Monday, October 24, 2016

10 months of having a baby.

I was curious.  You hear all the time about how expensive babies are.  I have done everything in my power to not spend money on baby.  So much so that I don't even walked into the baby clothing aisle.   I know there are so many darling baby clothes and I am trying my hardest not to buy any.  I haven't purchased any toys.  He doesn't even have a crib.  But I am really curious on how much we have spent.  I decided to come up with a list of every single thing we have purchased.  Some of them good... some of them a total waste of money.

****Disclaimer**** We have been super duper lucky.  I had 3 different wonderful angels in my life that gave me their baby stuff.  Also we have very generous Grandmas and Aunts that have been very wonderful to Brad.  If I included everything they have given us the total price of a baby would be EXTREMELY higher.

OH I should also add.... because Jason and I had already met our deductible for our insurance.... baby was 100% covered.  His birth, all his doctors check ups, and his hernia surgery didn't cost us anything.... thank the heavens for Alpine School District and their fabulous insurance.   (The only reason anyone should consider being a teacher... well besides summer :)

But here we go..... the price of a baby.

Formula $300
Bottles $8
Extra nipples $12
Spoons $7
Baby Food - $30
Nipple shields $15
Nursing pads $28
Fenugreek supplements $25
Lanolin $25
Nursing cover $25
Pump wires $39

Diapers - $410 
Wipes- $40
Destine $5
Destine Wiper  $8

Health Products:
Binkies $4
Binkie clips $9
Baby sunscreen $5
Baby lotion $14
Shampoo $3
Tooth paste $3
Freezable Teething chews  $3
Gripe water $16
Tylenol and Ibuprofen $8
Gas ex $4
Topical Steroid prescription $2
Pink eye prescription $2

Car seat $140 (Supposed to be reimbursed by Norwegian Airlines but we aren't holding our breath)
Bob running stroller and attachment (used) $120
Baby gate $50
Umbrella stroller $5
Sound deadening Earmuff $25
Car Mirror $22
Carrier *worthless - $10
Wrappy carrier*worthless - $25

Baby Wise $10
2 rompers $12
Zippered sleeping straight jacket $12


But when you are trying to do this baby thing as cheap as possible you have to be okay with things like this:
Brad wearing Christmas pajamas in October.  And a purple Bumbo (his high chair) in the background.

Anyway, in case you think we are making out like bandits (which we are) when it comes to baby.... I just calculated how much we have paid in child care for Brad in those 10 months. 

Brad's Sitter:  $4100.... 

But of course, any and all costs are so worth it.  I hope that goes without saying.  Brad has been the best thing that happened to either of us.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sticking my head in the sand.

To say I have been so disappointed with politics is an understatement.  I am discouraged beyond belief.  But my problem is, I am not necessarily disappointed in the candidates.  Honestly, I don't blame them.  I blame the American people and what education has created.

So my solution.  Straight up stick my head in the sand.

Why?  Because nothing else seems to do anything.  I can get all worked up about it.  I can scream from the roof tops *** or Facebook**** and honestly, I already know that no good will come from it.
Because it's sad you see.

My 15 year old students can get it so easily.  But grown adults.  Nope.

Because there is truth out there.  I really believe it.  And my problem with politics?  People look at the exact same thing and some swear it's black while the others see white.  How in the world that happens, I have no idea.

I just started to write a whole post on my soap box about all the things many people are seeing as black that I see in white.  Things that make me bang my head against the wall over and over and over again.

Silly me.

Like writing them down, getting all worked up about them for the millionth time would actually solve any problems.

But instead of bloodying myself I have been choosing to put my head in soft, sweet, warm sand and it's lovely.

I have been so depressed about government that I have been spending all my extra time (usually spent listening to talk radio/podcasts/NPR) listening to frilly, ridiculous, teeny bopper novels.

And then yesterday happened.  The light I have been waiting for came.  A light so glorious that I peaked one eye out of the sand.  Just to see what was out there.

