2015 Goals, and how I never really accomplish much.

Lets take a quick hop back to the end of last year, and the goals that I wrote here. I just started thinking about this post a few days ago, and I honestly couldn’t remember if I had written any goals for 2014, so tonight when I pulled it up I was genuinely saddened. I had in fact made some goals, and I honestly didn’t accomplish any of them. A quick recap: I wanted to focus on my health, my job, my finances and finally take a family vacation.

I will say the one thing that kind of ties into these goals would be that after almost 9 years Mr. Gaunt quit his job and got a new job that will hopefully have more long-term opportunities for advancement. Mr. Gaunt also started DJing weddings, and worked his ass off this summer to make more money for our family. This of course helped our finances temporarily, but overall we are still in the same place. We are still living paycheck to paycheck, and we are still nowhere near even looking into buying a home, or a new car, which we so desperately need. I struggle with this a lot, especially around the holidays, especially with my own job and my own purpose, financial shit bogs me down. I feel lost, and ashamed that at 29 I am still not on a path to success. I don’t know why this is, and I don’t know why some people seem to find their path sooner than we have. I worry that things will never change. I worry that I will let the “not enough” cloud my overall happiness. I worry that I am not thankful enough for what we have, which is true, I’m not….add this to 2015’s goals, be more thankful.

Another thing that I didn’t work hard enough on is my health, and lets boil that down to my weight, which is up. I will say though that 85% of the time I don’t give two shits about my weight. It doesn’t define me, it’s not something I want to focus on, and I genuinely think the people who care about me don’t think of me as just a big body. I feel good about the lifestyle I am raising Vada in, and I will NEVER present anything but body pride to my kid. That being said, I’m not exactly thrilled when people tag me in candid photos on Facebook, and that suck, that is lame, that is not something I want to let ruin my day. I have no dreams of being thin, but I wouldn’t mind taking some weight off just so I feel a little bit better about the way I look. Physically I don’t feel too bad. Post birth my lack of ab strength and sore back from nursing genuinely felt scary. My body felt wrecked. Now I feel like myself again, I feel healthy, I feel like I have good digestion, that my body doesn’t feel too achy, that I’m generally in good health. So it’s a catch 22, feel good, look good, make changes, be proud. All that stuff is tricky.

One of my biggest goals of last year, in which I BOMBED at, would be finding passion and success in my business. I will say that the business is doing fine (anyone in the restaurant business understands what “fine” means) and we are busier than ever before. Our business has grown organically, and we have a great following. That being said, this business has been the hardest thing that has ever happened to my relationships, and my self-worth. I have never felt as crappy about myself as I have running this business. I’m in a constant struggle, there are just not enough words for me to describe it. I also have damaged a number of important relationships this year over this business. I won’t get into details, because it is overwhelming and too complicated, and would be a therapist dream to dig through. So what does this mean? Is it not working? Yes and no. It is what it is. We have learned so much about ourselves, our relationships, and what this sort of business requires financially and emotionally. The sheer time. It’s all been a really tough learning lesson. Are there good parts? Yes. Is this business the best path for us? I don’t know. There will always be more that I should be doing, I am never enough. That is the overall feeling of shame I get from the business. Morgan, you are never doing enough. You are not enough. Its heartbreaking really. I avoid talking about the overall struggles with people because it just isn’t worth it. There are many breakdowns, but the goal is to hold it together, to get through the days, to not focus on the struggles. Just do what you can, and let the rest run off your back. We are thinking about having more kids, the financial burden, the lack of space, time and energy are nothing compared to worry that my getting pregnant would simply me that I would be even less available to my business. That I would be even MORE of a let down. Would I be able to support that guilt? I don’t blame anyone but myself for this guilt by the way. These arefeelings that I have put upon myself and feelings I let my own mind drown in. It is me, and lord am I a struggle.

Now that I’ve been a total debbie downer about all my shortcomings this year, I will toot my own horn and say that I have done a few things right this year. These were not on my list, and yet they are things I need to share (with myself).

1. We’ve managed to maintain our home. This sounds silly for someone who is 30 years old, and should have been maintaining their home for a while now. But seriously the learning curve of accomplishing all our daily chores, cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work…with a baby seemed really daunting. I bet this year my house has been cleaner and more home cooked meals on our table than ever before. I think Mr. Gaunt and I have really developed an ok system, and I’m proud of us.

2. I made REAL friends. THIS is a huge deal, I actually made some real friends that I spend real-time with this year. Do you know how hard it is to make real friends when you are a grown up?! I feel like this year, being a new mom, that I really needed a community around me that supported me. I feel like I put a good amount of energy into nurturing relationships, being social, getting together, going to play dates and trading childcare, being a good friend. It’s so hard not to be flaky, to just stay home every day, look at Facebook for socialization. But I succeeded, and I feel really proud of myself!

3. I made my social media a positive place for me. I deleted any and all groups that made me feel not good enough. I unfriended people that I was “hate reading” or that I found myself regularly wanting to pick fights with. I made my Facebook and IG very private and only approved friendships with people who really made me happy. I also stopped comparing myself to anyone. Social media does not make sad, it only makes me happy. I have a number of mom friends on social media that are so damn beautiful and positive and supportive, I love it. I feel genuine love and support from so many people who like and comment on my photos of Vada. I get and give advice. I share peoples causes, and promote as many local business as I can. I genuinely feel like I have developed a good healthy relationship with it all.

4. The BEST thing I did this year though, was raise Vada. I have put so much time and energy into being loving and patient with her (AND WITH MYSELF!) in this first year of motherhood. It has been so so challenging. Every day I wake up and I try to be the best mom I can be to her, and some days I’m a crappy burned out, kinda yelly, super annoyed mom. And some days I wake up and I am an adventurous, nurturing, goofy mom. I cut my self some slack though, and I know I’m a good mom. I know I am always there for her, and she is always on my mind. I have given her as many tools as I can to help her little mind grow, and as much love and joy as I can to blossom her spunky personality. Vada is seriously awesome, even when we have crappy sad days, she is still overall super awesome and smart and fun. I feel so much pride for her. She could not be any greater than she is in my eyes. I beam with pride for her, and I have to hope that I helped create that little personality.

With that, I’m moving on to my 2015 goals!

