traveling with littles // our travel essentials

Traveling with Littles.jpg

Since I posted about our Mexico trip (over on Instagram and on the blog) I have had TONS of questions about how we traveled with the kids, what we took, and tips from the trip. So, I thought I would just put up a big post with links to everything so I wouldn’t have to type and text and respond with the same things to everyone. Plus, this is a great reference for me because as much as I love traveling, the actual act of traveling gives me a bit of anxiety, especially in the day or two before. It’s mostly the preparation, which is sort of counter-intuitive since I am such a planner, and the lists and lists of things to pack and to-dos before we leave (like I will stay up all night cleaning the house and doing all of the laundry the night before so I come home to a super clean house).

Any-hoo, onto our travel essentials. Obviously it depends on your kids, your routine and every day necessities, and your own preferences, but lots of these things work for most of the littles. Also, I have tailored this to air travel, but many of the same things are true when we drive.

Something that I had growing up was a travel backpack which was a backpack full of toys and things that I only got when we traveled. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) And this is something that we started when Eloise was tiny and continue to do. Guys, it’s magic. These are special toys that she only gets when we drive or fly, so they are really special every time. It really doesn’t have to be anything crazy or over-the-top, and remember that they have to really be small enough for your littles to carry (or else you will have to carry it!). Right now these travel-only toys include: this Doodle Pro, these Mermaid stickers, flashcards (from the Dollar Spot at Target), these headphones, coloring book or paper and crayons, and this kids’ digital camera we added as a new surprise for this most recent trip! I also include a small snack in the front pocket of her bag (usually a bar and a pouch).

I try to have Eloise carry some of her own things, but since her backpack is so tiny, realistically I have to carry some things. I generally put her stickers, a small book, her headphones, and her lovie and blanket in her backpack, and then I carry everything else. This trip I took my diaper bag (I have this Skip-Hop one which I am LOVING right now because pockets and over-the-shoulder handles or cross-body – necessary with two kids) and this awesome Lo & Sons bag (Deluxe Small). And then Aaron carries a bag too, currently this Miir backpack which is also awesome! Between all of those bags, we can usually fit everything we are carrying on the airplane without it being too obnoxious! I put all of the essentials that we will more than likely need during the plane trip in my diaper bag (diapers, wipes, water bottles, pacifier) that goes under the seat, and then at least one of the other bags goes up into the over-head bin (and includes things we don’t need immediately like extra clothes, snacks, etc.).

STROLLER, CAR SEATS, AND CARRIERS

Even though our every day stroller is pretty compact (we have the Bugaboo Bee) it seemed too bulky to take on the trip. I wanted something that either girl could sit in that would be easy to maneuver around the resort. But I also didn’t want a super cheap stroller that would break during the trip. So we settled on this umbrella stroller and it was perfect! It fit either girl, laid back for the occasional nap, had a pretty big storage basket underneath, had a cup holder (bonus!), and folded to be pretty compact. We took this stroller with us in the airport and then gate-checked it. Though not necessary, I like to put gate-checked items into bags and this one was perfect for an umbrella stroller!

We weren’t planning on doing any extra driving while in Mexico, but since we did have to get from the airport to the resort (in a vehicle) we brought both of the girls’ car seats. We don’t use them on the plane (see below) but I didn’t feel comfortable being in a vehicle without car seats, despite the assurances that Mexico does not actually require car seats for children. (Um, yikes, but that’s not the point here.) So we checked the car seats using these car seat bags. Obnoxious, yes. Practical, yes. The bags have backpack straps (which Aaron can use; I, however, will fall over backwards!) and are big enough for the seat plus we always put diapers in the seat to save room in our luggage! A note about international travel and car seats is that other countries, including Mexico, don’t have locking seat belts, so be sure to take these brackets which will “lock” the seat belt!

We also took both of the carriers for the girls (the Tula and the Ergo) since we both can use them and Aaron can still carry Eloise in a carrier. In hindsight, we should have just brought one since the Ergo went unused during almost the entire trip. (It was WAY too hot to use the carriers when we were in Mexico, for the most part!) But, we find the carriers really helpful when we are getting on the plane because it frees up both sets of hands to carry bags. And as much as I love my Solly wrap, in the past it has been too tricky to try to get Daphne in and out of it as the other carriers (though I loved it when D was a newborn).

PLANE

Getting on the plane with littles is always an experience. And one that gives me anxiety. I just want to be on the plane with my luggage stowed and seat belt fastened. So I make sure that we get any gate check bag tags that we need (for our stroller and sometimes our infant car seat, but not this time around) as soon as there is someone at the gate counter, and then I wait in the immediate boarding area in case there are any updates about the flight. And there are differing opinions about this, but our system is to get on the plane as early as possible! That generally means we board with the “families or passengers that need extra time getting down the jet way.” For some airlines this is the very first group to board, and for others it is after all of the gold, platinum, whatever flight status passengers get to board. But, long story short, we get onto the plane with the girls before 95% of the rest of the passengers.

