Siblings, Sunsets, & SoCal

How do I get back to SoCal? Seriously, though if I could pack up the family, blink my eyes, and find myself permanently resettled in Southern California my dreams might have come true. First, the people draw us in. My brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew spend their sunny, warm days in a truly beautiful setting. These people are the salt of the earth type. If they weren’t already family, I would probably stalk them into a friendship! From the minute our airplane’s wheels touched down, they took great care of us. Being with them, exploring with them, lounging with them, playing with them, and enjoying them made the weekend. Henry had the time of his life with his little cousins and cuddling with his Auntie and Uncle. The goal of the weekend was to share some quality family time and keep those moments out-of-doors. After our brutal New England winter, David and I feel like apocalypse survivors: Are there other humans out there? Is it safe? What is that bright yellow globe in the sky?  From backyard cookouts to long strolls along the water, to watching beachy sunsets, to visiting petting zoos and all things kid friendly, we truly soaked up the best of being with our family and the SoCal weather.

The flights to Cali were long. While we may feel like “seasoned” family travelers this trip still proved we are bit of a novice team not quite ready to win the Amazing Race. Inbound we were focused, playful, and in control of the situation. Henry played, laughed, and overall did well getting over to the West Coast. Interestingly the most well-behaved, adorable little boy sat behind us and let Henry read some of his books and play with some of his toys. It was kind of this weird idyllic co-parenting experience between rows 30 and 31 on that airbus. The way back…not so much. A weather delay followed by a mechanical delay made our flight two and a half hours longer than expected.  H was not a happy camper. Before the wheels lifted on our connection back to Boston, he was DONE. A constant nagging sound emanated from his throat and filled the cabin around us. He could not be distracted nor was he interested in sleeping. Ironically in front of us, a family of 3 also struggled to keep the peace and quiet.  Our kids had decided to make a pact of discontent!  Rows 30 and 31 were the epicenter of every other passenger’s worst nightmare. But, hey we all made it safely home and isn’t that really all the matters in the end?

Enough about the crazy travel. That was a mere blip on the screen of this epic weekend. How all of this happened in one weekend is shocking! Isn’t it crazy how three full and warm days can trick your body and soul into thinking it was on a two week hiatus? After we landed, we were immediately greeted by the many embraces of our family. We settled right in with one another and adventured throughout the afternoon catching good food and glimpses of the beach through the early afternoon. We ended the evening at home in the yard while the kids played and we sipped wine and chatted about all sorts of things. Henry slept like a champion despite the time change and this allowed for all of us to be at our best. We were rested and refreshed for our second day. It started with some great playtime. The California littles were SO good a playing with their baby cousin. They included him in everything, shared with him, and taught him along the way. Watching my child play with my brother’s children was a gift. I could not help but project into future playdates and visits.

On top of all this fun, we also drove down to San Diego to be a part of my dear friend, Sarah’s wedding. Gosh what a beautiful ceremony, cocktail party, and dinner scene! I was not surprised in the least that these nuptials were the most fun and romantic ever! Sarah and Jesse are some of the coolest, most genuine people I know and their wedding was a true testament to their awesomeness. They married in their botanical Garden of Eden backyard and shared their home, good food, and happy chickens with all of their guests. No exaggeration, their vows were some of the most beautiful promises I have ever heard exchanged at a wedding and it was SO fun to be witness to their love. They deserve simply the best!

So what did we learn while on our California dreaming weekend? A lot.

Southern California is a utopia of beautiful people, beautiful weather, beautiful food.

Neighborhoods are manicured resort towns that beg visitors to pitch their tent permanently.

I miss my brother, sister-in-law, and littles SOOOOOOOOOOO much. Seriously, it KILLED my heart to say to goodbye.

Henry is crazy for animals particularly of the petting zoo variety. Let’s just say he tried to lick one too many chickens out there.

Henry & the littles are going to be fast friends while growing up and I cannot wait to watch it!

My bro and sis-in-law are really cool people, whom I love as family and friend.

Cheeseburgers, fries, and special sauce are all you need to eat every day.

There is nothing wrong with 3 or 4 cups of coffee in one day when shared among good company.

Projecting movies and watching them 4-across in bed is a hilarious way to spend time together #bestideaever

I am obsessed with Costco fig bars…must get Costco membership stat!

Henry is a wild man at weddings, tearing off clothes & dancing, waving, and shouting at guests. He will inevitability be a wedding crasher we presume.

You can never have enough Disney princesses or clip-on earrings or dresses.

