Last week we went to Estes Park– the first time flying with both girls– and it was beautiful. Exhausting, but oh so beautiful. The weather was a perfect high of 70 degrees, Leah only had 8 full-on tantrums– nothing makes Derek sweat more than a crying baby in the wilderness–, and the girls were both angels on the plane (thanks to endless snacks and iPad movies.) Compared to all past travels, I would have to say that I planned the very least for this little getaway. Perhaps because Derek took care of the hiking logistics/ rental car/ driving, or maybe just because I was already in the vacation, laid-back Colorado mindset and figured things would just unfold. And they totally did. Some of our favorite stops were planned, some were just by chance (cue bathroom emergency at a local coffee shop.) But whether or not things happened on purpose, I was so happy just being us four, showing the girls a new place, and having them remind us that the best world is outdoors. Here are a few of our favorite findings (and a whole lot of pictures) from our little trip:
I feel like if I don’t write our family trips down for this year, they’re not going to happen. And I want them to happen. Leah has no problem sleeping 12 hours at night, Mya is ready to explore more of our world, and I want to see the wonderment in their eyes of new places. We could probably just take them to a different park and they’d be just as happy, but sometimes they don’t know what they want. Right? In the effort of “less talking, more doing,” the first step of taking these trips is to put them on Derek’s work calendar and start planning. Below are our desired, feasible family trips of 2017. With the exception of Omaha, we’ve never taken the girls with us to any of these places. We graciously welcome any advice on where to stay and what to do. And you can send us all the good vibes for traveling with kids. 😉
How can we be more exhausted after the weekend than when it started… when we were basically home the whole time? I’ll chalk it up to being outside for the majority of it and two Easter egg hunts that lasted about five minutes each. Since we’re going to be visiting family next weekend, we thought we’d spread out the joy and not cram it all into one day. Because we all know how that would turn out: anxious for the fun-filled day, Easter egg hunt, open all the eggs, toss aside everything but the candy, sugar high, “I’m not hungry for real food at dinner,” huge fit, and crash. Which is what happened today and will inevitably happen next weekend too. These kids can be so predictable. 😉
You know how sometimes you have a plan for the day… and then you remember you have kids… and whatever vision you had was just a joke really? Pile up Mya getting sick, some gloomy weather, and post breastfeeding hormones and the past week was pretty thrown. But rainy walks around the block, lots of pajama days, and a daily dose of Moana seemed to do the trick. Last weekend, that’s exactly what happened– we stayed home to get well and recharge for the week. All the bins and baskets of playthings were thrown on the living room floor and we all just camped out by the fire. Most of the time, I have the girls pick up things as we are done playing with them because it leaves less of a mess for me after bedtime. And because #mamatired. But last weekend we just let it happen and looked past the mess to find two happy girls, perfectly content with being together at home with just us parents. Which I’m going to pretend will always be the case. Because this is my heaven.
We might not always stick to a schedule around here, but we’ve got our morning routine down: The girls wake up by 6:30, we play and eat, then send Daddy off with his peanut butter and jelly breakfast sandwich. Derek feeds each girl a bite of it and kisses them goodbye for the day. Then the girls rush to the front door, Mya whips it open, and they wave and blow him kisses as Derek pulls out of the drive and down the street. It’s pretty much the most adorable thing ever. We’ve had a couple neighbors tell us they see the sendoff every day and I’m glad we have them fooled as totally calm, cool, and collected. Little do they know that when the door shuts, Mya usually has a meltdown of how she already misses Dada and Leah resumes banging on the pantry door for more food. But recently, the one thing that has been the best distraction from this and starts our girl days off strong are little yoga sessions. Mya takes out her yoga mat with this book and takes us through some “moves.” Leah pretty quickly ends up cozying up in the beanbag with another book, but Mya leads our yoga session and it’s always one of my favorite parts of our mornings together.
A couple weeks ago we met my Mom at a yoga studio and she helped us
play document some of our favorite poses. My Mom is conveniently an Iyengar yoga instructor, so we pretty much have it made in the sense that she knows what to do and how to do it the right way. Since I can barely touch my toes, we keep it simple. These are our 5 favorite yoga poses for kids. I made myself look smarter by googling the sanskrit names and including them too:
I’m embarrassed to even admit this, and even though I’m exposing my absent mindedness, here we go: Recently, I left my pocketbook– containing all my credit cards, ID, ev-er-y-thang– in a shopping cart, left the store, and only realized I’d lost it until the next morning. Twice. And both times– by some grace of God– two beyond kind strangers turned them in to lost-and-found; and I’m wondering how I could get so lucky. Moral of the story: I need to get my $hit together and I need to use a bag that I wear… so that maybe I won’t leave it in a shopping cart. :/
And as I packed yesterday for a 3 day trip with the girls, it got me to think about what I really need and want in my every day mom bag. Diapers and wipes and tissues are of course the must-haves. But here are some recent finds that might make days a bit easier, prettier, more fun, and organized.
