Sweet moment

The other night, after Julia’s 2-year checkup, we had a very sweet moment at home.  I want to make sure we remember it so I figured this is as good a place as any to write it down.  Julia got 3 shots at her checkup, and one of her legs was feeling sore from the shots.  I noticed that she was limping a little and the area around the shot was a little hard and warm to the touch.  She also complained once or twice about it hurting, so we gave her Tylenol.

While Ken & I were putting her pajamas on, she said to Ken, “Daddy, I hurt” in the most adorable little girl voice you can imagine.  He asked her if she wanted him to kiss her booboos and she said yes, so he kissed one side and then she said very sweetly, “Thank you, Daddy!”  Then he kissed the other side and she said “All better!”

Melted our hearts!

 

A Whirlwind Weekend Away

We just got back last night from a whirlwind weekend away!  We left Friday right after work and drove up to Jon & Sara’s house in New York.  Julia fell asleep in the car, so when we got there we put her right to bed, then watched the end of the (very disappointing) first game of the ALCS between the Orioles and the Royals.  The Orioles came so close to catching up and winning but they just couldn’t quite make it.

Julia tends to wake up verrrrrrrrry early when we’re somewhere new and unfamiliar so she woke up at 3:30 AM (despite our having given her Benadryl) and she didn’t go back to sleep until about 4:30.  Then she was up for the day by about 6:45.  We had a quick breakfast with Marlee & Jonah before hitting the road again. 10.13.2014(12)

Julia is so cute with her older cousins–she follows Marlee around like a little puppy dog and she clearly thinks Marlee is the coolest thing since sliced bread!  She looks up to her so much and I really think that Marlee could get Julia to do just about anything… whatever Marlee does, Julia wants to do, too!

The drive through Upstate New York and Vermont was absolutely beautiful.  The trees are all changing colors and we drove through some very quaint little towns.  When we got to Middlebury, our hotel room wasn’t quite ready so we had to change in the bathroom to get ready for the wedding.

Julia looked adorable in the dress my mom knit for her, and Ken and I wore orange to represent the Orioles! 10.13.2014(2)

10.13.2014

10.13.2014(3)

Dana and Liam’s wedding was at a barn in a little town called Ferrisburgh, Vermont.  The ceremony was outside with the beautiful foliage behind them.  10.13.2014(4)

10.13.2014(5)

I’ve known Dana since we were in kindergarten so I knew a lot of the folks at the wedding, too.  There were a lot of parents of kids we went to school with and I had met most of Dana’s bridesmaids and other friends from high school.  10.13.2014(8)

It was great seeing them after so long.  Julia had tons of fun running around during the cocktail hour.  She made friends with a little boy named Elliott, who happened to be sitting at our table during dinner, and they were quite adorable together! 10.13.2014(7)

Julia was also very excited to hold Dana’s beautiful bouquet, though we tried to make sure she didn’t pull it apart, which she loves to do when she sees flowers! 10.13.2014(6)The reception was inside a big old barn, and was very simple but beautiful.  10.13.2014(9)

We really had a wonderful time!  Julia hadn’t taken a nap all day so she ended up sleeping during dinner but once the music started she was so excited to dance the night away.  She loved dancing with a little 3-year old girl.  The two of them were so cute together.  Eventually Julia started to get very sleepy and we decided it was time to head back to our hotel for bed.  Julia ended sleeping in bed with me and Ken moved to the other bed half-way through the night since she was kicking him.

Sunday morning after breakfast we all packed back into the car to head home after a quick lunch stop at Jon & Sara’s house.  We also stopped at a place in upstate New York where we got some Apple Cider, Donuts, apples and pumpkins!  We picked out one big one for ourselves and Julia got to pick out her own little pumpkin. 10.13.2014(10)

10.13.2014(11)

The way Julia says the word pumpkin is absolutely adorable… sounds like “Cumpin” but it’s so cute.  She loved walking around and saying “my cumpin, big cumpin, little cumpin… Daddy’s cumpin, Mommy’s cumpin, Julia’s cumpin!”

We eventually made it home and went right to bed!  Monday mornings after a long weekend together are always hard… but I’m sure Julia will have a great time at school today with her new friends!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JULIA!

Today is Julia’s 2nd birthday! It’s so hard to believe that this tiny little baby girl is now two years old!10.8.2012

You have come a long way from being a little 6 lb. 7 oz. bundle to being a talkative, creative, energetic, loving little 2-year old.  Every day I am grateful that you gave me the gift I always wanted: motherhood.  Thank you, Julia, for making me a mother!  You give me so much joy just watching you learn about the world around you and I am so proud of the little girl you are becoming.  I can’t wait to see what this next year holds for you!  10.8.2014

Happy Birthday to you, Julia!

