Friday, February 16, 2018

2018 Goals

I know, we are already more than halfway through February and I'm just now writing down my goals for the year!  Maybe we should just call this post "goals" and not tie any length of time to them.  I don't really feel it's necessary to attach a deadline to certain things that we want to do for ourselves.  Maybe sometimes we need a deadline, ie. I want to have our loan for our DEIVF cycle paid off before we start our next cycle, however, I do feel like there are some goals we set for ourselves that don't need to have time constraints attached to them.  I'll be honest, some of these are kind of deep, they're not your typical, get to the gym, read 5 books, make more home cooked meals, some of them are, but these are really about just bettering myself and my life for me and my family.  There is always room for improvement.

Find Better Balance
I'm not sure if this is even humanly possible & something that I should probably consider as a long-term, ever-evolving goal as our lives change over the years, however I do want to try to find a better balance between working my full time job, being a mom, being a wife, being a friend, practicing self-care, taking care of my home, being a blogger, and selling shampoo on the side.   Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  It is.  I find myself stuck sometimes in the monotony of the day to day, but we are creatures of habit and I am definitely someone who likes routine.  A lot of people have suggested hiring a cleaning lady for at least 2 times a month & I'm really really considering that something I might do this year.  Is it possible to just add another 5 hours to the day??

Continue to Pay off Debt
We don't have a ton of out of control debt by any means, but we do have a few things that we need to clean up.  A credit card and our loan for our DEIVF are the two that I'd like to see paid off this year.  I do have another year or two on my vehicle, and of course our house, but we just actually did make a huge improvement on our mortgage and ended up refinancing to a 20 year from a 30 year loan and knocked off 7 years and 1.4% on our rate!

Find Contentment in what I already have
I am bad with this.  I feel like we grew up in an era when we are always wanting the next best thing and we are never really happy with what we have.  I am totally guilty of this and I am trying to be better about reminding myself that what I already have is pretty damn amazing.  A big contributor to not being content with what I already have is being so involved with social media.  I follow some really amazing bloggers, but they live (or portray that they do) these fabulous lives constantly sharing links to their wardrobes, their home d├ęcor, & more, and it's extremely hard for someone who is impulsive like me not to "swipe up" on every Instagram story I see with a cute thermal from Nordstrom that is "under $70" – seriously WTF is that.  So working on my self-control & impulses and being happy with the things I already have is really important for me & also contributes pretty heavily to paying off our debt too. 

Decluttering & Purging
So over our 10 years together we have collected SO much stuff.  Joe likes "stuff", and he is an extremely nostalgic person so we have every remote control car, gaming system, and pretty much every other toy he's ever had in boxes downstairs.  On top of that we just have accumulated a lot of stuff over our years together.  This year I really want to focus on getting rid of as much as we can.  Simplifying & organizing everything that we can.  I am totally not a saver of stuff and Joe is so we need to find a happy medium which will probably be our biggest challenge.

Cultivate Positivity and Happiness
I feel like I am in a good spot with this already, but like I said, there is always room for improvement.  I want to make sure that for myself and my family that we are living the best life that we can be.  I want to make sure we are having some awesome experiences together, but also be able to be satisfied when we are doing nothing or are by ourselves.  There is no room in our life for negative or toxic relationships, life is just too short for that.  I want more date nights with just Joe and I, and I want us to also do more as a family too.  Cleaning up my social media is also a big part of this—who I am following on social media as well & trying to only follow accounts that I feel are really inspiring and positive.  I've been trying to spread more of that myself lately, you might see more quotes shared on my pages that are uplifting.  I think that's a really easy way to cultivate happiness is by sharing your own joys with others.

Better Self-Care
I think I do a pretty good job of this too.  I take the time to get my hair done, I try not to spread myself too thin if I can, but I really need to be better about my diet, especially once I am done breastfeeding because I won't be able to eat the way I have been for the last year without gaining weight now that I don't have a tiny human literally sucking the calories right off of me.  I want to be better about incorporating oils and cleaner products into our lives, and I'm hoping to start doing some form of exercise or something for myself, even if it's just getting outside and taking Georgia for a walk each day.  It's so hard in the winter to be motivated and I cannot even fathom where I would find the time to go to the gym, but taking small steps like a quick walk each afternoon is all I think I really need. 

