A crunchy minimalist’s guide to baby stuff – Part Six (the travel edition)

We are currently in the middle of an eleven-day on-the-other-side-of-the-country trip to look at a prospective job (thus the lack of much blogging).  Our entire little family came and we flew out here, which majorly limited the amount of luggage we could bring for the trip.  There were however, several things we made sure to pack that have made our time away from home significantly easier and I thought I’d share them here.

A quality umbrella stroller: In figuring out how we would navigate airports with our three large suitcases, two car seats, assorted carry-ons and two little ones, Aaron and I went back and forth as to what to do with Cedar.  We knew Genoa would be in the Boba, but we needed somewhere for Cedar to ride as we juggled everything and rushed through airports.  We have a hardframe backpack that he often rides in for long hikes, but Aaron (understandably) didn’t want to have to deal with wearing that while loading our luggage.  And we have a good jogging stroller that Cedar rides in for walks at home, but it would be much too bulky to travel with.  In the end, we decided to just buy an umbrella stroller.  There were many different choices on Amazon (our go-to place for buying baby stuff), ranging from about $15 in price to several hundred.   We didn’t want to spend a ridiculous amount on it, but we also wanted to make sure that we didn’t get a super cheap one that fell apart in the middle of a mad dash to make a flight connection.  So we opted for the middle ground and went with this one.  And wow.  It pretty much saved the day when we flew out here, staying strong and sturdy even after being loaded down with a growing little boy, the diaper bag, Cedar’s Thomas the Train backpack and my “purse” full of several books and my computer.   It’s lightweight,  navigates large crowds well and folds up quite compactly within seconds (yes, I know I sound like a commercial!).  In short, we love it and it has already made traveling with toddlers much, much easier.

Portable highchair: Back in CA, we have quite a small house, and now that Genoa is eating more solids at the table with us, I wanted to get her a highchair that would fit more easily around our table than the big, bulky one we were borrowing from my in-laws.   We got this one that attaches to a normal kitchen chair and it has worked great at home in the past couple months that we’ve had it.  But the best part is, it folds up very compactly so we can pack it and bring it along traveling — which we’ve already done several times.  Just fold it up at home, tuck it into your bag, and when you need it, pull it out, attach it to a chair, and you have a highchair!  All ready for your baby to smear with yoghurt, just like at home!

KidCo Peapod Plus: The place we’re staying for these eleven days only has a king bed in it.  We’re borrowing a friend’s Pack-N-Play for Genoa to nap in and start the night out in (she is in bed with us for most of the night), but needed a place for Cedar to sleep.  He still moves around a lot at night so a blanket on the floor wouldn’t work very well for this extended period of time since he’d probably roll off it and wake himself up repeatedly.  Thankfully, Aaron randomly came across the Peapod Plus online and decided that we should just get one for Cedar.  The Peapod Plus is a small, kid-sized pop-up tent with a blow-up air mattress that all folds down very compactly.  And it has worked great while we’ve been here — the novelty of the tent makes going to bed in a new place very fun, the little air mattress makes the hard floors much nicer to sleep on, and the sides of the tent help to contain our very mobile sleeper.  The Peapods are rather spendy, but both Aaron and I felt like it would definitely be worth it to have for all the traveling we know we’ll continue to do.

Nature Babycare disposable diapers: I normally cloth diaper at home, and also when we’re out and about.  Up until now, we’re also have been able to cloth diaper on our extended trips, but this time it wasn’t going to work out for several reasons.  So what to do instead?!  After talking it over on Facebook with several other cloth diapering mama friends, I decided to get some non-chemical disposable diapers and cover them with our Blueberry Coveralls to help keep in the leaks that disposable diapers are prone to.  After reading several reviews, I went with the Nature Babycare brand and I’ve loved them so far.  Chlorine-free and made mostly from tree pulp instead of plastic, I didn’t mind them being up against my baby’s skin around the clock.  They absorb really well and while still don’t completely contain big messy diapers, the Coveralls help with that.  And I really like that the Size Four I got for Genoa fits so well, but can also be used for Cedar in a pinch since all this travel seemed to throw off his potty-training a bit.  So while I still love and prefer using cloth, I’m glad to know that there’s a good disposable option out there that I can use for travel instances like this.

A crunchy minimalist’s guide to baby stuff:
Part One: 0-6 Months
Part Two: 6-12 Months
Part Three: An Addendum
Part Four: An Addendum to the Addendum
Part Five: The Boba Baby Carrier 

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Graham Gardens’ winner and more fun giveaway stuff

Thanks to help from random.org, today I “drew” the winning number for the Graham Gardens’ BabyBird basket giveaway, and it was comment #23 from Carina!  Congratulations, Carina…enjoy your prize!