1. TO BUILD UP MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MR. GAUNT: phew, babies are hard on marriages! Also new businesses, money struggles, lack of vacations, job changes….my list could go on. Mr. Gaunt remains my best friend, but I don’t always treat him that way. This year I want to find focus and strength in his words, in his hugs, in his spirit. I want to speak kindly to him and about him. I want to have fun with him. I want to trust that he is doing his best, that his short comings mean no harm, and that he will always be there for me. I want to hear the good things he says to me and not just criticism. I want to date him. I want to me more passionate and more romantic. I want to build a stronger physical relationship with him. I want to strengthen the shield of our family, to always be a united front. I want to be proud parents together. I want to end this next year more in love with him than ever before.

2. I WANT TO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT PUTTING FAMILY FIRST: Mr. Gaunt and Vada are my #1 priorities, and always will be. I need to let the guilt and judgment of others wash away. My JOB is to be a mother to Vada first and foremost. She depends on me for everything, and I need to feel good about that job. Being a mom is my choice, my current path, and what I am doing right now. I will not make Vada take a back seat to anything else. Mr. Gaunt and my relationship is the backbone of our family, and it needs to be strong. I can’t let outside relationships interfere with our bond and strength. I want to feel pride in my family and in my role in our family. I may not work as much, make as much money, look as productive as other people, but if the year ends and we are all healthy and happy and thriving, then I know I did a good job. I need to temper my constant guilt about all of this.

3. BUILD A BEAUTIFUL BACKYARD: I have so many goals with our yard. I want to replace the fence. I want to build an outdoor play area for Vada and friends. I want to plant gardens, and beautify my yard so I can throw my sister a beautiful bridal shower. I want to do a small vegetable garden too. I also want to not be self-conscious about my small old house, and actually invite people over this summer to enjoy backyard parties. Cocktails and babies playing, what more could you want?

4. TAKE 3 MINI VACATIONS: It’s hard for us to spend a bunch of money and do a big vacation, so I’m trying to be more realistic and plan 3 mini vacations. In February we are going to The Great Wolf Lodge for two nights. In May I want to take Vada for a long weekend to Portland and do a bunch of fun kid things! For our 4 year wedding anniversary I would like to take a trip to the coast with Mr. Gaunt and Vada for a few nights.

5. GET OUT AND DO STUFF: Like lots of stuff, festivals, parks, ballgames. All the stuff. We love to do fun things, and I love sharing stuff like this with Vada. We did pretty good this last year, so lets keep the momentum going!

6. Be healthy…yah know, try to. (:

I leave you with our 2014 Christmas Card

Gaunt Xmas Card

Raising Vada: Eat All The Food

I’ve been meaning to talk about Vada’s food eating for. like. ever.

You know I love to take some photos of food, and share recipes, and promote healthy-ish eating. Kid nutrition is probably in my top 3 “causes I bitch about” along with yah know, gender equally and LGBTQ rights. It’s something that OBVIOUSLY not enough people research or put time into, and I think it’s so so important. Proper nutrition and good eating habits will shape Vada’s long-term health, so we are on top of it!

(WARNING, I’M CLIMBING ON MY SOAPBOX)

Before Vada was born I researched Baby Led Weaning (which I wish was called something else, because it has nothing to do with weaning) it’s the method of feeding babies solid food, that the whole family is eating, instead of purees or baby food. Basically they eat what you eat, maybe softer smaller pieces, but they learn to gnaw and suck and chew real food. I watched a ton of YouTube videos and read a lot of Pro and Con (and the in between)  blogs about it. I also researched what kind of foods babies can have, what are allergens we should watch out for, what were good starter food, easy and nutritionally dense. I also researched when to start solids, how that effect nursing and milk consumption, and all that good stuff. I like to research, and I really don’t understand people who don’t when it comes to their kids. That probably makes me sound kind of snotty, but its true. RESEARCH WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR KID! Don’t just buy whatever is at Target, or use whatever you mom and grandma used, don’t do whatever it is your doctor tells you. I hate that so many pediatricians tell people to start with rice cereal, what the hell is nutritional about rice cereal? Nothing! Its total processed crap! There are so many better option, and I think its parents responsibility to research that stuff. Be informed. Know better, do better. Feeding kids healthy food is NOT one of the mommy-war points, it’s not breast milk vs formula, it’s not organic vs not, it’s not baby wearing vs stroller, it’s not even vaccination vs not. No one can argue that they are against healthy food, there is no argument. So get the sugar and the processed foods out of your kids diet, really don’t ever let it be there. Get it out of their lunchbox, out of their birthday parties, and out of their heads. KIDS ARE SUGAR OBSESSED, unless they don’t even know what candy is. This is a battle I’m willing to fight. When Vada goes to a new nanny the first thing I say is “She doesn’t eat any sugar” bam, conversation over, its pretty clear. If Vada goes to birthday party, she’s not getting a cupcake, sure I’m the mean mom, but she’s 1, she doesn’t even know or care as long as she gets some food, and I ALWAYS have a healthy snack on hand. Not that Vada hasn’t had sugar, she has. I gave her a marshmallow to sit on Santa’s lap. I’ve also given her a little bite of pie and whip cream, and she had part of a rice krispie treat at her birthday. This is because as important as I believe the no-sugar rule for children, I also know I can’t be perfect forever and always, and that sugar is part of our culture, and I don’t want her to miss out on some of those fun things. But again, she’s one, she doesn’t even know or care, so until she does care, nope no cupcake at birthday parties, no juice box at play dates, and no candy at Halloween.

So now that I’m done bitching about what I don’t let Vada eat, lets talk about what I do let Vada eat, and ways I avoid junk food with her. We started Vada around 5 months, in hindsight I might have waited until 6 months, but I’m not getting worked up over it. We started with occasional tastes of food every few days. At first I watched for allergies, but I didn’t wait a week between foods because she has never shown any signs of allergies, and no one in our family has food allergies, so I was pretty lax about it. First foods we did were banana, hard boiled egg yolk and avocado. I gave her hunks that she could hold and eat with her little hands, or that I could help her take a bite.

vada eat 1FAVORITE STARTER FOODS:

-Hardboiled Egg Yolk

-Steamed (very very soft) broccoli

-Canned (homemade, no syrup) pears

-Avocado

-Homemade Sweet Potato Fries

-Mum Mums (store-bought snack food. So easy on the go!)

