One of our favorite ways to travel for the last few years has been “workcationing” in vacation rental houses. We love the space that a full house or apartment offers, especially if it means that our now two year old can have his own room and we have reliable internet for Brian’s evening work hours. While a rental house can mean lots of good things for our family for the time we’re there, we’ve learned that there are some essential things we can bring from home that make our stay even more comfortable!
Dish soap and sponges: There is no guarantee that a rental house will provide anything to wash the dishes you dirty so I like to travel prepared with a small bottle of dish soap and a pack of sponges (both from the dollar store). I don’t feel bad throwing them away when the trip is over if I haven’t spent much money on them and not having to wash or transport a dirty wash cloth is great!
Paper towel: I don’t use much paper towel at home but we use it constantly when we’re traveling. Cleaning up kid messes, cooking messes, covering reheated food in the microwave.. the uses are many!
Tin foil: Similar to my love of paper towel, tin foil can be used to cover food in the fridge, reheat in the oven, cover gross pans while cooking, entertain a toddler, and more!
Inexpensive kids dishes: I don’t know about your kids but my 2 year old has not mastered the use of an open cup and regularly drops dishes on the floor, certain to break if they don’t belong to us (of course!). To make sure we had the basics along, I bought a Take N Toss multipack from Amazon prior to our Florida road trip. The cups aren’t as leak-proof as the sippy cups we use at home but they’re recyclable if we can’t (or don’t want to) wash them and Ben is much more comfortable with something to call his own.
Roll of toilet paper: Have you ever been on a trip and discovered that the toilet paper at your temporary residence is so thin that it’s nearly transparent? Or, in some cases, toilet paper isn’t even in the house?! I prevent those issues by bringing a roll of the good stuff from home to give us time to run to the store if necessary.
Pop-up hampers: This was a new idea for our current trip and I already L-O-V-E having hampers with us. I bought two small pop up hampers from Dollar Tree and keep one in the master bedroom and one where we get the boys ready for bed at night. Having dirty clothes flung here and there drives me crazy and having something to tote the clothes around in makes doing laundry so much easier.
Powdered laundry detergent: We use powdered detergent at home too but it’s especially nice for travel because you don’t need to think about it exploding in your luggage, it can travel through airport security if you fly, and my favorite variety, Charlie’s Soap, takes only 1 tablespoon per load and I can fit 10 loads worth in a pint size jar!
Basic childproofing gear: Ben is, shall we say, so mischievous and curious that he often endangers his own safety while exploring. Also, he can open doors and will get himself up in the morning without telling us. To make sure we could all sleep soundly, we brought a few spare doorknob covers from home, his bed rail, and a locking baby gate. I can’t say that bringing a gate or railing would work well on an airplane but for road trips, it’s easy to pack them flat under the other luggage in the car.
How about you? Do you take advantage of vacation rentals when you travel? What is the first thing in your bag when packing for your stay?
Teddy is a chunky, happy boy who smiles at everyone. We’re feeling pretty established and content as a family of four and I only feel overwhelmed half the time that I have both of the boys by myself. Ben and Teddy are great but no two days are alike, which makes for a lot of guessing on my part. Thankfully, Ben’s molars are all in (YAAAAAY) so I don’t have that to contend with anymore.
We’ve completely failed at continuing to attempt bottles with Teddy so we may have missed our window of opportunity. It’s just too darn convenient for me to feed him directly from the source instead of having to pump/store/thaw/heat/feed/wash. This mama doesn’t have no time for that and honestly, the only reason we’d want to give him a bottle is for our upcoming trip to Florida. I’m not going to let the only occasion to use a bottle stress me out.
Teddy doesn’t see the pediatrician until the middle of the month but I’m already praying the shots go better this time around than at his 2 month appointment. Seeing him so upset and feel so crappy is hard when there’s so little I can do for him. As far as his current weight goes, I’m certain that he’ll far surpass Ben’s weight at 4 months (14 lb 3 oz) since when I weighed him a few weeks ago he was already at 14 lb.
