I have so much to say!  It’s just that…


sunset1smallSo I basically have no words.  I don’t know how people in Naples ever say anything at all with this around them every night!

Back when I find my words again.  And if I don’t find them, I’ll at least come back with some pictures soon!

Win of the Week – The Balloon Edition


I wasn’t sure what to write for last week’s win until Saturday.  It all started on Friday, though, when I had the grand idea to have a cup of coffee with dinner.  Not being a regular coffee drinker, I’m not accustomed to how caffeine affects me.  And after an entirely sleepless night, NOW I KNOW!  lol

When Jude woke up and I realized it was already 5 AM, I decided to throw in the towel and take him with me on a little adventure.  A nearby town was having a hot air balloon festival, and I was hoping to see some balloons in flight.  We’d gone one evening last year, but it was so windy that the balloons couldn’t even inflate, let alone launch, and someone told me the winds are typically most still for the 6 AM launch windows so you have the best chance of seeing it then.

We arrived just a few minutes past 6:00, perfect timing!



The fog was super strange and magical on our way there.  Apparently 5:30 AM is quite lovely.  Who knew!





I am so disloyal.  I thought this balloon was pretty ugly and wondered why anyone would ever make a green and gold balloon.  You’d never know I live in Packer country!  I bet it was most everyone else’s favorite!








While the balloons were readying for takeoff, the announcer explained that if you were to buy a balloon today, it would cost between $35,000 and $40,000!








I waited to leave until this balloon took off.  I love the chevron and the rainbow was fun.  It was one of my favorite balloons!


This was not my favorite balloon, but it was one of the last ones to take off while I was there, and I realized just before it left that if I walked quickly across the field I could probably get a shot of it from the underside.  Something about looking up on it makes me smile.

The Big Win came later in the day when I realized I had not been cranky toward my kids.  I’m sure I wasn’t perfect, but I expected a lot worse of myself following a restless, sleepless night.  I’m kind of lucky it happened, too, because if it hadn’t, I never would have been up in time to see the balloons fly.




wondering || why Isla had a 103 degree fever yesterday and if the essential oils I put on her were really what helped kick it to the curb.  Thankfully, she’s fine today!

wearing || the same clothes I wore yesterday.  And no makeup, and I’m not sure I combed my hair today….<insert discouraged sigh>

eating || Trader Joe’s sesame honey almonds.  Yum!  Trader Joe’s is a new experience for me, and it’s a good thing it’s not very close to my home, or I might eat All The Food.

reading || Foodist by Darya Pino Rose and really loving it.  This might be one of those things that helps me begin to rewrite my relationship with food.

feeling || anxious about getting everything ready for a big trip we’re taking to Florida soon.  The last big trip we took was a road trip, and there were only 4 of us.  This trip is a flying trip and there are 5 of us.  Somehow, these differences make a trip seem exponentially more difficult!

hoping || I find the time to start and/or finish up a few other books I’ve been looking forward to – Desperate (for book club), Bittersweet, Atlas Girl, Divergent, Building Your Business The Right Brain Way, and The Paris Wife, to name just a few.

thinking || about life callings, and how to balance serving the needs of the average first world citizen with serving the needs of the impoverished, ill, and homeless.

smiling || because life is good.  And hard.  And what I always wanted.

trying || to let go of my urge to keep picking up.  Nothing is ever as picked up as I want, so since I’m not having much success in that category, maybe I just need to stop wanting it so much.

preparing || for Gabe to take a solo trip to Tahd’s family farm.  He’s so excited but I’m really going to miss him!

wishing || for more time and slower time.  And more time.  And more Unexpected Cheddar from Trader Joe’s.

What’s In A (Nick)Name

My poor children!

I noticed myself calling Isla “Louey” today and chuckled because I can get a little carried away with nicknames. They don’t even have to be particularly related to their original name.  One nickname can lead into new nicknames, and before you know it, you’re calling your daughter by a name more appropriate for French kings than toddler girls.

I love baby names!  It’s one of the best things about being pregnant – getting to name a Whole New Human Being!  Which is also a huge responsibility…the names, the meanings, the possible nicknames, the playground teasing potentials…Gabe was hardest to name, and if anyone ever says you have to name your baby before they’ll let you take it home, you can tell them that’s not true.  Gabe came home without a name!  Isla, we named earliest around 13 weeks, although I wasn’t completely firm on her name until she was born.  Jude, we named when he was born, but although I’d looked hard for a different name, I was pretty sure he’d end up being Jude from the time I knew he was a boy.

For nicknames, we called Gabe a lot of things, but the one that stuck most was Gabesy.  Up until he started kindergarten, when people asked him his name, he actually responded with this rather than his actual name of Gabe.  It made me chuckle every time!  Of course, this is also the child whose church teacher thought his real name was Jerry and who negotiated a deal with his kindergarten teacher that he could sign his papers with the name Apollo as long as he included the name Gabe, also.  He loved to pretend he was named after whoever his current fascination was at the time – so Tom, of Tom & Jerry, or Apollo of Apollo Ohno, or Mickey of the mouse, or Charlotte, of Charlotte’s Web.  He’s old enough now that I’m sure he loves me telling these stories!

