Sunday, July 26, 2015

They Have My Heart

I still struggle with wanting more children. (You can read my original post on this HERE.) I tear up every time I see a pregnancy announcement or even when I see a pregnant stranger. It's hard for me.

But then I look at these faces...

They give me so much joy. We have our tough days, of course, but they constantly make me laugh. They are my whole world and I am so happy that I have been blessed and trusted to be their mother. To help them grow up to be people that love other people, that appreciate life and all the things we are so fortunate to have.

Although I have to remind myself to enjoy what I have and stop being upset about not having another child right now, these kids make it easy to remember what life is all about.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hot, Summer Days

Summer in the South is no joke!! Hot and humid (and miserable) are some words to describe this season. However, we have been making the best of it even on days where we have to stay inside.

Playing with cousins.

Coloring and dot markers.

Jam sesh!!

When we do go outside, we do it first thing in the morning so it isn't too terrible.

She's just the cutest.

Such a ham!

Oh and we also play with 9 in the morning when it is already 88 degrees.

Cooling off!!

We've also been to the library for a puppet show and the McWane Science Center to stay cool on hot days but still have fun! 

We are adjusting to our first summer here in the South and although some days it is a challenge to entertain them indoors, we are figuring this out one day at a time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Flying Alone with your Littles

Flying can be intimidating all on it's own but throw in two kids and no other adult to help you? Yikes!

The first time I flew alone with the kids, I was terrified. So many things can go wrong with a 16-month old and a 3-year old. It was a successful first trip and we have had several more so I thought I would share the things that worked for us.

Two sleeping babes on the plane! It was magical!

Find the play area at your airport. Get there early so the kids have time to play and get energy out before they are expected to sit for hours on end. Also, if you have a layover, make it one that is long enough to allow them to play and eat. Our layover is usually at least two hours. This way, the kids can play, eat lunch, play some more, we can all use the bathroom and then head to our gate for the next flight.

1) SNACKS! Young ones need to keep their hands busy and tummies full. Snacks are a great solution since it accomplishes both of those things. I try to bring snacks that make them use their little fingers and aren't gone in two seconds. However, I also bring squeeze pouches for Madison. Since she was done nursing at this point, the squeeze pouches were used during landing and take-off to help her ears. I made sure to bring a sippy cup for each kid that you actually had to suck out of for the same reason. Brayden doesn't each squeeze pouches anymore so the sippy cup of water was the next best thing to help his ears. P.S. Don't forget to bring a snack for you!

2) NEW TOYS. I make a trip to Target a few days before our flights to get things from the dollar sections. I just buy simple, small things that easy to store in my diaper bag but will also keep them busy for a little bit. This includes stickers, window clings, new coloring stuff, etc. I also buy a new DVD or two since that keeps Brayden occupied for a long time. This last trip, since he's been obsessed with Paw Patrol, I bought a Paw Patrol DVD and a new Paw Patrol toy for him. The kid was in heaven!

Don't freak out if you forget headphones. I forgot them on our last trip but the plane is so loud that people around you can't hear the DVD player anyways.

3) STROLLER! The stroller has saved my life. We have a layover every time we fly because there is not direct flight. I carry Madison in the Ergo and Brayden goes in the stroller and the diaper bag gets strapped on there too. This completely saves my sanity. On my very first flight my stroller didn't get brought to the gate at my layover. It was disasterous. I had to carry Madison in the Ergo but also carry my 30-pound diaper bag and Brayden's small backpack and then hold his hand because I am a freak about being in crowds with my kids. It was completely miserable! I have learned that you must check your stroller for your layover destination, not your final destination.

4) EXTRA CLOTHES. This is especially important if you are traveling with an infant but don't underestimate your child's ability to ruin their clothing even if they are 3-years old. On our most recent trip, Brayden decided he needed to pee as we were starting take-off. This resulted in my trying to catch his pee with one of Madison's diapers. It worked pretty well but some still got on his shorts and dummy me didn't bring extra clothes for him. I learned my lesson!! Extra clothes goes for Mommy and Daddy too. Infants will spit up, breast milk will leak, your toddler will vomit, etc. Just bring and extra shirt and thank me later.

5) BOTTLE OF PATIENCE. Oh wait, you can't buy this. Just remember that you're doing the best you can. Your infant may have a fit. Your toddler may have a fit. You might want to burst into tears. Take a deep breath and remember that kids will be kids and you cannot control how they react in particular situations. You can, however, control how YOU react and that will have a huge impact on your child. If they are having a meltdown, hold them and take deep breaths with your chest pressed against their chest. Sing a song. Ask a flight attendant for some juice or an extra snack. You've probably heard horror stories of people being so rude to a mother with a crying child but I can say that is not the norm. Every time I have been on a flight, the people around us have interacted with my kids and actually made our flight easier. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Lastly, just remember that this is one day and you're surrounded by people you don't know and will probably never see again. Who cares what they think! (If you're an essential oils user, your bottle of patience will be lavender with wild orange! I bring a roller bottle with me and put it on before we get going. Totally helps to calm me down and since the kids are smelling it too, they become more calm as well. Just put it on before you board the flight since not everyone wants to smell your awesomeness!)