Teddy is DEFINITELY heavier than Ben! He weight 15 lb 1 oz at his 4 month checkup. What surprised me, though, was that he is about an inch shorter than Ben (24.5″ instead of 25.5″). The result is a rolly polly, chunk of a baby! He has so many folds, rolls, and dimples and we love it! His head was 17″ (84th %) which is really close to Ben. I guess Teddy will be wearing toddler size hats on our trip to Florida!
We’re following the 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program for Teddy, just as we did for Ben, and it seems to be working just as well the second time around! Mr. T takes 3 naps every day, the first 90 minutes after he gets up in the morning (around 9:30-10ish), the second after lunch at the same time Ben naps (hooray for concurrent napping!), and the third around 4-4:30. Both boys go down for bed between 7 and 7:30 and Mommy can then collapse into a puddle on the couch. Teddy hit the 4 month sleep regression pretty hard in the last week and there are some nights where he starts waking me up hourly starting at 2 AM. Those are some long nights! I swaddled him and then put his small, swaddled self into a sleep sack last night and that was the best sleep I’ve gotten in ages. Maybe because he was warmer? Maybe because he couldn’t break out of the swaddle (which he totally needs, I’ve tried to go without)? Either way, I like being able to sleep from 11-5!
Teddy hasn’t rolled over or really shown much interest yet. I try to give him as much time on his tummy as possible but so far there really hasn’t been much sideways movement. He loves to play with toys in his bouncy seat more than the play gym on the floor. He especially loves being tickled, talk to, read to (another reader in the house!), playing pat-a-cake with his feet, being worn in one of the various carriers, and being involved in whatever new game Ben has dreamed up. He recently has started tracking us with his eyes as we walk around the house and looks around wildly if he can hear one of us but not see us.
Brian was gone for 6 days at Pressnomics at the end of January so I had both boys by myself and, as a bonus, a stomach bug! We were able to work it out that my parents picked up Ben for the day and the sister who we’ve hired to nanny for us weekly came over and hung out with Teddy at the house. Neither of the boys caught whatever I had though, which is wonderful. We have our annual Florida trip coming up in a few weeks so I need to get into high gear and pull out warm weather clothes, shoes, swim suits, toys, sunblock, etc for all of us. We’re also stripping the wallpaper out of our kitchen, dining room, and hall so the painter can come in while we’re gone and get the walls done without a 2 year old’s “help.” We’re going to be busy!
Now that life has settled down a little and we have a tenuous schedule again, I wanted to write another day in the life post, mostly for my own benefit. I get a kick out of looking back at these months and years down the road and reminisce about life with younger babies. I had high hopes that I’d remember to take enough photos throughout the day that it wouldn’t be all text but nope, that definitely didn’t happen.
4:15 AM: My day starts far earlier than I’d like when Teddy starts grunting in his bed next to mine. I had slept pretty deeply though so this wasn’t the worst wake up I’ve ever had. I feed the baby, put him back in his bed, and fall back asleep.
6:15 AM: Again, Teddy? Teddy lets me know that he is awake by talking to himself and loudly filling his diaper. I pray that a diaper change and another meal will put him back to sleep for a little while. It does! I don’t want to move him back to his bed because he would surely wake up again so I settle myself next to him and doze off.
7:30 AM: Teddy is still sleeping but I can hear Ben shuffling around in his room. Ben knocks on his door when he is ready for us to get him up so I have time to check email and Twitter. Brian is gone at Pressnomics right now so I don’t have backup for mornings and evenings.
7:50 AM: Ben knocks and Teddy is still sleeping. I slide out of bed, leaving Teddy sound asleep and let Ben out of his room. I change a gross diaper and get his breakfast while cleaning up the kitchen and listening for Teddy.
8:00 AM: Ben requests to watch Toy Story 3 and since we don’t have any plans to leave the house today, a long movie isn’t going to throw off the day. He also wants some frozen veggies to snack on. Weird, yes, but my thought is that he likes how cold they are on his gums. We’re all ready for him to be done teething!
8:30 AM Teddy wakes up and goes to play in his activity gym while I drink a chai latte and start this post from the floor next to the baby. I also complete a few surveys since my computer is out and the boys are happy. Brian thinks the surveys are silly since they don’t amount to much cash flow but over the years, I’ve paid for my maternity wardrobe, got free gift cards for presents, and funded an iced coffee addiction without a cent coming out of our bank account. I redeemed enough points earlier this month to get $70 sent to me via Paypal for our Disney trip next month. Every dollar helps and $70 is a lot of dollars!
