Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 11 Months Old!

Oh, baby!

ONE month away from ONE! How did this happen so fast. You sweet little boy, I look at you about 100 times a day and am still in awe of you. Your darling little chubby cheeks, your thick blonde hair, and most recently, your scrunchy face little smile. You love to smile like that and it is the cutest thing - sometimes you will also blow in and out of your nose loudly while you do it, which always makes us laugh!

You took your first trip to Disneyland this month and you were such a trooper for the car ride and you loved strolling around the park taking everything in. The characters didn't bother you at all and you enjoyed seeing everything on the rides. You were so great about taking a nap both days in the stroller and you picked out your very first Disney stuffed animal, Sully (we gave you a couple to choose from and you kept reaching for him). It was so special to bring you there for the first time and you were such a good little baby!

This month you have really started coming out of your shell more and letting us know what you want and need at all times! You will scream and yell to get our attention. You love to wave "hello" & "goodbye" and you are very responsive to "how big is Cody? SO big!" (You throw your little arms up into the air). It makes me melt every single time you do that. You are babbling a lot and still mostly just saying "mama" and "dada", although you have also said a few other babbles like "nana" and "baba", although we aren't quite sure what you are referring to with those ones. You also make a lot of smacking noises with your lips and tongue.

You really love to take baths and sometimes you will scream when we take you out. You love getting in with your brother and sister because they hand you all sorts of toys to play with. You love being tossed into the air by daddy and dancing around with mama. You really love to be held and we hold you a lot (not complaining one bit!).

This month, we left you with Gramz and Pops while we headed away for an anniversary trip and you had a wonderful time with them. You are very attached to them and get so excited every time you see them.

You have a few nicknames, mostly Cody-Bear, but I also call you buggy, Cody Shark, buddy, and baby. Nolan and Andie are always in your face and giving you kisses (you give the sweetest open mouth kisses) and they mostly call you Cody-bear. Recently, when I started telling you "I love you" you will lean in and give me a kiss. It's so incredibly sweet.

You love toys and trinkets and you are obsessed with the remote control. We tried to give you a fake one to play with, but you knew. You only like the ones that actually work the television. You also love books, our phones and watches, and anything your siblings are playing with. You are a speed crawler and will roam around the house wherever we go. You are standing for short periods of time, but you still definitely prefer to crawl. Sometimes you will do a goofy little crawl and stick out one leg at a time when your knees get sore.

You are getting longer and bigger everyday. You are wearing 6-12 month and 12 month clothes. You are in a size 4 diaper. You love eating and are not super picky! You are still on a mission to only feed yourself and you are getting pretty good at eating pureed foods when they are in a pack. You also love to eat bananas, waffles, pancakes, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and really anything else the rest of us are eating. I try to feed you new foods to try every day and you do pretty well! You are still exclusively breastfeeding and I feed you on demand. I love nursing you, it's such a special time and I am so proud of our little journey together. I don't think I will be ready to stop at one year, but we will see what you want.

You aren't the best sleeper, but I know we will get there eventually. You are still working on getting several more teeth and you haven't been very comfortable. You are usually up about 2 times per night, although sometimes you're only up once, and other times you are up 4 or more times. You nap well, although we do have to wake you up sometimes when we are on the go for your brother and sister. You do a great job at going with the flow!

One of my favorite things from this month is that scrunchy face smile. You do it on purpose because you know it makes us laugh and we do it back to you. You are such a cute baby and you do so well being dragged around every where. Everyone comments on your light hair, chubby cheeks, and sweet little smile. You only smile when you mean it, but you sure are a happy and mellow kid. Cody, we are so crazy about you. I know you hear it every day, but I hope one day when you read this letter, you can see just how much we have always loved you. I am so proud to be your mommy. You make us so happy and we can't believe how fast this 11 months has gone. Thank you for bringing so much joy to our family!

We love you to the moon and back, Cody Bear!

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 10 Months Old

Cody,

Just like that - you're ten months old.

You've been on the go now for more than a month and every day you've gotten faster and you are officially anywhere you want to be. You cruise along the coffee table and couches. You are also able to stand up on your own for little stretches of time.

You love following your siblings around and playing with toys. You aren't a huge fan of crawling on the harder surfaces, so you will take small breaks by sitting on your buns or stick a leg out and do a half crawl, half walk position.

You love food and have discovered many new things you love in the last month. You will eat the occasional pureed foods, but you especially love everything you can feed yourself. We give you pretty much anything we eat and you haven't really disliked anything yet. You especially love bananas, sweet potatoes, bread, chicken, quesadillas, etc. You are still a big milk lover, too, and I feed you on demand anytime you'd like. Breastfeeding is a special time for you and me.

You started a much better sleeping habit this month and for the first time went in 8-9 hour stretches for a couple weeks. In the last week, you started getting some more teeth, so you're up anywhere from 1-3 times per night for some comfort and milk. I don't mind much because I know this time is going to pass too quickly.

You sleep great in your crib at night and during the day when you can nap. You are woken up often from your naps because of your big sister and brother's schedules, but you are such a trooper. You go with the flow, are usually always happy, and you are extremely chill. You do so great just hanging out in your little fold up high chair or just playing with toys on a blanket while we are at soccer. Everyone always comments that you are the sweetest little guy - and it's because you are. You have a happy spirit. You also love to laugh and making you laugh is extremely easy. A funny face or tickle will always do the trick!

One of my favorite moments this month was when Nolan was playing with a stand up toy right next to you. He leaned over and gave you a kiss, and you turned toward him and gave him a kiss back. He was so excited for your kiss, and it was all on your own terms. I melted inside. You really love your siblings and they adore you. It's fun to see you all interacting more and more.

You are wearing 12 month clothes and you still strongly dislike anything tight around your waist (pants or shorts). This has been all your life, so I am preparing for the cooler weather by getting some stylish one pieces (Gramz also has you covered with this). You are a size 3 diaper still, but we just started our last box and you'll go to size 4 soon. You are growing fast and will need your first hair cut soon. Everyone always comments on your darling chubby cheeks and beautiful blonde hair. And those big blue eyes - all I have to do is close my eyes and I can see them looking into mine.

You make lots of eye contact with us and babble quite a bit. You say mama and dada and seem to know who we are now. You love toys and you especially love the tv remotes. Anything you can get your hands on you will play with and stick in your mouth. You love to take toys with wheels on them and spin the wheels with your fingers. You don't mind riding in the car or stroller and love being outside anytime to get fresh air. You definitely recognize your family and you get so excited to see me, your daddy, Pops and Gramz. You have a special relationship with all of us.

You absolutely LOVE bath time and splash and play in the water like crazy. Sometimes I will just let you sit in there for 30 or 40 minutes and you go nuts. You are starting to catch on to "How Big Is Cody?? So Big!" and will stick your little hands in the air. You like sitting in your little high chair on the counter while we make and prepare food. You put absolutely everything into your mouth, so we have to be careful.

You get so excited when we come to pick you up and you will flap your arms and make lots of noise. You get really excited to nurse and while I am getting ready, you will laugh hysterically because you know it's coming. You are drooling a ton with all those teeth coming in. You love when we sing songs and dance with you.

You love to be held and snuggled still, and we do it as often as possible because lately you're starting to recognize your independence and like exploring. You make us laugh and smile every single day. You have the most amazing smile and sweetest little soul. You make me want 100 more babies just like you. You are such a good baby, and we say it all the time.

Cody, you are truly a wonderful little baby. I love you so much and you really fill my heart with so much warmth. Goodness gracious, we are so crazy about you and everything about you. It's truly impossible for you to fully understand just how much you mean to all of us. You're amazing, baby.

I am really enjoying our time with you in these last few months before becoming a toddler. We love you forever and ever times infinity.

Love,
Mama



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cody... you are NINE months old!

Sweet baby Cody...

