favorite baby gear: the heavy lifters

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28 February 2014

When I was 20ish weeks along with Julia I became completely fixated on finding and assembling a crib for her royal highness. The nesting bugs smiled upon one overzealous Grace and a just-go-with-it Simon and we lucked out by finding one in immaculate condition at a garage sale down the street. Simon put it together with relative ease and impressively few curses and then you know how many times she slept in that bad boy before we took it down to move nine months later? Zero.

She was the only child that had the distinct pleasure of joining her parents in their palatial queen-sized bed (we've since upgraded to a double/glorified twin because that's all that fits up the attic stairs and Simon reminds me of his diagonal-sleeping sacrifice every single morning) until she eventually moved to the portacrib right next to our bed when she was four months old. Once we moved she settled nicely into her garage sale cage until (very) recently so the crib wasn't a total waste of nesting zeal and lettuce, thankfully. And how were we supposed to know this was how it would go down? We couldn't ... and I'm sure I wouldn't have listened to the bevy of veterans telling me that a traditional crib wasn't an absolute necessity just like you shouldn't listen to me and my gear diatribes because everyone has different preferences and different babies with different temperaments.

So for what it's worth ... here's what we're still loving and housing after three babies-turned-toddlers ...

1. Kiddy City N Move Stroller - I actually won this in a blog giveaway (thanks Darlene!!) and to be honest I didn't have crazy expectations because aren't all umbrella-type strollers created equal? Nope. We took it down to New Orleans when we had just Theo in tow and were really impressed with it. It folds up easily, takes to bumpy sidewalks like a champ, reclines (he was only three months old so this was great for napping on the go), is tall enough for Simon to push without crouching (he's 6'1 ... not a giant or anything) and is shockingly sturdy. We keep it in the trunk of the van now and I use it almost every time I visit Simon at work and highly recommend it to anyone in the market for a single umbrella stroller ... plus it comes in a ton of fun colors which is really the most important feature ... as we all know.

2. 4moms Breeze - At the highest tier of any baby gear must-have list would be a portable crib. We have three (I know - a grip needs to be gotten over here) and I wish I had just gotten over the aesthetic hangup, bypassed the regular crib route and gone with a portable version. 4moms sent the Breeze a few months ago (not expecting a thing in return ... truly!) and this thing is phenomenal in all the ways a portacrib can shine. It's a little bit bigger than ye old traditional portable crib (which is nice because Sebastian sleeps in it now), it folds up with the literal push of a button (SO appreciated on that fateful night that our furnace went out) and is virtually indestructible. Sebastian pushes that thing to the four corner of the earth/his room and climbs in and out and in and out and in and out the good Lord knows HOW many times before he finally settles into sleep and the Breeze takes it like a champ. I have to admit my favorite feature is that it came with a waterproof sheet (that can be ordered separately, of course!) and has saved me many a mornings from having to baking soda the bleep out of the mattress to get the odor out. Longest novel short: I love it and also highly recommend it to YOU.

3. ExerSaucer - any exersaucer will do. We borrowed one for Julia and Bash and finally bit the thrifted bullet and bought one at a secondhand store for Theo and it was worth every penny. All three babies have loved them despite their wildly different personalities. Theo is almost 14 months old (and not walking but still .... he old) and he still loves a little stint in the saucer when I attempt a workout or try to speed fold some laundry.

4. 4moms rockaRoo - technically we haven't used this yet because 4moms sent this just a little too late for Theo to reap the reclining benefits (through no fault of their own!) but enough of my friends have raved about this (see Anna's take here) and the Mamaroo that I'm pretty confident baby #4 will be a lover of the roo. About 4 second after we brought Julia home from the hospital we realized we needed some sort of reclining seat for her and grabbed this one from Target. Both boys have loved it as well and I'm fairly certain the Rockaroo will be will our happy replacement for our old standard AND the swing we've been borrowing from generous friends for a few years ... in May. I'll be sure to let you know all of my thoughts in a few months. You know how I do.

5. Phil and Ted's Vibe - (the Vibe is heavier than the Explorer - or so I've read ... any Phil and Ted's is awesome ... I'm assuming) I'm terrible at scoring cool old furniture on Craigslist but I've had decent luck finding used baby gear. Simon was on call one weekend when Sebastian was just a few months old and I still wasn't completely confident taking the kids out of the house Hans Solo and I was going really insane in the house for the trillionth day in a row. So I scoured the List and decided that between a few used BOBs and this .... this was the best deal in the greater St. Louis metro area. It was less than half the price of a new jogger and had been used fewer than half a dozen times. I've told many moms that I would've paid full price for this thing because I used it every single day for months and months and months and months before Theo arrived. We still take it on trips (and it's great in airports because it fits through doorways unlike a lot of double joggers) and it saves us because both big kids can still fit comfortably and happily in the back seat. Do you need a fancy jogger to take two kids on walk/runs? No ... but we had a cheaper jogger with just Julia and there's a huge difference when you break into a run with the wobble and turn factor. If you can borrow a nice one or find a used one ... jump on it, says I.

5. Ikea's ANTILOP Highchair - I wish we had this. It's only $25 in the store (well, $19.99 for the chair and $5.00 for the tray so .. yes that math is correct, $25) and St. Louis is slated to get an Ikea right before we move and you better believe I'm grabbing one on our way out of town. I like having a high chair with a tray because space at the table is limited and it's so nice to just dump the tray of leftovers, hose it down, and move on with your life rather than deal with mashed whatever all up on the table/placemat/etc. Anyway - the one we have isn't very easy to clean and this one looks so simple to clean ... or maybe I'm an idiot.