9:30 AM: My mom and youngest sister come over to play! I didn’t tell Ben and he is thrilled when he sees his Grammy’s van pull into the driveway. My youngest sister and Ben play really well together and Mom volunteers to snuggle the baby (hardship) so I can shower in peace.
12:30 PM: I tuck Teddy in bed for his nap. He falls asleep in about 3 minutes. I make chicken nuggets and sweet potato waffle fries for the kids for lunch while mom and I figure out details for our upcoming Disney trip. Mom asks Ben if he’d like to spend the night and the answer is a resounding YES from both of us. He hasn’t slept over at my parents’ house since Thanksgiving and he is very excited. I’m excited to just have the baby tonight and hopefully sleep in tomorrow.
1:00 PM: Ben goes down for his nap and I pack for his night at Grammy and Papa’s house. I sit down for my own lunch and figure out my plans for nap time. I put together some baja butternut squash soup in the crock pot to cook while I’m bringing Ben to my parents’ house later. I finish fleshing out my grocery list because I’m going to stop on my way home tonight. Grocery shopping with only one kid sounds like such a treat!
3:45 PM: Both boys are up from their naps. The first words out of Ben’s mouth were, “Go to Grammy’s house now!” He is totally ready. It takes a while to get this circus out the door though. I stop at our rental house on the way to pick up some mail that got delivered there instead of to the new house.
4:30 PM: At my parents’ house, Ben takes off like a shot to find his toys. Mom cuddles the baby (again) while I hunt down the rest of the bedding for the doll bed Mom returned to me last week. Ben has loved putting the babies to sleep and telling us all to shhhhh so I know he’ll appreciate having enough blankets to go around.
5:15 PM: Teddy and I give Ben kisses and leave to go grocery shopping. Shopping takes me at least three times as long because I decided to go to a different store than usual. I do find everything on my list though plus an extra special loaf of sourdough bread that was still warm from the oven.
6:45 PM: We arrive back home and Teddy is grumpy and exhausted. I feed, change, pajama, and swaddle him and put him in bed. He is asleep in no time. I puree the squash soup in the crock pot, slice the fresh bread I just bought, and collapse onto the couch for a few episodes of Iron Chef America.
10:00 PM: Bed time for me! It takes forever to get the kitchen cleaned up to my liking, toys put away, and get Teddy fed and changed again. I have the brilliant idea to see if Teddy would sleep better without a swaddle blanket so I don’t wrap him after he eats. He flails around for a while but seems to sleep ok. Maybe this will work?
11:50 PM: Going without the swaddle was a bad choice! I give up and swaddle him again. Teddy falls asleep immediately and so do I. Good night!
Sometimes I wonder if I’d enjoy going back to work part-time. Has the honeymoon period of being a stay-at-home mom worn off? I love being home with the boys but it is really hard most days and relatively thankless, even with as great of a husband as Brian. The boys never seem to thank me for cleaning up poop or scraping dried food bits off the dining room wall. Having two very small people dependent on me 24 hours of every day of the week makes it hard to measure personal accomplishments in any other units of measure than “two kids still alive and relatively clean” or “4 loads of laundry washed today.”
I know so many people who work in a field they love or, if they stay home with their kids, have a hobby that stretches and reenergizes them. I have yet to find a pastime that does the same for me and while I was a superb administrative assistant, that was not my life’s calling. I loved being around people and enjoyed having new stories to tell at the end of the day though. Staying at home with kids is as tiring as I expected but more lonely than anticipated.
Part of me says I keep revisiting this idea because we’ve been cooped up at home for one too many days during frigid weather over the past few weeks. Cabin fever is alive and well here in Michigan during the winter! Maybe I just need a change of pace? January is always a bit of a letdown after all the excitement of the Christmas season.
Part of me says I think of this often because, while many of the risks we took last summer for our family’s finances have paid off, not all have and due to that, we are in the process of dusting off skills we haven’t used in years and figuring out what thrift looks like for a family of 4. If I worked even just a little, that would help our budget’s bottom line.
