Monday, September 29, 2014

Our big summer road trip

Everyone knows I'm not scared of a road trip...basically I can't afford to fly 8 people and rent a van anytime I want to go someplace more than a few hours away, so we've decided that we just suck it up and drive.

This is what we did this year:

Northern Utah:
We headed the day school got out (3rd week of June), for Salt Lake so we could make it to my mom's wedding.  Babies require SO MUCH STUFF (stroller, bumpo, pack n play, front carrier, etc.) that we couldn't fit it all in our Pilot and the Thule on top.  Our next option was this thing (it's basically a platform that hangs off of the back of the car).  It's just a fact of life that when we go anywhere all together, we are a spectacle.  I'm mostly over it.

We enjoyed the temple sealing, the  wedding dinner and lots of time with extended family.  Almost all of my siblings were there and that's always a treat.

We took some fun hikes, ate lots of good fun, and found some indoor entertainment while the desert was raining.

Southern Utah:
This was our nuclear family part of the trip.  We decided to explore St George on our way to California and spent 3 days there.  We found a great (huge) condo and enjoyed just being together.

My kids are pretty good sports about hiking and we loved checking out the Red Cliffs and Snow Canyon so much.  Utah has good food and we had all of our spots planned out. Loved getting to try Swig while we were in St George.

We spent our last night there visiting Church history sites--Ryan's great great great (?) grandpa played a role in the founding of St. George (even built the staircases in the tabernacle, see picture below) and my kids were forced to loved getting a chance to see Miles Romney's grave in 103 degree weather. 

We went to Tuacahn to see the Wizard of Oz and while it was a splurge to take most of the family (Gabe volunteered to stay home with Levi), I love showing my kids plays. And the venue is amazing!

(PS: unless Levi was driving

he pretty much did this

when he was awake.  I kept thinking he'd figure it out and just complacently pass the time, but no.)

Southern California:
We headed west and spent about 2 days making our way up the coast to Grandpa's house.

The traffic was horrible, but when we landed here I remembered why Californians put up with it.

 Best mexican dinner and a charming little hotel finished off the night.

We headed to the beach early the next day and hung out until noon

and then drove up to San Simeon to tour Hearst Castle.  The older family members loved it and the younger family members tolerated it, but I'm glad we fit it in.  (Gabe's in this SUPER FUNNY phase where he can't take normal pictures.)

Northern California:
This is where we lost Ryan. He had to head back to work and I was a little worried about handling the crew (mostly the trailer thing and the drive home, to be honest) all by myself.  But we had a great time with Grandpa.

We did the mini Zoo in Lodi, an A's game, lots of mini golf and swimming and thoroughly enjoyed the 5 star treatment we get when we stay with the Sherrills.

Also In N Out:

The last two days were spent in the Bay Area with forever friend Adrianne (at generous Tammy's house while she was out of the country) and her fun sister Lindsay and lots of kids.

We hit my favorite Northern California beach (Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz),

and then spent the next day with Paige and the hilarious Greenan family and had dinner with our old friend Matt and his wife.  Love reconnecting and having everything be the same as it was in college, except there are 14 kids milling about.

The drive home was so not bad.  Ryan and I had both been praying the Levi would be okay and it was a total answer to prayer when he only cried for 30-45 during minutes the whole 15 hours drive home.

I had plans for Emma to drive while I nursed (she has her permit) but after about 22 seconds of trying that I decided that, between the ulcer I was creating and the damage I was doing to our relationship, we should just nurse at eating stops.  Worst part?  when the air condition conked out about 3 hours from home.  At that point we were all SO DONE and a little out of our minds, but we powered through.

Here's the hours we were in the car during this 2 week trip, the mileage is at the bottom. Hard Core!

I loved our trip.  Happy happy memories, perfect length of time, and showing our kids parts of the country they've never seen before.  I also love the appreciation it gives me for the place I live. There is beauty in beaches and red rocks for sure, but I love the Inland Northwest!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Levi 1-9 months (how's this for a baby book?)

So I'm just going to throw out whatever I can remember about Levi, because I have 25 minutes till I have to start dinner and I should have this stuff written down somewhere.

He's been a really not good sleeper. I am a sleep training Nazi and this kid had my number.  He had his days and nights mixed up more than any baby I've ever had and I'd never been as tired as I was with him the first 2 weeks.  He got the nighttimes down pretty decently (the usual 1-2 feedings and then right back to sleep) by about 1 month old but then took 45 minute naps from 4 weeks until 3 months.  I read and discussed and kept notes and tried 3 different systems and that kid WOULD NOT sleep longer than 45 minutes during the day.  It was bad.  He still isn't a great sleeper (especially compared to other kids), and I've had to be really careful about keeping him highly scheduled to maintain any sleep system.  The last few weeks he's lengthened his in-between-nap time and that's been really helpful.

One of the reasons that he slept poorly, I figured out at about 2.5 months, was that he has reflux.  I learned that if I wasn't very careful about giving him 3 doses of Zantac a day, he would revert quickly back to 45 minute naps (poor guy was just so uncomfortable).  He took the Zantac until about 7 months and now, at 9 months, he seems to be pretty much over it.

He loves his family.  He does especially well with Jane and Faith and Ryan, but really likes all of the kids and is easily entertained and calmed by him.  They are SO GOOD to him, 95% of the time.  It's really vital to running this huge household having helpers of all ages.

Nursing hasn't gone great.  I've tried my best but I just do not produce much milk.  He took a bottle well from the beginning and we've done both breastmilk regular milk.  He's highly distracted while nursing and these days I opt to pump about half the time rather than try to keep him focused on nursing.  I constantly debate weaning but I've gone to a year with all of the others and can't quite pull the trigger on finishing with Levi early.

A timeline of Baby firsts:

4 weeks--first real smiles

2 months--first laughs, grasping objects, blowing bubbles

3.5 months--rolled over tummy to back

4 months-- first foods watermelon and baby cereal (GREAT solid eater and likes everything)

5 months--holds bottles, gets 1st and second tooth, rolls front to back, loves the exersaucer

6 months--hates our long road trips to UT and CA, starts sitting well, hair starts growing in (so
 blonde), starts scooting

7 months--plays peekaboo, "how big is Levi"?, starts crawling proficiently, pulling to stand

8 months--starting to vocalize quite a bit, gets 3 more teeth, is horrible at drinking from a cup, stranger anxiety!, crawling up the stairs

Loves: all digital devices and screens, peek a boo, being held or entertained, being outside, books, baths/showers, peaches, green smoothies, aiden and anais blankies

Hates: being on his own (though crawling has made him better at entertaining himself), holding his own bottle, getting his nose wiped or his diaper changed

He's so curious and loves to explore, is REALLY good with gross motor skills, less verbal than other kids, he smiles really easily, doesn't get sick often, isn't super snuggly but loves to hang out with all of us.  And of course, we can't imagine our life without him!