Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A New York Minute

As we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes and prepared for the day, we were surprised to learn that a cold front had pushed through and it was downright chilly!  It was a packing fail as I realized none of us had clothes for such a chilly day.  We made due and ventured out to see the sites.

After picking up Paisley from my parents hotel, we took a taxi to the September 11th museum.  What should have been a "quick" drive a few miles took roughly 30 minutes.  I was thankful that I wasn't driving in this horrendous traffic, but even more thankful that I do not live in a big city.  

There were plenty of tourists once we arrived at ground zero.  The last time I was here there were still piles of ruble from the catastrophic events of September 11th.  Those piles were now replaced by 2 beautiful and peaceful water falls.    

I was a little nervous about taking the kids into the museum, as I imagined it was sacred ground and I didn't want my kids shrieking and ruining the experience for other tourists.  However, God was on our side as both children fell asleep as we walked in and didn't make a peep as we strolled through the museum.
The museum was very well done and there was so much information on the people that had perished on that awful day.  I had to swallow several lumps that formed in my throat as I stared into the faces of those that lost their lives.  So many people.  Such a senseless day.  Despite walking past metal that had been twisted during the collapse of the buildings and walking past a fire truck that had been completely sheared in half, my mind just kept asking how could such a horrible event really happen.  How and why.  I felt guilty and sad and had seen enough.  I was ready to leave the somber museum.

Back in the taxi we headed to our hotel to regroup and plan the rest of the day.  Hauling two kids around the city is exhausting and even though the kids had napped while we were out, Scott and I needed a break!  As evening came upon us, we decided to walk to Time Square and eat pizza.  We found Ray's pizza and tried a handful of different slices.  Lila wasn't overly interested in the pizza but Paisley, Scott and I really enjoyed it.  We walked around Time Square and Paisley was amazed at all the lights and signs.  It's safe to say his little brain was overwhelmed.  Lila wasn't real interested in it. I think the cold weather just made her want to bury her head in the safety and warmth of her momma.  I didn't mind.

We ventured into a couple shops and by the time we walked back to the hotel, it was time to put a couple babies in bed.  They both went down fairly easily and Scott and I began the process of packing up our bags.  With the babies sleeping and the lights of NYC twinkling below our hotel window, we talked about the trip and what we would do differently and what we had done right....

-We wouldn't have taken such young kids to NYC unless we had a good reason.  My sisters wedding was a good reason.

-Ordering the Sept. 11th museum tickets online to cut down on waiting in a LONG line was a genius idea.

-Taking the baby carrier for Lila was a life saver, but we should have also brought the one that Paisley fits in.  It's a lot of walking for adults, so we should have expected the little tyke would want to be carried around.  Scott's shoulders got a heck of a work-out!

-No car seats was the way to go.  We hopped in and out of taxi's so quickly that installing and carrying around the seats would have made the trip more stressful.

-Thank goodness for comfortable shoes.  I would love to know how many miles we logged.

-Snacks! As expensive as food was, having  snacks on hand for the adults and kids was smart!  We ate out at breakfast, snacked for lunch, then had a big dinner.

-The location of our hotel was perfect! We were right across the street from Central Park and literally within walking distance of everything else we were interested in seeing.  We would stay at the Park Lane again!  Although maybe get a bigger room as 4 of us in the room was tight quarters!!

-There is never enough time to do everything, so we picked just a couple things to see in the city and didn't stress with having a schedule or trying to cram a lot of attractions into our trip.  Just going with the flow and not dragging the kids all over creation kept all of us sane.

-We will absolutely return to the city when the kids are in high school.

We loved our view as we curled up in bed and drifted into sleep on our final night in NYC.  As always, morning came too quick.  With bags packed we left our hotel and met the rest of the family for breakfast.  There was a hole in the wall restaurant just a few doors down from our hotel.  It also had the best breakfast prices we had seen in the entire city ($6.95 for eggs, toast and sausage.  Yes please!)!

After breakfast we strolled thru Central Park and let Paisley play on the playground.  One of his requests was to go down a slide in the park and I was going to make sure that happened.  He loved running around the playground and loved having his aunt play with him (even though she wasn't so sure of the slide).

It was time for everyone to start heading to the airport so we all went our separate ways.  I wanted to go in FAO Schwartz so that was our next stop.  I think I had set my expectations a little too high, or maybe it just seemed neat when I was little, but I was not overly impressed.  Sure it was a 3 story toy story, but there weren't really hands on toys that Paisley could try out or play with.  They had a couple enclosed exhibits of trains or robotic toys, but pushing the "start" button didn't bring any of the toys to life as expected.  So there was nothing special about the store in my opinion.

