Toddler Travel

We did it. Well I did it. Or is it Eli did it? Whatever. Eli AND I traveled across country by ourselves. Literally from one coast to another, with a stop each time. Making for an exhausted momma, a cranky baby/toddler and a whole lot of stuff in tow. But it was ALL worth it. Would I do it again, you ask? Yep. Once a month if I could! But I may be crazy. Here's my list of travel tips and tricks:

1. Be prepared for meltdowns: Your traveling with a babe people. Traveling as an adult is exhausting enough, but being a child and not knowing where you are, what is going on and your routine completely thrown off! You wonder how people ever give you weird looks, put yourself in the kids shoes. Perspective is a wonderful thing. But yes, be prepared for tears. They are GOING to happen, whether a lot or just a little, it's inevitable. So tell yourself, 'it's okay' and take a breath to keep going.

2. Buy your child a plane ticket: Yes it is expensive. Yes kids two and under are free. No this is NOT safe practice. In fact, many kiddos have been thrown out of their mothers arms during take off, landing and even random turbulence. Babies have been hurt (news articles here & here & here). Want to know why the FAA doesn't require you to buy your babe a ticket? Money. They know families wouldn't travel as much if they paid for all their kids. Money rules all (duh). But in all honesty, buying Eli a ticket was probably the smartest thing we did. He sat in his car seat and was MUCH happier. He was familiar with his seat and that was comforting. Cross country with a toddler is HARD. Cross country with a toddler by yourself is even HARDER. I was able to set him down and he slept in his seat. I even snoozed a little myself.
Plus checking your car seat makes it have 'unknown' history, which means a) it's not guaranteed to save your child's life in the event of an accident and b) you don't know how it's been handled. I've seen oxygen machines destroyed by the luggage people. Don't risk your child's life folks.

3. Snacks: You can't bring water in containers through security but you CAN bring snacks. I purchased a whole bunch of the pureed food pouches (which are less messy and MUCH easier then a spoon and jar) which literally saved us multiple times. I also had some fruit and crackers. He was happier and so was I. A lot of airlines don't provide much more then water and pretzels these days, so our bellies were happier and I was also at ease that Eli wasn't eating a whole bunch of crap on our trip.

4. GoGo Babyz: This little gadget made my life SO much easier transporting his car seat during layovers and to/from the plane. I was able to purchase ours off of craigslist, so keep an eye on there before your trip.

Purchase Here
5. Baby Carrier: I could have strapped Eli in his car seat throughout the air port but he was much happier being in my arms. While holding him (by myself) isn't realistic I used our ergo to carry him and have my hands free for our other stuff. You can go through security with baby strapped to you, so no worries there. We have the ergo brand, but there are many others similar as well. He was able to sleep on me throughout the airport and I had my hands free to eat when I needed to.
He's happy, I swear.  Purchase Here. 
6. Simplify: I had a car seat (attached to wheels), diaper bag and Eli inside the ergo. That's it. Everything I needed was in the diaper bag. I didn't bring an extra bag for myself. Inside our diaper bag for travel we had:
-Diapers: 5-6 total (always plan for extra)
-Extra change of clothes for Eli
-iPad/iPhone: loaded with games, books for me and shows for him (Daniel Tiger and Baby Signing Time)
-Charger: duh.
-My lightweight jacket (Eli wore a thick fleece. As you can see in photo above)
-Three toys he hadn't seen in a while

7. Patience: Overall, traveling is exhausting. No matter how much to simplify it, it's not easy. Throw in a kid and being by yourself...whewwwww mama needs a drink! Be prepared for anything and hope for the best. I did quite a bit of praying and talking to myself (people may have viewed me as crazy). Sympathize with other parents and between flights let your little one run around the air port to burn off energy.

Overall, I learned I have a lot more patience then I though. Eli really did better then expected and I've got the travel bug again! Good thing we are leaving again.


From Atlantic to Pacific.

Arlington National Cemetery
'Gee! The traffic is terrific!'
We've been gone for a month. Now we are in town for a week and gone for another month. Welcome to our life. I must say, traveling to the east coast was a lot of fun. We had the opportunity to experience things we've never had the chance to and literally walking through history. Stories for days folks! Until I have time to sit down a really tell you about it, I'll show you in a few photos. 

Our visit with my good friend Becky and her baby nugget will be posted soon.

Capital Building 

Justice Building

Inside the Capital Building (On our private tour)

White House

Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

National Zoo

-I will also do a post on traveling with a toddler.


Give it to Him

Society says a stay at home mom cooks.
Changes diapers and wipes up messes.
And must be bored out of their minds with nothing to do....

While most of this may be true, we are also there for our kids emotionally and spiritually. That is the hardest part of being a parent in my opinion. The chores will always be there. The daily cooking to be done. A mess to be cleaned up and carpet to be vacuumed.
What society often forgets about is when they fall, we pick them up. When they are overtired, we rock them to sleep for 20 minutes to calm them down. When they stutter, we encourage them to keep on going. When they are heart broken, we do anything to help put the pieces back together.

