SURPRISE! And a visit from Grandma :)

Last weekend I pulled off, for a 10th year in a row, a surprise birthday party for Ken!  And somehow, he was surprised again!  Since he was so distracted in the past few weeks by studying for his test, I figured it would be easy to make plans without his knowledge.  While he was taking his test, his parents flew in from Connecticut, his brothers drove down from NY and CT and friends arrived at our house from all over the Baltimore/Washington area.  He called me when he was done with his test and we all got ready to surprise him when he got home!  3.25.2014(4)

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Since I couldn’t very well prepare ahead of time as far as the food was concerned, I kept the food very basic… we got a fruit tray, a veggie tray, chips with salsa and guacamole, pita chips and hummus, cheese and crackers, and we ordered pizzas.  We also had 2 birthday cakes–one was “hot chocolate” flavored from a local bakery and the other was a carrot cake from Whole Foods.  For beverages we had beer, cider and soda and juice.  3.25.2014(5)

Jon and Sara and the kids came down just for the day but it was very special to see them!  Julia always has a lot of fun with them. 3.18.2014(3)

 

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Ken’s parents, and Adam and Jen stayed over night.  Bubbie  got to read Julia her bedtime stories: 3.25.2014(2)

and in the morning we all went to breakfast at One World Cafe (where they had plenty of vegan/gluten free options for Jen!) 3.24.14

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The party itself was “open house” style party which meant Ken had time to really talk to everyone who came to celebrate with him.  And, since his test was over it meant his mind was not focused on the studying he had to do.  The party was definitely a success and I’m so glad I was able to keep him unaware throughout the planning!  It was a wonderful weekend with our family and friends!

 

On Monday after the party weekend, we had ANOTHER snow day!  I’ve lost count of the number of snow days we’ve had this winter but this one seemed like the least necessary of them all… the roads were fine, there wasn’t that much snow on the ground, and it started to melt by mid-afternoon.  We played at home in the morning for a little bit, where Julia had lots of fun reading books while sitting in her chair, and eating her toes! 3.18.2014 3.18.2014(2)Then we went over to Pete & Sarah’s house for a playdate with James!  Julia had a lot of fun playing with Mr. Pete’s gloves.  She looked so silly with her giant hands.  At one point she gave one of the gloves to James so they could high five!  That was pretty cute!  3.18.2014(5)

Then on Thursday last week… I picked up Julia from daycare and then we went to pick up Grandma from the airport!!!

Julia had lots of fun with Grandma this week.  Thursday night Ken & I went out for dinner just the two of us while Grandma babysat.  We got sushi in Fells Point and then got a beer at a bar we used to go to in college for trivia.  Friday we had a Mommy, Baby & Grandma day at home in the morning before running a few errands in the afternoon.  Julia had lots of fun playing with Grandma’s yarn! 3.25.2014(9)

and she also had fun with Grandma’s scarf and gloves. 3.25.2014(8)

We took some silly pictures of course, with various pairs of sunglasses: 3.25.2014(7)

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and then we went out to do some grocery shopping.  In the afternoon we went to a Toddler Play Date at the Walters Art Museum.  We played with two other little girls and their mommies before heading home for a lovely Shabbat dinner at home with Daddy!

Saturday the weather was beautiful so we all went out on a walk on the Hopkins campus and spent a lot of time outside in the sun.  Julia had a lot of fun playing with dirt and running around on the upper quad of campus.  She also enjoyed sitting in chairs like a big girl! 3.25.2014(13)

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Sunday it was starting to cool off… so in the morning my mom and I took Julia to the Science Center, where she had tons of fun playing in their Kids Room. 3.25.2014(11)

Then we got a call from Uncle Adam that he was driving down to DC from Connecticut and he wanted to see us for lunch!  So we met him in Pikesville at one of the Kosher Chinese Restaurants.  It was a nice treat for Julia to see Uncle Adam in the middle of a Sunday afternoon! 3.25.2014(10)

Monday I went to work while Julia stayed home with Grandma.  They had a lot of fun but Julia didn’t want to give Grandma a break.  She ended up not napping the whole day!  They did have fun though–on her rocking giraffe: 3.25.2014(14)

playing with all her toys in her room: 3.25.2014(15)

and brushing her teeth for 20 minutes! 3.25.2014(16)

Last night Ken and I had a second date night… this time at Birrotecca, where we had a scrumptious wild mushroom pizza!  And this morning my mom and I dropped Julia off at daycare and then headed to the airport.  It’s always hard to say goodbye after my mom comes to visit and it seems to get harder and harder each time.  The older Julia gets, the more fun they have together and the harder it is to say goodbye.  Luckily this time we already have tickets booked for our next trip home in May.  We’ll be going to visit Grandma AND Grandpa in San Francisco just seven weeks from Thursday!  Talking to them on FaceTime helps a lot too, since it makes it seem like we’re really visiting with them.  And we will be quite busy between now and then so we’ll have plenty of adventures to write about before then!

