Help us decide- to bring baby or not to bring baby?

Cody and I are headed to Nashville for our anniversary and have run into quite the dilemma as to whether we should bring LJ or not. The thought of not bringing her along bums both of us out big time because we want her with us and can't imagine being away from her that long.

On the flip side, the thought of bringing her along STRESSES US OUT.

We have a sitter-in-waiting if we decide not to take her along, so that isn't the issue. And it certainly isn't an issue of wanting her there- of course we do. What we get stressed out about is the plane ride there (the child can NOT sit still- and screams at the top of her lungs if she's forced to!), the naps she requires, the fact that we probably won't be able to get out to experience Music City the way it was meant to be experienced (like go to shows), cloth diapering, whether we'll get quality time together (since it is for our anniversary) or if we'll spend the whole time chasing our constanty-on-the-go little girl around. And I really feel like we need some time to focus on each other instead of always dealing with life's daily demands (not just LJ- I would never complain about that- but everything as a whole). I feel like life hasn't made much room for our marriage to grow in recent months with all of the commitments and changes we have faced- all good ones, but the days are definitely speeding by more quickly than ever before!

But we love our daughter to pieces and want her with us when we travel. It really makes me sad to think of being away from her that long, about taking pictures in this fun new place and her not being in them. She's fascinated by everything around her and when I imagine the look on her little face when we show her a leaf turned red by fall, or snuggle with her to keep her warm, I can't imagine her not being there! So if we're gonna bring her, we need to be prepared to have her with us, and it needs to happen fast.

So we don't know what to do. We're both completely torn. I know lots of moms out there have little ones that they have traveled with (or maybe didn't) and have opinions and advice for us since we're getting down to the wire. So what advice or experiences can you share to help us decide?

LJ Vintage Rose Wraps

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Where it all began.

Cody, LJ and I went up to Flagstaff for a day trip on Monday. It was a lovely day- gorgeous weather, amazing coffee at Macy's, a drive through Oak Creek Canyon, conversation about where our family is headed next and how we will accomplish our goals. While we were there, we decided to take LJ to the very spot where Cody proposed to me: on a rock at Buffalo Park. Here she is at the scene of the crime:

LJ on The Rock
She was very concerned about being out in nature, and didn't have much tolerance for things like sitting in the grass, touching rocks or dealing with the wind (she literally gasps… it's pretty stinkin' cute). See? Very concerned:

LJ concerned

We have come to the conclusion that SHE HATES IT. That being said, we will be turning this around quickly when she begins joining me at the community garden in a couple of weeks!

On another note, today she turns 9 months old, and my dad is 75! Happy birthday to one of the best men I've ever known. Here's a picture of him with a buddy in a boat in Pennsylvania, circa 1941-ish. He's the one on the left:

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Cute li'l guy, wasn't he?

Love you, Dad! You're the BEST!

My first photo shoot: Vanessa and Jason’s Maternity Photos

So I never had any aspirations to become a photographer. Then I met Leon. Leon has opened my eyes to all sorts of new adventures and I have officially caught the bug. I offered to take maternity pictures for our dear friends Vanessa and Jason (who are expecting their little one in three weeks!) since they weren't planning on having any done professionally. I was like, "Hey, you're going to want these later, and I have a new camera that I need to practice using, how about we do this!" And to my amazement, they agreed! And I had a blast. Not to mention, it's hard to take credit for anything when you're working with people who are THAT PHOTOGENIC. They were super comfortable with each other and in front of the camera, which was a huge help for someone who's never done this before!

I'm super excited because I'm sharing a garden plot at the Agritopia Community Garden with Vanessa, so we'll get to spend some quality time together as new moms with our little ones. She and Jason decided not to find out what they're having, and everyone can barely wait to meet this sweet baby of theirs! I don't know how they can stand not knowing. Haha. Anyway. Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot. Enjoy!

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Thanks for letting me capture this time for you guys! Can't wait to meet my newest photography subject in a few short weeks! 😉

Back in the washing machine.