Here’s a pictorial reference of my children’s nicknames…



Our only rule for Gabe was that he couldn’t be “Gabey” or “Gabey Baby,” which was my initial instinct.  Clearly we didn’t have any problems coming up with alternatives…



Isla actually has more nicknames than this.  Her names lend themselves to nicknames.  It surprises me that she knows her actual name.  It also surprises me that she’ll answer to Louey.  You know, whatever!



And then there’s Jude.  Who has no nicknames.  I don’t know how he got so neglected/lucky, but he’s just Jude, all the time.  Once in a great while, he’s Jude the Dude, and I think my sister calls him Judebug.  I hope he doesn’t require too much therapy over being left out!

Do you call your kiddos by their given names, or do you give them nicknames?

Baby Wearing – Beco Gemini Versus Ergo


We went to Iowa a few weeks ago, and at the halfway point of our journey, I realized I forgot the baby carrier.


When it was just Gabe or just Gabe and Isla, forgetting the baby carrier wasn’t a big deal.  We could power through and make do, even if it wasn’t my favorite.  Adding fussy Jude to the mix, however, and the baby carrier has become almost an essential if we want to do anything.  Aside from a bed and diapers, it is my most-used baby item, bar none.  He’ll sit in the stroller for a little while, but knowing that we were out of town and wanted to visit some local museums and have a few daytime adventures while Daddy worked, I knew I couldn’t chase a toddler while carrying a screaming baby in arms.  So I set off to Target to see what they stocked.

When Gabe was a baby, I had the verboten, crotch-dangling Bjorn and used it all the time.


I didn’t know about hip issues and baby comfort at that time, but thankfully he didn’t suffer in any way from it.  I also had a pocket sling, but we got it when he was a little older and didn’t find it super useful as he got larger.  Even though the hip carry was possible, I found it hard on my shoulder.

When I was pregnant with Isla, I knew I wanted a more ergonomically correct carrier and settled on the Beco Gemini.  A number of my friends had one, it seemed like it would be comfortable, and I loved the patterns available.  When I had to fly solo with Gabe and Isla, I got a Moby wrap for that trip.

_MG_2520e copy

I wanted a carrier I could put on before I left and leave on through the airport without having trailing straps when I took her out to nurse. The Moby fit the bill since I tied it on in the airport parking lot and didn’t have to take it off until we arrived at our hotel, even though she didn’t ride in it the whole time.

Fast forward to Jude and this Iowa trip…Target didn’t have a lot of options.  They had several Moby wraps, which I considered due to price, but over time I’ve learned I prefer soft structured carriers to other options.  They also had a Bjorn, which wasn’t in contention due to the crotch-dangling, and some Ergos, which I’d never tried.  I’d read that Ergo carriers worked well for larger/older children, and I knew that although the Moby wrap was comfortable, I found it cumbersome, so by process of elimination I went for the Ergo, figuring I could sell it when I got home and had the Beco back within reach.

I’m not selling it! ;)

Buying a baby carrier can be such a hard decision!  I know I researched for hours before I settled on the Gemini with Isla, and so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and compare my two favorites – the Beco Gemini and the Ergo.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!  Here are my experiences and opinions.  And for what it’s worth, thi
s post isn’t sponsored by anything other than my own wallet.  This is not an advertisement.

Beco Gemini

I loved my Beco Gemini from the moment I got it.  Perhaps it’s frivolous, but I love it when products are pretty!  I think Beco’s pattern choices have been and continue to be just lovely.  It makes me smile to put it on!

I briefly considered Beco’s other carrier (the Butterfly 2 at the time, but I think this has been discontinued and replaced by the Soleil) but settled on the Gemini because it had a few features I liked.  First, it didn’t require an infant insert, and second, the baby and I could be skin to skin (or shirt to shirt), with nothing between us.  I also liked that there were 4 carry options – facing me, facing out, on my hip, or on my back.

baby makes jam

The Gemini is fairly easy to put on.  I prefer to wear the back/shoulder straps crossed, but I know a lot of people prefer to wear them straight and clip the back clip.  I had some shoulder problems after Isla was born and found crossing the straps to be far more comfortable and easy to use.  I like having this option.  The straps adjust easily with a quick tug.  I’m on the fence about the clips themselves.  To unclip all the straps and waistband, you have to use two actions – push the release button and then release the clip.  On one hand, this gives me a measure of security that things weren’t going to come undone unexpectedly.  On the other hand, it’s unwieldy.

I’ve worn this carrier everywhere.  I’ve worn it in the cold, I’ve worn it in the heat, I’ve worn it during a light hike through Mammoth Cave, and even nursed  in it there!

leaving the cave

Because it’s quite padded, I’d say it’s less comfortable in the heat, but even in Florida in July it wasn’t so hot that it was overwhelming.  I don’t find it super easy for nursing.  It’s far easier just to take it off and nurse when needed.

