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Welcome to Two: Kids Say the Sweetest Things

29 Apr

So, my title is probably confusing to you. “In her last post, she was celebrating her son’s first birthday, and now he can already talk?” And you’re not that too far off, because my child is the smartest child alive, but no, he didn’t go from one to talking overnight. I took a year away from blogging because life kinda got in the way.

But today, Facebook reminded me of a post I wrote some time ago, all about those early maternity-leave days, and it made me miss my writing moments. So here I sit, ready to pick the digital pen back up and put my thoughts to screen. But where do I begin capturing all that’s happened in the last year …

I could write about the time Reece pooped in the tub … and then did it again two days later because who doesn’t love that surprise?? Or what about the time he repeated the F word in public? There was that time I took him to Publix with me at 8 a.m. and let him get a cookie just to keep him happy, much to the disappointment of the bakery lady and every other person I passed. P.S. My son looks adorable at 8:15 a.m. with sprinkles speared all over his face and eyes wide open with a sugar rush.

Let’s just say, this boy has given me some stories. But the sweetest memory in the whole world came to mind, so I’ll share that to start.

It was a warm day, and PoppaNut, Reece and I were hanging out on the back patio just taking in the fresh air. PoppaNut was preparing the grill for a delicious dinner, and of course, Reece wanted to do the same. He wheeled out his plastic Weber and started to “turn on” the burners.

“Mommy, do you like corn?”

“Yes, Reece. Mommy likes corn.”

“You want carrots, Mommy?”

“Sure.”

IMG_4334With each fake food item Reece dug out from his grill cabinet, we’d discuss it, and pretend to gobble it up. “Oh, yummy,” we’d both squeal. And the game continued.

After some time, he was busy playing away on his own, grilling things up, serving them and cleaning it all up again.

As the sun started to set, a warm glow filled the backyard. Reece’s wild excitement had changed to a soft, sweet tone.

I said, “Reece, what are you going to make Mommy next?”

And he said, in the sweetest voice ever with such honesty, “Happy.”

And in that moment, my heart filled with overwhelming love.

And I wanted to say, “My sweet boy, I’m already happy. I’m over-the-moon, beyond-my-wildest-dreams happy. You and Daddy make me SO happy and I love you so much!”

But my throat closed up while I held back the tears … and all I could get out was a smile and a twinkle in my eye. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

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It’s a Great Pumpkin: Organizing a Charlie Brown Birthday Party

25 Nov

I love a theme! Once you finalize any party theme, you can just let your imagination run wild. And that’s exactly what happened as PoppaNut and I planned Reece’s very first birthday!

Plus, this party was not only a celebration of Reece turning one. It was a celebration for us as parents. WE MADE IT THROUGH THE FIRST YEAR WITHOUT KILLING EACH OTHER OR KILLING REECE! In fact, we are thriving as a family and getting cozy in our new status of three.

So, with our theme decided — It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — it was time to get planning.

Invitations and Signage: Our friend owns Black Tie Creative, and he’s been gracious enough to design our wedding invitations, Reece’s birth announcements and various other odds and ends. So, he was the perfect man to bring our Charlie Brown theme to life. He created the invites, birthday signs, food signs and more.

Cake: His equally talented wife designed and baked a matching cake! And we ate every last bite. Plus, we had a cheap Publix smash cake made in the shape of a pumpkin just for Reece to destroy.

Decor: The Charlie Brown decorations online looked girly to me, so I bought several orange and yellow banners and plastic tablecloths. Then, I simply used a black marker to draw Charlie Brown’s zigzag along the bottom. Boom! We also added some cozy elements to bring in more of the fall theme like hay stacks.

Entertainment: This was the first time our house was seeing so many children, so it was important to have lots of fun activities. We hired a face painter and put up a bounce house. I also put together a pumpkin-decorating station (fake pumpkins, washable markers, Snoopy stickers). We also had the “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” movie playing on the TV, and cornhole boards out for the adults.

Gift Bags: I got yellow gift bags and used a black marker to add Charlie Brown’s zigzag to them. I filled the inside with Halloween treats, noise makers, rings and stickers. Then, I printed off a Charlie Brown coloring sheet (there’s a ton online), rolled it up and secured with a decorative ribbon.

Details: Then, we added in some final details. I placed a Snoopy stuffed animal in the cake chair, and we put a basket of blankets — courtesy of Linus — nearby.