 

 

 

#2

I’ve had on my mind a lot lately the question: When should we have another baby?  I’ve always wanted to have at least 2 for many reasons (which I won’t go into here) and Ken and I have always talked about having at least two (I can’t really see myself with more than 2 but I’ve always said we’ll have 2 and then we’ll see how we feel).  Our dear friends Phil & Sabrina just had baby #2, 22 months after baby #1.  And our friends Holly & Isaac recently had baby #3 (their kids are 23 months and 27 months apart).  I think that just like with the question “when should we have children?” there is no perfect answer to this question.

I used to think there was a science to figuring out the perfect time to have a second baby and I would ask everyone I met who had more than one: “how far apart are they?  What do you think of that age difference?” but then I realized that I know siblings who are 2 years apart who hate each other and siblings who are 2 years apart and are the best of friends.  I also know siblings who are 5 years apart and hate each other and siblings who are 5 years apart and are absolutely inseparable.  How far apart you space your children does not (at least from what I’ve seen) have much of an impact on how well they get along as they get older.  I think siblings get along because of the way you parent them and teach them to love one another and to respect one another and because you show them each that you love them for who they are.

That being said, I do think there are certain things you can do to make having a second child easier on you… for one, I think waiting until baby #1 is out of diapers probably makes things a little easier so you don’t have to worry about potty training one while dealing with a screaming newborn who wants to nurse every 45 minutes.  I also think waiting until baby #2 is already out of their crib probably makes things a little easier so you don’t have to worry that they’ll see the new baby as forcing them to move from their crib to a toddler bed.  And I think it’s probably a little easier to focus on a newborn if your older child is somewhat self-sufficient (i.e. can eat by themselves, can play for 15 minutes without a huge amount of supervision, can go to the bathroom without too much assistance). But I really don’t think there’s an exact science and I think the biggest thing to decide is when you feel “ready” to add a second child to your family dynamic.

For me the answer is “not yet.”  Right now I’m really loving our little family of 3.  I love the way we interact.  I love the way Julia’s personality is blossoming and she is really becoming a little person with ideas and thoughts of her own.  I love how well she and Ken are bonding more and more the older she gets.  I’m very happy with how things are going right now and I’m not quite ready to rock the boat.  When I will feel ready, I do not know.  But I do know the answer is “not yet.”  I’ve sort of arbitrarily decided that I want Julia and her younger sibling to be 3-3.5 years apart, which would mean starting to try to get pregnant around January of 2015 (i.e. 9 months from now) but I don’t know how I’ll feel then and for now I’m liking the way things are.

Absolutely Necessary Baby Gear

Now that we are nearly a year and a half into this whole parenting thing, I decided that it’s about time I put together my own list of necessary baby gear.  We are also at that point in our lives when more of our friends are starting to have babies and some are even having second babies so we need to figure out what gifts to bring to baby showers and new parents.  While cute outfits are cute and all, the fact of the matter is that babies spit up and poop and cute outfits will get spit up and poop on them and they will not be cute once they are stained.  Also everyone brings clothes to baby showers, and don’t you want to be different?!

(Here’s an important tip: if you do decide to bring cute clothes, because they are just so irresistible, to a baby shower, bring them in size 18 months or 2T because everyone else will be bringing clothing that fits a newborn, or clothing in size 0-3 months but nobody will bring bigger sizes.)

There are also some gifts that you get someone that they’ll use for a few months (like those cute little bibs, or sun hats that fit size 0-3 months) and then the baby will quickly outgrow it and it will just sit in their basement gathering dust for a long time to come.  So these gifts I’m suggesting are good because either they have lasting power (i.e. will be used many many times or for a looooooong time) or they will increase the parents’ level of sanity (i.e. will help the parents get more sleep).