Once we find our seats, I get in first to sit in the window and then Eloise will get the middle seat. I wipe down everything (tray – both sides, arm rests, window and wall) with a disinfecting wipe. My girls, especially Daphne, lick and touch everything. So there’s that. While I am disinfecting, Aaron is installing the CARES harness that we use for Eloise onto the seat; it is a loop that goes over the seat, but requires the tray to be put down for tightening, and then provides an upper harness that loops into the regular airline seat belt. Again, there are many differing opinions about how small children should be restrained in an airplane, but we have chosen to have lap infants (before age 2) and then use the CARES harness (rather than hauling a car seat on the plane). And then Daphne sits with me during pre-boarding and then during take-off and landing, just in case she won’t take her paci and needs to nurse.

Before I had littles, I didn’t put anything in the seat back pocket. But now, I load it up with wet wipes, water bottles, books, snacks. When you have a baby on your lap, it is difficult to get a bag out from under the seat, so I try to get most of what I might need during the flight out where I can easily reach it. And then we use the under the seat space at Eloise’s seat to store one of the bigger carry-ons that has things we will need during the flight, and the other carry-on goes up into the overhead bin. That leaves Aaron with no bags at his feet so he’s a bit more comfortable (since his knees nearly hit the seat in front of him).

 

PLAY

Even on a short flight little ones need something to do, so we try to bring entertaining things to keep them occupied for as much of the flight as possible. Like I mentioned above, we have special airplane toys/items that only come out during travel, so they tend to keep Eloise occupied for a little longer than normal. In addition, I bring a few small board books or magazines for her to read or to have read to her. For Daphne, I brought a few soft toys and books, but avoided anything that squeaked!

Before each trip, Aaron will pre-download shows (Daniel Tiger, Mister Roger’s, and Sesame Street are the current ones) onto either his phone or one of our computers. This way we don’t have to worry about Wifi on the plane or any sort of buffering during the show. We are pretty strict about screentime with Eloise during our normal life, and during traveling, we are equally strict. She gets to watch one (maybe two) shows of her choosing during a plane ride, but only after she takes a nap. It is amazing that a toddler can go from “I am not tired. At all.” to sleeping in a matter of minutes if it means there is a show on the other side! We don’t always get the longest naps, but we make sure she naps before a show. And, also, we try to exhaust every other possible entertainment method for Eloise before we let her watch a show; that means reading stories, snacks (so many snacks), walking up and down the aisle, going potty, etc. We know from other parents that if you offer a show too early in the trip, the only thing your toddler wants to do is watch a show!

 

FOOD

I bring tons of snacks on trips, always. Even before kids. I guess I worry about being on a plane or in a hotel room without food! I tend to make a big trip to Trader Joe’s a few days before a trip because it has the BEST snack foods. And snacks don’t have to be unhealthy. We do a lot of trail mix, dried fruit, and other healthier snacks so that I don’t worry as much if that is all Eloise will eat on the trip.

One thing that we do bring that we don’t have normally (so it’s special which magical for toddlers!) are food pouches. They are heavy but really convenient and if you have kids, TSA doesn’t make a stink about them at all. For a flight, I will put one into Eloise’s backpack for her to find and then let her choose when she wants to eat it. But I do limit the amount of pouches to one per day for Eloise. Daphne, on the other hand, was young enough on our trip that we were still transitioning between purees and BLW (baby-led weaning). So I loaded up on pouches* and brought enough for one pouch per meal since I didn’t know what the food situation was going to be.

*Since I don’t normally buy food pouches, I was overwhelmed (an understatement) when I went to Target to buy them for the trip. Holy cow there are about 100 brands, even if you are only looking at organic ones! So, I started reading the labels. Many pouches (and other baby foods and drinks even) use apple sauce/puree as the main filler with only a small amount of the other flavors. My test for pouches was to find ones that were (1) organic and (2) weren’t apple sauce. And I ended up finding these Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Stage 2 that fit the bill and were in a clear pouch (bonus!) with lots of interesting flavors. Like I said, I loaded up and ended up bringing enough for 2 or 3 every day which was so, so heavy going down to Mexico, but Daphne ate them all during our trip and we didn’t have to haul them back (except the ones I saved for the flights home).

Along with TJ’s snacks, we also like Ella’s Kitchen snacks, Bambas, and Larabars (mini). We don’t usually let Eloise snack much during the day because it just destroys mealtimes, but when we travel (and especially when we fly) we are super lax about snacking. We ended up being able to get food really quickly at the resort in Mexico because there was a food buffet open almost all day, but sometimes waiting in restaurants for a meal is hard, so I always have snacks or a pouch in my bag.

 

SUN AND SAND

One thing I was dreading with the hot weather in Mexico (and also just summer in general) is sunscreen. I loathe sunscreen but the alternative is worse. I am also really picky when it comes to sunscreen and will only use physical sunscreen which means almost all of the cool sprays, mousses, dry-touch ones are all no-nos. Our favorite for the past few years is this non-aerosol spray from Babyganics which we all use. And I also picked up this Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc for our trip after reading really good reviews on it, and I really liked it! Aaron wasn’t sold on it, but the smell was amazing. Neither one of these sunscreens are super white and greasy which is what I am looking for. And be sure to test sunscreen on an arm or leg of your babies first to make sure there isn’t a bad skin reaction! Daphne wasn’t able to wear sunscreen all summer-long (because she was under 6 months) but thank goodness she was old enough when we went to Mexico and that she wasn’t allergic to either sunscreen we had.