-Hummus

Once Vada got some teeth things change a bit because she could take bites. This made things a little scarier because she could bite off chunks of vegetables instead of just sucking on them. It also made things more fun because she stated to learn to chew! This opened our food world up a lot. We also stopped worrying about allergies as she had shown no sign to any of the danger foods. We also started letting her eat whatever we were eating at restaurant, like sushi, ribs to chew on, anything she hold on to and gnaw on. Vada has only ever choked on a tortilla chip (and that was like 2 weeks ago!) she was not a gagger, and had she been I may have had a harder time with this feeding method. Please research the HUGE difference between gagging and choking though, they are different things, and one is normal and safe (Good job, get the food out!) and one is scary and dangerous (do you know how to clear food from a choking babies airways?)

vada eat 2FAVORITE FOODS 8-9 MONTHS:

-Salmon

-Scrambled Eggs, hardboiled eggs

-Sweet Potato

-Peaches, plums, banana, watermelon, berries…etc.

-All cooked vegetable: peas, beans, asparagus, broccoli, etc

-Squash

-Turkey or shredded chicken

-Hardboiled Eggs

-dried fruit (no sugar added)

-Lara bars.

By 9 months I decided to start making sure she had at least 2 meals, if not three meals a day. In hopes to comfortably wean her (from using milk as her main food source. I don’t encourage weaning from the breast until you both are ready) around a year. This was a little challenging for me, because I don’t always eat 3 meals at the same time, I found it easy to forget to do a meal, and because she was still getting enough milk to really sustain her, it wasn’t like she would go hungry if we skipped lunch. So I tried to adjust our schedule and focus more on meal time. I got a small divided plate and made sure she has lots of veggies, fruits and meats, and would let her feed her self completely. She loved it!

vada eats 3

FAVORITE FOODS 9-12 MONTHS:

-Everything. Seriously, everything.

-Kale, Collard Greens, Spinach (sauteed)

-Homemade pizza

-Ground turkey, meatballs

-Eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, grilled onions

-Apples, figs, grapes,

-Wafles, pancakes (topped with cinnamon and coconut oil

-Brown Rice, pasta, beans, quinoa

-Fish, meatloaf, gyros

-Grilled cheese, soup, tacos

-Plain Greek Yogurt

vada eats 5 vada eats 4

Now at 13 months, Vada eats it all. We waited until a year to do any honey or peanut butter. She now sometimes has a peanut butter (or almond butter) and banana on whole wheat sandwich, which is easy and fun. She can drink smoothies too. I try to do plain greek yogurt a couple times a week, but I wont lie, Ive NEVER spoon fed her so I find the process of spooning her greek yogurt to be terribly boring #lazymom . Sometimes I just let her eat yogurt or applesauce with her hands, whatever. We’ve also given her tuna, and egg salad, which were both a hit. We sometimes do convenience “kids food” too, here are some of my tips for things like that:

NO SYRUP: I do not put any sweetener on Vada’s waffles or pancakes. When they are warm I smear a little Organic coconut oil and do a shake of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on them. I sometimes add banana, pumpkin puree or pear to the batter to make them more interesting too. You can also top them with unsweetened applesauce or yogurt and berries.

NO JAM AND HONEY: Both are basically sugar, and right now she doesn’t have a sweet pallet, so she doesn’t care if things are sweet. Vada is happy to eat plain nut butter, or plain yogurt. If I feel like making yogurt more interesting I will put some thawed frozen organic berries in it. For nut-butter sandwiches I throw thinly sliced banana or pear on it.

NO JUICE: Vada only drinks Organic Whole Milk and Water. Sometimes I let her have sips of my sparkling water, or I squeeze grapefruit into her water, or float some frozen blueberries, but 99% of the time she is happy with water. I make sure she has water all day long at her disposal.

NO CUPCAKES: At birthday parties, if everyone is having cupcakes I’ll give Vada at Lara bar, or an organic fruit leather. At her birthday I made sugar-free banana muffins topped with cream cheese mixed with a little honey. She loved it.

NO KIDS MENU: Kids menus are awful! AWFUL! They usually offer buttered noodles, mac n cheese, grilled cheese, chicken strips, or pb&j. Total GARBAGE! There are a few restaurants in town that have awesome menus. Boundary Bay has the BEST I can get a piece of salmon, grapes and mashed potatoes for Vada for $5! A lot of restaurants that serve breakfast foods have good options. Eggs and steamed veggies, or a kids teddy bear pancake (hold the syrup and powdered sugar). I hate when I go somewhere and ask for steamed veggies, or Avocado, or whatever, and they act like I’m crazy and offer me nothing. I am 100% willing to pay for food for my kid, you should have at least SOMETHING I can feed her that isn’t cheesy bread. Gross. So I try to have healthy things on me. String cheese, cut up fruit, some leftovers, just in case.

SPICES AND FLAVOR: I’ve never thought babies needed bland food. I don’t give her things that are super spicy, but herbs, and spices are so fun and wonderful! This is a great post on how to spice up your babies food with mint and vanilla, and ginger and garlic, and ALL THE FLAVOR!

WEIRD VEGETABLES: Vada doesn’t even know that “kids don’t like their vegetable” why would she? At every single meal I offer vegetables. There isn’t a single vegetable I wouldn’t offer her unless it is too spicy (jalapeno, etc) or too hard (raw carrots, etc) or raw (lettuce and other raw vegetables she struggles with). Vada eats dark leafy greens sautéed and cut up small at least 5 times a week. She eats onions, and beets and peppers and eggplant and all the vegetables you are supposed to “hide” in kids foods. Nope, not hiding them. They are a huge focus of our meals, nothing to hide, we enjoy them, we appreciate them. She doesn’t know any different.