We asked everyone to wear costumes, which really added to the fun! Reece wore a Charlie Brown onesie … and he loved every minute of it. Thank you to everyone who joined in on the fun! It feels so wonderful to be surrounded with so many family and friends to celebrate! And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Happy First Birthday: Reece Turns One

29 Oct

Dear, Reece.

Today, you are one year old, and I can’t help but reflect on what this year has meant to both me and your proud dad. I wrote you letters while I was pregnant with you, dreaming of the little boy I would one day hold in my arms. I wrote that I knew two things about you: You’d love the Yankees and we’d love you more than anything in the world. I wrote about all the fun things we’d teach you: How to ride a bike, how to tie your shoes, how to catch a lizard with your bare hands. I imagined you running up and hugging me after a long day at school, I dreamt of us baking holiday cookies together, I pictured taking your Prom photos on the front stairs. And I made of list of all the places we’d take you: to the zoo, to Grandma’s house, to the splash park, to a baseball game.

But today, I’m not thinking about all the things we’ve done, all the places we’ve gone and all the things we’ve taught you. I’m actually grateful for the things you’ve taught me, lessons I didn’t even know I needed to learn.

You’ve taught me how to be patient. You’ve reminded me to be curious and to continue to learn something new every day. You’ve taught me to trust in myself, because even though I had no idea what I was doing as a Mommy, we figured it out as a family. You taught me to trust my gut — Daddy and I fought a few doctors to figure you out. You taught me that while schedules are certainly important, there are a few good reasons to break them every now and then. You showed me that hearing one of your big belly laughs could cure the hardest of days. You taught me that every day is a reason to dance.

You’ve taught me to loosen up … have fun … life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. You’ve reminded me of all the fun I had as a child, all the games I played, where my imagination took me. You’ve allowed me to rediscover the world through your eyes.

Having you in our lives allowed me to see a whole new side of Daddy, a softer, gentler and stronger man than I ever knew before. Daddy’s eyes lit up the second he saw you, and he was by your side right from the start, keeping you company in the NICU until I could see you. Daddy became the ultimate protector of both of us in that hospital room. And watching the two of you together fills my heart with overwhelming joy! You’d reach up to Daddy and you could just see his heart melt.

But when I look through the photos in this last year, it’s the quiet, everyday moments that I’ll cherish forever. Some of my favorite memories are the first time I felt you breathe on my chest. I loved looking down at your long beautiful eyelashes. I loved the way you would snuggle with your lambie in your crib. You loved sleeping on your left side when you were little. I was so scared to dress you in the beginning because I’d never dressed a baby before — so you stayed pretty much naked for the first week.

Me, you and Daddy used to take LONG car rides, because it was the only way you’d fall asleep, so we spent many afternoon touring the Tampa Bay area. In fact, you blew the engine in Daddy’s Commander with all the trips to the Skyway Bridge.

You loved to be bounced, so I’d spend days literally walking in circles with you, just bouncing and bouncing. I’d even bounce when I wasn’t holding you, just out of pure habit. Your favorite toys were your giraffe rattle, your keys and lambie. You’d play with your shadow and you loved looking in the mirror. When you’d fuss, I’d sing to you in the car, and you’d just watch and listen. You thought Peanut and Cashew were hysterical, and you’d crack up whenever they came around.

But today, I’m supposed to see you as a big boy now that you’re one, but I still see my sweet baby boy. I’ll always see your little ringlets and dimples when I see your smiling face, no matter how big you get. I’ll always remember your tiny fingers wrapped around mine. And I’ll always be honored that you decided to make me your mommy.

I love you, son.

