Sunday, January 14, 2018

Big Adventures!!!!

OK so, I've been wanting to write this for about a month now, but I've been swamped!!!! (Um- ok this isn't a new thing I haven't posted since December! Life is seriously in fast forward right now though!)

I'm turning 30 this year as are many of my friends. About 8 months ago I got a call from one of my best friends. It started like this: "Ok you can say no if you want to.... and I totally understand....buuuuut.... I want to go on a girls trip to Machu Picchu for my 30th birthday. I want you to come too!" Wow. Not you're everyday hi-how's-it-going phone call. My instinct screamed YES!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!! I WANT TO GO!!!! Then my brain took over and for months (literally) I went back and forth about this big trip. 1. Girls alone in another country (backpacking BTW) 2. Leaving my babe and hubby home- Lord what if something happened to me..... 3. Can I handle the physical demand of this trip- backpacking at 12,000-14,000ft isn't my everyday workout. For months I filled my head with "what ifs". Finally it was down to the wire we had to make reservations. Colin said, "I can't believe you're even thinking of not going! We'll be fine, you'll be fine. Just do it!" I love my husband. He pushes me to take risks that I want to take, but need that boost to really do it.

So, fast forward March 27. I'd been home 3 days on Spring Break (my "Golden Time" with Lill- that time that literally pushes me through some of the tough days) and I was headed to the airport to leave for pretty much the rest of my break. (8 days) As my plane took off, I felt like the most selfish mom in the world. I was excited and really looking forward to my adventure, but waves of guilt kept washing over my excitement. This was the longest I'd ever been away from my girl and the first time away from her on a solo trip. She was in good hands, great hands, surrounded by family who all chipped into care for her while Colin was at work during the week. This was my comfort.

Touch down in Houston! I met up with one of the girls in Houston (D) the other (J) ended up taking the direct flight to Lima. D and I made it on board our Lima flight. This was really happening now! Touch down in Lima and The Three Amigas were on the loose!!!! Look out Peru!

We hopped onto a flight to Cusco and arrived at our new home base for the next 2 days. Cusco was an amazing experience. The food was wonderful. Our hotel was THE BEST. If you're going to Cusco you need to check them out. We explored the city on foot and since we were there during Holy Week (for Easter) there was lots to see including a street fair selling the most delicious looking pastries. We checked in with our tour company for our backpacking trek along the Inca Trail and picked up various souvenirs in the markets.

The main part of our trip was the 4 day 3 night backpacking trek that would end in Machu Picchu. These 4 days turned into the most challenging and rewarding experience I've ever had on a vacation. I've decided that no amount of training (unless you're training at an altitude about 12,000ft) could really prepare you for this. I think if the same rigor of trek had occurred at sea level it would have been fairly easy. Anyways, we hiked through some of the most beautiful land I've every seen. I put this up there with Ireland and Yosemite. There were 2 other travelers in our party. Much to the relief of us all, we were all around the same age- ok they were more than 5 years younger than us. But, at the moment of the trip only 1 of us girls had turned 30. So technically, the majority of us, were in our 20s still!! (Sorry J!)

I learned a lot about pushing myself this trip and trusting my instincts. The food was very good- alpaca and guinea pig are very tasty!

Day 1: By far the most difficult day. At one point, J and I were literally drawing on our child birth breathing classes! Once you loose your breath at 12,000 feet it doesn't come back. So we found that the best thing to do was prevent loosing it. (It was a good idea in theory- it worked ok). We also decided that going slow was ok. We didn't need to be the fastest hikers on the trail. Plus, going slow gave us more time to enjoy the countryside that we most likely won't have the chance to ever see again. There were times when we would say, "Ok see that rock? Make it there and we get a 1 minute break." The biggest let down was when we arrived at a campsite we thought was ours. Not true. We had about 90 min more to hike. This didn't seem like much more!  This proved to be hands down the most difficult part of the entire trek. 90 min took us over 2 hours. It was non-stop steps (uneven steep steps!) up this GORGEOUS gully. There was an amazing river running right next to the trail with rapids and waterfalls. The landscape became jungle-like and I just was sure I'd see a puma lounging on the moss covered tree limbs. Even though, it was the most difficult part of the trail it was one of my favorites. The rest of our group was ahead at the campsite while we huffed and puffed our way up. D was a good 30 mins ahead of us and her pack weight was double ours. She is a ROCK STAR! We found a rhythm and a "system" that worked and we stuck with it. We also discovered that Ibuprofen helped dramatically! (I'm guessing bc it thins your blood and this helped with oxygen flow?) I'm really proud of how hard we all worked on the first day.

