Thursday, September 22

20 Weeks Pregnant with Baby #3!

It's been a while! But let's not talk about that. Instead...

I'm pregnant!!!! If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram (@littlegunnellfamily) you already know this, but it's worth saying, just in case.


I'm 20 weeks pregnant with a sweet little mystery babe who we got to look at today! It's wonderfully exciting and I love this darling little one so much, boy or girl. This wiggly babe whose every little kick reminds me of what a miracle he or she is. I'm so excited to meet this baby! And for our doctor to say those words, "It's a...?!?" I think it will make the birth experience that much more exciting. If you know anything about me I've said that giving birth gives me like a crazy adrenaline rush so maybe this is my tiny way of trying to increase that.

That still doesn't stop me from guessing though. Oh no. At the start I said girl and Dalin said boy. Then I wasn't sure for a while. Now, I'm still leaning toward a girl only because of the subtle differences in my past two pregnancies. I thought they were pretty much the same the last two times (and they weren't all that different) but there have been a few things I've noticed.

For fun, I thought I'd do a few gender prediction tests, just to mess with you. Just a little. ;)

The Mayan Predictor

Year of conception and age of conception. Both even or odd = girl. One odd, one even = boy.

2016 and age 24. Girl.

Heart Rate

Typically only useful before 20 weeks, a heart rate above 140 indicates girl, heart rate below 140 indicates boy.

Our baby had a heart rate of 140 (right in the middle! ahh!) at 18 weeks or so, and a heart rate of 146 at the ultrasound. This could indicate girl, but if anything, I feel like the baby's heart rate might increase during an ultrasound because of the stress of being probed...So I have to classify this one as Indeterminable (though I personally lean toward Boy here).

Ring on a String Test

Ring hung over belly or wrist. Circular movement indicates girl. Back and forth indicates boy. (Apparently some families argue the opposite of what I've stated indicates each sex, so who really knows with this one??)

I didn't tell Dalin which result meant what beforehand so he wouldn't be influenced. The ring swung slightly back and forth. Boy.

Chinese Calendar

My birthday (August 9) and my due date (February 9, 2017) come out as:
4th lunar month, 13th lunar day.
Lunar age at time of conception: 26.
Girl.

Acne.

Girls are supposed to "steal their mother's beauty." This is the test that especially seemed accurate to me with Tenley. My skin was awful for much of the pregnancy (especially the first half) and my doctor even let me use a special solution to help, which it did.
Whether the skin problems were from the hormones or from my diet as a result of my cravings (resulting from the hormones...) I certainly might have guessed girl. And this time around, this is the one thing in particular that points me at girl. My skin is just disastrous. So according to this test, I have to say: Girl.

Linea Negra.

If the line stops at the belly button, it's a girl. If it goes north of your belly button, it's a boy.

Mysteriously, I haven't gotten one to speak of! I had a very distinct (and crooked) line with Tenley, but it was mostly faded when Declan came around and now it is completely gone. Invisible. I guess if we're following patterns here, I could be having a boy since I did not have it (or at least it didn't darken again) with Declan. Conclusion: Indefinite, but maybe Boy.

Cravings. 

Girls often make you crave fruits, chocolate, and sugar (which probably is what causes all that acne we just talked about). Boys tend to make you crave salty or sour snacks.

While I haven't had as many cravings this time so far (with Tenley and Declan I craved hot chocolate and sausage with both, and also grapefruit with Declan), I have definitely been craving grapefruit juice again. Fruits and sweets generally indicate girl, but I very clearly recall craving grapefruit with Declan. So another: Indefinite.

Feet. 

Warm feet indicates girl, cold indicate boy.

I had never heard of this until now, but interestingly enough, I typically have very cold feet but my feet have been unusually warm lately. On the other hand, it's also been summer.

Extremity test says: Girl.

Urine.

Bright or yellow may indicate girl. Light or clear indicates boy.

Here's a bit of TMI for you. This test says girl for me for sure...up until the last couple of days when I've been pounding down our water bottles.

Conclusion: Girl? Indefinite.

Glow or No Glow.

No glow means girl, glow means boy.