Feeding:

First up… if you are going to breastfeed, you will probably need a pump at some point.  This one got me through Julia’s first year of life as a working/pumping Mama: The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pummedela

High Chair: we use Julia’s highchair 3 times a day, every day and have been since she was about 6 months old.  I don’t see that stopping anytime in the near future.  If you want to get a gift that the parents will use very often and for a long time, this is a good choice.  (I will always remember that my dear friend Dana and her mother Kim got us our high chair and it’s probably one of the gifts we got that has gotten the most use.  Thank you, Dana!)  There are so many to choose from but I recommend not getting one that’s super expensive because it will take abuse… your kid will kick it, will spill food on it, will spit up on it, will pour juice on it, etc.  Also, if you’re going to get one with a fabric cover, make sure the cover can come off easily and be thrown in the washing machine.  We have been very happy with ours (I don’t see our exact high chair on BRU anymore but this is very similar to the one we have): highchair

There’s one other feeding-related thing that I use every single day and have since the day Julia was born, and that’s our Boppy Pillow.  Whether you’re nursing or not, this is a useful pillow to have.  boppy

As far as other feeding things are concerned… obviously you’ll need spoons and forks and plates and bowls, bottles and sippy cups, etc.  I personally don’t use bibs with Julia since she pulls them right off and won’t keep them on.  And as far as the bottles/sippy cups go, I would let the parents decide because there are way too many to choose from and you never know if they’ll choose a bottle that looks like a boob or if they want to avoid any and all traces of BPA or if they want to be super green and use bamboo baby bottles.  Also babies are very picky and some will flat out refuse certain types of bottles while others will drink happily from anything you put in front of them so let the parents pick the ones that work for them.

Sleep:

You know those “receiving blankets” that people give you?  Those are only good to use as burp cloths.  We never used them as a blanket because they are too small to swaddle and they are too light to keep the baby warm.  Don’t buy those for anyone.  If you want to buy blankets, I recommend Aden & Anais blankets.  They have HUGE swaddling blankets that are fantastic, very soft, easy to use as a swaddling blanket and they also have thicker blankets that Julia loves.  These are the ones I recommend:

These swaddling blankets: swaddling blankets

and these thicker blankets for when the baby’s a bit older: blanket

Swaddlers–there are two types I highly recommend.  The ones with velcro help you swaddle as tightly as possible and help keep the swaddler closed so the baby can’t break out of it.  And then there’s the Miracle Blanket, which is great because it really is like a baby straitjacket!

We loved these SleepSlack Swaddles from Pottery Barn Kids:

swaddlerand here’s the Miracle Blanket:

miracleblanket

Diaper Changing

Just like feeding and sleeping, diaper changing is something that parents of babies do a lot.  So if you want to get a gift that will last a long time and be used very frequently, get something related to diaper changes.  Our dear friend Gabby was the one who bought our changing table pad and I am grateful to this day for that gift since it is one of the things we use multiple times a day every day (and will until Julia is totally potty trained).  You don’t need a picture or link since it’s really not that interesting, but if you want to get a gift that will be well used, get this.

Toys

I’m trying to think back to the toys we got that got the most use and they are not always the ones you would think about initially…

one of the first toys Julia was interested in was this balloball

she also loved her Sophie the Giraffe squeaky toy (we were lucky that we got 2!)sophie

As Julia got to be a bit older, she loved her little activity center/exersaucer/whatever you want to call it.  She spent a lot of time in it.  Here’s one similar to the one we had: exersaucer

and once she became mobile she really liked (and in fact still likes to play with) the activity table we got as a gift for her first birthday.  This isn’t the one we have but it’s similar: activity table

and of course now that she can walk around more her tastes are slowly changing… she’s getting to be more and more into books, her baby doll, and stuffed animals and she also loves her musical instruments and Duplo blocks.  One last thing I would recommend as a gift is this tunnel from Ikea.  Julia’s Uncle Adam gave it to her and she absolutely loves it!  tunnel

That’s all for my recommendations for now… any questions?  Other things to recommend?  I’d love your suggestions!

 

 

Our little 17-month goof ball!

This past weekend was very relaxed and we spent a lot of time at home and going on walks outside.  This was Ken’s last weekend of studying before his big test on Saturday and it was the first weekend that gave us a hint that spring is approaching!  We also had to change our clocks on Sunday morning, which threw things off a little bit but luckily this was our time to “Spring forward” which meant that this morning, rather than waking up at 6 AM, Julia woke up a little after 7 AM.  The extra sleep was glorious!

On Saturday, Julia also turned 17 months!  How big is Julia??? SOOOOO BIG! 3.10.2014

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Saturday morning the three of us went to a Masonic Lodge out in Towson for their monthly pancake breakfast!  Ken is looking for a Lodge to join here in the Baltimore area that has meetings on a night that works with his schedule and with a group of brothers he connects with.  We had a wonderful time at the Pancake breakfast and met a bunch of very friendly guys.  One of the guys had his son with him, who was about 3 weeks younger than Julia.  The two of them enjoyed running around the lodge, eating pancakes, and giving one another hugs.  It was pretty adorable!  3.10.2014(4)

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When we got back from the pancake breakfast, Julia and I walked over to the bookstore for Story Time.  Julia’s not really old enough to appreciate story time since she can’t sit still for more than a minute or two, but I figure it’s good to get in the habit, and it’s nice to have something to do.  In a couple of months we’ll probably start going to swimming lessons on Saturday mornings with her again but for now story time is nice since it gets us outside, teaches Julia to love books and is just a fun activity in general.