Day 2: This was the day we ascended to the highest pass of our trek, 13,800 ft. After the previous days' final hours of hiking, the this day seemed much more manageable. In hind sight, we were very glad that the campsite we had initially thought was our wasn't. Those poor people had to begin their day with those stairs and then complete this huge ascent! The view was very awesome from the top of the pass and the descent was equally beautiful. We had lunch in a place we dubbed "tent city". This was where most of the other tours were camping for the night. It was loud and stinky and we were glad we had only stopped there for lunch. Aside from the trail, which hugged the cliffs and dove behind rocks that formed tunnels, we got to explore several remains (in the States we'd call them ruins). It was so cool to be able to roam around these and see how advanced the engineering and design of these buildings were! Many of the fountains still have water flowing through them from the springs they were tapped from! Surprisingly, all these ruins were very non-touristy.
You can only get to them by doing this trek. Another neat experience was to see how the landscape changes with the altitude. It sounds silly and obvious, but all those things that you learn about in science, history, and geography came to life before our eyes and were more noticeable because we were walking! We also got to see some llamas roaming about. They were very patient with us. Our campsite for this night had the most gorgeous views at sunset and sunrise. Much more so than "tent city" which was down in a bit of a valley!

Day 3: This was an exciting day because we were heading to our last campsite before arriving in Machu Picchu. We saw more ruins along the trail and some beautiful butterflies. We only had to hike for 1/2 the day and we arrived at the campsite around 12:30pm. This gave us some much needed down time! This campsite actually has ruins (WiƱay Wayna) right next to it so we explored those shortly after lunch. Arriving so early was a blessing because we were one of the first groups to get to camp, which meant we had the entire ruins to ourselves for about an hour before we saw any other hikers!!!! This was one of my favorite places we explored. We had a delicious dinner that night and went to bed early because we had to be up at 3:30am to head to Machu Picchu!

Day 4: 3:30am and it was time to rise and shine! Today was the only day we had rain on the trail! Of course! We had a quick breakfast and then had to walk down to the bottom of the campground to the gate that separated the campground from the trail into Machu Picchu. Now, this gate didn't open up until 5:30am and it was literally a 4 minute walk to the gate. However, our tour company guide likes us to be one of the first groups in line. This was a good thing! The first hundred feet or so back from the gate was covered and had benches! it was just what we needed on this rainy (pouring rain) morning. Once the gates opened we hiked for about 90 minutes and we arrived at the Sun Gate (Intipuncu). We had to climb up 50 near-vertical steps (I"m not exaggerating!) and we were then rewarded with a glimpse of Machu Picchu. We were lucky because minutes after we arrived the clouds rolled in even more and totally blocked the view. We had made it!!!!! It was a great moment. I felt so proud of what we had accomplished. 26 miles of rough, high-altitude hiking, with (mostly) smiles on our faces. Our tour guide had been so nice and he knew so much about this land. We learned a lot.

It was odd, by the time we arrived in Machu Picchu we had already seen many ruins that were much more isolated, it made Machu Picchu seem crowded, which it was. I still loved seeing it and I'm in awe of the strength it took to build those buildings. It truly is amazing! I enjoyed the "magic" of visiting the more isolated remains though.

We had plenty of time to visit Aguas Calientas, the town below Machu Picchu. We opted out of visiting the hot springs there and opted in for some cold drinks and lunch! That evening we rode the train to Ollantaytambo and then had to take a taxi back to Cusco (90 min drive). This was all arranged for us by the tour company. We eventually arrived back in Cusco where we stayed at the same hotel as we had when we first arrived. What a wonderful thing that first warm shower was!!! We were ripe to say the least I'm sure!! The next morning we were off to the airport to fly back to Lima and then onto the US.

I was SO glad my husband pushed me to take this trip. He was right. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I'm changed because of it. As with anytime we travel, the world feels a bit smaller. I'm proud of my family for supporting Colin while I was away. I know that taking care of a almost 2 year old for 8 days is challenging. Having our family around to help made it much more manageable and it put me at ease. I wanted Colin to experience this too. No matter how detailed I get about describing it or how many pictures I show him he won't fully understand. It is one of those places that pictures don't even begin to capture how incredible it all is. But, it is what it is and I'm grateful for the chance to take this gals' trip. J, you made it a reality. We've always gone on adventures and I'm glad we we able to share this one.

