Camping with Toddler

First, let me get this off my chest. I’m afraid my mother-in-law thinks I’m trying to kill her (I’m not). She and my father-in-law come over once a week to spend time with Gabriel and join us for dinner. She has an allergy to mammal meat. A few weeks ago, I made a stir fry with rice. The stir fry sauce recipe I adapted called for chicken broth, and then I used some of the same broth to make the rice. We quickly realized something had gone awry, and I realized after dinner that I had used beef broth, not chicken broth. The following week, I baked chicken thighs. I even used a thermometer to check the temperature of the meat (which I don’t usually do when it’s just my family, but when I have people over, I more often do). But my mother in law cut into hers, and asked if we thought it was done. Everyone, including me, agreed it looked fine – and it did. It had a little color which I chalked up to it being dark meat and having some BBQ sauce mixed in, but I suggested she cook it a bit longer if she was worried (which she did). Part of the way through my own thigh, I realized that part of it was NOT cooked through. And the remaining thigh in the dish was also NOT cooked through. Sigh. I chalk it up to the fact that they hadn’t totally thawed when I put them in the oven, so they cooked unevenly. Word to the wise. Anyway, MIL – I promise, I’m not trying to kill you.

Whew, ok. I previously wrote a post about Camping with Babies, which I’ve shared with several people recently. But in doing so, I realized that the considerations when camping with toddler are different than they were when we were camping with baby. So I thought I’d write a new post with new information. And to just record these fun trips.

We’ve been on three camping trips since my camping with babies post. Gabriel has been a walker for all of them, and while not officially a talker, is increasingly capable of making his thoughts, feelings, and preferences very well known. In general, we’re still car camping. I’m afraid we’ve missed a window for backpacking. We still have the backpack carrier for him, and we’ve used it for lots of hikes, but he’s getting quite big for it. He likes it still, but also wants up, then down, then up, then down. I don’t know that we’ll be able to use it much longer, with him so heavy and mobile. So if we’re not using it, then we’re limited by how far he can walk, which isn’t far. Dunno. Maybe we’ll just have to wait a few more years.

Without further ado:

Trip #4 (with kiddo): Sherando Lake in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Virginia

This trip was a good 3.5-hour drive from Baltimore. We again planned to meet our friend who’d camped with us in Wolf Gap in the spring and his wife, who were driving from Knoxville, TN. It was much further for them. We went for two nights, but they could only join us for the second night (which turned out to be extra unfortunate for them). My parents were visiting us in Baltimore at the time, and my father came with us on the camping trip and drove. I don’t remember much about the drive or setting up camp, but I do remember that the first night was quite cold. We went in mid-October. The next morning was also quite cold, and Gabriel was in reasonable spirits until he realized how cold his hands were because he refused to wear his mittens, and then he literally cried for an hour for the entire campground to hear. I held him and walked around with him for a long time, to no avail. He was just cold and uncomfortable. Once he got over that, everything else was fine for the day.

Dan and I took Gabriel with us on a hike in the morning. We were able to start on the trail from the campground, and it was pretty steep up for the first bit. We lost Gabriel’s hat and the dog’s leash along the way. Looking at this map, I believe we hiked the west part of the Blue Loop trail and then west on the Torry Ridge Trail. We had planned to have my father meet us where the trail intersected with the Blue Ridge Parkway, which actually worked out well, despite general lack of cell service (but good pre-planning!). My dad actually backed quite a ways up a gravel road (I think Slacks Trail in that maps) and met us partway. The hike was 5.45 miles overall for us. I was a little concerned about the length and nap time and all that, which is true of every hike we try to go on with Gabriel. I always feel like we bite off more than I think we should try to chew. But of course it was fine.

I assume Gabriel napped just fine, but have no memory of it. Our friends finally arrived that afternoon. They and Dan went back up the same hike to look for our dog’s leash, then came back another way to arrive at Sherando Lake, and I met them there on the far side of the lake with Gabriel. I think that hike for them (up the steep bit of Blue Loop Trail, east, down the other side, around the lake, and back to camp) was probably about 2.5 miles. Then we all had dinner and hangouts together around the fire, which was lovely. Then we went to bed.

And it started raining. Pouring, in fact. And our friends’ tent started leaking. And we heard them pack up at 3 in the morning, get in their car, and drive away. They’d spent maybe 10 hours total at the camp site, and had at least 10 hours of driving total. Sigh. It continued pouring into the morning with no sign it would abate any time soon, so we quickly took down camp around 8 or 8:30, put everything (including ourselves) soaking wet into the car, and drove away. Sigh.

The logistics:

  • Sleeping: We again used the mansion tent, and Gabriel slept in the Guava Lotus pack and play inside. Since it was cold, I think he slept in the navy Columbia puffy onesie (as the outer layer of possibly several) you see in the pictures below.
  • Food: He eats what we eat. So, hot dog. Oatmeal. Clif bars. Crackers, cheese. We probably had several fruit/veggie pouches as well.
  • Eating ‘stuff’: Still highly recommend the bib with pouch (seen in pictures – this one is BabyBjorn but there are lots of options out there). And we brought his silicone bowl.
  • Milk: We brought a cooler with milk and his sippy cup. We were still giving him milk at night at that time in his sippy cup (for the record, we stopped that when we potty trained him at the beginning of May, so about 23 months).
  • Hiking: Deuter Kid Comfort child carrier.

Trip #5: Owens Creek Campground in Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland

We spent a night at Owens Creek Campground in mid to late June, when Gabriel was about two years and one month. This trip was originally scheduled for the weekend of May 1 and had been scheduled for months. We were going to go with another couple and their daughter who is around Gabriel’s age. Coronavirus through a wrench in those plans, though. Maryland state parks cancelled all reservations in May (or at least that early in May… but I think all of May). As the date neared, we looked for other options and were actually able to make a reservation for Caledonia State Park in Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania… but it was also cancelled a few days before the trip. We considered doing an airbnb somewhere (like the quarry one we’d been to the previous year), but ultimately decided to spend that weekend home potty training. Fun alternative.

We ended up finally getting a reservation at Owens Creek Campground for later in June, as did our friends (they may have gotten theirs first, in fact). Strangely, their reservation was cancelled on them, but ours wasn’t. So they found a different site in Cunningham Falls State Park, which is nearby (which, also strangely, I’m pretty sure I had looked at before booking Owens Creek and there hadn’t been any availability).

We drove up on Saturday during nap time and met our friends at their campsite at Cunningham Falls State Park. After their daughter woke up from her nap, the kids biked on their Strider bikes for a bit, then we drove down to the lake in hopes of a swim. But right as we got into the water, there was a bit of thunder, so we all had to get out. We never got back in and went on a short hike to the waterfall instead. The kids ran or biked the whole way, they had a blast. After that, we left the state park to go to Owens Creek, set up camp, had dinner, and all that lovely stuff. We had a great fire. The next morning, we met our friends again for a four-mile hike from the Catoctin Visitor’s Center to Chimney and Wolf Rocks and back to the Visitors Center before driving back to Baltimore. The snake (pictured below) was at Chimney Rock, and was actually further away than it seems from the picture, below us, under a rock we were on.

The logistics were essentially the same, except:

  • We didn’t bring the backpack carrier (we did a lot of carrying Gabriel on the hike, though)
  • We did bring the Strider bike.
  • No more milk at night, and no more silicone plates.
  • We brought his BabyBjorn potty! He went either in there or in the campground restroom when we went and brought him with us.
  • Our little guy is growing up!!

Trip #6: Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland

Have I said before that I hate the beach? Well. I do.

I have been interested in camping on Assateague since I moved to Maryland. Wild ponies, seashore, camping, what’s not to love? Well, in July: 95-degree weather, having to lug all your stuff across very hot sand to the ‘walk-in’ beach camping spot, mosquitoes, and… well… the beach (and salt and sand). That’s what’s not to love. Also a toddler who didn’t nap and woke up every hour over night.

Sigh.

I had no idea what to expect on this trip. It wasn’t this. Dan’s colleague had reserved the spot and had raved about camping there earlier in the season. We drove 3.5-ish hours to get to the island and then sat in a single-file traffic line for an hour to go less than a mile to enter the National Seashore via the entrance booths. Which put us past Gabriel’s nap time (we were hoping to arrive and have camp set up for nap time, and had been on track for that, until we actually got there and had to wait in that line). Then we had to haul all our stuff to the walk-in spot and set up camp, which took another hour-ish. And it was effing hot, and moreso in the tent where we had planned to have Gabriel nap. So we set up his pack n play on the sand under the shade canopy by the picnic table. He was not interested in napping, but seemed like maybe he was getting closer until Dan’s colleagues arrived and had to lug all their stuff to the site, and with all the commotion, a nap was just not in the cards.

That went mostly okay until bedtime. With the rest of the afternoon, we all went in the water, which Gabriel loved, wearing his life jacket for the first time. Over a month after this trip, we took a family trip to Lake Powell where we knew he would have to basically live in his life jacket. Life jackets are apparently made for infants up to 30 lbs and then toddlers 30-50 lbs. Gabriel was right at (or a pound or so under) 30 lbs, but it didn’t make sense to get an infant life vest. So we got the bigger one, and it was a little too big. But still, it was fine. Dan did all the research before selecting one. I forget what it is. O’Neill something? After that, Dan’s colleague, his girlfriend, Gabriel, and I did a short walk along a boardwalk to a nice view. We also made dinner (hot dogs of course for us… Dan’s colleague and his girlfriend had fish and potatoes, yum), shared wine. Then we put Gabriel to bed. And he cried for a really long time in a way he hasn’t cried since he was like six months old. It took an hour or so of going in there to soothe him before he finally settled down. And then, seriously, woke up every hour over night, and I comforted him back to sleep. Ugh.