Um, well I'm certainly not feeling that glow at the moment. Not at all. I just look tired a lot of the time (though having two crazy toddlers contributes to that). So my lack of a glow points to: Girl.

Carrying High or Low.

High says girl, low says boy.

I cannot decide yet. But I will say my belly felt distinctly flat in the front with Declan. And I do think it feels higher this time than it did with him. My inclination on this one is: Girl.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My overall feeling with this pregnancy? The subtle signs (and I'm not talking about most of these silly tests) remind me more of my pregnancy with Tenley. But I'm perfectly excited regardless of what we have!

If the baby is a girl, we pretty much have a name chosen. If the baby is a boy, we have three or four contenders still. Either way, we have baby clothes and blankets ready.

Now we just need to count down the next 140 days (tops!) until this little one is finally laid in my arms!

Thursday, March 3

Tips on Flying with Babies, Toddlers, and Young Children


One of my most popular posts I've ever written (if not the most popular and which I took some of the pictures from) was my Flying with a one-year old post. I see a lot of moms asking for travel advice with young children on social media and since I have a little experience in that area with my 2.5-year old (Tenley) and my 1-year old (Declan) I thought I'd share my best tips.

Why I Fly Southwest 

I always fly Southwest because they have by far the best rates that I've found, plus they let you transport the most luggage (2 free checked bags plus a carry-on and a purse or backpack, PLUS car seats and strollers if necessary). Almost every flight I have made does have a layover (ranging between 40 minutes and two hours) but I generally appreciate the break to be able to stretch my legs, use the bathroom, get food, and let my children roam free for a while. 

Checking for open seats

I have also had great luck with Southwest when I've called ahead a day or the morning of and asked if the flight is full. If it isn't, you may be able to bring a car seat onto the plane even if you had not purchased a ticket for your lap child. Once the child is two, you are required to purchase a seat (though they do not make you bring a car seat but I would), but it is always nice if you can have the row to yourself! (That is, unless you have a very helpful seat-mate who will hold or entertain your child for you;)

Required items to fly

Southwest requires that you show your child's birth certificate when you request a boarding ticket and check your bags. If your child is under 14 days, you will need a signed doctor's note explaining that your child is in good health to fly. If you know you will be flying with your newborn, you will want to contact or visit your town clerk or record office to acquire a copy of their birth certificate right away. One time we only had a photo of the certificate on our phone which they accepted. You will also always need to show your own Driver's license or photo ID at the ticketing counter and as you enter the security line. Security will also need to see your boarding pass. If you have a lap child that is under two, they will create a boarding pass for him or her when you check in and present their birth certificate. Then they staple their pass to yours. You do not need to let them know about having a child under two ahead of time, just bring their certificate! 

Restricted items 

Remember not to have more than a 3 oz. container of liquid in your carry-on bag as well as NO razors, guns, or knives (even little army knives--I always have to remember to move mine from my diaper bag to my checked bag beforehand). Security will confiscate these items! That said, there are quite a few exceptions for mothers. I have traveled with sealed baby food jars and pouches and never had an issue with those. I did bring a bottle of pumped breastmilk one time, but never again after that because that particular time it took a while for them to test the milk and it made a mess afterward. Sometimes the liquid testing has been very fast, but if you're concerned about time, I would avoid that altogether. They also have let me bring sippy cups and water bottles after testing them since I'm nursing, but to speed the security process along I would recommend purchasing or fulling your liquid containers once you've passed through security. 

Getting through security  

I always wear slip on shoes when I go through security because they usually need to be removed, I wear no metal or jewelry, and I wear my littlest child. Using a baby carrier makes walking through the metal detector easy--I just herd my two-year old through, they test my hands for gun powder (they have always tested my hands when I have worn one of the kids), I collect my stuff again, and we're through. 

Tagging stroller and car seat 

My priority once I reach our gate is finding a spot to get settled near the line-up area, and if I have a car seat and/or stroller, I go to the nearest gate desk and get the items tagged. Sometimes I have them tagged for removal during the layover if it is going to be a good chunk of time (which also means I need to get them tagged again sometime during the layover) and sometimes I just have them checked straight through to our destination. 

