Category Archives: Baby

Baby / Motherhood / Toddler

Our Daily Routine

October 5, 2017

I’m always interested in how people structure their days — especially other mamas. These little ones seem to really thrive on a predictable schedule, I suppose because they lack so little control over their own lives. It must be nice to have a sense of how things are going to go each day when you have pretty much zero authority over the schedule.

We obviously can’t stick to this schedule every single day, but I make an effort to make this their reality at least 80-90% of the time. Oddly enough, I think it’s this consistency that makes both Prim and Lark much more adaptable when we’re traveling and unable to stick to their normal routine. I also keep this structure somewhat flexible to account for the random days when the girls don’t sleep well or nap on the go, but the below is the general framework we follow on normal days.

Prim has been on a schedule for a long time, but I read a lot about routines after Lark was born because I was struggling with managing the schedules of an almost-2-year old and a newborn. I was a little frustrated with a lot of what I read because it seemed like most of the schedules were aimed at people who had a baby OR a toddler — not both. Given that many people have more than one child, I wanted to see schedules that accounted for more than one child in the same household. The only schedule I found that took multiple kids into consideration was the Moms on Call book series, which was really helpful in setting up our rhythm.

Now that Lark is older and the girls are sharing a room, their schedules are much more enmeshed and seamless, but it was not without some trial and error during the first months. Our schedule seems to be continually evolving to account for consolidating naps and nursing sessions as Lark gets older, which I think is normal. Now that Lark is down to two naps a day though, this will likely be our schedule for awhile, as she likely won’t go down to one nap until she’s a year old.

7:30am We get girls out of their room and bring them into our bed for a bit of cozy time and so Lark can nurse.

The girls often wake up around 7am, but after having a rough transition period when they first started sharing a room where Prim would wake up for the day at 5am (um, NO THANKS) I bought her a clock that lights up when it’s time to get up. She now knows that when the “light turns green it’s time to wake up” and will start calling for us after it goes on.

8:00am Breakfast

9:30am Lark nurses and takes first nap (1 1/2 to 2 hours)

11:30/Noon Lunch

1pm-3pm Lark nurses and Prim and Lark nap

The girls go down for their nap awake together and are generally in their room for two hours total, but usually only sleep an hour and a half of that time.

3/3:30pm Snack

4pm Lark nurses (some days)

I’m trying to eliminate this feeding.

5/5:30pm Dinner

I don’t prefer to eat dinner this early and I am working to move dinner back bit by bit. I started having them eat this early when I combined their bedtime routine because Lark could not be up past 7pm (she just can’t hang). I have now managed to push bedtime to 7:30pm (and usually not a moment later — Lark is very strict on this). I am dreading the upcoming time change a little bit, because I really don’t want them going to bed at 6:30pm.

6:45pm Bedtime routine starts

Girls take a bath together, pajamas on, read 1-2 stories, sing one song, nightlight + sound machine on, Lark nurses.

7:30pm Girls in bed, door closed

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 7 months

September 16, 2017

Sleeping: I finally managed to get Prim’s nap to coincide with Lark’s second nap of that day AND managed to get them down together in the same room. They had actually been napping roughly at the same time most days, but I had Lark sleeping in the guest room because Prim takes a while to wind down for naptime, generally. (My rule for Prim right now is that she doesn’t have to sleep, but she does need to relax and be quiet.) Prim still falls asleep most days, so I actually get 1-2 hours of time by myself, which as any mom will tell you — feels like a freaking VACATION. Of course, because they’re in the same room and on the same nap schedule, the days when naptime falls apart, it’s reallllly falls apart. Motherhood sure does have a way of making sure you don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly!

The world’s largest high chair in Budapest.

Eating: Lark started solids at 6 months, and so far is a totally different eater than Prim was at this age. Prim was pretty interested in eating right off the bat and loved just about anything I gave her. Lark is proving to be a bit more discerning in her tastes and so far is not very fond of being spoonfed. She prefers to feed herself, which, while somewhat convenient, is not really super effective at this age. I started Prim on finger foods pretty early on to build her dexterity, but also spoonfed her for most meals as well. Brainstorming foods that I can turn into finger foods for Lark that are easy for a 6/7 month old to grab and eat without choking herself is a bit tricky, but we’re muddling through together. And as for her pickiness, I am approaching her meals the same way I approach Prim’s — she eats what we eat (to the extent possible) and there are no alternatives.

Lifesavers: It’s gotten pretty chilly in Amsterdam over the past couple of weeks (summer is officially over here, I’m afraid) and nights in particular get cold upstairs. The Puckababy sleep sack has been a lifesaver in this old, Dutch house (because no matter how much we crank the heat, the bedrooms seem to perpetually stay at 65 degrees or lower). We purchased this one for Prim last winter, which Lark will start using once she grows out of the newborn size. I love that it’s good for year-round use, even in the crazy climate of Amsterdam.

Latest trick: Lark has entered the phase where she’s on the move, but has very little control over where she’s going. She often ends up stuck underneath the couch and alerts us to her predicament by screaming like she’s falling into a sinkhole.

