Thursday, January 26, 2017

Scarlett and Clark - 8 Months

The last month with these two has been so much fun! I feel like we are really hitting our stride. We have naps figured out pretty darn well. We still aren't sleeping through the night, but we're only waking up once or twice a night instead of three or four times a night. We have been getting out of the house for play dates and outings on a regular basis. I love this phase of babydom. Trying new foods every day. Learning new skills and making new sounds all of the time. Exploring toys in new ways. Every day is the same yet so different.

Food has been a big focus for Scareltt and Clark over the last month. They started out the month eating two meals a day and are closing out the month at three meals a day. We are still working our way through vegetables and fruits. Raspberries, nectarines, grapes, and blueberries are favorite fruits. Carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and asparagus have topped the veggies side. Dairy, eggs, and certain meats have been introduced. Scarlett broke out in a full body rash after eating sausage, so we'll be waiting a while before we try that again. After the possible milk protein allergy, we proceeded very cautiously with dairy products. If dairy touches Scarlett's skin, it turns red for about 20 minutes and then fades away. Clark has had no issues at all.

They get to feed themselves everything, with the exception of yogurt and pureed pouches, so meal times are extremely messy. We have started doing sink baths just about every night. We have a two basin sink that is perfect for cleaning these two in every night. I think they look forward to baths almost more than they look forward to their meal. I am very thankful for the sink and also for Jules' great floor cleaning capabilities. If we didn't already have dogs, I'd be getting one just to help keep the floor clean.

When the babies started eating lunch, we also dropped a nursing session. They now nurse 5 times a day and still once or twice at night. They get milk when they first wake up, before their morning nap, before their afternoon nap, after their afternoon nap, and at bedtime. We have been trying to introduce them to straw sippies for water, but they just want to chew on the cup. 

Now that they are reliably sitting and moving around the living room pretty easily, we broke out a whole slew of new toys. Walkers, activity centers, shape sorters, stacking rings. Brooke and Harrison have been in heaven showing Scarlett and Clark all of the new toys. When I say showing them, I really mean taking them away from the babies so they can play with them on their own. Regardless, playtime has been lots of fun around here lately. very noisy, but lots of fun.

Last week they got to swing in the swings at the park for the first time. Scarlett didn't stop smiling the entire time. Clark gave us a few giggles and seemed to like it, but not with nearly as much enthusiasm as Scarlett. I have a feeling once the temps cool down a bit we'll be spending a lot of our afternoons at the park. The zoo also appears to be becoming a more enjoyable outing for them. Now that they can eat puffs or creamies in the stroller, they're much happier to be strapped in for a few hours. 


  • is a sitting pro. She loves to sit while playing with her new toys
  • still isn't trying to crawl. She rolls everywhere, and I'm constantly amazed at how quickly she makes it across a room
  • is a very clean eater, or at least as clean as an 8 month old can be
  • has 2 teeth. Her bottom two front teeth came in about a week apart from each other
  • loves her daddy. She lights up anytime he enters the room
  • still has a thing for both dogs. If they're close, she's touching them
  • has had a few nights over the last month where she wakes up in the middle of the night and won't go back to sleep for over an hour
  • is mostly only waking up once or twice at night
  • falls asleep while nursing 75% of the time
  • wears size 4 diapers 
  • weighs 20.6lbs
  • is being weaned off of her reflux meds


  • is finally moving forward when crawling. his crawling goes: hand, hand, fall forward
  • does a whole lot of baby yoga and planking while practicing his crawling skills
  • is sitting up very well on his own, but still can't sit up and look up without toppling over
  • sleeps through the night on a semi regular basis. I'm pretty sure if he had his own room, he'd do it all the time
  • has one bottom tooth and another on the way
  • loves eating and is so messy with his food
  • still has a mild case of cradle cap, only on the soft spot on the top of his head
  • is having fewer eczema breakouts. We rarely have to use his medicated ointment
  • still takes an iron supplement once a day
  • wears size 4 diapers 
  • weighs 21.2lbs

I know I say how great every month is, and they really are all great. I know from memories of Brooke and Harrison, how great the next few months are. I am really looking forward to seeing Scarlett and Clark go from babies to little toddlers. Next week H and B go back to school, which means I'll be getting a lot of time with just Scarlett and Clark. To say I'm excited about that would be an understatement. They've changed so much over the summer and I'm ready to get to know their little personalities even more. Happy 8 months babies! I am so ready to see what the next month has in store for us. 