**Bonus tip: If you're destination is with family, have them purchase diapers and wipes and snacks and formula for your kids. Don't try to bring it all with you. If you're not traveling to family, try to bring enough for the flight but then buy your necessities when you arrive. I only bring ONE suitcase for the three of us when we fly. We stay at my parents' house so we have a washer and dryer but take advantage of your hotel's services if staying at one. I can't imagine having to deal with more than one suitcase while lugging around a stroller, two kids and a huge diaper bag.

This is all we bring for a two-week vacation at my parents' house. Granted I borrow clothes from my mom when I don't have what I want and we have access to a washer and dryer. It would look much different if we were going to a hotel!

 We are flying again next month and I feel like I finally have this "flying alone with two kids" thing down pat. Which means it will probably all go terribly wrong. Oh well! This is the last time that Madison will be traveling on my lap since she will turn two just a few weeks after we get back. That means for our next flight (after this one) each kid will have their OWN seat! I can't even tell you how excited I am to not have to hold Madison for the whole flight.

Feel free to add additional tips in the comments of what works for you when traveling with kids alone!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lizards, Snakes, and Hedgehogs, OH MY!!

We have been so fortunate to find a church we love and some awesome friends too! Our church hosts "preschool play dates" where the kids that attend the preschool get together during the summer for a fun activity. It has been great for us since Brayden will be starting preschool there next month. We have gotten to know a few other moms and kids that will be there during the school year and Brayden has gotten comfortable with the church/school as a whole so he won't freak out when the first day of school starts.

This week was an animal show and it was pretty cool! They had some unusual animals that you won't see in a zoo or out and about (hopefully!!). Although Brayden and his friends were a little hyper, they paid attention to most of the presentation and we only left a little bit early. (When you get boys together, don't expect them to sit still!)

Best buds (Jacks, Brayden, John Samuel)

He actually touched a few animals! I was shocked.

Hedgehog! So cute!

Huge lizard thing. Brayden just poked it! Lol.

These boys are crazy!!

Maddie wasn't very interested.

Another HUGE lizard thing!

Gigantic snake! Jacks used it like a drum! Lol.

We had a great time and the boys played so nicely together!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Brayden Turned FOUR!!!

Four years old, people!! How the heck did that even happen? It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all so anxious for him to arrive. I visited the doctor and we planned on asking for some tips to get labor going. Turns out we didn't need any tips because my fluid level was low and his little heart rate dropped while in the doctor's office. She sent is right over to labor and delivery to be induced. Then just  5 hours later, Chance and I were parents to the most precious little boy.

Here we are, the day after his fourth birthday, and I am in shock. Time has passed so quickly but has been so amazing all the same. We have had so much fun raising this little human (not so little anymore) and we have so much to look forward to still. We have baseball and church camps, sleepovers and school projects. Life is so exciting and I am constantly reminded to cherish the small things when I am with him. He shows such excitement over small things like getting pizza for dinner or a popsicle for dessert. Since those aren't daily, or even weekly occurrences, they are so exciting for him.  I have really learned to take those small moments and revel in them with him (and Madison too). Life is awesome!

We threw Brayden a Paw Patrol themed party and he absolutely loved it! We had friends and family over to our house for our first-ever gathering since we bought our house! It felt so nice to have people over to a a place that will have so many memories.

So lets get to the good stuff. PICTURES!!! I took quite a few but I didn't want to be stuck behind the camera for the whole party. I wanted to enjoy the party and actually see Brayden having fun with my eyes instead of through the camera lens. I did manage to capture some pretty great moments so here ya go!

Our present to Brayden was Paw Patrol bedding which we set up for him the night before his birthday.

He was pretty happy when he came home and saw his new bed set up!

For a birthday morning surprise, I hung streamers in his door frame and put balloons on his bedroom floor. He was definitely surprised!


Maddie was pretty thrilled with the "birthday donuts" tradition since that meant she got some too.

Party decorations! I forgot to get a photo of the food table but we used dog bowls for chips and all the burger toppings. It was so cute!

The biggest kid of them all (my husband!) had this brilliant idea! He worked so hard all day, and the day before, getting the yard ready for the party. It was perfect!

The kids bounced their hearts out!

Waiting for the cake!

PERFECT cake made by my MIL!

Lets just look at Brayden's friend, Reed, to the right. Helping to blow out the candles! Ha! I love it!

And look at Brayden's face in this photo! He was surrounded by family and friends and you can just FEEL the joy coming out of him. It makes me so happy!


His cousins and friends enjoying the cake. Brayden said that "cake is unhealthy" and didn't want any. HAHA! 

Maddie with Uncle Ethan!

New Paw Patrol toys call for a close-up!

This is the morning after the party.... can be so hard after a birthday party!

We truly had an amazing day! I am so thankful to everyone that helped put the party together, clean up after it, called to sing "happy birthday," sent birthday messages and came to the party!

Since we live so far from my family now, we will get to celebrate Brayden's birthday again when we visit California in August. It's not easy being away from them during fun times like these but I know we will get to be with them for over a week and enjoy every moment we have with them!

Lastly, happy birthday to my sweet boy! We love you Brayden!