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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sweet 16

Month 16 flew by faster than any other month, mostly because my mom was here for two weeks and we went on our mini-trips. A few things changed (she decided she likes eggs now), but honestly, G seems pretty much the same. I guess that's because no major milestone was reached--like talking for real. On a fun note, I've recently started calling her Buttercup, or Butters for short. It's kind of silly...I really do not like South Park, but I know there is a little kid on there called Butters; who my husband says G kind-of resembles, with her bleach blonde hair.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Father's Day & G's First FroYo #WW #Linky

I know I'm a bit late on Father's Day...still catching up... but I just had to share this photo of my amazing husband and our little girl on his day.

I can't even begin to describe how great of a father he is to G. He shows her fun little tricks and teaches her things I wouldn't have ever thought to do with her. He doesn't mind getting into the dirt with her and plans to teach her to fish. They laugh and play together whenever he has time. Until recently, he was the sole bath giver / bed time get-her-ready-er. He changes diapers, even smelly ones. He cleans up messes and sits with her on the potty for 20 minutes. He pushes her in her pink stroller. He reads her stories and snuggles her on the couch. He will get up to soothe her in the middle of the night if I ask. And one of the best things he does for her...he drops everything the second he gets home to pick her up, hug her, and make her feel important. He doesn't ask for a minute to breathe, or act flustered by his long 12 hour day. He's a great dad because he puts her needs before his--and that's kind of rare in this day and age. I love him immensely for it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Letters from Momma's Momma (a guest post by my mom)

While my parents were here, my dad thought it would be fun to write a blog post for me...He just had a lot of random thoughts he wanted to talk about and thought it'd 'help me out' if he did a guest blog since I took so much time away from the computer to be with them. Well, he never ended up writing for me (you still can, dad!)--but it did motivate my mom to write one! She shares her thoughts on visiting us for so long, and being a grandma for the first time. I appreciate her sincerity and ability to share her feelings with me and my readers! I hope that you all enjoy reading what my mom has to say.
Question for the other moms out there to ponder---Have you ever wondered how hard it must be for your mom to get used to you being a mom yourself?? Of course they love having grandkids, but I imagine it must be a very strange feeling when it first happens...to see the one you parented become a parent herself!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yosemite National Park with a toddler (in 26 hours)

My parents decided to come for a California visit, as you may have read, and that spawned a brief trip to Yosemite National Park. My mom was in town for two weeks, but my dad was only here for a week. We didn't want to spend a lot of money on lodging and we didn't want to use up all of his time here at Yosemite.

Thus, we settled on a one-night stay in the park--leaving early on the day of, and leaving kind of late on the day after. We departed our house before 9 am on Thursday and got home around 6 pm on Friday night. With a toddler and grandparents, those times are pretty decent. We spent a lot of time in our sport wagon (as I've affectionately called our Rendezvous, since learning of it's insurance classification), and that's never fun with a toddler. I packed plenty of car snacks and toys/books--and even had stuff on my iPhone as back up. Hell broke loose when she didn't nap as planned and my phone died mid-Super Why!

I remember the scenery being lovely and I am glad we went, but it certainly wasn't a 'vacation.' G screamed on much of the drive there, and a few of our stops within the park were cut short or cut-out completely because of her needs. I know that is part of going on a trip with a 15 month old, so I am not complaining. I would do it again--and my husband and I already want to go back for longer when our kids are older.

My first suggestion to those of you considering going to Yosemite National Park with a toddler would be to wait a few years, because going with a preschooler or older would be a lot nicer. Just being honest.

Now, if you can't wait...here is my advice for a short trip with toddler (we were in and out within 26 hours):

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

1. I made the most delicious smelling Banana Bread today (err, Thursday). It's not the usual recipe (which you can find here), but it's going to be absolutely scrumptious at dessert and breakfast :-)
G loves bananas (what baby doesn't?), I'm pregnant & love carbs, and my husband loves a quick and easy breakfast. Win-Win-Win!

2. I recently (as in today) posted a review/giveaway for CatholicFamilyGifts.com -- If you are here from the 7QT link-up; I know you need some good Catholic Gifts to give any time of year, so head over and read the review / enter the giveaway!

