Thoughts on Baby “Stuff”

Now that we are expecting a little bundle of joy, there are SO.MANY.THINGS.

I am bombarded by ads on facebook and Instagram and Amazon…you need ALL THE THINGS! Paired with that are the opinions, both current and past from moms, friends, family, coworkers, you name it, on all the stuff you NEED.

And, by the way, none of these lists are the same.

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What are we to do?

Thankfully, we have some time (babies come with that built in ramp time thank goodness…our house is far from ready for a third person!) to research, talk to people and build a list of what will work best for us.

Before we started looking at individual things, Matt and I talked a lot about our lifestyle and how we envision raising a kiddo. Disclaimer: this is what we envision…and are totally 100% aware that some if not all of this will change when the real thing is happening. Please don’t judge.

We talk extensively about priorities, and filters for choosing “stuff” for our baby:

  1. Multi-age or purpose. Can it be used for more than just 1 event or age?
  2. Minimal # of things. We don’t have space to store extra.
  3. Well made. That will last for 2 kids and then resell or pass on
  4. Secondhand when appropriate.
  5. Related to secondhand…safety. This is a big one. Does it meet current guidelines and recommendations.
  6. Nontoxic (I could write pages on this…) particularly for sleeping surfaces, bedding and clothes.

First thing you do when you have a baby? Bring them home.

We are currently a single vehicle family driving a mini cooper. It has been pretty incredible to build up a farm and do a MAJOR remodel with just this vehicle, and we are enjoying only having one car. I typically commute to work on public transportation, and then take the car to the mainland 1 or 2 days per week for work and combine all our major errands on those trips. What does this mean for us as a family of three? Well, a few things.

First, the mini is tight for us to get out and do big trips just the two of us. This means for visiting family, surfing, hiking we will want a larger vehicle. So we are exploring options to add to our family fleet. Winners at the moment are a Subaru or minivan. We know we eventually want two kids, so that is part of the equation.

Second, I do most of the errands while on the mainland. Matt rarely drives unless we are going somewhere together. Matt, Mr. at-home-Daddy, does not envision that this will change for him much once baby is here, mostly staying at home base unless they are out for fun on the island. Those trips are all pretty short. For our longer haul trips to see family etc, we will have both of us plus baby. This really impacts our need for things like strollers and carseats that easily come in and out of the car.

Like most baby gear, carseats were an abstract concept that I had not given much thought. I knew I would choose a super safe model, but then came the other decisions: toxicity (a theme I am personally really interested in), mobility, and options for infant vs. convertible etc. I did not even know those were considerations!

Then how do carseats mesh with your stroller plan? Oh boy, don’t even get me started on this one. We have been learning a lot about babywearing vs. stroller culture, and based on our travel patterns, access to walkable spaces (living on a rural island is pretty different than a city or neighborhood with sidewalks), errand routines and personal preferences (and after doing lots of reading and talking with others) are very much leaning towards no infant stroller (gasp! I know this causes horror for some to think about) or infant carrying carseat, and opting instead for a convertible car seat and babywearing initially. We will add a stroller later on when baby is heavier (or we decide we need some wheels) when they are past the infant stage and can handle an upright setup.

I am excited to try out our local chapter of the babywearing library where you can check out different carriers/wraps/slings for a month to give them a try! Matt is excited about this option too because it meets one of our other primary goals of reducing demand for new things (and needs…lets be real here, our house is small and we have no garage to store “extra” stuff).

We started building a registry with these ideas in mind so that I can research things, make a decision, and then move on. New products come out all the time (like the new Willow breast pump!? OMG this thing sounds cool and comes out this spring). I am scouring our local secondhand sources for baby gear and already scored some primo things for WAY discounted: primarily a set of cloth diapers, a Bjorn bouncer and Deuter hiking backpack carrier. Win!

Our nursery will be more kid focused than “baby”, with a gender neutral surf/beach theme in teal/orange/white and other bright pops of color. Get some years out of the effort we are going to put into it (not to mention that it will need new flooring and a window before we have a baby in it). It is a huge room, nearly 14×20, and we plan to have it has the kids room for two until one is older and wants their own space upstairs.