All the same logistics, plus the fan that I’d purchased for his stroller when he was an infant in 95-degree Baltimore summer. It was essential. Oh, and the Coleman shade canopy and sandbags (for weighting it down) that I purchased specifically for this trip when I saw an image of the campsite and realized for the first time that there would be no trees or shade of any kind. And it was July.

I am never camping in Assateague in July again. Maybe April. Maybe October. Maybe not ever again. Gabriel will, though. Despite the sleeping issues, I think he had a blast.

And that’s that. We are going camping again in early October for one night at Gambrill State Park. Another couple and their son are also coming. We just purchased a sleeping pad and sleeping bag for Gabriel, so I think we’ll leave the pack and play behind and see how that goes! We’ve laid it out for him and had him get in his sleeping bag (and I got in mine next to him). He’s sort of into the idea. We’ll see.

Lately – May 2020

I think it’s been 2.5 years since I did a ‘lately’ post. December 2017. I was pregnant. Tomorrow, my son will be two!

I’m sitting in my living room with the windows open. It’s Memorial Day. Our celebrations (grilling on the roof and margaritas my dad made) wrapped up around toddler bedtime, but others’ are just getting started. The neighbors across the street are listening to early 90s jams. Right now it’s Closing Time by Semisonic. I’ve also heard Waterfalls by TLC and I Do it For You by Brian Adams. I still know all the lyrics. Crazy.

Also crazy: Covid-19 and the world these days. I am one of the very lucky ones who 1) is still employed; 2) has a spouse that is still employed; 3) has full-time childcare (provided by my parents who have been unexpectedly living with us for 2.5 months now). Our house is full, but we are happy and healthy. My sister had to graduate from her masters program virtually, thousands (millions?) of seniors had to miss their senior proms, and definitely millions of people have lost their jobs. 100,000 people in the US have died. I first became aware of coronavirus on our annual ski trip in late mid-late January. We were in Tahoe, and I believe the death count in China reached 800 while we were there. That feels like forever ago. I can’t imagine the world ever being like it was then.

And yet, this is life. It’s not on hold. I’m still living it, and it’s going by. In the past 2.5 months, Gabriel has learned to ride a balance bike, recognizes all the letters of the alphabet, and counts to four (though he usually skips ‘2’). I can’t speak of as such accomplishments for myself. Let’s see. Dan and I ran a 10K in April since the Sole of the City was cancelled. (We were also supposed to run the Bolder Boulder 10K today.) I hired and onboarded someone at work. I not only survived living under the same roof as my parents for 2.5 months (and who knows how much longer) but rather enjoyed it. So did my husband.

And I’ve continued most of the other things I usually do. Here’s a summary.

Things I’ve been reading:

  • The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. Dan’s aunts gave me this for Hannukah (they always give us books). I’m enjoying this a lot, but I had to stop 100 pages in to read….
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This is our book club book for tomorrow night. I finished it Saturday. I couldn’t remember who had recommended it or how we had settled on it for a book when I started reading it, and I was VERY confused. It’s written about the early 1900s in England. It was enjoyable, but I couldn’t imagine who had suggested we read it. I didn’t know anything about it, and so for all I know it was written last year. I found out after I finished that it was written in 1948, and the author also wrote 101 Dalmations. Both of those facts totally change how I view the book. I’m much more… forgiving now.
  • The Baltimore Sun. I finally got a subscription to my local paper. Elections are around the corner, and I wanted that coverage on that and also local coverage on coronavirus.

Things I’ve Been Watching:

  • Frankly, I’ve been annoyed hearing about all the people out there who are alone and bored and tapped out on Netflix. I mean, I get it. I really do. I think being alone during this time and not able to socialize as normal would be really hard. My experience has been the opposite though. I am daily, constantly, interacting with more people that normal. I am never alone in my house. I am never alone, period. I’m busier than ever. And I’m certainly not binging Netflix. That said….
  • I did find time to watch The Morning Show on Apple TV.
  • And Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu.
  • And 10-20 minutes of Sesame Street with Gabriel some mornings.
  • And I’ve watched a few episodes of Season 4 of Workin’ Moms in the past couple weeks.
  • So okay. I’ve made some time.

Fitness I’ve been doing:

  • CrossFit. My gym has been awesome and has lent out equipment and continues to program daily workouts. Most of the workouts are with kettlebells or dumbbells, but they also let me borrow a barbell, and I’ve been using that. It’s nice, but not the same. I do it in the driveway, in nearby park, or behind Under Armour on the water. I don’t take as much time to warm up or cool down and really just try to fit it into the shortest amount of time possible.
  • Murph. The annual CrossFit (and military) Memorial Day workout. I’d never actually done it before. I did a modified version this morning. We have a pull-up bar in our nearby park that is really rickety so kipping pull-ups aren’t an option, so I did sorta-strict pull-ups for over half of the pull-ups and leg raises for the others. (Sorta strict means that I was doing a lot of singles and using my knees kicking up to give me momentum over the bar.) I also did pushups from my knees for most of the pushups. Anyway, it was fun.
  • Running 1-2 days a week. Slowly. Somewhat painfully (both my feet hurt in different ways). But still getting out there.

Hikes I’ve been on:

  • A month or so ago, Dan, Gabriel, and I did the Ridge Trail in Patapsco State Park.
  • We’ve met Dan’s parents at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge (both the north and south tracts) a few times to pick up Gabriel from them.
  • This morning, we met up with friends near Lake Roland and did a walk in the woods with our kiddos.

Things I’ve been listening to:

  • These 90s jams are killing it. Gettin Jiggy With It right now. 3am by Matchbox 20 was also in there. Oh, man, wouldn’t be complete without Dave Matthews Band.
  • This is Joy and Claire with Joy and Claire, formally of the Girls Gone WOD podcast.
  • Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly podcast.
  • The Daily podcast… I’ve finally listed to a few episodes, after what feels like years of being advised to.

And yes, I’ve been making sourdough along with everyone else. My bread, as it has for years, turns out tasty, but doesn’t rise as much as I would like. Everyone else is perfecting their sourdough method, and I’ve tried a few different thinks, but mostly just doing what I’ve been doing for over a decade. Nothing new to see here. Oh, and I made this cauliflower tabbouleh (added feta cheese) for our Memorial Day dinner this evening.

Cheers.

Another kind of disaster preparedness

Or maybe the same kind, who knows. I didn’t realize when making my last post on emergency preparedness that Covid-19 would turn into quite the thing it has and that almost everyone would be interested in preparing for some sort of emergency. I do wonder if everyone knows quite what they’re preparing for. Self-quarantining for two weeks? Mass chaos? Who knows?

On a podcast I listened to this morning, one co-host suggested that everyone take this as an opportunity to do the sort of disaster preparedness they’ve been meaning to do but haven’t done yet. One example she suggested was creating a will. She said, “I have been meaning to make a will for years,” or something like that. This echoed more than one conversation I’ve had with friends recently who, like me, and like the podcast co-host, have at least one kid. The, gosh, I’ve-been-meaning-to-do-that-but-just-haven’t-gotten-around-to-it conversation. We do have a will, so each time I hear this, I say (or want to say), it’s really not that hard.

We do have a will. We finalized it in January 2019, when Gabriel was about 8 months old. It wasn’t that hard. It required:

  1. Emailing other new parents I knew to see if anyone had a recommendation for a lawyer to work with (only one of the five I emailed did).
  2. Contacting said lawyer. We had a brief, initial phone conversation about the process; an in-person meeting (both Dan and me) at lawyer’s office to go through a series of his questions; review of the document and some back-and-forth clarifying emails; and a final in-person meeting to sign the documents.
  3. Deciding who we would want to take care of Gabriel in the event of our untimely deaths and who we would want to be in charge of his finances, and a few other related decisions (like what age all of our assets should be made available to him). All of these are personal decisions, but they weren’t hard for us. Our lawyer was able to provide recommendations on some of them (like the age one).
  4. Maybe a total of 3-4 hours of time over about two months.
  5. $1,600. (We had pretty standard/basic arrangements set up. I believe this would be more expensive if we deviated from relatively standard arrangements.)
  6. That’s it.

As part of the same process, we also established advance medical directives and power of attorney for Dan and me.

There are online templates and services that help individuals set these up without working with a lawyer also. We thought of going that direction, but I think we just wanted to assurances a lawyer could give that we were doing it ‘right.’

Separately, the other thing we did to prepare for our unexpected deaths was get life insurance. We actually did this while I was pregnant. We got enough for each of us to allow Gabriel and the living parent to maintain our current lifestyle should the other parent die. I knew a lot more about the considerations and options when we were going through the process of making decisions about this. This was also a fairly painless process (though getting used to the automatic monthly debit from our account that we’ll hopefully never need to use took some getting used to), but it was eased very much by the fact that we have a financial advisor who led us through the entire process. He facilitated the quotes, presented the options, provided recommendations, did all the paperwork, complimented us on our excellent health scores from the physical exam we had to do that resulted in great rates, etc. The thought of having to figure all this out without a financial advisor does indeed sound overwhelming, but hey, people want to sell services, so hopefully it’s pretty straightforward.

I’d also like to acknowledge that I feel very privileged to have resources both to devote to this process and to protect on my son’s behalf.