Honorable Mentions:

Baby Trend Infant Car Seat - this came as a set with our first jogger and I like it because it's small and light and the cover is really easy to remove and clean but I know (oh, I know!) there are so many better options on the market. Ours has taken a beating but it's still in safe and working order. I'm not a big advocate of having a car seat that clips into a stroller because I'm fine with either wearing the newborn or just toting the car seat into wherever I'm going/usually a shopping cart but I know a lot a of people really appreciate that feature.

Mountain Buggy Urban Triple Stroller - another Craigslist find. The family getting rid of the chariot had a set of triplets, a set of twins, and a singleton (!!!!) and I've never been so thrilled with a baby gear purchase. Unfortunately, they don't make these anymore (not a huge market? I'm not sure) but if you are a runner and have three stroller-sized kids and can find one of these puppies used ... I would. I so would. It's really easy to push, turns beautifully (yes, beautifully!!), and I can run with it on our not-so-smooth neighborhood streets with zero problem ... even with baby #4 in utero. No, I don't know what I'm going to do when the baby is born but I can at least wear him/her initially while speed wogging and get Julia in shape for her first round of Couch to 5k with super fun, super postpartum Mom.

Bumbo - I know people have mixed feelings on this but all three kids have been huge fans of the Bumbo - as documented by about 8 million photos sprinkled all over the blog. Make sure you get the one with the (now standard) seatbelt and watch them like hawks because depending on how strong your offspring is .... they can flail right on out of this when they put their little minds to it. Julia and Sebastian figured out how to twist his way out of the seat pretty quickly and Theo ... never even tried.

bath tub - Or maybe you can make do with the bathroom or kitchen sink. I've loved having a dedicated tub and am so glad my mom ran out and bought one when she visited after Julia was born because bathing her in the regular tub without one was .... awful.

Do you NEED all of this stuffstuffstuff? Absolutely not. It's just made life with really little kids and babies a lot easier and I won't part with any of it for a really long time. You'd be really surprised how much you can borrow from friends or find at a secondhand store or on Craigslist. Read all about Tess's great luck over here and Katrina's simplistic and enviable approach to gear right here.

Anything you love/hate ... wish you had? Wish you'd held off on getting because it's proved to be a dud? The comments on these posts are more helpful than the actual post so ... let a mother know .... please?

and somewhat related:

baby essentials to put on your registry
what to pack in your hospital bag
baby gear you (probably) don't really need

reader q & a

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27 February 2014

You know what I always find funny? When people complain about full inboxes. Yes, let me feel sorry for you who is so e-popular that you just can't get to all those emails in between bouts of complaining about your full inbox.

Harsh? Maybe. Probably. I just think complaints should be saved for actual issues like ... this winter that so clearly has a death wish for all of mankind or Juan Pablo.

So ... I will never complain about a full inbox (and really ... with gmail's insane storage space ... I don't think I'll ever technically have a full inbox .... ever) but I do feel terrible about some emails that I can't always get to or I don't adequately respond to because I get a little distracted in the face of Theo gnawing off my back-of-the-knee hair that I've missed while shaving for the past zillion years of my life.

So I thought I'd respond to a few of the frequently flown questions (or maybe asked just once or twice ... but let me pretend) in a post.

With recycled photos ...

I asked for questions over on Facebook earlier today so I added a few of those in addition to the emailed q's ...

Q: How do you make collages? (examples here and here)
A: Picasa! I just take screen shots of all the different products/photos, and then hit "create collage". I usually use PicMonkey to add text but Picasa has an add text option as well.

Q: I'd love to hear how you managed having a long distance relationship with Simon, what the ups and downs of that were and how you handled any doubt there may have been, how you got over any anxiety - if you had it.
A: Hmm. I kind of wish Simon would answer this but I'll try my best! (And here's the story of how we met - in case you're just tuning in) We might have been a bit of an anomaly but we talked on the phone pretty much every night for hours and hours (I remember complaining about not getting enough sleep because I had a "commute" and oh, how my baby wrangling self would love to slap some sense into big important commuter Grace today). We also emailed a lot. A LOT. And wrote letters. I was quick to broach doubts or issues (especially after the Valentine's Day debacle) and Simon always talked me down from my crazy but ultimately I think being long distance was really good for our relationship because we fleshed out the majority of the big issues pretty early on. We had no choice but to talk about matters of our faith, nfp, staying at home with the (potential) kids, long-term career goals, and beyond. We saw each other every three weeks (when I reminded Simon of this he said, "wow - we must've really loved each other!" - ha) which helped but because we started the relationship by dating long distance we really didn't know anything different. It should probably be noted that two months after we got engaged I packed up my things, found an apartment a few blocks from Simon's in Kansas City and said, "hasta la never again!" to long distance. We managed the long distance but we were ready to be done with it when the time came. I think being as honest and transparent as possible is imperative to the success of long distance dating but I'm not an expert and I do think God had a big hand in our story and that we were really lucky to find each other. This is creeping into rejected Hallmark flick synopsis territory so I'll stop here.

Q: I have a 2.5 year old and a 16 month old and I'm due with our third this fall and my oldest will be 3 and the middle child will be just about 2 and I am very nervous about handling 3 kids 3 and under. I am a stay at home mom and just wondering if you have any advice or what to expect?
A: Congrats!! I wrote a post on surviving three under three here ... and all I can say is to set your expectations really low and that it does get so much easier as they get older. Don't let the naysayers get you down! And for what it's worth here's a post on surviving two under two ... in addition to not being a relationship expert - I'm not a parenting expert and make lots of mistakes. Lots of mistakes!

Q: What's the name of the acne system you blogged about a few months ago?
A: Paula's Choice Clear Regular Strength Acne Kit. I can't say enough good things about this stuff (everything I've tried - I've loved). Here's my referral link that will give you $10 off your first order but ... no pressure. Ever.

