Monday, August 14, 2017

An Adventure Awaits!

Today is the day!
The time has come for our adventure to start. 

Our fancy shirts are made.


All of the toddler's stuff is loaded up. SO. Much. Stuff. Y'all!
If you missed seeing her packing process, you should check it out!



Our bags are packed. 
This doesn't even include JP's backpack, the pack n play, stroller or car seat!


The car will be loaded in a couple of hours and we'll hit the road!

At 3pm tomorrow (8am Houston time), I'll be reunited with this gorgeous girl.


Wish us luck as we venture across the Atlantic with a 2 year old! 10 hour flight to Frankfurt, a 5 hour layover, a 2 hour flight to Oslo, a train ride to city center followed by a quick taxi and we're there! We totally got this right? If you're a praying person, we're accepting all prayers! 

I'll be on and off over the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping to share some updates along the way. If you don't already, follow along on Instagram @acgougler where I'll probably be posting about our adventures every day!

Our Scandinavian adventure awaits!

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Packing for a Toddler

Packing for a long trip is no joke. There are so many different things that you need to bring for yourself, let alone your tiny human! Since we're heading out of town next week, I actually started packing for Chloe last week. I know it seems a little excessive, but I wanted to knock out one suitcase and lower my stress levels a bit. While I was in the process of packing for Chloe, I thought that I may be able to share a few packing tips for your littles. Some serious, some funny, so let's take a look.


Tiny humans need so much stuff. 
No matter where you are, they need a lot! While at home, you can make this happen with ease, but traveling can make it a bit difficult to have everything you need. I struggle with trying to figure out how many diapers, wipes, snacks and such to bring versus buy. The length of time you'll be gone is definitely a factor in whether or not to pack or buy something. If you're visiting a country that's more expensive than home, you don't want to plan on buying things there that you could pack. Here's my pack vs buy list:

Things to pack:
- Clothes for the whole trip
   - An outfit per day
   - PJs for each night
   - Extra clothes in the suitcase and carry on
- Sippy cup/Water bottle
- Snack cup with lid
- Snacks: lots of different options that you know your toddler will eat
- Plastic toddler sized utensils
- Small toys {probably from the dollar store} that you wouldn't be upset if they got lost
- Books
- Coloring book & Crayons
- Other activities for traveling
- Lovie or stuffed animal for comfort
- Changing pad
- Toddler toiletries {remember tear free shampoo!}
- Car seat
- Stroller

Optional things to pack:
- Baby carrier
- Portable crib {if one was not available}

Things to buy:
- Diapers
- Wipes
- More snacks because you know you didn't pack enough

Obviously you'll pack some diapers and wipes, but don't use up all of your luggage space on them. Just buy more when you get to your destination assuming they're similarly priced! For this trip, I'm bringing 10 diapers for travel since we'll be traveling for close to 20 hours from our house to Charlotte's! I also have 40 diapers packed in her suitcase. This should get us through about the first week and then we plan to buy more in Norway.


Figuring out exactly how to pack
Since we'll be gone for nearly 3 weeks, I decided to come up with a plan to figure out what to bring for Chloe. The weather will be hit or miss, so I knew that she would need both short and long sleeve shirts. Here's what I decided to do. I took a pair of leggings or jeans and paired them with two shirts: one long and one short sleeve. I also packed two sweaters and a jacket that could be worn over the short sleeve shirts should the weather stay cooler for the majority of our trip. I also packed a few dresses that can be worn with or without leggings since my girl loves wearing dresses!

Another thing that is completely different for toddlers is the number of pajamas necessary. I packed 14 pairs of pjs for our trip. It may seem excessive, but I don't like her to wear the same ones two nights in a row between sweat and just diaper odor. I'm planning to wash some at the end of our first week when I have access to a washer and dryer.

As far as extras go, you always need to pack a few extras for your toddler. They're bound to get dirty, wet or sticky and will need an outfit change. I have an extra pair of pants and a few extra shirts that will hopefully get us through the trip. If not, I'll be washing some things in the sink at the end of the trip!

How to organize it in the suitcase
Packing cubes! I've never used packing cubes before, but they're amazing. I ordered some for Chloe and then went back and ordered some for me after packing for her. I was able to pack all of her legging and top options together in the large cube. Her dresses and extra clothes went into the medium cube. Her shoes went into another medium cube. Her socks and bloomers into the small cube. This set also provided laundry bags to put dirty clothes into. I definitely plan on using these for my messy toddler!