This last month has been a BIG one for you. Not only did you cut your top two teeth (ouch!) right at the beginning of August, you also started getting much more mobile. You started crawling and pulled yourself up on the coffee table on the same day (8/7). You really found your stride and enjoy playing with toys on the floor. You roll a lot and go from sitting to crawling, back to sitting, etc. You've also gotten more vocal and get mad when anyone takes something from you.

I worry a lot about you because I love you so much. I made a doctor's appointment to see Dr. Barretto and brought in a list of questions and she confirmed that you are healthy and I need to stop worrying so much. You are doing things in your own time and you are a happy baby. I still can't get over how sweet, squishy, and precious you are.

You don't talk a ton, but you do say "da-da" and "ma-ma". You still love to take a bath and you go absolutely nuts splashing in the water. You love to swing your arms around to express emotion. You also put your arms up when you want to be held so we will pick you up. You love to snuggle and be held, but you are also getting more independent.

You usually wake up at least 1-2 times per night. Once this month you slept for 8 hours and I made daddy go in to check on you before he left for work. You take at least one 1.5 hour nap a day, usually 3-4 hours after you wake up. You are very good on the go and will nap in the ergo or stroller.

You have starting eating much more this month and your favorite thing is still feeding yourself. You like avacado, love banana, strawberries, sweet potato, oatmeal, bread and you just started eating broccoli, pancakes, and waffles. I am slowly just giving you whatever I am eating (if it's healthy) and if you can feed it to yourself, you always try. You still enjoy some pureed foods and I try to give you at least 4-8 ounces of baby food a day so I can make sure you're getting enough to eat.

You are still nursing very well and that makes me so happy. You nurse pretty much on-demand all day because we are usually always together. This month I also took my longest trip away from you because we took a 2 night trip to Disneyland with out you. You stayed with Gramz & Pops and had the best time bonding with them. It was very hot in Southern Ca (mid-90s) and with the crowds, we thought it would be best. I thought of you and missed you SO much, but all I got back were pictures of you happy, playing, and being spoiled by all the love you were getting there.

You absolutely adore your Pops - you get so excited and flap your arms all over the place when you see him until he holds you. You love to sleep on his chest. You also have a very special relationship with your daddy and Gramz. Of course, I feel like me and you are just the best of buddies now.

You are wearing size 6-12 month clothes 12 month clothes. You are in size 3 diapers, but just barely - size 4 coming up soon. When I took you to the doctor you weighed more than 19 pounds. You are growing and thriving. You love any toys you can put in your mouth. You have a few nicknames: Cody-bear, Cody-shark, Cody-Cody, and I will sometimes call you baby bear or baby bug.

You smile very easily and make great eye contact when we talk to you. You are so easy going and such a good natured little boy. You are sweet, snuggly, and honestly, I can't get enough of you. I love getting to nurse you and hold you. You have the cutest big blue eyes. You smell so good. You have a full head of thick blonde hair (daddy is going to cut it soon). You are an amazing baby.

I can't put it into words how much I love you, Cody bear. When I look at you, it's overwhelming.

Mama

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Alaskan Cruise on the Disney Wonder

The memories we made on the Disney Wonder... wow! We've talked a lot about this trip and for me, it is one of my most favorite vacations we have ever been on. My super generous mother-in-law made this trip happen and honestly, if you have thought about taking a Disney cruise in the past and wondered if it's worth it... it is. For us, with the kids, it was a blast. The Disney hospitality shined and even though I did a non-disney cruise more than a decade ago to Alaska, I didn't appreciate it like I did this time.

Alaska has a beautiful itinerary. We went out of Vancouver, Canada (which, if you have kids, they need passports - even 7 month old Cody had one). First and foremost, I love this city. It's beautiful, friendly, and there is so much to do. We didn't even scrape the surface. Traveling there with our 3 kids (5, 3, and 7 months) and then my two nieces (4 and almost 1) did make it a different trip, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Yes, you move a little slower, carry a lot more stuff, and have to work around bedtimes, but it's worth it. You make the most of it! We also had family there to help us through it all, so it was a great experience.

I have gotten lots of questions, so I want to help anyone out who is thinking about doing this and share some of our favorite memories and photos :)
(You can pin this photo to save this link on your Pinterest for future reference)

What did we do in Vancouver? How did we fly in and get to hotel? Where did we stay?
We flew AirCanada non-stop to Vancouver. It was an easy 1.5 hour flight and getting through customs wasn't too bad because they saw we had kids and put us in a different line. We got to the hotel by way of Taxi (we did not bring carseats because it's a lot to pack and researched and was told we didn't need them - and we felt very strange with the kids in the cab for 25 minutes... so beware of that. The SkyTrain is another, probably safer, option for future reference). We stayed at the Marriott Vancouver Pinnacle Hotel and it was very close to Canada Place (where the cruise ship departs from). It's also walking distance to a lot of great areas of the city. It's expensive, so plan accordingly - all of the hotels in the area are. There are AirBNBs and some less expensive hotels just a little further away. You do not need to get Canadian money unless you'd like to. Our credit cards worked with no fees and almost every place (and person) accepted USD.

Our first night there, we ate at a delicious restaurant called Joey Bengal One. We ate outside on the patio and they were super accommodating to our large group (including 5 young kids). Our first day we got there pretty late, so by the time we checked in, we cruised around the hotel a bit and then had dinner and dessert. We had one full day to explore the city, and I would say we could have actually had two, but we were so excited to board the ship that it would have also been hard to wait. On our full day, we talked to the concierge and ended up booking a private tour van to take all 15 of us around. You can do the hop-on, hop-off tour, but it's about $50 per person and doesn't run all-day. By the time we worked out the numbers for our party of 15 - we figured out this was about the same price and it gave us all of the flexibility we needed. Our tour guide was also super knowledgeable about the city. We spent some time at Granville Island, and honestly, I could have spent a whole day there. It's super walkable, very cute, and has lots to see and do.

The tour took us most of the day. We didn't get out at anymore stops, she drove us around and we saw how beautiful the city was. When we got off, we walked around and visited a few shops. Then, we had dinner at Cactus Club (this is a chain in Vancouver). The food was good and they were super accommodating once again for our large party.

The next morning, my dad (who is a small-airplane pilot) wanted to do a Sea Plane ride over the city. Of course, he mentioned it and the kids were thrilled and wanted to go, too. None of us had ever gone, so a group of us went. It was stunning. A beautiful sunny day and it gave me so much joy to watch my dad in the co-pilot seat. The first thing Andie said when we landed was "can we go again!". If you go to the city and can afford to splurge on this, I thought it was worth it. It was especially neat because we saw so much of the city from the car the day before - seeing it from above brought a different perspective.



How did you board the ship? Where did you go? How did you get there?
We boarded the ship at Canada Place and our hotel was just a few blocks away. Luggage for 15 people (including strollers and small children) would make this walk challenging, so we had a large van drive a few of us with all of the luggage to the port. It backed right in and employees were there to collect the luggage. Disney mails your luggage tags weeks prior to going, so be sure to bring those along.

Boarding took a little while because you have to go through customs and their registration area. I would say it took maybe 30-40 minutes. It was easy, though. I got a little choked up when we arrived because they had some cruise ship members with big mickey hands on high-fiving us and singing as we arrived. This cruise was something I have always wanted to do and it meant so much that we were getting to experience the magic. I think the cruise line knows this is truly a special thing for a lot of people, so they do their best to make it magical!

I don't want to give away all of the secrets of Disney, but I will say they do something kind of fun when you walk aboard the ship for the first time. It's exciting and such a fun experience!