Part of me says that while my job is to manage and stretch our family’s resources to the best of my ability, it is difficult to reconcile being the one who only spends money and never replaces it.
In short, I don’t know where this is heading. I used to think that by my upper 20s, I’d be all grown up and not need to make any big life changes or decisions. I’m starting to realize that there isn’t an “up” to grow to and that we should all continuously grow forward in one form or another but where is my personal forward leading?
As soon as I wrote that Teddy was easy to get to nap, I knew I was in trouble. Maybe you’ve experienced this too but generally, if you write and publish a blog post about how something is certain to happen, the thing you wrote about will change completely. I like to call this the Law in Internet Inevitability. As soon as I published the post about how Teddy sleeps so well and I can read his sleep cues so well, he totally changed his sleep patterns and has me guessing again.
For our family, 2015 will be defined by not only the things we want to accomplish but also by things we aren’t doing. This is the first year in many that we do not expect to add to our family. This is the first time in 4 years that we are not saving for another house. It’s likely we won’t accomplish all of these but having them written down will give me the satisfaction of checking them off one by one!
Save to pay cash for a minivan
Save $3000 specifically for emergencies and repairs at the rental
Start a payment plan to repay my parents for their loan from when we bought this house
Strip wallpaper in kitchen, dining room, and hall and prep for painting
Remove chair rail in kitchen and dining room
Have kitchen, dining room, and hall painted in late February
Happy three months, baby Teddy! You are a joy and a much loved part of our family.
I feel like I could copy and paste my notes from Ben’s third month post for this one. The boys are so darn similar!
Three months is an off month for well-child checkups but when we weighed him last week before a bath, the scale reported 12 lbs 9.6 oz, very close to Ben’s 12 lbs 14 oz but I think we weighed Ben a week or so older than Teddy. Teddy loves to eat and usually is done in 10 minutes or less. His love for nursing shows in every single leg roll and hand dimple. He has been wearing 3 month clothes since just after he reached his two month milestone and is close to outgrowing the one piece outfits and pjs. I need to sift through the bin of 3/6 month clothes so Teddy isn’t left naked!
We’ve given Teddy a few bottles and while he protests every time, he still drinks it. I’d love to keep it an option for when we go to Disney in a few months but we’d have to up his intake quite a bit for him to last through an entire date night.
We have been putting Teddy down for bedtime right after Ben so we have evenings mostly child-free again. There are times that he is awake within an hour of being swaddled and laid in bed but at this age, it’s a start. I feed him when I go to bed and he sleeps for 8 more hours. Our kids are good sleepers so they take it out on us in other ways, like Ben’s tornado tendencies. We have yet to see what Teddy’s biggest challenge is.
Teddy is reaching for toys in the gym and holds his head up pretty steadily when we hold him upright. He smiles and talks and laughs at all 3 of us. He loves his big brother and Ben loves him right back. I can read his sleep cues better than I could ever read Ben so even though we don’t have a strict schedule at this point, I can tell when Teddy needs more sleep and put him down for naps before he gets overtired.
We found out in mid January that I was pregnant with Teddy. After our experience with losing Baby Girl the previous fall, this was both exciting and terrifying. I was sick almost immediately after we found out and without the aid of meds, I probably wouldn’t have eaten anything for months. Thank God for modern medicine!
Brian and I went to the OB for the baby’s first ultrasound and saw the heartbeat!
We took off to Disney for Ben’s second trip, our 6th as a couple at the end of the month. It was a new experience for us to visit the parks with a toddler. One very notable event was Ben’s first haircut at the Main Street Barbershop in Magic Kingdom! They specialize in first haircuts and made it much less traumatizing for Ben (and for me) than I expected. It is definitely something we will plan on doing for all first haircuts to come!
We started the month by continuing our Florida trip by meeting up with His House in Fort Myers for spring break. Ben and I stayed with my Great Aunt and Uncle in nearby Cape Coral while Brian slept at the church as one of the adult leaders. I was still pretty sick every day so it was good to have a place to go home to instead of an air mattress on the floor.
Brian traveled for a work retreat to the Poconos with WebDev Studios while Ben and I held down the fort at home.
