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Family

Traveling With Kids // Updated Edition

May 29, 2018

After our recent trip to Idaho with a baby and preschooler in tow, I think it’s time for a little updated edition of traveling with a baby and toddler. Not because I know all the things, but we have done air travel with two kids a couple times now, with another trip coming up soon. I considered our most recent trip a success because I didn’t say “I’m never doing this again!” event once on this trip. That, friends, is the low bar that I set for traveling with little kids, because it’s hard, sometimes crazy, and a little bit nuts but it’s worth it. And with the right mindset, it doesn’t have to be miserable, either.

So, here are a few thoughts and take-aways about traveling with little kids.

Age Matters // 
The girls are at totally different stages in terms of how easy they are to travel with. Collins is currently just over a year old and in, what I think, is the hardest age to do air travel with. She isn’t able to walk well yet, so she crawls all over dirty surfaces like the airport floor, and she isn’t easily entertained with toys, stickers, media, etc. Yet she isn’t a sleepy newborn anymore, either. She mainly just protests being held and squirms around a lot. Just remember that things get easier and better over time.

Pick Smart Flights // 
I know this isn’t always an option because price is a factor, too, but I suggest trying to travel in the morning vs. later in the day when everyone is exhausted and weary. My girls aren’t super great at napping on the plane or in the stroller, so while “nap time flights” seem like a great idea in theory, it really backfires. We took a very early morning flight on our way home (think 5:30 am) and it was surprisingly great. We were all pretty exhausted after a 12 hour travel day and 3:45 am wake-up, but Ainsley was super sleepy on the plane, they dimmed the cabin lights and Collins even napped for a little bit as well. We had breakfast when we got to our destination and then hopped in the car for the drive home and everyone slept + early early bed times so mom and dad could recover, too! Early morning flights not be for everyone, but finding flight times that work for your family really does help make the experience easier. Also, if you can fly direct, by all means do so! You reduce the risk of getting stuck

Check Your Bags //
We’re pretty light packers, so we typically only have a couple carry-on suitcases with us, but we learned a long time ago that having our hands free in the airport to wrangle kids is key. We check our bags (and our car seats) when we get to the airport so we only have our stroller and a couple backpacks to deal with through security and the airport. If you fly Southwest, the first bag is always free and on all airlines the car seats are free to check. If you typically fly another airline, look into getting that airline’s credit card, which typically gets you a free checked bag as well. We borrowed this awesome car seat bag from a friend and I bought two of them today because they are SO good. Car seats are so awkward to carry and this backpack carry option helps tremendously!

We travel with our double stroller because we *need* a way to contain both girls through the airport and love having our stroller with us when we reach our destination. We gate-check the stroller when we get on the plane and it works great!

Get on the Plane Last //
If you check your bags, then you don’t have to worry about getting on the plane early to ensure room for luggage overhead. And if you’re not worried about that, then you can get on the plane LAST. We say “no!” to getting on board early because we’ve had too many times stuck on the plane super early while boarding takes forever and the kids have already been on the plane an extra 45 minutes by the time the plane takes off. So wait until the last minute to board and keep everyone running around and fresh until absolutely necessary.

Buy What You Can There //
Things like diapers, wipes, and formula can really take up a ton of space. Don’t waste that space packing enough of those things for your entire trip. Pack enough for your trip there, and buy what you need once you get to your destination. With so many Targets and Walmarts and more available to you, chances are you’ll be just fine getting what you need when you arrive. And if you are staying with family, you can always ship your items ahead of time!

Madison

Family

A Quick Florida Trip

March 27, 2017

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Two weeks ago my dad called me up on the phone and asked if we would meet them in Florida for a very quick long weekend. They are staying for the entire week (my aunt lives in the Orlando area) since my little sister has spring break this week, but since we’re saving Joe’s vacation days for when baby arrives, we really couldn’t swing more than a long weekend. Although the trip wasn’t planned, and we’re getting close to the “no-fly” cut-off point of pregnancy, I couldn’t resist taking one last trip just the three of us! I mean, packing and traveling with Ainsley, dare I say it, getting SO easy and I know that soon we will be back to lugging all the things with us when we travel.