Rebranding my Blog
I've had an itch lately for a change with my blog and I am slowly starting the process.  I feel like Baby Ridley Bump is finally a big book that can be closed.  It will always be where I started my life as a blogger.  It will always be what started as a pregnancy blog that evolved into an infertility blog, and documents every step of the way over the last 6 years.  All of Baby Ridley Bump will be moved over to the new space so that my journey can still be accessed from the beginning, however, I plan on a name change, a design change, and a host change.  We'll see how far I get with this!  It seems like it will be a lot of work.

It's a lot now that I read back, but it all seems like things I can make happen and it will all only be to make an already amazing life even more incredible.  What are your goals?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tips for Traveling with a Baby & Vacation Recap

So I'm warning you all now this will be a lengthy post but it was very highly requested by many of you throughout the week we were gone so I am going to kind of recap our vacation & include my tips and what worked for us during our first family vacation.

I'll be honest, the thought of traveling with a 10 month old on a 5 hour flight terrified me.  I am not a fan of flying.  Nothing about it is pleasant; the airport, security, the small space, the way your body feels, etc., the only positive is how fast it can get you somewhere.  So on top of my loathing flying all together, I had to add a 10 month old baby into the mix.  I will say that having 3 extra adults (my mom, step-dad, & brother) was an absolute blessing to us so my tips may not be best for someone traveling solo or even with both parents and a baby because 5 sets of adult hands really is tops, but probably doesn't happen all too often.

Obviously everyone's experiences will differ, this is what worked for us.  We had to travel 1.5 hours to the airport and we were traveling internationally so those added logistics also had to be taken into consideration as well.  Even if you live close to the airport, I'd highly suggest hiring a service to drive you or have a friend or family member do it.  We hired a shuttle because 5 adults and a baby = 5 large pieces of luggage, a stroller, a car seat, & a partridge in a pear tree worth of stuff.   No one we knew would be able to accommodate this for us and we didn't want to put anyone out so we opted to pay someone. 

For packing we checked bags, yes it sometimes costs money to do it, but it's worth the convenience.  I was able to pack all of Georgia's stuff and my stuff into the same suitcase.  I brought her diaper bag and a purse for myself as well.  Joe checked one bag of his own as well.  I packed an entire package of diapers (32 count) and an entire package of wipes (Amazon wipes are still my favorite) in my suitcase and then about a dozen more diapers and another pack of wipes in her diaper bag.  I packed more outfits and suits than she probably needed but you know that babies sometimes go through multiple outfits in a day and I would rather have more than I needed than not enough.  I did one pair of sandals and one pair of tennis shoes for her.  For sleep I brought 2 short sleeved onesies and her sleep sack (dreamcacther print is on sale for $9.36). 

For the Airport—
We definitely took more than we needed.  We brought the stroller which we hardly used, we brought the car seat because we needed it in the van on the way to the airport and I wasn't sure how we would be shuttled to the resort from the hotel so that also came with us.  I ended up wearing Georgia in the carrier through the airport which worked out best and was easiest.  We have the Lillebaby 360 Complete in stone grey and we really love it.  Next time I will be asking our shuttle to the airport if they would mind keeping the car seat with them and bring it when they come to pick us up.  As far as the stroller, we used it a small handful of times at the resort but did not use it at the airport at all.  Once we got to Punta Cana I was able to continue to wear Georgia in the carrier on the shuttle which I was comfortable with & clearly there are no car seat laws there. 

I'm not sure if Georgia was the first baby to ever fly United or what but hands down, get your baby a boarding pass as soon as you check in.
  Even if 4 separate people tell you she doesn’t need one, once you get to the gate to board, you WILL need one.  Our experience at the airport was frustrating for many reasons and this was one of them.  They also printed "infant" on Joe's ticket rather than on mine (clearly I was the one wearing her so putting it on Joe's ticket made most logical sense) and in order for her to get through security one of the tickets needed to say "infant" on it.  Mine didn’t so they sent us back to the desk where we finally realized that it had been printed on Joe's ticket.  The saving grace for this whole debacle was that our travel agent somehow got us set up with TSA Precheck, basically meaning we were able to bypass the long lines of security and go through a shorter security where you don't have to take off your shoes and place everything in separate bins.  I have yet to figure out how we got this but I know going forward I will do whatever it takes to get that every time we travel.  It saved us so much time.    