The kids fell asleep in the taxi on the way to the airport and I contemplated joining them.  Instead I watched the city fly by my window and the people walking about that call this place home.  There are parts that are beautiful and parts I wouldn't want to be in when the sun goes down.  I was ready to get back to our slow paced peaceful life in the country.

The airport was packed and I was just ready to get my little family on the plane.  While we were sitting in the chairs, I noticed Paisley was driving a monster truck up the arm of a lady sitting next to him.  She was ignoring him so I just did the same.  If she didn't seem to  mind and he was being quiet, I figured to just let it be.
Even having Lila strapped to me didn't keep people from touching her.  We had quickly realized that the people of NYC see babies as these unique creatures that rarely venture into the city.  Therefore everyone wanted to touch and talk about the baby.  She didn't mind having her toes tickled and head touched.  I on the other hand didn't have enough wipes to keep Lila sanitized.  In NYC, the phrase "everyone loves a baby" proved to be true with the people we encountered.  In a way it was nice because everyone was so nice to us.  On the other hand, I was fairly certain we were going to be taking a couple germs home with us (on a side note, we didn't get sick post trip! Not even a runny nose).

Finally we boarded (after a delay or 2) and we left the city behind us. Next stop, home sweet home.  I'm so glad we got to experience this with our babes and celebrate my sisters wedding.  There is nothing better then family...except being on vacation with family.
The view from our hotel.  Until next time...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

11 months - The Final Month of Infancy

                                    Birth                  11 Months
                                  7lbs 5oz                 18lbs (+/-)
                               19.5 inches              28 inches (+)

It's hard not to feel the burn of tears threatening to fall as I think we are now 1 month away from our baby turning 1.  Our baby girl that filled us with fear when we first heard the phrase "It's a girl."  The baby girl that was born pouting, sticking her bottom lip out.  The baby girl that learned how to rule the 3 other people that live in this house quicker then anticipated.  That baby girl is already 11 months old.

Sleep has been our biggest challenge since birth.  We are back to only 1 feeding a night, roughly 2am she wakes up to eat, then quickly goes back to sleep.  One night time feeding is much better than 2 or 3!!  During the day she likes to take an early nap around 8:30am that lasts anywhere from 1.5 - 3 hours.  Later in the day she may or may not take a short nap.  Heaven forbid I try to put her down for a nap when she doesn't want one!  Then it's swaddling, rocking and feeding from 7-7:30pm.  Once she starts to fall asleep, I give her a final kiss before laying her in her crib.  I love how warm and soft her cheeks feel after they've been snuggled up against me for the past 30 minutes.  I also love that she buries her hands in my hair as she falls into sleep.

Her eating skills are getting better and better as she now decides what she likes and what she would rather not eat.  When given multiple foods on her tray, she will pick up the items she does not want to eat and drop them off the side of her tray.  You can tell what she favors by what she eats first.  At the end of dinner she has completely cleaned her tray, either via throwing the food overboard or eating it.  Depending on what I have made, I can't keep food on the the tray as she eats as quickly as I cut/cool her food.  She can quickly shovel food in her little mouth!  She still nurses a handful of times throughout the day so she is still getting a decent amount of nutrients that way.  I can tell she is too busy during the day to nurse like she used to.  I would rather her wean herself then me push her to stop I'll just continue to follow her lead.

Her love of books makes me so happy.  I feel guilty because I don't spend the amount of time reading to her that I did with Paisley.  However, somehow this little lady has fallen in love with books.  Anytime she is sitting quietly by herself, you will find a book in her hand.  It may be upside down, but she can already lose herself in the pages of a book.  She also snuggles her dolls as she picks them up and she is showing a strong interest in play food.  She doesn't pretend to eat it...usually she just likes banging it on a table, but she often can be found carrying a plastic cracker around.  She enjoys watching Paisley play and if he's laying down she will try to sit on him.  She is starting to learn that he doesn't like having his hair pulled so that particular issue is starting to get better. He is still rougher with her than she'd like so throughout the day I often hear her crawling away from him at warp speed on the wood floor.

Her top teeth have descended.  She has the cutest little gap in between them that I absolutely love.  Her gummy smile was precious but this new toothy smile melts my heart too.