For Christmas I got a sewing machine, and I am excited to start sewing simple baby clothes with secondhand fabrics. My best friend sent me some patterns for baby pants that she made out of old mens sweaters! For our little summer baby I am looking at easy 1 piece romper patterns, and have an idea for making them out of secondhand shirts. Stay tuned!

Well those are my current thoughts. I know these are likely to evolve over time, and I will probably look back and laugh at my “pre-mommy” naive vision of how we operate as a family of three. But we really are trying to think through OUR lifestyle, parenting goals, and space limitations before making purchases. Besides, we know that regardless of how much stuff we have, our baby really only needs food, shelter and love to grow. The rest is really just convenience.

A Family of Three

It felt like a long haul to get here. When we started playing with the idea of starting a family, one of my concerns was how well my body would adjust to being off of birth control. I had been on it for years, primarily to regulate a very irregular and abnormal cycle. Something that seemed mundane was now very impactful on my ability to have children. After months of pill free LONG cycles (we are talking 90+ days here) I started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist to see what was going on. After a long string of tests, frustration, and not many answers, my irregular cycles did not seem to have a cause. My RE was convinced I was not ovulating, and told us it would be really hard for us to conceive naturally.

That was really hard to hear.

But we pressed on, and decided to just see how things went. No doctors, no pressure. We even started talking about kids differently. Using “if” vs “when” took some getting used to, but it helped ease the stress.

We took a fantastic surf road trip all the way to Big Sur. Then gallivanted around Quebec eating more wine, pate and soft cheese than a pregnant woman could even look at.

Then we came home and got back to life. My 30th birthday was bittersweet. I had always imagined having my first kiddo by 30 and clearly that was not in the cards.

The following Friday I was going to a big fancy gala for work. An event that would include lots of drinking, so I figured it would be better safe than sorry to take a pregnancy test. I got up, and first thing in the morning I opened my very last cheapo test, took it and set it on the back of the toilet to read, waited for the second line, reported the negative to Matt, and then hopped in the shower. Oh well, I guess the open bar would at least be an option.

No more than two minutes later, Matt got up. I was showering away and hear, “ummm, so…there’s a second line…!” I was in disbelief. The pregnancy test was POSITIVE!

We decided to wait till the next morning to take a second test, and that one registered immediately. It was clear: we were pregnant, and did it all on our own!

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I am thrilled to report that we have made it into the second trimester, and little baby seems to be happily snuggled in and growing. We are expecting to celebrate his or her (it will be a surprise!) arrival in early July!

Till then, the house remodel is full speed ahead, we are focused on eating well and spending quality time as a family of two, before we welcome family member number three!

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December 16th Check In

December is cruising by, but feels like December this year! Our house is still remodel crazy but we do have a Christmas tree up and it all feels so cozy. Last weekend Matt finished the chimney and gas line and closed up the hole in our house (phew!). Good timing too because it has been COLD! We even had two snows this month which is rare for our little island. Another milestone: reinstalling the cat porch! To put in the new gas line, Matt had to move the cat porch (outdoor litter box palace that connect through a cat door in the wall!) so the litter box has been living in the spare bathroom (ick!). Well that is all coming to a close today and we will have our clean bathroom back! One step at a time, this house is getting done.

Can you believe Christmas is next weekend? We are hosting the Feast of Seven Fishes at our house Christmas Eve and have been refining this year’s menu. I did the first round of shopping this week and will tie up loose ends next week. Matt is focused on keeping the menu authentic Italian (after all, this is an Italian tradition we are adopting from his family) and we are working hard to get the details right.

I shipped two mobiles last week and have another going out tomorrow. It has been so much fun seeing my artwork be gifted and loved! January will be focused on 3 custom orders and celebrating 1 year of being an official business!

It has been a cold and clear end to the year and we are so looking forward to celebrating the holidays with family in a week!

Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

Guilt is a crippling feeling. It does nothing for your confidence, happiness or productivity. We have been working on moving away from feelings for guilt and focusing instead on feelings that do just the opposite: support, inspire and build confidence.

This week we decided on a simple change. No more saying “I’m sorry”. Not as in never apologizing again, but removing “I’m sorry” when it contributes to supporting guilt.

For example, “I’m sorry I am always so down”, “I’m sorry this is hard”, “I’m sorry…” you get the idea. Stop using it as a downer catch-all phrase.