After story time we came home for lunch, a nap (almost 2 hours long!) and some playtime at home.  Julia and I also ran a couple of errands in the afternoon and the three of us took a nice walk outside.  It was good for Ken to get a little break and to get some fresh air since he spends so much time indoors these days.  Julia also tried on the (sickeningly cute) mouse costume she’s going to wear for her daycare’s Purim parade next Monday.3.10.2014(8)

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In the evening, my friend Sarah and I had a girls night… we watched the movie, Chocolat, drank wine and ate chocolates!  It was truly delightful and much-needed.  3.10.2014(3)

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Sunday we spent most of the day playing at home and then in the afternoon, my friend Natasha came over.  Natasha and I have known each other since the 9th grade in San Francisco and she recently moved to Baltimore.  For some reason it’s taken us many months to connect but finally this past weekend our schedules worked out and we were able to plan a get-together.  It was wonderful to reconnect with her after so many years.  In high school we were really great friends and we somehow lost touch in the years since high school but yesterday it was as though we picked up right where we left off.  Natasha, Julia and I went on a long walk to One World, through the Hopkins campus, and around Charles Village before heading back home to play a little bit and then we grabbed Ken and the four of us went out for Indian food for dinner.  3.10.2014(9)

Full-fledged Toddler

In case we had any doubts, this past weekend (which ended up being a 3-day weekend because of the snow day we had yesterday), Julia proved to us that she is definitely a full-fledged toddler.  She is so busy all the time and never stops moving unless she’s sleeping.  I put her hair in a ponytail which definitely made her look more like a little girl:3.4.2014(6)

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She also has a new favorite word: “no.”  She says “no” whether she means “yes” or “no” though, which makes conversations with her somewhat pointless.  She’s still in this very frustrating stage where she doesn’t have enough words to communicate with us and she gets so frustrated when we can’t understand what it is she’s trying to tell us or ask for.  From my interactions with parents of older kids, I hear it starts to get better between 18-24 months and that her vocabulary will really start to take off in the next few months but for now it makes for some very interesting conversations:

 

Me: Julia, are you all done?

Julia: No

Me: Do you want more to eat?

Julia: No

 

Me: Do you want me to put you down?

Julia: No

Me: Okay, do you want me to keep holding you?

Julia: No

 

Me: Julia, do you want me to carry you?

Julia: No.

Me: Okay, do you want to walk?

Julia: No.

Me: Okay then, you can go in the stroller!

Julia: NO!!!!!

 

There are a few words she has started saying with some regularity and that we actually understand: “uppa” (means up), ball, book, more, milk, Mommy, Daddy, Kitty, apple, hi are just some of them and it seem like every day she has a new one.

As frustrating as she can be sometimes, she’s starting to get very lovey and cuddly, which is really nice.  She loves to give us hugs now and will gladly walk from Ken to me just repeatedly giving us both hugs.  The other day we had some lovely snuggles after she woke up from her nap:3.4.2014(3)

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And when she’s happy, she’s very happy!  3.4.2014(8)

When she gets upset it’s usually easy to redirect her attention in order to make her forget what she was initially upset about.  And luckily (though I’m always afraid to say this for fear of jinxing things) her sleeping and eating have been pretty good lately.  3.4.2014(2)

3.4.2014We have some fun visits coming up in the near future… at the end of this month my mom will be visiting us for a few days, then in April we’re going up to Connecticut for Passover.  Julia will get to see her cousins, aunts and uncles again and since we’ll be away for the whole holiday we won’t have to bother with cleaning our kitchen!  Then in May, we’ll be going to San Francisco for a visit with my parents and for my 10-year high school reunion!  Julia has become quite the traveler.

