Happiest Mama Mondays: Go with the Flow

Being flexible, or going with the flow, is something I’m not too shabby at. You have to learn these traits as a teacher and they have served me well as a parent. That’s not to say I haven’t had to acquire a more bendable attitude since my daughter was born, because I have; Isa might be little but she has BIG preferences and opinions and she can rewrite my day on a whim. Being a parent requires infinite patience and flexbility.

In this chapter of The Happiest Mom, Meagan Francis recommends planning weeks, not days. “Just as pediatricians advise us to judge a picky child’s diet by what he eats over the course of a week rather than a single 24-hour period, it helps to apply a bigger picture attitude to our must-do (and want-to-do) plans and activities.” Sometimes I really want to go to Babies R Us today (I’ll be right by there!) but I don’t really have time and the reality is I can go anytime before Friday (Baby food pouches will be 8 for $8 all week, after all). And even if I planned to do whites, I don’t make myself stay up late to get them done if I know Mi.Vida has socks and an undershirt clean for the next morning. While Francis says it’s good to have a plan in your head for when you’re going to do things, making changes to that plan should not feel like you’re failing in some way. If you were going to run errands but find the sun isn’t hiding behind the fog when you wake up (a San Francisco summer miracle), it’s okay to spend the morning at the park instead of running to Target.

It’s easiest to be flexible when you’re starting with a slimmed down schedule. Days that are scheduled back to back are just begging to result in a pile up. I used to leave little to no time for unseen complications in my day and when traffic or backed-up doctor’s office pushed one thing back 20 minutes the rest of my day was a wreck. Now I give myself ample time to do anything and if I end up with an extra 20 minutes I just enjoy reading blogs on my iPhone while sipping a hot chocolate from Starbucks (I only use gift cards there, I promise). I also remember that while some things have to get done (making my six month dentist appointment) others don’t have to get accomplished right away (getting my legs waxed). Keeping those two types of tasks separate allows you to feel less pressure to get the non-essentials done.

Another way to slim down your schedule is to resist offering your services to everyone and every cause. If you don’t think you’ll have time to help your SIL plan her mother’s birthday party then don’t tell her you’ll be second chair of the party planning committee. If you’d love to help with your best friend’s fundraiser but know your daughter’s school play is that week, ask to be a part of the next event. Being honest with yourself, and others, about what you can commit to will stave off that feeling of being spread too thin.

One thing that I felt this chapter was lacking was a section on expectations. If your expectations of what you can accomplish, or how successful a day will be, are realistic, you will be less likely to worry things are flying off the rails. There will also be fewer opportunities for disappointment. I personally have a hard time with expectations (ie I expect too much and build things up until dissatisfaction is the only possible outcome).

Take this last week for example. I was very excited to meet a fellow blogger and her children at a local discovery museum – I had even canceled plans with my FIL to make the day work. That morning one of her kids was sick and she had to cancel last minute and of course it was too late to reschedule the original plans with my FIL. I was so upset that in the end I almost didn’t think to just go to the museum with my daughter alone. Turns out we had a great time and it was wonderful to watch her play without being distracted by another adult offering intellectually stimulating conversation.

I had another chance to practice tempering disappointment this weekend when I was forced to “go with the flow” in what quickly became a disastrous situation. This weekend was my last of the summer and we had a huge rafting/camping trip planned with my family and three others. My mom had been working on this all summer and I was very excited to go. The first day was great and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Mi.Vida and I went rafting with the group while a family friend watched her six year old son and Isa at the camp site. That night, Isa had trouble sleeping in the tent with us and kept waking up when we put her in her own little travel tent. Finally, by midnight she was completely melting down, screaming and crying inconsolably. We realized that we couldn’t stay there, disrupting all the other campers’ sleep so we packed up our campsite (by lantern light) and drove the three hours home. Sliding into bed at 4am, exhausted and supremely disappointed that I would miss the second half of our long awaited rafting trip I felt despondent. Later in the day though, I was proud of our ability to change our plans so quickly and completely, doing what had to be done for our daughter, despite wanting so badly to stay there and make it work.

Are you good at going with the flow? When do messed up plans frustrate you the most? Do you have any tips on how best to deal with unexpected issues?

Next week: Make Your Bed

Useful Tuesdays: Baby Food Pouches

It’s been a long time since I did a product review type Useful Tuesday post but I’m pulling one together today in honor of one of the things I’m most thankful for as a mom: the trusty baby food pouch.

