Sunday, August 3, 2014

traveling with toddlers

those words probably send some people shaking in their boots. toddlers, by nature, are hyper little godzillas. they enjoy running, roaring, stomping, and destroying things. locking them in their car seat for 5 plus hours? nope. no way. i will skip that five star hotel and ocean breeze to save myself the headache.

unlessssss…..

we make the trip super easy. how do you do that? there are a few simple things: food, having one person back there with the baby, and timing.

seriously though, food solves everything at this age. blueberries, grapes, animal crackers. all of that adds up to a happy godzilla. kind of like that snickers commercial! when parker gets food, he goes back to that sweet little toddler.

the person is important. it could be the mom or the dad, but i think it is best when the person doing the entertaining is not the disciplinary. the toddler needs an exciting face to be entertained with. uncle trevor to the rescue! he can share his watch, supply the food, have full baby babble conversations for hours, and just be fun. some kids enjoy iPads and movie, but parker doesn't like it. he needs some form of entertainment and what is better than his uncle?

timing. i am one of those go with the flow mom's. we aren't on a strict schedule. he might nap once a day and he usually goes to bed around 10. it works. we work. i am sure that when baby number two comes along, i will be forced to be on a schedule. so picking a time to leave was tough. we decided to make sure he did not nap at all and leave at 4. it worked out fairly well. he slept for quite some time!

really…. this is me just wanting to show you all our sweet family vacation. when i say family, i mean, faaaammiiillllyyyyy! not just my little family of three, but my parents, brothers, and one sister and her family. this makes for the best vacations ever.


Friday, July 11, 2014

my 'real' real life // when heartbreak happens


my social media is filled with sunshine and rainbows. it spews fun colors and sweet, loving photos. i hate when people say these photos are not their 'real' life, so they post a messy house and crying babies with the hashtag #myrealreallife. you know what? a messy house and crying baby is still a happy time. my house is messy, not because i don't want to clean, but because parker is pulling every toy out of the playroom to make a giant show for only five minutes and laugh the whole time. my house is messy because instead of cleaning, i am choosing to blow bubbles outback or swim. my focus of my 'real' real life will never be the mess in the background, it will be my baby and family, front and center. it will never be the moments he is crying, because those times are just blips. sometimes, believe it or not, those crying moments are not all sad. when he is crying to get to me or he is wanting his daddy to come home, he may be upset, but i know that he is doing it because he loves us so much. i will never remember the tears of fits though. what you see is #myrealreallife, what you see is front and center of my life.

what do you do when your 'real' real life crumbles a little? i can't post a photo saying 'hey guys, my life just exploded a little bit and i am in bed crying.' so i post a different aspect of my 'real' real life.

instead, on the day my 'real' real life crumbled, i posted a photo of my son pretending to be sailing with a peg arm. that was also my 'real' real life, the light through the pain. my front and center.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dear Parker (Half Birthday!)

Dear Monkey Baby,

Oh my sweet baby! Happy, happy half birthday! Be prepared. Mama goes BIG on birthdays and half birthdays. Cake, presents and all. My mama made every birthday so special and I want to continue the tradition. We'd come home to a fully decorated front yard and even more inside. We'd have a huge family party (isn't everything huge when you are one of five kids) and we were the center of attention all day long. Yep, that is your future.
|| Learning to 'show food' ||
More to read...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Mommy Must Have Gadgets

We all know I shop a lot. I shop more than your average human. It is no surprise that when I found out my little man was coming, I went into shopping overload. I stocked up on everything, big and small! Here are a few of my favorite things:

1. Maxi Cosi AP Infant Car Seat
This carseat is so light and airy. It fit my small baby perfectly from day one. It fits 5 - 22 pounds and it basically molds to the baby's body. It is always hard to see a sleeping baby with their head hunched over uncomfortably. We never had that with this seat. Twenty-two pounds is heavy. Parker just barely hit it at 16 months. You can use it for so long!
Recommendation: get extra bases for every car you plan to be in for the next year or so. I got one for my car, Eric's, and my mom's. Don't wait until after you have the baby! It is hard and time consuming to use the seatbelt and not as safe as using the base.

2. Bugaboo Cameleon
This bad boy is a little pricey, but worth every penny. The Bugaboo Cameleon comes with the seat and a bassinet! That bassinet worked miracles. He loved it. We went on walks and he just stayed nice and cozy, without any straps all over him. When I would cook, I would just lay him in there and stare while cooking. Yep. I did a lot of staring. I guess that was my first three months with him. Staring and kissing. You can add a kick board that you place on the back and your older babe can stand on it. PS They have an awesome warranty. I accidentally broke the bottom basket and all they needed was a photo and they sent me a brand new one immediately! I was shocked. 
Recommendation: if you are going to have kids close together, get the Bugaboo Donkey. It extends to  a two seater, but when you just have one, you get a nice little storage basket!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tough decision: Vaccinations


When I got pregnant, one of the first things I thought of was whooping cough. Isn't that weird? A little boy I watched at church had it and it was so upsetting to see him suffer (not to mention the fact that they brought him around others). He couldn't speak, he was always coughing, and I could hear him breathing from across the room. I never really questioned vaccinations. I had them. My siblings had them. We are all well! So why the outrage?