Now we are working on silverware, and real cups. They are messy, but she loves practicing. I’m hoping her love of good food grows and grows. Right now I wouldn’t even say she has a favorite food, she loves all food. She loves to sit in her high chair and be apart of meal time. She doesn’t throw food on the floor, and although she is messy as hell, she eats so much. Plus she is tall and healthy and strong and so so smart, so it must be working. I cant recommend enough offering up all kinds of “adult” food to your baby. Throw away your own preconceived ideas about what kids eat, about what you didn’t like as a child, about what you like to be sweet, those are things you have learned over a lifetime of eating, your baby doesn’t have any ideas about that stuff. They are little sponges that will love and absorb what feels good to them, and I promise a healthy diet, and healthy offerings will create a healthy eater. I know some kids aren’t very interested in food, or go through periods where all they want is noodles, but that doesn’t mean you cant keep offering good foods. Picky eaters aren’t going to starve themselves (please note the importance of researching eating disorders! And keeping on top of a possible resistant eater).  Give them time, and options. I read somewhere that its a parents job to decide WHAT a child eats, and its a child job to decided HOW MUCH. Keep that in mind, and happy meal planning!

A few blogs i love about healthy eaters:

What Marlow Eats (Oh Dear Drea) Great for Vegan and Veg families!

100 Days of Real Food: School Lunches!

My Lovely Little Lunch Box: Baby Led Weaning Recipes

Raise Healthy Eaters

 

Vada’s 1st Birthday Party – The Apple Of My Eye

Vada turned one year old on the 12th of November. In truly crazy-mom behavior I had already picked a theme back in July for her first birthday party, I had plans to go ALL OUT. Some people might think it’s a little crazy to throw a big birthday party for a one year, saying things like “she wont even remember it!” but I will! This party was totally for me! It was a reason to celebrate our first year of parenthood, and a blatant excuse for me to throw a party. I’m not getting married again, and the bridal/baby showers are dwindling down, so I take any excuse I can get to plan a party.

I went with an Apple theme, as Vada’s birthday is in the fall, and I felt like I could really do a lot with it. Have you read The Alison Shows How To Plan A Party Regardless OF BUDGET? It’s so good you guys! And so helpful! It asks things like “Do you even like to plan a party?” because if not, don’t! It also was really helpful in helping me think of the flow and overall purpose of our party. We invited a lot of people (about 40 including children) and good number of them showed up! We had kind of a short time frame, I only had about 2 hours for the actual party in the space I rented (time at the beginning to set up and time at the end to clean up) but this was plenty of time for greetings, food, cake, craft, presents, goodbyes. I think the kids and parents all had a really great time too, I know Vada did!

I wanted to share some photos and tips for planning your own apple-themed party!

family vbday2For the invitations I designed this quick little ditty using free images and fonts off the internet. Because I wasn’t selling it, and just using it for personal use, there are so many good free files. I kept the info short and sweet, but made sure to tell people there would be food and drinks. I also didn’t bother with an RSVP because people NEVER do it. Lastly we went ahead and let people bring Vada gifts, despite not really needing a lot. Have you read this funny article on kid’s birthday presents at parties? A good read. I decided to actually mail invites instead of e-vites or FB invites, as I think its more reliable. I had my invitations printed as a 5×7 photo at Costco because its mad-cheap folks! Costco is bomb for photo printing. The little silhouette is Vada’s face too!

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.16.06 PMI started planning this party a couple of months ago for a few reasons. 1. I have a baby now and getting stuff done is so hard, especially crafty stuff. Vada loves to get into ribbon and paper and tape, so crafting with her is nearly impossible. I did most of the little projects after she went to bed so I wouldn’t be frustrated and my projects wouldn’t get destroyed. 2. I was working on a very limited budget, so I paced my purchases over a few months so it didn’t feel like such a hit. No matter what, a party is expensive. I made 90% of the decorations myself (Mr. Gaunt made me those big apple trees!), and a lot of the items were purchased at thrift stores too. A few splurges were the apple Oil Cloth for the tables, which I only bought because we determined we could re-use it at our restaurant. The other splurge was obviously hiring a professional photographer. This was really important to me for a million reasons, and I do not regret a single penny spent on it. I booked her early so that I could pay it off over a few months, which made it feel less impacting too. On the day-of it was so awesome not having to even think about taking photos, and then a week later getting over 400 photos to relive the day! Vada might not remember it, but she will at least be able to look back and see all the fun we had. If you can swing it, and you like to put a lot of work into a party, I can not recommend enough hiring a professional photographer (photogrpahers info at the bottom of this post).

decor vbday1

decor vbday6

decor vbday5

decor vbday3

decor vbday2For food we decided to go with kids food that adults would also enjoy. I wanted it to be fairly healthy, not just candy everywhere. Because the party was at 2:30 I didn’t feel like we had to do a full meal, just lots of snacks. We went with string cheese, Baby Bell cheese, pretzels, oranges, fruit leather, Veggie-humus cups, apple-peanut butter cups, ham and cream cheese pretzel sliders and apple straws. I also made a few sweet things too, because it IS a party. I made rice krispie treats shaped like apples (with royal icing piped on for detail), as well as healthy (no sugar, just a little honey) banana-apple muffins with cream cheese/honey frosting (also what Vada’s cake was). My friend made vegan/raw/sugar-free caramel apple pops too that were soooo good! It was just really important to me that all of our friends could feel ok about what their kids were eating, and the kids could still have fun. I run my mouth a lot about kids health food, so I didn’t want to be a complete hypocrite.  For drinks we made an adult apple sangria, plus we had apple beer, bottled water, kids apple juices in cute mason jars, and Apple Dry Soda. It was all very cute.

food bday1 food vbday2 food vbday3I wanted to have an activity/craft at the party in case things got boring (ha! they didn’t) something that older kids and parents could do if they wanted. I ended up purchasing some inexpensive canvas tote bags, put a piece of parchment paper inside each one (to prevent bleed-through) and set up apple stamping. It actually turned out really adorable, and kids over 3 were able to do it with a little parental help. The tote bags came out so cute too!

art vbday1

Most of the projects were handmade by me, or from thrift stores, but here are a few resources links from the party:

-Photography: Katheryn Moran Photography

Canvas Bags

-Venue: Fairhaven Library Fireplace Room

-DIY Party Hat Template

-Plates, Napkins, Cups, Favor Bags, Honey Comb Balls: All from Target’s Spritz line.

Mason Jars, Daisy Mason Jar Lids.

Mod Apple Oil Cloth

Custom Confetti

-Catering: Leaf And Ladle

Raising Vada: Our First Trip Around The Sun

gg5My sweetest (spoiler: she’s not that sweet) babe turned ONE YEAR OLD on the 12th! A year ago I was giving birth to a huge-o baby, spending hours and hours on my coach learning to breastfeed, soaking in all those newborn smells of joy and fear and wonder. Oh how times have changed. Now my big girl is leaping off the couch and trotting around like a crazy girl, talking about babies, and papas and sisters (her cat). She’s pushing her toy shopping cart around, swimming under water, and hosting her first party like a pro.