 

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

Happy Mardi Gras from a place where today really is just another Tuesday.  Ken and I have both been feeling very depressed in these days leading up to Mardi Gras and have decided that from now on we’ll just have to try, if at all possible, to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  Obviously we won’t be able to make it happen every year if we’re not living there but if at all possible we’ll just have to make that a yearly vacation.  It’s just so sad to be in a city where Mardi Gras is just another Tuesday if you know what you’re missing.  Mardi Gras is about so much more than just Mardi Gras Day: it’s about the camaraderie, the celebration, the excitement, the joy, the culture, etc.

beads in tree

It’s about getting bundled up and dressed up in a costume to go outside and catch beads, it’s about coming up with a clever sign to hold up to ensure that you get your fair share of decorated coconuts, shoes and purses.  It’s about getting together with friends and family to share some gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish and king cake.  It’s about sorting through your beads with friends after a day of parades to decide which beads to keep, and which ones to keep to throw next year.  Until you’ve been to Mardi Gras, you don’t understand.

bead tree

Like I said last week, we know what it means to miss New Orleans and today we are missing it more than ever.  Happy Mardi Gras!

Happy 30th Birthday to Ken!

Yesterday was Ken’s 30th birthday!Kens bday

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In the evening we had a babysitter come over and we went out to dinner at Woodberry Kitchen to celebrate this big birthday of his.  It’s hard to believe that we’ve now been together for a third of his life!  I feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful man to be my best friend, my husband, my lover, and the father of my children.  Julia and I love you so much because of all that you do and all that you are.  You are funny, loving, caring, thoughtful, so smart, hard-working, and passionate.  We love you and wish you the happiest of birthdays!

We know what it means to miss New Orleans!

When we first moved to New Orleans there were so many things we missed about Baltimore: the weather, the lack of insects, the four seasons, many of the people, the restaurants that had become a part of our routine, Orioles games, Capitals games, being close to Ken’s parents and brothers, the city where we first met and became a couple, etc.  As soon as we moved to New Orleans, we talked about moving back to Baltimore eventually.  In law school I chose to take Common Law courses rather than Civil Law courses, and I signed up to take the Maryland Bar.  I then passed the Maryland Bar, which sort of helped seal the deal.  Ken found a residency program in Maryland that he loved and we made the decision that we would move back to Baltimore.  Though we had already made up our minds, we started to slowly fall in love with the city of New Orleans.  It’s a city with so much culture, such friendly people, wonderful food, vibrant music, etc.  and now that we are back in Baltimore there is so much we miss about New Orleans.

The best season in New Orleans is definitely Mardi Gras season.  Mardi Gras is nothing like what you see on TV: there are no bare-chested women, there’s not a lot of drunken debauchery as long as you stay Uptown to watch the parades.  They are actually very family friendly, lots of fun, very colorful and great for kids.  With Mardi Gras coming up this Tuesday, we have been seeing all our friends’ photos from their Mardi Gras festivities and have been feeling very homesick for the city we left.  There’s a phrase we now fully relate to:

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And we can answer: Yes, we know what it means to miss New Orleans!

We’ve tried somewhat to recreate a little bit of that feeling by getting some king cakes… we got one from Wegmans, two from Whole Foods and we even had one shipped in from Randazzo’s in New Orleans.kingcake

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kingcake5And since Julia is a native New Orleanian, we had to give her her very own slice of King Cake!  She enjoyed licking the sugar from the top of the cake and then sucking the sugar off her hands. kingcake3

kingcake4If you ask me now where we’ll be 5 years from now, I cannot tell you… there are too many forces pulling us in too many directions.  With my parents in California and Ken’s in Connecticut we have magnets pulling us to both coasts.  We also have lots of family in New York and New Jersey, friends down in New Orleans, and professional ties (I am, after all, a member of the Maryland Bar) to the State of Maryland.  There are too many factors up in the air at the moment to give a definitive answer about where we will eventually settle down.  What I do know is that New Orleans will always be a part of who we are.  Whether we move back there or not, we will make it a point to visit on a fairly regular basis.  Maybe Mardi Gras will be a trip we make annually or every other year.  We want to make sure Julia knows what a fun and vibrant city she was born in.

This week in particular we are surely missing New Orleans.  Happy Mardi Gras y’all!

 

 

Super Mom!

Julia and I just got back yesterday afternoon from a lovely trip up north.  The main reason for my trip was to give a presentation to the Kappa chapter at Northeastern University in Boston, but a side benefit was visiting with our family in Connecticut/Rhode Island/Massachusetts.  After traveling by myself with Julia I always feel like SuperMom and this was no exception!

I was a little nervous going into this trip because Julia started to develop a bit of a cold/cough last week.  I was also nervous about the logistics of traveling with a toddler who can now run all over the place and does not like to be held immobile for any length of time and about bringing our convertible carseat with us.  As she usually does though, Julia proved to me what a wonderful traveler she is!