I mandated that our whole family pack in a single carry-on bag, and we managed to do so successfully! I know we weren’t gone very long, but I considered it a feat considering how much we took with us on trips just a year ago. Ainsley also took a back pack filled with toys, games, snacks and a stuffed animal and I took a purse. We checked the car seat through the airport and let Ainsley sit in her seat like a big girl. Overall, she did great! Our flight times were pretty early, and her naps ended up being much later than we would have liked, but we made it work. And I kept reminding myself what I remind myself every time we take a trip: Travel is always, always worth it.

We had such a wonderful time soaking up the sunshine and laying by the pool, even if it was for just a couple days. We don’t get to see my Florida/Idaho family as much as I wish we did, so we soaked up the time we had with them and made every moment count. Truth be told, I’m not sure when our next trip will take place. We don’t have any real travel plans on the books until the fall, when Joe and I have a weekend getaway planned, and otherwise plan to lay low this summer and adjust to our new schedule as a family of four.

Thanks for the memories, Florida!

Family

I’m Thankful for the Hard Weeks

March 21, 2017

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Last week Monday Joe and I had just returned from our trip out to California and I was looking forward to digging into a new week. Fresh off our trip, I had so many good ideas I planned to translate into work and great food finds I wanted to blog about. In my new schedule Mondays are always my at-home days with Ainsley. We go to music class, grab coffee, and do things like run errands, laundry, etc. But Monday morning it became very clear to me that what I thought was a toddler who missed momma was quickly becoming a toddler that was getting really sick really fast.

A day full of cuddles and Curious George gave way to a high fever, irritability and very restless sleep for six days and nights. Of course, we didn’t know that it would last so long at the time, so one day at home with Ainsley for me turned into an entire week, canceled weekend plans and a very tired, emotional and behind on work momma come Saturday. Was it the hardest of the hard? Absolutely not. Was it a really challenging and difficult week? Yes, indeed!

While I’m not eager to have a repeat of last week any time soon, as I found myself reflecting on the week we just had I realized how hard days, weeks and even months give way to such a season of gratitude in my heart. I can, like most people, become easily dissatisfied with the here and how. Sometimes I find myself trudging through a workout or not wanting to do that email follow-up that’s been on my to-do list for a number of days. Or maybe it’s the freelance bookkeeping – admittedly my least favorite part about my job – that I need to reconcile at the end of the month. Sometimes I bring a really crappy attitude to it all when I lose perspective of the gift of work and motherhood and finding a balance between the two.

But this week, with last week still very clear in my mind, I found myself SO eager, thankful and excited to do all the tasks that might otherwise seem mundane. Suddenly doing laundry, making toddler lunch, cleaning up subsequent toddler mess, working through emails and making the bed had an added layer of sparkle. Heck, I was just glad we weren’t watching the same 10 episodes of Curious George over and over! But most of all I was very thankful to have my bright, expressive and even strong-willed toddler back. Seeing her listless and sick for days on end without her usual spark was so incredibly sad; even though I don’t relish the meltdowns and battles of the will that come with this age, I found myself thankful that she was feeling good enough to show off that spunk.

For me, I think one of the best and most difficult parts about motherhood has been that it teaches reliance on God by stripping you of the things you think you need the most. Basic needs like sleep become a rarity and personal space, which for an introvert like me is crucial, can be stripped in an instant. And while it’s important to find rest in the margins of motherhood, God’s grace and sufficiency becomes clear when we don’t have the things we “need” to lean on. (Side note: God’s grace is also very evident in the form of moms who come and spend the weekend with you, organizing your house and doing your laundry…)

I have a feeling that in eight weeks or so, with baby girl is here, I’ll be coming back to read this post and preach to myself as I learn to navigate life with two little ones. 🙂

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

On Trusting My Body

February 1, 2017

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{Hatch Collection Bateau Top} // {GAP Demi Pannel Maternity Skinny Jeans}

Today I went to my doctor’s appointment. I’m 25 weeks pregnant, meaning I’ve got about 15 more weeks to go, and every time I have to step on the scale I cringe just a little bit. I would be lying if I said, given some of my past issues with body image, that it’s easy for me to see my body growing and changing rapidly. Actually, this time around might be playing more games with my mind than Ainsley’s pregnancy.