Because we were going to be at the beach, I brought along our little anti-UV pop-up tent that I picked up at the Nordy’s Anni Sale this past summer. It didn’t get as much use as I thought since Daphne was so little this summer and we mostly just stayed out of the sun, but it folds up small enough (and flat enough) that we were able to get it into our suitcase for this trip. To be totally honest, we only used this tent one morning while we were in Mexico, but it was still worth it! I was able to keep Daphne out of the sand since she would just eat it and be covered in it (between the sunscreen and her hands in her mouth all the time) which was amazing! We have previously rented a big tent for the beach when we went to Maui and it was awesome for the beach!

If it is sunny and hot at all, my girls are used to wearing sunhats (at least Eloise is). Since neither will reliably keep sunglasses on, sunhats are the way to go. We love this iPlay one since it is super lightweight, dries quickly, and breathes. Plus, it is adjustable and has a chin tie (which is necessary for a baby who tries to pull it off). Eloise had a dark navy blue one when she was one, but I quickly discovered that the dark color got hot in the sun. So she and Daphne both have white ones. There is also this one that has more neck coverage. And in addition to a sunhat, we wear lots of sunshirts near the pool or at the beach. We have one from Crewcuts (J. Crew’s baby line) and Honest Co. but I have also been liking the ones that come with the bathing suit set (like Cat and Jack for Target). Often I will bring an extra sunshirt along in my bag and then can switch out the girls’ shirt if we are going to be in the sun so I don’t have to slather on quite as much sunscreen!

SLEEP

Ah, elusive sleep. Especially when you are traveling, sleep is elusive. We have two really good sleepers, but traveling and being away from home and in a new place can be disruptive! We try to mimic our sleep routine and schedule from home as much as possible when we are traveling. Same jammies, same lovies, same pacis, same/similar sound machine, same sleep sack.

We have this travel sound machine which has been good for the past few years, but we have been having trouble with batteries corroding in it, so I am on the hunt! Basically, I want something that is lightweight and can give us the sound of rain (that’s our preferred sound) all night long (so no timer). If you have any recommendations on a good travel sound machine, I am all ears!

And since Eloise had been recently night-time potty-trained, I brought along this waterproof mattress pad cover which is the one that we keep on her bed at home. Luckily, we didn’t end up needing it, but I will probably still bring it along with us for our next few trips since it folds up like a small blanket.

And for Daphne, I ended up bringing an extra blanket for her which I used on the plane while she napped and then hung on the side of the pack n’ play while we were in Mexico. I wouldn’t normally hang a blanket on the side of a pack n’ play but in this case we were sharing a hotel room so I needed to put something up to block Daphne’s view so that she would sleep. We put her over on the other side of the room (from the beds) to give her some space and quiet, but the sides of the pack n’ play are mesh… so we hung a blanket over one side and a towel over the other and it worked really well (the other two sides were facing the wall and the sliding door with curtains). At this point (one month later) Daphne probably would have pulled that blanket and curtain off the sides since she can now stand up in a crib, but at the time it worked!

PASSPORTS AND TRAVEL DOCS

When we decided to book our trip to Mexico for the entire, we knew it would require passports for the girls. Even though we don’t have any other international trips planned as of now, it’s nice to know that we can plan a last minute trip or take a drive across the border if we need/want to (Canada is just about 3 hours north). Plus, passports for littles are insanely cute and good for 5 years. We took our own pictures using the Murphy bed in the guest room/office for the white backdrop, and then printed them at Walgreen’s.

{Side note: This section is about vaccines. We have decided to vaccinate ourselves and our children which is a personal decision. This isn’t a post meant to be pro-vaccination, but just to explain what our process was regarding travel and vaccines.} And since we were traveling abroad, I did ask our girls’ pediatrician about any extra vaccines they may need before the trip since other countries have different exposure risks than we do domestically. He told us that Eloise was good-to-go since she is up-to-date on her vaccines (thru three years), but that he recommended that Daphne get an early booster of the MMR (which isn’t started until after one year) because there is a high risk of exposure when you travel internationally, specifically in international airport terminals. Also, since it was early October when we left for our trip, we all got our annual flu vaccines before flying.

And finally, be sure to research any other documents you might need on your trip, depending on where you are traveling, including any required visas. I also took pictures of our passports as well as scanned them and saved them to our cloud storage (just in case they got lost) and took a copy of the girls’ birth certificates and vaccine records (which I always have with me).

What are your travel essentials?

M

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eloise {big kid room reveal}

It’s been a long time coming (especially since we moved Eloise into her new room months ago!) and a lot of you have been asking, but here is a post all about Eloise’s big kid room! (And there will, eventually, be a post about Daphne’s nursery too… shooting the nursery is tricky with a baby and a toddler. And nap times and preschool drop-off and pick-up. But I digress.)