As of late, Mya’s been super attention seeking. Most of it is for negative attention– ie “Mama, I’m picking my nails” or “Mama, when I was supposed to be doing quiet time I jumped off my nightstand.” Which explains the loud thump and tells me that we need to secure furniture to walls. And as much as it hurts my heart to see her out of her usual happy-go-lucky state, I know it’s just a stage and she’s still adjusting to life as a big sister. On the weekends, we try to make more time for one-on-one with her; and a couple weekends ago, Derek took Mya out for some extra special “Daddy time.” Leah and I tagged along at the beginning to snap some pics of them “dressed up all fancy,” but then we left them to do their own thing. Here’s how we (but mostly Derek) made the day extra special:
Back in high school, Derek and his two brothers started a tradition whenever they went to Colorado to camp and hike: they took a troll and once they reached the top of a mountain, they would snap a pic with their colorful haired friend. When I saw My Gnome on the Roam, I was instantly reminded of Derek’s troll and knew it could be a fun way to document our family trips too. Last weekend, we stayed close to home and took “Rupert” (our gnome) geocaching– something I’ve been wanting to try with Mya for awhile… and with the help of Rupert, it was such a fun adventure!
Let’s be totally real here and admit that kids “helping” you cook isn’t helping you at all. Doing twice as many dishes and prepping a meal at half the pace isn’t making anyone’s life any easier. But it brings them joy, so that’s why we let them scoop out the flour, leaving a trail of it until they (finally) dump it in the bowl. I do love cooking with Mya, but most days I just need to whip up something quick because when hunger strikes, it strikes hard. The food prep times when I welcome Mya’s help more, though, are when we picnic. Building a sandwich or stacking fruit and cheese kabobs is a lot easier than baking something from scratch. Suddenly, you’re a lot less frazzled when you don’t need 15 ingredients and precise measurements. With the help of PlanetBox, we’ve put together a how-to list to be picnic prepared.
One thing I’ve learned after having two kids is that “self play” is a pretty valuable trait to instill in your child. Yes, I would love to “play cars,” pretend I’m a cat, and become a master chef by just wearing underwear on my head for the day’s entirety. But then I realize that there are dishes and laundry and dust and sometimes Mama needs to just take a breath “by herself.” Because I think people usually visit the bathroom without an audience. And yet honestly, if I didn’t have Leah hanging on my leg and Mya asking me questions about puberty, it really just wouldn’t seem right. But when I do need fifteen minutes to throw dinner in the pressure cooker, the main lifeline I use is Mya’s art station. Mya does something productive and Leah throws all the supplies on the floor. And if that fails for Leah, I just open up the tupperware or spice cabinet and we’re good to go. 😛 Here are our tips for art station success:
Mya loves all living things… including bugs. I don’t know how it happened with me as her mother, but she has no fear of any insect or arachnid. A couple months ago we were at a nature presentation at Fat Brain Toys and Mya was front and center the whole time. She jumped with excitement to hold the tarantula and grinned from ear to ear while the snake slithered up her arm. At the end of the class, Scott the naturist mentioned that the Leawood Nature Center at Ironwoods Park offered birthday packages and the thought of not having her party at our house seemed pretty magical. I got Mya’s overeager approval and called to book a date. Best. Decision. Ever. Also to make it easier, we just sent the invites via email. The “nature” theme gave me a good reason to incorporate one of my favorite illustrators– Charley Harper.
Mya just turned 4. FOUR. But more like 4 going on 34. I swear she is more mature than I at times. The other day in the Costco parking lot, I was wrangling Leah because I guess she wasn’t as impressed with the bulk deals. Mya looked at me and calmly said, “It’s okay, Mama. Take a deep breath and don’t worry. Enjoy the beautiful day.” I mean, really? How did that come from such a little person? Granted, she’s not always that calm and collected, but she constantly amazes me with moments like these.