Things I was glad I had on this trip:
  • My back pack- I loved the one I picked out. It was perfect and it was carry on size for all the flights except the Cusco-Lima flight. It fit my sleeping back and all my clothes and other gear with ease.
  • These AWESOME tote bags from IKEA. I used this as my personal bag on the plane and then as a "purse" while walking around the city. Before we left I added 4 snaps to the top of the bag bc I really wanted to be able to close it. It worked out perfectly and you can't beat the price!
  • My phone and a handy app called Viber. Combine this with WiFi and I was able to talk to Colin and Lill without using my roaming minutes.
  • My youth. Seriously. Well mainly my knees' youth. If you have any kind of knee issues normally and you want to see Machu Picchu it may be more wise to just take the train to see it and skip the hiking. This hike is rough on even young (ish) knees.

Originally posted in June 2013.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Simple Cloth Diapering Set-up

The Set Up:
I found this to be the easiest set up for us. The bar below the diaper stacker (made by my rad mom) has hooks to hang damp, but still usable covers. It also has a bin from IKEA that holds dirty cloth wipes, dirty covers, dirty soakers (stink tip: give your over-night soaker a quick rinse in the sink before tossing in here- no one wants their room to smell like a bus stop.) Our clean covers all go in the top drawer of the dresser. I use IKEA modular drawer organizers for the covers and all the baby clothes. 

Inside the diaper pail I used Velcro tape to stick an Arm & Hammer deodorizing disk. I change this as needed.

We also have a wipe warmer (not pictured) that I put the cloth wipes in along with this solution:
1tbsp baby oil
1tbsp castill soap
1-2 drops tea tree oil
1 cup water

Lately, I've been tripling this solution and keeping the extra in a reusable water bottle. It makes refilling the wipes quick and easy.

If you come across this in the midst of a search for cloth diapering ideas I hope this helped. I like to keep this super simple and for us this set up works perfectly!
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Monday, October 6, 2014

It's October!!!

October means several things in our house. 1. The first moth of school is over! 2. First payday since last school year!!! 3. Birthday month (7 family members have Oct. birthdays!!!) 4. Halloween time!!!

I love Halloween time! And most recently I love dressing the girls up in fun costumes! Ok they have fun too. This year we will wear  San Diego Zoo themed costumes- Colin will be a zoo keeper, I'm going as a flamingo, Lill will be a jaguar, and Fi will be a peacock. It's going to be cute. BUUUUUUT as a little preHalloween fun......

 I couldn't resist the opportunity to dress the girlies up as some classic Disney gals. Lillian's favorite non-princess is Mary Poppins. I made her a skirt, a carpet bag, and the hat and pieced together the other items. I found THE cutest mermaid costume for Fi. It was on sale and cheap and I couldn't resist. Then, it happened that our favorite hotel near Disneyland threw a photo contest! I entered their pics. Regardless whether or not they win we had fun posing for pics.

Want to help us win? Just LIKE their pics via the link below. Voting ends Monday 10/06/2014 at 11:59pm. Thanks for helping! And I hope their costumes inspire you to get your littles dressed up to play.

Our Little Mermaid
Mary Poppins

Click here to LIKE our baby Ariel and Mary Poppins!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Water Fight that Healed a Heavy Heart

Sometimes you just need to have a water fight.

I know everyone says laughter can heal, but really until today, I didn't believe this. I guess I just figured laughter makes you feel ok for a few minutes, but then you're right back where you started before you began laughing. I don't think this anymore.

Rewind 11 weeks, our amazing daughter was born. Our lives changed in a bigger way than I thought it would. We've already got 1 child, how much different could 1 more be? Uh- a lot different!!!! Anyways, our older daughter seemed to be handling her new big sis role very well....too well one might say.... we held our breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it did, of course it did, mainly in her behavior right before nap time. Anyways, this time of day turned into a huge battle. Yes, we tried all sorts of things- even just a rest time. Still getting horrible results as nothing seemed to help. One day she'd be great then the next not so much. I write about this not for sleep advice, but so you know where I'm at right now. After almost 3 months of either a nap time battle or exhausted melt down because her sock was not on correctly, I found myself in a very fragile emotional state. I really can't even discuss it with the hubby without crying. I'm sick of watching the love of my life throw a fit every other day over something she has literally been doing her whole life- sleeping! Ah!