Mommy

Here are just a few of the highlights in the last year.
• October 29, 2013: Reece is born at 8:24 p.m. weighing 7 pounds and 20 inches long
• October 30, 2013: First time getting your wild hair washed
• October 31, 2013: First time trick-or-treating and you cleaned up at the nurses’ station (Kit-Kat) while wearing Frankenstein pants
• Rolled over in the first month
• November 28, 2013: First Thanksgiving at Grandpa Orlando’s, wore a turkey butt outfit
• Went picking out a Christmas tree together and you had one in your room
• You hated bath time with Mommy but LOVED it with Daddy
• You loved your bouncer, you’d swing your leg up and down just to bounce more
• Wore an elf outfit on Christmas morning and a tux on New Year’s Eve
• February 2, 2014: Superbowl, first time sleeping through the night
• February 14, 2014: You and Daddy surprised me at work on Valentine’s Day, dressed in your “Most Eligible Bachelor” shirt
• March 30, 2014: Went to Oldsmar Days, and you were mesmerized by the fair rides
• April 20, 2014: Easter at Aunt Steph’s house, wore bunny ears
• April 21, 2014: First time at the park, went on the slide and swings
• April 26, 2014: First time in the pool at Grandma Tam’s house and you LOVE it
• May 4, 2014: You get the jumper
• May 4, 2014: First time eating food (peas). You loved corn, squash and pears. You hate sweet potatoes.
• May 16, 2014: First time flying on a plane to Nan and Pop Pop’s house
• May 21, 2014: First time putting your toes in the sand in Delaware, but you hated the cold ocean water
• May 24, 2014: You met my Grandpa Tam for the first and only time, but you brought such joy to him in his last days and he loved looking at your photos.
• May 31, 2014: Attended Mason’s graduation party
• June 1, 2014: Now you love sweet potatoes
• June 29, 2014: First tooth pops through (bottom left) and sat up unassisted for the first time
• July 4, 2014: Work the cutest “Mommy’s Firecracker” outfit and Lady Liberty crown
• July 10, 2014: First time dressing like a big boy (no onesie) and heading to sushi with Mommy and Daddy
• June 19, 2014: First time crawling
• July 25, 2014: You say your first word (“Da Da”) and started climbing up on things at Aunt Stacy’s annual Pig Roast in CT
• August 3, 2014: Became an outlaw at Madison’s birthday party
• August 16, 2014: First Yankees game. Daddy was SO proud to take you there.
• August 27, 2014: Reached expert cruiser status
• August 30, 2014: First time seeing mermaids at Weeki Wachee and going to the splash park!
• September 17, 2014: Said “Momma” for the first time
• September 26, 2014: Leaned how to wave goodbye
• October 22, 2014: You’ve turned into a break-dancing fool over night!
• October 26, 2014: First time at the Oldsmar Fall Festival/Pumpkin Patch
• October 27, 2014: First time with whole milk in your bottle
• October 29, 2014: First time carving pumpkins

Turning 33: Living it up in the Keys

6 Oct

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a birthday more than my 33rd birthday, which took place last month. It’s not because I was thrilled to be turning another year older, but this birthday would mark the first time PoppaNut and I had a vacation sans baby since his birth — and we needed it! And so my amazing hubby planned a surprise trip to KEY WEST!!

Woohoo! We packed our bags, lovingly dropped off Reece at his grandparents’ home, removed the “parent” title from our vocabulary and proceeded to the Ft. Myers’ Key West Express dock to kick off the weekend.

My Mission: To reclaim my former, no-baby self. No schedules. No backup plans. No searching for reviews and recommendations. No judgment. And for the love of god, no Cheerios in my purse!

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of our Key West vacation.

Key West Express
This is the only way to get the Keys. After boarding in Ft. Myers, you have three blissful hours to enjoy the beautiful breeze and ocean views while sipping Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s to your heart’s content. If it happens to rain, there might be a group of wild yet inviting travelers who befriend you and insist you do shots of straight vodka for the next two hours — which they may or may not have smuggled onto the boat in the first place. It will kick your trip off right, so just do it.

And We're Off!

And We’re Off!

Sloppy Joe’s
Live music, unbelievable sloppy joe’s and one rowdy crowd equals one of the best spots in Key West! Plus, this place is filled with rich history, considering it’s been located at the corner of Greene and Duval streets since 1937. Beginning at just 9 a.m. (again, no judgment), customers can enjoy their favorite beverage!

Time for Lunch and Some Live Music.

Time for Lunch and Some Live Music.

Ocean Key Resort & Spa
Step into paradise. Spacious rooms with large Jacuzzi tubs and panoramic views of both the Gulf of Mexico and Duval Street just melt all your cares away. The modern green-and-white pool area features first-come, first-serve cabanas and the most friendly staff — they delivered frozen towels, fresh drink samples and even frozen fruit to make the sun just a bit more tolerable. In fact, the entire staff made us feel right at home … if our home was a luxury waterfront mansion! I can’t wait to return.

Most Captivating Views!

Most Captivating Views!

Time for a Frozen Towel!

Time for a Frozen Towel!

Harpoon Harry’s
Authentic breakfast diner and a full liquor store in one? This urban myth is certainly true in Key West! While they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, I’m recommending breakfast. They’re known for their Bloody Harry (a spicy Bloody Mary) and the Heapin’ Harry breakfast platter: 2 eggs any style with cheese atop potatoes sittin’ on ham, smothered in sausage gravy and served with toast. Yummy!