3. Do you know how hard it is to get a good photo of a 16 month old??? VERY! A. they never want to sit still and B. they want whatever you have (re: the camera) and C. their smiles are only ever genuine, so you wish you had a camera permanently affixed to your head to catch all the little moments. (When does saying "Smile!!" start to work?)
I bring this up because I really want to enter G's photo into Live! with Kelly's cutest baby photo contest. I, personally, know she is the cutest baby everrrrrr, so it'd be lovely to win a free trip, cruise, and potentially new car (if she could beat out the 'big kid' winner). I wish it were a cutest kid in general contest, not a photo contest. If they could meet my little buttercup, they would surely know she's got personality to fill the ocean and spunk to the stars.
{For all the "complaining" or "telling it how it is" I do, you can handle a little doting, every now and then ;-) }

Catholic Family Gifts Review & Giveaway

Several weeks ago, I was approached by a lovely online Catholic store. They offered me the opportunity to review an item for Letters from Momma. There was a lot to choose from, but I ultimately decided on something for G that I knew she would treasure as she grows up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lately.

I dropped my parents off at the airport yesterday morning, and of course, had to hold back tears. I love my little family (my husband, G, and NB), but it was really nice to have the 'rents around too. I hope to move back closer to them soon. It's just comforting to have them within a few hours drive. They are so supportive and care for us immensely. G really enjoyed spending time with them, and I loved watching them interact.

Things accomplished while my parents were here:


  • My husband and I went on a date--to see the Avengers.
  • My mom and I went to two consignment shops--the best deal was a pair of capri's for G that cost $0.18, tax included. They look brand new and are from Kohl's.
  • We heard NB's heartbeat and were reassured everything is going well with this pregnancy.
  • I received a beautiful music box from Catholic Family Gifts to review--expect that up soon.
  • I made awesome homemade mac and cheese with b├ęchamel sauce.
  • We took my parents to San Francisco and saw Chinatown (from the car), a foggy Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, and ate amazing seafood at Tarantino's.
  • We went to Yosemite National Park, and only had a few major breakdowns from the baby. We saw the "Big Trees," some waterfalls, and beautiful scenery.
  • We bought a pack and play for the NB, but G slept in it on our trip.
  • I made the most amazing homemade ice cream--Cookies and Cream from Triple Double Oreos (not fat free anything).
  • We went on a local outing to a Delta shortline and played with G. My husband fished a bit and caught (and released) a small fish.
  • We celebrated Father's Day with two feasts and relaxing.
  • My parents went on a walk with G around the block.
  • My dad watched G several times, by himself ;-)
  • My mom did too...and then they both watched her together when my husband and I went grocery shopping.
  • G kept up with library story time and is getting really good at several of the actions that go with the songs they sing there.
  • She still cries when I drop her off at the gym play center, but has been getting better about staying for an hour. I'm still jogging, and will probably decrease my speed here soon.
  • We played cards, ate good food, saw pretty things, watched Sherlock Holmes 2, and talked about random things. Fun times were had by all.


While my parents were here, G got 2 new teeth--and started sleeping better after they cut through. She also went on her first picnic, and experienced many other firsts that I'll discuss in subsequent posts.

As for me and the pregnancy... I'm on the brink of the second trimester, and feel so odd about it. I am excited for the new baby, but also very nervous as to where he or she will be born. I want to be closer to family, but I don't know if that will happen by December. My husband loves his job and neither of us want him to loose it. If they want him to stay here through December...then we'll just figure out a way to have a baby here...but I hope they let us move back to Kansas before the baby is born. This is my number one stresser right now.

With regards to weaning... G shows minimal signs of getting close to self weaning from the final nursing session (before bed). Just recently she has started nursing for less time. I imagine my milk is changing and that's causing her to like it less. I plan to end breastfeeding her at the end of the month. It's a very bittersweet--almost all bitter--decision.

My husband and I both still think NB is a girl...I'd be pretty shocked if we find out we are having a boy. Yes, I plan to find out the sex this time. With G, we waited, and that was fun/exciting...but this time: I want to know. I actually wanted to know last time too, as I am a super-planner-personality-type, but my husband somehow convinced me it would be more fun to be surprised on Little Bear's birthday....and we were, and it was lovely...but this time around, I'm sticking to my 'finding out guns' because I want to be more prepared. Actually, I mostly want to know if I am right or not. ;-)


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guest Post: Keeping Baby Healthy

Today I am sharing a guest post from Katie Moore, who blogs at Moore from Katie about motherhood. May was pregnancy awareness month and she asked to write a post for Letters from Momma. Due to the craziness in my life right now (mostly a pregnancy and two week visit from my mom), I scheduled her post for while we were at Yosemite. I hope you all enjoy it and check out her blog! Thanks for sharing Katie!

Keeping Baby Healthy

Newborns are precious gifts, but they can also be somewhat fragile. A newborn is generally much more susceptible to colds and other sicknesses, and these ailments are usually more serious with a newborn baby than they are with adults. For these reasons, it's important to take steps to help protect a new baby during the important first months of life. It's not impossible to keep a new baby healthy, but it does require a bit of care.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"I Don't Know!" #WW #Linky

G's cutest thing, according to my husband, is when she says "I Don't Know!"
On Saturday, she was chasing some birds at the Discovery Museum, and when they went away from her, she let us know..."I don't know where they are going!"



