Monday, January 16, 2017

Family Vacation - Part 1

My siblings have been pushing for a destination Christmas for quite a few years now. The last few years have been full of weddings, babies, relocations. 2016 was pretty wide open though, so this holiday season seemed like the perfect time to make this family vacation a reality. We decided on a Caribbean cruise the first week of January. A cruise was perfect for a large group, 12 adults, 3 kids, 2 infants. It gave us all the freedom to customize our rooms and activities while still getting to spend time together as a family. As it turns out, my younger brother and and my SIL weren't able to join us :( , but we still had a big group of 15 total.

We were able to fly out of Fort Wayne for about the same price as flying out of Indy or Chicago. We flew out at 7:50am on New Year's Day. An early flight on NYD meant everywhere was still closed, except for the Starbucks inside our local Kroger. Thank goodness for coffee and breakfast sammies at 6:30am when traveling with 4 kids. Also, not having to drive a couple hours before our flight was amazing. We had a layover in ATL, and landed in San Juan just after 4pm. All of the kids did really well. I even managed to watch most of Bad Moms on the flight from ATL to SJU. My parents were on all of the same flights as us which was a huge help. I came down with a migraine after traveling all day, so I missed out on the first evening of vaca. Our hotel had a great pool and a lobby bar/restaurant, so everyone stayed in at the hotel while I slept off a migraine.

Jan 2nd. San Juan - The babies were up bright and early after a not great night's sleep. We all met for hotel breakfast and then Harrison and Brooke took off with my siblings while Rob and I hung back with the babies while they took their morning nap. H and B got to check out Castillo San Cristobal. The new governor's inauguration happened to be on this day, so Old San Juan was extra crazy while we were there. It made it a little difficult to get around, so Robbie and I missed out on the Castillo. Once we did meet up with everyone we walked around Old San Juan and grabbed lunch at Mallorca before heading to the cruise ship. The first evening on the ship was spent checking out the different decks and getting settled. I wish we would have been able to see the ship take off, but all of the kiddos were so tired, so we were in our room before the ship left port. We definitely felt the boat moving all night however.




Jan 3rd . St Kitts - Robbie and I had a snorkeling shore excursion planned for this day, but it got cancelled. We decided to hitch on to my older sister's plans for the day. We found a wonderful cabbie named Mr. Rogers who told us all about St Kitts as he drove us to our destination. We went to Shipwreck Beach Bar in South Friars Bay. The restaurant was great and very kid friendly. Awesome fish and veggies tacos. Hot dogs and chicken tenders for our picky big kids. As an added bonus, there are monkeys and mongooses that live in the woods and come down close to the restaurant. We thought this was way cooler than the kids, but what do they know. ;) We didn't bring swim suits, which was a mistake, because the beach was great. H and B were completely soaked and covered in sand. They played in the water and sand, and we searched for shells and bottle caps. There were free lounge chairs with shade which was perfect for nursing and napping babies. Mr Rogers was back to pick us up on time, we found all of our drivers to be great about being on time for return trips, and we headed back to the ship. It was the last day of Carnivale, and I wish we would have had more time to check it out. The kids were ready to get back to the ship and have a snack before dinner.







Jan 4th Antigua - As was the case every morning, the babies were up by 5:30am. The pack and plays weren't very comfy, so they slept in our bed every night. We were waiting for the breakfast buffet to open every day at 7am. This day we ventured to Darkwood Beach. Everything we read said the beaches of Antigua were fabulous, and they did not disappoint. We were able to rent lounge chairs for $5 each and arrived early enough to get "public" shade. Darkwood Beach Bar and Restaurant serves onto the beach, and was very kid and adult friendly. The water was turquoise blue, and had the perfect amount of waves. All of the beaches we went to were on the Caribbean side, and none of them were to difficult for the kids to handle. Clark spent a good portion of his day napping in the shade, while Scarlett was having too much fun to rest. Harrison and Brooke swam with their cousin and uncles and we could barely get them to stop long enough to eat and reapply sunscreen. They learned how to body surf the waves and chicken fight. We found some really great shells and coral, but they won't let you take it back on the ship. Our driver was on time to pick us up and get us back to town. 4:30 was our departure time each day, so we didn't get to stay anywhere later than 2 or 3 pm. We definitely could have stayed at this beach all day. We did dinner in the main dining room each evening, and then it was bed time for the babies, and Harrison, immediately following dinner. Brooke and her cousin went to Adventure Ocean, the kids play area, each evening after dinner. Harry just wanted to stay with us and get extra sleep.