Booze and Breakfast

Booze and Breakfast

Some Interesting Decor Around These Parts!

Some Interesting Decor Around These Parts!

Mallory Square
This quaint shopping square has anything and everything you might want to buy for those friends and family who are angrily reviewing your Facebook feed updates while they sit at work. Plus, the nightly sunset celebration includes amazing street performers and talent acts.

Time for Shopping

Time for Shopping

Smallest Bar
Don’t blink or you might just miss this one. This is LITERALLY the smallest bar in the world, with just a small yellow awning documenting its existence. It’s a great pit stop as you make your way down Duval Street and all the patrons are super friendly!

Their Not Kidding About This Being a Pretty Small Bar!

Their Not Kidding About This Being a Pretty Small Bar!

Rick’s Bar
PoppaNut and I spent a few beers’ time here, mainly people watching from the front stools. It happened to be raining this evening, and this was the perfect, down-home joint to quench our thirsts. Rick’s Bar is actually one of eight bars in a larger entertainment complex so they truly have a spot for everyone!

Perfect Spot for People Watching

Perfect Spot for People Watching

With my liver barely functioning on the ferry ride home from the Keys, I’d say “Mission Accomplished.” I think we just might make this an annual trip for my birthday. Where should we stop the next time we head down to Key West?

And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Mommy Meltdowns: When Your Baby Isn’t a Baby Anymore

30 Sep

I’m completely in love with my IKEA rocker. In preparing the nursery, I ran across a blog combining an IKEA chair with a rocker attachment, and I just had to have it! I loved this rocker from the first time I sat in it, and I knew this is the spot I’d rock our sweet son to sleep at night.

Waiting for Baby to Arrive for the First Rock

Waiting for Baby to Arrive for the First Rock

But when Reece was born with acid reflux, the rocker saw more screaming than sleeping, from both me and Reece! PoppaNut found me there a time or two when he came home from work, and I’d be crying in frustrating not knowing how to soothe our little one who was obviously fighting his own pain.

But as we figured out the cure to Reece’s aliment, the rocker turned into a place of peace. I’d rock with Reece just before bed, using this quiet time to say our prayers and cuddle. I’d watch as he played with his little curls, wrapping his tiny finger around each ringlet as he finished his bottle. I’d feel his warm breath on my hand, completely in amazement that we made this amazing child. PoppaNut would stand beside us, giving us each kisses and saying goodnight. And on hard days, this would be the place where Reece and I would find happiness again, each forgiving each other for whatever “mistakes” we’d made and we’d promise to do better tomorrow.

Falling in Love With Reece's Tiny Fingers While We Rock One Night

Falling in Love With Reece’s Tiny Fingers While We Rock One Night

As Reece has gotten older, things have changed. Our 11-month-old no longer has the most perfect whale mobile above his crib, which also now resides in the lowest position available. In fact, Reece ripped the mobile down himself in an “I’m not a baby anymore, Mom … Get this freakin’ whale deal out of here” rage of defiance. We are also now greeted by a standing toddler each morning, rather than a burrito-wrapped infant.

Now, We Are Greeting With a Standing Baby

Now, We Are Greeting With a Standing Baby

The onesies have been replaced with 18-month “real” T-shirts and the footie pajamas have been swapped for matching two-pieces. The rattles and teethers that used to make Reece so happy are collecting dust wherever he last threw them. Instead, matchbox cars and shape sorters keep him entertained. His whale tub is on the verge of retirement (probably should’ve happened a month or so ago but I can’t bear to send that to storage, too) and now rides to daycare in a “big boy” seat.

I’ve packed up Reece’s most iconic baby clothes — his first Frankenstein Halloween PJs he wore in the hospital, his baby-blue going-home outfit, his turkey butt pants from Thanksgiving, his elf costume from Christmas, his Yankee hat — and I’ve lined his closet with his upcoming sizes in preparation for the next growth spurt.

PoppaNut Holding Reece in His Halloween Jammies

PoppaNut Holding Reece in His Halloween Jammies

But in all this changes, one thing in the room has remained constant: the rocker. The rocker is there each night, ready to snuggle us together once again. It caps off the end of our day together before we get to spend the rest of our evening with some much-needed alone time.

And The Rocker Remains ...