Before boarding
After the tagging is done, we do last-minute boarding preparations: We change diapers, use the potty, buy gum and snacks or food, and have toys readily accessible for when they're needed as a quick distraction during the flight. We also keep boarding passes in an accessible pocket or in-hand. If my pass is not for "A" boarding, I just board before "B" boarding during the announced "family boarding" time. I let Tenley hold her own boarding pass to hand to the attendant, and then at the end of the airbridge I fold our stroller and leave our car seat to be taken below. If I want to bring the car seat on board, I find someone to help me with one of the children or carry the seat on board for me. Usually a passenger or flight attendant will offer. 

Getting help when you're alone 

Someone pretty much always offers to help me fold or carry items or one of the children, especially when I'm traveling alone. As mentioned before, I often will ask a flight attendant (or usually just accept their offer) to help hold Declan or carry our car seat to the first available row. The car seat has to be in a window seat so I get that thing buckled in first, plop one of the kids in it, and then get myself buckled and our things situated. If you look for help, you will find it. There are always nice people willing to do something for you, and if you don't see anyone, well, it's the flight attendants' job to help so just ask! 



Flying essentials

Since I've been flying with babies, my essentials have been the following:
  • gum (or lollipops/chewy candy) for take-off and landing (for myself and my toddler). I always bring some extra because sometimes there are opportunities for you to help other moms with children out. 
  • fruit snacks (if nothing else, this is the most important snack for us to have)
  • granola bars, pretzels, goldfish, cheerios, and/or puffs are all good options, too. 
  • The iPad with a pre-downloaded episode (we have one Dora the Explorer episode and that's it--and we only have that because Tenley accidentally purchased it and we decided to keep it for trips) and some baby/toddler games. Tenley likes the free drawing apps, and the eflash apps English flash cards. They have taught her a lot of words. 
  • a notepad (my journal) and pen for drawing
  • a few small toys (plastic horse, Rapunzel figurine, fake phone, Disney Princess magnets and magnetic case)
  • a small travel size pillow (for either my head or one of the babies' heads or for my lap while I'm nursing/holding Declan. I'd be miserable without my little pillow. I just stick it between the straps of my backpack or bag and it really saves me so much discomfort.)
  • a loose or stretchy shirt (to wear) so I can nurse easily under it
  • my phone (so I can watch TV with the free wifi, text my family, and check the flight time)
  • diaper and wipes. Some moms will also want to bring a pacifier, hand-sanitizer, an extra outfit and plastic baggy (we had a bad blowout with Declan at our gate one time). 
Take-off and landing
During take-off, I hold Tenley's hand and nurse Declan. I give Tenley teeny tiny pieces of gum to chew as we take off because I know she'll probably end up swallowing it if I give her a lot at once. As we race down the runway, I tell her "It's not scary! We've done this lots of times before!" and tell her to say, "Faster, faster! This is so fun!" I also ask her to tell me when she thinks we're in the air or when we've touched down. She always gets a little nervous as it gets loud on the runway, but then she's so excited to talk about it with me. After, we always say, "Yay! We did it! We landed! Flying is so fun!" As I feel the pressure changing in my own ears, I encourage Tenley to "chew, chew, chew" or to swallow, yawn, or open her mouth really big. You can also plug your nose and blow the air into your plugged nose. I've told her to do all these things--especially if she's commented that her ears feel weird--until she eventually says, "Mom, I can hear again!" Haha.

During the flight

I keep the snacks and toys coming during the flight. One time I brought pomegranate arils in a little container (and lots of wipes for clean-up of course!) and that kept Tenley really busy for a while. I sanitized the tray and she had a great time popping the little seeds into her mouth one by one. Pomegranates can be pretty messy, but it ended up being a very good snack and time filler for us. Ideally, I try to get my kids to nap, but it's not always easy. Declan will usually nurse to sleep at some point but then my arm is usually stuck under his head and I become incredibly grateful for my little travel pillow. Tenley is happy with the iPad for a good amount of time or we just chat and I point to things on the plane or out the window. 