Being a mom is tough, it's not all play dates, cocktails and gossip. By the end of the day I am more emotionally and physically drained then after running a race at a meet! To top off the list, I struggle. Society has told me being a mom isn't a job. No, your right I don't pay taxes, fees and I don't see a paycheck biweekly. I wish I did though. I have this urgency to contribute to our family but I can't for the life of me figure out how. Two years left until my bachelors and I've literally cried while looking at majors from schools. Photography, business, international studies, environmental studies...all things very important to me I enjoy doing, but none screams at me. I hate the idea of spending money on a degree I won't use.

So here I am, seven years out of high school with no degree and no clue what to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive, I know a piece of paper doesn't necessarily roll the dough in. You don't need a degree to make it in the world, many entrepreneurs have proved this time and time again. But for me, there is a strong desire to finish.

So while society tells me staying home isn't a job right now, I'd like to tell society to try it.
ana O.


.Freshly Picked. ~Giveaway Closed~

I have a very special post today for everyone and just in time to share some love for Valentines Day!
 I just love this company. As most everyone knows by now Freshly Picked makes A-DORABLE children's moccasins. Not only are they cute, but they are durable and the leather is really of great quality. They will definitely last. Freshly Picked posted on Facebook recently about bloggers inquiring about hosting a giveaway, so I figured well heck lets apply. So I did. Not only is this awesome company trusting little ol' me with a great review, BUT I get to give you a pair too! I feel SO special and honored to be chosen for it. Eli was given a pair of freshly picked moccs in 'Swimmin' with the Sharks' grey for his birthday prior to this and we absolutely love them, so for my review moccs I chose the 'Cobalt Blue' color (which they are now sold out of) in the suede texture, you know for variety sake. I am pleasantly surprised at how thick the suede is. I was curious to see if it would hold up to kids playing in them and last a while, but I have no doubt in my mind they will. Freshly Picked is such a caring company with honest beginnings. If you haven't watched their story on Shark Tank you should definitely go (here). Without further adieu here is my little stud in his FP Moccs.

Isn't he just the cutest?

Rules for giveaway:
Giveaway dates February 10-15.

All of these will give you extra entries.
.You must Follow me.  (Comment that you did)
.You must 'like' Freshly Picked on Facebook. (Comment that you did)
.Follow me on Twitter @AnasLifeSense. (Comment that you did)
.Go to freshly-picked and tell me which moccasins you would choose if you won. (Comment with your choice)
.If you share this on your facebook page or twitter I'll give you an extra entry. (Comment that you did)

There you have it, FIVE opportunities to enter for a pair of moccasins! Go GO GO! 

Congrat's Mrs. Martinet!!!

I will be checking that you did all of these so please, be honest. 


.Tee Pee Step by Step.

Ever since I discovered the tee pee trend on Pottery Barn Kids, Land of Nod and various Etsy stores I've been completely obsessed. My only hesitation was most tee pee's started around $150. Don't get me wrong, my kid is worth ALL that and more, but honestly why spend the money when I know I could make it? So off to pinterest I went. I found various tutorials, but none of them only used four dowels (I needed it to be tall, but not very wide because of limited space) and were eight feet tall. Thankfully I have an amazingly smart math wiz for a husband, so I brought him my design and he did all the geometry for me because frankly, my brain doesn't have time for math.

This is true love people. TRUE love. Take note all single people. 

Alright I'll break down the costs and supplies.

.Four- 8 foot dowels. I used the inch wide ones. $25
.One- 9 foot X 12 foot 10oz painters drop cloth. $27
.One drill bit- As close to a normal screw size as possible. $ Already owned this.
.Drill. $ Already owned this.
.Sewing Machine.
.Patience...a lot of patience.
.Spray Paint- $4
.Blue painters tape. $ Already owned
.Wood Stain. $4
.One cute helper- $Priceless...but for everything else there's mastercard.
hehe...I kid I kid.

Total cost for us: Around $50 (we get a military discount at our hardware store.)
Costs will likely vary depending on store and location.

I stained the dowels in a darker walnut color to match our home better. Then after they dried I placed painters tape on the ends. Found a gorgeous brown-bronze-silvery paint and went to town on the ends. I later used the same paint to spray the tin cans for his birthday decor. See here. 

This is where your going to need your helped. You know, when he's in the way. But hey, at least he's cute!

I measured 14 inches down from the top, placed a dot and drilled a hole in each of the holes. Isn't my little helper so helpful?

Note to self: Do not leave drill with drill bit on the floor. It attracts little boys who love power tools and accidents happen.

Poor kid dropped the drill on his toe. First owwie. Awwwwwwe. 
Thread the twine through each hole. If your hole is big enough you shouldn't need to push it through, mine was small so I found this nifty pointy tool to help me thread it through each pole. It was time consuming though. 