Here’s what 12 months is looking like in our world:

gg4

The End Of Nursing:

Around 11 months, Vada weaned herself. She just plain old stopped caring, and never made attempts to nurse again. Our 11 months of nursing were NOT like I had planned. They weren’t easy, they weren’t that enjoyable, and they were anything but perfect. The start of nursing was fine, painful but fine. Vada had a good latch, and although it was more time-consuming than I had thought it would be, we got the hang of it. Around 3 months I felt a drop in my supply, but was told by breast-feeding advocates that this was just my supply evening out. By 4 months Vada was thin and angry. I had two lactation consultants come to my house and tell me that she hadn’t gained any weight in a month, and that she was “failure to thrive” ugh. We spent about a month pumping, taking supplements, drinking water, nursing around the clock and supplementing with formula via an SNS tube. It was hell and it made no difference in my supply. by 5 months I threw all the pumps away, swallowed my pride and began a formula schedule of 4 bottles a day, plus nursing when she wanted. It worked great, Vada gained weight and was happy as a clam. I however felt sad and hurt and robbed of this magical breastfeeding process. Why did this happen to me? I tried so hard! I was so on board! All those stupid Le Leche women acted like if I tried hard enough it would work for me! WHY DIDNT IT WORK FOR ME!? It took me 10 months before I let the anger and guilt wash away, before I felt ok with our situation, ok with how things turned out. If we have another baby I’m going to give it another shot, to start fresh and hope for a better turnout, but I won’t be nearly as let down as I was this time around. I will say that there were a lot of really great things about feeding Vada formula, and I think that mothers who formula feed should feel good about those good things. The fact that Mr. Gaunt could feed Vada, or my mom, or her nanny, that was wonderful! When she was older Vada fed herself, even in the car she could hold her own bottle, or she wander around the kitchen while I washed morning dishes holding her bottle.  NO PUMPING! Weaning her from the breast was no big deal, I didn’t even do anything, I would have been happy to let her continue her (by then once a day) feeding for a few more months, I had no plans to take it away, but she just didn’t care about it anymore. Formula also probably was a huge contributing factor to Vada sleeping through the night by 5 months. Being able to give her 6 oz right before bed kept her belly full from 7pm-7am, and lordy that is nice. So I’m glad that she is healthy, and happy, and perfect, and I’m glad that I tried and managed to give her at least some breast milk for as long as I did despite our struggles. Hooray to all moms that keep their baby bellies full.

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My little Fish and Other Activities:

We have now completed our 3rd session of swim lessons at the local pool, and we have hit a major milestone in Vada’s swimming abilities (we started at 6 months old). Now when we count 1,2,3 Vada plunges her own head underwater and kicks her feet and arms and can swim about 3-5 feet underwater. ITS AMAZING! She will also on the count of three jump off the side of the pool and swim to you (again about 3-5 feet). She is such a good swimmer. Her teacher was absolutely amazed at her skills and has encouraged us to push her limits with distance. We hope to regularly keep her swimming to she gets more and more comfortable with swimming. Id love for her to be swimming on her own (like being able to stay afloat) by next summer. We also did a music class this fall, it’s been fun, but not amazing. We won’t do another session, as it just isn’t quite are style. To be honest I HATE The Itsy Bitsy Spider, that song is so stupid, and I refuse to sing it or do them dumb hand signs. Really I hate all kids music, cant we just play Vada the kind of music we like? Cant we teach her how to drum or play the piano, or dance hip hop? Toddler music is a bit too cheesy for me. I feel this way about library story time too, and to be honest, I think Vada thinks it’s lame too. She’d much rather run around the restaurant chatting with the customers, or play outside, or do toddler indoor gym time, and I’m cool with that. Those baby-baby activities just aren’t for us. We are thinking about trying out a toddler gymnastics class soon, which I think Vada would really like. It’s a slippery slope of signing up for too many activities though, I like to keep busy, but I also like to be able to do last-minute play dates too, and sometimes just quiet dinners at home without a bunch of stuff going on is really nice.

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Kind Actions:

This might sound odd, but as Vada has gotten older, and smarter, I have found it easier to be kind and patient with her. When she was younger it was so frustrating because we just couldn’t understand each other, I couldn’t always meet her needs. Now that she’s smarter I can manipulate her emotions with my words and actions a little more. For instance she doesn’t like to have her hands and face wiped down after a meal, but if I get down on her level and I make a goofy song “wipe wipe wipe those hands, pat pat pat those cheeks” she loves it and will happily stick out her hands to be washed. If she’s in the hallway whining, I can stick my hand out and say “come see mama” and she will get up and run over to me and hold my hand, and we can take a little stroll over to some toys and talk to them until she is happy and lets go of my hand to play. In the morning when I brush her teeth we say “ahhhhh” and show our teeth, and if she gets distracted I show her how to brush mine and then she lets me finish brushing hers. I know that seems so DUH! But I couldn’t do those things a couple of months ago, she didn’t understand commands or jokes or fun games like she does now. It makes connecting with her on a friendship level so much more rewarding. I can make her feel happy with things other than food, or nursing. Its been really good for me too, I feel so much more compassion for her when she’s having a tough day. Sometimes she just needs to sit on my lap while she plays with her legos, when she’s done feeling needy she will climb up and venture out to play on her own. To know that my mood and reactions can keep her calm and happy is really empowering as a mother. I’m hoping that her and I can continue to grow and communicate with each other through all these coming stages.