Q: How do you find time to blog regularly?
A: I really try to keep the blogging to afternoon nap time (usually 1:30 - 4:30 or 5) but I'll admit that I sometimes get up early and stay up late to answer emails and very occasionally work on posts (I'm terrible about scheduling posts in advance though ... and almost never ever do it). Sometimes Julia won't nap but she'll stay in her room singing songs about Jesus' muscles (no, no - I don't worry about her ever) and yesterday Theo refused to nap because (classic mom excuse!!) he is cutting some crazy molars and I don't think I cut his morning nap short enough so I had to write the posts in little four minute bursts of one-handed productivity. I should probably post less than I do and work more on meal planning, house cleaning, and other sexy things but I really enjoy the daily outlet for now.

Q: What are some home decor blogs you follow/are inspired by?
A: I only read Little Green Notebook (love her) but am hopeful Rachel will start a little decor series on her blog and I'm not giving up hope that Simon's sister will resurrect her blog because it was my absolute favorite favorite.

Q: What kind of camera do you use?
A: Mostly my iPhone (and it shows .... sadly) but we have a Canon Rebel T1i and this lens. One of these days I'm going to buckle down and walk myself through some tutorials. And make a really nice dinner. And and and and AND.

Q: Do you have a set number of kids in mind? Do you have a limit?
A: We don't! I've talked a little about this here though.

And this is far too long as it is. Also ... duty calls ...

... and that car makes a lot of noise so I'm going to negotiate it out of his hands and into the basement storage room. Forever.

I'll answer more in a few weeks -- (so pretty please comment with the inevitable crickets with any questions!! or email!!) if anyone is still reading the blog at all after this riveting river of a post.

30 weeks + a White Plum Giveaway

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26 February 2014

tunic - c/o White Plum
boots - Carlos Santana
diaper bag - c/o Lily Jade
leggings - Old Navy

Is the hand on the bump too much? I think it is but Simon said I needed something to define the belly and because I didn't have a belt in my bag of tricks ... tranquil hand on bell it was. I won't do it again unless I pair it with a loving and downcast gaze.

I had high hopes for the White Plum tunics at 30 weeks along and sick of allofmyclothesthatbarelyfit but didn't expect to fall so in love with the ones they sent. I've written quite a few review/giveaway posts in my blogging time and I'm sure they get a little old to read but if you are a female you have to know how great White Plum's Stella Tunic is for maternity, postpartum, and nopartum wear. I am usually a pretty devout Old Navy maternity tunic wearer but all of a sudden they are making them about six inches shorter and the material is really thin and the fit in the shoulders is off and awful.

Enter the White Plum Stella Tunic.

It is everything that my tunic dreams are made of and more. It's a great length that I don't feel is inappropriate to wear with leggings, the material is thick but not suffocatingly hot, it doesn't cling to unsightly lumpage, and they wash really well (no shrinking down to Julia's size). If you see me in the flesh in the next 10-12 weeks ... spoiler alert!! I'll be wearing one of these.

White Plum sent this black Stella Tunic and an ivory Favorite Tunic (that is just a teeeeeny tiny bit shorter than the Stella Tunic but still equally awesome and easily belted with jeans ... or so I tell myself every other day) and they are single-handedly making up the current maternity wardrobe for my top half at the present moment. If you're dying over these freezing temperatures like I am and are wanting to breathe some new life into the old boots and leggings getup .... look no further. Pregnant or not.

If you're in the market for a tunic or some leggings or Palazzo pants or want to make a lady friend's life (pregnant, postpartum, or not) ... please use code CAMPPATTON20 to take 20% off all orders through March 5th. I asked them how tacky it would be to use the code myself because I'm jonesing for a few more colors of the tunics myself. They gave me permission because they are kind souls.

It was fun to discover that White Plum was started by a fellow mom in need of a creative outlet who completely understands the need for mom-friendly but still on-trend clothing in a mom jeans vs. Forever XXI world. I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of brands and I would be remiss not to quickly mention how above and beyond the call of duty the White Plum staff has gone (being lightning fast with personable emails, sending leggings for Julia and a pair of Palazzo pants that I can't wait for my postpartum bod to slither into this summer and more!! without asking for a thing in return, and being mercifully understanding when this post got pushed back a little bit when things at Chez Patton got a little busy) ... it's pretty rare these days and everything has been so appreciated.

Let's get down to brass tacks here ... how about a giveaway??


You know how we do with Rafflecopter around here. Thanks for reading. Thanks for playing. And many thanks to White Plum for being genuinely awesome.

Break some legs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

the Olympics might be over ...

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... but the craziness isn't over until the blogger lady shucks her pride forever.

I'm a big believer in miracles. In fact ... impressive miracles occur around here on the daily.

Examples, you challenge??

As you wish.
In spades ...

+ Last night Bash said, "I love you too" ... as opposed to his usual walk away or emotionally void response of, "okay" ...

+ Theo conquered his formerly fatal fear of bananas and devoured an entire banana muffin (thank you Bridget!!) this morning and didn't shrivel up and die on the spot like he had previously led himself to believe.

+ I exercised enough self restraint to eat just one single grapefruit yesterday as opposed to my usual after dinner snack of four.

+ For the first time since the inception of the franchise I'm not even a little tiny bit emotionally invested in this season of the Bachelor. Maybe I'm maturing or maybe this is just the worst season of all time.

+ Simon popped out of bed after only one round of his alarm this morning ... normally he likes to snooze his way through six rounds of various and grating sounds.

+ It is 8:05 in the am and Julia Grace Patton is still asleep.

Miracle whippers .... I tell you.

So I'm hoping we can pull a fat one out together and overcome a sizeable (to put it mildly) vote deficit and vote Camp Patton to victory over at Apartment Therapy today. Let's pull a David over the foreign Goliath that is currently crushing us.