How did you plan excursions and which ones did you do with the kids? How do you book them?
Well, that's the one thing I think Disney has some work to do on. Planning excursions and booking them is all done online before the trip and their website feels like it hasn't been updated or changed since the 90's. It takes a while to book, and especially with a large party, it gets tricky. Have patience and look up the excursions before your time to book them. My mother-in-law actually picked the ones we did and she did a phenomenal job. We did the Musher's Dog Sledding adventure in Skagway, The Best of Juneau Tour, and the Duck Tour in Ketchikan. If I had to do with out one, I would say the Duck Tour wasn't all that great. Save your money and just explore on your own. But I have read reviews of so many excursions, so be sure to do your research. Having young kids, we were limited on what we could do, but it all worked out extremely well. I am planning a separate post to share about the Skagway and Juneau adventures so you can learn more!

We also did special dining at Palo while on-board the boat. I know it seems crazy to pay for a meal when you are pre-paying for all of your food when you book the trip. But believe me, it was worth it. We had the best waiter, and the food was absolutely amazing. We had a brunch on Glacier day at 10am. The views from the restaurant were stunning and honestly, it was one of my most-favorite meals I have ever had. I think it's about $30 a person, but it's all you can eat - and the food is some of the best you could eat! I, not being sarcastic, took at least 8 trips to the buffet and ordered off the menu. They encourage you to over-order and try it all! Pre-book this especially if you have a party of 4 or more and want to get in on a specific day or time.



How was the child care on the ship? Did the kid's spend a lot of time there?
Well, the child care area is super amazing! They have it all - themed rooms, slides, character visits, activities galore! It's a dream for kids. My two kids weren't thrilled with the idea about being left alone, so I wouldn't have left them there while we went off of the ship. But, when they were there, they had a great time. Cody did well in the "It's a Small World" nursery and the staff is incredible. I had to go in there to nurse him at one point and I was watching how they interact with the kids... believe me, they're well taken care of!

Checking in and getting registered is a little chaotic the first day. Do as much as you can on your online profile before you go and be prepared to wait in a few lines the first couple of days. They are very secure and have a smart bracelet the kids wear that they use to get in and out. When they check in it tells them everything about the kid and who can pick them up, etc.

Side note: if you have children under 3, they are required to be in the nursery. The nursery has to be pre-booked before you board. They do have slots once you board that you can try to get, but definitely plan ahead. It costs about $10 per hour, as well, but you book in 30 minute increments.



How do you communicate on the ship? Does your cell phone have service?
That depends! Our phones had service while we were in port, but whether or not your provider says it's free probably varies. We have Verizon and ours was free anytime we had service (Vancouver and Alaska). My parents have AT&T and theirs was free in Alaska but not Vancouver. In port, we used our phones like normal - but while at sea, they have something in the rooms called "Wave Phones". These act sort of like cell phones and you can carry them around the ship and communicate. We didn't use them much, but it's cool because the child care employees will text your real phone and contact you through the wave phone if they need you or your child is ready to go (which happened a lot). You can purchase internet packages on your phone if you are desperate, but it's not cheap.

They also have an app that I strongly recommend you download before your cruise. It's called the Navigator app. This was really fun because we created a massive group text between all of us and we used it to see what everyone was up to and where everyone was. They have really cute Disney Emojis that made it even more fun. The one thing they need to improve is how the app does notifications on your phone. You could only see the messages if you had the app open. So if you were trying to get ahold of someone, you had to hope they opened up their app to check it. Fingers crossed that gets better for future cruises!

Besides communicating between each other, the app also tells you everything that's happening around the ship so you can try not to miss a thing. Note about that: it's impossible to do everything. I feel like we could do this cruise 5 more times and still do and see more every time. Just do what you can and enjoy it, don't have FOMO or it will ruin your trip :)



What extra stuff did you do on-board? Did the kids do anything special? Don't they have deck parties?
Yes, yes, and yes. My mother-in-law is awesome and wanted the girls to do the Bippity Boppity Boutique as much as possible... so they did something called the "Castle Package", which was 3 trips to the boutique, and on top of that, they did the "Frozen Package" which meant they got dressed up as a character for the Frozen night. It costs extra (I don't even want to know). But goodness gracious, they enjoyed every. single. minute. Those are some of my favorite memories - so much pure joy and magic. And the lovely ladies in the Boutique knew us all quite well by the end. They treated the girls like royalty. To book the boutique, you need to plan ahead. Pay attention to what days they go and how it interferes with the excursions. With the castle package, it included a suitcase to bring home all of their new costumes and treasures, so plan ahead with that, too!

They have a Frozen Deck Party and Pixar Party Night. They also have the Bon Voyage Deck Party and they show lots of movies on board. The one thing I think Disney could improve is the timing of the parties. The Pixar Party was at 4:30 on Juneau day. We barely made it back by 4:30, so we were late by the time we got the kids changed and ready to go. We did get to see most of it and it was ADORABLE. Do not miss it - so many characters, so much magic.

The Frozen Deck Party was good, but not as great. Still worth seeing. But again, the times are crazy - it's around 4pm, and then not again until 10pm - which, my children were toast by that time. But definitely, with out a doubt, do not miss the Frozen Broadway show on-board. The girls were mesmerized by it and us adults thought it was pretty spectacular as well!

There are characters everywhere, almost all day long. So don't stress about that. Lines are typically pretty short except for on Glacier Day when they're outside and the views are unreal. Just get there about 20 minutes early and expect a little wait. This also goes along with what I said above... don't try to do it all, just enjoy what you can do!

The kids also loved the waterslide on board. There's a height requirement, but it's much shorter than most waterslides here at home (I believe 38 inches). Nolan was able to go and loved it. It doesn't land in a pool, so even if your kid can't swim well, it's worth it. They did that one of the days. I thought they would swim more, but really, there's just so much to do, swimming wasn't really a priority!

 

(This was our table at Palo)

What did you pack?
Oh goodness, this was something I researched heavily before we left and I will say, I way over-packed! My sister, however, said she used almost everything she brought. I am going to make a little list of everything I brought and share it in another post - but to be brief but to the point... pack layers. The weather was beautiful and sunny, and we also had some freezing and windy weather, too! Don't forget sneakers and warmer shoes for cruising around the ship.

How formal was formal night? And regular dinners?
Honestly, if you book Alaska, don't stress too much about this. We got a little dressed up for formal night, but not everyone did. No one was judging, it is what you want it to be! Most of the other nights, I went with what I was wearing that day. It's casual, comfortable, and just be yourself. Don't worry about trying to fit in with other guests because everyone was so different. I couldn't tell you what the people at the table next to us were wearing.

Disney Dining... some notes about your dinner time:
They do rotational dining, which is really neat. There are 3 themed dining rooms and each night you eat at a different place. The staff travels with you and it's fun because the menus are all different and the themes of the dining rooms themselves! You will know where you are eating because of the navigator in your room or you can look at the app and it will tell you. You waiters will also tell you where to be the next night.

We had the early seating at 5:15pm. It worked very well with us with young kids, especially. And, we were all hungry by that time. Most of the ports have an early boarding time, so we never really felt like it infringed on our time off the ship, but if you have older kids that can wait for the late seating (I think it's around 7:30 or 8) then it's not a bad thing.

What were the Ports of Call? Where was your room on the ship? Did you have a verandah?
For our 7 night cruise, we had 2 days at sea, a stop at the Glacier where you don't get off the boat (unless you do the one excursion they offer to get up close with the glacier), and a stop in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway.

All of our rooms were in a row on Deck 8. We were forward on the ship and it was fabulous. We were also spoiled to be in the Verandah rooms and oh my goodness, if you can splurge for a room with a Verandah, you won't regret it. This cruise is close to land almost the entire time and the scenery is GORGEOUS. I kept pinching myself because I couldn't believe it was real. We spent a lot of time on those verandahs and it was nice to be able to hang out if the kids were napping or sleeping!

We were in the family size rooms and for the 5 of us it was great. We had two bathrooms - one with a sink and toilet and another with a sink and tub. The baby slept in a pack-n-play (our bed, too) and the kids loved the bunk beds.