In the giveaway answers, the BugBar definitely got the most I-want-to-try-this mentions.  So for anyone wondering…it really does work!  We have one and while we have yet to try it in super-buggy conditions (just because we don’t normally get those here), it has worked very well in the general “we want to go outside, but the mosquitoes are out” conditions.  Aaron isn’t a huge fan of the smell (kind of a mix of peppermint and citronella), but as he admitted, most bug repellents don’t smell that great anyway!  And I love that it’s in bar form — so many bug repellents, natural or not, are in liquid form and are such a pain to apply to little ones.  But this goes on so easily!

In more giveaway news, I’m going to give you the insider scoop on something happening at YLCF next week!   On Tuesday, May 15th, we’re going to be hosting a giveaway for an amazing children’s CD called Rain For Roots: Big Stories for Little Ones.  I had the great privilege of being the reviewer and getting a pre-release copy, and let me tell you, it’s incredible!  The full album won’t be available until May 15th, but until then, you can download a FREE four-song preview.  It’s great music, even if you don’t have little ones, but hurry, since the free preview only lasts until the evening of May 14th.

In which there is no formula for marriage

The other day, my husband did the sweetest thing for me.  Recognizing how much I hate clothes shopping, and that I rarely have time for it as it is, and yet knowing that I needed some new summer shirts, he stopped by Target and picked out five new shirts for me (along with a couple more…romantic items).  I loved all but one of the shirts (it was a cute style, but the colour didn’t work with my skin tone), which is even better odds than when I pick out clothes for myself!   And I know for sure that he likes them — a major bonus in my book.  I was amazed with what a great guy I had…

But I know that a lot of women would not have thought that was very sweet.  They may want to always pick out their own clothes, or would enjoy the opportunity to go shopping themselves.  And that’s totally fine.  Each person is different and therefore the ways that each couple shows their love to each other are different too.

Just recently I saw the Facebook status update of one of my husband’s friends.  He was talking about something nice his wife did for him and ended it with declaring he was “the luckiest man in the world”.  I thought it was sweet to read about, but at the same time it kind of made me laugh since what his wife did for him wouldn’t necessarily bring about the same response in my husband.  And yet again, that’s totally fine.  Each couple is different.

I used to think that idea was pretty basic and obvious, but sometimes I wonder.  Especially when I hear touted a mindset that is pretty prevalent in some Christian circles.  There is this idea that in order for a couple to have a good, Godly marriage, they must have regular date nights “out”.  I’ve even heard some formulas such as “an evening out every two weeks, a night away every two months, and a week away every two years”.   Supposedly this is doubly as important when you have young children and therefore you must make a point to leave your baby with others even when they’re very young just to make sure that you get this time “away”.  And — if you don’t do this — your marriage is pretty much guaranteed to not thrive at all and will basically fall apart.

Honestly, I find many, many things wrong with this mindset.  Some of them may find their way into future blog posts, but right now we’re going to focus on the most basic.  All couples are different.  There is no formula of “you must do this in order to have a good marriage”.  Each couple has different things they enjoy, different ways they connect, different ways they show love to each other.

For some couples, that may very well look like regular date nights out.  If that works for you and your husband, and you both feel like it’s the best for your family, then by all means, go for it!   But for other couples, that may not work for them, but that doesn’t mean that their marriage isn’t going to thrive.

For Aaron and I, we rarely go on dates “out”, for various reasons.   We both don’t feel that it’s worth it to regularly spend a lot of money on going out, we don’t really feel comfortable regularly leaving our kids for long periods of time, etc.  But does that mean that we never have time for each other?  Hardly!  Quite a few months ago, we started having weekly date nights….at home.  They aren’t anything super fancy.  Sometimes I cook a nicer-than-normal meal, maybe we’ll play a game together or watch a movie. Oftentimes we just end up cuddling on the couch and talking.  The point isn’t really what we’re doing — the point is to make a specific effort, in the busyness of our daily lives, to focus on and spend time with the other person.

I’m sure that the reason behind the mindset I mentioned earlier is to get couples to spend time together, focused on each other.  And I completely agree that if you don’t make a specific effort to do this, your marriage will not thrive.  But you don’t have to go “out” to do that.  Because…oh yeah, each couple is different.  So the ideal date for one couple may be incredibly boring to another.  But that’s okay.  Let’s just focus on our own marriages and learn to love our spouse in ways specific to them.  And rejoice in the amazing uniqueness of your couplehood and a God who made you perfect for each other.