And The Rocker Remains …

PoppaNut knows this chair is important. So, on an unassuming weeknight, PoppaNut and I are discussing the latest details in our master-bedroom renovation (more to come in a later post), and he points to an empty corner: “I was thinking this would be a perfect place for your rocker … I know how much you love that chair so I thought we could add it into our bedroom.”

Tears are probably not the most anticipated response from such an innocent idea, but that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t even have time to really digest the idea … the tears just flowed like running water with a babbling of words: “But that means Reece doesn’t need me anymore and he’s not a baby anymore and that’s our snuggle time. I’ve already packed up his baby clothes and did you see him rip down the mobile? I know we are supposed to teach him and watch him grow wings but, he’s only 11 months old and I’m not ready to start letting go …”

PoppaNut’s face went completely white … and I imagine his internal dialogue went something like this: “What the heck is happening?? I didn’t ask her to give Reece up for adoption, did I? No, I think I was just talking about moving the chair. Yes, I’m sure of it. I mean, I thought she loved the chair and I thought she would love having it in the room. I didn’t know the waterworks were going to pour out. What do I do? Ok, I need to say something here because she’s still crying and babbling incoherently at this point.”

PoppaNut wrapped his arms around me, letting me cry a little longer just to get the emotions out, before gently saying, “You can rock him as long as you want to, baby. You can leave the rocker just where it is for as long as you want. But if you do want the chair in our bedroom, you can still rock Reece before bed in there. There’s no rush.” And with a few more hugs and kisses, this crazy momma finally settled down.

Our Big Boy

Our Big Boy

And now a few days later, I can laugh at myself. Did I need to have a full mommy breakdown over a rocking chair? No. Now that I’ve cried it out, can I move the rocker into our bedroom? Maybe. I know eventually I’ll need to put on my “big girl” pants and let our little one turn into the boy he’s meant to be. But until he’s in his “big boy” pants — which I’m defining as size 2T — I’ll just let us both be babies for a little while longer. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Happy Birthday, America: Celebrating July 4th

7 Jul

I sure hope everyone had an amazing July 4th holiday! PoppaNut and I had one legendary barbeque at our home with tons of family and friends stopping by throughout the night. Here are just a few photos I wanted to share.

Me and PoppaNut

Me and PoppaNut

Ashley, Madison, Me and Baby Reece

Ashley, Madison, Me and Baby Reece

Flag Photos!

Flag Photos!

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My Decorations

My Decorations

Representing the Statute of Liberty

Representing the Statute of Liberty

So many fun memories! And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Vacation Time: Visiting Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and More

26 Jun

So, speaking of West Virginia (see my last post), I need to tell you about all the awesome things we explored on our first family vacation. As I mentioned, I had never seen PoppaNut’s hometown, a place where he perfected his soccer skills, a small town where he could walk to school, a destination where the hottest bar in town is the Elks Lodge. I’d seen his childhood home in New York, but I guess when you start creating a family, you start to think more about your roots. And I couldn’t wait to see all of it for myself! Here’s a few of my favorite places!

Veramar Vineyard, Berryville, VA: Ok, I have a mild wine addiction, and that’s putting it nicely. Luckily, my mother-in-law shares the same addiction! So, when she mentioned this quaint, lovely winery, we were all game to explore. After one sip of the signature Pink Chicken wine — a light rose with flavors of sweet grapefruit and strawberries, we were signing up for the membership club. Now, we get to enjoy Veramar wine in our Florida home monthly!

Veramar Vineyard

Elks Lodge, Clear Spring, MD: I’m listing this place, because PoppaNut and I had one of the most fun times here! PoppaNut invited some of his old friends out, and we enjoyed a few rounds of cocktails for about $20. Super fun and super cheap ranks high in my book!

Elks Lodge

Seacrets, Ocean City, MD: This place was right on the water, with live music, 18 bars and in-the-water tables! Plus, the outdoor tables are situated right in the trees, a place that makes you feel like you’re on vacation the second you walk through the doors. Word of caution: Look out for the typical Spring Breakers who think twerking and make-out sessions go nicely with appetizers.

Seacrets

The Frog Bar, Ocean City, MD: Overlooking the inlet and Assateague Island on the board walk, The Frog Bar is a laidback hangout with the ultimate bar food and out-of-the-box refreshments. Take this blue/green concoction: DELISH! Reece seemed to love it, too!