Our flight was Friday morning… after getting dressed and having breakfast we stopped for gas and then headed to the airport.  The hardest part of traveling is always before you get through security… especially traveling by myself with Julia, I had to figure out how to get her out of the car and then how to get Julia, myself, our suitcase, her carseat and my carry-on bag safely to the airport and through security.  I’m not going to make this a “how to travel with a toddler” blog post since there are already plenty of those in the blogosphere, but let’s just say I took a lot of their advice: in our diaper bag I packed two changes of clothes for Julia, more diapers than I anticipated needing, wipes and boogie wipes, some toys, some books, lots of snacks, two sippy cups of milk, water for myself, my iPad which was loaded with baby-friendly apps and movies, etc.  I wore Julia in the Ergo, checked the suitcase and carseat and just brought one big diaper bag/carry-on with everything we needed.  Here we were after checking in and heading through security! februarytrip12

Once we got to our gate, I took Julia out of the Ergo and let her run around to burn off as much steam as possible. Here she was waving at the airplanes! februarytrip11

I changed her diaper right before they started boarding the plane to ensure a dry diaper until we landed.  Nursing is great for lots of reasons… but one of the many reasons is that it puts Julia to sleep on airplanes!  I started to nurse Julia just before we were getting ready to take off and she fell asleep during take off and slept until about a minute before landing.  Here she was sleeping in my arms on the plane:

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I felt a little silly that I packed a bag full of things for her to do and play with and we ended up not needing any of them!  I was stuck playing on my phone the whole time since one arm was occupied holding Julia.  But I was very grateful that when we got off the plane, a number of people commented about how great Julia was on the plane and about how quiet she was.  Success!

My father-in-law picked us up from the airport and then we had the challenge of installing Julia’s carseat in his car.  It took a bit of elbow grease and was definitely a two-person job but we figured it out and headed back to my inlaws’ house, where Julia got to play with her cousins, Marlee and Jonah, for the afternoon.  Now that Julia is old enough to really play with them, I love watching the three of them together.  Marlee and Jonah try to teach her things and the three of them are very loving toward one another.  It’s so great to see.  Here was Marlee showing Julia some fun games on her iPad:februarytrip7

and Jonah and Julia looking out the window at their Zaydie: februarytrip9

Julia was babbling and Jonah said to her, “Julia, that’s Zaydie!”  It was very cute how he was trying to teach her.  Julia had a lot of fun playing with Zaydie’s stethoscope:februarytrip5 (I thought Ken would be particularly proud of her in this picture!)

Friday night we had a lovely Shabbat dinner together as a family.  It was sad that Ken couldn’t be with us but he got in a good full weekend of studying without Julia and I to distract him, so it was probably good that we were away for the weekend.

Saturday morning we started the day with snuggles with Bubbie, Zaydie and cousin Marlee: february

Then, we drove to Sharon, MA to the home of Auntie Debbie & Uncle David.  The whole family descended upon their house… Paige, Shana and Lee came, as did Nana and some other visitors I didn’t get a chance to see.  The kids played with all the new toys Debbie bought for them, they had pizza for lunch and from what I hear, had a great time!  I left shortly after we arrived at their house for my presentation at Northeastern.  Here are a couple photos of Julia having fun with her cousins:februarytrip

februarytrip2When I got back from my presentation, we all went to Olive Garden for dinner.  You don’t need details but let’s just say it was the dining-out-with-a-toddler-nightmare!  Julia did not have a good nap while I was at my presentation–probably because there was so much going on around her and it was hard to settle down with all the noise and excitement.  So by the time we got to dinner she was over-tired.  Let’s just say there was a lot of screaming, three of us tried walking around the restaurant with her, I tried nursing her to sleep in my arms (where she slept peacefully for about 20 minutes), and nothing really worked.  If it had been just me and Ken, we would have left immediately but because there were so many of us there, it wasn’t possible to just leave.  For a brief moment I thought about putting her in the car and just driving around the parking lot in circles.  Thankfully, we all survived!

The next morning we had breakfast at home (Uncle Jon made pancakes!) and then played some more with Marlee and Jonah. februarytrip4

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After lunch Mona drove Julia and me back to the airport and we checked in for our flight home.  Our flight home was just as successful as our flight there… Julia fell asleep just before takeoff and woke up just before landing.february3  We got our luggage, got back to the car and made it home in time for dinner with Ken!

It was a great trip but it is always good to get home!

Snow snow and more snow!