I rarely have time to do much entertaining for myself other than looking at my phone a few times or napping against Tenley's car seat (though obviously only if Declan has fallen asleep). When the drinks come by, we always get something light-colored and ask for a lid for each of us. We've had too many close calls with drinks and electronics. We pretty much get apple juice, sprite, and water as a rule. We also have been given (or asked for) extra snacks. Pretty much when you have kids, you can get away with asking for anything in my experience. The flight attendants are very accommodating. If I have to change a diaper, I usually just do it quickly across our laps (Dalin's and mine), and if I'm alone, I ask a neighbor or attendant to watch a child while I take the other to the bathroom on board. Again, hand-sanitizer comes in handy when flying! 

Exiting the plane

While the plane is taxi-ing to our gate, I tell Tenley the plan for exiting the plane and what she needs to carry (like my small pillow) and who she needs to follow when we disembark. I usually wear Declan off the plane so my hands can be free to carry the car seat if necessary (though someone always helps) and hold Tenley's hand. My diaper bag is a backpack so I don't have to worry about carrying that. I usually have to briefly carry Tenley on my hip over the gap between the plane and the airbridge because she has a little fear of walking over spaces like that (and elevator entryways, gaps in boardwalk planks, etc.) We then usually wait for our stroller on the airbridge either during a layover or at our final destination, and I load everything on, and we proceed.

Words of comfort
Truly, I've never had an awful flight, even during the times I've flown alone. My kids have let out a scream or two but they have never had crying fits and they are always complimented afterward on how quiet and well-behaved they were. Apart from the people in the surrounding rows, the majority of people really can't hear your children, especially with their headphones and everything. Planes have a lot of white noise, so if you have a loud child, you most likely will only need to worry about the extra person in your row (and hopefully it's someone you know). Either way, it will all be over soon and people will forget you by tomorrow, I assure you.

My "worst" experience

The most challenging flight I can recall was actually while I was flying alone with Tenley and 25+ weeks pregnant with Declan. I overstrained myself trying to carry everything (stroller, car seat, bags, toddler) and started cramping. Plus I was sweating bullets and out of breath from the stress of it all. I was mostly just exhausted and weak, but a flight attendant who assisted me thought I appeared very strained and dramatically told people to "stand back" (which was slightly embarrassing) and she offered me ice, water, snacks, and a cold compress before we even took off. The perks of being a near-hysterical pregnant woman I suppose. 

If you are flying alone with a child or two, don't worry too much. It will all work out. Worst-case scenario is you miss your flight and that's unlikely if you stick to necessities. Follow some of my tips, wear a smile, maybe say a few prayers for help, and I can assure you that your flight will go smoother and you'll be blessed with lots of assistance along the way. 


*Update* I can now say with certainty that my worst travel experience was during our move from Wisconsin to Utah. I flew Frontier Airlines for the first time and was alone with the babies. The flight itself was okay (though I still ABSOLUTELY prefer Southwest), but the layover in Denver was SEVEN HOURS. It was hellish. That's the only way to describe it. Especially when I was already exhausted. But I had no choice but to walk with and entertain the kids. I had our stroller but the kids were not happy to be stuck in it. There is no kids' area in that airport so we went to the third floor and I let the kids run around a little bit. Let me just save you now and insist that you do not willingly go into a seven-hour layover...at least not alone. Pay the little extra. With Frontier they were going to charge me $100/person to move our flight up three hours sooner while at the airport. 

A few packing tips with young children
We usually make ten-day to two-week trips so I mostly have experience packing for those scenarios. On our last 15-day trip to Florida, I typically would have purchased a bag of diapers and wipes upon arrival, but I need to use up our size 3s, so I packed 3 diapers per day (+3 extra, plus the few already in my diaper bag). We returned home with some to spare. (I also don't change my son for pee until he is fairly wet). For my two-year old, I packed 16 pull-ups for 16 nights and all of her pairs of undies which she wore during the day. I decided to pack an outfit for each child for every day we were there on our last trip because I didn't want to have to do laundry unless I wanted to. All of their outfits with shoes and diapers fit in one average-size bag together. 