Voting goes until midnight tonight and I'm not opposed to pulling out some of my clappy happy cheers from my middle school cheer leading days. Not opposed at all.


I wish I could make some outrageous campaign promise ... I'm still working on Simon to let me post a fresh batch of Simon Says .... maybe he'll miraculously crack.

Click here to vote and shut me up forever. A few people have emailed that it's kind of an annoying process to vote ... and I sincerely apologize for that and makes me appreciate your toil all the more. Truly.

Thank you from the very bitty bottom of my seriously pathetic heart. You're the best ... always.

And if you've already done your Camp homework for the year and voted ... thank you thank you thank you ... consider yourself heartily hugged by a very committed non-hugger.

Rocking in Memphis

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25 February 2014

... vacation posts continuing. I tend to barely skim vacation recap posts so why I keep torturing you with my own is beyond me. I really should examine my conscience here. But! This is the last one for a few minutes. I promise.

the drive down.

The four hour trip down to our destination was a welcome breath of fast and furious air after our trek to Wichita two weekends prior. Julia pulled the same, "oops! I guess I forgot to get ALL my potty out" stunt two minutes after we pulled back onto the Interstate after stopping to get her first installation of fluid out ...

light feet, empty bladder, can't lose.

Aside from toting a little potty in the trunk (not for me, but thanks ... we are all allowed to have our quirks and mine is no toilets in the car) - how do people with more than one potty trained child travel?? I texted Rachel and asked and she responded, "Gatorade bottles" ... so we'll see what Sebastian thinks about that when the time comes in several years.

the hotel.

We stayed at The Peabody where Lisa Marie Presley was sitting in the lobby bar with ginorm sunglasses (sadly ... this was reported to me by someone else after she'd left but ... lucky for Lisa because you better believe I would've shed my outermost introverted hermit shell for a really awkward and enthused request for a photo ... with all 3.5 kids).

But more excitedly there were these adorable little critters for the kids to fawn over ...

AND then there were ....


I'd heard that there were ducks in the lobby and that there was a little ceremony at 5 where the ducks march themselves onto the elevator and upstairs to their rooftop home and I thought the kids might enjoy that but what I was not prepared for was hysteria the size of the Oscars ... 

shut the duck up.

(stolen directly from the t-shirts the gift shop was selling)

They let the kids sit next to the red carpet so that they got a good look at the circus of humans and the five ducks ...

Sebastian was like, "what the duck is going on?"

And then the idea was that the parents stand directly behind their offspring to supervise but no. I lasted about .05 seconds before I was elbowed out of the way by phone camera wielding crazies wanting to get! a! million! photos! of! the! DUCKS!!!!!!!

And I let them because you just don't mess with that breed of insane.

I did snap these which makes me a hypocrite, I suppose. But ... I didn't want to deprive Theo and Simon of the experience.

(for the record ... it was neat to see but it brought out a lot of ugly in a lot of people and when mother and children are separated for the sake of a series of grainy photos ... I'd just like to think there is a better photo op involved .... but I guess ducks are just so hot right now. I don't know.)

out to dinner.

Simon had a dinner he had to scamper off to but his family hadn't eaten anything above the nutritional grade of cardboard for a million hours so we went across the street to eat at a restaurant that was not the Costco snack bar or Chick-fil-A. We were whisked to the back room which was JUST fine with us. Simon ordered a beer but they totally misheard him and thought he had said trough because 32 ounces later ...

he didn't care where Sebastian's "chruck!!!!" was being driven.

Have I told you that Simon has recently discovered the delight that is Siri on his phone? Here we have him asking her for walking directions to his conference dinner because typing is for chumps. And when I receive texts that end in, "excavation point" .... I know that he's dictating messages to his wife and spending time with the other lady in his life.

Theo was thrilled with the restaurant's soundtrack ...

I have terrible taste in music but he takes it to new and mortifying heights, that Theo.

the hotel room.

And the first night in the hotel room the big kids had their first run in with (you'll never guess!! duck-shaped) soap NOT designed with kids in mind and decided to scrub each others eyeballs -- a little explanation for anyone within a 700 mile radius that heard toddlers screaming while trying to kill each other with eyes half open.

before the acid war.
Theo be like, "I'm done ... please towel me off and fetch me a clean bra."

We had realllllly counted on one of the portacribs being able to fit in the bathroom but the reality of the situation ....

was a very obese NO.

So ... adventures in co-sleeping commenced.

The first night began like so:
Sebastian with Simon
Julia with Grace
Theo with crib in the corner

The night ended like this:
Sleeping Sebastian's feet propped on sleeping Simon's face
Sebastian's urine all up on Simon's side of the bed
Julia's body perfectly perpendicular to Grace's and Julia's feet propped comfortably on baby #4
Theo laying on Simon
Crib all alone

And night #2:
Eight rounds of musical beds that ended with Sebastian getting a bed all to himself and Theo scoring himself a solo bath (supervised by Simon) at 4:55 in the am. We'll keep working on our hotel skillage. Practice makes mediocre --- > Patton mantra.

Beale Street.

I had a couple of Starbucks giftcards burning a hole in my diaper bag so I decided to be adventurous and trot around downtown to hunt and gather some caffeine for me and the baby and some organic apple juice and non-organic donuts for the kids.

Well. After I tried to attend the spouse's breakfast in the hotel restaurant and this is how that went down ...

Grace: We're here for the spouse's breakfast
Hostess: oh, the deli? did you say you were looking for the deli downstairs?

Aaaaaaaand ..... cue my cackle and exit with double jogger and Julia on foot beside me because we only like open-armed welcomes.