I haven’t posted in a while because we’ve been busy dealing with snow.  Lots of snow.  I am so sick of snow.  Last week, on Wednesday, the whole state was preparing for anywhere from 6-15 inches of snow.  I didn’t want to get stuck at home with nothing to do for several days, so on my way home from work on Wednesday, I stopped at the Dollar Store to pick up some important supplies.  Some people stopped to get bread, milk and butter but I stopped to get crayons, glue and pompoms.  A friend of mine had suggested getting a “snow day bin” together to pull out on days when you’re stuck inside and need fun things to do with your toddler.  I was determined to have fun and to not get cabin fever.  Well it seemed to work!

Luckily, Ken was also off on Thursday because of the snow.  He did have to get a lot of studying done too, but he had time to play with us a bit, which was nice!  Julia is a big fan of the snow.  2.18.2014(26)She loved playing in the snow so much that she cried when we had to bring her back inside.  Surprisingly the cold didn’t even bother her.  She was actually happy to have her gloves come off and to touch the snow with her bare hands.  She especially liked eating the snow!  2.18.2014(25)

2.18.2014(24)Julia did have her first snow-related injury Thursday morning: she was so excited to be playing in the snow that she ran a little too fast and slipped on the slippery sidewalk.  She face-planted right on our sidewalk.  She paused for a moment (which made me panic) but she quickly got up and started running around again!  Her nose was all scraped and bleeding though, so I put some snow on it and she was completely unfazed.  After we were done playing in the snow, we came back inside to take off our boots and have lunch!2.18.2014(22)  Julia was clearly worn out from so much fun (either that or eating lunch is very hard work) cause she fell asleep in her high chair!  2.18.2014(20)She started yawning and then just conked out right there in her high chair!  I was able to bring her upstairs to change her diaper and then I put her in her crib and she was out like a light. 2.18.2014(21)At home her naps have been horrible… ranging from about 45 minutes to an hour and a half at the most.  I keep hearing about these babies Julia’s age who take 2-3 hour naps every day and I wonder  how that happens.  But then I remind myself that Julia sleeps very well at night (usually) and I’d rather have a baby who sleeps at night and doesn’t take good naps than the other way around so I won’t complain (too much).

After her nap, we worked on some of our art projects!!  We did some finger painting: 2.18.2014(18)

and we also made Valentine’s Day cards for all our family!  In addition to arts and crafts supplies, I also got some letter and number magnets that we played with on a cookie sheet (thanks, Pinterest!) 2.18.2014(19)

and we played with shaving cream in the bath (thanks for the suggestion, Holly!) 2.18.2014(17)

Friday, Ken had to go back to work but daycare was still closed because of all the snow–the main roads were mostly plowed and clear for cars to drive but most of the side roads were still covered in snow.  We hung out at home for a bit in the morning: 2.18.2014(16)

but then we didn’t want to let the snow stop us, so we got ready (in Julia’s Valentine’s Day dress–a hand-me-down from Marlee) to head out for the day!  2.18.2014(15)

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We ran a few errands in the morning before going to get lunch with Miss Steffi.  Then we came home and took a nice nap in the afternoon.  2.18.2014(12)

I made this fun comparison photo showing Julia on Valentine’s Day last year (on the left) and this year (on the right).  2.18.2014(13)

It’s amazing what a difference a year can make!  She’s gone from a little baby to a toddler with a mind of her own in the past year.

Saturday and Sunday, Ken had mandatory study sessions he had to go to, so Julia and I were on our own to make mischief.  We got a lot done both days and of course we had a lot of fun while we were at it!  On Saturday morning, we took some silly selfie pictures (one of Julia’s favorite activities!)2.18.2014(10)

and then we got all bundled up in the Ergo to walk through the snow to the Hopkins bookstore.  Julia likes the Ergo because she can nurse while we’re walking.  It leaves my hands free to do what I need to do, which is nice, and she’ll (sometimes) even fall asleep while we’re walking around!  Here, you can’t even tell that she is nursing! 2.18.2014(8)At the bookstore on Saturday mornings, they have story time for kids.  Julia was the youngest kid there but it didn’t stop her from enjoying herself!  The theme this week was Maisy, from the Maisy book series.  They even had a life-size Maisy.  I wasn’t sure how Julia would react, given her reaction to the Oriole bird the other week… but she was actually much more comfortable with Maisy.  She waved and said hi, and even walked up to Maisy to tickle her feet!  2.18.2014(9)

Luckily the snow stopped falling right after story time was over so we headed home for lunch and a nap.  2.18.2014(6)

2.18.2014(7)Saturday night a babysitter from Julia’s classroom at daycare came over to babysit so that Ken and I could enjoy ourselves for a Valentine’s Day date night!  We went to dinner in Little Italy, got dessert at Vaccarro’s and then went out to see Dr. Corey’s band play a show in Dundalk. 2.18.2014(5)

By the end of the night we were exhausted and we knew that our human alarm clock would be waking us up around 6:30 the next morning so we went home and went to sleep but we did have a lovely night out!  (Our next date night will be next week for Ken’s 30th Birthday!)