Julia is a very lucky little girl since her Gagee is visiting her for her birthday!  My mom flew in late Friday night, so she was here when Julia woke up Saturday morning!  They spent the day playing at home while Ken & I went to Yom Kippur services. 10.8.2014(8)

10.8.2014(7)

After services we played at home for a while, put Julia to bed, and then Ken & I went out to dinner to break our fast.  After dinner we went to see Corey’s band play a show at a little bar in Parkville.

Sunday morning, my mom & I took Julia to her soccer class.  This time she wasn’t really into playing the games and going along with the rest of the class but we still had fun.  After soccer we stopped at Starbucks for a little coffee date.  10.8.2014(6)And then we all went to brunch with my cousins Rachel & David.  10.8.2014(13)

 

After brunch we went home for a nap and some iPad time!10.8.2014(5)

Then we went back out to Parkville to watch the Orioles game with our friends Chris & Joylene and their two little boys.  The Orioles won and clinched a spot in the ALCS!  It was very exciting, though Julia did not like all the loud cheering and jumping that took place at the end of the game.  She did have fun playing with a doctor kit while we were there! 10.8.2014(2)

Monday Julia went to school but Gagee picked her up a little early so they could have some Gagee and Julia time.  They came and met me at the hospital and then we went to visit Daddy at work, too.  Julia loves having Ken look in her eyes and she likes all the toys Daddy gets to play with at work!  10.8.2014(3)I joked that she’s the best Pediatric Ophthalmology patient since she plays along with having lights shined in her eyes but she doesn’t actually have anything wrong!  After playing doctor, my mom and I took Julia to the grocery store.  It was her first time going in one of the fun car shopping carts, which she thought was pretty cool.  She kept saying “Beep beep!  Honk honk!” the whole time we did our grocery shopping! 10.8.2014(4)

Tuesday Julia went to school for a regular day at school while my mom stayed home to relax and today they are home together for a Gagee & Julia day.  I’m sure they are having LOTS of fun!  Ken & I went out last night to pick up some balloons for Julia for this morning (but sadly, they were already starting to deflate by the time she started playing with them this morning).  We also got some cupcakes which we will have together tonight.

My mom leaves tomorrow morning and then Friday after work, we will be driving up to NY and then to Vermont the next day for my friend Dana’s wedding.  Dana is a friend I’ve known since Kindergarten so I am very excited to see her get married!  Somehow we will have to decide what Julia should wear… I’m sure we can find something fun in her giant wardrobe of cute clothes!  And even though we won’t be there this weekend, we’ll be thinking of our Orioles and cheering them on as we listen to the game on the radio! Go O’s! 10.8.2014(9)

10.8.2014(10)

New beginnings!

It seems very appropriate to me that today, this first Monday of the Jewish new year, is Julia’s first day at her new school!  I have my fingers crossed that everything goes well.  I just called to check on her and so far it seems she’s having a great day!

After the chaos of last week, we had a lovely few days at home for Rosh Hashana.  Wednesday night we were invited to the home of some friends in Pikesville for dinner.  We put Julia to sleep right away when we got there and then we were able to enjoy the meal and some adult conversation.  We had a wonderful time!

Thursday we went to services at a new-to-us Shul in Pikesville.  They had babysitting for the holidays so we got Julia dressed up and took her with us.  She wore a dress that my mom made for me when I was little and she looked absolutely adorable! 9.29.2014(37)Julia did great playing with the other kids downstairs and Ken & I were able to enjoy services.  The Shul is very small, with a cozy and intimate feeling like the one we belonged to in New Orleans so for now we are thinking we may start to get involved with their community, hopefully going at least once a month for Shabbat.  They apparently have babysitting for weekly Shabbat services too, so we’ll be able to bring Julia with us without a problem.  Our friend Rebecca, who we knew from New Orleans, invited us for lunch after services so we got to meet her husband and some of their friends from the Shul.  We had a great time!

Thursday night we decided to stay home for dinner since we were out late on Wednesday night and we knew we’d be out late the following evening.  We made Cholent for the first time and it turned absolutely perfect.  And of course now Ken is saying we should make it every few weeks!

Friday I decided to skip services (not so much fun to go by yourself!)… instead, Julia and I had a lovely day at home.  We ran a few errands in the morning, had lunch with Miss Steffi and then went to the playground in the afternoon!  9.29.2014(38)

When Ken got home, we all got ready to go out for Shabbat dinner at my boss’ house! 9.29.2014(33)

It’s pretty special to be invited to dinner at your boss’ house, especially when you have a very active 2-year old!  We made sure to bring lots of toys and books to keep her occupied.  She didn’t really eat much at dinner but she had lots of fun playing with all the stuffed animals they pulled out for her.  And everyone thought it was adorable that she and I were matching in black & white stripes!