If you have a Wordless Wednesday blog post, please link up below!

Plan your next road trip with Roadtrip-a-Matic on VisitPA.com

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I'm not nearly as well-traveled as I would like to be, but I have been to Pennsylvania a few times. My aunt lives there, and I've visited 3 or 4 times. I love the summer weather there and enjoy the various food and culture treats that PA offers. I currently live on the West Coast, and am from the Midwest--so Pennsylvania is certainly different. There's plenty of history there and beautiful sights, too.

Perhaps you've never been to Pennsylvania, are planning to go back, or live there and want to see more of the state. When you are trying to plan your vacation, why not consider one of many roadtrips across a state with much to offer? VisitPA.com has a pa-roadtrips' Roadtrip-a-Matic that does the planning for you! There are 16 different road trip options that allow you to choose between themed categories. You don't have to pour over hundreds of reviews or "must-see" trip adviser sites. The Roadtrip-a-Matic fills in the blanks with what to see and do, where to eat and stay--just pack and go!

There are trips for trail lovers, art fans, civil war buffs, golfers, and more. They feature fun names like Trails Mix, Tour d'Art, Civil War Trails & Beyond, and Fairway Drive, respectively.

I would personally choose the Taste Buds on Tour category.

There's the three day, two night "Hoppy Trails to You" that would please my husband to no end. I'd love to treat him to it, and I'm sure the beer-lover in your life would appreciate the six-stop trip too. I didn't have to do any searching for the best local breweries or restaurants. The Roadtrip-a-Matic has all three days' stops planned out, including lodging.

Then there is the two day, two night "Sip, Savor, and Explore" trip that takes you to 6 different vineyards and also lists 4 detours worth your time. It includes several tips on which wines not to miss at each winery. It'd be a great trip to take with my aunt, mom, or even as a romantic exploration with my husband.

Both of the trips above would have to wait until the new baby comes, since they are alcohol heavy, so perhaps we'd take one next summer.

There is a final Taste Buds on Tour trip that features 7 stops around Pittsburgh. The "Eat Like a Champ in Pittsburgh" roadtrip takes you to eateries and culture stops that the city of champions {Steelers, Penguins...Pirates? ;-) } is famous for. A few of the stops are in the Strip District, which I've been to, and it is a really fun area with lots of shops and restaurants. If you chose this trip, you wouldn't be disappointed!

With 16 theme options, with many trips within the categories, there is sure to be something for everyone you'd like to travel with.

Head over to VisitPA.com and let me know which trip you'd want to go on!

visitPA-Roadtrip_box_720px.jpg

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Where have I been?

My mom (that is, G's Grammy) has been in town since this past Tuesday. We've been having lots of fun, just hanging out and playing together. We also went down to the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA, on Saturday. I'll give you a full review of the kid's museum when I have more non-family time...but suffice it to say, I highly recommend taking your kiddos to the Discovery Museum if you are ever in the Bay Area! It was super fun--even though I didn't feel good at all. I'm not sure if I had a tummy bug, or if it was just the new baby...I am feeling a bit better now, though.
My husband and I also went to a movie for the first time in six months. We saw the Avengers on Saturday. It was such an AWESOME movie--have you seen it??? First off, the action was great and the script was fun! That Tony Stark makes me laugh all the time. Then there's Hawkeye--tell me you didn't think he was dreamy?? My husband also said, "it's one of the best movies ever!" :-)

Other things...
We will hopefully hear the baby's heartbeat tomorrow at my first real appointment.
My dad comes tomorrow--but not until later in the evening.
We have a mini-trip to Yosemite National Park later in the week. My husband is off work Thursday - Monday. I cannot wait!
G's cutting her tenth tooth!
G's been having separation anxiety at the gym lately--bummer. She did great for the first two days, but I guess the newness has worn off. Some days I don't even get half a work out in, but we'll keep trying. She really needs the interaction with other kids, and I do enjoy exercising. At this point though, it is honestly more about her socialization. She can get up to two hours of play-time there each day...for $50 a month...that's pretty cheap. She rarely makes it to 45 minutes, though, so hopefully that gets better soon. I'd like it if she would play with other kids her age (and a bit older) for about an hour and a half 4 or 5 days a week.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quaker's NEW Soft Baked Bars