It’s a luxury, isn’t it? To be able to worry about things like gaining weight. During Ainsley’s pregnancy it was a luxury that I didn’t really afford myself because I was focused on other things, like whether or not my baby was healthy and growing appropriately. Like I said, a luxury to even think or worry about these things but something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as we go further and further into this pregnancy.

While I was fretting about my pregnancy weight gain after my appointment today, something registered in my mind.

Trust your body. 

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility can attest to the fact that trusting your body doesn’t come easily. In the midst of my losses I didn’t feel I could trust my body at all. It had failed me in doing the thing I wanted so badly for it to do. But throughout Ainsley’s pregnancy, and baby girl #2’s pregnancy, I’ve felt a renewed sense of trust in what my body can do.

I’ve seen my body expand and grow, gaining 35 pounds, enduring 16 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing to give us our beautiful Ainsley. That same body lost those 35 pounds and then some. It’s pushed a stroller for miles and bounced a fussy newborn for hours in the middle of the night. It’s run races and endured countless workouts. When I’ve called on my body to be there for me it has been there and then some.

So today when I was tempted to worry about what my body was doing and how much weight I’ve gained, I made the decision to trust my body and believe it will do what’s needed to grow and carry this baby. And then when that baby is here, it will feed, cuddle, and nurture that baby, too.

So fellow pregnant mommas, join me in giving your body the grace and appreciation it deserves, even on the hard days. Because the hard days will come. We’re only human, right? But how we choose to respond to those hard days is what really matters.

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

Baby Hofmeyer #2 is a….

January 9, 2017

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GIRL! We are shocked (both of us thought it was a boy) and really, really excited to welcome another little lady into our growing family. I get all teary eyed thinking about Ainsley having a sister to share so many wonderful memories with in the years to come. Although she doesn’t quite understand yet, I keep assuring her that this is the best news of her little life. She keeps running around the house saying, “Baby Margaret!” (all you Daniel Tiger watching moms will appreciate that…)

Since I’ve gone 22 weeks without much of a real pregnancy update, I thought it was high time I did a little mid-pregnancy update for those of you who are curious. I have looked back at my updates from Ainsley’s pregnancy a handful of times and always like comparing this pregnancy to her pregnancy. I really wish I had done more frequent updates this time around.

HOW FAR ALONG? 22 weeks 1 day

FEELING: Lots of kicks! I started feeling pretty consistent kicks around 20 weeks, with a few occasional kicks around 18 or 19 weeks. I really thought I would feel kicks sooner the second time around, but that wasn’t the case. These days little lady is moving all the time.

As for me, I’m feeling pretty good! I’ve been generally sicker this pregnancy than with Ainsley and I’m convinced I’m never really going to feel truly “great” this time around. While I can’t say I’m consistently nauseous these days, it still hits me from time to time and I still have a hard time finding foods that really sound good to eat.

Thanks to consistent workouts, I’m feeling more in shape this time around and more like myself than I think I did with Ainsley, but the pesky groin pain I experienced with my last pregnancy is beginning to bother me again. Regular trips to the chiropractor and lots of stretching will hopefully get me through the rest of this pregnancy relatively comfortably.

WEIGHT GAIN: I gained 10 pounds during the first trimester alone, but the weight gain really slowed down after that. As of 21 weeks, I was up 15 pounds.

CRAVING: Nothing, really! Food generally doesn’t sound good or bad to me right now, and my appetite has slowed down significantly from the first trimester. I still really love orange juice, specifically mixed with sparkling water, apple cider vinegar and stevia. I really can’t stand sugar this time around, and every time I eat something sugary it makes me feel ill, so I’ve been steering clear as much as possible.

DOING: Work on the nursery! Well, just starting to plan for the nursery, really, but the room is cleared out and we have moved Ainsley’s dresser into the baby’s room since Ainsley doesn’t need it anymore. We’ve ordered a crib and have a rug and that’s about it so far.

We’re also renovating the basement and moving my office in to the basement since this baby is taking over my former office, so I’ll have a new dedicated space to work downstairs, which I’m super excited about!

Madison