I typically wore Isla facing me, but as she got older, I often wore her in the hip carry.  Both were comfortable, and I didn’t have problems.  I don’t think I ever wore her facing out because I learned that that’s not the best position for babies and their alignment.  On a recent trip to the zoo, she really wanted to ride in it, so I strapped her on my back and carried a crying Jude in one arm while I pushed the double stroller with the other hand.  We were quite a sight, but it worked.  Isla definitely felt big for the carrier at that point, and it was harder to manage and more uncomfortable for me.  At 33 pounds, however, she’s over the 25 pound weight limit, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected it to be super comfy!

Overall, the carrier has worn well.  I’ve only spot cleaned it, so I don’t know how it would do with more rigorous cleaning.  The only spot where I’ve noticed wear is the cord that allows you to raise the back when the baby is sleeping.  One side is getting frayed and looks like it will probably snap before long.  I have not contacted the company about this (or anything else), so I don’t know how much I’d like their customer service.



When I was buying my carrier for Isla, I ruled out the Ergo for several reasons.  First, the prints.

<wah wah>

They’re really…bland.  Which some people would prefer, I know, but it’s not my style.  Tahd certainly would have preferred a simple black Ergo to the bold, flowery Gemini I got, so I’m not saying Ergos are bad for this reason, just less up my alley based on appearance.

I also ruled it out because it required an infant insert for little babies an it didn’t allow me to do a forward facing carry.  This carry option wouldn’t be an issue anymore since I don’t carry in that position, but at the time it factored in.  Requiring an infant insert seemed really clunky.

A few weeks ago at Target, I dug around on the shelf and found they had a gray one with embroidered white stars.  That fed my urge for something fun, and so it’s the one I got.  I actually have come to love the gray color and think the stars are whimsical, so although it’s not as “pretty” as I’d like, it feels cute and stylish (insomuch as baby carriers can be cute and stylish).

The first thing I noticed when putting it on was that the base was MUCH wider than the base of the Gemini.  I was a little worried that Jude, in his petite size, wouldn’t fit well, but he settled right in almost immediately, much to my relief!  I’ve since had Isla in the Ergo and can tell it’s much more friendly to larger children!  In addition to the base being wider, the back comes up higher, and this provided good support for her.

The fabric on the Ergo, although canvas, seems thinner than the fabric on the Gemini.  I think this might be more a function of padding, but I think this carrier might be a little more hot-weather friendly.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s still toasty, especially since the back comes up higher, but it’s a little more lightweight.

I’m not wearing the Ergo straps crossed.  Truthfully, I don’t even know if you can.  I started to put it on that way, but the configuration of the buckles made it seem trickier to me, so I just hooked them up straight and haven’t had any problems.  It’s easy to put on this way.  Clasping the back clip isn’t as hard as I imagined it would be.  I’m not a fan of the funny little elastics you’re supposed to run the clips through before you clasp them.  I assume this is a safety feature, especially since the clips don’t require two hands to undo, like the Gemini.  But weaving them through those channels annoys me, so I just don’t bother.  So far, I haven’t had a problem with it.

The Ergo has several features the Gemini doesn’t have.  First, it has a sleeping hood.  Honestly, I’m not in love with the design of it – it seems floppy and weird and it a little bulky to store when not in use, but it functions reasonably and when I loosen the straps and put up the hood I can easily nurse Jude in it.  On that note, nursing is definitely easier in the Ergo than in the Gemini!  The Ergo also has several pockets and a strap on the front on which Tahd clips his phone carrier.  These, although small, are super convenient for carrying a phone, some money, or an extra pacifier.

I haven’t had this carrier as long, so I can’t speak to how well it wears.  So far, so good, but time will tell.

The Bottom Line


If all my carriers went away today and I had to replace one, I’d replace it with the Ergo.  It just makes more sense for a 2-year-old and a 7-month old, and we’re at the point in life where the kiddos are no longer little and squishy.  If, however, I were buying a carrier while I was pregnant and getting ready for a new baby, I wouldn’t purchase the Ergo, at least with the intention of using it for a newborn, especially if I was having a summer baby.  The infant insert is extremely cumbersome, and my sister, who just had a May baby, said in addition to being cumbersome, the insert is H-O-T!  The Gemini would definitely get my vote for earlier wear and/or a smaller baby.

If I were only ever going to purchase one carrier, it would be the Gemini.  Although the Ergo can be used longer, the Gemini is easier to use earlier, and I think the first few months are one of the most helpful times to have a carrier.  Having to wait until my baby was 4 or 6 months to start wearing wouldn’t be okay with me, but the infant insert is just so bulky that it’s impractical, in my opinion.

Really, though, I’m happy I accidentally forgot our carrier at home, because if I hadn’t I never would have tried another and wouldn’t have learned how comfy the Ergo is for carrying an older baby!

If you can’t already tell, I love wearing my babies!  I’d love to try even more carriers, still!  I’m especially interested in the Tula Toddler, the Kinderpack, the Pikkolo, or one of the Bobas.  Shh…don’t tell Tahd.  I don’t think he’d be super thrilled if I got even more! ;)

Do you wear your kiddos?  What carriers have you tried?  What’s your favorite carrier?  I’m especially interested in your opinion if you’ve worn your toddler!

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