Jan 5th St Lucia - We arranged a private catamaran tour along the coast with Mystic Man Tours. We got to snorkel, see most of the Caribbean coastline including the Pitons, enjoyed lunch and rum punch punch while sailing, watched flying fish, had a mini dance party on the boat. I can't speak highly enough about this experience. We got to see so much of the island, and I can't wait to go back someday for an extended period of time. I took at least 50 pictures of just scenery. Mountains, trees, quaint villages, boats lining the shore. It was all so beautiful.





Part 2 coming tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scarlett and Clark are 1

O-N-E!! My babies are one. They've passed that unofficial line from baby to toddler. They are still no where close to walking, so maybe I can call them babies for a wee bit longer. We celebrated their birthday with family and friends already, but I want to make sure that their birthday never gets lost in all of the excitement of the holidays. I know from speaking to friends with Christmastime birthdays, that birthday gifts often get wrapped in Christmas paper and are received at holiday celebrations. Parties are pushed aside when other plans and obligations take precedence. The actual birthday becomes just another day between Christmas and New Years. I don't ever want them to feel like their birthday isn't special just because of the holidays that surround it. We will celebrate their birthday and celebrate them every year regardless of what other holiday obligations we have. Their birthday is a super important day to us!



I knew we weren't going to be going anywhere on their birthday, so we made it as special as we could at home. Donuts and birthday balloons were on the agenda, and it turns out they loved one of those things. I blew up about 50 balloons the night before and had them waiting in the living room for when they woke up. I would have put them in their room, but someone still wakes up multiple times per night. Yes Scarlett, I'm talking about you. They were so happy to play with the balloons. Clark crawled through them trying to hit every balloon along the way. Scarlett put them in her mouth, because everything must go in her mouth. She chewed on the ends of the balloons and I thought for sure one would pop in her face when she bit down, but as of today it still hasn't happened.




Once they started playing with their toys instead of the balloons, we moved on to breakfast. We stopped and got donuts from one of our favorite bakeries. Rise N Roll's cinnamon caramel donuts are the bomb, yes I just went full 90s there, and their first birthday seemed like a perfect time to introduce the babies to them. Well, they could have cared less. Who are these children who don't want donuts? Certainly not mine. ;) They settled for fruit instead, and everyone was happy.


In true big kid fashion, they only took one nap yesterday. We played with balloons A LOT. We played in the bounce house. We dropped Brooke and Harrison's play kitchen back down to baby height, which Scarlett and Clark seemed pretty excited about. They took two steam baths, their favorite thing lately, and then they called it a night after reading a couple of their new birthday books.



It was a really fun day that I know they won't remember, but I will, and so will their big brother and sister. The last year with them has been so special, and I'm glad we made it a point to celebrate their big day. Happy Birthday, Scarlett and Clark!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas!! Every Christmas is special, but this one was especially great for us. Scarlett and Clark's first Christmas. In all honesty, they couldn't have cared less. To them it was a couple days of short naps, late bedtimes, and lots of people, but it was great fun for us to watch them experience it all. Brooke and Harrison are at the best age for Christmas. Brooke was literally shrieking yesterday morning, "Tomorrow's Christmas! I'm so excited!"

We always do the Christmas Eve children's mass and then go to Rob's parents after to celebrate with his extended family. Mass with 4 kids is a juggling act, but snacks and books got us through. Santa showed up at the end of mass and invited the kids to join him at the manger and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Brooke thought it was great and jumped at the opportunity. Dinner and exchanging gifts followed after, and I managed to get zero pictures of all the kids. Harrison and Brooke were willing to pose for a picture in front of the tree before bed. I asked them to not pose, and Brooke promptly told me she likes posing. Then Harrison mimicked her posing. These two. :)



Scarlett was up to nurse at 6:20am, so I was already awake and had coffee made when H and B came bouncing in at 6:50. Scarlett went back to sleep after her morning top off, and we got some one on one time with the big kids to do stockings before the babes were up. My parents arrived soon after the babies woke, so we had breakfast before diving into presents. French toast casserole, sausage and egg casserole, muffins, fruit, minosas, blody marys. Holidays that involve breakfast food are kind of my favorite.



The rest of the day was a blur of opening gifts, trying to organize said gifts, snacking on leftover breakfast, drinking iced coffee, and playing with new toys. The babies weren't much into opening gifts. They just wanted to play and hang out on laps. When Brooke opened the balls for the bounce house, they suddenly became very interested. They both thought the balls were great, especially Clark. He crawled back and forth through them laughing the entire time. 





Rob's parents, brother, and niece joined us early in the afternoon. More gift opening, eating, and playing with toys. Rob got a VR headset in his stocking, and it was definitely a favorite of the day. Brooke and Harrison decided they were all about it, and it was what caused the major meltdown of the day that put two 4 year olds in bed by 6:15. I knew an early bedtime would be needed, but I had no idea how spent they were. Christmas is so much fun and so exhausting for them. Scarlett and Clark made it to their usual bedtime and even got to have some FaceTime with my brother and brother in law before bed. 

