Sloane turns one!

Sloane turning one has been bittersweet. While I’m always excited for the next stage of her life, I am already missing my baby. Nothing could of prepared me for the joy this little human would bring into my life. She is truly one of the happiest kids I’ve ever met. Her sweet smiles, the belly giggles, the cuddles and even her b!+(#? Brandon face, have forever changed my soul.

Cheers to my husband and I for surviving the first year with ease!

Newborn photos by Rachael Hairston Photography, Sonoma, CA.

One year photos by Anna Sullivan Photography, Jackson, WY.

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Paddle boarding with baby

One of my favorite activities to do is paddle boarding. The weather was finally nice enough to get out onto the lake and paddle around.

I wasn’t sure how Sloane would do but had a positive attitude that it would go well. She had a blast and I had a good workout.

I started with just kneeling and letting her lean against me. Eventually I was able to stand and trust that she wouldn’t jump ship. From time to time I would let her “paddle” and she enjoyed participating.

Don’t forget sunscreen and bring plenty of water with you. I have a dry bag I bring with us to throw our items into and clip it onto the board.

Happy paddling!

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Ladies Hunting Camp

Ladies Hunting Camp is a hunting skills camp for women taught by women (and a few cool guys). I first went in 2016 as a brand new hunter with minimal skills. I left camp feeling confident in my abilities to go hunting and left with new life long friendships. I wasn’t able to attend last summer because I was 40 weeks pregnant and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me this year. I am so thankful for our close knit community as female hunters. Thanks to all of these beautiful souls, I was able to attend this year while having Sloane with me. Candy and Randy Yow, put on a great camp and have been blessed with incredible support and sponsorships by some very generous companies in the industry.

Being a mom is one of the greatest accomplishments in life but it is easy to put yourself and your passions on the back burner. I want to continue to do the things I love and find important in life and include my children in these activities.

Ladies Hunting Camp

Happy Hunting!

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Road trip to Banff, 10 months

13 hours in a car with a baby sounded like a nightmare, thank goodness we have a great little traveler!

Banff has been on my bucket list for years but I just hadn’t been able to make time to travel to Canada. We currently reside in Jackson Hole and thought this would be a good opportunity for us to go to Banff. It’s a 13 hour car drive and up until this point, Sloane had only been on one road trip and that was when she was 3 months and slept most of the day.

Day 1: Jackson to Glacier National Park2CB2A195-E2A0-453C-A1E2-3446E085F5E4

On our first day we drove from Jackson to St. Mary’s campground in Glacier National Park. The drive was gorgeous and we went through mainly national forest land. Sloane did amazing and slept a good portion of the trip. We stopped a few times along the way to stretch and eat lunch. Once we arrived at Glacier, we found a camp site (before June 1st you can do walk up), and set up for the night. This was a good place to stop but we would not stay at this campground if we planned to be at he park for more than a night. It was crowded and too close to other people.

2C4F8537-B3F9-4166-B6AD-499CE696E2F3Day 2: Glacier to Banff, Alberta

We lucked out with gorgeous weather on this travel day. Sloane crossed into her first country other than America. Once we arrived in Banff, we got a campsite at Tunnel Mountain. These campsites were surrounded with trees, had bathrooms, showers and fire wood included. We really liked this particular location for our arrival day because across the street was a trail, which offered amazing views and had Hoodoos. We set up the tent and went for a hike. Something to remember is that there is wildlife everywhere! Make sure to have all your food locked away in your vehicle before leaving your camp site and bring bear spray with you. We had many elk wondering around our site.

One of the highlights during our walk was meeting other visitors. We met a nice gentleman from Germany, who had been traveling alone and checking off items from his bucket list. He had some great stories to tell. We also met two little German boys, who Sloane followed and wanted to play with. Traveling with Sloane makes conversations so easy. If there is one thing we all share in this world, it’s the love we have for our children and the beauty of their interactions with one another.

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After our hike, we went back to our site and let Sloane explore while we cooked dinner. If you ever want an amazing meal while camping, go with my husband. We had lamb, asparagus and potatoes.

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Day 3: Lake Louise

Before heading to Lake Louise for the day, we went to breakfast at Tooloulous . It was so delicious! We got there right when they opened at 0800 and they filled up quickly.