Sunday morning I went to brunch with my Uncle Neil, Aunt Karen and cousins Rachel and David.  Neil & Karen decided at the last minute to make a quick visit to Baltimore.  (This is one thing I love about being on the East Coast… we are close enough to family that we can see them for a quick visit like that if we want to.  We’re close enough to Ken’s older brother and our niece and nephew that if we wanted to we could go visit them for a weekend by driving up Friday after work or Saturday morning and driving back Sunday night.)  We went to a great little bistro in Bolton Hill.  Neil & Karen are thinking of possibly moving to Baltimore which would be really nice cause it would mean seeing them more often.  It would be fun for Julia to grow up and really get to know them!2.18.2014(4)

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The only problem with going to brunch in the late morning (as opposed to an early morning breakfast) is that it wears Julia out so much that she often falls asleep in the car on our way home from brunch.  She then gets this idea in her mind that if she’s had 5 minutes of sleep in the car, that’s enough of a nap for her and she will NOT go back to sleep when we get home.  I tried… I tried nursing her back to sleep, I tried putting her down in the crib and rubbing her back, I tried lying down with her in my bed but she would NOT go back to sleep.  So instead, I gave up and we went to Corey & Steffi’s Engagement Party.  We did have a good time but Julia would have been in a much happier place if she had had a nap.  Oh well…

After the party we came home to play a bit, had dinner and then Julia went to sleep.

Yesterday was Presidents Day and since daycare was closed it was yet another Mommy & Julia day!  It was Day #5 of our 5-day snowy weekend!  In the morning we went to breakfast with a new mommy friend and her son and then we went to a local song/play group that happens in the neighborhood next to ours.  Julia had fun singing, dancing and playing with lots of different musical instruments.  We came home to let the house-cleaners in, and then got some errands done in the afternoon.2.18.2014(2)

2.18.2014Julia was in a horrendous mood yesterday evening during dinner (and this morning during breakfast, for that matter!)… she does have a little cold which could be affecting her mood and I think she may have a few more teeth on their way.  She did not want to eat anything… she was throwing food on the floor, putting food in her hair, dropping food on the seat of her high chair.  It was not a pretty sight.  I even tried spoon-feeding her a pouch but she batted my hand out of the way and wanted nothing to do with that.

Everyone has a different opinion about how to deal with toddlers and picky eating/annoying eating behaviors and I don’t know which strategy to use… I know she won’t starve but I don’t feel comfortable sending her to bed without dinner since I fear she will wake up a few hours later hungry, and 11 PM is not time to eat dinner.  (This did happen last night… she went to sleep at 7:30 but was then up at 10:30 wanting to nurse.)  I try to offer her food options I know she likes, but at the same time I don’t want to be a “short order cook” and make her a separate meal from what we’re eating as a family.  It’s one thing to tell an older child, “you don’t have to eat but you just have to sit with the family during dinner time” but you can’t exactly tell a toddler to be patient and sit with the family.  The food throwing is really annoying and we’re figuring out ways to get that to stop… sometimes it helps to give her just one piece of food at a time but sometimes even then she’ll just throw it as us.  I’ve tried giving her 3 warnings that I will take her food away but I need to start taking her out of her high chair and ending the meal time if that happens.  Toddlers are frustrating little creatures but then they give you a big hug or a cute little smile and it just about makes up for it.

This morning our conversation went like this: I put some pieces of clementine and some cheerios on Julia’s high chair tray and she started throwing them, so I took them away and put them on the table, out of her reach.  I then gave her a sippy cup of milk.  She drank some of that and then threw it at me, so I put it on the table.  She looked at me longingly and said, “more.”  I offered her one piece of orange and said, “do you want some orange?”  “NO!”  I offered her one cheerio and asked, “do you want some cheerios?”  “NO!”  I then went to the kitchen to get a pouch and a spoon.  I showed her the spoon and asked her, “do you want some bananas and pumpkin?”  “NO!” Then she said it again: “more!” (I should add that “more” and “milk” sound a lot alike).  So I offered her the sippy cup again and she pushed my hand out of the way, yelling “NO!”  At that point I gave up, put on her jacket and we went to daycare.  I know she won’t starve since they feed her snacks and lunch at daycare but this behavior makes me wonder how more toddlers don’t get thrown away with the trash.

Thank you, Mommy, for not throwing me away!