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Mom Friends, and having the best ones:

I’ve been really really fortunate to meet some awesome moms with babies Vada’s same age. Mom’s who are like mindedly “chill” with their parenting technique, mom’s who have good style, interesting hobbies, who like to drink (; Mom’s that are supportive, and casual, and up for random play dates, good birthday parties, and chatting about shoes and food and business. Last weekend I threw a big birthday party for Vada, and at one point a family member came up to me and said “what an awesome group of friends you have” and I looked around and had to whole heartedly agree! I hope these are the friends Vada grows up with, that these mom friends of mine last a long long time. I’ve had a little bit of a rocky year with my own pre-motherhood friends, I had always imagine that all my friends would have children around the same time as me, and that our kids would all grow up together, but life doesn’t always work that way. Most of my friends have moved to other cities, some other states, and are in various stages in their lives, some ready to have children, some not, but we are all in different chapters of our lives and that’s ok. We aren’t connecting the same way we once were, maybe we never will, sometimes holding on to what you had makes the present harder than it needs to be. I’ve decided to let my relationships be fluid, to let them flow to and away from me as life sees fit, and to respect and be ok with that. For now I know that I have love for my old friends, and love for my new friends, and to feel really damn lucky that there are so many cool people in our lives.

 

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Marriage and The Empty Heart:

You know how people worry about having a second baby, that they won’t love it as much as their current baby, and people say “you will, your heart will automatically grow to accommodate your new love” and I hear this is true, that there is instantly enough love. That same thing isn’t really true with your spouse. When you have a baby your heart doesn’t necessarily grow to accommodate equal amounts of love for your baby and your spouse. When I say “love” I really mean: Patience, kindness, sensitivity, passion, love, strength, tolerance, control…… you get my point. When you have a baby, your spouse takes a back seat, even if you really really really don’t want them to. I love Mr. Gaunt to the moon and back. He is my best friend, and the greatest person I have chosen to have in my life. I believe our relationship is the backbone of our lives, of our family, and nothing will be good if we are bad. That being said, I had to pull some of my compassion, patience and kinds from him in order to tolerate this first year of motherhood. Vada, and ALL newborns are greedy greedy love-sucking creatures. They take take take take take and they give you back so little, but you MUST LOVE THEM! But where do you find the strength to muster up all that extra love? Well in my case, I ripped it from my husband and left him a big IOU that I have yet to repay. It’s been a rough year. We take it day by day and we say IM SORRY, I FORGIVE YOU every single day, because every single day we are not nearly as loving to each other as we should be. We talk about this a lot, we acknowledge our shortcomings as spouces all the time, we know we will get through this, that in our lifetime together we will have shitty days, months, years, maybe even decades, but when we got married, we swore to stick it out, and we will, because when times are good, he is my greatest love, and our family is so worth it. Until then we will be kind when we can, and we will forgive when we can’t. We will respect each other as much as we can, and we will love our baby with everything we have, even if it means short-changing each other a little bit.

It’s been a really interesting year. Its been fun, and sad, and challenging, and adorable. I’m excited for all the fun and new experiences we will have with our big girl this year.

Also I’m hoping to get photo back from Vada’s birthday soon to share with you, it was an amazing party!

Raising Vada: The End of Infancy

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We are just 10 days shy of Vada’s 11 months birthday. I remember last year around this time thinking THIS COULD BE THE MONTH! Obviously I was new-mom-delusional, but still, October was full of excitement and the buzz of new baby in our household. This year is pretty darn exciting too! I’ve already finished sewing Vada’s first Halloween costume, and if I can convince her to leave the head-piece (no she’s not a Native American!) on for 5 minutes, I will get a photo of the cutest thing on planet earth. It seriously turned out way better than I could have imagined. As for Mr.Gaunt and I, he likes to get his moneys worth out of costumes, so he will be the Stay Puff Marshmallow man again this year. I went simple and sweet and am going to be the Morton Salt Girl.

We also have plans to attend at LEAST two farms to do the whole “How Tall This Fall” pumpkin hay-ride bonanza. We love Stoney Ridge (whose website is sorely lacking in showing you the cool-ness of this place), and possibly Foster’s Corn Maze, and maybe Bellewood Acres too for some apple picking. We plan to take Vada trick-or-Treating (I’m hoping some houses have non-candy treats, yes I’m THAT mom, no she can’t eat any candy) a little bit either downtown, or just in our neighborhood early, and then pass out candy in the evening at our own house. I think she will LOVE all the kids in costumes! We have some super fun Halloween decoration plans too that will either go up this weekend or next, depending on how long I can hold out. EEEK!

I haven’t blogged in a while. Did you notice the blog name change! It was a big step for me, but I wanted the blog to reflect more what I’m blogging about, and not so much my weight. Cha Cha Changes! So onto a few topics that I’ve been storing in my head for a time when I paid someone else to watch my kid so I could blog….ehem…right now.

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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND THOSE LOSER STAY AT HOME MOMS ALL OVER INSTAGRAM:

I went last night with my friend Haley to see the new documentary The Empowerment Project which you should totes go see, and cry, and feel super empowered to go out and do something amazing with your life. UNLESS that something is being a SAHM (Stay at home mom), because then you are only doing something kind-of-empowered-but-you-gave-up-all-the-dreams-that-would-have-made-you-actually-inspiring type a thing. I kid, kind of. The documentary features tons of awesome women of all ages and races, and all types of careers. They even interview (the producer’s mother in law) a STAHM, but I STILL cant help but get the underlying message of “SAHM’s are the OTHER thing you can choose to do, if you aren’t going to do a cool job” they ask questions like “did you feel like you had to give up a career” “what will you do with yourself now that your children are raised and you have no work experience?” It all tied back to a slightly “I’m sad for you” tone. I wish they would have talked to that SAHM and asked her:

“How did you instill morals in your children?”

“What training and life experiences got you to the position of being a PEOPLE CREATOR?”

“What dreams and goals came to fruition for your child because of your help?”

“How many hours/days/months did it take you to teach your boys to be good honest people”

“What mothers are your inspiration?”

“Show us these awesome people who YOU created. What good are they doing in the world?”