The big development of the month was Lila had her first slumber party! I had very mixed feelings on leaving her as she doesn't take a bottle and she still wakes during the night, but putting it off any longer wasn't going to make our first night apart any easier.  So Scott and I headed to Kentucky to a NASCAR race while Lila and Paisley headed to their aunt's house for a sleep over.  They all survived... :)  I did too....barely.

There were lots of first celebrations this month!  Lila helped celebrate her papaw's birthday, Father's Day, her daddy's birthday and 4th of July.  We didn't let her have any cake and she wasn't very happy about that.  She did enjoy watching people blow out their birthday candles and she also didn't mind the fireworks on the the 4th.  She actually laid her head on my lap and fell asleep while we were watching the fireworks.

Party preparations are under way for our 2 August babies.  I look forward to celebrating their lives with our friends and family and hope our little people feel how loved they are.  They absolutely amaze me.

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A New York Reception

As our party entered Club 21, I glanced at the swanky setting and the yuppies sipping aged whisky in their sport coats.  I sent up a quick prayer that my children would not break anything, scream to loudly, or spill anything on anyone other than their father or I. We sat at a table near the bar for drinks and appetizers.  Scott and I were daring enough to try "most" of what was served...

I may have been the only person in the entire building carrying a diaper bag and dried cranberries, but I "think" our little group blended into the setting nicely.

We headed downstairs to the wine cellar where dinner was waiting. We had to pass through the kitchen on the way downstairs which was interesting!  I was going to help the chef cook a thick filet, but since I was holding the baby I figured I better not get too close to the open flame.

As the heavy door to the cellar swung open, I peered into the windowless room and felt my breath catch ever so slightly.  I'm not one to feel like I'm suffocating in enclosed spaces, but I was slightly uneasy to walk through the dim passage into the beautiful dining room.  Side note....Having children has instilled some silly anxieties that I didn't have pre-children.  Driving over bridges, bear attacks, and tight spaces make me uneasy these days.  Strange. 

The small passageway to the dining room held wine bottles from famous people that had eaten in the cellar.  A few of those people included T. Boone Pickens, Chelsea Clinton, President Ford, President Nixon, James Stewart, and Eva Gabor, just to name a few.

I swallowed my fear of the underground room and took my seat at the beautiful long table.  There were more wine glasses at each place setting than in my entire wine glass collection at home.  Our bottoms had barely hit the seat before the glasses were filled with red and white wines.

As Sinatra played in the background the courses began, with each course better than the last.  I was roughly 3 courses in when I realized I was getting full and the best was yet to come!  Since we were away from the general public, I wasn't as nervous about the kids causing a scene or being too loud.  My only concern was for the hundreds of wine bottles that surrounded us and hoping Paisley didn't want to yank one out of the wall.

We ate and sipped wine, we gave toasts and ate some more.  There was laughter and stories and passing the babies from one set of arms to another.  There was more food and more wine and I may have nursed Lila in a small closet off the dining room surrounded by even more bottles of wine (that was a first).

Desserts were brought out and the cake was cut.  More wine was poured and the babies were falling asleep.  As much as I would have loved to have spent more of the evening sharing in the celebration, it was time to get our babes and head back to the hotel.  My parents wanted Paisley to spend the night in their room and Scott and I thought we may get better sleep if we let him.

After kissing the newlyweds good night and a final round of congratulations were spoken, we hailed some taxi's and disappeared into the New York night.

Our trip wasn't over just yet....up next, our final day in New York City!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Central Park Wedding

As we arrived at the park, the wedding planner met us and guided us through the paths in Central Park to the wedding location.  Rhea was waiting at the top of Wagner Cove for everyone to arrive.  I'm not sure I'd ever been happier for my sister than I was at that very moment.  She beamed so brightly it was impossible not to match her smile with my own.  She had tears her eyes as all of her favorites gathered in one spot.
I walked down the stone aisle with Greg's oldest son as the violinist played.  The cove was beautiful with a small gazebo placed in front of the water.  Onlookers gathered both on foot and canoe as the preacher began the ceremony.  I let his words of love and commitment soak in as I glanced behind me at my husband and our 2 babes.  Even though he had a squirmy babe in his arms and we were slightly nervous Paisley would jump in the water, Scott and I smiled at each other.  We had survived getting to NYC, getting everyone ready for the wedding, and we were now in the moment we had been waiting for.  I think we were finally able to breath a sigh of relief.

The ceremony was fairly short and it was time to snap a few pictures before heading to the reception.

Without further are some of my favorite pictures of the newlyweds....

And a few with the rest of us...