Was it a rough cruise?
This is something I wondered a lot before we left.. and you may, too. The answer is - no. It's not a super rough cruise and I didn't see anyone getting seasick or anything crazy. That being said, you absolutely feel movement on your two days at sea. It's pretty mild and nothing to be afraid of, but bring along the little sea bands (I used them) if you are worried. The worst was at night so we slept through most of it.

For the majority of the cruise you can see land (& it is STUNNING) just a few hundred yards off the boat. I never felt far from the land and for the entire 3-4 days of the middle of the trip we never even really felt the boat moving. It was pretty windy for one of our days!


What would you do differently next time? Anything you wish you did that you didn't do?
Nothing. Honestly, this trip was so jam packed full of amazing experiences. I know we missed out on a lot, too. However, we made it to dinner every night and had the sweetest wait staff (shout out to Maurice and Nichola) and devoured so much delicious food. (PS: they are ridiculously accommodating for kids - including but not limited to: making mickey mouse ears when they put ketchup on their plate, ordering food that isn't on the menu and having it ready for the kids when we arrived, and cutting up their chicken for them). Believe me, the service is top-notch!

We also experienced several characters, explored off the ship in the beautiful little ports, and made the most of it all.

Maybe next time I would consider ordering room service for breakfast and going to their on-board coffee shop to get special drinks (they do cost extra, though). I would also maybe try to make a few more of the night-time shows (this was challenging with Cody). But my kids were the age they were and experiences are going to vary based on that. My advice: just go in with unknown expectations and enjoy it for what it is for you! Don't stress too much about planning every minute (besides the nursery time for infants, the Bippity Boppity Boutique and your excursions).

Also, I don't want to give away anything, but there are little surprises (beyond the towel animals) from your room attendant. Greg, our attendant, was seriously incredible! (I wanted to take him home with me). He made it really special for the kids and there was a few extra surprises we didn't know about that the kids loved!

The hardest part of the trip was the day we got off the ship. There is so much unknown when you board, and it's hard not knowing what to expect. But it's not overdone, it's not cheesy. It's fun for adults and kids. The kids were very sad to be leaving, but honestly, I think I was the saddest! I can't wait to go again.

It was the trip of a lifetime. So many special memories!




If you have any more questions, please let me know :)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dear Cody... you are 8 months old!

Cody Bear...

I'm currently staring at you laying on the floor of the house in Sunriver and we are here with all of mommy's family. You spent your 7 month day boarding the cruise in Alaska with family - and now here we are again, with family enjoying beautiful Oregon.

You changed a lot this month and are now a rolling king. You can roll back to front with ease and do it quite often. You are starting to scoot yourself backwards in an attempt to crawl, still only have two teeth on the bottom, and have a smile that makes us all melt.

You love your Pops. I will probably be writing this in every note, but you are getting more and more attached to him and wave your arms and whine until he picks you up. You love laying on his chest, being held by him, and taking baths with him. You really know your family and really aren't a fan of strangers holding you anymore - you'd prefer to just stay with your people.

You aren't the best eater, yet. You prefer to feed yourself and we try to do that as often as we can. You like rice cereal with breastmilk and you seem to be okay with sweet potatoes and prunes. You won't always eat them, though, and your favorite thing is milk! You are up a few times at night still - but typically go in 3 hour chunks (you'll start the night with a 5 hour chunk and go down between 7 and 9). Vacation is different though, you don't care for your pack-n-play and you like to be in bed with us.

You are getting bigger every day and wearing only 9 month clothes or bigger (6-12 month sizes are still okay, too). You are in a size 3 diaper. You are babbling quite a bit and say "mama" and "dada". You really love playing with your brother and sister and are very content just watching them. People always tell me what a "chill" baby you are - because you definitely are. You just love to be with us and watch what's going on. You fuss when you're hungry or tired, but snuggling and nursing always calm you down and put you to sleep. You also love playing with toys - pretty much anything that can go in your mouth is a great toy for you. Being tossed in the air is another favorite thing of yours and you like being held upside down, too!

You smile all the time when you're happy and you are truly such a loving little bear. We love you so much. You have a big family who loves you so dearly, and that's my biggest promise to you... you will always, always, always, have people who love you. I get sad when I think about how much you are growing and getting older. You are my baby and your daddy and I just love you so much... forever!

Love,
Mama

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dear Andie... You are FIVE.

My bouncy, beautiful, blonde baby girl.

I was watching you at the Club pool yesterday and how you interacted with some young girls who were there swimming that you've never met before. They were friends and I watched as you inched your way closer, started jumping in where they were swimming, and quietly introduced yourself. You didn't throw yourself at them, but I could sense you wanting to interact. I was so proud of your confidence and I loved watching you pick up on their queues of whether or not they wanted to interact back. This time, they were more interested in each other than making a new friend - so you went on your way, unbothered.

I have witnessed you put yourself out there time and time again over the last several months. You're blooming, fearlessly, and I hope this confidence in yourself never diminishes. You are truly a tough kid... you will fall right on your face and get up, brush it off, and keep going. If you stop to cry, I know you are either really hurt or really tired.

I can't believe you are FIVE years old (and almost two months). You're absolutely darling. You have thick, wavy blonde hair, toned little muscles, a smile that lights up your whole face, a dimple on your left cheek, and eyes that are as blue as the sky. More importantly, you have compassion, a wild sense of humor, a big imagination, and an intense empathy. You also have a manipulative side, and sometimes I can't believe how smart you are at knowing how to get what you want. Gramz always says to me, "she's a free spirit". Believe me, Gramz knows. And I believe it, too. Everything about you is free-spirited.

This year you have transformed from my sweet toddler baby into a little girl who can hold her own. You really enjoy the company of friends and family, playing dolls, swimming, doing arts and crafts, being outside, performing, and making big messes with that imagination of yours. This year, you finished Pre-K and did very well. You aren't reading yet, but you know most of your letters and their sounds, you can count to 40, and most importantly - you understand the social aspect of starting Elementary school. You really love to learn, and that's something I have loved to watch!

You and Nolan play very well together. The two of you play all sorts of games that you make up and you spend a lot of time in your swim suit (even when we aren't swimming). If you're not in a swim suit, you're in a dress - princess or other - and your outfit will change anywhere from 5-20 times a day. You also love your baby brother Cody. You are constantly doing everything you can to make him smile and laugh. Sometimes you're a little overbearing, but I know it's because you really love him. You are a wonderful big sister.

4 was a big year of change for our family. Not only did we welcome Cody into our lives, but we finished building our house and, quite chaotically, we moved from our rental house, in with Gramz & Pops for about a month, and then into our home. You did just fine and really worked through all of the change in your own way. I am happy to have you in your own room - your own little space. We also did some fun traveling - to Hawaii, Disneyland, Monterey, and some other smaller trips.

You're a great eater and a wonderful sleeper. You are an early riser. You are turning out to be a great swimmer and can swim easily across the pool. You learned how to ride a two wheel bike with out training wheels on New Years Eve. You love everything princess, girlie girl, make up, painted nails, etc. You were a flower girl in Casey and Annie's wedding shortly after turning 4 and loved every minute. You LOVE to sing, dance, perform, etc. It's one of your favorite things to do! You also played your first year of rec soccer. You did great and your daddy coached the team. You would set out to score a certain amount of goals, and you would usually accomplish that goal. Your celebratory dances were darling, but you also would get very upset when people played defense with you. It will be interesting to see your growth this year.

You are a lot like me. I can look at you sometimes and I know what you're thinking and what your next move is going to be if you're contemplating. You have a wonderful heart. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep because I feel like your childhood is slipping through my fingers like an hourglass, so quickly... I try to be present with you. Be patient with you and all you're learning. And one thing I want to do more of? Me and you time. When we were in the middle of our move, it was just me and you - we went to your soccer practice and then we had frozen yogurt for dinner. It was honestly so amazing - so simple, but so fun. And you talk about it all the time. You call it our "girlie-girl" time.