Because seriously folks. Every time you meet an awesome, loving, intelligent, talented, respectful person in this world, I can almost guarantee there was a good parent (or parental figure) who was there building them from scratch. Children are not born with the skills to be a good person, someone must teach them. And ITS A DAMN HARD JOB! It’s not a cushy job, it’s not a job that gets credit or praise or PAY! So lets all stop acting like being a SAHM is a job you have when you give up the opportunity to have a REAL COOL JOB, and just talk about it like it’s a hard-ass career, and thank god someone out there wants to do it. (note: this goes for all parents, working or otherwise)

I would say I straddle the line of working outside the home, and working in the home. I NEVER thought I wanted to be a SAHM, just like I never thought I wanted to be an astronaut, it just didn’t sound like my cup of tea. It sounded too restricting, not independent and creative enough for me. Then I had a baby, and it really struck me hard that I didn’t want someone else to be spending the majority of her waking hours with her. I wanted her to know me, so see me interacting with people in the world, to learn her behaviors from me, not someone else. I wanted the opportunity to sculpt her life, and fill her sweet baby brain and heart with all the things I know. BUT I also wanted to work, and to keep filling and inspiring my own brain and heart. So I do both, kind of. I work from home, I drag Vada to work (I own a restaurant with my mom) with me. We run errands together, and she spends many an hour sitting at the counter with the regulars. It’s hard though. I can not get nearly enough done with her, so I have two days a week where I have someone watch her so I can really focus on a task, like taxes, or blogging, or ordering things, or helping in the restaurant. I’m thankful for this time, as she is exposed to more kids, a different home, new toys and adventures. I want to teach her everything I know, but I don’t know everything she needs to learn, and for that I am so thankful for all the people in our community who inspire her as well.

One thing that I hadn’t prepared myself for was the guilt and the judgment of motherhood. I have my own personal guilt (as do almost all SAHMs) that I might not be doing an equal amount of work as my husband (he would disagree). It’s challenging for me to ask him to solo parent after he gets off work, so I can go do something on my own. It’s challenging for me to ask him to wash the dishes (is this in my contract?) it’s challenging for both of us to not throw each other under the “who worked more today” bus. It just is. We are new at this, our roles are different, and we are still adjusting. We both have eternal respect and support for each other, but the fact is we have been together for 8 years, and only one of those years did we have our current rolls. It takes time.

Judgement from outsiders is a whole ‘nother story. It comes from friends, from family members, from strangers. It’s people’s opinions or perceptions of your life that they get from online, or quick encounters. People love to judge, it’s just in our nature. People develop a fantasy about what they think your life is like, and what you do all day, and they compare it their own lives, and then they judge. I share a lot online, on my Facebook, blog, and Instagram. I share the good things, the sweet things, the messy things. I share the projects I am proud of, I share my family photos, I share our adventures. I share because I believe my life is WORTH SHARING! I believe the things I do are awesome, and that my family is awesome, and that my struggles are valid, and that I am an inspiration to other mothers and other women. I do(should) not care if you think that I am not working HARD enough. I do(should) not care if you think I am doing the right things with my time and money. I do(should) not care if you think my food photo is stupid, or my lunch date is frivolous, or my workout picture is bragging, because it’s not. These are pieces of me, they are what get me up in the morning, and what keep life worth living, and sharing them, and building a community of people who love and support the things I do with my life MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.

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PARTY OF FOUR?:

I am knee-deep in apple craft projects for Vada’s first birthday (November 12th- Apple Of My Eye). I am having so much fun planning this party. It’s feeding my soul so much! It’s so important to feed your soul, to fuel the passion-fire, to really bring yourself joy. That’s what party planning does for me. Some people love politics, some people love cooking or traveling, I love party planning. So I’m going all out, and it’s really rocking my world. I heard recently that your job doesn’t have to be your passion, but that you must have passion in your life. That really spoke to me. I want my job to encompass parts of my passions, and it does sometimes, but I also need to accept that it wont be my main passion. Do I want to turn my passion into a job? I’m not sure right now. I feel like I already have a lot on my plate, and that it would be silly to add more. I know that I adjusted (NOT GAVE UP) my priorities this year to have a baby. She’s awesome, but she does not allow me to do whatever the hell I want. Right now I am raising a person full-time, and when she is bigger, and doesn’t need constant attention, then I can re adjust my priorities again, and maybe make money from my passion. Planning parties for other people takes a lot of time, and you need to be reliable. I am NOT RELIABLE right now. I am only reliable for Vada, and she needs that reliability 24/7 right now, so everyone else has to take a back seat to her. That’s the truth, and when you are running a business you have to be able to be really reliable to your client, and because I can’t be, I wont be.

This brings us to baby #2. I’ve finally after 11 months, decided that there will be a baby #2, and we will probably try for one sooner rather than later. Let me be very clear that I hate pregnancy, and I am completely terrified of having two babies, and our house is way too small, and we are pretty poor most of them time, and I realize that having another baby will SUCK A BUNCH for at least the first couple years. That being said, I do not want Vada to be an only child, and I want to get this baby-stage over and done with, as opposed to dragging it out. I want to work more one day. I want to follow my dreams, and live for myself, and have some freedom, one day. I do not want to be a mother of small children for 10+ years, I just don’t. I want them to grow up and be more independent, and I want to move into the next phase of our lives. Therefore I’m going to jump off a cliff and just be a little crazy for a few years, and then we can start a new chapter. (not currently pregnant, not currently trying to get pregnant, ill let yah know when that happens….maybe)

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EASY BABY:

I get that a lot, the “she’s such an easy baby” and maybe it’s true? I guess. When shes pulling toilet paper out of a toilet that wasn’t flushed, and falling off the cat hammock, and dumping glasses of wine on her head, she doesn’t FEEL THAT EASY, but whatever. She’s not a hard baby per say. She didn’t have colic, she slept through the night in her own crib by 4 months, she’s rarely sick, she has no allergies, she eats everything, she has no stranger-danger, and she’s friendly as hell. She’s social, and funny and mostly happy. So yeah, she’s pretty great. I’ve heard from a lot of people who say she seems older than babies her age. I don’t know that many babies her age, so it’s hard for me to compare, but yeah, she’s pretty smart. Someone once said that Vada was an old soul. I can see that, she seems wise, and fiercely connected to people. She just loves people, she is so different from me in that way, it takes me a lot longer to warm up. You know those people that when you are around them, even if you just met them, they make you feel so good, so happy, so welcomed, she’s THAT person. It’s really inspiring. I watched a crabby older woman come into the restaurant and order some food to-go. She did not smile or joke or chat when she ordered, she did not come off as happy or friendly. Her face looked old, and tired and annoyed. Vada happened to be sitting at the counter eating some snacks, and she caught the women’s eye. While the woman waited for her food I watched her interact with Vada, and literally LIGHT UP. She chatted with Vada, and shared some of her snack when Vada offered it to her. It was like her and Vada were in their own little world, where they were best friends having lunch together. When the woman’s food was ready I handed it to her, and she said “Thank you for letting me hang out with her, she’s amazing.” I felt my heart swell! This baby, who can not talk words, is so in love with interacting with people, so full of joy, that she can make a complete strangers day brighter in just 5 minutes. How did I grow this perfect little person? That is not something I instilled in her, that is something that grew inside her from the start, and I am not a religious person, but I PRAY THAT SPARK LASTS HER A LIFETIME. If she can bring so much joy to people, see so much good in them, inspire them to feel good about themselves and the world around them. She is a gift. She is easy.