Find a tall handsome man to tie all the poles together. 
Or just a stool. That should work well too. 

Voila! The beginnings to your tee pee! Otherwise known as the frame.
Whew! That was the easy part.
Now to measure. One panel was 72.1in high X 45in base width X 3.5in top width X 75in diagonal.

Then, sew all the panels EXCEPT the door together. Oh and drink coffee..and if you have coffee liqueur, that helps too. 

I chose red thread in a zigzag pattern. Pretty spiffy, no? 
 Take the door panel, fold it over and cut it down the middle. 

Then, take your iron (not necessary but it helps) and iron the edge your going to sew. Makes it so the darn thing stays down and it's SO much easier. 

Cross the two panels of the entrance over, poke twelve holes. Start thread from inside the tee pee and finish inside as well. Tie it off and your DONE! It really isn't very hard, just time consuming.
I also decided to get creative and make a couple flags at the top with my cuties name on one.

This project was by far the biggest undertaking I've done. But it was a lot of fun. Definitely a learning process and I am SO happy I was able to get him the gift we wanted for his birthday without breaking the bank. 
Now I need to figure out why the tension on my machine got wonky...bleh!


.Big ONE year old.

This post is a little late coming (okay like two days) but it's been a whirlwind of birthday preparations, decor making and birthday boy celebrating. Family flew in real quick and just as fast flew back.

A year ago this week Josh and I sat waiting for our boy to arrive. We were naive in thinking we already loved him SO much. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming surge of love that comes over you the moment you give birth. To this day I still can't watch the video of holding him on my chest for the first time. Too many emotions return and it's too much to handle for me. From kicking on the inside to laying on me. So much love. So much happiness. So many tears.

Just like birth and labor was all for love, so was his party to me. It may seem frivolous but I enjoyed every minute of it and it wasn't stressful at all to me. It was a small party full of people who enjoy him and us. My parents walked in the door just as the party was beginning, good timing on their part. Nothing fancy or over the top, just a lot of flannel and love.
Our theme was tee pee/camping/outdoors. I saved our Christmas wreath but took off the faux holly and bow. Took off all the ornaments and lights off the small fake tree we have and made tin can lanterns. Josh's dad gave us a whole bunch of camping gear recently, most of which is vintage, so I set the canteen and saw next to it. The branches you see on the ground there, those are from trimming the bottom of our Christmas tree. Yeah, I saved those.

I love chalkboards, so I made sure I utilized them all for his party. Really simple decor actually. My friend actually made the thank you tags for the treat bags, with a mini brown paper sack, some bakers twine and a compass rose stamp. Voila! Thank you treats. Oh, they were filled with trail mix, which I found appropriate.

I found some wood grain wrapping paper at a local shop and used that to cover my counter top with food. Took a black thick felt pen and wrote food item names next it such as, 'S'mores Dip', 'Sticks' (pretzel sticks), 'Roasted Dogs' and so forth. Trying to be creative while keeping with the theme.

We all take a million and one photos on our phones so I printed off all the photos I've taken leading up to his birthday using PostalPix . A super simple app on your phone (iPhone or Android) that you upload the photos directly to and they ship them to your home. Seriously, its SO easy. Rather then purchasing crepe paper and cheesy garland (that wouldn't have worked) I strung photos with clothespins and twine throughout the house. It was really special to me looking back throughout the year as he's grown and everything that's happened.

We pulled out our camping chairs, stools and table for extra seating and food space throughout the room. Put chilled fruit sodas in my picnic basket with black striped straws. Oh and we wore flannel. That was on the invite, "Don't forget your flannel." Everyone thought it was cute and we loved seeing all our friends get creative with the flannel they have or didn't have. Overall the party was a lot of fun and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

He ended up being more interested in the graham cracker tent on his cake then the cupcake we put in front of him. Then again, I'm not complaining. He's really not into sugary things. The cake and cupcakes were Josh's grandmother's recipe, I just adjusted the sugar content to my liking.

Oh and he officially has enough super hero clothing to last him until he's five. I'm not even kidding.
Josh and I made him a tee pee for his birthday. I decorated it with it's own tin can lantern and photo garland.

Now for all the iPhone photos. Enjoy friends.

My friend Angela made his wood grain thank you tags on her century old letter press. Check out her etsy shop here. If you haven't had any letter press in your life, do it. I love her stuff and she will work with you on anything! 

My idea of a simple cake. Carrot cake with a caramel cream cheese frosting. 
Eli, your growing up and we can't seem to stop time. I love playing with you and watching you discover things. Your dad and I are so proud of you and we can't wait to see what God has in store for you. Remember to keep on going when things get tough, rely on him, put one foot in front of the other and love deeply. When the world gives you ugly, you give them love. Because we don't need anymore ugly in this world. We definitely need more love though.
I love you.
We love you.
Jesus loves you.