Now one

This past Saturday, my sister-in-law married one of my husband’s best friends.  It was a beautiful wedding, very worshipful and focused on Jesus.  In my in-law’s lovely backyard, they stood under the arbour that Aaron had made for our wedding and pledged their lives to each other.  And after a delicious meal shared with family and friends, and speeches from the same, the bride and groom ran down the driveway surrounded by bubbles and sped away in their car.

Later that night, as I was cleaning up my little cottage from being used as the groomsmen’s dressing room and hangout place, I was thinking more about the couple’s getaway and how symbolic it was of the incredibleness of marriage.  Here is a young woman, married at the home that she had lived and loved in for her entire life.  She has an amazing family and had contributed much to that household over the last twenty years.  And yet, in the end, she runs hand-in-hand with her beloved and they drive away without a backward glance.

As I thought about it all over my sinkfull of dishes, I realized that is such the picture of marriage. No matter how much a girl has invested in her family and in her father’s home, or how closely-knit that family is, she (hopefully gladly) leaves it all behind when she vows to become a wife.  And that is how it’s supposed to be.  When she leaves her family and marries her husband, they become one.  While she will always be a daughter and a sister, now she is first and foremost a wife.  And that is how God intended it.

Occasionally I get asked if it’s hard for me to “live so far away” from my family in Idaho.  And while I have a great family that I’m very close to, honestly it’s not that hard.  Because this is where I’m supposed to be.  This is my life.  By my husband’s side, wherever that may be.  And while close proximity to family definitely can be a good thing, wherever our next adventure takes us — my love and I — we’ll be together and that will be even better.

And the winner of Real {Fast} Food is…

…comment #26 from abigailbraaten.  The change she would like to make in her diet is:

“I would like to prepare my breakfasts ahead of time or at least plan my breakfasts so I am not skipping that super important meal or grabbing anything in the cupboard in desperation for protein.”

That’s actually something I want and need to get better at too…  I hope that Real {Fast} Food can help you with that change, Abigail — there are quite a few yummy-sounding breakfast recipes and ideas in there!

For those of you who didn’t win, you can purchase a PDF copy of Real {Fast} Food here, or if you prefer, it’s also available on Kindle and Nook.  For only $6, it’s definitely a valuable addition to any kitchen!

Good for your baby’s tailfeathers (a giveaway!)

(Yes, it’s true…another giveaway!  After several years of no giveaways on this blog, we have two in as many weeks!  So if you haven’t already, make sure to enter the giveaway for the eBook Real Fast Food — it closes tonight at midnight.)

Before you’re a mama, you don’t often think about things like diaper cream.  You have no idea that diapers and their contents can become a frequent topic of thought and conversation.  But lo and behold, once you have a little one, it becomes a very important subject.  Especially if your baby has a tendency toward irritated skin and is prone to diaper rash.

Both of my babies struggle with that and even though using cloth diapers majorly cuts down on the irritants, they still regularly have some diaper rash pop up, especially when they start eating a lot of solids.  With Cedar (who actually doesn’t deal with this anymore since he’s now almost completely potty-trained…YAY!) I tried so many different diaper creams to try and help his little bum!  Straight coconut oil, different green salves, Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste…nothing seemed to work.  The oil-based creams didn’t really do much at all and the zinc-based ones helped a little, but could never totally kick it.  I didn’t want to resort to something that contained petroleum products and other chemicals since I definitely didn’t want that stuff on my baby’s skin, but I was getting desperate.  But then, so thankfully, I discovered Graham Garden’s Tailfeathers Zinc Cream.

At first, paying $16 for a five ounce tub of diaper cream seemed a little expensive for me, but I took the plunge and haven’t looked back since.  It is so worth every penny of that.  Tailfeathers Zinc Cream has kicked every single rash I put it on.  Plus all the ingredients are totally natural so I don’t need to worry about the fact that I slather it all over my babies’ sensitive parts.  And, one of my favourite features — it comes in a tub so you can get every last bit out (and control how much you use), something that never happens with the stuff that comes in a tube.

And now, for the best part, Graham Gardens has very generously offered to give one of my readers a scented BabyBird Gift Basket.  These lovely little baskets not only contain a tub of their amazing Zinc Cream, but also Graham Gardens’ BabyBird Powder, Body Oil and ButterBar.  All you need to do is visit their website, look around and then come back here and leave a comment telling us which Graham Gardens’ product appeals to you the most and why.  Giveaway closes on Wednesday, May 9th, at midnight PST.

This giveaway is now closed.

(Disclosure: I received no compensation for writing this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.)