Saturday, Uncle Adam & Miss Jenn were in DC for a wedding so we went to spend the day with them!  We met up with them at the Zoo, which neither Ken nor I had ever been to.  It’s much better than the Baltimore Zoo, and one big bonus is that it’s free!  The older Julia gets, the more fun she’s able to have at the zoo but I think this time the best attraction was Uncle Adam!  She had so much fun with him.  It was great to see him.  9.29.2014(35)

Julia also got to go on a carousel for the first time!  She went once with Mommy & once with Daddy! 9.29.2014(34)

9.29.2014(32)

And of course she asked to hold Daddy’s and Uncle Adam’s hands so they could swing her in the air! 9.29.2014(31)

After the zoo, we all went to grab lunch at Chipotle.  While we were there, we saw two of the Duggar girls from the show “19 Kids and Counting”!  Jenn & I were so excited to meet them so we took our picture with them.  They were just as sweet in person as they seem on the show.  9.29.2014(36)

Apparently they were in town for some very conservative republican conference with Sarah Palin as one of the keynote speakers.  I may not share their political views but they seem like a lovely family.

Sunday morning Daddy & Julia went to soccer class while I cleaned up around the house and then we went out to buy a new carseat to replace the one that was in Ken’s car.  Technically speaking our carseat was probably fine since the accident was fairly minor and according to the website for the carseat manufacturer, the seat should be fine after a minor accident… but insurance companies don’t like to mess with carseats so they agreed to replace ours.

After lunch and nap, we went to beautiful Sherwood Gardens for a 2nd birthday photo shoot with Miss Steffi!  She took photos last year for Julia’s 1st birthday and I loved the way they turned out so I asked her to take some again this year for her 2nd birthday.  She sent me just a fraction of the ones she took but I absolutely LOVE them!  Here are some of my favorites: 9.29.2014(25)

9.29.2014(23)

9.29.2014(20)

9.29.2014(14)

9.29.2014(13)

9.29.2014(11)

9.29.2014(10)

9.29.2014(9)

9.29.2014(2)

9.29.2014

And, for comparison, I made a couple of collages to compare the photos Steffi took last year with the ones she took this year.  It’s amazing to see the difference in Julia between her 1st birthday and her 2nd birthday.  She’s gone from baby to little girl.  And her personality has just continued to blossom! 9.29.2014(29)

9.29.2014(28)

Here’s wishing my little munchkin a very happy 2nd birthday next week!

“When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good!”

9.18.2014

The title of this post comes from a Daniel Tiger episode.  Daniel Tiger is Julia’s new favorite show to watch.  I like this show much better than her previous favorite, Bubble Guppies.  Each episode of Daniel Tiger talks about a feeling and there’s a little song that goes along with each one.  One of them talks about how if something bad happens, you should try to look on the bright side and find the positive aspects that can come about from a negative situation.

“When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.”  

Yesterday was a very bad day but I’m trying to keep that little song in mind and look on the bright side of things.  Yesterday, around 11:30, I got a call from Julia’s daycare that she had bitten yet again.  The director asked us to come in to speak to her in person.  So around 4:30, Ken and I went to meet with her and she informed us that she’s made the decision that things just aren’t working out anymore and she asked us to find another child care arrangement.  (Less than a half hour later, when we were leaving the daycare, we were rear-ended in a hit-and-run accident.  The driver of the car got out to look at the damage, got back in his car and then drove away.  When the police looked up the plate number that Ken read them from the other car, it was registered to a truck, which means we’re dealing with stolen plates or something… and probably an uninsured motorist.)

Luckily, I had been anticipating this very thing happening so I had already been in touch with another daycare director.  He’s aware of the situation and basically already had a spot open for Julia.  We just had to fill out some paperwork to put things into motion.  So today is Julia’s last day at the daycare s she’s been at since she was 10 months old.  I figured she would want one last day to say goodbye to the friends and teachers she’s had.  I’ll be home with Julia the rest of this week (I have an appointment tomorrow morning and Thursday and Friday both daycares are closed for Rosh Hashana) and then Monday morning she’ll be starting at her new daycare.

Even though Julia is not yet 2, I think she understands a lot more than we sometimes give her credit for and I’m afraid for her that she’s going to feel like she did something bad.  I’m afraid she’ll be sad that she won’t get to see her friends anymore.  She was very close with the other two girls in her class and I’m sad for her that she won’t be seeing them every day.  But at the same time I feel relieved that Julia won’t be in a stressful environment anymore.  I think that the more Julia bit, the more the teachers felt helpless and unable to control her behavior.  They started to get anxious and feel guilty about the whole situation and I think that stress was palpable in the classroom and probably caused Julia some anxiety herself.  That, in turn, probably contributed to the biting problem.