Sweetest things: Lark is readily babbling and seems to be trying to keep up with the speech of her very chatty older sister. She’s making more and more sounds these days, and I’ll often find Prim laying on a blanket with her with the two of them babbling back and forth. Prim is already trying to involve Lark into her imaginative play and Lark readily joins in to the extent she can, happily squealing and babbling. I love that these two chatterboxes are already entertaining each other.

Just having a little Lion King moment at one of the churches we visited on vacation.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is learning how to get herself back to sleep more and more each week. Now on the random nights when Prim has trouble winding down and going to sleep and we have to re-enter the room, she will often open her eyes to peer at us dealing with her big sister and then just roll over and go back to sleep. That milestone is all the praise hands emojis, guys.

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 6 months

August 16, 2017

Sleeping: Lark is still sharing a room with Prim and is sleeping really well for the most part. She’s generally only up once at night, around 5 or 6am, which I’m hopeful means she’ll be sleeping through the night within the next month or two, since that feeding is so close to when she wakes up for the day at 7am. And in case you’re wondering about how the room sharing works with these girls being so young — they do generally just sleep through each other’s noises (even crazy crying!) Prim will sleep through just about anything and Lark sleeps through Prim’s antics probably 50% of the time. I’m sure that as she gets older and better at getting herself back to sleep, she will sleep through a lot more.

How we’re adjusting: We just got back from Madrid, and Lark, ever the easy-going child that she is, did wonderfully. She would nap on the go all day and then go to bed in a new environment with hardly a whimper. KC and I at multiple points during the vacation would turn to each other and be like, “Who is this baby??” because she is sooo chill, you guys, it’s nuts. 

Lifesavers: I know I’m a broken record talking about my Solly wrap on here, but seriously, it is maybe the best baby purchase ever, especially for traveling. Anytime Lark would get a little fussy I would pop her into the wrap (after feeding her, obviously) and she would just conk out or hang out quietly. It was also amazing because it was so sunny and hot in Madrid and Lark is still too little for sunscreen, so I would pull the front of the wrap down to cover her legs and throw her hat on and she would be completely covered.

Latest trick: Lark is getting really close to scooting/crawling now. I watch her on the floor on her belly as she hitches her leg up trying to wiggle closer to a toy and I know it’s just a matter of time before this girl will be all over the place!

Sweetest things: Lark is obsessed with Prim (and vice versa). It’s an all-day lovefest between these sisters, my heart can hardly take it.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark makes these hilarious screeching pterodactyl noises when she’s just happily hanging out. I love listening to her little voice, especially because Prim is so crazy that I sometimes forget that Lark is a chatty little extrovert too.

Baby / Family Fun / Life Abroad / Summer / Travel

Our Trip to Barcelona + Traveling with Littles

July 19, 2017

We recently returned from a week in Barcelona and had the most amazing time. Barcelona is one of those dreamy cities that you feel like you could wander forever and never get tired of.

We visited a bunch of the “must-see” sites and ate our weight in tapas and pintxos, and I’m already plotting our return — I couldn’t get enough of Barcelona! KC and I both at one point were devising a plan for him to do a secondment with his firm in the city (the one hitch being that KC doesn’t speak Spanish… which is sort of a must. Ha.) But with the gothic architecture and countless skinny alleyways just begging to be explored, how could you not want to spend more time there? 

For those of you wondering how traveling with two little ones was — it was actually great. Prim and Lark were amazingly well- behaved on both flights (Prim even slept on the flight over — serious win) and they adapted to their new surroundings without a second thought. We played fast and loose with their schedules and they took it all in stride like a couple of pros. Traveling with kids is of course never as easy-going or stress-free as I really prefer my vacations to be, but I have to admit that the kids were really good on this trip. Even though they’re both so young (newly two and four months at the time of our trip), they both adapted well and I think really enjoyed seeing a new city. That’s Prim running around in the background of that picture above ^^. Some guys had just come though and done a sort of tumbling/street dance performance while we were having dinner and Prim felt inspired to go run around do some dance moves of her own after they had passed through. She was quite the hit with a lot of the locals. If you’re considering traveling with kids, my advice is do it. I am pretty structured and type-A (KC I’m sure is laughing out loud at this — “pretty structured??”) and I have to admit that the idea of yanking the kids out of their comfort zones and subjecting them to an unfamiliar city and upending their schedules totally stresses me out. BUT, since we are in Europe for a finite amount of time (or, at least that’s the plan for now… ha!) I have embraced the idea that we will be traveling with our kids a lot. We have four more trips planned before the end of the year and may be adding a fifth. I have also learned that taking these trips and pushing them outside of their routines seems to be a good thing overall. I like to think that it’s not only opening their eyes to new places, people and things, but also making them more adaptable to life in general.

If you’re wondering what we bring with us travel-wise, here is the general list. (Keep in mind that your child’s needs will vary based on their own age and home life and this is just what worked for us.)