IMG_3187

IMG_3188

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Dumser’s Ice Cream and Thrasher’s Fries, Ocean City, MD: When we posted our location while traveling, several Facebook friends mentioned the amazing milkshakes from Dumser’s and the crisp vinegar French fries from Thrasher’s … and of course, in the interest of research, I had to try both! And I was NOT disappointed. I’m still dreaming about that delicious combo.

Dumser's

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Guidos Burritos, Ocean City, MD: We stopped in here for GIANT margaritas, known simply as Monsteritas” to the locals. This 60-ounce bowl of goodness is the entire reason people check this place out. Just be careful of the mega brain freeze that can accompany this treat.

Guidos Burritos

Rehoboth Beach, DE: This is the place to be at sunset! The soft light makes everything just glow, and it was the perfect place to dip Reece’s little toes into the sand for the first time. He wasn’t thrilled with the cold water, but he does like his toes in the sand just like Daddy!

Rehoboth Beach

High Rock, Highfield-Cascade, MD: Holy, view! Located just off the Appalachian Trail in Northern Maryland, this is a popular destination for hang-gliding. From the top of the rocks, which have been decorated with graffiti-style love notes, you can see the surrounding mountains and valleys. Just breathtaking!

High Rock

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Pen Mar County Park, Cascade, MD: After recovering from that crazy view, we picked up some home-style lunch from Hartle’s Subs and headed to this relaxing park for a romantic picnic (Reece was with Nana). We laid out a blanket, listened to the train go by and just let life stop for a few moments.

Pen Mar

Pen Mar 2

St. Paul’s Church, Clear Spring, MD: PoppaNut and I were driving around, looking at local places in Clear Spring that he had visited while growing up there. He pulled into St. Paul;’s, and told me about the day his mom married his stepdad, right there in that church. It was so beautiful to be a part of that moment that we captured it, this time with us standing at the doorway.

St. Paul's

St. Paul's 2

PoppaNut’s Childhood Home, Clear Spring, MD: Funny how things work out. PoppaNut took me by his old home, and it happened to be for sale. So, we parked that car and marched up to the front, peering in each window while PoppaNut told me his memories from room to room. I loved the vintage design, wood floors and wraparound porch!

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Dam No. 5, Clear Spring, MD: Known as “Honeywood Dam,” Dam No. 5 is on the Potomac River, originally built for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this place was rich in history and beauty.

The DAM

There are SO many more places I’d love to list, but these were certainly my favorites. I hope if you ever make it out that way, you visit at least one! And that’s life in a nutshell.

 

MommaNut

Holy Luggage: Traveling With Baby

25 Jun

Back in December, PoppaNut and I decided to book a spring trip to West Virginia — I’ve never seen PoppaNut’s hometown, a place where he perfected his soccer skills, a small town where he could walk to school, a destination where the hottest bar in town is the Elks Lodge. I’d seen his childhood home in New York, but I guess when you start creating a family, you start to think more about your roots. And I couldn’t wait to see it all … every school, every neighbor’s home, every mountaintop!

And we couldn’t wait to take Reece there, too! It would be his first official family vacation. So, we booked those tickets and started counting down to departure day!

Now, this was our first time traveling with a baby. Needless to say, the planning started weeks in advance with tons of research, calls with friends who had traveled with a baby before and several text messages to my mother-in-law to make sure we had all the gear we needed — because God forbid Reece doesn’t have his jumper, bouncer, swing and more.

I spent days thinking of all the things Reece might need, researching the weather forecast, scouring our itinerary and finally developing the perfect packing list for him. And once we arrived, SURPRISE, Reece’s bag was the only one that didn’t make it. So, I put together a few no-fail mommy travel tips for your amusement pleasure!

Break Your Formula into Different Suitcases: Reece has a prescription-based formula, and I luckily packed half of his formula in his suitcase and the other half in PoppaNut’s bag. That bought us some time to locate the bag before completely freaking out!

Yes, this is how much luggage it takes to leave home with baby.

Yes, this is how much luggage it takes to leave home with baby.

Over-Pack Your Diaper Bag: Most airlines let you take on a diaper bag for your baby. I swapped out my regular diaper bag and purse for one of PoppaNut’s Quicksilver oversize backpack and loaded that thing up with everything I could find: Toys, extra clothes, an extra shirt for me in case of any puke issues, bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, a changing pad, our tickets, my wallet. With this setup, I also didn’t have to keep track of my purse, since it was all combined!

