April 18, 2019

Stuff and Things. 4/18

+++ I put together Wells' Easter basket and I'm hauling it to my parents' house this weekend.



I *almost* bought him a $60 PB Kids monogrammed basket. Then I realized that was not the best use of our time/money/resources. I saw this basket that I really liked at Home Goods and I ordered a name tag on Etsy.

+++ I ordered a new diaper bag. I ended up getting another backpack one on Amazon. It looks sleek enough (non-diaper bag-ish, that is) but it just needs to be functional. I really like nylon-like bags, in case you haven't noticed over the years. Pleather is generally not my thing, even though I do have a few leather/suede purses. Buying a really expensive one would just make me want to take super good care of it and, well, diaper bags can take quite a beating. I would've procrastinated this for another few weeks, mostly likely. But we went to the zoo last weekend and after 4 hours of carrying a diaper bag that wasn't *quite* serviceable enough for our needs, Scott insisted.




+++ All Rock and Plays were recalled. You can't even find them on Amazon, but they can still be found out there for resale, which is apparently illegal. I filled out the online form to send ours back, so you should probably do the same if you have one. I will take the voucher since ours is a little more than 6 months old. I don't really care because I wasn't planning on using it again and Wells really disliked it anyway. I do feel bad that I offered it to my friend because it just seems like an unsafe offer. Plus, I was iffy about even donating it to charity because I knew it wasn't the best option for sleep; it just comes so highly recommended by parents. I'm thankful it didn't work for us.
But The Washington Post headlined this by saying it "triggers shock in parents" that they can't buy RNPs anymore. Please. Of course The WaPo would use the word "triggers". (I can't read the article interviewing these triggered parents because it's behind a paywall.)

+++ This is insane. So absolutely insane. I don't care if you're pro-life or pro-choice (well, I do care but that shouldn't matter in this aspect, even). This is racism and eugenics tied up together.

+++ If you watched The Resident this week, it was super dark and I had to watch New Girl before bed as a palate cleanser.

+++ Ever since we moved into this house, I've had a deep-seeded fear of the central air not working. Looking at the unit outside, it's not well-cared for. I checked the lease multiple times to make sure "ac" was included, meaning they'd have to fix it if it didn't work.  Living in Pennsylvania in the summer without central air is more uncomfortable that you necessarily want to make yourself on purpose.
Anyway, my freakout came to a head and we tried it last weekend and it worked.


Then we had to turn the heat back on by Monday morning because it was snowing again.

+++ Along those lines, we're used to mowing a field. In fact, I used to spend my summers mowing down tumbleweeds (another life, that was). I would mow all morning, before it got to be too hot.

Now we have this rental with 15 minutes of mowing. They had left a mower and gardening necessities in the shed for us to use. Scott was skeptical about the mower working. Considering that I think we left our push mower in Laramie for *our* renters or maybe it's in a storage unit somewhere (I. don't. actually. know.), we'd have to buy another mower. Luckily, this mower worked. And it has a bag to pick up the grass.



In Alaska, I had to rake the grass. 

2012 in Alaska. I'm really glad I have this blog to remind me of Alaska because it feels like another life too. 


Linking up with Whitney and Erika...





April 17, 2019

9 Months of Wells.



Wells at 9 months.




We went to the zoo on Saturday. 

He is eating everything he can fit in his hand, get to his mouth, and fit in his mouth.

He does love water, but prefers me to hold a regular cup for him to drink out of. He thinks it's a game. He doesn't hold a sippy cup yet, but we're going to try one with a straw next week.

That's a deconstructed, boiled chicken wonton. 

He drinks maybe 30 oz. of formula a day, but I'm really bad at keeping track. It's all on-demand or before a nap.

He is crawling everywhere on all fours. As soon as I put him down, he squeals and takes off toward something dangerous. He went from barely being able to push himself up to crawling on all fours in about two weeks.

On Saturday, he pulled himself up to his knees outside of the bathtub, because he was looking for his favorite toy (an empty shampoo bottle he plays with at bath time). Then he pulled himself up onto his feet in front of his chair on Sunday.


He still naps twice a day. Or rather, I put him down for two official naps a day. Most often, when we're in the car, he dozes or naps there too.