My grandma (Dad’s mom) decided to move into a retirement community and we decided to buy Grandma’s house for a rental. We had been talking for several years about buying investment property since we don’t have a traditional retirement plan. It was earlier than we had planned but, after a considerable amount of prayer and discussion, we started the purchasing process.
After several very busy work weeks, we hired Meg, a recently graduated His House student, to nanny for us once or twice a week. Ben fell in love with her and looked forward to her car pulling into the driveway every week.
We went to the big 20 week anatomy ultrasound and found out we were expecting a second boy!
Brian spent a long weekend in Miami for WordCamp Miami and we celebrated Brian’s 28th birthday and our 6th anniversary within a week. We were busy!
Over Memorial weekend we camped in Greenfield Village for their annual Civil War Remembrance Days reenactment. It was great to see our friends but definitely a challenge to camp with Ben! It was very cold at night and on the first night, he wouldn’t sleep unless he was in bed with us. After a few exhausting days, we decided that we wouldn’t be camping again for a while.
Instead of making the new house an investment property, we decided we would move our family into Grandma’s house and rent our Higgins house. I started praying we would close soon so I wouldn’t too huge to be helpful!
After several months of increased illness, we took our Oliver kitty to the vet only to find out that he had cancer and needed to be put down. He was my baby that I had gotten in 9th grade, Brian’s snuggle buddy, and Ben’s bestie. It was a hard transition for all of us.
That same week, we celebrated my 28th birthday.
We finally closed on the new house at the end of the month. Brian and I kicked off several weeks of painting and cleaning by spending the first night at the house and decided to paint the bedrooms, full bathroom, and family room prior to move in. It would be tight but we hired a woman from church to help.
Another HUGE transition was that Brian decided to leave his job at WebDev Studios that he had held for two years to spend more time on WPSessions and working for a friend. It was a scary choice to make but (looking back), it was definitely the right one.
Our family hosted the annual Vos family 4th of July brunch at our new yet empty house. The event was a little more relaxed than in previous years but everyone was fed and had a good time at the parade.
We spent two weeks painting (with Becky’s assistance) and cleaning the new house and accomplished most of our goals prior to our move in date on the 11th. It went as smoothly as moving could but I never want to move while pregnant again!
We spent another week cleaning the old house and our first round of renters moved in the 15th.
After such a busy and exhausting summer, we finally made our first trip to the beach on the 18th. Ben loved it!
Brian coordinated and planned WordCamp Grand Rapids for the 3rd year. It was a smaller event than years past but the speakers were great and everyone learned lots of new stuff. I’d call that a success!
Brian and I took one last trip to the Detroit area to visit friends and go to Ikea before Baby was to arrive. Our friends just had their first child the week before and I was eager to get my hands on a newborn! It seemed like so long until my due date!
We celebrated Ben’s 2nd birthday with a super low-key, Toy Story themed party with just the grandparents (and his aunts who live with my parents). Ben got the custom-built toy kitchen that he has played with daily since.
We waited and waited for Baby to arrive and hit the due date with still no sign of baby’s arrival. Every day was a struggle at that point!
Our tenants at Higgins informed us they bought a new house earlier than expected, which was good for them but too bad for us. We knew we could support the expenses of not having renters for a few months and made plans to hire a management company to find new tenants for us.
I, along with another WordPress developers wife, started an online chat group for developers’ wives so we can support each other through the specific kind of crazy that is living in a dev household. The support (and sometimes prayers) of these ladies has been highlight of the last few months.
My OB took pity on me and induced labor on the 2nd. Theodore John made his grand entrance into the world shortly after 1 AM on the 3rd.
Ben met Teddy and it was a wonderful thing to experience as a parent. Teddy was and has been very laid back since birth, which is such a blessing for a second baby.
Brian had two trips to San Francisco this fall, the first when Teddy was only 3 weeks old. I hadn’t taken the boys out on my own yet and was a little hesitant to try but we were just fine without Brian’s help. Brian had a blast volunteering at WordCamp San Francisco.
Brian was home just in time for Halloween. This was the first year Ben understood what was going on and after a few stops, figured out how truck or treating worked. He dressed up like Woody and Teddy, of course, had to be Buzz Lightyear.