The drive to Lake Louise followed along the river. So many beautiful views along the way. I recommend arriving to Lake Louise early. The first parking lot was almost full when we arrived and it was only 10am. It was a chilly, windy day, so we bundled up and headed out for a hike. We hiked up to the Tea House, which was not open for the season, yet. I believe it opened a few days later on June 1st. It was a moderate hike and the weather changed many times along the trail. On your way up to the Tea house, you will pass a few lakes. Make sure to take rain wear with you.

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On our way back we stopped at the hot springs to warm up a bit. It was quite hot but I found a shallow spot to hang with Sloane.

We camped at Two Jack Lakeside.  My understanding from a local is that this campground books quickly. I wish we would of had more time to stay at this camp site. The views were incredible and it was so peaceful.

Day 4: Fairmont Banff Springs

Our last day and night, we stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs. This is one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever seen. The building and the grounds are both very well maintained and are very inviting. We took turns enjoying massages at the Willow Stream Spa and had dinner at The Vermillion Room , which had just recently opened. Sloane enjoyed the warm outdoor pool and running down the long hallways. If you choose to stay here, I recommend upgrading to a Fairmont Gold room. This allows you to use the lounge, which offers breakfast and other amenities throughout your stay.

Day 5: Driving through BC and back to Montana

We took our time driving back to the states through BC, what a beautiful place, I can’t wait to go back someday. We camped in a National Forest in Montana for the night. Our tent was leaking on night 3 from all the rain, so we decided to sleep in the truck. Sloane thought this was the greatest idea, ever!

Day 6: Drove home

We had such a wonderful trip and I never imagined it would go as smoothly as it went. Sloane was incredible the entire trip and Banff has so much to offer. We look forward to going again someday.

Happy travels!

Snowshoeing with a baby

Still want to keep up with your winter sports? Throw a baby on your back and get out there.

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Brandon had just come home from an 8 month deployment and we were both anxious to get up on the mountain and get some much needed down time as a family.

Normally, our hikes require little effort and a small amount of gear, this time was different. I knew I didn’t want a bunch of extra weight on my back but I also always feel like I may need extra items because of baby. Here is a list of gear we brought and used and what I wish I had brought.

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1. Baby backpack carrier- the most important item on my list. These are comfortable for you and baby, adjustable, provides sun shade for baby and provides plenty of storage. We use the Osprey Poco premium. There are many other comparable brands. Osprey Pogo Premium

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2. Snow shoes- these make life so much easier on the snow. While we were hiking, we saw a pregnant mama who was only using hiking boots and kept falling through. We use Elecktra brand.

3. Walking sticks- For me, whenever I have Sloane on my back, walking sticks are a must. They help keep my body upright and not leaning forward. They are very useful when it is steep.

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4. How to dress baby- Layers! We were in the sun and in the shade, both areas were very different temperatures. We live in Jackson, WY and the weather in the parks can be very unpredictable.

Onesie, socks and booties. I did not find a brand of boots I liked or would recommend. She wasn’t walking, yet, but her feet needed to stay warm. Make sure to pack extra base clothing (onesie, socks, pants) in case of any accidents.

Patagonia base layer top

Patagonia base layer pants

Patagonia puff ball jacket

Patagonia puff ball pants

Patagonia winter hat

Patagonia mittens

5. Sunscreen- Don’t forget the sunscreen! The reflection of the snow is brutal (more on this later). We like to use either beauty counter or Think Baby.

6. Diapers, wipes and bottles if you need them. I breastfeed, so I didn’t need to worry about bringing bottles.

7. Food and water- We brought snacks and lots of water.

8. Bear spray- depending on the area you are hiking, you will want spray. We saw a young grizzly during this hike. You want it out and accessible within seconds.

Now for the things I wish we had brought with us.

1. More food- I underestimated how long we would be gone for and I did not bring enough food for us. If you are a nursing mom, you know keeping up with calories is important and will keep you from killing your husband in the woods.

2. Baby sunglasses- I did not realize how much of a reflection there would be from the snow. Even though she had sunscreen on her face, I didn’t reapply and she got a sun burn under her little eyes. It was really bright out and I needed glasses.

3. Socks- I brought extra for the baby and forgot about us. Brandon fell through the ice while we were on top of the lake. He went in to his knees and his feet were soaked. Thankfully, it was sunny out and we were able to dry them in the sun.

Make sure to take breaks when needed and let the baby out to stretch and explore.