Savor every second because these visits are short and truly are the very best of times.

henry adam: four months

The days are long but the months are short! Is it really four months already since our little man joined our clan? I cannot believe it! When I look back at pictures of newborn Henry, I am amazed that he was ever that tiny (and, yes, I know he was never really that tiny but still you know what I mean).  Here is a picture of Henry our first night and next to it is a picture of him in the same bassinet last week. Despite a little razbliuto for my itsy bitsy newborn, I love exactly where we are right now. Another mommy blogger I follow keeps saying, “This is my favorite month” when writing about her son’s growing up, and I know exactly what she means. It is amazing to witness this little one’s constant development into a little boy. He really just melts my heart and I continue to fall deeper for this one.

This month has been full of noise. Henry is all about practicing his noises and testing out his vocal chords. After a hearty long nap, he can he heard cooing, babbling, and shrieking in delight. He loves to makes sounds like, “ah,” “agoo”, “ma,” and “ha.” He is also “laughing” a bit more too. No longer thunder without lightning there is a laugh now. He especially loves to be tickled under his arms and at his sides which often leads to little squeals. His voice just melts my heart and then when he and David are on a roll of making each other laugh, I could burst. Seriously, there is no faster way to make me swoon than watching those two together. Be still my heart!

And then there is all the singing. Henry loves to listen to music and singing. While most people would be pained to listen to me croak out a show tune, Henry is my biggest fan. He can sit in his bumbo chair or bouncing seat for up to thirty minutes or so just smiling and smiling as I sing at the top of my lungs with gusto a variety of Disney songs that I seem to know by heart. Henry’s favorite songs though are “The Ants Go Marching” and “Proud Mary.”  For the ants song, he loves to bounce side to side on your knees and he likes a deep octave, think Barry White. For “Proud Mary,” he likes being held standing and he gets a little funky with the beat. We only ever make it through this part of the song

“Left a good job in the city
Workin’ for the Man every night and day
But I never lost a minute of sleepin’
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been

[chorus]
Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river”

But Henry loves it and I cannot stop laughing whenever David busts it out. Then there are the evening dance parties at our humble abode. From Michael Jackson to Al Green to Journey, Henry loves to be held while we dance about the house. Even Mema gets in on the fun! Tonight for example we did an homage to motown before bedtime. It also helps that we are starting Henry early with pseudo instruments. He is all about the shaker eggs during these music sessions and can even hold one on his own and “shake” it a bit.

His hands never cease to amaze him these days. Everything he can grab goes straight into his mouth and he holds tightly to rattles, toys, clothes, necklaces, etc. etc. And when he falls asleep he holds his hands together over his little chest and slowly, slowly his hands come apart and in super slow motion find their way to the bed beside him. I love watching this little activity over the baby monitor. You know Henry is asleep once his hands make contact with the mattress.

Aside from all of these little-person growth triumphs, October has been a very busy month as we introduce him to Fall treats and savor the beautiful crisp weather. So far Henry has been pumpkin picking at Volante Farms, attended Wee Reads at the Sudbury Library, gone to a Halloween celebration, met new friends (like Erin and Bill), spent time with baby friends, attended a costume party, baby shower, and a few  tiny tot swim classes.  These swim classes have been SO fun. Each Sunday at 11:15AM we meet up with some friends in Sudbury and do the open swim time for littles. Henry is not sure how he feels about swimming. The first time in the water he was as stiff as a board as we helped him glide through the water. The second time, he was grumpy for the first ten minutes then we got some laughs and smiles out of him. One thing is for certain after each swim session, the little man crashes for an epic nap!

Ah, and that gets us to his sleep schedule these days. Finally we have hit our stride again when it comes to sleep. Henry takes a morning nap around 8AM for about an hour, then an afternoon nap for about two hours, and an early evening nap around 4PM for another hour. Then it is bedtime at 6:30, late night snack at 10PM and even later night snack at 2AM and then up for the day at 6AM. While this isn’t exactly sleeping through the night the schedule works for him and me and I love snuggling his little sweet self in the middle of the night while we rock together on the glider. Luckily once he finishes his nursing he goes straight to sleep. He is wearing 6 months clothes now. And as always, I am just so lucky to be this little one’s mom. I love him so much and miss him all day long when I am off at work.