Packing strollers and car seats We don't own travel cases for our car seats or strollers, and we have had a stroller return with minor damage (the foam handle was ripped). We also have had another stroller returned with removable pieces separated from the trip (but at least we got them back!). We also had a car seat temporarily lost one time (but fortunately Southwest will provide a replacement for lost items, though not damaged, however). We have taken our chances without travel cases, but if you are concerned about protecting items, I would recommend wrapping items in a blanket and taping or tying them at least. A case will only protect from aesthetic damage mostly which is why we have not gotten any. Just beware of the potential damage that may occur and take measures to protect your items if you care about them because you do not know who is handling them or where they will end up!


Old photo with my little Tenley (and hey, there's my little white and green striped pillow that I take along in the picture!)
From a recent flight out of Florida. We're at the Orlando airport. 
My flying experiences
In the past three years since I have had Tenley and Declan, I have flown with one or both of them more than 20 times. Here is a record of the trips we have made over the last three years:

Tenley's 1st visit to New Hampshire/Boston/Maine (age: 2 weeks)

Aug - Sept 2013  
Flight 1: Salt Lake > Manchester (Dalin with me)
Flight 2:  Manchester > Salt Lake (Dalin with me) 

Dalin & Tenley's 1st visit to Florida (age: 4 months)

Dec 2013 - Jan 2014
Flight 3: Salt Lake > Orlando (Dalin with me)
Flight 4: Orlando > Salt Lake (Dalin with me) 

Girls' Trip to Florida (age: 6 months)

Feb 2014
Flight 5: Salt Lake > Orlando (alone with Tenley)
Flight 6: Orlando > Salt Lake (Donovan, my brother, & Tenley)

Tenley's 2nd New Hampshire visit (age: 1 year)

Aug 2014
Flight 7: Salt Lake > Manchester (Dalin with me)
Flight 8: Manchester > Salt Lake (Dalin with me)

Tenley's surprise NH visit for my dad's birthday (age: 14 months)

Oct - Nov 2014
Flight 9: Salt Lake > Manchester (alone & pregnant)
Flight 10: Manchester > Salt Lake (alone & pregnant)

Declan's flight home from San Diego Trip (age: 3 months)

Flight 11: San Diego > Salt Lake (alone with Declan)

Declan's 1st NH visit (age: 7 months) Tenley's 3rd NH visit (age: 2 years)

Sept - Oct 2015
Flight 12: Phoenix > Boston (alone with kids)
Flight 13: Manchester > Salt Lake (Dalin with me)

Family move to Wisconsin (Tenley, age: 2) (Declan, age: 11 months)

Dec 2015
Flight 14: Salt Lake > Minneapolis (alone with kids)

Family vacation to Florida (Tenley, age: 2.5 years) (Declan, age: 1 year)

Feb - Mar 2016
Flight 15: Minneapolis > Orlando (alone with kids)
Flight 16: Orlando > Minneapolis (Dalin with me)

Trip to Utah for Sarah's Wedding! (Declan, age: 15 months)

Apr 2016
Flight 17: Minneapolis > Salt Lake
Flight 18: Salt Lake > Minneapolis

Family Move Back to Utah (Tenley, age: 2.75 years) (Declan, age: 16 months)

May 2016
Flight 19: Minneapolis > Salt Lake

Family Trip to NH (Tenley, age: 3 years) (Declan, age: 18 months)
Jul-Aug 2016 
Flight 20: Salt Lake > Manchester
Flight 21: Manchester > Salt Lake

If you have any questions or additional advice on flying with little ones, I'd love to hear it and steal some tips for myself! One toy I think would be really great for trips is one of those etch-a-sketch pads or some other magnetic drawing pad since they're virtually mess-free and have no pieces to lose. We have yet to get one of those. 




Happy flying, lovely friends! You will do wonderfully, I am confident of that! 


Wednesday, February 10

Declan's First Birthday

1, 2, 3,
4, 6, 7,
8, 9, 12 months

Declan turned one two Saturdays ago on January 30. I still can't believe it. He's been a perfect light and joy in our lives and I can't imagine ever living without him.


The morning of his first birthday, Declan woke up and played with balloons with Tenley. 


Then we drove up to the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota. 


The kids had an awesome time


monkeying around...


staring in awe...


looking cute...


getting a bit tired...


and modeling (/watching sister in envy on the swing).