Anyway, all this to say, especially if you have kids, I encourage you to take the steps to get a will and ensure your child or spouse’s financial future should you (and/or your spouse) have an unfortunate event. I really think the effort it takes to do it is MUCH less than the effort it takes to worry about it and wonder how you’ll do it. And if the Covid-19 outbreak gives you extra encouragement, well… ok.

Emergency Preparedness

Sometime in the last year, I decided that having some level of emergency preparedness was important, and things like ‘go bags’ (aka ‘bug-out bags’) were not just for families like the one the woman who wrote Educated grew up in. Dan and I discussed it a few times, but never made moves to do anything, so I decided to give him a fully-stocked Go Bag for Christmas.

I primarily relied on Wirecutter’s guidance for the contents, though the Federal government’s Ready.gov Build A Kit guide is also useful, and you can google any number of other resources for additional ideas. As for the bag itself, I hadn’t really settled on a bag of choice. I also got Dan a 45-L Black Hole Duffle for Christmas, which is what I put all the stuff in, but I didn’t expect him to ultimately use it for the Go Bag, though I think it could have sufficed just fine. In the end, we ended up finding a military backpack at the tianguis (outdoor market) in Chapala, Mexico when we were visiting my parents after Christmas.

In addition to the bag and its contents, I also put some thought into what would be priorities for grabbing from the house that we wouldn’t necessarily want to (or in many cases be able to) store in the bag.

After receiving the gift, Dan did his own research and added to the bag. He also made the list of items in the bag and that we would want to also grab nice and pretty and laminated it and attached it via carabiner to the outside of the bag.

Making a Go Bag is a bit of an investment, and sort of sad to get all these fun things and not use them. But I guess it’s like life insurance… money out the door each month that you hope to never have to rely on.

In addition to the bag, we have several emergency preparedness things we still need to do, including:

  • Stock the house with emergency water and food for at least 3 days
  • Make a plan for where we will convene if we are not together at the time of emergency and in the event we don’t have phone service
  • Elaborate on our communication plan. We have a list of family contacts in the Go Bag, but may want to put more thought into this.

If you’re interested, you can find additional recommendations at Ready.gov.

Without further ado, our Go Bag contains:

4E7F16E7-422E-465B-B003-6FB18DA98DB4_1_201_a

  • Emergency radio
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries (AAA, AA)
  • Whistle
  • Glowsticks
  • Compass
  • Paper roadmap (for Maryland and Delaware)
  • $500 cash
  • Checkbook
  • Multitool (Leatherman)
  • Rope
  • Carabiners
  • Water bladders
  • Water tablets
  • Emergency blanket
  • Duct tape
  • Lighter
  • Weatherproof matches
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baby wipes
  • 2 heavy duty garbage bags
  • Diapers
  • N95 Dust Masks
  • iPhone charger
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Floss
  • Tampons
  • Small soap
  • Infant ibuprofen
  • Pens
  • Clif Bars
  • Jerky
  • Dog and cat food
  • Laminated copies
    • Passports
    • Global Entry Cards
    • Drivers licenses
    • Social Security cards
    • Birth certificates
    • Marriage license
    • MD licenses
    • Family contact info

Other items we’d want to grab, if reasonable:

  • Wallets
  • Original important documents file
    • Passports
    • Global Entry cards
    • Drivers Licenses
    • Social Security cards
    • Birth certificates
    • Marriage license
  • Computers (w/chargers)
  • Hard drive
  • Water
  • Water filter
  • Diapers
  • USB battery charger
  • Sunglasses
  • Small tent
  • Sleeping bags (including our dog’s)
  • Long underwear
  • Hat: ball cap or cold weather hat
  • Gloves
  • Rain jackets
  • Wool socks
  • Underwear
  • Change of clothes
  • Human food
  • Pet food
  • Pet bowls
  • Leash
  • Tether
  • Cat carrier
  • Pets

Good luck to you if you decide to make your own bag!

Washington State – with Toddler

Dan, Gabriel, Dan’s mother, and I spent eight days in Washington State. We arrived home Sunday night – which was only five days ago, but already feels like a lifetime. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster of a week so far. Our cat, Penelope, seems to have gotten out of the house Tuesday morning (possibly Monday night, but we think we saw her Tuesday morning, and there was a clear opportunity for her to leave on Tuesday), and we haven’t seen her since. I’ve posted to our community’s facebook group about it and posted a few posters around the neighborhood with a picture and my contact info. I’ve asked at the local vet that everyone around here seems to use, including us (they also posted a picture in their office for us), and I’ve visited and filed a lost pet report at the local shelter. No luck so far. It’s been at least three days since we saw her. She’s gotten out maybe 4 or 5 times in her 13 years and has always come back, but this isn’t looking good.

And then Wednesday morning, I got Clio out the door at 5:45am to go for a run (which had the double purpose of looking for Penelope – slow run!), and two blocks away she suddenly yelped and could no longer walk on her front right foot. Dan thought she’d been limping for a while, but this made it suddenly really bad. I took her to the vet; he thinks she has just a bad sprain and is on pain medication. It seems to be doing better – she can walk on it and some of her steps seem normal… but she won’t move much! Which is understandable… but I took her out at lunchtime yesterday to go pee in front of our house, and she just laid down on the ground! Not usual behavior.

Anyway. We had a lovely time in Washington (and our pets were well-cared for by my good friend who housesat). We spent the first several days near Wenatchee State Park and Lake Wenatchee, about 30 minutes north of Leavenworth, which is a cute, Bavarian-themed town. Dan’s cousin got married near there, which is why we were there.

IMG_7368

The day after the wedding, the wedding guests were invited to hang out at Tierra Retreat Center for the day, and Dan and I got a chance to do a 2-mile burner of a loop hike while Dan’s mother watched Gabriel (side note: traveling with family willing – and excited – to be temporary caretakers = very good idea). Very steep uphill and even steeper downhill.

After that, we drove to the Olympic Peninsula and stayed in a house on Lake Sutherland, just west of Port Angeles and east of Lake Crescent. We took a FERRY as part of our travel, and it was AMAZING.

We visited the Olympic National Park visitors center in Port Angeles on our first half day there and walked the nature trail there. Gabriel was able to walk most of it on his own!

On our first full day, we drove to the Hoh Rainforest Visitors Center and did two hikes/walks. The first was the 1-mile ish Hall of Mosses trail that was a loop near the Visitor’s Center. For the second, we walked along the Hoh River Trail for about a mile, then walked back (in the pouring rain). That trail actually goes about 18 miles and has significant elevation gain if you do the whole thing. Gabriel mostly preferred to be carried in the hiking backpack that day, but did some walking on his own as well.

Instead of driving straight back to our house, we took a detour off Highway 101 near Forks and went to Rialto Beach on the Pacific. It was SUPER windy, and high tide. Gabriel (water baby) wanted to be near the water (that is, crashing waves), and I got soaked once by a particularly large wave right after scooping him up into my arms. We walked along the driftwood for a bit, then returned to our house.

On our second full day there, we went to the Hurricane Ridge area, outside Port Angeles. On the drive up Hurricane Ridge Road, Dan’s mother dropped Dan and me off (but kept Gabriel – have I mentioned that traveling with grandparents is definitely the way to go?!), and we hiked up Switchback Trail (~1.5 miles), past a trail intersection that went toward the Hurricane Ridge Lodge, to Klahhane Ridge. We walked along the Ridge for about 3/4 mile, then returned and hiked from the trail intersection to Hurricane Ridge Lodge where we reunited with Gabriel and Dan’s mom. The view from the top of Klahhane Ridge was amazing. It was a super clear day, and in one direction we could see the Strait of Juan de Fuca (with Mt. Baker rising in the distance!); Victoria, BC across the water; and the valley below us, including Port Angeles. In the other direction, we saw mountains for days, including Mt. Olympus. The hike was about 6 3/4 miles in total with decent elevation gain (especially the Switchback trail – oof).

On our last full day, we went first to Lake Crescent and hiked the 1-ish mile to Marymere Falls. Then we went to the Sol Duc area and hiked the similarly 1-ish mile to Sol Duc Falls and then took Gabriel into the hot springs. They weren’t that great. Sort of crowded and not that hot, especially the pool that kids were allowed in. But I wanted to do it, so we did. The hikes were nice, though! Gabriel did a fair amount himself, but also wanted to be carried a bit.

One of the evenings, we took Gabriel on his first kayak ride on Lake Sutherland using one of the kayaks the house provided! He loved it, and wanted to do all the paddling himself.

On our last partial day, we stopped at the Dungeness Spit for an hour or so and walked along the ‘spit’ (a narrow piece of land jutting out into the strait). We also stopped briefly in Bainbridge Island on our drive back to Seattle to see Dan’s uncle’s family and the town a bit. Then we ferried back to Seattle (!!!) and flew home early the next morning.

 

Baby Stuff

Once upon a time, I said that I planned to do a post on the items we had on our baby registry. I never got around to it, which is probably better, because what we registered for is not necessarily what we ended finding most useful. So now, fourteen months in, I’m finally sharing our baby stuff, with plenty of commentary. I couldn’t wait too much longer, because there are constantly new products becoming available, and who knows if this will all be outdated soon. Feel free to contact me with any questions or more in-depth information on our experience with any of these.