OK… so I know how super gross this may sound to cloth diapering novices and/or people who don't cloth diaper at all because, well, they think it's gross. I will admit that when I first heard this technique I was a little weirded out. But when we first started CDing Linnea, we didn't have a so-called "diaper pail" (a.k.a. a trash can with a lid), so we simply threw the diapers in the washing machine, and every time she pooped, we would rinse them, and then do a full wash when she was running low on clean diapers. While it was definitely less-than-convenient on laundry days, we didn't do laundry super frequently so we never had random mountains of dirty diapers piling up all over the house. The diapers always came out clean, and they never smelled after a wash/dry cycle.

Until we started storing them in a pail.

We did the pail thing for a couple of months, right around the time that her diapers required the occasional hosing down before going in the wash. (Oh, the joys of adding solids to baby's diet.) The pail was fine, but it takes up a ton of space in the bathroom… and when you open the lid, the ammonia smell is almost enough to make you gag! And then there was the issue of that bathroom NEVER SMELLING CLEAN. Now even though bathrooms are where everyone gets down to dirty business… I can't handle a bathroom that never smells right.

On top of that issue, because the dirty diapers are in there for an average of three days before we have to wash them, I end up having to do 2-3 rinse cycles followed by 2 full wash cycles in order for them to come out smelling clean… and sometimes they still smell a little off! I have adjusted the amount of detergent I used (less is more), run extra rinse cycles, etc. but to no avail. And there is nothing worse than clean diapers that smell a little stale. That is NOT how this is supposed to go.

So. What works best for us is to keep the diapers in the washing machine and run a rinse once a day between washes. On laundry days, we have the pail available in the meantime, so it still serves its purpose. I've found that this not only remedies the smell issue in the bathroom, but the diapers ALWAYS come out smelling clean after one full cycle. And since they get rinsed once a day, the laundry room never smells either.

And neither do our clothes. I promise.

Cloth diapering is still the best decision we have made for our little one. Now the next adventure involves CDing while traveling as we're planning our anniversary trip to Nashville. The jury's still out on that one…

Growing too fast.

Yesterday at Starbucks I was chatting with one of the baristas who is pregnant with a little girl, due in January. That was me a year ago, and it feels like yesterday. She was oogling over LJ, and I looked at her and said, "Cherish every moment. It goes by way too fast. And you are going to LOVE having a little girl."

Then the other barista said, "There is no faster hourglass than the life of a child."

OK, Proverbs. But seriously.

Sometimes, I look at my daughter, and I can't believe I'm a mother. I'm still in awe when I'm struck with the realization that God entrusted me with this little life, and how is she already eight months old, and she seems to hit a new milestone every day, and I can't believe how small she once was, and these tiny newborn clothes that I'm packing away are small enough to fit a doll, and she was soooo tiny and there's so much that I will never get to experience again with her. 

LJ has been commando crawling for a while now. And now she's getting up on her hands and knees and doing "the rock." She's learned to feed herself with a bottle, and yesterday I had to lower her crib mattress because she's starting to pull herself up. (Feeding herself a bottle? No, no, no! I want to hold her in my arms and feed her!) Obviously it brings me great joy when she reaches a new milestone, but it's always accompanied by this strange, bittersweet feeling that my tiny girl is growing so incredibly fast and I will never get this time back. And, looking back, there is so much I would have done differently if only I had known.

*Enter mommy guilt.* (But that's a whole other post.)

But it's OK. It's my job to help her grow and learn and set her free someday. I am SO thankful that I get to be with her while she is small. I am such a sentimental person that I tend to want to hold on to each precious stage of her life so that I never forget, but I can't. And now I know that as a mom, those memories are etched on my heart forever and ever. I couldn't forget what it felt like to hold my baby in my arms or the smell of her hair or the first time she smiled at me if I tried. This is the first time in my life where I'm not so focused on the
destination that I miss the journey. Perhaps motherhood is God's way of
reminding me that the journey is actually the best part. All I can do is be present every day. And count my blessings on each one of her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.

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Moms… what do you miss the most about when your kids were babies?