We had a great time despite it being winter (it was a nice day) and other than Tenley almost freezing her toes off when her mocs got soaked, we all were happy with the day.


Then we headed home for a little birthday party with two couples in our new branch at church. Declan demolished his slice of ice cream caking (we wanted to do a smash cake but time got away from us with our outing and I couldn't make one in time). 


Declan loved the cake but was a little distracted


and all but refused to smile at the camera. He must have been enjoying the sugary goodness. 


Now Declan is just busy looking cute. We went to a pediatrician in town the other day and he got his vaccines and first flu shot and is doing great. He weighs only 20lbs and is just under the 50th percentile but the doctor mentioned with how active he is, it shouldn't be a problem. 

Declan is running around, climbing in scary places, getting into everything, eating like a champ, loves to snuggle his mama, loves the bath/shower, loves his dad and sister, gives kisses on command, loves to give raspberries on bellies, has at least ten teeth, says "mama" "dada" "dah" (for Tenley) "uh oh," claps, waves, signs "more" and "all done," dances to music, and brings his diapers to the trash after every diaper change. He sleeps in his room until the middle of the night, then likes to sleep on top of me (so I can't sneak away;).

He is growing and changing in personality so much lately and I can't wait to continue to get to know this little boy of ours. Happy first birthday, Declan! You are my dearest son!


Tuesday, February 9

Our Little Webster Home Tour (Living Room & Hall)

Today, February 9 (my half birthday I just realized...) was finally the day that I managed to get and keep my home clean enough during daylight hours to take some photos for you guys who were asking about our sweet little house.

It's not my dream home or anything, but I love the space we have. It's not too much too clean and has just about enough room for all of our things. 

If I could change one thing about it, I would choose not to share a wall with a neighbor. He's another counselor at Northwest Passage and isn't home a lot, but I feel bad when my kids are hollering at 4am and I'm yelling back (before I remember we share that wall). Also, my crazy kids think it's funny to knock on that wall until I snatch them away and remind Tenley we have a neighbor and we need to be respectful. It's just a little bit stressful having to worry about someone else, especially at nighttime. 

One random fact about our duplex/house is that we technically only have four windows. One over the kitchen sink, two in our room, and one in the kids' room. We also have a large glass doorway that leads to our porch in the living room which brings in a lot of light but I just feel like four windows doesn't sound like many. Though we technically had three at Wymount so it's still an improvement ;). 

One random thing I love about our little home (besides having a dishwasher and laundry units;) is the water. I'm not sure where the water comes from and I don't really care necessarily since we haven't died from it, but it tastes really, really good! It's like having a cold spring water bottle. We did not care for our Provo water at all. We bought water bottles all four years we lived there and I hated wasting the money. But the water here is so good and another bonus, it heats up and gets cold really quick, too!

Anyway, let's get on with the tour. 

First, this is our view of the backyard from the living room. We have this great deck and a shed (which has only one or two things of ours in it), and though I initially didn't like the idea of having a house in our backyard, I actually do for the time being while Dalin is working 3-11pm each night and I'm home alone. It's comforting to have neighbors pretty close, especially when we have none across the street and the ones next door are rarely around. I feel better anyway. And there's a good amount of room for the two tiny kids to play in when it warms up! 

The living room isn't huge, but it's a perfect amount of space for our little family. It's also much more reasonable than the ridiculous tiny rectangle of a room we had before. I love that the children have room to play, we have room to workout, and we had the perfect amount of room when we had two other couples over for Declan's birthday. Also, don't mind the blank wall over the couch. I've been working on a painting for that spot but it's not in an acceptable state at the moment. 

Gotta love our Ikea rug (I do...it's my favorite) and our custom pillows from ebay. Some day I'll get a picture of that U.S. map pillow. It has a heart on Caldwell for Dalin and a heart on Gilford for me. There is a straight line from Idaho to New Hampshire and guess where that line crosses right over?? Northwest Wisconsin. Right where we live. It was meant to be. I'm painting a heart there and on Provo at some point. I drew one with a Sharpie which was an awful idea. 

This is Tenley's (and Declan's) little Ikea kitchen corner. We spent $80 on that part (there's another upper part for $20 we may get one day) and I spent what should have been like $1000 worth of labor putting it together in our flipping bathroom on Christmas Eve because our children would not sleep and I was excited to get it done. My back and knees probably still haven't recovered from that little escapade though. 