At the same time, I’m excited about Julia’s new daycare.  I have no doubt that she is resilient, as children tend to be, and that she will make new friends.  She will have new wonderful teachers, and she will make new memories in her new school.  I have a lot of hope and optimism right now that the simple change of scenery will be good for Julia.  She’ll be going into a new school where she doesn’t have a reputation for being a biter.  The teachers do not have anxiety about her being there, and they will treat her like they treat all the other kids, not as the “biter” in the classroom.  Parents will not have preconceived notions about her being a bad kid and she will hopefully start fresh, with a clean slate.

Another little “golden nugget” from Daniel Tiger is the little song “When you do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do.”  This morning I tried to give Julia a little bit of warning about what’s about to happen.  We can’t really sit down and have a heart-to-heart with her but I tried to explain that today would be her last day at her school with her friends but that on Monday she’s going to go to a new school that will be so much fun, with new toys and a new playground, new friends and new teachers.  Her answer? “No.”  That stung a little… but hopefully after a few days at home, Monday morning will go smoothly!

This morning when I brought Julia into her classroom, one of her teachers, who’s been with Julia from the beginning, started to tear up.  They’ve all seen Julia’s good side and I think they really love her and her good qualities and they’ve felt so guilty this whole time about not being able to stop her when she does bite.  I think they will miss her and her spunky personality a lot, but hopefully we will stay in touch with the ones Julia’s become close with.  They can still babysit and see her periodically. 9.12.2014(2)

9.12.2014(4)Sometimes Jim and my mother-in-law are right that everything happens for a reason.  We will make the most of this and find something good!

 

23 Months Old & Happy Birthday to me!

Yesterday Julia turned 23 months old, and today is my 29th birthday!  I cannot believe that in just a month she’ll be 2.  The past 2 years have gone by so quickly in some ways and so slowly in others.  Ken & I were looking, just yesterday, at photos of Julia as a newborn and I hardly remember her being that little yet I can barely remember what life was like before she was here.  She is such a little ball of energy with such a fun, exciting personality.  She is so smart and observant, is becoming very verbal and expressive.  She loves to dance, loves to do arts and crafts projects, loves to play with sand, water, play dough, blocks and puzzles.  She loves her baby dolls and pretends to put them to sleep and give them milk.  She loves putting them in her stroller to walk them around the house.  On the playground Julia has no fear: she climbs up the stairs to go down the slide all by herself, loves playing in the sandbox and even tries to go on the big kid swings.  9.9.2014(4)

9.9.2014(3)

9.9.2014(2)

9.9.2014On Sunday we started her in a little soccer class since we figured it would be a good way for her to burn off a bunch of energy on Sunday mornings and it will give us something fun to do together on Sundays that isn’t just sitting around the house playing with the same old toys.  Especially as the weather starts to cool off too, it will be good to have a more organized activity to do each weekend.  And since I need some time to myself sometimes, to get errands done, get a mani/pedi or just sit and contemplate life, it will give Ken something fun to do with Julia just the two of them (as long as he’s not on call).  Julia LOVED it!  She got a special shirt to wear to class and she loved running around, chasing the soccer ball, playing with balloons and bubbles, building cone towers, and playing with the parachute.  9.9.2014(7)

9.9.2014(6)

Julia’s in the “Little Bunnies” class so all the kids are between 18 and 24 months, which is good since none of them have any attention span at all!  They all ran off at times to do their own things, none of them were very good at following directions, and they all had random little movements from time to time but it was so cute to watch.  Our friends Sam & Mark had their little boy, Lincoln, in the class during the summer months and they told me that by the end of the 11-week session, he was able to do so much more on his own and he had a lot more control over his movements.  I’m excited to see Julia progress over the next 10 weeks of the class!

The place where the class is held also holds dance, gymnastics, and other little sports classes for little kids so maybe when Julia’s a little older we’ll try to do some dance but for now I think soccer will be good for her since it allows her to run around, jump and be a wild little kid!

Of course interspersed between the good moments, Julia has some very frustrating times too… this past weekend she was very clingy.  She seems to be going through a Mommy phase at the moment.  9.9.2014(8)

She wanted to be with Mommy all weekend, got upset when I left the room, kept telling Ken to go away and didn’t want to do much with Ken (except for watch Elmo!) 9.9.2014(5)

Even though we both know that we can’t take much that she does personally, it still hurt his feelings a little and was hard to see… so we tried to do as much together as we could.  We did bath time together, we ate meals together, and we all had a little dance party!