You’ll notice a theme for a preference for limited chemicals. We have been intentional about this when it made sense, but not religious about it. A few resources I used when determining what to get:

Also – just a plug here to recommend getting stuff used as much as possible. I know, I know. I was that mom. I just wanted the best and the newest for my little kiddo. But now I’ve spent fourteen months trying to figure out what to do with perfectly good stuff. There’s a constant inflow, and in our house where we try to not hoard much stuff, a constant outflow. But what to do with all of it? It’s agonizing knowing that something is in great condition, a ton of resources were put into manufacturing it and distributing it, and it may not ever get used again. I’ll comment below on what I’ve done with some stuff, and where we’ve chosen to get stuff used.

Nursery

  • Crib: Ikea Sniglar – Chose this for the real, natural wood and lack of paint and chemicals
  • Dresser: Ikea Hemnes three drawer, white stain – Low cost, fit in the small space
  • Bookshelf: White Ikea Kallax shelf unit with Ikea Branas Baskets for the bottom two shelves
  • Monitor: Philips AVENT SCD630/37 Video Monitor with FHSS – nothing too fancy (ie, no wifi or remote video watching), but has a video screen and sound. I think it was recommended on some list of high value (ie, lower cost, but decent quality) monitors.
  • White noise machine: I’ve used white noise since I was 13. This was a definite. We registered for the Dohm, which is what we used in our bedroom when Gabriel slept there (even though we’d used a fan before he was born, and a fan was what I’d always used). I liked having a machine instead of a fan so much that once Gabriel moved to his own room, we kept the Dohm in ours and I got a Hatch Rest for Gabriel. I went with the Rest instead of getting another Dohm because it could also double as a light (for bedtime and overnight feedings) and a green light to rise (or whatever those things are called). The light is unfortunately not bright enough for bedtime book reading, so I still have to keep the hall light on for that, but otherwise I’ve liked it. And a word about the Dohm, which may be true of any white noise machine, or maybe this is a word about new mothers: when we first moved Gabriel into his room and were using the Dohm in our room… I swear, it had this subtle pitch that sounded like baby crying. I honestly couldn’t tell sometimes if I was hearing the Dohm or baby crying. I don’t hear it now. I don’t even know what I could possibly have been hearing. But the monitor frequently confirmed there was NO crying baby, and yet I still heard crying baby, unless I turned the damn thing off. WTF.
  • Glider and Ottoman: Used Dutalier glider and ottoman – A dutalier glider came very highly recommended from a friend whose opinion I trust. I hadn’t yet put thought into what sort of chair I would want, so I avoided doing so and just went with her recommendation. I found one used for $100 on Facebook marketplace and drove pretty far out of my way to go pick it up. It’s not much to look at, but it certainly did the trick during all those late night nursing sessions. Now that we’re finished with nursing, though, I’d like to change to something more attractive at some point. Hopefully I can resell this used, because it’s still got life!
  • Small fridge: Any kind would probably do, if at all. Two sets of friends/parents recommended we have a fridge in the closet of our nursery. We even made sure our house builders for our new house put an outlet in the closet so we could do so. In the end… we hardly used it. We just didn’t have to store milk up there very often, if at all. We didn’t do bottles overnight – I always breastfed. When I pumped during my telework days, I would occasionally stash milk in there for a few hours, but I often wanted to freeze it, so I would bring it downstairs soon after anyway. We probably use it a bit more now because we are giving Gabriel a sippy cup with milk at bedtime, which he drinks very little of, so we store it in his fridge over night and offer it to him again in the morning. But we’ll probably stop doing that soon too. We bought this used and will probably keep it for now.

Sleeping

  • Crib – see above
  • Bassinet: Guava Lotus bassinet conversion – This is what Gabriel slept in in our room next to my side of the bed for his first 3.5 months. We’ve passed this on to other friends with a younger son, although they also have a Halo Bassinet, so maybe only use this to travel.
  • Bassinet sheets: Two Lotus Bassinet Organic Cotton Fitted Sheets and one totally adorable other one off Amazon with mountains and foxes that we liked so much we got the same one for our crib… but can’t find it anymore. We probably only needed two sheets total. There may have been once that we (and by we, I mean Gabriel) dirtied two in quick succession requiring a third before laundry was done, but I don’t remember for sure.
  • Mattress:  Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic Crib Mattress – no harmful chemicals including chemical flame retardants. And it is waterproof. Interesting. See mattress pad info below. What is the point of it? I don’t know.
  • Mattress pad: Pure-rest wool moisture protection mattress pad, portacrib size – Hm, doesn’t look like the portacrib size is sold anymore, and Green Mountain Diapers says the company Pure-Rest closed their business! Too bad. But anyway, wool is naturally moisture resistant, while also being breathable. Ours doesn’t fit the whole size of our mattress, but does cover most of the surface area that Gabriel sleeps on. Doubled up, it fit in our bassinet. We’ve never brought this in our travel crib, but it would fit there if we did. Maybe we’ll need to do that when we start potty training, although the travel crib has a waterproof mattress cover, I think. Hm. Not really sure what the point of this is, actually. But it’s been on his mattress since he was born all the same.
  • Crib Sheets – Two Kaydee Baby 100% Organic Jersey Knit Fitted Baby Crib Sheets (fox and bear prints) off Amazon and the one referenced above in bassinet sheets. Again, three is probably too many.
  • Sleeping clothes and other items:
    • SwaddleMe swaddles – we got a bunch of these handed down to us, and they were great. I wouldn’t have thought to register for them, but they were pretty indispensable. I never could effectively swaddle in those big cloth rectangle swaddles (Dan could), but I could get these pretty tight. Until he started breaking out of them around two months or something, and we quit the swaddle (which I feared, but was fairly painless). I’ve since passed these on to another mother in the neighborhood, I think (I think for free, or maybe I sold an entire bag of newborn stuff for some amount of money. Those were the early days. Now I just post bags full of stuff for free – my main concern is it getting used again, not the money. Said the privileged mother.)
    • Aden and Anais muslin swaddles, pack of 3 – As I said, I couldn’t effectively swaddle with these, but these were still nice to have to cover the stroller when Gabriel was sleeping and wrap him in in the stroller bassinet. Once Gabriel reached almost a year old, I started putting one in his crib and covering him with it at night. It has now become his blanket, it seems. This is a recent development. He hadn’t shown attachment to any particular thing til recently, but I think this is it!
    • Sleep sacks – we transitioned from swaddles to sleep sacks pretty quickly. We started with the Swaddle Up 50/50 Transition Bag, which allows the arms to be constrained in like a swaddle or zipped off… but we just kept them zipped off after, like, a day. We also had a couple Halo sleep sack swaddles that we used through the transition, and two Halo sleep sack wearable blankets (one heavier for winter). Before summer fully arrived, we also got a Burts Bees one in a larger size to provide warmth, but now Gabriel sleeps in just shorts/t-shirt two-piece pajamas in his room that is 78-79 degrees overnight. I have sold or given away all of these (except for the Burts Bees, which I think will still be useful in the Fall) to other new mothers, either via Facebook or just directly.

Carrying/Strolling

  • Cloth wrap: Solly baby wrap – This may be the thing I think was most valuable. I used this for the first time when Gabriel was only days old, and I used it probably every day until he was about three months. It was a) the only way I could get stuff done around the house (and I don’t mean housework… I mean feeding myself, and yes, going to the bathroom); and b) an almost fail-proof way to calm down a fussy Gabriel. I think it didn’t work only once. This came everywhere with us, and I freaked out if we didn’t have it, because if Gabriel freaked out and we didn’t have it, what would I do? (Side note – I think back now on all the freaking out I did about the potential for my baby to freak out, and I wonder what all the freaking out was for?! I mean, babies cry. People know that. So what? Was it that crying usually meant hungry and I didn’t want to be put in a position where I unexpectedly had to breastfeed? Was it that I was worried he would start crying and people would think I was a terrible mother? I really don’t know what it was. It seems irrational now.) (More relevant side note – I think any wrap would probably have sufficed. Nothing specific about the Solly, except I want to support the mom-owned company!). I gave this to the same friend who we gave the Guava Lotus bassinet converter to.
  • Structured carrier: Ergobaby 360 ‘with cool air mesh’ – I think I perseverated over this decision quite a bit and don’t recall how we landed here. We like it! My friend let us borrow the infant insert.
  • Regular stroller: Uppababy Vista – This is probably the decision I spent the most time, energy, worry, etc. on. And I went back and forth a lot. I mostly was between the Uppababy Vista and the Nuna Mixx, but also the Vista vs Cruz. I finally landed on Uppababy for a couple reasons: 1) Nuna was in the middle of changing their product and no longer had a bassinet option for the Mixx. I wanted the flat bassinet. I thought it was important for baby to lay actually flat. 2) The Uppababy infant carseat (Mesa) could be purchased in a material (Henry) that does not use chemical flame retardants. Nuna also had an infant carseat at the time that was made without chemical flame retardants, but only the Pipa Lite – which was super light (awesome!), but could not be seat belted into cars. The base was required for installation. The slightly less light (but still lighter than the Mesa) Pipa could be seat belted in, but was not naturally flame retardant. So I went with Uppababy system. As for Cruz vs Vista… I don’t know that we made the best decision here. I don’t think it matters much. We’re not having another kid (the Vista has the option to become a double stroller, the Cruz does not), and the Vista has been great on any terrain we’ve taken it on… but the Cruz would ahve been a little lighter and smaller. But the Vista hasn’t been a problem. Anyway, we love it.
  • Jogging stroller: 2015 Bob revolution – purchased used on Facebook marketplace. We didn’t get this til Gabriel was around 9 months. A couple months before that, my parents brought us an Expedition jogging stroller they’d found for free on the side of the road. It was not in the best shape, but it was useful for determining whether I’d actually be interested in a jogging stroller. Turns out the answer was yes, so we decided to invest in one in better condition.
  • Travel stroller: GB Pockit. Lightweight and folds up small! Which is awesome. However, ours malfunctioned after being used only a handful of times (the handle up/down mechanism stopped catching). I called the company, and after a bit of a runaround, they sent us a new one and had us send the defective one back. Hooray!
  • Hiking carrier: Deuter Kid Comfort. We just bought this! The Ergo was no longer cutting it for hikes. We went on our first hike last weekend, and it worked great! It was comfortable to wear, Gabriel took a nap in it. Perfect!