Eloise is (still) so excited about her room. If you come over (or have been over recently) she will want to take you on a tour of it. So sweet and I am taking it as a complement of how much she LOVES it! I tried to keep most of her original decor (though most of the artwork never hung in her nursery though I had good intentions of hanging a gallery wall in there for years!) which was the entire idea when I decorated her nursery to begin with. I wanted it to feel like she could grow up in there and have something familiar even once she transitioned into a new space.

As most of you know, this is the front bedroom which is at the very bottom of the stairs, and formally housed our office. We hadn’t done much to the space (except hang some things on the walls) since we knew it was mostly a temporary space for us to spread out and would eventually become a bedroom.

And without further adieu, pictures (because that is what you all are here for, right?).

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And a source list for those who are interested:

Love your big kid room Eloise!

M

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eloise’s third birthday party!

Months ago I asked Eloise what she wanted to do for her birthday, and she told me she wanted to have a party with her friends and have a purple dinosaur cake. {She was very insistent on having a “purple dinosaur cake” and would say that’s what she wanted for her birthday if you asked her. I recently caught a part of a Daniel Tiger episode where there were make-believe dinosaurs, and one was purple, which is probably where she got the dinosaur idea from!}

I didn’t really put two + two together, but when I started mentioning “purple dinosaurs” to people, everyone immediately was like “Barney?” To which I wanted to stay as far away from Barney as possible! So I started looking on Etsy for a shop that could make a cute “purple dinosaur” invitation and I found this little shop that personalized the invite for Eloise!

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I love using Paperless Post because it has a great event tracker for keeping track of RSVPs, but in the past I had always used one of the invitation designs that was offered on the site. I discovered though that they offer an “upload your own” invitation that allows you to upload your own design (or one that you buy like I did) which was perfect!

Generally I take on way too much for parties (um, imagine that!) and then end up scrambling the few days leading up to the party which isn’t very fun (and is super stressful). And I also always end up with WAY too much food (you’d think I would learn after all of these years how much food we actually need). So this time, I made sure I kept things super simple (because, two children = no free time) on both the décor and the food. Food-wise, I didn’t make anything except for the cake and Rice Krispy treats (which are the easiest thing ever to make!) and it was all stuff I picked up and took out of a box or bag, and set out on the table. And décor-wise, I picked up (purple) flowers, a banner, and some balloons, but focused on one craft: party hats. I used my tried-and-true party hat (including mini ones this time since there are so many younger siblings in the mix now) and added purple “dinosaur scales” to them.

I did make Eloise’s purple cake. It was purple frosting with purple dinosaur candles. Sadly, there aren’t any close-ups of the dinosaur candles, but I spray painted plastic dinosaurs purple and candle holders gold (we are early indoctrinating this girl to be a UW fan!), had Aaron drill into the backs of them, and then put them together (like this) with purple candles as a finishing touch. I usually bake a cake for birthday parties, but this time it was a bit different because I did a “test cake” the week before to make sure the recipe was good (or that I could make it well). It was a buttermilk cake (I didn’t do the fruit compote or cream) with whipped frosting, and it was yummy!

And onto the pictures! {Thank you SO much JESS for taking these!}

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For those that have asked, the girls are both wearing one of our favorite brands June & January, Eloise in the play dress and Daphne in the play romper (both in violet).

And here are links to Eloise’s first and second birthdays!

Happy Third Birthday Eloise!

M

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eloise {three years}

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{lion: jellycat via Nordstrom // tee: Old Navy // skirt: June and January // party hats: DIY}

{three years} Three years. I seriously can’t believe it. Eloise seems old and young at the same time (and if you have had recently or currently have a three year old, you know what I mean!). I am amazed by how much she understands and how well she communicates. It’s astounding. She is this incredible little person and I am so, so honored to be able to watch her grow, and also very humbled that I have the great responsibility of raising her. {See her grow up: birth story // one year // two years}

Since we sleep trained Eloise when she was five months old, she has basically been a great sleeper. 12 hours at night and a nice nap (most days). But, as we got into the mid-year of her twos, we started running into issues of Eloise screaming and crying when we tried to leave for bedtime. Aaron got the brunt of it since I was either pregnant or caring for newborn-Daphne, but her wails would echo thru the house! After getting some advice from friends and talking it thru, we started getting more firm with a bedtime routine. I think most of our issues stemmed from Eloise’s expectation that she would get an endless amount of books before she went to sleep and each night was a negotiation; now we have a firm rule of one book at naptime and two books at bedtime, though those books can be lost if she is naughty in the time leading up to sleeping time or during the bedtime routine. And we also found that if we allowed her to have books in her bed to “read” while she is falling asleep, it’s helpful too. Eloise takes a really long time to fall asleep (sometimes over an hour) which is partly because I still allow her to have a pretty long afternoon nap if she’ll take it, but she does do well falling asleep herself.