Julia’s most frustrating behavior these days is biting… she’s been biting at school for about 8 months and I saw it myself for the first time on Sunday during a playdate with another little girl.  It seems to be mostly when Julia wants a toy that another kid has but sometimes it seems random and unprovoked.  We started working with a Clinical Social Worker to try to figure out what’s going on and her theory is that Julia gets over-stimulated during transitional times and that tactile/sensory activities help to calm her down.  Yesterday a woman from a state-funded non-profit came to do an observation of Julia to see her in action at daycare.  She said she thinks Julia may have some anxiety that comes from not being in control of situations and that she bites when she feels like she’s out of control.  She’s going to do a few more observations and help by giving the teachers and us suggestions about how to help Julia figure out her feelings and learn better ways of expressing herself.  We are working on using her words and we are also helping by describing her feelings for her: “I see that you’re feeling frustrated/mad/sad/angry/disapointed” etc.  I know that this, too, shall pass and that she won’t be biting her friends forever but for now it’s very frustrating because in some ways it feels like Julia has 2 different personalities–at home she’s one kid and then at daycare she has trouble playing with her little friends and turns into a little monster.  She has some good days with very few incidents but the bad days are really bad.  Friday she had 4 incidents and daycare called me twice about coming to pick her up… I was able to delay it until the end of the day but she had a really rough day.  I feel like this situation is starting to cause me some anxiety too… I get nervous anytime my phone rings during the day that it’s going to be daycare calling to tell me Julia bit another kid and broke the skin.  I’m scared when I get to daycare to pick Julia up that the teachers are going to tell me she had a horrible day and had several behavioral incidents.  And I get nervous taking Julia around other kids… I’m afraid when we go to the playground or have a playdate with another little kid that Julia’s going to bite.  This weekend we’re going to one of her little friends’ birthday parties and I’m scared that she’s going to bite the birthday girl.  I’m also nervous about Julia’s own birthday… I’m questioning whether it is a good idea to plan a birthday party for Julia if she may bite the friends who come to celebrate with her.  And I feel like that’s not fair to Julia.

Ken has also mentioned that anxiety is a lot for a little person like Julia to handle at this age when there’s so much about the world that she doesn’t understand yet.  We’ve definitely noticed a correlation between how she does during the day at school and her mood when she gets home at the end of the day.  Better day at school = better day at home, so obviously her behavioral problems are affecting her mood and she can tell that she’s in trouble or has done something wrong.  When we talk about biting, she doesn’t make eye contact, repeats what we say but doesn’t really talk with us, and looks down as though she feels guilty.  That’s a lot for a little girl to process and I feel bad that she’s going through this.  At the same time of course I feel horrible for the little kids she’s biting and their parents.  No parent wants to pick their kid up from school with bite marks on their hand.  One little boy even had to go to the doctor and was put on antibiotics because Julia broke the skin when she bit down and the bite was on the verge of getting infected.  That makes me feel just awful.  I’ve also heard from a couple parents that at home when their kids talk about Julia, they say things like “Julia, no biting” or “don’t bite me, Julia.”  That makes me feel terrible that biting is the first thing they think of when they hear her name.  We’re doing all we can to help her and we’re hoping things get better as we continue to work with the Social Worker and the Early Intervention Program.

Hopefully over the next several weeks as we continue to work with the “experts,” we will see some improvement but I can’t wait for a week when Julia has 0 incidents for me to hear about!

On a happier note… today’s my 29th birthday!  Since I don’t really care much about birthdays and this one is fairly insignificant, we’re not really doing anything big.  Ken & I are going out to dinner just the two of us tonight and I might take an hour this afternoon to treat myself to a mani/pedi but other than that it’s just life as usual.  Next year on the other hand… next year for my 30th birthday I might need a huge birthday party!  (Ken… you’re on!)

San Francisco… open your Golden Gate!

Julia and I got back yesterday afternoon from a lovely trip to San Francisco for my best friend Julia’s bridal shower!  We flew early Friday morning to San Francisco, where my parents picked us up from the airport.  We’ve found that Julia does much better with early morning flights than flights that leave later in the day since she’s more likely to go back to sleep AND take a regular nap.  Friday afternoon, my parents and I took Julia to a playground to let her run around and burn off some energy.

9.3.2014(17)

 

Saturday we played at home for a bit then went to visit Julia at her house!  Baby Julia had fun trying on Julia’s sunglasses and making very silly faces! 9.3.2014(9)

9.3.2014(11)

9.3.2014(10)

9.3.2014(16)

We went back home for lunch and played at home for a bit… Julia had fun hugging the tree in my parents’ front yard: 9.3.2014(14)

and she LOVED playing the piano!  9.3.2014(15)

My mom and I then took her to yet another playground, where we met up with my friend Dana.  Dana is getting married in just over a month in Vermont and we will be driving up for her wedding.  It was nice that we got to see Dana this visit in a slightly less hectic environment… I imagine she’ll be very busy on the day of her wedding, saying hi to all the guests so it was nice that we got to see her for a fun afternoon at the park.  9.3.2014(13)

Julia has become much more brave on the playground: climbing up structures by herself, going down the slide all on her own, etc.  but what she liked the most was just running around in the grass.  She loved having a big open space to just run around.  There was a little grassy hill at the playground so I showed Julia how to roll down the hill.  When a little boy started doing it too, Julia thought it was one of the funniest things she had ever done!