Pros and Cons for packing for toddlers
Pro
You don't have to pack "just in case" outfits because they feel too fat or bloated.
Con
You have to have pack "just in case" outfits because you never know what sticky, wet substance is going to end up everywhere.

Pro
Their clothes are pretty small so you can put more items in one suitcase.
Con
The leftover space in said suitcase is filled up with all of the extra things you need to bring for said toddler.

Pro
They're not opinionated enough to tell you exactly what they want you to pack.
Con
They are opinionated enough to tell you what they want to wear on any given day. {I may be in trouble for not packing Chloe's Elsa dress. On second though, I may go sneak it into her bag now...}

Pro
You're not packing for yourself so it's less stressful and kind of fun.
Con
You always feel like you're forgetting something since they need so much!

There you have it! Packing for each individual toddler is totally different, but having a base or guideline helps to get started. Chloe has been traveling the world since she was born and I'm starting to become a pro at this packing thing. Let's hope that I actually have what she needs.

Am I missing something from your must have toddler travel list?
I'm always interested in what others bring for their littles, so please share!
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Monday, August 7, 2017

Life Lately... August 2017

The last two weeks were pretty much all about my Chloe girl. She just turned 2 on the 29th! You can check out her fun birthday party post if you missed it! During Chloe week, I did a post on Chloe Lately. I thought that even though Chloe is obviously cooler and more entertaining than me, it may be fun to catch up and talk about what's been going on with ME lately! It's been a while since I've done a Lately post, so enjoy!

Lately I've been...


...reading the Outlander series! I started reading the first book last year and I'm hooked. They are very long books. I'm currently on the 6th book called The Fiery Cross. If you don't know much about his series, it's a historical time travel fictional series of 8 books. They're so fascinating and you learn quite a bit of Scottish and American history along the way. I took a break during the 4th book where I hit a lull and read the Red Queen and it's two subsequent books Glass Sword and King's Cage. The Red Queen series is a dystopian series with a young heroin and a love story, but there are some great twists along the way. These were an easy read, but I really enjoyed them and I'm looking forward to the 4th book coming out!

...listening to Up and Vanished podcast and Disney Story Origins podcast! So first, Up and Vanished. It's amazing. JP and I started listening to it on the drive to Baton Rouge and we're hooked! A little back story...this is about the cold case of Tara Grinstead. In 2005, she literally up and vanished from her small town in Georgia. Payne Lindsey dives into this cold case to see if he can crack any of the details. Do yourself a favor, don't go Googling Tara or Payne, just listen to the podcast and see how the story unfolds. You won't regret it! As for Disney Story Origins, if you love Disney like me, this podcast is for you! It takes the tales that Disney movies are based on and does an awesome compare and contrast. I love learning about the original tales and I had no idea about some of the details! If you start listening, go to The Little Mermaid first. It's my favorite!

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...watching
Game of Thrones duh! Funny story, I didn't start watching until season 5 and actually binge watched the first 4 seasons with JP based on recommendations from our best friends. I'm also watching some awesome crap TV like The Bachelorette {I can't stop watching every season. It's a train wreck and I can't turn away.} and some sweet TLC shows: Rattled, Out Daughtered and Kate Plus Eight. We also started watching Silicone Valley recently. As you can see, I'm good at showing up late to shows.

...thinking about Chloe's second birthday! How is my baby two already? She's turing into a big girl right before my eyes. I'm so proud and excited and a little sad all at the same time. We had her birthday party on her actual birthday, and it was absolutely perfect. You can check it out here!

...looking forward to our Scandinavia trip!!! Oslo for a week with Charlotte and Ole. Then we all head to Lillehammer where my family will join us! We're renting a beautiful house from Airbnb, so we can all stay together. We'll be in Lillehammer/Gjovik for a week for Charlotte and Ole's wedding! After the wedding, my family heads home while JP, Chloe and I are jetting off to Stockholm for a few days, then Copenhagen for another couple of days. We'll be gone just shy of 3 weeks and I can't wait!



...working out a lot! I decided to focus on myself this summer and it's paying off. I'm still teaching cycle and HIIT on Monday's plus I've decided to work out with a trainer for a couple of months! I've been training twice a week on Wednesday and Friday since the beginning of June. It's been a great way to focus on me and to get new ideas! I felt like I've been in a rut with my fitness and teaching. Having a trainer has opened my mind to different training styles, new moves and new twists on things I've already done. Running has kind of been pushed to the back burner until next month. I usually take the summer months off because it's so hot and humid, plus I suffer from heat exhaustion. I've done a couple of short runs or walk/jogs, but nothing over 3 miles. I'm looking forward to hitting the pavement again soon though! Actually I know I'll be running on vacation where the weather will be much cooler!