November started with another trip to San Francisco for Brian for the inaugural Woo Commerce WooConf. Brian spoke on the last day of the conference and notes that it was incredibly well run for a first year event. Outside of conference hours, Brian was thrilled to stumble across the Musée Mecanique, a museum of mechanical wonders.
I scored a discount for Great Wolf Lodge and we took the family in mid-November for a two day trip. Ben was a little hesitant to swim on his own but loved to play in the toddler pool and float in a tube with Brian in the lazy river. Teddy was too little to swim at 6 weeks so we cuddled while I read a book. Ben figured out how to climb out of the pack n play the first night, signaling the end of an era of travel for us.
Brian was offered a part-time job by our friend Chris at Crowd Favorite doing what he loves (building cool websites and helping create new processes and workflows). It was a great opportunity for our family and Brian continues to enjoy the job after 6 weeks.
December has flown by and I’m not sure where it went!
Our beloved Meg and her Air Force husband moved to Hawaii at the beginning of the month so we’re back on our own again. We’ve settled into a good routine at home with the boys though. All four of us have fought colds this month but were healthy enough to enjoy Christmas together and with extended family. Teddy wasn’t too phased by presents but Ben has figured out ripping the paper and loves surprises. We heard “Oh man!” and “Wow!” many times on Christmas Day. Beyond the presents, we bought a children’s advent activity for Ben to teach him about baby Jesus’s birthday. He had a hard time following the rhymes in the book this year but understands who the major players in the nativity are. We are impressed with language and comprehension growth over the last few months and look forward to teaching him more new things (like shapes, colors, numbers, and letters) this coming year.
I hope to work on a post for our goals for the next year so expect that soon (but not very soon because I accidentally bathed my computer the week before Christmas and it’s now dead. RIP lappy.)
My head tells me that Teddy was just born yesterday but my eyes are telling me something completely different. It’s so hard to believe how fast he is growing!
Teddy is two months old today but doesn’t go to the pediatrician until next week so I don’t have any fun growth stats for you yet (I’ll update when I do). I haven’t even gone for my postpartum follow-up appointment yet. The doctor who delivered Teddy is probably the busiest OB at the practice so it was hard to reschedule my appointment and I will, no doubt, have to wait quite a while to be seen. I’m feeling pretty good except for the complete lack of weight loss but that’s another post entirely.
Teddy started out an inch longer than Ben so it shouldn’t surprise me that he is wearing 3 month clothes earlier but I’m still sad about it. My tiny baby is a beast! He’s wearing all 3 month clothes except for pants. He’s pretty slim still, even though he has very kissable rolls and dimples, so pants slide right off. We’re using size one disposable diapers at night and have already packed away all the small prefold diapers in favor of the 5 fitted diapers + covers and 7 BumGenius all-in-one diapers in the stash. I’m still wrapping my head around how I want to split the stash of BumGenius pocket diapers between the two boys but that will happen soon since Teddy is well within the size range.
Teddy consistently wakes up to eat only once during the night, usually between 5 and 7, depending on when we go to bed. He eats, burps, and goes back to sleep with little fuss or effort on my part. We haven’t used a shield for a few weeks (YAY!) so those are packed away now. We’re starting to loosely implement a 7:30 bedtime to get him used to having set sleep hours but success is hit and miss at this point. I feed him and Brian changes his diaper, puts on PJs, and swaddles him and we put him down in his Rock n Play (highly recommended, especially for a second kid) until we go to bed.
Teddy is a smiler. He loves to smile; smiling is his favorite. He has a hard time not smiling so he can eat or keep his pacifier in his mouth. He smiles at all three of us but it’s especially heart-melting to see him smile at Ben. Ben loves to help Teddy play in the gym (Teddy is not as big of a fan, however), throw clothes down the clothes shoot, bring Teddy pacifiers, toys, books, or other things Teddy doesn’t play with yet. I’m looking forward to how things change as Teddy grows up and becomes more of a playmate than a novelty. Ben is really a fantastic big brother and a great helper most days. His molars are taking their sweet time coming in so some days are horrible (looking at you, yesterday, with your 20 minute nap) but the times that Ben throws his arms around my neck and asks for kisses and hugs that make up for the rough stuff.