For the Plane—
I reached out to one of my mommy groups on Facebook and almost everyone said snacks, snacks, and more snacks which was definitely part of my plan.  We brought Puffs (we like these Happy Baby Organic Superfood Puffs) & Cheerios in her bag & then she ate what we did like she usually does.  I ordered this Wonder Wheel suction cup toy, but it would not suction to the tray table on the plane, but it would stick to the floor in our room so she did end up playing with it but not on the plane as I had hoped.  For the first hour of the flight on the way there she was a squirmy little social butterfly.  Take off did not bother her at all.  I attempted to nurse her as we were taking off but I started & then the pilot informed us we were going to be delayed about 10 minutes on wheels up so it didn't work out.  Luckily it did not have any effect on her at all.  We kept her busy by stuffing crackers in her mouth and then she finally went down for about a 2 hour nap while Joe and I watched a movie.  For the last hour of the flight she sat pretty quietly with my parents looking out the window & snacking more. 

On the way back it was a different story.  She needed a nap bad and fought me hard on it so I passed her to grandpa who got her down.  She slept for an hour then when she woke up I nursed her.  Then she needed to be entertained.  We had an open seat next to us (thanks to another couple who said they knew what it was like to travel with kids & switched us seats) so I sat her in the seat and she proceeded to disassemble the diaper bag, every single thing in it was taken out (that's her new thing, putting things in, taking them out, repeat) so she was occupied with that for about 30 minutes.  We played the passing game between me, Joe, and my parents for a while until I finally got her down (after about a 15 minute fight) for another nap about 40 minutes before we landed. 

Overall I will say she did good.  Planes are boring, so to try to keep a 10 month old occupied for that time period in that small space is a challenge, she charmed pretty much everyone around her for lots of the time and did take some good naps.

Hotel/Resort arrangements—
So you may not know this but we bed share with Georgia and we have been for most of her life.  She started in a Dockatot, spent some time in a Halo bassinet, & then we finally moved her back into our bed a few months ago when she outgrew the Halo.  We did not need a crib but they were more than happy to provide us with one.  I would suggest getting one either way and using it as a play yard of sorts when mom and dad are both tied up getting ready or one parent is out of the room, etc.  So Georgia slept with us in bed as she normally does.  She slept in a onesie and sleep sack every night which worked perfect.  She slept pretty much through the night each night.

first time in the sand, & she did NOT like it

For baths I simply just stuck her in the tub when I would finish showering.  Between sweat and sand and saltwater, she needed a bath every night.  Our shower was nice because it had a wand that detached so I could spray her off easily, she HATED that thing but it worked fine.  I did not bring any of her toiletries except for her detangler (we use Monat, I'd be happy to tell you more about it because it is AMAZING), but I wish I would've because I like the Shea Moisture hair and body wash that I use for her at home which is a 2 in 1 so it's easy.

Clothes, suits, etc.—
I ended up buying a bunch of clearance outfits at Target for Georgia at the end of the summer and then a few more from the garage sale site that I use called Mercari so I didn't spend a ton of extra money on stuff she'd probably only wear one time.  I took 7 outfits with her, 1 pair of sandals which were too big, 1 pair of velcro tennis shoes she wore once, and a pair of fur lined shoes for traveling there which we ended up taking off.  Moral of that story is, if your child is not walking, they don't need any shoes!  I also bought her a hat which she really did not love, but I liked that it kept her head and neck protected.   
Batoko kids swim is currently 40% off as they're discontinuing their kids line

For swim I brought 4 suits.  Three were 1-pieces and one was a 2-piece that was adorable but a pain in the ass as the top constantly came up so I just took it off and let her go topless for most of the day like most of the other little girls that were there.  For swim diapers, I did buy a reusable diaper and I brought disposable swim diapers.  I will tell you, although the reusable seemed like it made the most sense, Georgia did get some kind of heat rash and it was the worst on her butt and I think it's because of sitting in damp diapers and suits.  The last couple days we decided to switch over to the disposables and changed them often.  I was lucky I did bring hydrocortisone and Baby Aquaphor which is what we use on her when she gets diaper rash.  The cold Illinois weather seemed to help dry it all up and things looked better the day after we got home but I felt awful for her as it looked very painful.