Instead, we are focusing on saying Thank You instead. “Thank you for being there for me”, “thank you for understanding”, “thank you for listening”.

It makes all the difference in the world.

Five Years Ago

July 10, 2010 was a day that changed the course of my life. July 10 was a Saturday that year, the perfect day for a date to the West Seattle Day’s street fair. The day that Matt and I met.

Fast forward five years and we are married, moved to an island to OUR house, waist deep in house and homesteading projects, well-traveled, tan and still just as giddy in love.

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Happy five years of sharing lives, my sweet Moose husband.

July 4th

The 4th of July: a pinnacle of summer fun. Lemonade, fireworks, BBQs, lawn games, maybe a campfire all come to mind. For many of us the the PNW this has not been the record for the 4th. The weather forecast usually promises sun about 10 days out, and then ends up being drizzly and 60 degrees on the actual day. Not ideal.

This year was an exceptional exception to this Seattle “rule”! We were camping at the family lake property on the Kitsap Peninsula and it was between 85 and 95 all weekend long. Perfect for camping sans rain-fly, running around in swimsuits and lots and lots of water time. The lake water was super warm and clear this year, and we spent hours splashing around like big kids. Paddle boating, swimming, water Frisbee toss, and making good use out of the neighbors floating raft with waterslide and diving board.

We chowed down on hot dogs, fire roasted corn and s’mores (and steamed broccoli because we like to get our veggies in!) and then were treated with a surprise apple pie! The neighbor, Mike, brought over a fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade apple pie, complete and homemade vanilla ice cream and a shaker of extra cinnamon! What a treat!

It was a spectacular, HOT 4th of July!IMG_5018[1] IMG_5163[1]  IMG_5175[1]IMG_5059[1]

10 Years

This past weekend we celebrated 10 years of life since high school. Can it have really been that long ago? We had an informal meet up at Boundary Bay in Bellingham on Friday night, and then the official reunion Saturday. It was wonderful to see and catch up with so many people in person. I’ll admit, I was skeptical on how much I would enjoy the reunion. With Facebook and Instagram I have a pretty good idea of what everyone is up to. What I did not expect was how much fun it would be to reconnect with those people that I actually don’t talk with much. Friends, well, maybe not even, but rather classmates that are only on the fringe of my social spectrum now were so much fun to get to know as adults! Our lives are different, the social groups from Ferndale High are gone, and it was just plain fun.

Matt and I got many comments on our homesteading life on Vashon (made me question if I over-Instagram things!) We talked to friends that single and married, with and without kids, living far away or still in Ferndale. It was great to see people and reconnect in person. The class of 2005 really was a wonderful group of people.IMG_4538[1]

So a trip to Ferndale for the class reunion also meant visiting my family, and the slew of activity that those usually entail. This time the focus was deck demo. Their 17ish year old cedar deck has finally been given the boot to make way for maintenance free composite. Dad and Matt were crowbarring, unscrewing and sawing away for two days, and have the blisters to prove it. I helped by trimming and moving boards, planting tomatoes, and delivering lemonade.

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Speaking of lemons, we brought home two new hens: Lemon and Penny! My mom found them from the kids of a friend that needed to rehome school-project chicks. We happily added these two ladies to our flock and are now up to 8 + Dude rooster. They were very patient in the hot (super packed!) car ride back to Vashon.IMG_4536[1]IMG_4537[1]

We also adopted a sea kayak! A family friend was looking to rehome one of their singles and we happily took it off their hands. (Bonus: it matches the mini!) Unfortunately it is still in Ferndale since we were not quite set up to bring it home with our current roof rack setup. Hopefully we can bring it down soon though and get her in the water!

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We also picked strawberries. And went to the dairy for ice cream. Busy enough?IMG_4526[1]IMG_4525[1]

Sunday night we pulled into the ferry line just as a boat was pulling up. I swear, living on the island gives you magical ferry timing (knock on wood). 30 minutes later we pulled up to our little house, let the chickens out, pet the cats, unloaded 17 lbs of strawberries, watered the garden, made dinner, ate while we watched an episode of Parenthood on Netflix, and finally collapsed into bed. And you know what? It was one of the most rejuvenating weekends I have had in a long time.