He can say "Jett" and says it a lot, usually when he's looking around for a dog. He says "dada" and "mama" but doesn't direct it in a way that's easy to pick up on. He says "ba" clear as a bell but we don't know what it means. He says it constantly. We don't think it means bottle, because he just chirps it out randomly and repeatedly.

Scout still isn't a fan.



Wells has 6ish teeth and is working on #7 and #8 right now. It's rough-going.

His favorite toys include his Aveeno bottle in the bathtub and a remote that doesn't go to anything. He also adores the caps to his bottles. He loves water too so maybe a water table would be good for later in the summer when he can stand.

Wells is in just about all 12-18 month clothes. A few 24 month things are thrown in there as well.







April 15, 2019

What I will miss (and do miss) about Laramie

I really thought I'd feel more of a tug of my heartstrings toward our Laramie house when it came to leaving there in December. That's where Wells was born. It was his first home and his first bedroom and his first everything.

But I think I will miss Laramie in general, not just the house. The house is fine, but we still own it so I mean, we could always go back, technically.

*ETA* I actually have really good memories of Laramie so I'm glad that that's where we have a house, just in case. I even jokingly told Scott that we could always live in that house and build on property outside of town. Wyoming wouldn't be the worst place to retire from the Army. But because of water issues and the constant fires, we likely wouldn't settle there.

I was frustrated with ColoradoWyomingColoradoWyoming for a few reasons but the good of Laramie in general actually outweighs the good in Colorado to me. Laramie is small-town living and, I hear, has a fantastic school district. I'm a little disappointed I never got a chance to experience the schools and I'm almost bitter that I spent four teaching years in Colorado instead. Every time I would push Wells in his stroller past the local elementary schools, I would wonder what it was like to work there. If we'd been there longer for a 3 or 4 year duty station, I likely would've sought out good childcare and tried to get into the school system.

But, moving on...



1. It was a very convenient place to live.
Everything was right there, not too far away. The downside was that there wasn't much included in that "everything". But I put verrrrry few miles on my car while living there. Cheyenne was 45 minutes and had shopping and things to do and Ft. Collins was less than an hour and had the same.

2. The trails.
The walking was what kept me sane. In the summer, it wasn't unbearably hot, though I always went early because I was either very pregnant or had a newborn and the sun is pretty intense at 7,000 feet elevation. It was just so easy to exercise there.







4. The doctors/hospital.
Honestly, the only hiccup was that the lactation consultants were overbearing, but that was probably my own fault: if I was fine with doing formula, I should've told them that. But since I had no idea what to expect, I tried it their way first.


I saw someone post on Facebook about how impressed they were that their doctor (here in Pennsylvania) called them with test results about something. In Laramie, my doctor called me regularly herself to give me test results and follow-up after appointments. It was the standard of care that I, sadly, became used to and now it's not like that and I'm just feeling meh about it.

I loved my doctor. I loved Wells' doctor. I didn't even mind the dogs' doctor/vet. I loved the nurses. I loved that, when we took a newborn class in June, it was just us and one other couple. Basically, I would live in Laramie for the medical care alone.

5. The weather was pretty pleasant.
I mean, windy and cold in the winter and there was the occasional severe storm in the summer. But no humidity and the hottest it ever got in the summer was maybe 85 degrees and those were outlier days. It was normally in the 70s. In Colorado Springs, it was easily over 100 degrees most of last summer (I wasn't there, but Scott was, working on the house.)

July on the UW campus

 
 September 2018 with a 2 month old vs. September 2017, when we bought the house. Same mirror. We obviously had no idea we'd be having a baby in Wyoming. 

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As we've found, there's good and bad to every place.
Alaska was cold in the winter and felt far away from everything but the people were amazing.
Missouri was actually really good to us and we liked the state/area itself.
Laramie had more good than bad, as you can see above.
To me, Colorado had more trials and troubles than I thought it would. I would give almost anything to give the dogs acreage to run on right now though. They had gotten too, too, too used to that luxury.
Pittsburgh is fine and good, but it's definitely not for us long term.

Next, we'll be going to another army base for only a year or so, so it'll be like trying on another state only to see how it fits.