Eloise has been an amazing big sister these past five months. She has always loved babies and was really in-tune with what was going in with my pregnancy, but you just don’t know how things are going to shake out once that baby comes home (and never leaves)! We have had our moments for sure, but the vast majority of the time, Eloise is awesome about Daphne. She is always so loving and curious about her, and just wants to help all. the. time. My little mama. It has been amazing to see the relationship between these two girls!

Just in the last week or so we started Time Out with Eloise. One of the parenting books that I have flipped thru (The Incredible Years) recommended that real Time Out really isn’t effective until the age of three. Before this, we put toys (or whatever was the issue) into Time Out, or just removed Eloise from the situation that was causing the issue. Eloise is a pretty good kid (considering she is a toddler and exploring her boundaries) and does not like to be in trouble (just like her mama) so we didn’t have a ton of issues. But there are some things that Aaron and I have decided aren’t tolerable in our house (like hitting or throwing) that lead to an official Time Out. Eloise isn’t great with Time Out as she screams and cries the entire time and really just wants someone to stay with her, but I think it’s been effective. I know she doesn’t totally understand it yet as a consequence, but the vast majority of the time just the threat of a Time Out will correct behavior quickly!

Eloise’s pre-school is based on the school calendar year, so she has been on summer break since the end of June and will start again in early September (right after Labor Day). While our school schedule in the PNW is vastly different than the rest of the country it seems, it really fits our weather much better regarding summer. We don’t really get warm until June (or even July) and have a gorgeous September, so it really works out well. This year Eloise will attend the same pre-school (the Birch School) but will go four mornings a week (Monday thru Thursday) instead of just two. It is great because on Tuesday mornings she will go to story time at the library with her class which is something I have struggled to make happen with both girls (trying to get everyone out of the house in the morning to make a 25 minute story time is a little insane). Eloise asks at least twice a week when she gets to go back to school, so as much as we have enjoyed the summer, I think we are all ready to get back into the school routine in the fall. She just loves her teachers and her friends and just thrives in that environment which is so wonderful for us to see. I am currently starting to research possible Pre-K programs for Eloise to start in the fall of 2018 (which is blowing my mind… Pre-K? That means Kindergarten is just around the corner).

In the past few months, Eloise has learned how to button buttons and zip zippers. It isn’t all the time, but she always tries at first (“I can do it all by myself!”) and about half the time she needs help. But I am seriously impressed with her fine motor dexterity!

Also, band-aids. So many band-aids. We love the Oh Joy! ones from Target since there are fun designs and colors (without any character branding) that I can also wear, and I buy at least three boxes at a time. Eloise has a habit of re-skinning her knees as soon as they are healed from the last time, mostly from running down the sidewalk. I am a total klutz so hopefully she doesn’t follow my lead and gets over it sooner rather than later…

Lastly, we did (in May) turn Eloise’s car seat around so that she is forward-facing. It was a really agonizing decision and we went back and forth for a really long time on it, but ultimately turning her around made the most sense.

And the newest rendition of Things Eloise Says:

“Papa is a big giant boy! He can run. He can catch me. He can play tag and drink coffee.”

“Why does Susan (our neighbor) have her Christmas lights on? Maybe she likes them? Or maybe she needs them in her life?” (Shrugs.)

Papa: “Eloise are you string?” Eloise: “Yes. And din-dependent. (Independent.)”

Papa: “Your brain is very interesting.” Eloise: “And independent!”

“I don’t prefer my zucchini.”

Says everything three times (like from her Eloise books): It’s my favorite, favorite, favorite! I loved it, loved it, loved it!

Watching the marching band: “Maybe they are going to the marching band house. Or to school. Or to work, but not Papa’s work.”

“Do you think he has a weeding whacker?”

Eloise: “I love ice cream.” Me: “Oh, what is your favorite flavor?” Eloise: “Chocolate. Purple chocolate.” (This is before she had ever had ice cream!)

“Adios! I’m going to Mexico… It’s not open. Mexico.”

Papa: “Where does (cow) milk come from?” Eloise: “Cows.” Papa: “So if cow milk comes from cows, where does almond milk come from?” Eloise: “Bears?” (Papa asks again.) Eloise: “Teddy bears?”

“Maybe he’s brooming” (about Aaron sweeping the stairs).

Eloise: “Here you go Mama, this is for you” as she hands me a painted picture. Mama: “Oh thank you, it’s beautiful!” Eloise: “I know you love it.”

Mama: “Which jammies do you want to wear for naptime?” Eloise: “My Christmas jammies. I know it’s not Christmas. I love Christmas!”

Eloise: “Can Stella see the world?” (She wanted to take Stella her doll outside.)

“Hey there little cutie!” whenever she sees Daphne.

“Did you get those nom-a-noms from Madeleine’s party?” referring to M&Ms.

“Paga (my dad). You have a guest downstairs waiting for you. I don’t remember his name but he’s a guest!”

Running down the street: “This is a really good workout for me!”

Puts board books into her jean shorts: “Mama, it’s a nice little present.”