European airlines tend to have stricter carry-on rules and more fees for checking bags than US airlines do, but that said, some things are non-negotiable when traveling with little ones. We luckily have been able to find flights that allow us to check a stroller and carseat for free, so in addition to that we check one large suitcase with all of the stuff for me and the kids and a travel crib (we love our BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light). We bring three carry-on bags: a small suitcase (verrry small. Europe!) with KC’s stuff in it, a backpack I use as a diaper bag with stuff for the kids, and a travel bassinet.

I brought four thin paperback books for the kids, a teether for Lark, and Prim was allowed to bring her small Jellycat lion and her baby doll. Aside from that, we brought our iPad loaded with a couple Disney movies and Prim’s headphones, and that’s it entertainment-wise.This is our travel bassinet. I found it super-cheap on an online family market here in Amsterdam and it’s been awesome for travel because it folds up into a bag the size of a standard diaper bag (similar here — on sale!). I brought it with me when I traveled with Lark to the US also and was able to have her sleep in it on one of the flights, as I had two extra seats next to mine. She will likely outgrow it before our next trip, but since Prim is now sleeping in a toddler bed, we will be able to transition Lark into the travel crib and put Prim into a regular bed with our travel bed rail.

About 2 months before we moved to Amsterdam, we shipped our regular stroller with all of our other things to the Netherlands. Since we needed an interim stroller and wanted something compact for travel, KC started researching umbrella and travel strollers. He happened to come across the Babyzen Yoyo, which was in basically zero US stores at the time and I had never even heard of. After some intense online-sleuthing, KC determined that this was the stroller to get for travel, as it folds up suuuper small (seriously, TSA is always like “WHOA that’s small!” whenever I have to zip it through security) but also has a pretty legit suspension system, making it ideal for handling all of Europe’s cobblestone streets.

At the time, I thought it was a little insane to spend so much on a second stroller; but now that we’ve taken multiple trips with this stroller and had a second baby, I am so glad that KC insisted on this purchase. Though it folds up smaller than an umbrella stroller, it has the options and amenities of a full-size stroller. We’ve added the carseat adapters (ideal for traveling with a baby less than 6 months old) and the ride-on board, which is perfect for P. Prim is able to sit or stand on it when she feels like it (or when we force her to — 2 year olds!) or we can pull the board up when it’s not in use (see the picture of KC with both kids and the stroller above to see the board pulled up).  And of course I can’t live without the Solly Baby Wrap. It’s so light and versatile, it’s perfect for travel. It can be balled up and shoved into a suitcase or diaper bag, it works as a lightweight blanket in the stroller, as a makeshift nursing cover, and it’s light enough to use in hot weather. Not to mention that the Spanish ladies were all totally obsessed with my wrap (and Lark in the wrap for that matter). I was stopped so many times on the street to have conversations in broken Spanish and English about my wrap (and its contents 😉 ) — clearly Solly needs to start some kind of global expansion program here.

We loved you, Barcelona. Someday I will be back to walk your streets and drink all the cava.

PS: If you have any travel-related questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll respond. 🙂

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 5 months

July 16, 2017

Sleeping: Lark is now sharing a room with Prim and has been sleeping really well. She’s up once or twice at night to nurse and naps like a freaking champion. She is regularly woken up by Prim in the evening when she goes to bed (let me tell you, it is HARD for a 2 year old to do anything quietly) and 90% of the time Lark can get herself back to sleep. As much as I would like Prim and Lark to go to bed at the same time, it’s proving not to be feasible right now as Prim goes to bed at 7:30pm but Lark can’t seem to make it past 7pm. Oh well. We’re still in the adjustment phase of room-sharing, so I am trying to remember that things will settle eventually and we will get to a point where it will be a little bit easier.

How we’re adjusting: You may already know that we just got back from a week in Barcelona, and I have to say that I am super impressed by how well the kids did. The flights were successful (no meltdowns!) and both Prim and Lark adjusted to their new surroundings seamlessly. We played fast and loose with their schedules while we were away and they handled it like a couple of pros. I’ll try to write up a post about our trip and what worked for us travel-wise soon!

Lifesavers: Lark was gifted this little stuffed lamb lovey (I guess the Dutch word translates to “cuddle cloth” which is, um, ADORABLE) before she was born. When I started sleep training, I started giving it to her when she went to bed so she would have something familiar nearby when she woke up (since she refused to take a pacifier). She is obsessed with her “lamby” now, and nuzzles it when she wakes up and is trying to get herself back to sleep.

Latest trick: Lark is continuing to wiggle her way across the floor and is actively grabbing every toy in sight. She has some amazing stamina when it comes to tummy time — she can hold her head up forever without having to take a break.

Sweetest things: Lark now reaches out to grab my face when I come close to talk to her or kiss her. She no doubt gets it from her older sister (who I have to admit, gets it from me!)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is so interested in everything that’s going on around her. She watches Prim intently, and it’s so sweet to see her readily recognizing people now (like when KC comes home and she breaks out into a big grin). The best thing is coming to get her up from her crib in the morning or after a nap — she gets the biggest smile on her face and starts cooing wildly like she’s filling me in on all the things she’s planning on doing during the day.