April 12, 2019

Friday...already? Some stuff and things.

Well, this week flew by more quickly than expected. I prefer weekdays to weekends, to be honest, so I'm always slightly disappointed when Friday rolls around. I like my routine that goes along with weekdays.

Even if this week's routine was all over the place and I got little to nothing done.

On Wednesday I had plans to *finally* clean all the floors and maybe even finish the laundry before meeting up with a friend. I even thought I might get a few blog posts written.

Instead, I plugged my phone into my computer in the morning and it froze on the Apple logo mid-update and wouldn't respond. All the usual tricks to restart, etc didn't work so I knew I'd have to go to the mall. Luckily, the mall is only 20 minutes away but it threw a giant wrench into naptime and anything I'd wanted to accomplish during naptime.

After an hour in the Apple Store, with a stroller and an unruly baby, they did fix my phone but it wasn't easy (which makes me feel better for going in there). The next step would've been to replace the phone because it wouldn't respond to anything but the last thing they tried. It had to be restored to factory settings which was annoying simply because I had to re-download, re-log-in, and re-connect to everything I use my phone for, including my car. I'm still not back in all of my apps. You know, important ones like Twitter. The bluetooth reconnection took forever and, in my opinion, is the best thing ever invented: a phone that connects to your car. So it took all my mental energy to get that working again.

Anyway.

After a dog walk, I headed across town with a napless baby to see a friend. I met Jackie our first week in Alaska and there's something incredibly comforting about seeing someone you've known since you were 23 and brand-new at this army stuff. It's like no new friendship I could've formed since, you know? She kindly posted this circa 2009 picture on Facebook:



Ironically, they are stationed in Pittsburgh too, for the next year. Cheers to getting what and who you need exactly when you need it, right?

Yesterday I was able to get some paperwork, some cleaning, some food prep, AND a shower during naptime. And before the end of the night, I'd gotten everything on the lenient version of my to-do list finished...meaning I had done Pilates and crawled out from the clean clothes that had been piled up since Monday.

Wells also turned 9 months old this week and I'm hopelessly behind on his baby updates and pictures (and I don't even have a job, so let's consider that), but I wanted to wait to get his weight/height at his appointment on Monday before I take official 9 month pictures.

I tried to do some Easter pictures and that didn't work.



The judgiest bunny: 



Moving on...



I need a new diaper bag. I was thinking the Fawn Design bag. I'd had it bookmarked since before I was pregnant but I'm not sure now...The one we have is fine and doesn't scream "diaper bag" but I don't love it enough to carry it with me everywhere now that he's in need of snacks more often. Snacks and bottles leaking in my purse constantly isn't convenient.

Suggestions?

April 9, 2019

Books in 2019 (#2)

9


The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads without question. You're kind of dropped right into the middle of the story when it's already well underway and I really liked that. I won't give more detail than that because I don't want to spoil it.
If you can stick through the first two or three chapters, it will start to come together. Promise.
I would describe it as Downton Abbey meets The Maze Runner, but I've also heard it compared to other books/TV shows.



I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
This wasn't bad at all. It was predictable, but enjoyable. It's true chick lit. I didn't mind My Not So Perfect Life, two years ago. I didn't like Surprise Me at all, last year. But I will always, always, always read whatever she comes out with next. She's that author for me: the one I will always read no matter what.



One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
I had such high hopes for this! I just couldn't get behind the YA factor. I found a lot of the characters really unlikable, actually. If I'd read it 10 years ago, I probably would've liked it more. I really liked the name Bronwyn, though.