And guys, I have so much hope I can barely stand it.

What is that hope?

New Hampshire.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Thoughts on Traveling to Europe

For better or for worst, I love to form opinions and figure out advise to give.  I've now been to Europe 3 times and each trip was very different.  Granted the first was 19 years ago... so my memory is definitely foggy but still.

The first trip was traveled completely by train to 5 countries. (Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, France, and Switzerland)

The second trip was by cruise ship to 6 countries. (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Vatican City, and Croatia)

The third was by train, airplane, bus, and rental cars to 9 countries. (Germany, Italy, Austria, Vatican City, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Denmark)

In this post I will give all my opinions and suggestions.  Yikes.  But I figure I should write it all down before I forget.  Just in case someday someone wants my opinion.... or someday I actually go back.  (I highly doubt that will happen... but hey, if you would have told me in March I was going to spend 5 weeks in Europe I would have laughed. So who knows)

So here we go.....

First and for most.  It's crazy how intensely stressful traveling is.  It is difficult to comprehend or describe when you are out of the situation.  And it's amazing how quickly you forget.  Right after Jason and I got back from our trip we went and visited my aunt and uncle who also just returned from an extended visit to Europe.  My sweet sweet aunt greeted us at the door with, "I can't wait to compare war stories!"  And honestly.... that is almost how it felt.  Traveling is hard especially in a foreign land without knowing the language. The stress of uncertainty and the unknown is crazy.

So that being said my first advice to someone wanting to travel to Europe would be: what kind of trip do you want?  Easy, relatively low stress(Because no trip is without some stress) with no research required or medium stress with some homework required, or high stress with hours upon hours of research required?

That's something else that is hard to even grasp before a trip to Europe.  If you are doing your trip on your own, it's hard to even comprehend the amount of research required in order to get the most or anything out of your trip.  Something as simple as where to park a car.  And even then after much research.... sometimes you lose and have to pay 45 euros for parking your car in a parking garage for 12 hours....


Zero stress: Go to Epcot at Disney World.  I only kinda am kidding.  Epcot is cool.

Low Stress: I hate that I am probably going to recommend this route to the mass majority of people who want to see Europe: do a Mediterranean Cruise and book all excursions through the cruise line.  And maybe plan to fly to one other city not included in the cruise to visit at the beginning or end of your trip. (Or book a tour or river cruise if you want to visit landlocked areas of Europe)  I didn't realize how wonderful my Mediterranean Cruise was until I tried to replicate some of that trip on my own on our next trip.  The Cruise was so much easier!  The downsides of any tour is you have to keep to their schedule.  The downsides of a Cruise is you only ever see any place in the heat of the day.  Never in the early morning and never in the evening.  But man is it easy.

Medium stress: Do a cruise but plan out all the ports on your own and do your own adventure at each port. Or book a tourish adventure where they book all your transportation and hotels and you just have to research what you want to visit in each location.  (Cheaper but a lot more stress)

High stress: Travel by any and all modes of transportation and book sleeping arrangements to every place you want to visit completely on your own.

Another thing to really consider before a trip is what your priorities are on the trip.  Priorities are so important. Possible examples:
- Every iconic Spot (Paris, London, Rome, are probably the top 3)
- Cheap (Eastern Europe is WAY cheaper)
- High Adventure (Switzerland is probably the top of this list depending on the type of adventure)
- History (Greece, Italy, Germany would probably be the biggest depending on which time in history)
- Art (Paris, Amsterdam, Florence, Rome, London)
- Sun bathing (Spain, French Riviera, Greek Islands, Southern Italy)
- Or the hardest........ a mixture of all.

If your trip is 2 weeks or less I would try really really hard to narrow down what your priorities are.  To have the best experience possible I would try and hit two different types of climates.  Like a northern Europe area and a southern Europe area.  Because the contrast makes it even more enjoyable.  For instance we LOVED Prague and southern Germany.  But one major reason for that was it was such a contrast from Italy where we spent the majority of our time.  A darling American family we met in line at a pizza place in Florence had been traveling for 4 weeks but they spent the majority of their time in Northern Europe.  So where was their favorite place in all of Europe, Florence.  Kinda interesting how that works out.