Keep Your Baby Hungry and Tired: So, a good friend told me this little tip. If your little one is supposed to eat at 11 a.m. and take his second nap at 1 p.m. and your flight is at noon, push his bottle back and try to eliminate his first nap. He might be cranky but he will take his bottle as soon as he gets on the plane (helping his ears pop) and then he’ll conk out! It worked like a charm for us.

Out like a light, thanks to his bottle during takeoff!

Out like a light, thanks to his bottle during takeoff!

Bring the Carrier: I loved the carrier because Reece gets bored hanging out in his car seat. He likes to move his legs around more, and the carrier allows him to kick while still being secure. We used the carrier quite a bit, especially once we made it through airport security.

My two boys are seriously the cutest!

My two boys are seriously the cutest!

Think Outside the Box: So, PoppaNut is AWESOME at this! I’m a very much “the book says” kind of person. But Mr. I’ll Change a Diaper Anywhere (and he literally has, including on a government vehicle) is always coming up with new ways to entertain baby. So, while waiting for our flight to board, PoppaNut spread out a spare blanket in a vacant row and let Reece roll and play with his toys. PoppaNut got right down there on the floor to play, not really giving a hoot what anyone thought of it!

Playtime can happen anywhere, thanks to PoppaNut!

Playtime can happen anywhere, thanks to PoppaNut!

Brush Off the Complainers: Look, babies are going to cry. And of course, you’re going to try to calm them down but there might be a few hairy moments. And just then, some mother will tell you how you could be doing it better, like you’re a complete idiot. You’ll want to physically rip off her face … but don’t. I hear airport jails are horrible.

The unexpected is going to happen. It certainly happened to us with a misplaced bag. But I wouldn’t trade visiting there for anything in the world. I got to spend some of the most amazing days with my husband, reliving parts of his childhood that make him the man he is. And in the end, it’s not the travel stress or the misplaced bag I remember the most … it’s the moments with my family that I’ll never forget. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

No Filter: The Mommy Definition of Gross

6 May

Before I had a baby, I thought it was gross to clip your toenails in the living room. I thought drinking out of the milk carton COULD be considered gross — although PoppaNut knows I sneak a swig or two out of carton from time to time. Things like chewing with your mouth open, digging in your ears and wearing dirty underwear are certainly gross, motherhood has completely changed my grossness radar.

It started with pregnancy, when my belly served as my lap tray and catch-all. My belly became a magnet for all things sticky, like ice cream, jelly and BBQ sauce — and I’d sit blissfully unaware for hours that my shirt had been stained with “insert random sticky thing” and I was proudly displaying it everywhere I walked. Yeah, gross!

My Rather Large Catch-All Belly

My Rather Large Catch-All Belly

 

Then, there was labor. Let’s just say a lot of gross things happened within those hospital walls, and everyone has been sworn to secrecy. Between the blood and the bodily fluids, I’m pretty sure PoppaNut and I are both still scarred from the experience. I mean, there was a morning when I literally had to pee with a lady two inches from my hoohaa while she used a spray bottle to clean said area — and that’s the most mildest gross part I feel comfortable sharing. Again, I’m pleading the fifth on the rest of it, but it was beyond gross.

Then, we brought baby home, and within five minutes of our big arrival, I managed to get poop on our freshly painted nursery walls. That beautiful Quicksilver hue now featured spots of Reece’s infant tar, and no amount of scrubbing seemed to diminish it. Double gross!

Fast-forward to Reece’s gastrointestinal appointment, where PoppaNut and I try to keep our little one entertained for 20 minutes while we wait for the doctor to arrive. We bounce, we tickle, we play games, he pukes … all down the side of my shirt and arm. And the crazy thing is I don’t even flinch. I don’t rush to clean it up, I don’t make a gross face, and I don’t even move like something gross has happened … because at this point, it’s happened a billion times and now I’m used to it. When the doctor walks in, I’m still casually dabbing it off with a burp rag, and without any hesitation, I go right into Reece’s symptoms. It’s like “Yeah, nothing to look at here, folks … just puke down a new mother’s favorite top … keep it moving.” But it’s still gross!