Murder in the Stacks by David DeKok
This is a true crime non-fiction book. Apparently, there was a murder in the Pattee Library on the Penn State campus in 1969. I saw this book on a list or on a website somewhere years ago in Colorado. I added it to my TBR and, when we got to Pittsburgh, I found it in the Allegheny County Library system. I could never find it anywhere else.
Anyway. I'm a Penn State graduate, but I went to the Altoona campus. Scott went to the University Park campus. I remember going to the campus with him, and we'd walked through the stacks at the Pattee Library once or twice when he had to meet someone to work on projects or pick up books or whatever. THEY ARE CREEPY. I can't even describe it. It's like these hidden stairwells behind doors in the main library building and spiral staircases that go up and random doors for different rooms/levels of the classification system. The level of "lost" you could get without even trying is extreme.
The book outlines all the issues that would happen in the library: arson, especially. But anyway, there was a murder there in 1969 and this book, written by someone who lived in the same Michigan town as the victim and works in Harrisburg, goes over the history of the area, the campus, the murder, the state police, the investigation, etc. I can't imagine what the place looked like in 1969, but the one point the author made again and again was that State College was kind of in the middle of nowhere and the nearest reliable hospital was 40 miles away and technology, even for that time period, was sparse.
And, every time I go back, I agree: it really is just a college town plopped down in a farming region.
If you are from PA or from the area in general, you might enjoy the historical aspect of it. Or if you like real-life Dateline-esque stories, it's a good one.
Here's a Youtube video the author made if you want a quick overview. 



Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison
This was good. It definitely kept me up til midnight (a grave, grave mistake) trying to finish it. A true thriller if you're looking for one, and that made me happy because I didn't like her first book that I read a few years ago.
I do feel that it could've been 80 pages shorter if Juliet would've stopped explaining and re-explaining the current situation to every character she came across. It was almost 500 pages.

Linking up with Jana and Steph!

April 5, 2019

5 Friday Favorites: Grocery pick-up, etc.

1. Walmart grocery pick up.
In Colorado Springs, two years ago, I tried the Walmart grocery pick-up. It was good the first two times and then they started substituting items constantly and the wait times were ridiculous. Like, 20-30 minutes after I'd checked in, gotten there, and spoke to someone, I'd be lucky to have my groceries. So I stopped doing it. It was a really terrible Walmart anyway.
The Walmart in Laramie was very nice. They didn't offer this grocery service though so, for the first several months of his life, Wells got used to grocery shopping.
Here, the Walmart two miles down the road and hidden on the top of a hill offers grocery pick-up. While going to Walmart isn't the worst because Wells really does like riding in the cart and smiling at people, it sucks up a lot of time.
So I decided to try ordering groceries again.
It went very well.
An employee was waiting for ME when I got there and loaded up my groceries in two minutes. I'll do it again for sure.




2. Floating shelf.



Gone are the days of setting the camera on the crib ledge and putting the Hatch right next to it. I never fixed either in a permanent spot because we moved out of Wyoming when he was 5 months old and I'm still putting his room here together. But after lowering the crib, I needed to raise the camera and I wanted the Hatch in a spot where he couldn't pull it down on himself, but he could still see it and, more importantly, I would be able to see him by the light of the Hatch when I went in to check on him.
I hate that this shelf cost $20 (Target) but I love the look of it, so whatever. I was even able to put it up myself.
Eventually I will secure those cords to the wall, but we're not at that stage yet.

3. Sunblock.



I saw this on a blog and thought That looks promising. I need a sunblock for my face that doesn't feel like sunblock. I had bought this moisturizer and it was fine for a moisturizer but, indeed, smelled like sunblock, so I don't like to put makeup on over or or wear it all day if I'm not outside. This is more like a really light BB cream and I think it was worth every penny. I mean, it wasn't that much, but more than I'd normally spend on make-up.



4. Olay Face Mask (again)
Speaking of products, if you're not using these Olay Face Masks, you're missing out. I started with the Fresh Reset (the pink one) and tried it a few times before ordering the Charcoal (the black one) and then this week I tried out the Glow (it's white charcoal). I wanted to be sure they didn't irritate my skin because it can usually be a miss with drugstore products. These are a total win, even for sensitive skin.

5. Wells and I watch The Ben Shapiro Show most days (if we don't watch, I listen while we walk). I think he enjoys it.




Linking up for Friday Favorites!


April 4, 2019

The cheapest place to buy baby formula

Often, I think about what was going through my mind two years ago or one year ago and how the thoughts I have now are a complete 180 from my former life as a teacher and army wife in Colorado.
Two years ago, I was just hoping to move to a new job and thinking about the stress of the IVF process that was ahead of us.
A year ago, I was constantly making sure this baby was kicking and hoping our house didn't burn down.