Feeding

  • Breastfeeding Pillow: Boppy and BrestFriend – preferred the Boppy and sold the BrestFriend before I’d finished breastfeeding. A friend lent me a Boppy (I’d registered for the BrestFriend), but I returned that to her when Gabriel was about six months and bought my own. It’s still upstairs in the closet. Need to get rid of it.)
  • Pump: Spectra S2. It was between this and the Medela one that everyone likes (I forget the name). My insurance covered both. They unfortunately didn’t cover the Spectra S1, which is battery powered rather than corded, but that was never a problem for me anyway. I went with the Spectra because I’d heard it was quieter. I liked it a lot (as much as someone can like something that turns them into a dairy cow). I gave it away to a pregnant colleague in case she wanted one to keep at work. I tried hard to sell it on facebook or find a place to donate it, but no luck. (Facebook kept denying my post… not sure why.) I was happy to give it away. Hopefully she uses it! Places like Goodwill won’t take them. I also used a Medela… Symphony? at work. I just bought the pump pieces for it. I brought those home to wash everyday, but I could have also washed them at work and left them there. That pump is hospital grade. And it was fine, but I actually think I produced more with my Spectra. Or maybe I was just less stressed when I pumped. Pumping at work was stressful.
  • Manual pump: Lansinoh. I brought this to and from work every day in case I ever got stranded at Union Station trying to come home and desperately needed to pump. As it turned out, I didn’t really ever need to use this. I chose to use it a couple times at the very end of breastfeeding when I was weening off the final feeds (I was only doing a couple minutes a day, and this was easier to get out then set my whole pump/pumping bra stuff up). I sold this to a neighborhood mom through Facebook. Even though I didn’t use this much, I am really glad I had it. It could have been bad news if I was ever stuck in DC and didn’t have a way to pump.IMG_5831
  • Bottles: Mostly Dr. Browns plastic bottles, both narrow and wide mouth. We tried the wide-mouth glass ones. They leaked. Also, our glass ones were only 5 oz., and we transitioned to 6 oz bottles very shortly after we got them, so only used them a handful of times. Also, daycare wouldn’t let us provide glass bottles, only plastic. Gabriel started daycare shortly after he was 3 months old. Before then, we did bottles occasionally (even once a day sometimes) and would usually use the 4-oz capacity Dr. Brown’s bottles. But once he started going to daycare, we used the 8-oz capacity ones (I think we started with 5-oz bottles when he started daycare, and shifted soon to 6 oz), and that’s what we used until he stopped using bottles at a year. So, we probably only needed a couple 4-oz ones, and we had 6x 8-oz ones (3 narrow, 3 wide-mouth). We used preemie nipples early on, and once he went to daycare, we used 1s. I think we switched to size 2 around 6 months. I tried a size 3 once, but it seemed silly to do that instead of a sippy (the flow seemed similar), so we just worked on a sippy. I gave all of these away to someone through Facebook.IMG_5836.jpeg
  • Drying rack: OXO Tot Bottle & Brush Cleaning Set. Was this necessary? The brush, yes, absolutely. The drying rack… sure, I guess so. We kept this in the upstairs bathroom next to Gabriel’s room rather than down in the kitchen. We usually fed him his bottles in his room and would then wash the bottles up there and dry the on this rack. So it was nice to have a rack up there. Did we need it? Mm, maybe not. A towel probably could have sufficed.
  • Burp cloths: Burts Bees 5-pack. Since we had a ton of diaper pre-folds, these probably weren’t necessary. But they’d been on our registry, and someone gave them to us, and I am actually so glad. They are so soft. We still use them. We always have one or two with us in the diaper bag to use to wipe hands or faces or whatever. We definitely used them for burping, also. They’re lower profile (thinner) and softer than the pre-folds, so really nice to have.
  • High chair: Stokke Tripp Trapp – this came highy recommended by our friends form the Netherlands, and we love it. We also got the baby seat, tray, and a cloth cover for it. Gabriel’s still not crawling up into it himself and we still have the baby seat in, but he mostly just eats at the table (rather than from the tray) now. One downside is that the tray is not huge like some, so the silicone plates we have that are supposed to suction to their surface don’t fully fit flat on it, and therefore don’t suction. Hasn’t been a big deal.
  • Cups: Nuk, Dr. Browns with weighted straw, Munchkin 360, and now Bobo&Boo bamboo open cups. We switched off trying the Nuk, weighted straw, and 360 cups when we first introduced a sippy around 6 months. He finally got the hang of them maybe around… 8 months? But he associated the 360 with water and didn’t like milk from it, so we’ve always done only water in the 360 and milk in the Nuk and straw cups. We still give Gabriel milk before bedtime in the Nuk or the straw cup, and also when he first wakes up, sitting in the Dutalier rocker with him. Not sure when we’ll stop this. We’re working on the open cups. He can do several sips of water or milk if there’s not too much in the cup. Then he’ll set it down, usually gently without spilling. But then he’ll either put his fist in it, or dump the whole thing down his front or on his plate or on the floor, and then we take it away.
  • Plates: We’ve had an ezpz silicone tray/bowl and another silicone plate whose sections look like a pig. We also got some reusable bamboo plates for Gabriel to use at daycare.

Diapering

  • Changing pad: Leander Matty Changer – Dan got a recommendation from a friend for this. Other friends had recommended the Keekaroo. Both are not cloth and easy to wipe down. We liked the Leander. It’s wide, so the surface needs to be big enough for it. Our Ikea dresser just barely is. But… I have used cloth/foam/whatever ones that friends have, and they seem so comfy and cozy. Maybe Gabriel would like his diaper changes better if we had one of those. (Probably not.)
  • Cloth diapers: See my post on diapering. My favorite are Thirsties naturals. We bought one newborn Bumgenius all in one diaper that was absolutely the cutest thing ever. He grew out of it in like a week or two.
  • Disposable diapers: For disposables, we use mostly Honest. We’ve also used the ones we got for free when he was born, which I think were Pampers?, and Seventh Generation. They all work.
  • Wipes: Water wipes
  • Wipes holder/warmer: Not sure of the brand, but yep, after a week of scream-filled diaper changes, we got this used from one of Dan’s sister’s friends. We didn’t think we would want/need one, but definitely glad we have it.
  • Diaper pail: Ubbi for our cloth diapers, Dekor for our disposable diapers and other trash.
  • Diaper cream: Natural Boudreaux’s butt paste. Also used Primally Pure Baby Balm early on.

fullsizeoutput_d1f2

Travel

  • Infant car seat: Uppababy Mesa, discussed above. We transitioned out of this right around 12 months. We’re about to take our first trips without it. Traveling with an infant car seat is logistically so much easier. Sigh.
  • Convertible car seat: Nuna Rava. No chemical flame retardants.
  • Carrier: covered above. For our early trips, we brought the Solly on the plane, and Gabriel stayed in there pretty much the whole time. Then we transitioned to the Ergo. But he gets fussy in there now, so I think we won’t bring it on the plane going forward, but may still bring it on the trips.
  • Backpack carrier: covered above. May travel with this now.
  • Travel stroller: covered above. We haven’t actually taken this on a plane yet, as we’ve traveled with our Vista. But now that we will be traveling without the infant car seat, I think we’ll switch to bringing the travel stroller.
  • Travel crib/pack n play: Guava Lotus – LOVE this.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_6f1

Clothes

I’m not going to list out all the clothes we got or used here. But I will say again, for clothes especially, get them used as much as possible. We did not register for any newborn clothes, except to ask for used items. (Oh, except we did register for non-skid socks, which we got, and which we used a ton.) We of course still got a bunch of newborn clothes (mostly onesies), which we expected – and used, and we also got an entire suitcase full of used clothes from Dan’s sister’s friend. It was amazing. I picked out like five different outfits to bring to the hospital for us to choose what to bring Gabriel home in (ha – see the picture of tiny baby Gabriel drowning in his carseat below. That’s what he ended up wearing. Including the non-skid socks!). I don’t even think he got a chance to wear all of the clothes we were given before he grew out of them, but we had plenty to last us the first three months at least. This lot included the SwaddleMe swaddles I mentioned above. Since then, I have had to buy some clothes, we continue to get some as gifts (and my mom often brings new or used ones from Mexico when she comes to visit), but I also posted a plea for used clothes on Facebook and was given an entire bag of 18mo and 2T clothes for free. That’s mostly what he’s wearing now. I wouldn’t have bought a lot of it myself (there are like 3 jumpers I wouldn’t have thought to buy, but they are so cute), but since I have it, he wears it. When I have bought clothes, I’ve opted for sort of fancy stuff because I buy so little of it (and gosh, it’s just so soft), mostly from Monica & Andy and Finn & Emma.

Bath, etc.