I was disappointed in myself for how hard I had to struggle to respond from a place of Love and Patience, which I know is what this little person needs more than anything. I know that in her tears, though she is saying, "Go away!" what she means is, "Why wasn't just having me good enough for you? Why did you think I needed a sister? I need your attention, mommy. Don't you know I love you, but I'm mad at you. I don't know how to handle those two emotions at the same time yet, please help me." Knowing this, also made me feel so much more awful for the times I've lost my patience. So I settled into what I thought was my new skin, just get through the day, make sure everyone is clean, fed, and having fun. But, this isn't me. It's not the girl my parents raised and it's not the woman my husband married. It is absolutely not the mom I want to be- just getting through the day!

So today, my sweet girl got her mommy back. It was like a ton of bricks just lifted off my heart. We went outside to play, this afternoon, on the grass. I noticed our tomato plants needed watering so I brought out the garden hose and let her have at it. While she water watering I began to pull up some grass that had sprouted on our bank (I'm constantly battling the grass there!). She then, accidentally, sprayed my feet- truly an honest accident. It was that moment I chose Love. It would have been easy to say, "That's it! No more watering for you, missy!" But I didn't. I'm SO glad I didn't.  responded instead with a silly, "Hey, watch out I'm gardening here! I don't want to be dirty or wet! So you better not spray me agaaaaaaaiiiiiin." Of course, she instantly caught on to my teasing and sprayed me again. She laughed SO hard- that belly laugh that melts my heart. I laughed SO hard. Harder than I've laughed in a while. The water fight ensued. And, we both couldn't stop laughing.

Colin arrived home from work, mid-water fight and gave me that knowing look of how much we needed that water fight. Then Lill and I sprayed him in the face and we all laughed until it hurt!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

1+1 >2

Yes, I know, 1+1 =2.... Normally. The basic properties of addition do not apply to having multiple children. I have learned this over the last 2 months.

9 weeks ago we met this little squish for the first time!!!

She arrived exactly on time, well if you know my family that means 10-30 min late. (I'm working on it ok! But I'm back a square 1 again with the newbie here!) she came 26 min after her due date. But, I cannot complain because she arrived very quickly and uneventfully, which in my book is a great delivery! At 6lbs 12oz 18.75" she is healthy and figured out nursing pretty quickly resulting in a 5lb 9oz increase in weight over the last 9 weeks!! She also spent that time growing 3.75", which explains all the sleeping and kicking! 

So, like I was saying 2 kids doesn't equal 2 times the work. It is more like 3 or 4 times depending on the time of day and mood of the kids. No one tells you this before hand! (Not that I would have believed them anyway- maybe someone did try to warn us then and we disregarded this piece of wisdom. Oops!)

Aside from the overwhelming exhaustion, that somehow your body just accepts as the new norm, Colin and I both have started to find a rhythm and flow. We've are pretty sure we could negotiate someone down off a ledge. A three-year old is an endless negotiation situation. We can also do even more things with one hand than we could when Lill was a newborn. We've got this whole nb thing under control. It's the three-year old thing that throws us for a loop every few days!

All that being said they are wonderful sisters. 
Lill has takes her big sis role very seriously. She pops pacifiers into her screaming mouth and tries to comfort her. She has explained the rules about the cats: not pulling fur or tails. She has helped with poopy diapers and bath times. And everyday she tells her how much she loves her. I hope that this relationship will grow and serve them well their whole lives.

So, even though it's definately more than twice the work, when I see my girls doing this it makes be forgot about the work and I just melt. I'm proud of them and have more love in my heart than I ever knew possible.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Good and the Bad

Sometimes it is important to remind yourself of things you are good at, especially when there are times all your short-comings seem to be bopping you on the head. It is also important to really sit your short-comings down and have an honest conversation with them to see if improvements can be made. So here we are.

Kerry, you ARE good at:

Cooking (most things)
Being honest
Polishing silver
Bargain hunting
Packing (suit cases, cars, moving boxes)
Math (according to me, not my GRE score!)
Pushing out/having a baby 
Putting together IKEA furniture
Breast feeding our baby 
Throwing make believe tea parties 

Things I'm working on, but kind of suck at right now:

Being a consistent blogger
Getting my little one and newborn up and dressed and out the door on time in the morning 
Putting away the clean laundry
Finding time to clean the house AND play with Lill
Finding patience even though I'm exhausted.
Getting to church regularly- I love my church, but I just haven't been able to get there- see above & below.
Balancing time between two children- I think this is the biggest issue right now.
Remembering to make a shopping list
Burping a baby- thank goodness for my husband

So just in the short time it took me to write this, I already feel better about many of these things I'm working on. Others will take time to fix.  Knowing that I can control my thinking and perspective on them is a big step in bringing about change. Until then I can't just sit and wait- there are diapers to change and princesses to be rescued!!! I

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Up-cycling Onesies

Today, I finally got around to a project I've been wanting to do for months. (I love summer!) I was inspired a while ago by my friend, Heather, who did something similar with her son's onesies. (Check out her awesome cloth diapering fluff on her business's fb page or here!)  I made some old onesies into t-shirts and a dress.