I am very proud of you, Andie. I hope one day, when you read some of these letters, you know how much I love you. You are growing up, changing every day, and baby, one of my favorite things about my whole life is being front seat to witness it all. You light up my entire world. You and your brothers are my biggest treasures. I may be hard on you sometimes, but it's because, darling, I want the absolute best for you. Work hard, believe in yourself, be kind to others, and remember that you're going to make mistakes. Learn from them, keep going. Life isn't always fair and we have to work through that. Your dad and I are always here for you, unconditionally. We love you and we believe you are absolutely one in a million. You are special.

Keep that free-spirited, happy-go-lucky, good-hearted, fierce, tough, and beautiful personality front and center. Look in the mirror and love what you see.

We LOVE you so much. FIVE. And absolutely fabulous.

Love,
Mama

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 7 months old

Sweet, squishy Cody Bear....

How can it be? 7 months old! It's been another big month for you - especially because you got your first TWO teeth. You got teeth so much earlier than your siblings that I wasn't expecting them and it was pops who saw you had one poking through for the first time. It all made sense though, because you haven't been sleeping well and you've been a little less "chill" than usual (yet, still very chill). I couldn't believe it - and now you have two little front bottom teeth.

You've also been eating much more solid foods this month. It took a while for you to get used to the idea of eating anything besides milk, but you're starting to eat more. Your favorite is rice cereal and slowly I have added in sweet potatoes and prunes which you are okay with. You also like to eat avocado, which I have been letting you feed yourself.

You are up quite a few times at night right now, probably because of getting teeth, but you are officially sleeping in your own bed and this month I moved our rocking chair into your bedroom for me to use at night. I sure miss having you next to me, but you're only a few steps across the hall away. Before getting teeth, you did give me a night or two where you were only up once. You nap pretty well during the day for an hour or two at a time, twice a day. We aren't on a super schedule because we are on the go a lot, but I try to get you down for at least your morning nap.

You are one of the happiest babies I know. You smile very easily (unless you're tired or hungry) and you are still extremely ticklish. Your giggle makes me melt and you belly laugh all the time. This month you have also started reaching for people, which I love. You definitely know your "people" and you love to be held and snuggled. You are growing very fond of your Pops, and he loves to put you down for naps on his "popsurpedic" chest. I love seeing your relationship grow with your Gramz & Pops.

You are wearing mostly 6-12 month clothes and 9 month sizes. You can still barely fit into the 6 month size, but I am not ready to get rid of it all yet. You are still in size 3 diapers and lately you've been blowing out of those easily. At your last appointment, you were 17lbs 12oz and 26.5 inches tall. You are in the 50th percentile for weight and the 35th for height. You're growing well and the doctor said your head was looking better (after being a little flat).

You have started rolling a little bit more this month, especially belly to back, but you've only gone back to belly once or twice. The doctor said it's okay, though! You are a pro at sitting up and you really prefer that to laying down, so you will sit and play most of the time.

You are great in the car, which has been very welcome to us after your big brother and sister hated it so much. You love playing with all your toys and they're a great distraction for you when needed. You also LOVE your baths and you splash a ton and get everyone and everything wet. You're a blanket baby and I think you're going to love them as much as Andie and Nolan as you get bigger. You also like to sit in your jump-a-roo. But your absolute favorite thing is to be held and carried around so you can see the world. You are on the go with us all the time and you really just go with the flow.

I am so proud to be your mommy. You are a wonderful baby and I love watching you take everything in just like you love watching all of us. I am relishing in you as often as I can because I know it's going to fast. Your daddy and I talk about how cute you are all the time. We can't get enough of you.

I love you so much, Cody. Forever and ever times infinity.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer Favorite: Swimzip Swimsuits

A couple of years ago (when Andie was about 2) I found this little company called Swimzip on Instagram that was started by a woman who was passionate about protecting our bodies from the sun (she was diagnosed with skin cancer at 26!). I loved her swimwear because it was stylish and great for the kids. I am not a huge fan of putting sunscreen on the kids every hour, so her suits make me feel less stressed about the sun and the kids really love them. She also has things for men and women - so much cute stuff and it's all great for the summer.

Before we left for Hawaii, I wanted to get some really cute pieces to bring along because I knew the kids were going to be living in their suits. They were amazing! Especially for Cody, because they're not supposed to have sunscreen before 6 months of age.

Check them out if you're looking for new suits for yourself or the kids for summer. It's fun to support small businesses, especially fellow mamas who have a passion for helping others!




Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dear Cody... You are SIX months old.

Sweet Cody-Bear...

You are SIX months old. One of my all time favorite ages. The last month you have grown stronger and every day you're getting cuter and cuter (which I didn't think was possible). You love to be held and snuggled and I love getting to hold you so much.

You are getting heavier, I am estimating about 18 pounds, and you have little chunk rolls all over your body. You are eating a couple of solid foods - you've tried a few bites of avocado and a few bites of sweet potato, but for now, you are pretty set on your milk. You and I are still rocking breastfeeding and I am so happy we have made it to 6 months. I plan on working a few more foods into your diet in the next month.

Your sister turned 5 years old today as well. It's crazy that you two are 4.5 years apart. She and Nolan both adore you and are very interested in everything you are doing. And you are very interested in them!

You still aren't rolling regularly - you have gone tummy to back about 3 times - but you are a pro at sitting up by yourself. You can go for minutes at a time with out losing your balance and you really prefer to be able to sit up. You are very strong and you're scooting forward and backward on your tummy. You are also very good at moving your fingers and reaching for things. You love to grab your hands and feet and will stare at them quite a bit.

You took your first flight to Maui, and you did wonderfully well. You absolutely loved being near the water, especially with your little feet in the pool and ocean. You slept for 3 hours on our flight home and everyone around us couldn't believe we had such a little guy with us who was so great. You spent lots of quality time with your Gramz & Pops, and our little family loved having you with us for the very first time.

You are spending lots of time during the day in our arms, on the floor with toys, watching your brother and sister, and you will sometimes sit in your little jump-a-roo. You automatically put everything in your mouth - you love to have blankies and toys right up in your face. You are also still drooling, although it has slowed down a little bit in the last month.

You are babbling quite a bit now, too, and it sounds like you're saying 'dada'. You love to stare at us and laugh or fake cough. You are also still very ticklish and will sometimes laugh when we change your diaper because it tickles.

You are one of the sweetest little babies I have ever laid my eyes on. You are mellow, content, super easy going, and you just love your people. You smile and giggle all the time! When you smile, you make me want to freeze in time forever so I can just stare at you. I want 100 more babies if they are like you. You're just a wonderful little guy and your daddy and I can't believe how blessed we are to have you. I am already so proud to be your mommy. I love you SO much and I look at you at least once a day and wonder why I get to be so lucky to have you. You're amazing, Cody.

I can't wait to see the doctor next week to get your updated stats and get you all checked out. I still worry about you too much, but deep down I know you're absolutely perfect just the way you are. You're already teaching us about life.

Love you to the moon and back times infinity. Forever. Never forget that, son.

Love,
Mama

Saturday, April 28, 2018

How we Hawaii with kids

I had a couple people ask me how we traveled with 3 kids to Hawaii recently. Before 3, we have taken quite a few flights with Andie and Nolan, and before that we traveled a lot with Andie (we got in as many flights as possible while she was free before 2). We have learned a few things about what works and what doesn't, and each vacation with kids will be different based on what your plans are while there. For example, what makes Hawaii great is that we stayed at our resort most of the time - the ocean and pool were at our doorstep, and we could walk almost anywhere else we wanted to go. That makes it super easy as opposed to a vacation where you are constantly on the go and needing to travel everywhere while there.