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Well, Ive rambled enough about my life for today. I have to actually shower and clean my kitchen before the family comes home. The weather is beyond lovely today, and a walk is in order.

Raising Vada: Thrifting Baby Clothes

details 2 Despite the streak of 75 degree weather we are having, Fall really is coming. I’m ready for fall, even though I know I will dearly miss the summer, the days already feel shorter. I’m ready for a change in events, a change in weather, something new to look forward to. Fall has long been a favorite season of mine. My birthday, my wedding anniversary, Halloween, Vada’s birthday, Mr. Gaunt’s birthday, and Thanksgiving ALL happen in the fall. Not to mention most of my best friends birthdays are in the fall too. So Fall is a good time in this household.

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This past weekend I began to sort through Vada’s drawers, pulling the outgrown items out, putting away the sentimental pieces (For baby number two? For friends babies?), and selling off the things she wont wear again. We have held onto a few pairs of shorts and tank tops to get us through the coming weeks, but her drawers are already bursting with sweaters, long paints, tights and wool dresses just waiting for the leaves to fall, and the first frost.

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Vada is in 12/18 month size right now, I KNOW SHES ONLY 9 MONTHS OLD! So I’ve been slowly purchasing 18 month/2T winter stuff for a few weeks now. I love shopping for Vada’s clothes, it is pure stress relief for me. It is more relaxing and enjoyable than wine and Netflix. It is my absolute favorite thing to do right now, color me crazy. But I don’t shop new, oh hell no, its thrift stores all the way! It’s the only way I could afford to have a slight shopping addiction. With most items averaging $1-$3 I can afford to fill her drawers with awesome stuff. My mom always asks  “where did you get that” and 99% of the time the answer is Value Village. I have a lot of friends that don’t thrift shop, and that’s ok, it’s not for everyone, but if you are interested here some of my opinions on thrifting kids clothes:

Value Village is by far my favorite thrift store (In Colorado it’s called Savers, same company). There are a few reasons I love VV:

1. Its BRIGHT, SPACIOUS, and CLEAN (well as clean as a bunch of used clothes can be).

2. The racks are large, and rarely packed so full that you can’t flip through garments (I HATE THAT)

3. The prices are generally good, and they rarely jack up prices because of the brand.

4. I feel like the employees don’t even know what a good kids brand is, so often times Tea and Hanna Anderson are $1.99!

5. The HUNT! I love the hunt of digging through a bunch of trash to find a gem! I love it!

6. SALE DAYS. On Holidays it’s often 50% off all clothing. TAKE ALL MY MONEY! (join the Super Saver and get 50% the day before!)

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Other than VV, I also like Goodwill, and then after that Ill check out the actual kids consignment stores. Kids consignment stores tend to be more expensive, have less selection, have been picked over, and don’t have those GEMS hidden amongst the trash. They know that they should price name brand kids clothes higher, and they do. They also tend to not take vintage clothing, or handmade stuff, and I buy a lot of handmade stuff at VV. Not that I don’t get some good stuff at kids consignment stores, because I do. I also consign some of Vada’s stuff too, so I have a little $$ to spend. Last week I needed a pink leotard in Vada’s size for her Halloween costume, it was much easier to hit up a kids consignment store that I knew had dance-wear, then to try to hunt VV for a few weeks to find one.  I also recently found a new consignment shop that seems to carry high-end kids clothing. While I like to hunt, sometimes its nice not to have to dig through a bunch of Granimals and Carters.

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At any store I try to look through the entire section of her size, boys and girls. I kind of hate that they separate the boys and girls, because really we shop from both pretty evenly. I like girls leggings better, boys pants tend to be bulky and “cargo-pant” style, which I don’t love. I love boys sweaters and long sleeve shirts. We buy almost exclusively boys pajamas, they are way cooler! Boys prints tend to be dinosaurs, space/rockets, bugs, sharks/whales, frogs, nautical, and come in greens, blues, oranges, yellow, red. Girls stuff tends to be flowers, bunnies, cupcakes, and come in pink, purple, and more pink. I hate it. Good thing I don’t give a crap about my kid being called a boy. I always just say “Thanks!” whenever people compliment my little guy, no need to correct them.

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As for the brands of clothes, I definitely find myself selecting similar brands time and time again. I can also almost immediately detect a nicer item of clothing based on the print or fabric. There are an endless supply of good brands at thrift stores!

I keep my eyes peeled for:

BABY GAP

Hanna Anderson

Zutano

H&M

Tea Collection

Old Navy

Janie & Jack

Crew Cuts

Mini Boden

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On top of that I do buy lots of Carters and other kids basics brands too. But I find that better brands, make clothing that lasts longer. Not that she wears things that long, but she’s the second or third or fourth person to wear these items, and I will pass them on to another child, so it’s nice if they don’t fall apart. I’ve had a few items from Target and Crazy Eight that I bought new totally fall apart, but GAP clothes feel sturdy and last a long time in my opinion.

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As for the style we go for, it’s all about the basics. I stock Vada up on lots of neutrals, and lots of fun modern prints. I avoid things that are way too childish (cartoons, silly sayings, and things that are too embellished with bows and ruffles that don’t wash well). I basically dress Vada in clothing I would wear, if I felt like I could wear whatever I wanted. Some people might think that you should let a kid dress like a kid, and I do, just not a tacky kid. (; I mix and match prints, and we layer a lot too with fun cardigans and longsleeves under t shirts. We dont do a ton of dresses and skirts because she’s still crawling a not walking, and they are a tripping hazzard. We’ve gotten some great coats this year too! North Face, Gap, and Lands End, we will be so nice and warm! Shoes on the other hand I like to buy new, kids destroy shoes!

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So if you have kids and you haven’t thrifted, I say give it a try, its really great! Happy clothes hunting!