“Hot sauce is kind of my favorite but I don’t like the flavor of it.”

Birthday Interview. {I am hoping to do this interview every year to see how the answers change!}

What is your name? Eloise.
How old are you? Three (holds up three fingers).
What is your favorite thing to do? Play with Mama and Papa, and go on walks.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A doggie.
What is your favorite food? Bananas and pee-pop (it’s a food that you drink, it’s like milk or water or something like that).
Who do you like to spend your time with? Mama and Papa and Daphne and Sadie.
What do you do really well? Um, play with food.
What makes you laugh? Jokes.
What is the best time of day? Opening presents.
What are you afraid of? (Shakes her head). I like cats.
Who is your best friend? Mama.
What do you like to do with your family? Paint.
What do you love to learn about? Blocks.
Where do you like to go? To school.
What is your favorite book? Curious George.
If you had one wish, what would it be? I would make a witch?

{weight} 31 pounds, 8 ounces (50 to 75%); height: 36.5 inches (25 to 50%)*

{hair} (reddish) brown.

{teeth} 20 teeth plus four molars.

{eyes} dark brown.

{clothes}  2T (swimsuits from last year), some 3T, mostly 4T.

{diapers} underpants during the day and for naps, Honest Co. diapers at nighttime. {And the only reason she is even in diapers still during nighttime is because neither Aaron nor I have wanted to make the commitment; we are just now sleeping consistently thru the night and want to enjoy that for a moment. Eloise is the type of kid who will pee in a diaper if she is wearing one, so it isn’t like we are waiting for her to wake-up dry in the morning. Plus, her pediatrician just told me that (in his opinion) “nighttime training” isn’t really a thing and children will naturally stop producing urine at night sometime between 3 and 8 years. Long story short, it’s up in the air!}

{feeding} during the day, three meals, morning snack, & afternoon snack. cup of milk with every meal.

{likes} coloring, yelling, Duplos, digging in the dirt, splashing, counting, chewing on her toothbrush, the mailman (Teddy), any person outside on the sidewalk, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, coloring, buckles, jumping, watching out the front window (dogs, kids, trucks), books, mama & papa’s cell phone, toys that squeak or rattle, singing & music, dancing, Sadie, FaceTime, bathtime, shoes, mama’s (diaper) bag, clapping, putting things inside a bag or box, taking lids off of things, talking, helping with anything & everything, when Papa comes home from work.

{dislikes} not being included, having something taken away from her, not eating when someone else is, being hungry, TimeOut.

{nicknames} Bug, Love Bug, Baby Bug, E, Wheezy, Kiddo, Love, Bugaboo, E-Lo or Elle.

*I always said Eloise was a big two year old, especially in comparison to some of her friends, but according to her weight and height stats, she really isn’t!

Happy THREE years Eloise!

M

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eloise {last day of preschool 2017}

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{letter board: Letter Folk // jammies: Burt’s Bees // lunchbox: PackIt // sneakers: See Kai Run (similar)}

It’s hard to believe that it has already been an entire school year since this picture was taken on the first day of school! But then, Eloise grew up so much over the past months.

Eloise has absolutely LOVED school and looked forward to it each Monday and Wednesday morning. She had amazing teachers and friends, and really thrived in the environment. I was worried since she was so little when she started (barely 2) and just potty trained, but after a few tearful drop-offs, we got into a good rhythm and never looked back. To say that Eloise made progress this year emotionally, socially, and academically* is an understatement. We are very excited for Eloise to return to the Birch School in the fall, going 4 mornings a week!

I am not entirely sure Eloise understands what summer vacation means, but we are looking forward to lots of summer adventures both with Papa (who has a few more weeks at home with us) and with Daphne and me. Also, it was “spirit day” at school today and PAJAMAS were the theme, hence why Eloise is wearing jammies. This was probably the best case scenario for Eloise though because if she could stay in her jammies all day, every day, she would (definitely gets that from her Papa and not from her Mama!).

Happy summer vacation Eloise!

M

*There isn’t any academic curriculum, per se, at the Birch School, but Eloise has picked up on “academic” things nonetheless. She is a lover of knowledge with a great memory, so numbers, letters, colors, etc. come at great ease to her even without anything formal.

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eloise {thirty months // two & a half years}

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{lion: jellycat via Nordstrom // tee: Old Navy // leggings: Cat & Jack for Target (similar here and here) // bow: Hadley Girl (similar)}

{month thirty} Holy two-and-a-half years! I cannot believe we are even here. Seriously. I know Eloise hasn’t been a baby for a long time, but my mind cannot comprehend that she was born two-and-a-half years ago! I digress… here’s a recap of the last three months:

Eloise still loves Hide and Seek (see the hilarious video of her here if you missed it!) even though she can’t contain her excitement to stay hidden long enough to be found. She also really loves playing Peek-a-Boo these days, either with her hands or a blanket.