Now, for the grossest story to date … Reece was about one month old when he woke up at 3 p.m. for a nighttime feeding. Sluggishly, I threw on my pink fluffy robe and headed in to assess the situation. Reece was making some grunting noises, so I placed him on the changing table and checked his diaper. No poop. But the pushing continued. So, I took off his old diaper, put a fresh diaper right underneath him and pressed his legs up to his chest, foolishing thinking the diaper was well-positioned to catch anything that might come out. Well, I know personally now where the phrase “Shit has hit the fan” comes from. Shit hit everything BUT the fan in this case. It shot out like a Supersoaker Max D 6000 Water Blaster, minus the water. I received one hit to the chest and one to the arm. The wall and diaper genie were blown away, and I sat completely frozen for a good minute solid.

How in the heck do you clean this up? If it was in the morning hours, I would’ve hosed myself off on the side of the house … that’s how bad the destruction was. No one told me poop could fly! 300 wipes, 30 minutes and a scrubbed bath robe later, most of the remnants were gone and the poop explosion became my motherhood fodder. Nasty!

Now, there’s a whole new host of things I do that my before-baby self would gag at. I talk about poop at the dinner table. I pick crap out of Reece’s ears and nose with my bare finger. I regularly find lint hiding in my baby’s formula-collecting neck rolls. I’ve found a dirty diaper in my purse (and my mommy brain has no recollection of how it got there). I get puked on a few times a week, and sometimes, I don’t even change my clothes. And when Reece farts, I almost always laugh.

I could go on and on. In a way, I’m kinda proud of this new me. Who knew I had an iron stomach and balls of steel to deal with this motherhood crap … yes, the flying-across-the-room, hitting-mommy-in-the-chest crap. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

No Formal Training: Learning to Be a Mommy

3 May

I was never a baby person. In fact, the first baby I remember interacting with was my brother … and that started out pretty rocky. My first memory with him consisted of me dancing around the living room in my fancy new plastic headbands and then biting him when no one was paying attention. I’m not proud of it, but the good news is that we’ve come to love each other as grown adults.

Me and My Brother

Me and My Brother

 

Flash forward to high school, when everyone babysat for extra cash. A woman in my neighborhood asked me to babysit her three young children, and I jumped at the chance. How hard could that be, I thought. Four hours later, covered in macaroni and cheese and watching “Dumbo” for the third time after a “falling down the stairs” incident, I literally met that momma at her front door with her destroyed children and vowed to never babysit again.

When I was in my twenties, my sister and her family came to visit, renting a beautiful condo on the beach. She asked if I’d mind watching her youngest son while she took her other older children to an amusement park for the day. Condo on the beach? Yes, please! So, that morning, I said goodbye to my sister, changed into my swimsuit and headed to the pool with JR in tow. Well, I had no idea that babies don’t really lay out and lounge by the pool, so our stay lasted a whole 10 minutes at most. But when I lugged JR and all our beach gear back upstairs, I realized we were locked out. So, there I was in my bikini with no shoes and a baby on my hip crossing the ever-busy, tourist-lined Gulf Boulevard to get an extra key from the rental office. Beyond embarrassing and one of my biggest redneck moments!

Since that last incident, I hadn’t spent more than maybe two hours alone with a child, and then we got pregnant. Luckily, PoppaNut has far more experience, but that “plus sign” meant it was time to learn a thing or two myself. So, I poured over baby books, mommy blogs and family testimonials. I Googled everything I could and spent hours watching YouTube videos like “How to Wash a Baby,” “How to Feed a Baby” and “How to Swaddle a Baby.” Yes, I literally YouTubed this stuff, and it was actually pretty helpful.

Then, I signed us up for the baby class, “Childbirth Preparedness.” I came with a notebook, pens and my academic ethics. I was going to sit at the front of the classroom and learn EVERYTHING I could because knowledge is power. And PoppaNut was a great sport about it — he participated in the question/answer session and even walked around the room with me while I stomped and squatted (techniques I was told help the baby drop). I learned about the birthing ball (yoga ball you can use during labor), signs of labor and a whole host of other things. But when it got to the C-section portion of the class, we scooted out. We aren’t going to need that anyway, I thought.

Boy, were we wrong! After being induced and spending 12 hours in labor, I had a C-section. I didn’t get to use the birthing ball and I didn’t need to know the signs of labor. I completely forgot most of the things I read in the baby books and blogs. And from then on, I just did what I thought was right. I still make jokes about how I’m completely not qualified to have a baby, and it’s still quite unbelievable that I’m somebody’s mommy. And suddenly, that same girl who never was a baby person now can’t imagine her life without this amazing baby in it. Amazing how becoming a mommy can change you. But I guess what I learned is love is the magical ingredient. With love leading you, you find your way. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

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