I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but I know I'll remember Clark's excitement with the balls. How much Harrison loved his super hero city. Brooke riding around the house on her BB-8 scooter. Scarlett's obsession over everything her big brother and sister were doing. Christmas with young kids is truly one of the best parts of parenthood. Harrison and Brooke are old enough that they remember things from last Christmas, and I'm sure they'll be talking about today for the next 365 days. It was as wonderful as we could have hoped for, even with the major meltdown. I hope you all had a wonderful day celebrating with your loved ones. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Onederland

Scarlett and Clark don't actually turn 1 for another week, but when your birthday falls on a Wednesday between Christmas and New Year's Day you celebrate a little early, so we celebrated over the weekend. I decided to go with a Winter Onederland theme since I could use most of our Christmas decorations as party decor. We served soups for lunch, peppermint vanilla cupcakes, and a hot chocolate bar. All things I could make ahead. My best friend offered for Brooke and Harrison to spend the night at her house, which was quite possibly the best thing ever. I had plenty of kid free time the night before and during the babies' naps to clean and prep for the party, plus the house actually stayed clean for more than 10 minutes.



The weeks leading up to the party were spent cutting out snowflakes, which is not nearly as much fun as I remember it being when I was a kid. I also broke out some spray paint, ribbon, and glitter and DIYd snowflake wands and paper mache letters. I am quite certain I will be cleaning silver glitter from every flooring surface in our house for the next 4 months. 




Since Scarlett and Clark aren't big into party games, we skipped games and activities for the kids. We had a few older kids that came to the party, and they were quite content to jump in the basement bounce house. The rest of us ate soup, beef vegetable, white chicken chili, and baked potato, and conversed until it was time to serenade the babies with Happy Birthday.









Harrison and Brooke's best friend's birthday was the day before the party, so we actually got to sing Happy Birthday 3 times. Once we gave them their cakes, Scarlett went in face first. She didn't exactly smash her cake, but she definitely went all out on eating cake and icing. Then she tried to eat her brother's cake and eventually threw her cake on the ground. Yes, that's right, she thinks she's Andy Samburg. #happybirthdaytotheground


Clark was happy to sit there and take it all in, but he wasn't much into eating his cake. He had a few bites, but mostly he just watched. Later that evening he did get sick, so I'm guessing an upset stomach may have played a part in his less than enthusiastic cake smashing.


Once the babies were done with cake, they opened a few party gifts, but as is evidenced by the presents still on the gift table today, they don't quite understand presents yet. They are figuring out that ripping the paper is fun, and Brooke and Harrison have been happy to help them open along the way.





I am a firm believer that kid's birthday parties should involve adult drinks. Themed drink bars when possible. ;) This seemed like the perfect time for a hot chocolate bar. I used Archer Farms dark chocolate hot cocoa mix, and made a carafe full at a time. For toppings and mix ins we had crushed peppermint, chocolate chips, caramels, pirouettes, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and three kinds of marshmallows (snowflakes, snowmen, and mini marshmallows). For adult mixers, Kahlua, whipped vodka, and chocolate liquor.  This was so easy, and such a hit. A few friends even took adult hot chocolates to go. Cheers!


I know they won't remember their first birthday party, but I'm glad we decided to have a big party to celebrate their first year. On their actual birthday, we'll be spending the day at home and getting ready for their first vacation. I think donuts for breakfast may be in order, because if you aren't having birthday cake, you should definitely be having donuts. Happy almost birthday! I can't believe you'll be one in just a week.

Party Hats - Little Blue Olive
ONE onesies - Olive and Birdie
Various Christmas Decor - Target and Michael's

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scarlett and Clark - 11 Months

Month 11. You started out great and then took a turn for the worse. Scarlett and Clark have been sick for the entire month of November, minus a couple days at the start. Scarlett had a fever and was lethargic one day, and the next morning they both had double eye and ear infections. Its been a nonstop nose wiping marathon since then. Both babies took a course of Amoxicillin. Clark developed a sinus infection and in currently finishing a second course of antibiotics. Scarlett is still sick, but generally happy, so we've been trying to let her cold, infection, whatever it is run it's course without more meds. They have been taking two or three baths a day with the shower running to help clear some of their congestion. We've been calling Scarlett Lil Weezy, which was also her nickname when they were sick at 2 months old. I knew this cold and flu season would hit them hard since they have a big brother and sister in school.