  • Wash: Beautycounter Baby Gentle All Over Wash
  • Sunscreen: Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen at home and Babo Botanicals Baby Mineral Sheer and Gentle sunscreen for at daycare.
  • Towel: Channing & Yates, and Dan’s sister made us one. Still using these.
  • Baby tub: We didn’t get a baby tub. We bathed Gabriel in the sink for the first several weeks, and it was absolute hell every time. He hated it and was slippery and he screamed, and it was just awful. So we transitioned to the big tub pretty early on. Friends had given us (accidentally, as it turns out – they meant to throw it away) this… thing. It was a very thin pad, maybe 18×24, with a foam pillow and two foam sides that velcroed on to it. It was the most unsophisticated basic thing imaginable, but it was great. We would lay Gabriel on it on his back. The foam things would keep him from rolling over. We’d fill the tub an inch or two with water. And we’d bathe him, and that was that. He totally didn’t mind that at all. I’ve searched Google to find something similar, but haven’t and don’t know what to call it. We stopped using that thing around when he could sit up on his own, or maybe a month or two later, and just sat him in the bath in several inches of water. He loves the bath.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste: I bought the Baby Buddy finger toothbrushes and the MAM Learn to Brush brushes early on. Gabriel started drooling a ton around 3 months, but didn’t get any teeth until ten months. He still only has six, and most of his peers have at least 8, if not more. But he still drools like crazy, all the time. Daycare has nicknamed him ‘Juicy.’ Anyway, I bought these in anticipation of those first teeth coming in, but they sat in a drawer for a long time. When he finally got his first bottom teeth, we used the finger brushes every night before bed. But we soon moved on to the Learn to Brush brush with Jack N Jill Natural Toothpaste because daycare required us to send a brush and toothpaste with him at 12 months. We use it every night. He hates it every night. We absolutely are not getting his teeth effectively brushed any night. Please send me your suggestions. (I don’t think daycare is using what we sent.)
  • Nail clipper: Fridababy. I have to say, this has worked great, but I personally still don’t get it. Dan has cut Gabriel’s nails every single time. He used to do it while I was breastfeeding, now he just does it. I have never tried. It has this weird slanted edge that… doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe if I tried once I would understand.
  • Snot sucker: Yes, this is necessary. And yes, we registered for and got the Fridababy one that so many people recommend. And yes, we used it. Once. Every other time, we’ve just used the bulb suction thing we got from the hospital. It only requires one hand! The fridababy requires two – one to hold one end in your mouth, the other to hold it in the baby’s nose… and what hand are you supposed to hold the baby whose nose you’re shoving something up down with? Bulb suction all the way.

Other Items:

  • Boppy Newborn lounger: A friend recommended this. Was it necessary? Nope. But I was glad to have it. I would often place Gabriel in it when I was home alone and needed to shower, or when I was pumping in the morning while still on maternity leave and he was sitting beside me. Sometimes he liked it, sometimes he didn’t. Once he started rolling over, it had to go.
  • Rock n Play: Yep, we had one of these for about six weeks. I got it used through Facebook. Gabriel would occasionally nap in it in the kitchen while it vibrated and while I worked in the kitchen. Once he started to want to flip over, we sold it.
  • Activity Mat: Had this for most of G’s first year, but we didn’t use it much after six months or so. Did a lot of tummy time, but he never loved laying on his back (still doesn’t – he started to sleep better when he learned to flip to his stomach from his back around 12 weeks).

I may add more (or more commentary) to this over time, but that’s what we got for now! Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

 

 

Camping with Babies

Having a kiddo changes almost everything. My social life revolves around nap schedules and a 7:30 bedtime, and it generally includes multiple individuals under age two. The books in my living room mostly max out at ten pages and are made of cardboard. ‘Kid’ has taken priority in my fiercely prioritized life over everything else. (If you’ve read my other posts or know me well, you know that ‘ everything else’ includes at the top: 8 hours of sleep, work, working out, eating well, husband, and friends, usually in that order.) Getting outside (that is, getting away from civilization) always fell somewhere on my list of priorities, albeit below all those other things, which is why it only happened a few times a year. And while having a kid has changed my priorities in unexpected ways (for example, it didn’t occur to me before having a kid that I would want to prioritize time with him over other things like working out or sleep, even though I knew I would often need to), it didn’t change that I still want to do all the things I used to do. Like travel. Like trying new restaurants. Like going camping and getting outside.

Those are still priorities, so we’re figuring out how to make them work! As my husband put it, camping with a baby is harder than camping without a baby, but being at home with a baby is also harder than being at home without a baby, and the difference is about the same.

So far, we’ve taken three camping trips, when Gabriel was 7.5 weeks, 5 months, and 12.5 months. Here’s how we did it:

General:

  1. Car camping. So far, we’ve only camped in campgrounds with baby. We used to backpack and backcountry camp, and we are looking forward to getting back to that someday. People do it with young kids, but not us, yet. Car camping, especially if you can find a good campground with reasonably quiet and secluded spots, scratches the itch of being outside, getting dirty, and enjoying nature. It also allows you to be reasonably well prepared for most eventualities. You can bring extra diapers, extra warm clothes, extra food, whatever, in the event that you might need it (but probably won’t). You can leave if you absolutely have to if disaster (or just extreme unhappiness) strikes. You can still rough it… but with a safety blanket.
  2. Length: Just one night. So far, we’ve only camped for one night at a time. We’ve got our confidence now and are considering a two-night trip in the fall. But this has felt manageable and not too intimidating.

Here’s more info about each trip – sleeping arrangements, food, etc.

Trip 1: 7.5 weeks, Cunningham Falls State Park

We went on our first camping adventure with baby in July, which is not normally a time of year in Maryland that I like to go camping. But it was lovely. We stayed in Cunningham Falls State Park.

We arrived in the afternoon, set up camp, and then hiked down to the Hunting Creek Lake and back. The lake was part of the park and had a beach and amenities. I wore Gabriel facing me in the ergo. We put him in a long-sleeve footed onesie outfit, I think because we were worried about bugs and sunshine, but it was a bad idea. Too hot. It was like 90 something degrees out. He was sweating. I was worried about him being dehydrated. But of course, everything ended up fine.

  • Food: I was breastfeeding at the time, so we didn’t have to worry about food for him. He was still up several times over night (I think at least 3 that night). I brought my boppy breastfeeding pillow to use as my sleeping pillow, and then just used it sitting in the tent to breastfeed when the occasion arose.
  • Tent: We only had our two-person backpacking tent that we’d used for years. Clio, our dog, always slept with us as well. So… it was a tight fit.
  • Sleeping place: This one has caused the most consternation. People want to know if we co-slept, but don’t ask directly because they’re worried about sounding judgy or permissive. We did not co-sleep. We brought the Uppababy bassinet attachment, which we’d also been using a lot for naps around the house, and set it at the foot of my sleeping bag. (Note, this picture was taken several months after the camping trip, and no, there was no blanket in the bassinet when G was sleeping in there.)

IMG_2824

  • Crying/fussing/noise: There was a family at a campsite nearby, whom I spoke to upon arrival and told we had a 7.5 week old. I apologized in advance for any noise. They were very impressed we were camping, had kids of their own, and were totally understanding. Gabriel was mostly fine during waking hours. He did have a bit of an extended fit at one point overnight when we had to change his diaper. Well, so. He did. Maybe the neighbors woke up. Maybe they didn’t. I don’t know. I would obviously prefer not to bother them at 3am, but if I did, I’m sure we’re all over it by now. He was a bit fussy the next day, too, but it was during the day, and so what.
  • Diapering: We used our diaper changing pad either on the picnic table or in the tent. We put used diapers in wet bags. We threw them out (we used disposable) when we were at a trash can.

I don’t think Gabriel had a ‘bedtime’ yet then, but we put him to sleep at some point before I went to bed. I wasn’t doing that that often then – staying up past when he went to bed. But I did that night, and I sat in a camp chair and enjoyed the fire and the stars and just thought it was totally worth it. And that’s what I remember, not being tired.

I also remember sneaking out of the tent at 5am, hoping to get some me time. This is a feature of my past camping experiences that I really hope to retain. I’m often the first one up, and I have time to make myself coffee, sit by the fire pit, and just enjoy – alone. I was hoping to get to do that on this camping trip. I think I got far enough to have made coffee before Gabriel woke up. Alas.

We went for another hike from the campground. Gabriel mostly slept, if I recall (again in the ergo, facing me).

Then we drove home, feeling very accomplished. If I remember correctly, though, Gabriel screamed for almost all of the 1.5 hour drive from the backseat. Sigh.

Trip 2: 5 months, Kearneysville, WV

Our second camping trip was at the end of October, when Gabriel was five months old. We stayed at this historic nature preserve that Dan found on airbnb. It was actually totally bizarre. You can rent this whole, huge… space. Overlooking this water-filled quarry. So we did. It wasn’t a traditional campsite near hiking, but we were able to take a 1-2 mile walk around the quarry, which was nice.

Dan’s sister came with us. She slept in our backpacking tent, and we slept in a borrowed four-person tent. The weather was pretty cold and windy. We had to stay pretty bundled up the whole time. In general, I did not enjoy this trip as much. Gabriel was pretty fussy the whole time and was not ever content to not be held. This was generally true at that point in his life, and I also think he may have been cold. I did most of the holding of the fussy baby and didn’t get to do much else.