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Quaker Oats for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I don't know about you, but I get pretty grouchy when I'm hungry; so I keep a cabinet full of snacks (mostly healthy) for those times when a full meal would take too long to cook, or isn't necessary to satisfy my hunger. G is allowed to 'play' in the snack cabinet because she can't hurt (or get hurt) by anything in there. She loves pulling everything out and putting it back in. She also knows that when I say, "snack time!" she gets to pull something out.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Weaning During Pregnancy (15 months old)

When I first mentioned wanting to wean G, you all didn't know I was pregnant. Now you do, and it may make more sense for why I am taking on a mom-led weaning stance versus the baby-led weaning I really do prefer. I know that tandem nursing is fine, and I thought I would be okay with it....but I'm not. Call me selfish (I don't think I am), but I just don't want to breastfeed through this entire pregnancy. Being pregnant is work in and of itself--then throw on nursing a toddler--I don't know where the energy would come from.
I do enjoy nursing G; although, a year ago I never thought I'd say that. I'm not sure when we will cut out the final feeding because I am kind of clinging to it as our bonding time--and I know it's the healthiest thing she eats. I also believe, though, that the new baby deserves 100% of my nutrition and internal energy. I don't think it's fair to the new baby to have G leaching, so to speak. Yes, I know that my body could and would compensate for the additional milk / internal energy needed; I just can't help but feel that I am cheating both myself and the new baby if I split myself between growing a baby and nursing a toddler. It's just a personal feeling that I am listening to.
I'm scared to put G out there on her own, immune system wise. I'm starting her on a multivitamin because she doesn't eat as much of a variety as I would like her to. I offer lots of foods, but she got the picky-eater thing from her dad. I bought kid gummy vitamins today and she ate them at lunch time! Sure, I paid a few extra cents for the Winnie the Pooh brand--but that's her favorite, so I figured it was my best shot at getting her to take them.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Plan your SoCal vacation with VisitNewportBeach.com

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Newport Beach for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

You've already read about our recent move to California--the San Francisco Bay Area to be specific--and perhaps you are a bit envious that we live in Sunny CA. It is nice where we live, but I'm jealous of my friend who just moved to Orange County. That area has more of a California-laid-back-ocean-view vibe than what we have where my family lives. I really want to visit SoCal and have looked up several places to consider. One I recently saw was Newport Beach. It has plenty of water and beach activity, plus shopping and eclectic dining. You can check out VisitNewportBeach.com to see all that the community has to offer. The site allows you to peruse hotels by 5 different filters and make reservations directly. You can search restaurants--including dining for pets! VisitNewportBeach.com has sections for planning a wedding or meeting at the gorgeous beach front community. I think trip-planners will most appreciate the "Things To Do" tab. I'm the vacation planner in our family. I like to find fun activities that we can all enjoy, so it's helpful that VisitNewportBeach.com has 12 different sections of "Things to Do" from which to plan. Under the "Yacht Charters, Boating, Tours & Whale Watching" section, I found that we can rent a personal boat to explore the Newport Bay waters. My husband would especially love that because he is passionate about boats. I'd really enjoy it, but I also found tons of beaches we could visit under the "Beaches, Parks & Trails" section--which is what I'd love to do most. Find a pretty beach and sit on it. Sounds lovely :-)

Which of the activities would you like to try?

There's an interesting feature on the VisitNewportBeach.com site that I think many of you with older kids might appreciate. The Kids Camps section under "Things to Do" describes three different camps with hundreds of options between them. There are day camp options if you are on vacation but the kids want something different--and there are week+ options if you live in the area. Kids can participate in sport camps--like surfing, soccer, or volleyball; science & discovery camps--like physics fun or junkyard challenge; and also options in dance, media, cooking, art, acting. G's still too young for anything besides swimming lessons; but I know if I was a kid, I choose a cooking class. A fun camp plus a sweet treat?? Sounds super fun!
If you need more convincing to travel to Newport Beach...the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach hotel has a promotion for vacationing families right now. If you buy one room at full price, you get a connecting room for kids 18 and under for 50% off! It's a bayside, resort-style hotel that sits on 26 acres with three pools and whirlpools. There's also shuffleboard, ping pong, and a nine-hole (par 3) golf course! Just call 800-233-1234 and ask for the Family Plan to receive the promotion.

Check out this video and I bet you could come up with plenty of reasons to head to Newport Beach!
I'd love to hear one :-)
 
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Seven Quick Takes Friday 23


--- 1 ---
My husband gets back late tonight, er, very early Saturday morning from a short business trip. I've never been home alone with G. The other time he had a business trip, we went to my parents because it was a week long. Another trip, we went with him. So it was very weird to be without him, or anyone else, at night.