My little brother Craig asked me what my favorite city in Europe is now that the dust has settled.  It is still extremely hard to say.
Rothenburg, Germany
Barcelona, Spain
Sorrento, Italy
Cinque Terre, Italy
Prague, Czech Republic
(The two that probably should be on the list but it's hard because I was 15 and barely remember them at Paris and Amsterdam)

Favorite things to see in Europe
St. Peter's Basilica
Neuschwanstein Castle
Eiffel Tower
Amsterdam Canals

Top things I'd like to see in the future:
Southern Spain
Islands of Greece
St. Petersburg

My thoughts that go against most popular opinions:

Do Rome in a Day.  Spend few days relaxing at the Mediterranean instead of days in Rome.

Do NOT get a Eurorail pass.  Unless you are a student.... (under 25 I think? and plan on taking over night trains with your Eurorail pass every time)  And even then do not use your Eurorail pass in Italy.

Don't be afraid to use cheap European airlines but MAKE sure to read the fine print.  Example: One time we flew, if you didn't print off your own boarding pass, you had to purchase a completely NEW ticket.

Renting a car was actually cheaper than I expected **** as long as you returned the car to the same location you rented it from**** Although parking can be a nightmare.  AND tolls in some areas can be pricey.  (Our drive from Florence to Monaco and back cost over 100 euros.)  But that was the only place we had tolls.  We didn't run into any tolls in Germany, France, or Northern Italy.

AirBnbs are fabulous but sometimes the convince of a hotel is even more fabulous.

Unless you speak the language or can at least limp along in the language, going off the beaten path really isn't that cool. (gasp.... I know, it's so hipster to want to go out of the "touristy" areas.  People are nicer it is true.  But really.... at the end of the day, touristy areas are touristy because they are cool. Except for when it comes to food... find good food places off the beaten path)

But probably my number 1 piece of advice for anyone traveling to Europe: underpack.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The glamourous life of a working mom.

I think it's important to write about current struggles.  I know it might come across as whiny or ungrateful or just negative but I think it's valuable.  At least for me it is.  Because once a current struggle passes it is good to look back and reflect.  For me, it helps me see God's hand in my life.  See the blessings and see the trials.  Maybe that's justification for complaining.  But it helps me sleep at night.

I've mentioned once before the crazy feud between the working moms and the stay at home moms.  Although it's rarely openly addresses there is an underlying battle between the two of which lot is harder.  And once again even talking about it is scary because it is so so touchy.

But I want to talk about it because hopefully someday I will be done being a working mom.  And when that day comes I know there will be times that I miss working.  No matter how much I absolutely despise "Education" or what we've turned education into, the bottom line is most of the time I really do absolutely love my job.  I love my people.  I love the difference I can make.  I love watching kids finally get it.  But I do hate hate hate hate hate hate "Education".   (Just in case I wasn't clear...)

I am starting to experience a new thing as a working mom that is the absolute pits.  And no matter what anyone says to try and comfort me, this awful feeling won't go away.  And so I want to talk about it just in case one day when I am no longer a working mom I can remember.  I can remember why more than anything I wish I could stop working.  My baby doesn't know me and recognize me as his Mom.  You see, I spend less than half of my baby's waking day with him.  I am not there when he wakes up.  I don't get him dressed.  I don't feed him breakfast.  I don't take him to his sitter.  I don't even put him to bed most nights.

I have only a few precious hours from 4-8 every week night.  That is it.

In the beginning it didn't really bother me.  It was nice having a break.  It was nice being my old self again.  Going back to my daily routine.  But recently I've started to notice things. And it is starting to make me question everything. Things like Brad is starting to go to sleep better for Jason than me.  When did that start to happen?