Traveling With Kids - Tips for Flying and Cruising with Babies

The cruise was our first time traveling with the babies. We spent some time at the lake with them over the summer, but packing for that vs packing for a cruise was totally different. Family vacation at the lake = pack everything and then some. Family vacation on a cruise = pack only what you need to survive.

Brooke and Harrison are traveling pros by this point. This was their third time flying and they know the drill by now. (You can read about our first time flying with them here.) A backpack full of snacks, their Kindles, headphones, a couple books, and they're good to go. We did let them each have their own carry on suitcase this time, and as excited as they were about them, we still wound up pulling their suitcase through the airport the majority of the time.

We had never cruised before, so I did a lot of online research before we left. Some of the info I found was really helpful, and other stuff not so much. Here are the tips and tricks we found most helpful.
  • Take a carrier and a stroller. Our Beco carriers were a must. Both Scarlett and Clark napped in them almost every day. We also brought two single umbrella strollers. We knew our double strollers were going to be too big for the cruise ship, although we did see another set of twins cruising in their Baby Jogger City Select. Both times we've gate checked strollers they have sustained minor damage. Keep possible damage in mind when deciding if you will bring a favorite, more expensive stroller.
  • Wear your baby(ies) through security checkpoints. We didn't have to take them off when we went through security lines, which made for one less thing to worry about. When you have 4 carry ons, 4 kids, and 2 strollers, anything to make it easier is better.
  • Have passports for everyone. Yes we could have traveled without them. You can travel to Puerto Rico and board a cruise ship without one. (you will need original birth certificates if you don't have passports) It made security easier and gave us peace of mind that if something were to happen and we missed our ship, we wouldn't be stuck in another country.
  • Snacks, pouches, and sippy cups. Make sure you have lots of different choices when it comes to food and snacks for the plane ride. Fill sippy cups with water before you get on the plane. You want to make sure you have lots of options to keep your baby swallowing during take off and descent.
  • Call the airline as soon as you book your flight(s) to get the baby(ies) added to your flight. We've sat both across the aisle from each other and in subsequent rows. I prefer subsequent rows because it lets the babies play with each other over the seats. Some planes have rules on where lap infants can and can't sit, so make sure to call as soon as you book your flight that way you don't end up being 20 rows apart.
  • If you can avoid bringing your car seat, do. If you are driving to your port that's easy, just leave it in the car. If you are flying to your port city, look into travel options from the airport to the cruise port or hotel. See if shuttle or bus options are available. Also check with your hotel, if you're staying at one, to see if they can hold your car seat for you while you cruise. We didn't need car seats to take a taxi, but we weren't able to use Uber without them. This is another place where the carriers were handy. I felt much safer having the babies strapped to me while in taxis than I would have if they were just sitting in a seat or on my lap. I know how important safety is, and you should consider your comfort level when deciding whether to bring a car seat or not. In my opinion, there is no feasible way to take a convertible car seat with you and use it while in port. If your baby is still in an infant car seat and stroller system, you may be able to safely and efficiently make that work.
  • If you don't already have baby friendly games or shows on your phone or tablet, make sure to download them before you go. A little screen time can be a lifesaver. The wifi on our ship was pretty slow. I could barely load Instagram. Forget downloading an app or streaming a show.
  • Take a small container of laundry detergent. Cruise ship rooms are small and luggage space is limited. You probably won't have room to pack multiple outfits for each day. You can wash clothes in your bathroom sink if needed. On board laundry is available, but it's expensive.
  • The same thing with sippy cups and utensils. You won't have enough room to pack a cup for every day, so take a small bottle of dish soap along.
  • If you're staying in a hotel before your cruise, see if you can ship items to your hotel. We shipped a box of diapers which saved us so much room in our suitcases. FYI - Amazon Prime ships free to Puerto Rico.
  • Take crib sheets/pack and play sheets with you. Our hotel didn't have the right size sheets available on our first night there, and the cruise line was so worried about liability they wouldn't give us any bedding, including sheets, for the pack and plays.
  • If you have a balcony room on the ship, consider bringing a small inflatable pool. Check your ship's policy, but most cruise ships will not allow babies and toddler who aren't fully potty trained in the pools. Some ships have splash pad type areas, but many don't. We didn't use our pool, but it was nice to know that we could have set it up on the balcony if we wanted.
  • Call the cruise line to verify which amenities will be available for young children. We called potential cruise lines to see what nursery and babysitting options were available on the ships we were considering. We ruled out a potential ship and itinerary because there were no babysitting options available. Some cruise lines also offer room delivery for items such as diapers, formula, and baby food.
  • Check to see if there is a toy lending program on your ship. We didn't  check out toys because we barely spent any time during the day in our room. If you have multiple cruising days, it's probably worth it to check out toys if they're available. RCL ships do have toys available to borrow, and you can obtain them through Adventure Ocean, their kid's club