The view from the hall. I like how our kitchen and living room ceilings are vaulted and I like the beautiful wooden doorframe between them. I want that wood in our home someday. 

The kids' area. I'm all about those books and blocks, man. If it were up to me, those are pretty much the only things my kids would own (though I'm grateful we both have great parents that spoil our kids). 

I like to incorporate pieces in my home that tell a story. That's why I really love antiques. We (my mom and I) got those darling baskets on many trips to the BYU Bookstore. Also, a couple I think came from Ross or TJMaxx. The yellow clock also came from BYU. The custom burlap flag is from ebay and the rough wood frame is from Hobby Lobby. I love signs. If you can't tell. I had to restrain myself which is why there are only five on this shelf. They read, top to bottom, "Families are Forever," "Believe," "Family," "Welcome to our neck of the woods," and "Home is wherever I'm with you." On the bottom sheld, the left half of our books are Dalin's Psychology/medical books. The right half are my English Literature/mom and family books. The middle box holds hides diapers, and the basket holds wipes. Above that, we have some of our LDS books in the first basket, a basket holding only a few members of Tenley's owl collection (that's my not-so-secret nod to Harry Potter), and a basket with my collection of yet-to-be-used journals.

So that's the living room. It's square and cozy and I love the feel of it. 

Now for an exceedingly brief tour of the hall:

Basically this closet holds our camping stuff, 95% of our coats (we keep our currently worn ones in a more convenient spot), most of our luggage (all but one darn suitcase), and that little bin of sports' stuff. 

This guy at the end of our hall holds so much. All of our extra bedding, cozy blankets, extra towels, sewing materials, our haircutting supplies, our board games, my drill, and probably more. 

This house really has some great storage. If it had just one more little closet, we'd be golden. But I'm not complaining.

I hope that you haven't been bored to tears. We've just been busy here living life, playing a lot, exercising a lot, eating lots of fresh veggies, celebrating the guys' birthdays, watching lots of Fixer Upper, exploring our area, and packing for Florida (me).

Life is great:)


Thursday, January 21

Two week Florida packing plan and list

Back in Florida in 2013 when Tenley was 4 months old
Some of my cute Florida family
Had to throw in a pic of us in Harry Potter World of course;)
As you now know from the title of this post (if you did not know before), the babies and I are going to Florida for two weeks in mid-February! We can't wait! We bought the tickets for cheap back in August so it's been a long wait! I'm really bummed that Dalin most likely can't come for more than a few days toward the end of the trip, but I'll be so relieved to enjoy some much-appreciated WARM weather and get out of the house for a little while. Plus we're meeting up with my New Hampshire family so that's very exciting! I'm psyched to see my brothers and mom (my dad may not make it due to work) as well as my wonderful Florida aunts, uncles, and cousins! I love them all so much.

Obviously I'm also over-the-moon excited at the idea of flying alone with a one-year old and a two-year old...(ha ha) but really, I'm not that worried because we have flown more than a dozen times in the last two years. (Here is a post I wrote a long while ago about how I do it with littles if you need it!) And with just three hours of flying time from Minneapolis to Orlando (broken up with a layover), it should be a piece of cake compared to my past six+ hour flights (those are the lamest).

But packing is another matter. I don't mind packing. In fact, I enjoy packing for my husband and children. I like organizing everything in the best way and making sure no one forgets anything (mostly my husband;). But packing for myself is another matter. Honestly, I don't know why it's such a headache for me. Who actually cares what I'm wearing on vacation?! I shouldn't, but I do. And I never know the proper amount of clothing to bring. 3 bathing suits? Or 5? Like, come on, get it together, Olivia, it's not like I'm selecting a major in college.

But I pack for myself last every time, and every time I get nervous I won't have the shorts I want when I'm sitting on a beach by the Gulf, or the shoes I'll want when I'm at a theme park in Orlando. I'm a mess...that's why I usually have my best friend and master/professional packer, Megan, pack for me (but unfortunately she and I see each other so little that this is usually an impossibility...though she did pack for me when I left for college;).