We came home after the playground to play at home for a bit before dinner and bedtime.  My mom got Julia a baby doll and she had tons of fun lining up her baby doll and stuffed animals in little chairs and reading to them/watching TV with them/putting them to sleep.  It was very sweet!  9.3.2014(12)

The hardest thing about our trip to California was that Julia was quite affected by the time change… the first two days we were there, she was up at 3:30 AM which was quite draining on me and my mom (who helped by getting up with her to let me sleep in one of the mornings!)  She adjusted a bit the third day and didn’t wake up until 5:30 but by then it didn’t make much of a difference since we were leaving the following day.  I think that the time change also caused her to feel a little bit off in general since on Saturday she was very clingy… Saturday morning we had to get ready for Julia’s bridal shower so in the morning we played at home for a bit… Julia liked dressing up in this hat and carrying her backpack around the house: 9.3.2014(7)

and she had a great time playing with bubbles in the sink with my mom! 9.3.2014(6)

Somehow I managed to take only one picture at the shower (of Julia & my mom playing in the sink) but the shower was a lot of fun.

9.3.2014(8)

The food my mom made was delicious and everyone had a really good time.  Julia told me it was perfect and exactly what she wanted from her bridal shower, and Lissa also said she had a great time.  Success!  My mom did most of the planning (food, drinks, decor, etc.) but the part that I planned was also a success… we played a “Julia trivia game” and I also got “Matt trivia” for Julia to fill out while people were answering the questions about her.  Looks like she knows him pretty well so I guess we all gave them our seal of approval… they are allowed to get married!  I am definitely looking forward to their wedding at the end of November.

Sunday we played at home for a bit before heading to the California Academy of Sciences to check out the Aquarium!  Julia liked the fish and really enjoyed just running around… at one point she started to get a bit fussy and asked for milk so I put her in the Ergo and she napped for an hour that way!  She fell asleep while we were checking out the White Alligator:   9.3.2014(5)

There was also a person dressed up as a White Alligator, which Julia absolutely loved! 9.3.2014(4)

We had a delicious lunch at the restaurant there before heading outside, where there was a band playing live music!  Julia had fun listening to the music and dancing!9.3.2014(3)

9.3.2014(2)

After the aquarium it was time to head back home.  We flew back early Tuesday morning and got home yesterday before dinner.  Julia did really well on all four of our flights (we had a layover in Chicago both ways) and she even slept through the landing in San Francisco! 9.3.2014

The hardest part of all four flights was the time between landing and getting off the plane… once we land Julia is ready to go.  She does not want to wait our turn to get off the plane and starts to get very antsy about disembarking.  She screamed all four times until we were finally able to get off the plane and then it was very hard to settle her back down once we finally got the stroller and got into the terminal.

Luckily we are all done flying for a while… and the next time we fly with her she will be over 2 so she’ll have her own seat and we may even bring her carseat on the plane with us so that we don’t end up having to hold her the whole time.  It will be a completely different experience, I’m sure!

All in all, we had a wonderful visit.  It was great so see so many people and it was nice for Julia to get some time with my parents.  We’re back and have some fun things coming up including my birthday, Sesame Street Live, the Jewish holidays, a visit from Gagee (for Julia’s 2nd birthday), a trip to Vermont for Dana’s wedding, a visit from Bubbie & Zaydie for Halloween, and Julia’s first trip to an amusement park (we’re heading to Dutch Wonderland on October 18th).  I’m looking forward to some fun adventures in the weeks ahead!

 

It’s true… it won’t last forever!

My friend Kim, whose daughter Amelia is just a couple months older than Julia, wrote the most beautiful blog post on her blog.  It’s called, “It Won’t Last Forever” and is about the fact that all the daily stress of having a toddler is temporary and that childhood is just a temporary thing and that eventually we’ll be older adults, retired from our professions, no longer worried about bedtime routines, picky eating, temper tantrums or biting kids at daycare.  Her blog post is a good reminder to enjoy the little things each day: the hugs and kisses, the sweet way Julia says “I love you,” the way she says “Thank you, Daddy!” whenever Ken does something for her, the way she laughs hysterically at some of the silly sounds we make for her.  Kim’s post is a good reminder that you need to stop every now and then to just live in the moment rather than worrying about our daily tasks: making breakfast, making lunch, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, dropping Julia off at daycare, etc.

