a teeny tiny chair…oh and sitting next to you is a guy who says, “I hope she doesn’t cry”.

Well, she didn’t cry.  She barely even whined.  For over 4 hours!  Some of this was pure luck, I admit.  But, some of it was strategy and I’m going to share with you what I learned.  I’m going to break this down from before the flight, getting from your car and to the gate, to the actual flight.  Each sections has 5 tips.

Before the Flight

1) Pack light. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me, “I will not over-pack, I will not over-pack, I will not over-pack.” I packed one large suitcase with both my and Vi’s stuff. We were there for 2 weeks, trust me, you can get through with less.

2) Do not pack a roll-on carry on. Like I said, pack light.  The less you have to bring with you through security, the better. Instead of packing a roll-on, consider packing a second diaper bag. In my second diaper bag I packed Emergency stuff. A change of clothes for me, (in case I got puked, peed, etc. on) A third change of clothes for her and medicine.

3) Check In online

Pack on a Plane with Baby NewsAnchorToHomemaker

4) Strategically pack your diaper bag. Here is what you will need:  Diapers, Wipes, Blanket, a few Small Toys, a lot of Puffs, Travel Clorox Wipes, (you don’t even want to know what they looked like when I wiped down the seat, tray and window) BottlesTravel Packs of Formula, Pacifier Clip (if your baby takes a paci…this is a must…I learned this the hard way) I Pad, (so helpful) Portable DVD Player, (I didn’t have this and I wish I had) Baby Einstein DVD (I couldn’t get youtube to work on the plane), Baby’s Birth Certificate (super important),  Your Wallet, Dropper Stopper, Change of Baby Clothes. Yes, I fit all of this in there and I used all of it!

5) You also need a mommy hook. Please go buy a mommy hook right now. It’s to hold your diaper bags while you go through the airport.


From The Car to the Gate:

1) Pack the base of your car seat like this:

Fly Alone with Baby |NewsAnchorToHomemaker

The base will be your free baby item that you can check at ticketing. Since your car seat and stroller are connected, they are considered essential baby items to get you through the airport, they are also free. This is why I prefer to bring the car/seat stroller instead of the Baby Carrier as I’ve seen other people suggest.

2) You pull your suitcase while pushing the baby in the car seat/stroller. Don’t worry your checking your bag, all you have to do is get to the ticket counter

3) After you get your ticket, it’s security time. This is tricky, but don’t worry, it will be over in a couple of minutes. First unload everything from the stroller. The stroller and the car seat have to go through the scanner. Remove your electronics from your diaper bag and your shoes. When all of this is done, pick up the baby and go through the metal detector. If you have water in your bottles, the security guys will go through it…but it’s ok, it gives you time to get all of your stuff back together. Don’t worry, someone will offer to help you!

4) At the gate. 30 Minutes before boarding, make sure you go to the bathroom. Roll the stroller into the handicap stall. 20 Minutes before boarding make sure you change the baby’s diaper.

5) Breakdown the Stroller and Car Seat. Bring these bags or something like it to put the carseat and stroller in. You buy these at Babies R Us.

Fly Alone with Baby NewsAnchortohomemaker

So breaking them down is tricky.  On my first flight a guy from Southwest saw me and broke down my car seat and stroller for me before we boarded.  I didn’t get the same courtesy on the second flight.  You have to go all the way down the air tunnel before breaking them down.  There’s a little space before the airplane door to do this, this is also where you leave the car seat and stroller.  I had to have someone hold Violet to do this.

5 Tips Flying Alone with Baby

On the Flight:

1) IPad is king. Vi loves the app Funny Animals App. There’s lots of baby apps out there to download before the flight.

2) Puffs are your friend. These were great entertainment for her. She liked grabbing in the bag for them, spreading them out on the (cloroxed) airplane tray. They were a mess but worth it.

3) Toys. Wrap your dropper stopper around a toy. You hold one end, she holds the toy. It will prevent you from chasing toys up and down the aisle, I learned this the hard way

4) Change the baby’s diaper. If you are on a long flight, you are going to have to do this at some point. I did this on the seat. This is why I prefer an aisle seat.

5) Sleep. Get the baby to sleep. Pull out your 5 S’s (from Happiest Baby on the Block) and get that baby to sleep if you can! Vi slept for about an hour each flight.

Just keep rotating activities. This is what kept Vi happy and I hope it keeps your baby happy, too!

Stay calm, you got this. Happy flying! For car traveling tips with a baby (and a dog) click here.

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