I wouldn't have stayed anyway because the restaurant was far too fancy for the likes of the kids (ahem ... Sebastian) but her trepidation over the prospect of having us dine on the premises was hilariously transparent.

So ... out to the wolves and the wild with us!

After several blocks and a little run-in with a Segway tour going the opposite direction and Julia asking and asking and asking where the, "starbocks" was and this being prettttttty much the only beverage I could find ...

I hate beer but I was mildly tempted.

We found our destination just in time for Julia to have one of her infamous potty emergencies so we ran back to the hotel and then we went to the zoo.


As fate would have it ... a Memphis native (hi Erin!) had randomly commented on the baby name post a few weeks ago and we emailed back and forth a bit and I made the bold move to ask her to babysit while we were in town. She and her husband agreed (bless them!!) and took awesome care of the kids .... got them ALL to sleep in the same room and brought library books about the Peabody Ducks and trucks for Sebastian and window stickers for Julia and were really phenomenal .... if ever you were wondering if you should start a blog. You should! You just might find amazing people to watch your notsoamazing kids in foreign lands.

And while they were watching the kids Simon and I had the pleasure of touring Graceland with the conference crew which was a lot more fascinating than I had anticipated. It was a lot smaller than one might assume and has been perfectly preserved just as Elvis had left it .... shag carpet, mirrored ceilings and all.

photo collages are the worst. sorry.

I was also not prepared for, "and step to your right to find Elvis' grave site in the meditation garden..."


People still bring flower arrangements and leave notes and it was quite the experience.

Are you still there??

I didn't think so.

So .... that's that. In a nutshell the size of Alaska.

*and I think I might stoop to the level of dedicating an entire post to this tomorrow but if you're so inclined would you mind donating a minute (I think!! ... it better not take longer than that!) of your time to a vote for the Camp .... that would be awesome. And I don't take awesome lightly.


Thank you.

panic at the zoo bathroom

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23 February 2014

We're in Memphis (as in Tennessee - not Egypt) for the weekend because Simon has a conference and, well, here we are. You know I won't be able to resist dedicating an entire post to the trip (hotel sleeping dramadies! Beale Street toddler musings! And more!) but you also know I can't resist first dedicating an entire post to a few gemmy minutes of the trip. Those minutes occurred this afternoon and I don't know when I'll be able to smile crack about it because my face is still sizzling hot from the odyssey that was the following ...

After spending a few hours with the kids in the hotel room last night while Simon went to a required dinner and again this morning while Simon was off conferencing I decided that nope - we wouldn't last another second cooped up in what was starting to feel a little Hunger Games arena-esque. It was only a matter of time before Sebastian jump-fell off the bed and into the emergency room and/or we'd all kill each other in the confined (albeit very nice) space and end up in the confined (and slightly less nice) space that is the morgue.

So - I took the lady in the lobby's advice (who looked at me and the double jogger and Julia hanging onto the wrist strap of the double jogger and my undeniable bump-it-big and confessed how crazy she was when her kids were little which was actually nice to hear in that moment because I'm big on sympathetic solidarity - retroactive or not) and decided to go to the zoo. The weather was gorgeous and my only potential plan of tangible action was to go to Target but my kids need cultured so ... zoo.

look lively, boys. we're at the motherloving zoo.

Great. Great. Everything was great and Theo conked right out and the kids were so excited to see the elephants and their "trumpet tails"

(? I blame large imaginations or trunk/tail dyslexia ...)

And then ..... Julia, "riddy riddy riddy needed to go to the bathroom".


If you know a toddler then you know that they tend to go from, "no I absolutely cannot squeeze 1/8 of a teaspoon out of my bladder even if you ARE offering me a dozen Dunkins" to "my cause of death WILL be a burst bladder if you don't get me to a receptable rightnowRIGHT NOW" in about .02 seconds flat.

So ... she was dancing and holding my hand while I trotted and pushed the jogger with my useless zoo map flapping all over Memphis Zoo tarnation looking for a public restroom. Luckily, the public facility gods smiled widely in our vicinity and I miraculously found a super clean, super empty (!!!!!) restroom WITH the door propped open which was just dandy because finaggling strollers through heavy public doors while people stare can be pretty soul sucking.

We proceeded to go about our business. Julia is still really big into "pribacy" and opted to go into her own stall that she proudly managed to lock herself while the boys and I busied ourselves in the largest stall until Julia was ready to go.

Did I mention it was sorority day at the zoo? Actual sorority day. I know this because there were droves of young women decked in neon Raybans posing in front of the caged animals making the triangular signs with their hands while fellow Greek lifers took many an iPhone photo.

Well at this moment a sorority house worth of sisters came rollllling onto the scene and lining up to utilize the camodes. And as fortuity would have it ... at this same moment Julia proudly announced that she'd taken her urgent business #1 into business #2 territory not once but, "TWO times, Mom -- TWICE."

Grace: Okay, Julia. That's great. Can you unlock your door?
Julia: hmm I sink it's wocked.
Grace: It is but can you unlock it?
Julia: I sink it's just wocked.
Grace: I know - can you try to unlock it?
Julia: Did I tell you that I did a ...
Grace: shit ... (door jiggle ... jiggle some more)
Julia: Are you proud of me?
Grace: Very. But can you get the door open?
Julia: I'm so sorry but I can't.

Stares from the sisters. Awkward laughs from me. More awkward laughs from them because they were being polite. Julia starts gabbing about needing assistance with wiping and I had no choice.


I sucked my belly the size of, "any day now?" (according to the kind man in the elevator this eve) in as far as it would go (1/39402834923084th of an inch) and slithered under the stall door to rescue our damsel. Sebastian followed despite my multiple pleas that he not and as soon as I'd gotten Julia cleaned up and freed from the stall shackles - Sebastian chucked one of his shoes into the toilet. This was the least of my worries at this point but .... I just wasn't in the mood for icing, Bash.