One of the things I most enjoyed about our time in Aruba is that, aside from when we were in our hotel room, we didn’t have access to the internet and our phones weren’t connected so we couldn’t get emails, texts or phone calls.  I liked being “unplugged” and just being together as a family.  Not being connected to the outside world meant that we were more connected to one another.  We were able to just watch Julia enjoy herself, play with her without being connected to a device.  We, as a family, need to be better about turning off our phones or putting them away and being in the present so that we can enjoy the little moments because what Kim said is true: it won’t last forever.  And I want to remember the fun parts of our days.  I don’t want my memory of this time to be of doing dishes and laundry, I want it to be of playing with Julia, singing songs, doing puzzles together, drawing pictures, and playing on the playground.  Thank you, Kim, for that important reminder.

Family Trip to Aruba!

Warning: This is going to be a picture heavy post!

Late last night, we got back from a wonderful and relaxing family trip to Aruba.  Ken’s parents have a timeshare with the Marriott which they haven’t been using as much recently since they bought a second home in Florida, and which they are able to trade in for pretty much any Marriott Vacation Club location in the world!  They were nice enough to gift us, for our anniversary, a week in Aruba!  We had a bunch of unused points on Southwest so we didn’t have to pay for airfare, either!  All we had to pay for was food and activities on the Island.

This was our first real family vacation, just the three of us going somewhere not to see family.  It was necessary and so nice to spend time together without any agenda or responsibilities during the week.

We left EARLY Monday morning (our flight was at 6:30 AM which meant we left the house around 4!)  Julia did surprisingly well despite being woken up way before her normal wake-up time.  We had a quick layover in Orlando and then boarded our flight for Aruba!  After a frustrating time checking in for the flight and getting Julia’s carseat (which got lost and didn’t show up until the next day!) we finally made it to our hotel, the Marriott Surf Club.  We had a beautiful view from our room! 8.18.2014(46)

The hotel is very family friendly… there are two big pools, a lazy river, a water slide, tons of kids activities throughout the day, movie nights, a beautiful beach, etc.  It’s also close to a lot of the activities that are available on the water and it’s a pretty short walk from a commercial stretch with lots of restaurants, shops, and a couple of malls.

Our first day there we got settled into our room and then headed down to the pool to relax a bit.  Julia apparently finds the, sun, wind and sound of water to be very relaxing as she took several naps throughout the week right next to the pool!  8.18.2014(44)

We took her around the lazy river a few times: 8.18.2014(45)

and we introduced her to the beach for the first time!  8.18.2014(43)

8.18.2014(7)

At first she was a little afraid of the waves but after a while she figured out that they weren’t too scary and she absolutely LOVED playing in the sand!

Once we got Julia’s carseat, we were able to relax a little more and really enjoy ourselves!  Ken had been to Aruba before (this was my first time in the Caribbean!) so he knew that we wanted to get a rental car.  We were very glad to have it since it gave us the freedom to explore the island without having to get taxis each time we wanted to leave the resort.  We explored on the Northshore of the island a bit, where there were some old ruins: 8.18.2014(41)

a lovely little church: 8.18.2014(40)

some beautiful views of beaches/rocks (though the waves on the Northshore are much rougher so you can’t really go in the water to swim):8.18.2014(23)

 

8.18.2014(24)

and Phillips Animal Garden, which was probably the highlight of the trip as far as Julia was concerned.  She has absolutely no fear around animals and had so much fun feeding the animals.  She especially loved giving carrots to the goats.  As soon as she fed a carrot to a goat, she would turn around and ask for another carrot.  She’d go right up to them, stick the carrot in their mouth and then do a little dance of excitement about having fed the goat.  It was pretty adorable! 8.18.2014(39)

8.18.2014(38)

8.18.2014(37)

8.18.2014(36)

They had all kinds of animals there including camels, donkeys, cows, parrots, snakes, pigs, ferrets and many others.  The goats were probably the biggest hit for Julia! 8.18.2014(35)

8.18.2014(34)

We also visited a Donkey Sanctuary but for some reason Julia wasn’t as into the donkeys as she was the goats… I think she liked the goats were closer to her size! 8.18.2014(18)

8.18.2014(17)

One of the days, we took a drive through Aruba’s National Park.  There were a couple of caves we stopped to explore, and it was fun to just see all the scenery in the Park!  If we go back to Aruba some day (which I hope we do!) it would be great to get out and hike around a bit but with Julia it was a little hard to get in and out of the car.  The next time we go we’ll also try to get a car that’s 4-wheel drive so we can go off-roading and head down to the Natural Pool.  This time though, the caves were pretty cool!  8.18.2014(15)

8.18.2014(16)

Another big hit with Julia was the Jolly Pirates boat trip that we did… Ken had been on this pirate ship one of the last times he was in Aruba with his family and he remembered it being tons of fun.  We had also heard from other people that it was a good thing to do with kids.  Julia did have a really good time… they played music the whole time so she loved dancing! 8.18.2014(25)

and the movement of the boat even put her to sleep for over an hour! 8.18.2014(28)

Ken & I also got to go snorkeling, which was tons of fun! 8.18.2014(26)

8.18.2014(27)

 

Sadly we didn’t get any pictures of me all trussed up in my snorkeling gear but we did get a beautiful family picture on the boat! 8.18.2014(22)

and I got to wear my new beach hat! 8.18.2014(29)

Back at the resort, Julia really loved the iguanas that we found all over the place! 8.18.2014(32)

8.18.2014(21)

One day she even got to feed them!  Just like with the goats, she had no fear and just went right up to them to hand them lettuce to eat.