We went into our cruise with zero expectations of how it was going to go. We planned as best we could, but as every parent knows, things don't always go as planned. It was a lot of work and I'm glad we did it, but it would have been so much easier if they were a few months older. When I think back to our first time traveling with Harrison and Brooke, it was a cake walk compared to this trip. It's exponentially easier to travel with 2 year olds than it is 1 year olds. My biggest tip of all is to make sure you are up for the challenge of traveling with a baby. I am a very laid back, go with the flow kind of person, and my kids are too. If I were more of a control freak, I probably would have been miserable the entire time. If it seems like too much work, wait a year, and then plan that family vacation. If it seems like something you're down for, plan ahead, go with the flow, and have a great time.

Have you cruised or flown with a baby or young toddlers before? Any must haves or tips you can add to this list?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Goals

Here we are, 3 weeks into 2017 and I'm finally getting around to writing this post. I am not huge on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to set goals for the year ahead.


My biggest goal for this year is to get back to my forgotten corner of the web. Last year's blog posts were almost entirely monthly updates on the babies. There were a few others mixed in there, but I would like to get back in the habit of posting at least once or twice a week. Our life is a wee bit less crazy than it was at this time last year, but I still don't have loads of time to devote to this little blog. I would like to get back to sharing recipes, more about our daily life, and even home improvement projects as we get to them. That's goal number one.

Saving to get pregnant, saving to buy a house, saving for a vacation for 6. I feel like every year we save for something specific, and then all that hard earned $$ in our savings account goes bye bye. This year we don't have a big expense that we are planning to save for. Which is great! As awesome as it is to have a savings goal in mind, it's nice to be able to just save to save. Goal number 2 is to be more frugal, and build up that savings account. Buy less, save more. This means I need to stay away from Instagram shops and Etsy. If we don't need it, I won't buy it. Goodbye Target One Spot.

As our life gets busy, we tend to eat out more. I would like to get away from that and start meal planning. This is one that I say I'm going to do every year, and never fully get on board with. I like to cook and love trying new recipes, I'm just horrible about planning ahead. I am hoping that by taking advantage of a service like Kroger Click List, I can make grocery shopping and meal planning easier.

My last goal includes a series of home improvement projects. Refinish our kitchen table. Paint out our living room built ins. Paint both the downstairs and kid's bathroom. Decorate the master bedroom. Pick a light fixture for the dining room. Landscape the front of the house. A couple of those have to wait until the weather is warm enough. Painting cabinet doors and shelves, and sanding and refinishing our table either have to be done in the garage or driveway. As I'm sure is no surprise, mobile babies and paint projects don't mix well.

There you have it. 4 goals I plan to achieve in 2017. I feel like writing it all down makes me accountable. Instead of ideas in my head, they're goals on paper, or a computer screen as it were.

Do you set goals at the beginning of each year? What are you hoping to achieve in 2017?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Family Vacation - Part 2

If you missed part 1, you can find it here. It covers our time in St. Kitts, Antigua, and St. Lucia.

Jan 6th - Barbados - Barbados was our last port of call. We went in with no plans for what to do while there. We had originally hoped to visit the Mount Gay Rum distillery for their Bajan buffet lunch tour, but the days they offer it didn't match up with when we were there. I stayed in the room with the kids each night after they went to sleep, so the night before our stop in Barbados, I researched while they slept. I wasn't impressed with any of the beaches, it's hard to top the beaches we'd already visited, but luckily I came across Harrison's Cave. Not only did it look cool, but I felt we needed to go since it shares a name with Harry. After breakfast we grabbed a cab and headed toward the cave. It is a 20-25 minutes drive there. Simon, our driver, did a great job telling us about the history of the island and how moving to Barbados increases life expectancy 15-20 years. The cave was really neat. The tour consists of a quick video and then a tram ride through the cave. The tour lasted 30-45 minutes, and the kids enjoyed it except for the 15 seconds they turned out the lights and we sat in complete darkness. After the tour we did some walking and were hoping to find monkeys. The walkway we needed to take was closed and without cell/internet coverage on the islands, we went the wrong way and didn't realize it. What did we do before cell phones? Oh right, Mapquest.