So now, in late January, I'm going to be ahead of the game. I'm going to make a list, then start packing in early February for MYSELF so I can get that sorted away before doing anything else. And I'm sharing my thought-process with you.

The first thing that I think about when I'm traveling somewhere is the time of year and the weather.

In mid-February to early March last year, Orlando had highs of 83-degrees and lows of 52-degrees, but the average was about 72. So logically, I need mostly t-shirts, shorts, sandals, and swimwear. I probably need two sweatshirts at the most, and 4 pairs of leggings or jeans (since it gets "cool" in the mornings and evening and I tend to adapt fast to Florida's weather). As for the other things, I need maybe two dresses for attending church down there.

Since we are staying with family much of the time and should have access to a washer/drier, I really should not need more than ten days worth of outfits (and even that probably is unnecessary). So my list should look like this:

2 sweatshirts
10 t-shirts (I doubt I can narrow it down further)
6 pairs shorts/capris
4 pairs leggings/jeans
2 dresses
4 swimsuits
2 pairs socks (I never wear sneakers...I don't believe in them;)
1 pair sneakers (I lied...though I really don't wear them except on...excursions...and rarely then)
2 pairs sandals
1 pair flip flops

2 necklaces (I always forget jewelry...I usually have one pair of earrings on the whole time)
4 pairs earrings

Toiletries:

1 razor
2 pairs contact lenses
travel-size contact solution
glasses
eyelash curler
mascara
eyeliner
eye shadow
blush
spot corrector
tweezers
lipstick
chapstick
Aveeno non-scented baby lotion (my favorite besides Melaleuca's Body Satin lotion...but it's $$$)
deodorant
brush (the one thing I tend to "forget" or decide not to bring for some reason)
travel bottle shampoo
travel bottle conditioner
toothbrush
travel toothpaste

Other necessities:

iPhone & charger
camera & charger
iPad (same charger as phone)
journal & good pens
wallet!! (cleaned out vacation-version)
travel-size pillow (for flights)
pull-ups/undies for Tenley
diapers for four days (I buy a package there usually)
package of wipes
snacks, snacks, snacks
gum or mints

car seats... }:[   (ugh, our toddler car seats are MONSTERS)
double stroller (if I could wear Declan I would bring the umbrella stroller, but he's getting heavy and I am going to be riding the coasters with my family so it's best to have a stroller that fits both kids...though I'm seriously tempted to buy another umbrella stroller in Florida to use because they're just SO much more convenient!)

Is there anything I'm forgetting? I'm getting so excited! I love having something to look forward to! (Even though the thought of leaving Dalin for ten days is still making me sad). And I hate to admit it but I'm reallyyy enjoying the ache in my muscles from another day of Insanity. It's nice to feel like things are happening (and give myself hope that I might see a bit of improvement a month from now). I even made what I would consider a "healthy" smoothie today (it had yogurt in it :P) and it was insanely delicious. (I was concerned about tossing the plain Greek Yogurt in there because MAN is that stuff gross--it's like curdled milk!--but the smoothie was excellent.)

What trips do you have planned this year? I'm pretty sure we'll be flying a lot this year...probably three separate trips after Florida. Gotta fly while we can before Declan turns two and we have to start paying for four of us...Yippee.

P.S. The last time I flew was with the kids to Minneapolis airport in December when I made a rookie mistake and stuck our Kindle Fire HD in the pocket in front of me on the plane. We switched seats during our stop and I forgot about it all the way until I got to the hotel. Even more embarrassing for me, was the fact that it had no case on and wasn't labeled anywhere. Plus it was locked when turned on so there was no way for someone to figure out it was ours...basically it was like a blank device. : | So even though I put in a lost item notice on Southwest's website (and even though I knew exactly where I left it), there basically was no hope of it being found and now that it's been 30 days, I'm pretty certain it's lost forever. So I had it erased and I'm really sad it's gone because I actually used to watch movies and read on it (and Tenley used it for her alphabet games). So learn from me--LABEL your devices on the outside in some way, and don't be a dummy and leave it on the airplane! It probably would have been more likely to be found in the airport even. Sigh...I'm still a little sad.