Life went on. Life goes on. Julia didn't lose her shit (figuratively ... we won't broach the literal aspect) and freak out. And Sebastian's shoe landed bottom down in the bowl so ... no harm nor fowl. What's that the kids are saying these days???


Definitely won.

Post stallgate. Alive and thriving and explaining to Sebastian that she didn't think Pel-kins had nipples.

Sebastian's response was a solemn nod and, "mm hmm"

I know there are bigger and better public-restroom-with-child(ren) stories out there and I'd love to hear them while I go and try to figure out how to get child #2 to stop talk-crying in his sleep so that child #1 won't wake up and freak out and wake up child #3 because then life just might not see the light of tomorrow morning for a single one of us Pattons.

!!And oh, how I am going to try not to be super annoying about this but MANY thanks to all of you for being so sweet and voting the Camp right on into the final round of Apartment Therapy's Homies Awards. Voting goes until Wednesday and I would be so grateful for your generous click. We're up against the greats and I have no winning expectations but it's clearly not stopping me from stooping down and dirty to the begging level, is it? Not at all.

Happy Saturday night live from us to you.

{labor and delivery} hospital bag essentials

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20 February 2014

Let's begin with a HUGE disclaimer that I'm not an expert (on anything - ever) and everyone has super different preferences when it comes to ... everything. So, of course! the hospital bag essential list is no different. I'm a big fan of medicated births (this has nothing to do with Simon - he is very pro "Grace going natty" one of these times and Grace is so not) and so my birth plan consists of a polite and verbal, "epidural, please" and an apple juice on the rocks.

This is pretty basic (I didn't include undies - I would imagine you know those are necessary although you will rock a snazzy pair of mesh unders for a bit after your precious bundle enters the prem) and I think in most cases your baby daddy can probably run home after the baby is born if you are really dying for a certain something (your favorite mascara or maybe a large bag of Swedish fish ... who am I to judge?). I don't go rolling in with a suitcase on wheels but ... if you do ... that's fine.

I also like to stay in the hospital for as long as possible. I don't hate it there and when Julia was born I was excited to get home and start life but now I appreciate the hospital and the nurses and the food and the tv and the channels and everything so I stay until my insurance starts giving me dirty looks (just two nights -- nothing crazy).

So without further justification ...
I present to you ...
my obnoxious opinion on something else!!!


Curtain UP.

Let's go.

1. Open Cardigan - one of the very first things I do when I get to my recovery room is change out of the gorgeous hospital issued gown. I've been really happy wearing a nursing tank and yoga pants and an open flowy cardigan. It's nice if it ties (this one is super cute and I've been pleasantly surprised by Forever XXI's cardigan quality) for when if/when you have visitors so you feel somewhat presentable. And if you get the Target one I linked to - order a size up or NEVER dry it - I quite literally cannot fit my arms in the one I bought and washed and dried. Yikes.

2. Nursing Tank - I'm a big fan of ye old Target tanks. I'm sure there are greater ones out there but these have served me well over the years. I just buy a size up to account for the leftover uterine swell and the baby food sources. I generally don't wear bras for a week or five post delivery. Tanks and cardigans forever. Although ... I've never had a summer baby so we'll see how I hurdle that conundrum in May.

3. Boppy Pillow - oh, regular old pillows will work just fine but it's SUPER nice to have the Boppy for nursing support and to help older siblings hold the new baby. If you're in the market for a unique and gorgeous Boppy cover .... join me in swooning (and I'm not a swooner) over ALL OF THESE. Every single one.

4. Going Home Outfit - for the baby. I just wear what I've been wearing (yogas, tank, slippers, cardigan - and a smile to tie it all together) I just found this one on Amazon but I have a similar one that my great aunt gave us that is cute and white and unisexy. I prefer the built in footie situation for the ride home but if you want to get fancy with jegs and socks ... I will never judge that. But- don't forget a hat! Or a blanket! We forgot a blanket with Theo and thieved the hospital blanket and felt like irresponsible shadesters.

5. Yoga Pants - okay that's just a stock photo pictured but the link is to my favorite yoga pants from Gap. Nothing has ever come close to beating them. (UPDATE: these have! These are amazing if you prefer a less-flared leg) I've been wearing them since Sebastian's pregnancy and they haven't lost an ounce of stretch and they just hold things in very politely. They go on sale all the time so keep an eye out if you're in the market for the best yogas of all time.

6. Nursing Pads - Anna actually gave me a box of these when I was pregnant with Julia as part of her super sweet baby gift and they were so SO appreciated. I've tried a few different types and brands and always come back to these because they have an adhesive and they are absorbent. While it will take a few days for your milk to come in it's still nice to use the pads to protect your tank from getting stained by whatever type of nipple cream/ointment you prefer (I just like the Lansinoh the hospital has but I'm sure people feel strongly about different brands/kinds/yadda).

7. Slippers - I mean - you could shuffle around in socks but you might slip and I felt a little weird being in just flip flops so ... slipper-shoes it is. I have this exact pair and wear them as shoes all the time. And when paired with black yogas and a nice cardigan - you almost look like a respectably dressed human.

8. Lip Balm - My lips always get chapped during labor ... tuck this or your favorite chapstick in your gown and apply. I don't know - you know what to do with lip balm. I generally don't go crazy without lip stuffs but I always want want want some in the delivery room. Just passing on my one cent here. I'm loving Baby Lips these days.