There is lots of singing during the day and Eloise almost always insists on music being played while we are in the car or in the house if we are hanging out in the kitchen. She sings a lot at school too, but is always singing to herself during her play time or even before she falls asleep. She is really into changing the lyrics of songs too, or mashing them together (two or three songs become one!) which really surprises me. She is really understanding the words of songs which is super cool. Her favorite personal renditions are: “We all live in a PURPLE submarine!” and “Grammie Had A Little Lamb.”

Eloise is also really grasping shapes these days and comments frequently about seeing different shapes in her food. She also is amazing at recognizing letters in books, letters, or out-and-about; she can tell you if something is a letter (versus a number or a symbol) but really can identify: E M P R G S and L. (Not a coincidence that most of those letters are in her name, or other people’s names – like Mama, Papa, Grammie.)

Something else I have noticed recently – which I think is also from school – is that Eloise will tell us that things are “similar” or “different.” And this can be anything – colors, dogs on the street, fruits or vegetables, a character in a book.

Eloise, much like her mama, is pretty Type-A already and is already has a fondness for lists! She likes to count things on her fingers, but also list things (or events) on her fingers; like “one – Eloise go to school, two – stories with Mama, then – naptime, then – Papa comes home.” And she makes this great face while she is thinking of things that I have been trying to capture in either photo or video! She sort of wrinkles up half of her face, it’s the cutest!

The past few months Eloise and I were enrolled in a Mama and Me dance class at a local dance studio. One of our PEPS friends told us about it since it was a free 9 week class session (normally classes are about $20 per class – yikes!) and so we joined on Friday mornings with our PEPS friends. The class was pretty structured in that we did the same basic things and songs every single time; a little repetitive for the mamas but great for the toddlers. Eloise mostly participated, though sometimes wanted to just be on my lap or have me hold her, but still sings all of the songs when we are at home. She is too young still for any real dance or gymnastics class (especially without me being involved too) but seems to really enjoy the classes that we have been able to take here and there. I am hoping once Baby Foot is a little older, I can figure out a good dance or gymnastics program for Eloise to enroll in.

Eloise’s bi-annual visit to the dentist was in December and she was awesome! Aaron was able to come with us and I think that helped. The office is super kid-friendly (it is only a peds dentist) with toys and prizes and TVs on the ceiling. She really hasn’t been into the TVs at all, but still did really well. She got a clean bill of health, and the dental hygienist was so sweet and gave her a big prize for giving up her pacifiers! I picked out the Daniel Tiger figures for her as the big prize since she has been really into the show recently (she watches an episode about three or four times a week). And then twice a day we brush our teeth and Eloise is really good about it. She still chews on the toothbrush more than we like, but does let us help her at the end (thanks to the Dentist who told her she needed to let Mama and Papa help).

And as if she wasn’t cute enough, Eloise started saying “I need you” if she wants you to stay, like at naptime or bedtime. We do our best to let her fall asleep on her own, but she always wants one more story, or song, or cuddle, and when you get up to leave, she will say “I need you!” and it breaks your heart a little. Or if we are busy doing something and she needs your attention, you will tell her “Okay, give me 2 minutes,” and she will say “Mama, I need you!”

Because a lot of things are changing, mostly that Baby Foot is going to be here before we know it!, Eloise has been very in-tune with being a “big kid.” Before I was a parent, I thought the whole “big kid” thing was sort of weird, almost belittling to toddlers and young kids. But I totally get it now. Eloise is all about being a big kid and we can see the way it changes her behavior or makes something more interesting. And she almost always wants to be a big kid! On the flip-side though, she has also learned that she is “too little” for some things too. Mostly it is a height thing where she wants to do something and she is “too little” to reach it. Or she also has been pretending that she is a baby, and then she is “too little” to do anything!

Along with using a real plate and utensils at mealtime (no plastic stuff around here!), Eloise has been using a real glass for milk at mealtime. We still use a sippy cup and of course her water bottles with the straw, but especially at lunch or dinner time when we are at the table eating all together, she drinks out of a real cup. I picked up these tempered glass ones which are a great size for her. Plus I can stick them in the dishwasher, which I won’t do with any of her plastic sippy cups or water bottles!

As you know from my weekend posts and other updates, we were in the process of getting Eloise’s big kid room ready to go. I wanted to move her with ample time before the baby came, just in case we had any big issues with her not wanting to move, so we moved her just after the holidays. She was already in a toddler bed (her converted crib) and was doing really well in it, so transitioning to the big kid bed (a twin) was a little easier. We tried the transition at a naptime which may not have been the best, and she ended up taking two hours to go to sleep AND ended up back in her crib (!) but after that, we haven’t had any issues with her. She sleeps well in her new bed and even though it is low to the ground, we keep a pillow on the edge and she has yet to roll out! At first she didn’t get out of bed without Aaron or I in the room (which is how she was in her converted crib), but now we will see her on the monitor get out of bed to look at her books or try to find her monitor on the top of the dresser or other toddler shenanigans. It is mostly harmless and the funniest thing is that she knows she isn’t supposed to get out of bed because if she hears you coming down the stairs, she will scamper back to bed and lie down! But, it is a balance because if you get downstairs and she thinks she is in trouble (for being out of bed) she will cry and cry (this kid is like her Mama and does not like to be in trouble!). But the entire transition from the nursery to her new room went really smoothly. She still likes to play in the nursery and we still use the changing table twice a day, but she is really happy in her new space!