Just a few of my regular in Tabata HIIT class!

...wishing/praying for a safe, easy easy flight and trip in two weeks! Flying with a toddler is no joke. I'm also hoping for great weather, but I'll take whatever we get. I'm also wishing for a few things for my birthday...a trampoline, new Longchamp, and a few other things that I'll get to next month!

...ready for FOOTBALL SEASON! Preseason NFL football starts this weekend, but honestly I don't care much about that. The day after we get back from our trip is the first Aggie game of the season. Now that I am pumped about. In fact, JP made us come home on Saturday so that we would be here for that game! I'm also ready for cooler weather. I know we won't get it when football season starts. Not for a few months actually, but I'm ready for it whenever it does decide to grace us. It's too darn hot!



...happy that life is going pretty smooth right now. Of course like anyone else we have our ups and downs and bumps and bruises along the way. Right now we're just on a steady uphill ride. I think summertime, Chloe's birthday, our upcoming trip and my brother's wedding and my birthday coming in September have a lot to do with it!

I hope everyone has a weekend! Last weekend was my final lazy, not jam packed weekend for a few months, so it's full steam ahead from here!

Do you have any books I should read or podcasts I should listen to?
What are you ready for over these next couple of months? 

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Friday, August 4, 2017

World Breastfeeding Week: Breastfeeding Beyond 1 Year


It's been a few years since I learned about World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) and it's importance. My mom is a lactation consultant and NICU nurse, and she has put on a WBW community baby shower at her hospital for several years now. I began to learn and understand the true importance of it the year before I became pregnant with Chloe. Learning and understanding about breastfeeding and this amazing community that builds women up has been a joy. I've enjoyed it so much that I hope to expand my knowledge and eventually find a way to do more work helping women with breastfeeding. I'm not exactly sure what that entails right now. I could possibly go back to school to become a lactation consultant like my mom. But there are other avenues I could take once I make my decision.

I don't want to completely reiterate everything I said last year, so please hop back a year to see my breastfeeding journey through year one! I also wrote about my favorite breastfeeding products which I still love and support. I've seen some other awesome products over the last year, but since I haven't tried them out, I'll have to wait until baby number two comes along to share more. {No I'm not pregnant!}

Today I really want to talk about what it's like to breastfeed a toddler! In case you looked back at my post from last year, I mentioned that Chloe was a boobie baby. She loved to nurse. Now you're probably thinking, oh my goodness she's breastfeeding a toddler? She'll never stop! Remember, a baby technically becomes a toddler after their first birthday. I continued to breastfeed Chloe until she was 18 months old. Stay tuned to see how we decided when to stop and how she weened.


Breastfeeding a toddler is nothing like breastfeeding a baby. Toddlers are constantly on the go. They may want to nurse for 10 minutes or just 1 minute. Maybe they just "need a quick drink" or a reminder that momma is there for them! This is something you need to be prepared for if you continue nursing past a year. Personally, I love it. I loved the connection it gave Chloe and I. I loved the chance to get a quick snuggle with my busy girl. I loved knowing that I was providing her with nourishment. I loved that she wanted it.

After about the 9 month mark, Chloe began practicing what I like to call "gymnurstics." Maybe you've heard of it before? Instead of nursing in any semblance of a normal or proper nursing position, she would move around, attempt to do flips and go about whatever she was doing while still nursing. At times this can be painful, but for the most part it's just kind of annoying. Or adorable. I guess it just depends on the kind of mood you're in. You can see in the picture below, Chloe has me laying on the floor of her bedroom for a quick nurse while playing with her puzzle. You just do you baby girl!


As the months went on after her first birthday, the nursing sessions shortened and became less frequent. I was prepared to nurse her until she was two or until she decided that she wanted to stop nursing. We slowly weaned over the months. By we, I mean Chloe. I was completely following her lead. At first it was just shorter sessions. Then it was only in the morning, at night or if she was tired or just needed momma.

In November, she was 15 months and we traveled to London. She was still nursing and kind of picked back up at this point. I think traveling, being in a different place and out of her comfort zone drew her back into nursing because nursing was something she was familiar and comfortable with. It was part of her "normal" routine even though we were doing something different and new every day. In the picture below, I'm actually nursing Chloe at a pub in London!