Now, I think about formula prices.

This isn't sponsored and it's not backed up by the data and receipts or statistics.

But, I have a good memory so, I can tell you what my experience has been in buying baby formula.

Oh look. Back when we thought that someday he'd take a pacifier so we kept one on us.

We started Wells on Similac back in July. At the hospital, they gave us the recommendation to use Similac because it was what they kept on hand. They said to buy the ready-to-eat liquid that's already mixed because there's much less of a chance of bacteria growth. So we bought the $8 bottles of Similac from Walmart for about 3 months and we went through about 5 a week. For about half of that time, I was mixing it with whatever I pumped. When I stopped pumping, he just drank the Similac and he always seemed to have reflux or an upset stomach from it, when it was just the Similac. I couldn't figure out why he all-of-a-sudden was sick all of the time. He would spit up half of what he ate and it was awful to watch him squirm and cry. Also, he was eating twice as often because he wasn't keeping it down. Then, my friend said we needed to try Enfamil because both of her kids did really poorly on Similac.

So we went right to Gentlease and he hasn't had an issue since. IF you have the same issue, I highly recommend Gentlease (the purple container). He's actually had regular Enfamil since as well (the yellow container) and didn't have any issues with it either.

Here's what I've found...

Walmart
Since the only store we had in Laramie was Walmart, that's where I bought it. It's about $31 for 29.1 ounces of regular old Gentlease. Sometimes they had the Neuro-Pro or the Premium in this size and that was $35. But if you buy anything smaller than the almost 30 ounce container, you're going to be paying more per ounce AND buying more to get you through a week (I tried to only buy it once a week..it's a lot of work to haul an infant to the store for just formula), which means paying twice as much per trip to buy the amount you need to get through a week.




Giant Eagle
This is a chain in Pennsylvania. It's a huge, annoyingly expensive grocery store. However, they have a good selection of anything and everything you might need (and they have really good sushi). I bought Gentlease there once a month ago because another mom gave me a coupon for $9 off of Enfamil and she uses Similac. Since it's costs about $5 more on average, I still saved $4 on my weekly formula buying.

Target
Actually, it's the same price as Walmart and they usually have the same type of selection. However, I don't do my grocery-buying at Target and an extra stop is inconvenient, unless I already need to go there. It goes without saying that a random trip to Target is generally kind of dangerous anyway, when it comes to walking out with a cartful of things you didn't know you wanted or needed. However, Target is where I buy diapers so I usually stop in once every three weeks and may pick up formula if I'm there on a day where I need formula.
In the cold winter months (because January and February were particularly awful in Pittsburgh), I would just order diapers online from Target and they'd be delivered in 24 hours, which was awfully convenient.

Amazon
Disappointingly, Amazon doesn't actually sell the Gentlease Neuro-Pro or Premium in the big container where you get the most ounces for your money, or the least amount of money per ounce, if you want to think of it that way. They sell the regular Gentlease in that size, but it costs exactly the same as it does at Walmart. You might say Well, it's easier to buy at Amazon because they deliver and sure, that's true. But sometimes Amazon deliveries get pushed back a day or two and nd that's really inconvenient when you're counting on a formula delivery.
They also have this one for $38.99 and I just got TWO of them at Costco yesterday for $41.99.
Amazon does sell giant 6 or 12 packs of the formula and, I haven't done all of the math but, I don't buy those for one reason: Scott would love for me to have a stockpile "just in case" but I know what I would do. I would use them all up. There would be no stockpile because I'm not one to stockpile. I like to use things up. I like empties. I love throwing away empty bottles of bath/body products and cleaning products.
So I've only ordered formula from Amazon once because I thought it'd be convenient. It showed up at 8pm when I needed it (like needed it) for the next morning and that was too close of a call for me. Also, it wasn't any cheaper, so there was no real benefit.
I really wanted a subscribe-and-save option for formula, like the do with diapers, but such a thing doesn't seem to exist.

Costco
This, I've found, is the clear winner.