But the thing that takes the cake happened yesterday when I went to pick Brad up from the sitters.  When the sitter handed me Brad, he reached back for her.


It eats me alive to even say it.

And that my friends, is why at the end of the day, no matter how anyone tries to portray it, the glamorous life of a working mom is the absolute pits.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

8 Months

8 months old and so incredibly curious.  Something catches his eye and he gets determined to get it.  His crawl/scoot is pretty speedy.  His favorite food is sweet peas. And as Jason said last night, "He's just so happy he tries to rub it in and make the rest of us feel bad." 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall 2016

I have been so busy trying to catch up on Europe that I have left out all the fun things we have done this fall.  So here we go.  

Some of Jason's friends were in a Free Style dirt bike show.

One weekend we went up to Oktober Fest at Snowbird.  Brad loved it.

Good thing Dad is around to bush Brad's two teeth..... and Brad the narcissist.

We felt a little ripped off that we missed out on most of our favorite summer activities since we weren't around this summer.  So we are trying to catch up.  We went camping up American Fork canyon one Friday night.  It was a great experience.  We pulled out a tarp so Brad would have a place to roam around without getting too dirty.  But luckily it was pretty windy so lots of leaves landed on his playground.... and he ate a lot of them..... which we didn't find out until the next day in his diaper.  YIKES.

It started raining in the early evening so we spent the majority of our camping trip in our tent.  Brad sure didn't mind.

The next morning we were going to head up to Swiss Days to visit Grandma and Grandpa... so I figured I should look somewhat presentable so Brad hung out with me while I put on some make up.

Our little man cub can't wait to go camping again.
I missed Disneyland..... so we did the closest thing I could think of, we visited the fountain at City Creek.
We went up to American Fork Canyon to look at the leaves.

Brad was loving it until a bunch of dirt bikers came by.... he hated it.  It was hilarious.  
Our hike was amazing!

Then last weekend we went down to southern Utah for the weekend.  It was the perfect weekend.  I went for a trail run at Chuckawalla.  It was so amazing.

Then I went and got Jason and Brad and Jason did a rock climb while Brad slept.

Then we went to lunch and took Brad to look at puppies.


Then we went for a swim.....but sadly somehow the pictures we took swimming got deleted so we'll have to settle with the bath Brad and I took after the swim.

And then.... at least one person in the family was happy during the debate the other night.

We sure love this guy....

Friday, September 16, 2016

America the Beautiful

The trip home.


It's such an interesting word.  It can mean so many different things.  But it always has one thing in common.  Familiar.  And after 5 weeks of the unknown, familiar is about the most glorious thing you can imagine.

Prague is awesome for one more really important reason: getting to the international airport using public transportation is SUPER easy and cheap.  I love Prague.

The trip home.  Well of course there had to be drama with the stroller and car seat.  There had to be.  We flew from Prague to Copenhagen, Denmark with a lay over to LAX.  I knew there was going to be drama with the car seat and stroller I just knew it.  Jason thought I was crazy, the poor couple with 3 kids from LA thought I was crazy but I just felt it.  So from the start I asked every single person I could where our car seat and stroller would be when we landed in Copenhagen.  Would it be at the gate?  Would it go to baggage claim?  Would it be taken directly to our connecting flight?  Everyone looked at me silly.... or like I was crazy.  Of course it would just be taken to the connecting flight.  I laughed.  When we landed in Copenhagen once again I asked multiple people to be sure.  And yes they all looked at me like I was crazy.  "Of course it will be taken directly to your connecting flight." "That would be stupid to send it to baggage claim if your final destination isn't Copenhagen." I. Know.

After I was reassured by every worker in the Copenhagen airport,  I figured I should relax and enjoy this sleek, modern, and beautiful airport that looked like an IKEA.  Oh and I should mention insanely clean.  Like I had no problem letting Brad roll around on the sparkling clean tile at the gate.  OH if all the world could be Scandinavian....... well besides the prices and socialism of course.
Once I could relax I figured we should explore.  I was happy to find this replica. 