How do you fly there with 3? Well, for this trip, Cody was a lap child and Andie and Nolan both had their own seats on the plane. I packed hefty carry-on backpacks for them with all sorts of activities (which really helped Andie especially) and we loaded an iPad for them to watch and keep them occupied. We have a direct flight that lands in Maui with no layovers, so that also makes it super convenient. Side note: Alaska Airlines is fantastic. We have something called the Companion Fares through their credit card. Basically you pay full price for one flight and then bring a second person for $99 (+ taxes & the annual fee which brings it to about $200 total roundtrip). Tim and I both have a credit card and we book one of us with one kid and it significantly saves us! Click here to read more about it - but especially if you are planning on annual air travel to Hawaii, it is absolutely worth it. Anyway - both flights this year with 3 were smooth and the kids were great. The more traveling you do, the more they get used to it. If you get to choose your seats - Tim and Nolan sat in one row and Andie, Cody and I sat in front or behind them.

Do any of your kids ride in a carseat on the plane? This was the first trip Andie didn't have a 5 point harness carseat on the plane, only Nolan. My dad actually purchased a carseat by Diono that can fit into a backpack carrier, which makes it compact enough to carry on the plane. Any carseat you bring on the plane must be approved by TSA (there is a small airplane emblem on the back of this carseat so it makes it obvious for flight attendants). It's not light, but that's why I married a pack mule, I mean man who doesn't mind lugging it on to the plane. Tip... use your umbrella stroller through security/airport and push the carseat on that so you're not carrying it around - then you only have to carry the actual carseat once you gate check the stroller before stepping on the plane. If you have an older child who sits in a booster, bring that along on the airplane. Then both of those can be transferred to a rental car once you land. There is actually a really cool booster that inflates to bring along - I haven't purchased it, but we probably will for our next trip for both Andie and Nolan. Cody's carseat was put into a travel bag and we checked that for free when we got to the airport.

How do you get everything packed and ready for the trip? Ha, this is actually comical when you realize how much crap you have, but remember, it takes a village. Because we had 4 tickets (if you have an Alaska Airlines card each person gets one free checked bag), I packed everything into 4 suitcases. We also had 2 umbrella strollers (which we gate checked in their travel bags), Cody's carseat (checks for free), 4 backpacks (one for each of us), and then Nolan's carseat. For babies, everyone is different about what they pack, but I do pack diapers and wipes to bring along, then it frees up space in your luggage in case you purchase anything. We also had a washer and dryer where we stayed, so I purposely packed less pajamas, etc and did some laundry while there. Because it's Hawaii, I also packed their floaty wings (they're hard to find there), a blow up duck from Target to put Cody in on the beach, bath bombs (the kids love them and it's an incentive to get them in from the pool and they took baths everyday), sunscreen (cheaper than buying there), and all of the regular packing essentials. I had one suitcase for me, Tim had one for him, Andie had hers (which I also packed my breast pump in because I knew I would need it), and then Nolan and Cody shared a large suitcase. Because their clothes are so small, that is where I also packed the floaty wings and extras I named above.

As for getting to the airport, we drove. Tim dropped me, the kids, and allllll of our stuff off at the check in area and I began the process of getting us checked in. My parents and their friends were on our same flight this time, so they were there to help me with the chaos, but in the past when they haven't been, the airline has been super helpful about helping me manage everything. I always make sure we are there early so if I just have to stand there and wait for Tim to park the car in the long term area it won't make us late for our flight. I wore Cody in a carrier and both kids had their umbrella strollers (we open the carseat so we don't have to carry it and sit it on one of the strollers so they can ride, but they usually just run beside the strollers). With the kids, early is key - and make sure everyone goes potty before getting on the plane! Also, plan on taking trips back and forth to the curb when you arrive and get ALL your luggage off the belt - there's definitely some sweat equity and hustle involved.

Hawaii is super kid-friendly - at least where we stay. We stay at the Westin Villas in Kaanapali and it is a wonderful place for families. No one looks at you funny if you breastfeed, your kids can run around everywhere, they have activities and awesome pools (& waterslides), and the beaches are beautiful and easy for swimming. There are also several places to stay on Maui (& other islands, too) that you can find good deals on if you pay attention.

If you have been contemplating taking a trip there but are nervous because your kids are young... don't let the fear of it all stop you from taking the leap. Vacations are different with young kids, obviously, and it's not everyone's cup of tea. But we have really enjoyed seeing them experience it all and it makes for lots of special memories. It can be expensive, but if you stay somewhere with a kitchen you can alleviate some of the cost by stopping by Target or Costco and eating in (which we did for half of the nights), but we personally feel like the best money we spend is for memories with our family. We don't typically buy physical presents for each other, we spend that money on memories. We have also figured out a ton of tips and tricks for traveling there for less money - pay attention to flight deals, travel off-season (if you're willing to take kids out of school), check costco for rental car deals, and plan ahead to know what you need to save up.

I can't think of any other tips for traveling with kids, but we kind of just have a little system now. I do get some anxiety before we fly because I always worry about the kids being good and not disturbing others - but we have been so lucky and they've been great travelers... don't expect to sit back, watch movies and drink mai tais the whole time (unless your kids take 5 hour long naps). I was up, holding Cody, coloring with Andie, busy with them to keep them quiet and satisfied. But it was all worth it and all 3 kids were good! Do you have anything you do that really helps? I am always up for learning more about what works for people. XO


SaveSave

Friday, April 13, 2018

Traveling with kids: What we carry on


Tim and I have been traveling with our kiddos since Andie was 4 months old to take advantage of the 'free before 2' flights. Fast forward almost 5 years and quite a few more trips, we definitely are NOT experts - but we have learned a few tricks.

The kids both have their own backpack they carry-on to the flight (now that they have their own seats). I pack mostly items that they've never seen before - or items they haven't played with in a while - to make it interesting and keep their attention. These things usually work as a double because I use them when we are out to eat on vacation as well - lots of great stuff to play with in a restaurant. I also keep an item or two in my suitcase to surprise them with on the flight home. Something simple, but it does the trick!

Here's are some of the things in Andie's carry-on backpack (Nolan's is similar, just with some other themes he's a little more interested in):

I don't pack ALL of this in her backpack, it would be too heavy - I save a few of these items to trade in for the way home. I also bring an iPad for them, but it's pretty heavy for them, so Tim and I keep them in our bags for them, but that's why you see her headphones. I also always make sure to pack their blankies since they like to snuggle with them while they sleep. We have a few blankies for each kid - so I designate an airplane blanket and leave another one in the suitcase for the hotel to keep it clean. Another great thing I will throw in their carry on... a few snacks (I will grab a piece of fruit in the airport, too) and I always put in an empty ziplock bag. It usually comes in handy!

Here are some extra pieces I take with me on our trips to keep them entertained while we are out to eat or trying to keep them busy:

Another little trick I have learned... I always bring an extra change of clothes for them and a plastic shopping bag in my carry on - just in case! The plastic bag has come in handy for several reasons. We ALWAYS have a fresh pack of baby wipes and hand sanitizer, too!

Most of the items pictured are from the target dollar section or amazon. A lot of them can be re-used over and over again, too, so they're a good investment. Michael's carries coloring books and sometimes has huge sales on them ($1 or less), so I will stock up on a few of them when I see them!

(lacing kits from the dollar section at Target)

Here's a few things that are great to pack in their bag: 
lacing activities
sticker books 
play-doh
beading activities (Andie loves these) 
the on-the-go packets at Target
color crayons & color books
empty ziplock bag
headphones
snacks
blankie or comfort toy
books (keep it light)
and any other activities that are easy to take on the go and don't make a big mess.

In my bag for them:
baby wipes
hand sanitizer
extra change of clothes
ipad
band aids
empty plastic shopping bag
snacks

Both of my kids are interested in everything pictured - but if your child is interested in something, figure out a way to bring it if possible.

I am sure I am forgetting lots of things - this is just where I like to start when prepping for a trip with little ones. :) What are your go-to items for kids while for traveling?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 5 months old!

Happy 5 months, my sweet Cody bear...