But, guys, seriously, how convincing is Jenny McCarthy? Okay, low blow, I know. To her credit, she did start college focusing on nursing. Honestly though, I started researching vaccinations like a lunatic. I read the pro's, the con's, the in-betweens. I read the stories of children suffering from the diseases vaccinations prevent. I read the heartbreaking story of sweet baby boy, too young to get vaccinated for whooping cough, pass away because another child did not have his shot. I read the stories of autism post-vaccinations. Getting these life saving vaccinations, falling ill, and waking up a different child. They all hurt my heart. But you know what? At the end of the day I have to do what is best for my baby and my family. I have to follow my mommy instinct.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Breastfeeding… from a person who didn't think she'd do it.


I never thought I'd nurse. I thought it was weird and a burden (WHOA. I KNOW). Modern technology and all those formulas boasting about how amazing they are conned me… until I became pregnant. The first time I really started to consider it, I was just like 'whatever. I will do it for a few weeks.' After that, I thought I'd reward myself for every month I did it. If I made it a month, I'd buy myself that handbag I have been wanting. Three months and those Loubs Kim Kardashian was wearing in People Magazine would be on these feet. Six months, you better believe Eric is buying me Chanel. Well, I didn't get myself any of those gifts for making it to those goals. I got something so much greater.

I am not going to lie. I absolutely, positively hated breastfeeding in the beginning. Did you know your nipples can crack? Or that you can get so full and a milk duct can clog that you have actual pain and have to massage it out? I didn't. Parker so did not want to nurse. He had a small mouth and that made it hard. He lost too much weight too quickly (despite nursing him like 18 hours of the day) and I had to supplement with formula. At that point, a week in, I was ready to call it quits. I am already giving him formula, why do both? Why sit for over an hour, uncomfortable, when I will be giving him formula at the end any way? Man, I had my eye on the prize though! New things for me.

Dear Parker (One Year)


Dear sweetest one year old,
A year! Seriously! I have spent a full year blessed beyond belief with you. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I loved you. I loved you with every fiber of my being. I anticipated this love being powerful because I watched my own mama and I saw how very much she loved all five of us. She forgave things others wouldn’t forgive, she sacrificed everything for us. It is so different when it happens to you. When you came into this world, I could do nothing but cry tears of joy and kiss your perfect little hands, feet, tummy, and head. I remember that moment so perfectly because it was the moment my world shifted. My everything, the reason I breathe, was a funny looking 6 pound 7 ounce, curious, purple baby with no name. Your head was so misshaped from dropping so early. You barely had any hair. You were so very tiny. You were the opposite of what my dreams had shown me. I thought you’d look just like me, but you looked just like daddy. It was better than my dreams.


You are a (almost) walking, (almost) talking man. During your 12th month, you developed a deep love for the outdoors. Despite the cold, you will walk anywhere we let you go. You want to splash in the water and crunch all the leaves. You are the quickest crawler! I am jogging behind you all the time! I can almost always find you in the piano room when we are down stairs and the drum room when we are up! The stairs are not even an issue any more. You just go up or down as needed (don’t worry, folks, I am always right behind him).


We got to celebrate your first Christmas. It was just as amazing as I had hoped. You had the patience to open your own presents and, like most babies, you preferred the paper and boxes, but nothing got your attention more than tissue paper. You loved the tissue paper and pulling it out of the bags. We would stuff it right back in the bags for you. Much like Thanksgiving, you ate E V E R Y T H I N G in sight. People fed you things left and right and you would steal right from other’s plates. You aren’t too concerned with playing with your cousins yet, but that will change. Christmas will be so different once you all play together. I cannot wait! I know you are the only boy, but, be patient, let them put make up on you and play with babies with them. They will return the favor. You were kind of a booger with the Christmas tree, but it was brand new to you so it was very easy to be patient with. A good portion of my ornaments are broken, but you had fun so I do not mind.



A year with you has been more than I ever thought I deserved. I cannot believe that your tiny little spirit chose us. You chose me. You are all I ever prayed for. I have always wanted to be a mama, but being your mama has been beyond my wildest dreams. You are the easiest baby. I had to wake you up for feedings in the middle of the night. What baby does that? You aren’t a fit thrower. You are a cuddler and a kisser. You pet my face while you nurse. You giggle at everything and want to learn anything you can.

I love you forever, Parker Ericson. 





















*Disclaimer: I swear this was written around his actual birthday! I just forgot to post it. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dear Parker (Our Eleventh Month)

Dear Padawan,
I cannot wait to sit and watch all the Star Wars movies with your to teach you what a Padawan is. Right now, you still look at me confused when I try to get your attention by calling you that instead of Parker. My baby, I cannot believe how old you are.