This month Henry is

  • Starting to sleep on his side
  • Loving his Zutano Booties
  • Mad about his Jumper
  • “Talking” up a storm
  • Starting to laugh and squeal when you tickle him
  • Mesmerized by singing
  • Loves dance parties
  • Dresses up for Halloween
  • Looks at pictures of his family in a little photo album we made for him
  • Rolls around like a professional
  • Nibbles on everything
  • Enjoys sucking on apples
  • Loves to hold his hands and to hold your hands
  • Swims (sort of)
  • Shakes his musical instruments
  • Plays with puzzles
  • Loves looking at himself in the mirror

family celebration, vacation, and babymoon

Last week was a wonderful celebration!  My mom and dad invited all of us to join them on a Disney Cruise of the Caribbean for their 40th wedding anniversary. Planned a year in advance, it is hard to believe that we just finished this magical time together.  We were so lucky to partake in this incredible vacation and so lucky to be celebrating so many wonderful family moments. While on board we toasted to my parents and their beautiful commitment to one another over their many years of marriage, we sang happy birthday to Avery who recently turned three, we enjoyed being together as a family, and David and I enjoyed some quiet moments that we deemed our “babymoon.”

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We boarded the Disney Fantasy at Cape Canaveral  and spent two days at sea while we cruised down to St. Maarten. The ship was just beautiful. Disney is known for its attention to detail and its excellent customer service and in both of these areas they again excelled. Our dining staff, Yanina and Kaya, became instant friends and helped make our experience truly magical. Each day aboard, we explored all that the Fantasy had to offer from midship pools, to Broadway shows, to character encounters with Avery and Smith and so much more. Ending each night in one of the rotating dining rooms with Yanina and Kaya, we would recap our adventures and dine on lavish four course meals. It was a vacation fit for a king and I am not sure how much of the weight I gained is from the baby-to-be and how much was from the extravagant meals!  Regardless, it was well worth it as we all settled in to life on the Fantasy.

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Our first port of call was St. Maarten.  Here we departed from the cruise itinerary and Bryan became our guide. Having traveled extensively in the Caribbean when he flew for American Eagle, Bryan took us over to Maho Beach best known for its picturesque beach, delicious beach side bar, and the low flying planes overhead!

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To be that close to planes landing was actually quite amazing.  The bar showed the arrival times and people lined the beaches and paused from their swimming to watch the aircraft land. It was so cool!  This topped with warm clear blue water made our day in St. Maarten quite special.

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Our next morning, we woke up in St. Thomas to yet another beautifully warm and sunny day. We left the Fantasy early and boarded the Kon Tiki Island Boat Cruise. While aboard, we sang, danced, and partied our way to an isolated beach where we spent the afternoon soaking up the rays, enjoying our time together, and just relaxing.

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Our last stop was Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. This island oasis was groomed in true Disney fashion. From their pathways, to the set up of the lounge chairs, to the island BBQ lunch, to the underwater reefs the island exuded care, relaxation, and fun. This was our longest day off the ship and we enjoyed every moment. David and I snorkeled in the morning.  It was so different snorkeling while pregnant.  At times, we would  be gliding along the ocean looking at schools of fish and then the little guy would move and bump and kick. I like to think all that movement was because he was enjoying the weightless swimming  in the sea. David and I would stop and say, “Wow so right now it is just you and me but very very soon baby makes three!” With only 88 days until the estimated date of arrival this trip marked our last vacation as “just the two of us.”  Thankfully we had plenty  of time with our niece and nephew to practice a little parenting this past seven days =)

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But really just being together as a family made the trip so special.  It is sad being home now in that it is so quiet.  I keep expecting to see someone come around the corner to say hello or to ask us to run off here or there on the ship. I am so thankful for last week and I am really looking forward to our next family gathering which will most likely include baby-to-be!

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ormond & orlando

The perk of being a school teacher = summer vacation!

No sooner did the school year come to a conclusion then I hopped onto a flight to Florida to spend a long weekend visiting with my family in Florida. After a long, tiring, eventful, amazing, challenging, and exciting school year, I was able to decompress on the beach for three days. Ah….such luxury.

We spent most of our time lapping up the sun. It was so much fun watching Avery and Smith experience a number of firsts.  First time in a swimming pool, first time on the beach, and for Avery first time splashing in the waves.  On the first day, she would not even walk on the wet sand as clearly trusting such a thing was scary.  But, by the last day of our vacation, we could not keep her out of the ocean.  She let the waves crash over her legs, sat in a little wading pool, and played and played in the sun. It was precious. Mr. Smith enjoyed himself too and fearlessly floated (with assistance) in the “big” pool.

On the last day as we piled 8 people (including 2 carseats) into a rental minivan on our way back to the Orlando airport we got a crazy idea. Why not postpone our return one day more and spend an afternoon at Epcot! After a few phone calls to our various airlines, we did just that.  While it was brutally hot at a humid 93F, we had a great time. The kids went on all of the rides although the Nemo ride was the favorite and we ate and danced in the German Biergarten. A truly excellent way to kick off summer 2013!