Of course Aruba has some must-see tourist attractions including the California lighthouse: 8.18.2014(9)

8.18.2014(12)

There were birds flying all around the area where the lighthouse is, and Julia had tons of fun chasing them and yelling “come birds!”  8.18.2014(14)

 

A lot of time was also spent playing in and around the pool.  Julia woke up each morning, looked out the window and pointed out the water (which she still calls “agua”) then started pulling at her clothes indicating she wanted to take them off.  She would pick out her swimsuit, ask to put on her hat and her “agua shoe-ah” (water shoes) and then we’d get ready to go down to the pool! 8.18.2014(20)

We had a few nice dinners out: 8.18.2014(33)

and Julia learned to eat directly from an apple: 8.18.2014(31)

8.18.2014(30)

and she also learned to do the splits… a trick we didn’t know she was capable of! 8.18.2014(19)On our last day in town, we had to take a picture of the “I love Aruba” sign: 8.18.2014(5)

and one last picture in front of the hotel: 8.18.2014(4)

and of course we were sad to leave (though apparently unless she’s actually sad, Julia can’t make a sad face!): 8.18.2014(6)

Customs and immigration were quite the ordeal and Julia was an absolute nightmare on the plane from Aruba to Orlando but late last night we finally made it home and we were glad to have made it safely (Julia even slept through the landing in Baltimore!)8.18.2014(2)

 

Today we had to come back to reality, back down from our vacation cloud… we both went back to work and Julia went back to school but today was her first day in her new classroom!  So here, I present to you, her first day of school picture for the 2014-2015 school year!

8.18.2014

 

Visitors from New Orleans!

Last weekend we had some visitors from New Orleans! One of Ken’s Mason brothers, Ed, came with his wife, Susan, for a nice long weekend visit to Baltimore. Susan had been here before but this was Ed’s first time in Baltimore. Ed is a big Cardinals fan and since the Cardinals were in town we took advantage and went to not one but TWO O’s vs. Cardinals games.

Friday night we went to the game and left Julia home with a babysitter. We had a great time cheering on the O’s! 8.18.2014(56)Ken & I left the game happy because the O’s won, but Ed & Susan were not as pleased.  8.18.2014(57)

After the game there was a beautiful Orioles 60th Anniversary Celebration and Fireworks Display.  They brought back a bunch of the Orioles Hall-of-Famers so it was very special to see them all on the field together.

Saturday we spent the early part of the afternoon exploring… we went to Faidley’s for lunch and showed Ed & Susan the Inner Harbor.  Julia was a bit of a mess that day but she still had a good time at the game.  She also loved playing at the Splash Pad at the Inner Harbor.  She liked the “Wild Bill” hats they gave out at the game! 8.18.2014(54)

8.18.2014(53)

and she was very excited to meet the Oriole Bird! 8.18.2014(52)

Her attitude toward the Bird has changed drastically over the last year or so… when we went to FanFest before the season started, Julia was terrified of the Bird but over the past several months she has slowly warmed up to him and this time when she saw him she jumped up and down shouting “Oriole bird!”  She gave him a high five but she didn’t want to get too close to him.  I love how she recognizes the Oriole bird so whenever she sees someone wearing an Oriole shirt/hat with the bird on it, she says “Orioles!”  Then she will occasionally add in a little cheer of “Go Orioles!”

It was really nice having Ed & Susan visit since it was like having a cool Aunt & Uncle in town.  Julia liked them right away… 8.18.2014(55)

and they brought a bunch of treats (spices mostly!) from New Orleans!

Sunday before they had to leave town, we took them for a visit to Fort McHenry since Ed is a big history buff just like Ken! 8.18.2014(48)

8.18.2014(47)

8.18.2014(51)

Julia didn’t have the patience to sit through the educational video but she had a great time running around outside!

After Ed & Susan left, Ken finally hung up the swing that Bubbe & Zaydie bought for Julia and she absolutely LOVED it! 8.18.2014(49)

8.18.2014(50)After swinging and dinner it was time for an early bedtime for Julia so we could pack and get ready for our trip!