We had planned for my mom to sit with the kids after dinner so Robbie and I could enjoy some adult entertainment. There were so many things on the ship we didn't get to take advantage of. Scarlett had other plans though. She had a double ear infection when we left and was on antibiotics for the whole trip. She was particularly congested this day and had already coughed so much she threw up twice. Once on our bed, and once all over me. Yay motherhood. Half way through dinner it became obvious the babies weren't going to make it, so I took them back to the room to put them to bed. Everything was going fine until they had dozed off, in our bed, and Scarlett started coughing. I had to sacrifice my dress in order to save the bed, and she and I both wound up needing a shower. After that ordeal, We didn't end up going out.

Jan 7th - Cruising - Both babies were up bright and early again, and Scarlett was thankfully feeling better than the night before. Since the whole last day would be spent cruising back to San Juan, we had a pretty relaxed day. We walked around the ship a lot and checked out the babies and tots play area. It was just a room with a few toys, but it was nice for the babies to get to play with toys instead of the trash can in our room. We got to watch the parade of flags where all of the crew's countries are represented. The Philippines was the most represented country among the crew. On days at sea the kid's pool is open all day, which meant swimming and sliding for the big kids. The babies weren't allowed in any of the pools, but there happened to be a shower next to the pool that was perfect for them to splash in for a few minutes. We made a quick visit to the helipad before doing our nightly dinner and bedtime routine.

Each night during dinner our room attendant straightened the room and left a towel animal on the bed. The kids of course loved them. One night after dinner Harrison walked into the room and started yelling. He came back to the door, threw his arms out to block us from coming into the room and said, "Mom, you can't come in, there's a dinosaur in the room!!" He was so excited and serious about it. It was hilarious.

Jan 8th - San Juan - We had to have our luggage out of our room the night before, and we had a set time we had to get off the ship. We ate breakfast, said some goodbyes and were off the ship and to our hotel by 9:30am. Our hotel was great about letting us check in early, and checking bags for our family that was still with us even though they weren't staying at the hotel that night. The kids got to play in the pool for a couple hours in the morning before they all took a nap. Harrison and Brooke napped for almost 3 hours, so by the time they woke up it was time to get dinner. There was a great traditional Puerto Rican restaurant within walking distance from the hotel. Casita Mirimar came highly recommended from the hotel staff, and it did not disappoint. By far, the best meal of the trip. Seafood stuffed avocado, pumpkin fritters, sangria, tres leches cake. All so delicious.

We flew back the following day and were so happy to be home. All 4 kids did really well on the trip, but by the way home the babies were tired and just wanted mom. There was definitely some crying on the flights home, but we managed to get them both to sleep on both flights. My parents were on the same flights home, and having my mom as an extra set of hands was priceless. Somehow it always happens that as soon as both babies are finally asleep, one of the big kids needs to go to the bathroom. 

We made it back to Fort Wayne, picked up the dogs, and had everyone in bed by 9:15pm. The babies are still working on getting back to their usual sleep routines. We are no longer waking for the day at 5am, but after a week of sleeping with mom and dad, there's some definite separation anxiety when we lay them down in their cribs. Overall it's back to life as normal after vacation. H and B are back to school, laundry is done, and I'm already dreaming of another vacation, or at least for summer to get here. 

Traveling with out family was amazing, and definitely something we'll do again in a few years. This cruise was on RCL Jewel of the Seas, and while we had a great time, it wasn't really a baby friendly ship. If we cruise again we'll pick a different ship or cruise line. Disney anyone? The cruise was a really great way to get a taste for each of the islands. They were all great, but St. Lucia and St. Kitts are the two I'd really like to visit again. The locals had a very relaxed vibe, plus the islands were gorgeous. 

Where are your favorite tropical vacation spots?

Need more vacation pics? You can see the rest of our pics here.

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.