Our sweet baby is officially growing up and potty training. Onesies are not the best wardrobe choice for the potty training 2 year old to manage. I have not been super impressed with most of the t-shirts I've seen lately. They're either plastered with junk, overly sassy phrases, or out of my price range for a toddler's t-shirt. I do, however, like the prints of many of the onesies. I also like that they are easy for my, "I do it all myself, Mama!" girl to get on by herself. The wider head hole doesn't hurt either. I also like that I own these already so in my brain that means they are free.

This was crazy easy. You may have seen other DIY posts on this, but this is how I did it. I hope it helps you on your quest for making more with less!

I spent a little less than an hour and ended up with 8 "new" t-shirts!!! I was on a roll (and Lill was sleeping) so I also threw together a dress made from one of the onesies and scrap fabric I had. The dress took about an hour, mainly because I wanted to make pleats and I'd never done them before so I was figuring that out. I bet it would take 15-20 min less for the next one.

Want to give this a try? Here is what I did. I hope it works for you!

Onesie Up-cycle T-shirt

Cute onesie
Sewing machine and thread
scissors (or better yet a rotary cutter & cutting mat)

1.  Cut off the bottom of the onesie as close to the leg openings as possible.

What to do with the snap part??

2. Get your iron warmed up and give the onesie a once over. (Be sure it is inside out.) Then turn up the bottom edge about 3/4" and press. I do this first to be sure my bottom hem will be nice and
straight. Now, you have 2 options. I did it both ways and bother are suitable.
              a. Leave this as is and go on to step 3.
              b. Fold the raw edge under so it touches the inside of the hem you just pressed and press again. This will  give you a finished hem on the top and the bottom of it. I'm sure there is some technical  term for this, blah blah blah.
This is the hem as it looks on the outside of the shirt.
3. Using a straight stretch stitch, sew the hem all the way around the bottom of the shirt. Press the hem once more to set the stitches.

BAM! T-shirt! You're done! See? It is super simple!
8 "New" shirts!

Onesie Dress

To do the dress follow the above directions- I used option A for finishing the hem for the dress. Set this aside.

4. Then, using pretty much any coordinating fabric cut it to the desired length for the skirt. I wanted it to be a bit longer so I made it 9 3/4" AFTER it was hemmed. I cut 2 pieces of fabric to 11 3/4" x 34" and laid them right sides facing each other and stitched them together to make 1 long piece for the skirt. (This proved to be a little longer than I needed, but it was better to have more than not enough length.) **I made box pleats, so I needed more fabric. If I hadn't done pleats probably 1 piece at the above dimensions would have done it.** Here is a box pleat tutorial. I didn't do each other the steps in this tutorial, but read through it, got the idea and winged it. It worked fine for a 2 year old's dress. ;)

5. Hem the piece of skirt fabric on the top and bottom edges. I made a 1/4" hem at the top and a 3/4" following option B above.

With pleats: If you're doing pleats, use your iron and pins to set the pleats along the top. Press them really well and pin after each one. On your sewing machine, run a stitch along the top where you pinned to secure your pleats. Remove the pins and press one more time.

Without pleats: If your fabric is stretchy, run it through your sewing machine with a straight stretch stitch, but stretch it a bit so that when you release it is bunches up a little. This will look super cute once you attach the top.

Fold the skirt in half printed side to printed side and line up the edges. Secure with a couple pins. Sew the seam.

8.  Attach the skirt to the top you set aside. With the top right side out, pin the skirt to the shirt. When you're pinning the skirt should look like it is flipped up with the underside showing.

9. Sew the skirt and the top together on your machine. Iron the seams, remove all pins (duh!), snip all loose threads.

BAM! Dress!

Notes & Tips
I used size 18 month onesie for the dress & t-shirts.
You can use either the jersey type onesie or the more stiff t-shirt type. The first t-shirt I did was the latter- it was a little easier to work with until I got the hang of it. The jersey is more stretchy, but still manageable.

Happy up-cycling! Pin It Now!