My smiley, sweet baby boy! You love to stare and I love locking eyes with you and trying to figure out what you're thinking. You've grown so much this month. You giggle a lot - and it is absolutely the cutest giggle I have ever heard. You're just a happy boy by nature and it's really easy to get you to giggle (daddy also love tickling you to make you giggle). And on that note, you are extremely ticklish!

You like to suck on your bottom lip (you have the most adorable big lips) and your fingers. Your Gramz is really good at getting you to take a paci, but we don't have that great of luck, even though we try. We are hoping you don't become a thumb sucker, but whatever makes you happy makes me happy!

You are almost grown out of 6 month clothes, they're starting to get small on you. You are wearing 6-12 months sizes more comfortably. You are still a great eater and I am so grateful that we have had a successful breastfeeding journey so far. You have taken a couple of bottles of breastmilk, but you definitely prefer to nurse. We haven't started you on any solid foods yet, but we probably will within the month.

We celebrated your 1st Easter this month and you were a ham. You loved being able to watch everyone and we celebrated at Gramz & Pop's house on Friday before with all of your cousins, then again on Easter Sunday at Aunt Richelle & Uncle Danny's house. You did so well taking in all of the faces and noises of the gang.

You are taking a few naps during the day and you sleep really well in your crib. You aren't the best sleeper at night, you will sometimes wake every 2 hours - occasionally you will go in a 4 hour stretch. You absolutely love to sleep with me and daddy and if we are next to you, you always have at least one part of your body touching us. I have just been enjoying your little baby snuggles, I know even more now how quickly this time goes and it breaks my heart.

You still aren't rolling - but you are trying more often to go back to front. When you're on your belly, you like to rotate around and shuffle forward and backward - you're going to be mobile quickly, I just know it!

You have the cutest smile - it absolutely makes us melt. You are such a mellow little guy, it doesn't take much to make you happy. You have your moments in the car, but for the most part, you are much better than your brother and sister on longer car rides.

You love watching your brother and sister and they love to be around you. They smother you, try to hold you, and love laying with you. It is so much fun to see all of you interact. You are such a great little baby and it feels like I have known you my whole life!

I love you to the moon and back and I absolutely love being your mommy. You and that precious smile bring us so much joy every single day.

Love,
Mama


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 4 Months Old!

Sweet baby Cody,

Oh, baby. Your mama is head over heels for you. You are my little love bug and I tell people all the time that you're my angel baby. You are such a good natured little boy, you're usually very content and if you're upset it's because you're hungry or tired.

This month we did have a rough few days with you having a little head cold. Your stuffy nose made it hard for you to breathe and sleep was a little touch and go. You are still sleeping in our room (most often in our bed) and you are usually up two times a night. Occasionally you will go in a 5 to 6 hour stretch, but it's usually less. It could also be my fault though, I get you immediately when you stir and feed you. I am not ready for you to leave our room just yet.

You are still a fantastic eater! You usually eat at least every 3 hours through the day. You mostly breastfeed, but occasionally you will take a bottle of pumped breast milk if I am not here.

You are wearing 6 month clothes (some 6-12 month sizes) and size two diapers. We probably won't be in those size 2 diapers for very long. You have been drooling lots the last few weeks (maybe getting teeth, but it's still a little early). I ordered more of the bandana bibs for you - good thing you look adorable in them!

You giggle and smile a lot and have a very expressive face. We can almost always get you to smile and you are extremely ticklish! When we go to change your clothes and diaper, you usually let out some big smiles or laughs because it tickles you. You are absolutely scrumptious. You love your baths, too, and going in the big tub with super warm water relaxes you. You will float in there for as long as we let you and just look around and kick your little feet.

You love watching your brother and sister, and this month especially you have taken a liking to toys. You will swat at them, hold them and put them directly in your mouth, and you like to stare at most colorful toys. We put together your ever-saucer (jump-a-roo) a few days ago and you do go in it for about 10 minutes at a time. You are doing very well at holding your head up and have great control. You aren't rolling yet most likely because we haven't given you a lot of time on your back on the floor because of your head. We've been to physical therapy again and she said you were doing very well and your head is starting to round out finally. You spend a lot of time being carried in our arms or on my chest in the front pack - you definitely don't seem to mind and love looking around at everything.

I am not sure about your weight (you have an appointment with Dr. Barretto on Friday), but we are all guessing you're around 16 pounds. You are definitely growing quickly!

This was a big month for our family as we said goodbye to your great grandpa John. You two were the bookends of the Zehnder family and I am so glad you were able to meet him before he went to heaven. This month you and I were able to spend some quality time at his house and he held you and smiled at you. He was so proud of you, Cody, and his love for you was evident in his smile. He was an incredible man - always kind, always a friend to everyone. May we all do our very best to make him proud. Saying goodbye isn't easy, especially because he truly made the world a better place.

I feel so blessed to have you in my life and I am so proud to be your mom. I hope you never doubt just how deeply you are loved. I hate seeing you grow so fast, but with each day I love you more.

Love,
mama

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 3 months old!

My sweet, chubby-cheek little man,

You're 3 months old - and this last one has been full of so many wonderful changes for you. You're smiling more and have let out some pretty cute little giggles. Any of us can get you to smile with ease and you're just a very laid-back and happy baby. You are also very chatty and if we talk to you, you love to talk back. You're ticklish too and giggle when we change your clothes or when daddy tickles your belly. It's so adorable!

You are sleeping pretty well - going in one long stretch of 5-7 hours, then waking every 3 hours for milk after. You are a great little eater and you love mama's milk! You're exclusively breastfeeding (except for a few bottles of breast milk) and you're gaining so much weight - I will bet you have gained at least another pound or two since last month. :) You are comfortably wearing 3-6 month and 6 month sized clothes and you're busting out of your size 1 diapers (lots of blow outs). We will have to bump up to size 2 very shortly.

At your 2 month appointment, Dr. Barretto noticed your head was slightly flat, so we started paying close attention to how you turn your head and doing more tummy time. When we didn't see a lot of progress after a few days, I reached out to your doctor again and she set us up with physical therapy to help make sure your head will be okay. You've gotten so much stronger and you can easily hold it up on your tummy for little stretches of time (cobra pose) and you are very good at holding your head steady when we hold you with it unsupported. We have another appointment this week!

You love watching your brother and sister (and Nolan especially loves to hold you and asks every day if he can). You also love watching ceiling fans, your bouncer, and being held facing forward so you can take everything in around you.

I left you overnight for the very first time last night so we could celebrate your nana's 70th birthday in Napa. It was very hard for me to leave you and I went back and forth about what to do, but I knew you were in amazing hands with your Gramz & Pops. They took such great care of you and your siblings and I wasn't worried about you, but I sure missed you. You did so well for them, taking a bottle and your normal sleeping pattern.

On Friday, you got to visit with your very special great grandpa. I took you over to see him again and you gave him smiles and sat on his lap for a brief time. It was a special moment I will never forget because you and him are the bookends of the Z fam (until more great grand babies are born). 91 years apart and Cody, you are so lucky you had the opportunity to meet this incredible man. He is the most wonderful person and I hope many of his traits will pass down to you through me.

I am so in awe of you, sweet baby. You love your bath time and lately the two of us have been taking them together in my tub and it's one of my favorite things. You are so calm, smile, and just love to soak. I love staring into your beautiful blue eyes and smiling at you. You are the sweetest baby - I love you more than you will ever know!

You're one of my biggest blessings, baby.

Love,
mama

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Keeping track of memories

One of the things I really enjoy is taking pictures of my kids. It was initially really hard for me to figure out a system to organize them when Andie was born, so I started by just making specific albums in my iPhoto. Every other month (or so) I upload the pictures from my phone to my iPhoto library and put them into the folders for each kid. 

Here's how Nolan's look in my iPhoto - you can break apart the months or year however you'd like - I do it in one month increments when they're babies, then bump it up to 6 month increments after they turn 2. This just helps me stay organized!