I first saw one in the tiny hands of our friends’ two year old. This was when we were TTC, before we were pregnant. I was curious what it was because I’d never seen one before: they weren’t around when I was babysitting (oh so long ago). Our friends assured us that they were very useful as snacks on the go and were sometimes the only veggies their picky toddler would eat.

When we started weaning Isa I picked a bunch of these wonder pouches up. While I fed Isa mostly homemade baby food at the house, I LOVED these pouches when I was on the go. I could so easily squeeze the organic fruits and veggies into her mouth no matter where we were. If we didn’t have time to finish it I could replace the cap and store it with minimal mess.

Many brands of baby food are sold in pouches but Plum Organics seem to have the most flavors. Some of Isa’s favorites are Broccoli Apple, Mano Pear, Spinach Peas and Pears, Pumpkin Banana and Sweet Potato, Corn and Apple. I love the smaller Mish Mash (in blueberry, banana and apple cinnamon) pouches because with oats and quinoa they pack the same caloric punch via less food. Some other brands I’ve seen are Ella’s Kitchen and Happy Baby. Earth’s Best also puts out pouches, complete with Sesame Street characters to convince the kiddos of their coolness.

In the past week Isa has mastered feeding herself these tasty, nutritious pouches: she can suck one of those things dry with very little help from me (when she’s half way done I have to fold up the bottom to make the end more accessible). Being able to give Isa a pouch while she’s in the stroller and have her be done eating when we arrive at our destination has made my life SO MUCH EASIER.

The only problem with these pouches is the cost. They are EXPENSIVE! Turns out people are willing to pay a lot for high quality, organic food in an easy to access container. In fact, they are willing to pay anywhere from $1.10 to 1.29 a pouch. Luckily Babies R Us frequently has 10 for $10 or 8 for $8 sales and when they do, I go crazy.

Still, even at $1 a pouch these babies are not cheap. If you’re interested in the convenience but not so concerned about organic ingredients, there are cheaper versions. The pouch Isa is eating in the above picture is a Safeway brand snack pouch. They have much fewer flavors (all apple based) but they are also much more affordable at 4 for $2.50. Trader Joe’s also sells Crushers pouches at 4 for $2, offering similar flavors as the Safeway brand. To be fair these pouches are much smaller than the Plum Organics or Ella’s Kitchen (which are super expensive, coming in at a whopping $1.50 a pouch!) and none of the flavors offer veggies. While the Plum Organics can be a mini-meal the Safeway/TJ pouches are more like quick snacks to appease a fussy traveler.

Getting enough calories in my little girl has been something of a struggle of late. These pouches have been a great way to get an extra 50-70 calories in her in between meals, and on the go. Plus, I never feel bad about offering her organic fruits and veggies. There are times when I literally don’t know what I’d do without these pouches. This weekend we’re taking Isa camping for the first time and I’d be panicking if I couldn’t bring 10 or so of these mini-meals with me. No matter what the conditions we find ourselves in, with these baby food pouches I know my daughter will be getting something good to eat.

Useful Tuesday: Getting Away

This past weekend Mi.Vida and I went away for a weekend. As in we left our daughter in one place and went, without her, to another place. It was the first time I’d been away from my little girl for more than a few hours since she was born.

I have to admit, I hardly had time to be nervous about leaving Isa for 2.5 days; I was much more nervous that all our recent relationship issues would overshadow our experience, rendering the weekend a disaster. Instead of anticipating how I’d react to the separation from my baby I was hoping this weekend would rekindle things between me and Mi.Vida. And that was probably for the best because the day of our departure I was having a full on panic attack. Talk about separation anxiety.

We were very lucky to be leaving Isa in the most capable hands. She was staying at my parents’ house and my grandmother was in town to offer an extra set of eyes. This made leaving her much easier than it might have been. Of course we were still worried about her, not that she wouldn’t be well taken care of but that she’d miss us and be upset that we were gone. We were also worried we’d have no cell reception and be unreachable during an emergency.

Turned out we didn’t have much cell reception and most of the trip we were unreachable (on our cell phones but we’d given the numbers of where we were staying to my parents). The cell phone black out ended up helping us to be more present with each other and discouraged us from calling every five minutes to make sure everything was okay (it was okay, by the way).

Instead of checking in on Isa we checked in with each other, something we hadn’t done in a long, long time. Over delicious meals and breathtaking vistas we reconnected. We talked about ourselves and our lives and what we love. We laughed and joked and whispered under our breath. It was really and truly like old times.

Who wouldn’t feel better after sharing a meal here?