9. Toiletries: I bring them ALL. Well - mostly. Definitely my makeup and hair products (the hospital usually has hospital grade shampoo and conditioner in the shower so I bring little travel size ones from previous hotel stays). They SHOULD have a subpar blow dryer and I always bring my curling wand. What? I like to take advantage of the peace and quiet and nothing feels better than the first shower post-baby .... as long as you don't take a gander in the mirror. Joke. I know it's all very beautiful ... if not slightly to wildly jarring especially when the mesh unders are factored in. I am a big fan of face wipes ... in case you can't properly wash your face right away. Bring a little travel pack ... trust me.

10. Camera - duh. We have a Canon Rebel T1i that we bought on eBay a few years ago but I'm not a photographer. At all. (And after reading and reading and saving and saving I bought this lens but this is a great beginner lens (and I'll always be a beginner - always). We've been really lucky and nurses have volunteered to take photos right after the delivery (not during, thanks). And it's fun to try to take nice photos of the adorable sleeping newborn in the unbelievably quiet hospital recovery room. I'm still super guilty of taking a zillion phone photos, of course.

+ We've always brought our laptop to watch a little Hulu so maybe think about that or if you have an iPad ... that would be acceptable, I suppose.
+ Snacks for Dad ... unless he loves cafeteria food or you happened to time your labor for directly after a meal the size of Thanksgiving. 
+ Pacifiers. People plant themselves firmly in "nipple confusion" camps but I like them and only one of my children has ever become attached to it beyond week two so I think it's worth a shot if you want to corrupt the little bruiser early on. Wink.
+ I know I should be adding more here. I will.

Don't bring:
+ diapers and wipes
+ okay bring whatever you want but they have all of that and you'll get charged for it either way so just use it.

Several first time pregs have emailed and asked for a list like this but I know I'm forgetting some super important things ... what would you add for these sweet mums-to-be? Help a forgetful Grace out ... please?

iSaid it, iMeant it

Leave a comment: 29 comments

19 February 2014

Even though I've blown through an embarrassing number of phones this past year (thank you Sebastian, Sebastian, and Theo) and lost thousands of photos (did I really need that series of nine photos from the park of Sebastian doing prettttty much the same exact smile down the slide? or the montage of Julia doing another dizzying routine of twirls-a-plenty in the front yard? or the shoot of baby Theo not moving a muscle on the attic floor? NO but .... don't tell this mom armed with a camera phone THAT because she needs to preserve those memories always and 4ever)

Why take one when you can take a MILLION?

(there was a reason I didn't blog about our return trip from Wichita and his name begins with Theo and ends with Happy Camper)

Anyway - photo series cessation classes anyone?

I'll take one. Or a series.

Anyway (again), I just realized (for some bizarre reason) that all of the notes in my phone remained intact. Yay.

I usually utilize the notes feature to make lengthy grocery lists to email Simon at work.

Behold ...

(In my pathetic defense ... Theo was 11 days old so to run out of the household staples still fell under the sort of forgivable offense category. I guess.)

But sometimes I use the fancy schmancy notes feature to jot down some genius blog post ideas ...

Let's all take a moment to praise the blogging gods that I didn't expound on any of that genius. 

Or this ...

What that blogger needs? A book deal and some brevity. Right now.

And I won't punish your pupils with my elaborate typed out 2-part plan to fit into my bridesmaid dress a few months after Theo was born BUT let's just say it involved:

1. drinking tea after dinner (?)
2. and (caps locked) Spanx. (or Assets if you go the Target route like I alwaysalwaysdo).

And lets keep the bonus training rolling, rolling, rolling here.

Simon's always claimed that I use too much toilet paper (and when he uses none for the vast majority of his trips - I don't think the comparison is fair). I've always disagreed (he also thinks that any and all diapers can be taken care of with a maximum of two wipes which is not a philosophy I adhere to especially when it comes to Sebastian Patton).

Anyway - I think he thinks a solitary square of two-ply per tinkle trip is adequate.

But when he snapped this beauty right after Julia had made her 9th bedtime stalling trip to the throne to expel 1/4 tsp of bodily fluid ...

I realized he may sort of have a point.

(But don't tell him I said so.)

Julia Styles

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18 February 2014

sweater - no tag via ThredUp
overalls - OshKosh via ThredUp
moccasins - c/o Minnetonka

Watching Simon unwrap his (super belated birthday gift) guitar:
Julia: oh wow! a piano!!!

As she dug for nostril gold before preschool one morning ...
Grace: okay ... let's try to keep the nose picking to a minimum
Julia: okay ... but I'm just getting it out of my system

During "nap time" from her locked (from the outside) quarters ...
Julia: (yells) MOM!!!
Julia: (yells louder) MOM!!!!!!!!!
Julia: (and louder) MOMMMMYYYY!!!!!
Julia: (softly) sweetheart? are you out there?

In the middle of eating lunch:
Julia: do you think we could have some weed?
Grace: wait, what?
Julia: you know ... some weed?
Grace: no ... I don't think so ... I have no idea what you're talking about
Julia: you know some WEED ... like yesterday?
Grace: oh, Wheat Thins??
Julia: yeah! some weed

Watching me struggle to put on my freshly laundered (and dried to a fraction of their former size, apparently) jeans ...
Julia: hmmm
Grace: what?
Julia: well, maybe those are baby Theo's??

And on an entirely different occasion ... watching me get dressed in my usual tunic and leggings and boots ...
Grace: does this look okay?
Julia: well, don't you need pants?!

Last night as she waltzed into the bathroom and Theo sprint-crawl-followed ...
Grace: Theo, let's give Julia her privacy
Julia: oh, no that's fine, that's fine - sometimes I like an audience

And BONUS ....

A little guest appearance from our resident parrot ...

Until he started in on the mock-twirling and Julia said, "okay, that's enough of that."

the diaper bag that dares to ask, "what kids?" ....