And of course it wouldn't be Denmark without some Danishes..... even if they were from the 7-11 in the airport.

And the Norwegian uniforms.... so so classy.

I don't know the solution to flying from Europe back to the States.  It seems no matter what you follow the sun and it's awful.  Jason nor I slept a wink of the flight.  OH and...... we didn't purchase the onflight meals.  Bad bad mistake. You see when we were booking our flights I was SO SICK of spending money I thought we could just bring a bunch of food with us.  By the time we got to Europe I knew that was a terrible idea.  But I thought they would give us complimentary meals and we had just not upgraded our when we were on the plan and realized we weren't getting meals I figured we could just purchase them on the plane.  Nope.  We could purchase "snacks" but not a meal.  So we both got a "snack" that was super expensive, tiny, and we were still starved. I know that was a winded explanation... but it is very important to document because we were so hungry the entire flight.  We went over 24 hours without a real meal... But luckily our baby was once again the best baby in the entire world.

Yes..... obviously I got bored.... but seriously best baby ever.

When we finally landed in LAX we were starving beyond belief.  We were exhausted beyond belief.  And Aunt Raine warned us going through customs in LAX would take over an hour.  I thought that couldn't be true.  And then we got to customs.  First off, we went straight from Europe to Asia in one short flight.  Everyone was Asian.  Somehow we missed America.  And of course we still didn't have our stroller so we had to carry Brad through everything plus the backpack and the parachute.

It was at this point that I started to get really nervous.  You see, it costs a ridiculous amount of money to change your name on your passport, like possibly the same as getting a new one!  So..... as far as my passport was concerned on this entire trip, I was Kristin Parson.  All my plane tickets were book as Kristin Parson and it hadn't been a problem.  (I felt okay doing it because when I got Brad's passport it asked for my maiden name so in Brad's passport it says his mom is Kristin Parson.  And really that was my own concern, as long as they knew Brad was mine)  But still..... as we stood in this line I started to sweat.  What if they wouldn't let me back in America.  Customs as of recently is kinda nuts.  Like you have to walk up to a computer take a picture of yourself  and print it out and hand it to security.  Even Brad had to get his picture taken.... and of course the poor baby was asleep so we had to wake him up.  Anyway, I was afraid when they scanned my passport somehow there would be a problem with my name...

First wonderful thing: there wasn't a shorter "line" for families but there was a security lady that walked around and pulled families out of the customs line and took them directly to the front.  So we skipped at least 45 minutes worth of the line.  Second wonderful thing: the security guy was super nice, joked with us and sent us on our way.  No questioning about why Braithwaite wasn't on my passport.

But then came the disaster........ remember we had be traveling for a solid 20 hours with no sleep...... no meal..... and we got to the baggage claim.  We got our suitcase, we got our stroller......... but no car seat.  Yep.  Lost.


Oh and I got an email from the rental car company we were using that they had over booked and we didn't have a car.  So I was frantically trying to find a car to rent that wasn't a bizillion dollars.  Sp we spent an extra hour trying to find out car seat then reporting our car seat as lost.  Meanwhile I am trying to book a new rental car.  Still no food.  Still no sleep.

Finally we made it out of the circus of an airport called LAX.

Finally we made it to the super shady with terrible reviews rental car place.

And of course they didn't have a car seat we could rent.  And of course our rental car had a huge dent in it that they didn't "know" about.  Shady......... terrible reviews.......... but the rental car agent was SUPER nice and told us to not fill the car up with gas because of the problems.  So we got a free tank of gas for our 30 hours in LA!

Still hadn't eaten or slept.

It was now 6 PM on a Friday in LA and we had 30 miles to travel across the valley........

And we drove to Target and bought the first car seat we could find and ate a delicious sandwich in the Target......

and finally after 2 hours of traffic..... so traveling for over 30 hours...... we made it to Raine's house.

The familiarity of the Sunshine Room has never felt so good.


What a wonderful place to be.