And then it was time for the party to begin!!  A couple town cars later we pulled up to Club 21.

Coming next....The Reception

Monday, July 14, 2014

Babes in New York City

The traveling daddy and daughter
When Rhea announced New York City is where she would marry Greg, I was a little nervous about how Scott and I would handle two small tots in the big busy city.  Scott and I are always up for an adventure, so we were up for the challenge (plus, there was no way I was going to miss my sisters wedding)!
My favorite little boy traveler
The kids enjoying their first taxi ride
Plane tickets were purchased, a room was booked at the Park Lane Hotel, and then we waited for May 27th to arrive!

We drove to St. Louis and caught a direct flight to NYC.  I am constantly amazed at how nice the security screeners are to people with kids.  It was a breeze to get through with both kiddos and all our gear.  Wearing Lila also made the entire process so much easier as both my hands were free to catch thrown objects, wipe up spills, carry snacks and drinks, open doors, pull luggage, etc.  Both kids did pretty good on the flight and I don't mind when strangers comment on how well behaved our little ones are.  It was a quick flight and suddenly we were descending into one of the busiest cities in the states.
Bob Costas from NBC at the airport

Scott and I had debated on taking the car seats or just winging it.  Since car seats are not required in taxi cabs in the city, we decided we would leave them at home and let the kids sit on our laps.  Yes, it made us nervous but so would standing on a busy street attempting to install car seats while cars whizzed past at a high rate of speed.  Paisley loved sitting in the taxi and watching the city fly past us as we drove downtown.  He couldn't understand why we wouldn't let him hang his head out the window as we drove.  Lila was more interested in attempting to put her mouth on any object that I deemed disgusting.   She failed but did succeed at absolutely wearing me out!

Once we arrived at our hotel, we quickly went about getting a crib in our room and baby proofing as best we could.  Our room was nice and we had a beautiful view of Central Park and the sky scrapers. The hotel was extremely accommodating with our children and brought us a refrigerator without us even asking.

Welcome to NYC
 After unpacking and settling in, we headed out to grab dinner.  We found a hole in the wall sandwich shop which was exactly what we wanted.  We sat at a table outside and watched the busy nightlife of the city play out before our eyes.  Nana came to meet us and Paisley thought it was pretty neat to be in NYC and see Nana!

I was smirking out of exhaustion....4 fish in a bed
That night may have been the worst night of sleep the 4 of us have ever all started with Lila not wanting to go to sleep in her crib.  Once she fell asleep, Paisley decided he didn't want to go to sleep and woke her up.  Both kids were up, both ended up in bed with Scott and I, and none of slept more then a couple of hours.  Note to self....sharing 1 room with a baby and toddler is an awful idea!!

With little sleep, it was difficult getting going the next morning.  However, we had a wedding to attend!  We found another hole-in-the-wall (our favorite type of eating establishments) and grabbed breakfast sandwiches and coffee. Following breakfast, the boys packed a snack bag and headed to the space museum while Lila and I headed to Rhea's hotel to get ready for the wedding.
Mother of the bride

I love parties and big events and helping my sister prepare for her wedding was no exception!  We started the preparations with mimosas and laughter.  Greg's daughter joined us as we all got our hair done and talked about the big day.  

Rhea was the picture of calm as the clock ticked closer to wedding time.  The hairstylist worked with ease and efficiency and everyone loved their hair. As she completed Rhea's make-up, I thought to myself that I had never seen my sister look more beautiful.  She looked as happy and beautiful as every bride should look on their wedding day.  All too soon it was time for her to head to Central Park for her "first look" with Greg.  I felt bad sending her off in a taxi alone, but knowing her soon-to-be husband was waiting for her less than a mile down the road made me feel a little better.  After she left we decorated her hotel room with rose petals and spruced the place up a bit.  Then it was time for Lila and I to get dressed!
The beautiful bride
Ready to go!
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous having Scott dress Paisley back at our hotel room all by himself.  Not that my husband can't dress a toddler...but,....well....he struggles with dressy clothing and what goes where.  One time Lila had on 2 pairs of bloomers under a addition to a diaper.  True story.

The girls!
Outside the hotel we met up with the boys and we all got into the hotel SUV and rode to the location in the park.  The entire day dark clouds rolled past and the threat of rain was very real.  As we were down to an hour before wedding time, the sun chased off the rain clouds and created a picturesque scene for the wedding.

My two boys looked so handsome and it was time to make our way through the park and find the bride and groom.  Coming up next....The Wedding!
My beautiful little family
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