Your eleventh month was a month of zoos and exploring. You went to the Phoenix Zoo or Wildlife World Zoo every weekend and enjoyed it more and more each time. The monkeys were your biggest fans. How could they not be? You are their size and just stare and smile the whole time. They will walk right up to you and stare at you. It is a hilarious sight. You also got to play with so many animals! Giraffes, turtles, stingrays, camels, deer, and pigmy goats. The best part of every trip is the carousal ride at the end. You take it very serious. You hold on for dear life, but smile and wave. You are getting too big.


I wish I have more photos from Thanksgiving, but there are priorities and I cannot take photos and have a fork and knife in each hand. You sure did enjoy it though. You ate everything on your plate and managed to snag some dessert off of everyone’s plate. Those eyes and that goofy, five tooth smile can get people to give you anything. We went with the baby led weaning method for you, so you’ve been eating solids for about six months and the mushy food was never your thing. My point to this is, you’ve become a master eater. I occasionally get a look or two from other mothers at restaurants, or even your grandma and grandpa say something for my lack of cutting things up, but you handle your food. You do not stuff your face until you have no more room in your mouth. When I give you a small cube of cheese, you take perfectly portioned bites until it is gone. Thank you, love, for being responsible since birth. It is really quite cute to see you with a whole carrot (I mean the whole, nearly foot long carrot) and your little nibbles at the end.


You took your first real steps. Honestly, we thought you’d be walking at nine months, considering you were crawling at 3.5. You are a speed demon when it comes to crawling, so you just drop to your knees and crawl to where you need to be. I am always buying you jeans. That is the only reason I want you to walk. You’ve ruined your light grey skinnies, tan cords, and half a dozen denim jeans.  Other than that, please, please, take your time walking. It seems so much safer to have you so close to the ground.

We were able to take you to play with snow! You were a little hesitant, but, ultimately, you did enjoy it. It was daddy and I throwing little snowballs, and you trying hard to figure out what it was and then eat it. You got to do a lot of things you loved that day! You sat on daddy’s shoulders and he danced around, you slept during the boring stuff, and then you got to hang out with all of your cousins to put together grandma’s giant Christmas town.



 I can’t believe my next post will be rounding out my first year of being blessed with you. It is insane. This month you also loved wagon rides, sloppy kisses, spaghetti, your cousins, your puppies, walking with walkers, pots and pans, the rose garden, and anything that makes music. I love you to the moon and back, Parkman.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dear Parker (Our Tenth Month)


Dear Munchkin,


Oh, my sweetest baby! You had an excellent month. So much to experience and so much to enjoy! You make unpleasant situations so much fun. Thank you! It is quite a relief.

You got to go on your first airplane ride! You were an angel your first flight, but your second flight wasn't as easy. It wasn't your fault. The airplane's air conditioning was broken! So miserable. You got to strip down to your diaper though and got quite comfortable. People played with you the whole time and you were especially fond of a sweet girl who played peek-a-boo with you. What shocks me most is the people you draw into you. You have little kids that are acting like snots drop everything to play and you have grown, grumpy men doing everything they can to make you smile. The group I never expect is teenage boys who have their friends around and still stop to play with you.  They remind me of your sweet uncle Trevi. It is proof they will be great daddies one day. (Ladies, if you are thinking you are in love, make sure they handle kids well!)


We were lucky enough to go to Pennsylvania for a week. It sounds like a boring place to visit, but it is every kids dream! Mama spent a lot of time there growing up and every street has a fun childhood memory and I hope you get to make some too. There are parks galore and not the boring plastic parks we have. There are huge wooden parks with play stations you don't see anywhere else and real tire swings. Squirrels are running around and giant orange leaves to jump in. Swings are not your thing, you prefer crawling around getting into things, like the leaves. You had the time of your life.





You are a very observant child. You do have a short attention span, but you really enjoy things and take in every moment. It seems like you really appreciate any small thing and it fills my heart. I am trying my hardest to raise you as a grateful, appreciative person and these moments make me feel like I am on the right track. The Hershey Chocolate Factory has a cute little ride that takes you through the chocolate process and your little head was flying everywhere and looking at every little thing. We went to an art museum and you stared so intently at every piece we walked near.


You have been brushing your teeth for a while, but now you have quite a few teeth to clean. This is your favorite part of the morning and night. You may even like it more than eating. I have to pry the toothbrush out of your mouth. Please, please keep up that habit for you whole life. Also, please get my teeth. Daddy has tiny teeth. I know that they say binkies aren’t as bad as people claim they are, but I still worry. I hate them. I am hoping to cut you off around your first birthday. I cannot handle when kids are talking with binkies in their mouth. Time to start the weaning!


Halloween is such a fun holiday! Our entire family went as a zoo! You make the cutest lion in the history of animals. You did not want to keep the costume on and you definitely wouldn’t wear the lion mane, but for the little bit of time we had it on, it was the cutest ever. You really enjoyed handing out candy because there were so many kids! People your size make you smile. I can’t wait until play dates mean playing together rather than grabbing hair and poking eyes.



I am so excited for your first holiday season. It is so fun to begin traditions that I will carry on from our family. Time to help make pies, pick out your annual ornaments, and see how long we can keep ornaments on the tree! I love you forever and cannot wait for this season!