I got two of these for $41.99. That's 40+ ounces for $42. Normally, with my former cheapest pick, I had been getting 29.1 ounces for $31. And while that seems comparable, this kind from Costco is the Premium, so it'd actually cost me somewhere between $35-$42, depending on where I would buy it.
I don't have a Sam's Club membership, but I'm *assuming* it'd be similar. Costco had Regular Enfamil and Gentlease. They also had several varieties of Similac, but I didn't check them all out.
I know I won't be going to Costco to buy formula each week but it's nice to know that it's there and, honestly, going to Costco has always been such a pain and hassle to me. This will get me there, and using that membership we pay for, more often.

There's a few Costcos here but the one that's closest is in a shopping area on The Waterfront. It was blissfully peaceful and empty on a Monday afternoon so I might have to do that every month or so.

Did you use formula? Where did you buy it? I have 3-4 more months of this ahead of me and then all of this useless knowledge can move to the back of my brain.

April 3, 2019

Since we last spoke...2nd edition

In case you haven't noticed the pattern, I'm trying to blog three times a week, opposed to the four times a week I was blogging a year ago.
Since I couldn't get my act together on Monday or Tuesday, this week is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
I know I shouldn't be so fixated on routine and having things on certain days at certain times, but I'm coming off of 10 years where I had everything planned out in roughly 30 minute blocks, all day long. I'm very used to my days being set up that way and now that my job is to take care of a baby and set up my own schedule, I tend to get really hung up on routine, still.

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Maybe this will just be a monthly thing where I don't just recap, but I update.

As of the first week in February, our Colorado house went under contract. They offered, we countered, they accepted.

Scott flew back to Colorado on Presidents' Day weekend. They did the home inspection that weekend and he wanted to fix whatever he could because that'd be his last chance to go back there since he had a 4-day weekend. My parents came to visit us.

Scott went to California for work during the last week in February. My mother-in-law came to stay with us that week because #1 I'm getting to be weak and #2 She could spend time with Wells.

We were housebound for way too many days because of the cold.

We closed on our house on Friday, March 8th.

We bought a new SUV.

I did a 23 and Me Ancestry DNA test.
The neat thing is that this profile matches what my family has told me, based on when my ancestors arrived in the U.S. and where they came from.



I want to say we've settled into Pittsburgh but we've had not a full weekend together since we've been here (mid-January). Scott had to leave Sunday, for example, for a work trip and got back very late last night. This coming weekend, I'll be going home for my sister-in-law's baby shower. Next weekend, I don't know yet, and the weekend after that is Easter.
We haven't actually DONE anything here yet. Mostly it's just Scott going to work and me keeping everyone alive and chipping away at little things during the week, and the weekends have been cold and miserable so far. Truly, we can't seem to get two warm weekend days in a row!



Experiencing... our first Pennsylvania spring since 2009. It's cold and rainy. So yeah, that's about right.

Appreciating... that I'm giving myself a lot more grace on our living situation. This is literally *just* a rental. And it's hard to live in a rental after you've owned your last two houses. Scott has LITERALLY already started looking at houses for our next location, which won't be for well over a year from now. This is all so temporary and is just for right now and it is what it is. We'll obviously always remember our time in Pittsburgh, but it's just like our time in Alaska and our time in Missouri and our time in Colorado and our time in Wyoming: temporary. So I'm trying to not stress out over all of the little things I wish were different.
It is absolutely striking to me how our houses in Alaska and our house in Missouri felt so much more like home than this place does. They were just rentals too, after all.

Wishlisting... I feel like I'm trying to buyallthethings in anticipation of spring and summer? Last spring, I was quite pregnant and didn't want anything new or fun. Same with summer. I like this.





Posting... Not nearly as much as I should. I have things to say, believe me, but something always stops me from writing and publishing. I wish I could go private for a bit? Or forever, and just funnel in the people I'd like to read it.
But you can see all the links at the beginning of this post to see what I've been up to lately.

Considering... Wells' first birthday. While I really miss the newborn dinosaur-and-kitten-noise-making constant yawning stage, I do love seeing him learn and do new things. He is all over the place now, and even made a weak attempt at holding his own bottle on Monday.


First pair of jeans and his little crossed feet.


Linking up with Anne for Currently and Kristen for What's New with You!