Leave a comment: 676 comments

17 February 2014

{updated 2/24 - giveaway now closed}

Congrats to Kaitlin Marks!! Thanks so much for playing and entering!! And if you're feeling extra generous with your clicks .... there's a vote waiting to be cast and a super grateful Grace on the other end!! We're still in a distant second but Simon says not to give up so I'm taking his motivational speech and running with it ....

bag c/o Lily Jade
tunic - H&M
sweater - Target
boots - Hunter via eBay

Simon says I favor Theo on all social media platforms and Simon is usually right so no Theo today ... just this once. It's killing me though ... please know that, Baby Boy.

Lily Jade sent another one of their amazing designer diaper bags and once again, I'm really regretting ever stating that diaper bags weren't a necessity. Well, necessity is a little much (although the washable changing pad HAS been life changing because my life sees a lot of public restrooms thanks to one small bladder by the name of Julia Grace) but I can't tell you how nice it is to have a roomy bag with a pocket (16 - there are SIXTEEN pockets) for every single one of my trinkets that I tote around on the daily.

I like to think I confuse people when I leave the house sans offspring but still with my bag on my person (because the liner with the trillion pockets is removable and so awesome for not having to empty your purse of the diapers and the wipes and the other emergency diapers and the spare pair of unders for the toddler and the other spare pair of emergency unders for the toddler and the hidden snacks saved for the most dire of circumstances) because you can't tell me it even remotely screams, "diaper bag" and you never know ... to an untrained eye I just might be some sort of super chic business professional ... (an exec even) in a tunic with unkempt hair. You just never know.

Simon isn't one to say much about style or fashion or anyofthat. He actually trotted off to work in a pair of khakis that had shrunk to literal (yes it had to be bolded and yes I mean literally in the most literal form) capri length the other day and OH how I wish I had saved the text conversation that went down when he realized that the bottoms of his pants were above his ankles because I rarely laugh out loud but tears were streaming down my face. I hate these "you had to be there stories" too .. sorry. My point is that Simon couldn't care less about style aesthetics but on more than one occasion he's stated how much he likes my brown Caroline bag and now this red Madeline bag.

So ... do you want to be my diaper bag twin? Of course you do.

Well, that's convenient because Lily Jade is generously giving away a red Madeline Bag to one of you lucky ladies (or to a lucky gentleman ... we don't discriminate around here).

You know how the Rafflecopter works ... I hope. And if you cheat ... I'll be watching, God will know, and the earth will stop spinning immediately. Just don't.


¡Buena Suerte!

If you're having trouble commenting - sometimes iPhones aren't very blog comment compatible (I can't use my phone to leave blog comments and it drives me insane - sorry!) so try a computer AND be sure to click "load more" .... odds are good that your comment is there -- safe and sound! 

Thank you!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

coasting and cherishing and more

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15 February 2014

Valentine's Day 2014. A hit.

The big kids got two Starbursts leftover from when Simon was on nights and Theo got the usual amount of attention (which wasn't enough apparently). One of these years I'll up my holiday game. I think it was the second year we were married and I was trying to sew Simon some sort of cutesy Valentine out of fabric and before I was even finished he got a glimpse of the masterpiece and tentatively asked if I was making him a loincloth.

So .... I guess I'm still a little gun shy when it comes to Valentine's but excuses no more. 2015 will be bursting with hearty sugar. Get it? Good.

Anyway ... I'm just checking in from the land of the stomach bug? Third trimester morning/afternoon/evening sickness? I don't know but I'm hoping for the latter because if the kids catch the plague while Simon is at work for his trillion hour weekend shift .... we'll survive but we won't like it. I'm definitely in coast mode .... abundant Netflix, whateveryouwant for whatevermeal, and some weird YouTubes of English nursery rhymes with a talking hand that Julia thinks are just hysterical. I recently read something about the importance of cherishing every moment with your kids and it made me feel guilty because this weekend is not exactly brimming with cherish but .... blah. No buts. More cherish, Grace. More freaking cherish.

A few things ...

Some kindhearts nominated el Camp for one of the Apartment Therapy Homies Awards and I think my reading comprehension leads me to believe that the top 5 nominees will be whisked off to the next round so if you're in a super generous mood and want to add to our nomination count ... we'd love you. Or you really should just pop over to find some new stellar blogs to read ... the list is really great thus far (ha - like this post from this blog).

I think my first generation iPod finally bit it for good or at least it's on strike and won't let me load any new beats so I'm guessing it's about to die after living a long and fulfilling life of walk-run-walk-walk-walking with me. So after 40 minutes of Googling how to fix it and coming up frustrated and fruitless I loaded two songs (this one and this one) on my phone and took the kids on a walk the other day listening to the songs over and over and over. It was actually really nice and I hope the weather takes another breather from hating humans sometime soon. Any songs you're loving that are workoutproppriate? Or any at all. Theo should probably learn to dance to something other than Katy Perry one of these days ... but he does love a good set of fast-paced squats to the tune of Katy.

Two medium ad spots just opened up ... if you and your blog/shop/anythingatall are interested. We won't bite.

There are TONS of awesome baby product recommendations in the comments of Thursday's post but far and away the big winner was the the Nosefrida . I trust you but I might just have Simon give that one the inaugural run when the time comes.

What else what else??

Oh - you know me and my allegiance to ThredUp is a little out of hand .... mostly for kids clothing (I've been stalking and stalking for a maternity coat but ... nada) and if you use this referral link you'll get $15 off your first order until February 28th. I've been finding lots of summer shorts (as opposed to those you wear in the winter) for the boys for $3.99 lately SO lets hope and pray Sebastian doesn't grow 6 inches taller before June.

Okay ... you have more pressing things to do, don't I know it. I might scamper off and test the waters with a whiff of a saltine. I won't report back ... don't worry.

xo - just for kicks.


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