  • Food: Still breastfeeding. I have no recollection of how many times he woke up over night, though I do know he’d only slept through the night once in his life by that point, so I know that didn’t happen.
  • Tent: We borrowed a four-person Kelty tent-mansion from friends for the occasion. It worked great! Much more space than our previous tent.
  • Sleeping place and clothes: We brought our Guava Lotus travel crib, which fit perfectly well in the tent-mansion. But it was pretty cold. We bundled Gabriel into a onesie, footed pajamas, a footed fleece thing (the orange one in the pictures below), and then another footed and hooded fleece thing (the blue one in the pictures below). Plus a hat. He seemed okay, and slept. I can’t remember if we had to change his diaper overnight. I think we did! Oof, that must have been a task (though I don’t have a clear memory of it, obviously). You can see I left his right hand uncovered, though, since he likes to suck his fingers. Seemed to be the best choice, though I did perseverate over it.

  • Other items: The plastic-y picnic blanket you see in the pictures below is nice to have for floor time.
  • Crying/fussing/noise: No one was around, so nothing to worry about here.
  • Diapering: Same as before. We use disposable diapers and threw them away when we could.

Trip 3: 12.5 months, Wolf Gap Recreation Area

Our final trip with a baby (he hadn’t started toddling yet, so I think ‘baby’ is still appropriate) was to Wolf Gap in the George Washington and Jefferson Forests. It is in West Virginia, but right on the Virginia state line. It was about 2.5 hours driving time for us, and I was nervous about that. At the time, that would be the longest car trip we’d taken with Gabriel to date, and he’d been increasingly mobile and discontent to sit still (still true). But it actually went fine. We timed it well with naps, and he mostly slept. Our trip there took a total of about four hours, which included a detour into Shenandoah because we were there and also lunch in… Woodstock, VA, I think. Wolf Gap only has 9 sites, and I was a little worried about getting one, but there were a couple left when we arrived. We stayed in #8, I think.

IMG_5852

A friend we’ve often camped with (both since being in Maryland and when we lived in Atlanta) drove up from Knoxville to join us. He brought his small dog, so Clio had a friend as well.

Before this trip, we purchased our own tent mansion, and this was our first use. It worked great. We also brought what I lovingly call ‘the cage’ – one of those six-sided plastic gate play pen things. We didn’t use it a ton, but Gabriel was occasionally content to be in there for a few minutes at a time when we all needed our eyes and hands to put up the tent, wrangle the dogs, or whatever else. The dogs got more use out of it, though.

After setting up camp, we went for a hike from the campground up to Big Schloss peak. I think it was two miles each way. I wore Gabriel in the ergo on my back. It was my second time doing so, and it works okay, but it definitely convinced me that I want a real child carrier for hiking (just ordered, arriving this week, hooray!). He tolerated it okay, but couldn’t really see over my shoulder. He was pretty fussy by the end and wanted to get out.

  • Food and accessories: First, we bring a structured silicone bib with the pouch that catches things whenever we eat out with Gabriel. One lives in the diaper bag. Brought that. We also bring one of his silicone placemats with attached compartments or bowl. Brought one of those. Gabriel mostly eats what we eat, so he had a (cut up) hot dog and bun for dinner like we did. For breakfast, he had packaged oatmeal like we did. We also had lots of snacks. String cheese, apple wheels (these Gerber teething things), pouches (at least to get in some fruits and veggies!), bananas. I think we were still feeding G pouches with a spoon then, but we have since moved on to letting him feed himself pouches. We had just transitioned to cow’s milk, so we brought milk in the cooler and his sippy cup. And we brought one of his 360 cups that he drinks water out of.
  • Tent: We used our newly-purchased REI Base Camp 4. Perfect. Plenty of space, easy to set up, nice vestibule, good windows.
  • Sleeping place and clothes: Again, the Guava Lotus. I think I had footed pajamas and a sleep sack for him. It was pretty warm but cooled off a bit at night. Nothing crazy, though. OH. We also have a portable white noise machine. I turned it on when G went to bed (before us, at 7:30), but turned it off when we came to bed because my husband (rightly so) wanted to hear the nature. I can’t remember if we used this for the earlier camping trips. But it always comes on other trips with us.
  • Other items: The same plastic picnic blanket was useful, especially in the cage thing.

IMG_5858

  • Crying/fussing/noise: Gabriel was sleeping through the night by this point and doesn’t have major meltdowns during the day, though I’m sure he cried at points.
  • Diapering: Same as before. We use disposable diapers and threw them away when we could.

 

So. That’s how we’ve made camping work, so far.

I also still want to do the things I used to want to do, but never made time for. Like… kayaking. Like… a lot of mountain biking. Like… a daily yoga practice. But if I never (or rarely) made time for them before, I’m definitely not making time for them now. But I will keep finding a way to do the things at the top of my priority list. Next camping adventure: October.

She Uses Cloth Diapers

It was never really a question of whether we would cloth diaper or not. Of course we would. I knew my husband would insist on it, even if I didn’t. And really (as someone who had maybe changed one diaper in my entire life and so had no idea how to deal with ANY kind of diaper), I felt more familiar with cloth diapers than disposables because most of my friends who’d had kids in the recent past used cloth diapers.

Still, I didn’t quite get it. I did research, I learned terms like ‘pockets’ and ‘prefolds’ (and thought WTF), and I tried to figure it out. But finally, Dan and I just asked a couple of our friends if we could visit their houses and view their ‘system,’ which really demystified everything.

I’ve been asked a few times about our routine, and in response to one of those questions, I recently wrote up the information below in an email. Sharing here as a resource for anyone interested – with pictures!

Diaper Types:

There are three types of diapers:

  • Prefolds with covers (ie, a cloth square that you fold three times and then a waterproof cover that you put over it. There are a few variations on the inner part that absorbs the moisture – it’s not always a trifold.)
  • Pocket diapers (a cloth insert goes into a pocket in a cover)
  • All-in-ones (ie, the cloth insert and cover are all connected in one piece).

We use pockets and AIOs. The AIOs are generally the least fuss and what we usually send to daycare. We used prefolds with covers when Gabriel was a newborn because a friend donated a bunch to us. The prefolds are useful as rags/burp cloths/etc. also. We still have some, even though we don’t use them as diapers.

Brands:

My favorite brand is Thirsties natural All in Ones. We also have some Charlie Banana pocket diapers (note, the link is confusing b/c it calls these AIOs, but they aren’t), some SmartBottom AIOs, and some BumGenius AIOs. They all get the job done. The covers we had when we did prefolds/covers were also Thirsties. (Note – most resources will tell you you have to wash diapers 6-10 times before using them the first time because they’ll leak if you don’t. I thought this was hogwash, but it was actually true. A lot of diapers leaked at first, and I thought it was just the brand or we sucked at putting them on. But now they all work fine, so I think it just required washing and re-washing.)

Number:

Don’t get many newborn diapers, but you will need some. Or just use/supplement with disposables for that period. They grow out of them quickly. We had one BumGenius AIO newborn size, and then maybe 24 prefolds and 6 covers.

Now we have about 20 cloth diapers that we rotate through. Most resources will tell you you ned 24-36, depending on how often you want to do laundry. We do laundry every 1-2 days.

Washing:

FluffLove University provides a ton of resources on washing diapers (and cloth diapering in general). Their top recommendation is to use Tide detergent (we use free and clear). Wash just the diapers once on hot, but just the quick wash. (The purpose of that cycle is to get all the yucky stuff off the diapers and out of the water/wash before introducing other items and before doing the more cleansing wash.) Then wash them a second time with other items to have a full load on the heavy duty wash setting (any temperature). Especially in high efficiency washers, it’s important to wash with other clothes to ensure they get enough agitation to clean them. Then either dry outside in the sun (which also bleaches them) or use dryer. The dryer of course will wear them down more over time, but so far ours have worked fine for a year with no sign of wearing out soon.

Poop:

When exclusively breastfeeding, the poop is water soluble and usually not chunky and it’s fine to go in the washing machine. Once they start eating solids (or formula, I think), it’s more important to try and NOT have the poop go in the washer. We use GroVia liners that mostly capture the poop, and we throw away the liner with the poop. We’re a little lazy with cleaning the rest of the diaper if it’s not all captured in the liner, so sometimes (probably often), some poop goes into the wash. The diapers come out clean anyway, as does the wash. Side note, not sure where this belongs: You don’t want to use petroleum-based diaper paste with cloth diapers, I think because it won’t fully wash off and will affect their absorbency. I’ve also heard you don’t want to use zinc-based, as it might stain them. We use a zinc-based one (Boudreaux’s natural butt paste), and it’s fine.

fullsizeoutput_d1b2

Diaper Pails:

We only had one diaper pail at first, which we used for the cloth diapers. We have two reusable liners/wet bags. The bag goes into the wash along with the diapers. For all other trash (Q-tips to smear on diaper cream, wet wipes) we just used a normal open trash can. Once we started having to throw away poop, we got another diaper pail. The one we use for cloth diapers is Ubbi. The other one is Decor. We were thoughtful about the Ubbi one (it’s what we registered for). I can’t remember how we decided on the Decor one.