Once we returned, Chloe's schedule went back to slowly decreasing her feeds. By Christmas she was only nursing in the morning and before bed. At some point in January as she was approaching her half birthday, she just decided to stop. I would put her to breast when she asked for it or was staring at my shirt, and instead of latching to nurse, she would just kiss it. It sounds kind of weird, but it was actually very sweet. She still had an appreciation for my boobs, but she was just done. This went on for about a week before I just stopped offering. When I stopped offering, she stopped asking, and we were just done. It was an incredibly smooth transition that I wasn't expecting. I'm lucky that she decided to be done on her own. It was easy for us, and I know it isn't always easy that's for sure. I think she was more okay with being done than I was. I wasn't quite ready to be done when she decided to stop!

It's funny how something that is such a pain and joy at the same time becomes an integral part of your life. It was a beautiful 18 months that I appreciate. I know this time allowed me to bond and connect with my daughter at a completely different level. Not every woman is capable of breastfeeding for various reasons. I know how fortunate I was to have a smooth journey and an easy ending. I look forward to the day that I get to do this again with my next little one. I know it will be different, but no matter how it looks. I know it will be perfect for us!


Yesterday I had the chance to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and support my mom at her community baby shower event at the hospital she works at. I had to share some pictures of the amazing time had by all! I'm so proud of my mom and all the work she puts into what she is passionate about. This year we had over 200 people come through the event which is a 50+ person increase from last year!










A big thank you to everyone who helped put on the event by making burp cloths & breast pads, putting together raffle baskets and donating their time. Also thank you to my amazing friends for coming out to support my mom and this cause that she's so passionate about. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. Feeding your baby is a beautiful thing. No matter how your baby receives nutrition, you're doing a great thing as a momma. Just remember that!

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! Moms, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I have the answers to some, but I have the best resource to find the answers that I don't have!
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's Vacation Month!

What what!? It's August which means I'm going on vacation this month! I'm beyond excited even though I still have two weeks until we touch down in NORWAY! But we won't just stop there. Take a look to see where else we're heading...

I'm headed back to Norway with almost my whole family! The first time I went to Norway was in 2007. I was in college and my whole family went to Lillehammer to spend Christmas and New Year with our close family friends the Vorkinns. {If you're new around here, Charlotte pictured in plaid jacket below and red shirt in photo below that, is pretty much my sister. She is mine and Emily's best friend. She lived with my family for a year in high school and with JP and me for 6 months when she was interning for a Norwegian company in Houston. So when I say her family are our close family friends, I really mean they're pretty much my family.} The second time I went to Norway was June 2014 and it was just JP and I. We spent our time split between Lillehammer, Gjovik and Bergen. You can check out my trip here, here and here!

This time JP, Chloe and I will be flying to Oslo and spending 5 days with Charlotte and Ole at their home in Oslo before the rest of my family joins! Then we'll all head to Lillehammer where we'll stay for a week before Charlotte and Ole's wedding! After the wedding my family is heading home while JP, Chloe and I are venturing off to spend a few days in Stockholm and a few more in Copenhagen. Excited doesn't even begin to describe all the emotions I'm feeling about this trip.

Oslo



I've technically been to Oslo, but it was only a day trip! I'm looking forward to spending a few days here especially since this is Charlotte's home now. We have lots of fun plans for the week while the guys work hard.




I've spent about 3 weeks in Norway over the course of my life. I'm looking forward to adding another week! This time we plan to try and visit some of the sites that we haven't seen yet. I definitely want to go to the open air museum and head back to the Olympic ski slope!

Stockholm


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This is new territory for us! We're adding another country to our list and checking another city off of our bucket list. I know we're going to visit the Vasa Museum and spend time in Old Town, but does anyone have other recommendations? I love walking tours and just exploring, so if anyone has been please send me things to do and places to eat!

Copenhagen


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Copenhagen is another new place for us! I've wanted to go to Copenhagen for years and we're finally making it happen. We plan on renting bikes to explore this city! I have to see The Little Mermaid statue, Tivoli Gardens and Nyhaven which is pictured above! Again, any recommendations for things to do and places to eat are welcome.

Let the packing begin! I've already started pulling some things from my closet and Chloe's closet. We're going to have SO. MUCH. STUFF. when we travel this time. 3 suitcases, 3 backpacks, 1 pack n play, 1 carseat and 1 stroller. It's kind of ridiculous. At least we'll be able to send the pack n play and one suitcase home with my parents when we travel on to Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Now seriously, if you have recommendations for any one the cities I'm visiting, please let me know! I'm always open to suggestions and I love trying new things!

What countries/cities are on your travel bucket list?
What is your favorite city you've ever visited?

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