Other tidbits—
With Georgia being so sick around Christmas I decided to take both Motrin & Tylenol for her in the diaper bag.  Luckily I did because on Tuesday she ended up with a fever.  I never did get to take her temperature as I didn't bring a thermometer and it never got hot enough that I felt I needed to ask for one, but I did alternate Tylenol and Motrin for her all day every 3 hours.  Luckily it did not turn into more than that & it broke early the next morning.

The staff at the hotel was absolutely wonderful with her.  They just love babies there and with Georgia being very approachable and inviting, they definitely took to her very quickly and she made lots of friends.  If you're not comfortable with your baby being touched, held, and even kissed by complete strangers, then you may need to make sure that you child is kept at a distance from staff because they WILL interact physically with babies.  I am totally fine with it.  Georgia has always been a social butterfly and has been passed, touched, and kissed by family and friends and strangers even her entire life, but I know a lot of parents aren’t comfortable with that.

I highly suggest bringing some kind of floatie for baby.  I really love this one that we have been using since Georgia was about 4 months old, you cannot beat it for $20.  It folds up into a circle and then comes in a bag so it was easy to put into my suitcase and took up very little room.  In the baby pool she was able to be in that and touch the floor of the pool so it was almost like a walker and she LOVED it.

Strollers and car seats are considered "oversized luggage" and do not come off with regular luggage at O'Hare.  This was not the case in Punta Cana and may not be at other airports, but we had no clue that there was a separate conveyor at either end of the concourse where those would come off after the luggage. 

As far as the resort and those details we stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe which was all set up by our travel agent, in my opinion, travel agents are the way to go.  They know the best places, they know the deals, and they take all the work out of planning a vacation.  We have been using the same for 10 years and we always book our vacations through them.  Our rooms were about 2 minutes from the main pool and the beach.  Joe would go down each day around 8am and reserve 5 chairs for us with our towels because waiting much longer than that it was tough to get a spot. 

With our week-stay at the resort we got 3 meals at the restaurants and then every other meal we ate at the buffet.  We chose hibatchi, steak house, and Italian for our 3 choices and we were happy with all 3, hibatchi was the best.  The buffet was good, but not the best.  They had a theme each night like Spanish, Dominican, American, Italian, etc. and then they always had hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries every night.  Breakfast was at the buffet each day as well and was really good. 

We did not do any additional excursions or leave the resort, we spent the majority of the day on the beach and the last 2 days we spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon at the quieter pool that was farther away from the beach.  There were a lot less people, no wait at the bar, and Georgia was able to enjoy herself in the water in her floatie.

Overall it was an awesome experience and we really enjoyed it.  We have only ever cruised so this was different for us, but in general about the same as cruising, lots of food, lots of drinks, lots to do and lots to enjoy.  It sounds like my parents are ready to make this an annual thing where we go somewhere different each year so I am already looking forward to next year's destination which we have yet to decide on.  Let me know what I missed here, if you're experienced in travel with infants and toddlers, what did I miss?  Anything else that I could've done?  I think we did pretty good considering it was our first time!  Georgia was a champ as usual and we couldn't ask for a better behaved baby. 

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Friday, January 26, 2018

One thing I notice a lot of people asking in some of my mommy groups I'm in is where you get photos printed.  We all probably have thousands of photos on our phones, I know I have about 5,000 on my camera roll, but very rarely do we get them printed off anymore.  For me, I am a big fan of canvas prints.  I probably have 10 different canvases in my house, most are from our wedding, some are of Georgia, and some are our family photos. 

With the increase in photos that we take these days, there are also TONS of different services and websites that provide printing services.  When I have professional pictures taken I typically use the print shop that the photographer uses because the quality is always really amazing, however the prices are usually pretty high.  When reached out to me I was definitely interested, I'm always looking for a printing service that provides QUALITY prints at REASONABLE prices. aced both of those categories for me.  I was really impressed with the quality of the 16x20 canvas that they did for me.  I sent them a picture from our most recent family photoshoot back in November and was absolutely thrilled with how well it turned out.   I decided I wanted to hang this piece at the end of our hallway and it really does fit the space well! is offering a buy 1 get 3 free deal.  Yes, you read that right buy ONE get THREE FREE.  This is a totally amazing deal and it applies to canvases, framed canvases, metal prints, acrylic, wood, glass & more.  Plus FREE shipping.  I myself will be taking part in this amazing offer once we get Georgia's 1 year photos taken.  
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