We only talked about Isa a little (and I abstained from watching movies of her on my iPhone until the end of the last day). Mostly we talked about silly things, we people watched and made comments, we marveled at the gorgeous surrounds and our good fortune. We spent hours deciding where we’d eat next. We had sex. We had sex again. We got drunk without having to worry about being responsible for someone when we got home. We warded off hangovers with preemptively purchased water and ibuprofen. We listened to good music and ordered drinks. We chatted with friends. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I don’t have to tell you that Mi.Vida and I have been struggling lately. It’s been a long time since we’ve really been happy around each other. When, before the trip even started, we realized we’d recycled a birthday card (my birthday card) with $100 cash still tucked inside I was sure the weekend was ruined. But we forged ahead despite the disappointment and managed to have a fantastic time. I think we both realized that if we didn’t, things might get really, really bad.

Even if you’re not experiencing marital troubles, a weekend away can be strong and positive medicine. Escaping from the every day trials and tribulations to reconnect with each other can do wonders for a couple. No matter what is going on at home, getting away is a wonderful thing.

Now I know not everyone has family near by willing and able to watch their kids but there might be other ways to make a weekend away a reality. If family is far away maybe you could go to them and then leave your children in their care for 48 hours while you slip away to a neighboring area. Maybe your parents can come to you for a week and while they are there you can leave for a night or two. Maybe a friend could take your little one(s) for a weekend if you promise to do the same for them some day. It might take some imagination and planning but if it’s all possible, it’s worth attempting. A weekend away can be just what the doctor ordered.

Coming home on Sunday night I was so eager to see my daughter. I even hoped she’d get up in the night so I could be with her. When she roused me at 6am I was ecstatic to see her and she seemed pretty happy to see me too. I’m sure this week I will be hugging her a little tighter and lingering longer when I swoop in for a kiss.

And while I’m sure the carefree attitude that surrounded us on our weekend away will quickly dissipate, I have faith that the healing that took place will remain.

Wordless Wednesdays: San Diego

Okay, so this post will actually go up so late that on the East Coast it will already be Thursday. And it has decidedly more words than “no words” so “wordless” is also a misnomer. Yeah I guess this is actually a Wordful Thursday Picture Post. But that’s okay. I’m getting so good at adjusting expectations that blatantly bucking convention like this doesn’t even phase me.

(Also, this post is ridiculously long (21 shots!) so feel free to skim rapidly or skip it all together.)

I love this shot of Isa with a giant semi behind her. We were hoping she’d crawl around to release some steam but it was too hot so she just sat there. Also, that grass was ridiculously dirty, there were cigarette butts everywhere.


That’s me, feeding Isa a bottle while sitting on the bottom shelf at a gas station quickie mart.


Doesn’t she look old here? She looks like a little girl.


This is what happens when mommy is too lazy to look for a hair clip in the morning. She’s so emo.


I was so excited to meet my blogging friend Noelle and her beautiful daughter B. Of course we couldn’t get one good shot of the girls together.


Attempt 56 of 1078. I love how B is like, enough already! I know I’m so cute!

I can’t believe we failed to get a shot of ourselves too! FAIL!


How can I put my daughter in an outfit like this and not take a picture?!


A love this shot, probably because of the asymmetry, not in spite of it. Also we’re both really cute.


This was Isa’s first trip to the beach. She crawled right out into the water. She is definitely her mother’s daughter.


I just love this shot. I really captures our day at the beach. Also – tutu bathing suit + safari hat = amazing!


This is where Hipstamatic went “random” and Mi.Vida didn’t realize he was taking 30 B&W shots. At least they’re still awesome.


Still in B&W mode. The kiddies playing in a small pool I made for them to keep the water warmer and the wind at bay. (I had way too much fun building that fort, by the way).


I MUST have this Ernie hat. Evidently it was purchased on Etsy.


Did I mention I must have this hat? I made Isa wear it for two hours even though it was 70+ degrees. Obviously she didn’t mind much.


Mi.Vida reading Isa a story.



Let us out of here! These two were very cute together.


Surrounded by cute babies. Pretty awesome.


Isa was in a great mood during our 10 hour drive home.


This is what we ate for breakfast. In-N-Out burger at 10:30am (yes they are open that early and yes, that is a vanilla shake).


Did I mention what a good mood Isa was in? This was during our second and final stop of the day. I finally went to Pea Soup Andersons!

We had a great time in San Diego. We are so lucky to have friends down there who let us stay with them; we hope to make it an annual trip. So far we’ve gone every summer since Isa was born and we intend to keep the tradition alive. San Diego in the Summer of ’12, here we come!