Every six months or so, I go through for each kid and drag them into shutterfly and print them. Be sure to catch them on a sale, they have them all the time! Then, when they arrive, they are usually in order by date, which is super helpful, and I just put them into these photo boxes (which I get at Michaels, usually) in chronological order. 



This was a great way to keep them organized - but I wasn't really doing much with them!

That's when I decided to start my own little private instagram account - I don't have any followers - on purpose- because I will upload them when I have a few extra minutes and it will sometimes be 20-30 pictures at a time from my phone. I date each picture and make a note in the caption if it's something I need to remember. I try to do this every couple of weeks so I don't get behind.

Then, at the end of the year (for example, I started this in 2015, so for 2015-2016) I login to my shutter fly account and make a custom book. You can download your photos from Instagram directly into their "book making page" and I just drag them in. It goes really fast because they're all in chronological order and it's all of the photos I love with out having to dig through all of the thousands of photos in my phone or iPhoto library.


I set a goal for myself the last 2 years to get their books done by the second week of January. When I get them done early, I feel accomplished :) This month I have been on maternity leave, so that made it much easier to get them done!

Now, I have a little library of books for each year of their lives. I get the 8X8 size and the kids absolutely love to look through them. I also write each kid a few little notes through out the book to remind them of specific details of the year. 


You can use any photo book service, I just love shutterfly because I have always used them and it's free to store all of my photos. They also date the back of the photos when you get them printed out. I also really love that I can order one book for now and if, down the road, I want to order another copy of the books I have made, I can do that because they save and store all of my projects (never go away, shutterfly!)


This isn't an advertisement for shutterfly, just my own thoughts and opinions. Let me know if you have any questions! xo

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dear Cody... You're 2 months old!

Sweet baby Cody,

TWO months. It's hard to believe I met your darling little face two months ago. You've brought so much happiness to our lives. It was a big month - we celebrated Christmas and the New Year, you smiled for us for the first time, and you have grown so much!

You made the switch from newborn sized diapers to size 1 right around Christmas. You are wearing all 3 month clothes, but 3-6 month size fits best. You aren't a huge fan of pants or anything restricting your belly, so we mostly have been keeping you in your sleepers so you are comfy.

You like your bouncer and your Mama Roo, and you especially love being carried around in our arms or the carrier so you can see everything. You love to take it all in - and I love watching you watch your brother and sister play. I am sure you want to jump in and play with them, and I am excited to see that happen later. You are very observant, calm, and overall a very happy baby! You smiled for the first time for Gramz, and since then you've smiled more for all of us. I feel like I am going to melt every time I see you smile, it is honestly one of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen.

Celebrating your first Christmas was definitely a highlight (besides seeing your smile) of the last month. You got to meet so many of your family members and we celebrated our first Christmas in our new house. We celebrated with Gramz, Pops, Auntie Juju & Kelly, and Uncle Matt & Jason and all of your cousins on Christmas Eve at G&P's house. That evening, we celebrated with the Z family at the clinic before coming home to our own beds to wait for Santa. Christmas morning was very special and I loved getting to snuggle and hold you while brother and sister played with their new toys. Nana, and Uncle Joe and Dave came over on Christmas and Gramz and Pops did, too. You got lots of new toys and clothes, we had a wonderful dinner, and just loved spending time together.

You are a good sleeper. You mostly go about 3-4 hours at night, but lately, you've given me about 5 nights (not in a row) of a 6 hour stretch. You wake up to eat and usually go right back to sleep unless you have gas. You are quite gassy, but you're still so good and don't fuss much about it. You sometimes will get slightly fussy at night, but nothing we can't fix with nursing or holding you. We think you're a very content and sweet baby. And I love the extra snuggles I get when you are fussy :) I also love how you sleep with your arms up by your head, it's adorable.

You are a very good eater - you love your breastmilk and you get it every time you ask! You took a bottle of breastmilk at just over a month old and have taken a couple since then for practice. I did get mastitis this month and had to go on antibiotics, but luckily it cleared up fast and we have been all good since!

We welcomed 2018 with open arms. YOU were definitely the best part of 2017 and we are so happy you're healthy and growing to start the new year. We saw your doctor this morning and you were 12 pounds 8 ounces, definitely growing very well.

We absolutely adore you, Cody. Your brother and sister can't get enough of you. Nolan especially loves to hold you and asks every day if he can. We love you so much and I am so proud of how well you're growing and thriving. You are such a beautiful little baby and we couldn't be happier to have you as a part of our family!

I love you to the moon and back times infinity, Cody.
Love,
Mama

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dear Nolan... You're 3!

Our sweet, handsome Noley-Bear…

My favorite word to describe you is sweet… because you are absolutely one of the sweetest people I know. You will randomly come up to me and give me a kiss and tell me you love me. You are full of so much love and life. You love your family and this year was one of so much change for you, you really came out of your shell!

You are getting bigger, wearing mostly 2T and 3T clothes. You have a long and lean build and are so handsome. Daddy cuts your hair and you’re absolutely irresistible when you flash your sneaky little smile. I love that daddy and I can cure almost any owie with a kiss.

You love to play jokes on people and make us laugh. You are obsessed with tractors and tools. You can name pretty much every tractor (you say your favorite is an excavator) and you know most of your tools, too. We have been known to stop at construction sites while we are driving so you can watch the tractors work. You love to be outside and this year we got you your first two wheeled bicycle and you were a pro right away. You also love your ride-on toys.

You love all television shows and movies, especially those that have tractors, and you love to watch ‘tractors on Pops computer with him.’ This year, while we were waiting for our house to be finished, we lived with Gramz & Pops for a little more than a month. You, especially, spent lots of time with them. At the beginning of the year you went up flying in his airplane for the first time and loved it. You told us all about how you wore “headphones” - it was so special. You also got to drive a skid steer tractor and a combine harvester on your trips out to the rice ranch. You would cry when it was time to leave! You also experienced your first “Urban Picnics”, which are what Pops did with me and your aunties when we were little (McDonald’s happy meal on the back of his pick up). You spent lots of time with him out in the man cave, too. You also bonded very closely with your Gramz. You call her “Gamz” and every night you would call for her from your bed at their house so she would come in and rock you. She was also the first person you would call for in the mornings and it was so cute to hear you yell down the hall for her!

If anyone asks you your name, you will say “Noley-Bear!” In the last couple of months, you’ve become much more social and you will introduce yourself to strangers now by saying “I’m Noley-Bear!!” Daddy and I are pretty sure you will write that name on your papers when you start school.

You are the sweetest big brother to Cody and some of my favorite memories from this year were rocking you to sleep and you singing “twinkle twinkle little star” to my belly. You are so affectionate… you love to be hugged and held and I can always count on you for a big, tight hug. Since Cody was born, you ask often to hold him and I almost always say yes because I want you two to bond. You are very sweet with him and have your own little voice that you talk to him with.

We took two trips to Disneyland this year and you experienced so much while we were there. You loved the characters (except for Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas) and when you met Darth Vader, or “darth mador” as you call him, you said, “you’re a mean guy!”.

You played soccer this year and you weren’t really sure about it at first. It took quite a bit of warming up and a few practices (& bribery on our end) before you started to jump in and play. Once you got going, you did great and it was so cute to watch you.

You’re a pretty picky eater but you love fruit, chicken nuggets, sweets and your favorite is hamburgers - especially from In N Out. Daddy and I love the way you say hamburger - you enunciate each syllable - “ham-buur-gur!” One night when we were sitting around the dinner table I asked you and your sister what you were thankful for and she said “you guys!”. You looked right at us and said “chicken nuggets” :) You are hilarious and you knew it would make us laugh.

We are so crazy about you, Nolan! You are so special to us and I can’t imagine life with out you and your sparkly little smile in it. I am so proud of you and the little boy you are becoming. Never give up on what you want, stay kind, and always remember your mama is here for you and loves you no matter what!

Love, Mommy