Process:

Lay baby down. Unsnap diaper. Remove GroVia liner, throw away in trash pail. Wipe butt with either wet wipes (we use water wipes) or reusable wipes (we have Bumkins and use Baby Bits dissolvable cubes that you dissolve in water to spray on the reusable to make them wet). Throw disposable wipes in trash or reusable in cloth diaper pail. Remove cloth diaper, put in diaper pail. (If it’s a pocket diaper, remove the cloth insert before putting in diaper pail because you don’t want to wash it with it in. This step is annoying and you may touch pee or poop, which is a reason AIOs are nice.) Put a liner in the new diaper, and snap it on. Voila.

fullsizeoutput_d1f2

fullsizeoutput_d1f5

IMG_6201

fullsizeoutput_d1b3

Overnight:

We were getting a lot of leaks overnight, especially when Gabriel started sleeping longer stretches. (Actually, the truth is that we went through a period of a month or so where he leaked through his diaper every time he slept, including naps – he’s always slept on his stomach, and his stomach would be wet upon waking. I don’t know what changed… maybe he was just a weird size at that time and the diapers didn’t fit him well.) We tried a few options, including adding extra inserts to the diapers for overnight and a new type of diaper (Cloth-eez workhorse fitted diaper) with cover (we again used Thirsties). Those didn’t work. We finally switched to overnight disposables (Honest brand). Now that Gabriel eats and drinks more like a normal person, I bet we could switch back to cloth and it would be fine. The disposables aren’t as full in the morning as they used to be.

Daycare:

We send 5-6 diapers to daycare prepared with a liner in them. We also send wet bags and have a trash can there. Daycare just takes the diaper off and throws it in the wet bag, liner and all, so we have to remove pocket liners (if daycare got a pocket diaper) and poop liners before putting the diapers in our diaper pail for washing at home. We also usually keep a small stash of disposables there just in case… but not too many, because otherwise daycare will just use those.

Travel:

We usually use disposables for traveling due to lack of access to a washing machine and our small supply. And they take up less room.

So that’s that!

She Got Lasik!

Hello! There’s been a lot going on around here lately. A few of the highlights:

  1. My sister got married in Estes Park at the end of May. We were in Colorado for six glorious days. The wedding was beautiful, my sister was beautiful, we had so much fun, and I’m so excited for her and her (now!) husband.
  2. Gabriel turned one! Wow.
  3. I stopped breastfeeding. Wow.
  4. Enabled by #3, I started going back to CrossFit consistently. I can only go on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 5:30 or 6:30 am when Dan is home. I can’t go Mondays because I go into DC for work and don’t have enough time in the morning, and I can’t go Thursdays or Fridays because Dan works overnight and isn’t home yet. But it’s been so nice to go with some consistency for the last 3 weeks!
  5. I decided to leave my current job and take some time off. Last day, July 19. Full time child care for a few months, here we come. Oof. A lot of mixed feelings about that.
  6. We had our third with-kid camping trip. I plan to do a post on camping with babies.

But my big excitement right now is that I got Lasik on Thursday! It sort of happened all of a sudden, but also not.

Last December, I elected to fully fund my FSA through work with plans to get Lasik. I didn’t research enough at that time, and when I went for my introductory appointment in January, they told me that I should wait until at least 3 months after I was finished nursing. At the time, Gabriel was only 7 months old, and while I was beginning to reduce nursing/pumping at the time, I wasn’t sure yet that I was definitely going to stop completely at a year. If I did, then the earliest I could get Lasik was late August! But ok, I accepted it.

Then I decided to leave my job, with plans of doing so over the summer. I didn’t consider how this would affect my FSA until several months after I’d made the decision. When I did realize, it took some time to figure out FSA rules, which were: yes, when I quit my job and leave government, the FSA goes away – I can still submit claims afterward for services that took place before I left my job, but not after. I appealed (to be able to end contributions at that time, which was March or April… I obviously had already contributed some but expected I’d be able to use that amount) via phone and also in writing, but was denied. Ok. Then I researched the risks of getting Lasik while/after nursing, and found that there was little risk if one’s eyesight didn’t change during pregnancy, and if it did, you’d know. My eyesight, as far as I could tell, hadn’t changed. So I called the Lasik place and was bounced around for a few phone calls before someone was able to check with the doctor who said that if my eyesight hadn’t changed and they could confirm it, they’d be willing to do it. My last day breastfeeding was May 26 and my prep Lasik appointment was June 4, and no, my eyesight hadn’t changed from any of my prescriptions in the previous ten years or their measurement from January. Cool.

Then I found out that the doctor I was referred to this place to use was leaving the facility in two weeks and only had a few openings left. So… I scheduled the procedure for the following week!

It went well! Today is only the third day, so I’m still very much recovering. I can see, which is so weird. This morning, I had the instinct to reach over to my bedside table for my glasses before realizing I didn’t need to do that anymore. I’ve been wearing sunglasses inside and out for the past two days (mostly to prevent me or anyone else, like, say, Gabriel from touching my eyes – not for light sensitivity), so I haven’t really appreciate the full effects. I was still wearing glasses after all, and my vision was dimmed by the sunglasses. But today, indoors, I’m going sans sunglasses. I have to put in antibiotic eye drops morning and night, which are kind of creamy and create white droplets in my eyelashes and the corners of my eyes that get crusty – not attractive, or comfortable. But I also have to use lubricating drops at least every hour and have been doing more like every 30 minutes. It eventually washes the crusties out.

There are red spots in my eyes, and I constantly look weepy because of the drops. I’m going out in public today (to the one year birthday party of one of the other kids whose parents were in our birth prep class) and will try to look somewhat presentable. I have to keep up the medicated drops morning and night for a week and the lubricating drops every hour for a week. After that, I need to keep doing the lubricating drops at least four times a day for three months. They help a lot, so I don’t mind doing it. Without them, my eyes get dry quickly and it is uncomfortable.

No eye makeup or rubbing my eyes for a few more days (five total). And I should keep wearing sunglasses outside for UV protection. Which I do anyway. I was able to work yesterday morning (the morning after the procedure). I wasn’t supposed to physically exert myself the first two days. I think that may be to avoid sweat getting in your eyes based on overhearing another conversation at the Lasik place, but not sure.

Anyway, overall, I’m pretty stoked! I’m mostly able to live my normal life already, and recovery seems to be going fine. I’m really looking forward to throwing all of my contacts paraphernalia out :-). Sad that some of it will go to waste… like contacts. Maybe I should see if there is somewhere to donate those. I know I can donate glasses. Delta Gamma’s service is Service for Sight! Great reason to contribute.

Colorado Mountains and Dump Ranch

A few weekends ago, we flew to Denver so that I could co-host a celebratory weekend for my sister, who is getting married in May. I left my baby and my husband with my parents and my sister’s fiancé in Denver, and I drove with my sister and four of her good friends into the mountains to stay at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort for the night. It was beautiful, and my sister’s friends were so generous. I’d rented a cabin with a kitchen, and I’d asked them to bring food for dinner and breakfast rather than planning to eat at the resort’s restaurant. (Since I was flying in late the night before, I didn’t have the time or availability to pick up groceries.) They contributed beautiful charcuterie, a lovely salad (with edible flowers!), adult beverages, tasty fruit and yogurt and granola. It was amazing. One of the women was doing a Whole30, and her enthusiasm for a few recipes AND her InstantPot stuck with me past the weekend, and I made most of her suggestions (several in the InstantPot!) the following week back at home.

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs was lovely. We stayed in a cabin with two bedrooms plus an upstairs loft with two queen beds. It had a mostly stocked kitchen, but no oven. The temperature got down into the twentys overnight, and was maybe 30-50 throughout the day.

We arrived around 3pm, had some snacks and drinks, and made our way to the hot springs. There are several pools and also creekside areas that are heated from below by the hot spring water. We tried some of the smaller pools and the creek (which was nicer in idea than in practice). It was super crowded, which was a bit unfortunate, but we still had plenty of room to enjoy ourselves.

After that, we ate dinner and played games in the cabin.

The next morning, after breakfast and packing up, we spent several hours at the pools again before heading departing. I got a sunburn wearing a bathing suit sitting by a hot spring pool in 35 degree weather! Colorado is so weird.

Before heading home, we drove a few miles in the wrong direction to Buena Vista, CO for lunch. I hadn’t been to Buena Vista in probably 15 years or more (since high school), and there was a totally new area called South Main with cute homes and shops and restaurants down by the river. We ate at Eddyline Restaurant, sitting outside on the porch, and it was delicious. The right side of my body got more sunburned. I had the pork posole and brewery burger on lettuce instead of a bun (it actually came wrapped in some kind of green leaf that way). Green chile and grilled prosciutto might sound a little strange together, but it was so good.

The first recipe I made that my sister’s friend recommended was the Dump Ranch. Apparently this is a Whole30 thing that I was previously unfamiliar with. I’d made homemade ranch dressing, I think from Cassy Joy’s Fed&Fit book before, but I’d never heard the term ‘dump ranch.’ I think there’s a lot of recipes out there for it, but my sister’s friend recommended this one from 40 Aprons. I maaaaaay have used this as an excuse to by a larger measuring cup that I could use my immersion blender in. It worked great, and the ranch was delicious.

I was skeptical before trying the stuff my sister’s friend made, because she’d told me the oil is avocado oil. I find Whole30 compliant mayo hard, because I *hate* the taste of avocado oil, apparently. I’ve been able to handle Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil mayonnaise in the past, but I don’t love it. However, I couldn’t taste the flavor that I hate in this dressing. My sister’s friend showed me which oil she used (Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil), and my sister confirmed that there are two types of avocado oil: light and dark. I think Primal Kitchen makes both. The light stuff (which I used, which was the right choice) is in a square shaped bottle. The darker stuff is in a circular bottle, and is extra virgin. It’s probably better for you… but the flavor is too strong! Anyway, it was fine! No bad flavor. Just delicious ranch dressing.

The recipe at 40 Aprons says to use it within one week. I have not. I still have some in my fridge, which at this point I should throw out. Going to do that now…