Happy hiking!

Solo travel with an infant

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When Sloane was just 4 weeks old, my husband, Brandon, left for an 8 month deployment. We were able to visit him one last time before he left the states when she was 7 weeks old. The kicker was that I had to fly by myself from California to Virginia with a tiny little human.

I was so nervous and rushed around the airport not knowing what would make my life easier at the time. Fast forward to now, Sloane is 11 months and has been on over 30 flights and I feel like a pro. I want to share some tips that may help you travel solo with an infant.

Booking flight:

When booking our flights, I try to  get bulkhead seating. If none is available, I will usually book seats in the extra leg room space. If you choose to have a lap child, you will need to call some airlines to add them. If the child has their own seat, they must be seated at the window when using a car seat.

Gear list:

1. Car seat (infant bucket seat for the tiny ones and when ready, a convertible). Sloane hated her infant bucket seat and I only used it for flying for two trips. I bought a Costco Scenera Nextfor her travel seat. It is cheap, lightweight and passes the same safety tests as every other seat on the market. I used a Graco E2F a few trips and it is bulky, too heavy and hard to install with the airplane safety belt.

2. Car seat travel cart– this has been a life saver since switching to a convertible seat. I use the Britax Travel Cart.

3. Baby carrier- this will come down to personal preference and depend on babies size. I used a wrap until Sloane was about 4 months and then I switched to a soft structured carrier.

4. Backpack style diaper bag- I have two bags that I like to use. If I am going somewhere that we will be going out to nice places, I bring my Lily-Jade. If we are going on an active trip, I just use an Osprey backpack.

5. Stroller- I used this with the infant bucket seat but stopped when we switched seats. For trips when I need a stroller at my destination, I gate check my stroller or check it at the counter. You can do either of these for free.

What to pack:

Diaper bag- Diapers, wipes, changing pad, extra outfit, extra shirt for you, 2 burp cloths, blanket, favorite toy, snacks for you, snacks for baby and water bottle. Don’t pack a lot of toys, they find entertainment in items already around them.  Infant Motrin or Tylenol if under 6 months, infant Benadryl. I also liked to bring a receiving blanket when she was tiny, this way I could lay on her on the floor to stretch at the gate.

Arrival and travel at airport

1. Parking- The easiest for me is to park in a lot that has a shuttle. The only downside of having to park yourself, is car seat safety from the lot to the actual ticket counters. I have done it where I keep her on me in a carrier, in a car seat and I’ve even called Uber. It will depend on your airport.

2. Logistics of moving all that gear by yourself- I attach the car seat to the travel cart, put my backpack into the car seat, put Sloane on me in a carrier and pull/push our suitcase.

3. Car seat options- Ideally a kid should have their own seat on the airplane; it’s safer and far more comfortable. However, tickets are expensive and sometimes they are in your lap the entire trip anyways. I have done both and prefer her to have a seat. If you choose not purchase baby a ticket, you will need to decide what you are going to do with the car seat. Airlines will check your car seat/stroller for free. You can check it at the counter or at the gate. In my experience, they tend to treat it more carefully at the gate. There are car seat bags on the market to help protect a little bit.

4. Security- I have Global Entry, which means I am TSA pre-check. If you don’t already have pre-check, I recommend applying. You can keep baby in your carrier, put backpack onto security belt and have them hand check the stroller. I breastfeed so I don’t have to worry about bottles and such. You can bring bottles, formula and breast milk through security.

5. Gate- Once I get to the gate, I check to make sure we are seated together. If we aren’t already in the extra space seating, I ask if any is available. If you are gate checking your stroller and/or car seat, you must get a gate check tag from the gate agent.

6. Before boarding- Right before it is time to board, I go use the restroom. I also make sure to change Sloane’s diaper and fill my water bottle. I put my backpack on and get my tickets out and in hand.

7. Boarding- With little kids, you are allowed to preboard, do this. If you are gate checking any items, bring them down to the end of the jet bridge. Once at the plane, I pick the car seat up in front of me. Once at my seat, I take seat off of cart, and put the cart under the seat in front of Sloane. When she was small I would just lay her on my seat while installed her car seat. I would also have people offer to hold her but germs! Once her seat is installed I let her play until it is time to push back.

8. In flight- On good days she will sleep most of the flight. She likes to be held, eat, play with plastic cups and chat with strangers.

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