With them being sick and needing some extra snuggles, they've been getting an introduction to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and a couple other Disney Junior favorites. One night last week they would not let me set them down at all without screaming, so we snuggled on the couch and ordered dinner delivery. Harrison and Brooke have been happy with the extra TV time. They also got to watch part of Home Alone and The Year Without a Santa Claus. They were thankfully interested in both, and I don't have to disown them due to a lack of love for Christmas movies. ;)



We put up our Christmas tree and Christmas lights last week, and Clark has been all about them. Scarlett glances at them, but Clark is obsessed. He has been pulling so hard on the lights on the tree, I'm afraid he's going to pull it over. Our tree will remain ornamentless until he loses interest. They are also all about the FP nativity. Clark is especially fond of eating the donkey's face, and Scarlett likes to play the music on the stable.


Sleep has been all over the place this month. Between colds and teething there have been lots of restless nights and skipped naps. There have also been a couple nights that Scarlett only woke up once, and I got 6 straight hours of sleep. ;) For the most part, Clark still sleeps through the night and Scarlett wakes up twice. When she wakes up, she will not let me rock her back to sleep. It's milk or bust. I usually bring her into our room for a quick nursing session after a few minutes of fussing. I'm sure if I refused milk we could get her out of the nighttime nursing habit, but then Clark's sleep would suffer due to her screaming. She does not give up until she gets what she wants.


There have been a few days where morning naps have been skipped and they just take a two hour nap around lunch time. Clark has also been fighting his afternoon nap more regularly. I think we are in the weird pre transition phase of napping. Clark is definitely more ready than Scarlett, but I think morning naps may soon be a thing of the past. 


These two eat everything and love just about all foods they try. Fruit, cheese, scrambled eggs, green beans, and turkey are some of their absolute favorites. Scarlett is terrible about throwing food to the dogs, and Jules waistline shows just how much food hits the floor. They eat 3 meals a day, usually one snack, and still nurse 3 times during the day, plus once or twice at night. I expected them to love Thanksgiving dinner, but they didn't. Just like their big brother and sister, all the excitement of the day equaled fussy babies who were over it. 


Playtime is still centered in the living room where all of their toys live. Their Rocktivity table, walker, music play space, and step and play piano are their favorites. Basically all the noisy toys that light up. They also love stacking bowls, books, and blocks, so we occasionally do have a minute or two without competing loud ass toys. The exersaucer and jumperoo have been retired to the basement where they only get the occasional usage. 


One major change for these two this month is their transition into convertible car seats. I had been putting off moving them out of their infant carriers because the snap and go stroller makes it so easy to take them places. They were definitely pushing the height limit though, so it was time. Brooke and Harrison have been in Diono Radians since they were about 7 months, and we love them so much that we got two more for Scarlett and Clark. They were not fans at first, but are getting used to their new seats after a week of use.



Clark

  • loves bath time and his yellow gator
  • has 7 teeth, 3 of which he got within a week of each other. The 8th tooth will be appearing any day now
  • loves all things soft and fuzzy. He loves to rub his face and roll around on soft blankets and the faux fur rug in their room
  • is saying mama and dada but not always at the proper time
  • loves giving hugs. He wraps his chubby arms around my necks and squeezes as tight as his little muscles can
  • can stand on his own for short periods of time, but will rarely stay off his tippy toes long enough to do it
  • can walk well behind the walker, but again with the tippy toes
  • likes to stare out the windows behind the couch. They are a lower window, so he can see out well and bang on the glass
  • is constantly shutting off the XBOX if it's on while he's awake. No movie is safe from him
  • weighed 23lbs 4oz at their doctors appointment last week
  • has discovered toilet paper and how much fun it is to unroll the entire roll
  • makes the best sniffy noises when he gets really excited
  • loves playing with door stops








Scarlett
  • still says "ba" non stop, and is so dang proud of herself when she does
  • weighed 22lbs12oz at their doctors appointment last week
  • loves to clap and give high fives
  • has 6 teeth with 2 more not far behind
  • is quite possibly the happiest baby ever, until she's not, and then look out
  • still has blonde hair, but it appears to be darkening slightly
  • has the best double chin, which matches her double booty
  • has mastered the stairs and loves racing her brother to the top
  • is crawling on hands and knees regularly but still reverts back to army crawling
  • knows where the baby snack cabinet is, and pulls out puffs and creamies every day when she's ready for a snack
  • will play in the toilet water if the lid is left open
  • is obsessed with my phone and using it as a teething toy
  • loves playing peekaboo with the door
  • loves petting the dogs, and pulling on their ears and faces








I sent out invites for their Winter Onderland party yesterday. It's unreal to me that it's already time to throw their first birthday party. I plan to soak up every last minute of them being babies before they make the unofficial jump to toddlerhood. Then we're going to celebrate the heck out of surviving the first year. Happy 11 months Scarlett and Clark!