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