And unlike most toddlers we know, Eloise loves the Ergo! Since I can’t wear it right now, it is a special treat for Eloise and Papa to get a chance to snuggle together. She asks for it all the time and is always really excited when Papa goes on an adventure with her and they get to use it, like when he took her to school the other day and they took the bus! She talked about it all day long. It is the sweetest.

And finally, Eloise loves (LOVES) temporary tattoos – as you can see on her hand in this month’s photo) and hand stamps. Her tattoo obsession started in the early fall and she pretty much likes to have a tattoo on one of her hands all the time. I try not to let her have one all the time and make it a special treat for her. But she also loves stamps on her hands and really does have them on all the time between getting one at school twice per week (including on her belly!) and then one at library story time (and also at dance class when we were going).

Here are some photos to share from the past quarter that you may or may not have seen already!

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{Helping the teacher make play-dough at daycare one day. She occasionally still goes to a full day at daycare, but since we are in the midst of cold and flu season we have mainly stayed away!}

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{Look at that Mohawk! Eloise and Papa shenanigans at bathtime.}

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{Eloise saw the dentist in December – she goes twice a year! – and did so well.}

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{After dance class one day. She is obsessed with her tutu (or her “ballerina skirt”), those are shoes from when I was three, and she gets three different magazines in the mail each month (or so) and it is her very favorite day!}

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{From her half-birthday celebration at school this week since school won’t be in session for her August birthday. Her school loosely does the Montessori birthday ritual which involves walking around the globe and a candle.}

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{More birthday celebration at school. It was also spirit week at school and Pajama Day was the same day. Her teachers and friends made her a big birthday banner which she insisted on hanging in her room (I promise to share photos of her new room soon!) and she is obsessed!}

{weight} 31 or 32 pounds.

{hair} dark (reddish) brown.

{teeth} 20 teeth and molars.

{eyes} dark brown.

{clothes}  2T, 3T and some 4T.

{diapers} POTTY TRAINED! size 2T/3T underwear during the day and honest company size 6 diapers for naptime and at night.

{feeding} during the day, three meals, morning snack, & afternoon snack. cup of milk with every meal.

{likes} school (her friends and teachers), talking walks around the neighborhood, coloring, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, football, yelling, Duplos, digging in the dirt, splashing, counting, chewing on her toothbrush, the mailman, any person outside on the sidewalk, bubbles, sidewalk chalk,  buckles, jumping, watching out the front window (dogs, kids, trucks), books, mama & papa’s cell phone (photos or FaceTime), singing & music, dancing, Sadie, bath time, shoes, mama’s bag, clapping, putting things inside a bag or box, taking lids off of things, talking, helping with anything & everything, when Papa comes home from work.

{dislikes} not being included, having something taken away from her, being hungry, getting into the carseat, getting out of the carseat, not being able to do something herself.

{nicknames} Bug{s}, Love Bug, Baby Bug, E, Wheezy, Kiddo, Love, Bugaboo, Ellie or Elle.

Happy 30 months Eloise!

M

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Pinterest Christmas {2016}: Toddler Ornaments.

Welcome back to week two of Pinterest Christmas! {See last week’s post here.}

Sidenote: Sorry guys, this post was supposed to go up last week and I apparently never posted it!

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Eloise does a lot of art projects at school, comes home covered in paint, and then we hang all of her creations on the front living room window. I love that she is doing art at school because it is one activity that this type-A mama can have trouble doing at home. But, I thought it would be fun to make a few simple Christmas ornaments for the tree this year with Eloise.

Cute button tree ornament for the kids to make

{original Pinterest link – Hands On As We Grow blog}

pom pom christmas tree craft

{original Pinterest link – Happy Hooligans blog}

I knew that I needed to keep things simple, so I kept the supply list short: felt, ribbon, buttons, pom poms, popcicle sticks, and glue.

I cut out the Christmas trees and wreaths out of felt and then had Eloise point to where she wanted to put either a button or a pom pom. Then I put a big drop of glue and she placed the button or pom pom down. It worked pretty well, although Eloise was much more interested in holding (and squeezing!) the bottle of glue… anyone know of toddler-friendly glue?

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By the time we were done decorating the trees and wreaths, Eloise had pretty much lost interest since I wouldn’t let her handle the glue, so the triangle popcicle stick ornaments are pretty bare. For those I just glued three sticks together on the ends to form a triangle and had Eloise place the pom poms. Once all of the ornaments were dry (overnight), I had Eloise pick out the ribbon color and I strung each ornament onto a piece of ribbon. She was excited to hang all of the ornaments on the tree which made all of it worth it!

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This was definitely a super-easy toddler craft and I am really glad we did it.

And be sure to check out what Kendra’s up to all December long over on The Gilbertson Family! {Here’s her first Pinterest Christmas post!}

Do you have homemade ornaments on your Christmas tree?

M

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