Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy 9th birthday #kennythedog {and Happy Halloween to you!}

Happy Halloween to you all! It's a beautifully crisp, sunny day here in Maryland, and we're counting down the hours until we take Max and Louisa trick-or-treating with our friends and their kids. Max refused his nap today, so I'm a little nervous about this evening's festivities with a nap-less toddler, but we shall persevere! I'll share photos of our adventures on Instagram tonight and on the blog tomorrow!

Perhaps more important than Halloween is the fact that it's my dog, Kenny's 9th birthday today. I often refer to Kenny as my four-legged first child. After my father passed away in January 2008, I vowed that I would get myself a dog and name him after my dad in his memory. My dad got me my first dog when I was 3 years old (she was a combo birthday present for me/hunting companion for him), and we always had dogs in our family from that day on. My dad helped instill my love for man's best friend, so it only made sense to honor him by naming my own dog after him.

I decided with such haste to get a dog that I don't even remember the date I brought him home! It was sometime in late January 2008. I drove about an hour and a half away to meet the family that was selling him with my cash in hand; there was no way I was going to come home without that fluffy white cockapoo pup! The family had named him "Bear" because they thought he looked like a polar bear, and they said he was always so sweet and loving with anyone who came to visit. Well, he must not have liked me much because he wanted nothing to do with me! I took him home anyway (obviously), and I gave him such sensory overload that day...he went outside for the first time, rode in the car for the first time, and visited a pet store for the first time...quite overwhelming for a 12-week-old little fluff-nut! No wonder he's such an anxious dog now!

Thankfully, Kenny warmed up to me pretty quickly, and he was my right-hand man for the next several years. The plan was to have him sleep in his crate at night, but that first night at home he whined nonstop, and I didn't want him to disturb my roommate, so he was allowed to sleep in my bed with me. He would burrow under the covers and curl up behind my legs. I never took him to obedience school because I couldn't afford it (poor first-year-teacher problems), but I did my best to train him on my own. He even accompanied me on my first date with Victor and later traveled with me to all my weekend adventures with Victor and his family before we moved in together in 2011.

Kenny is one crazy dog, but he's also super sweet. He would have "spaz attacks" as a puppy and would run around my apartment like a mad-dog, darting back and forth, up and down, all over the place, and this would happen at the drop of a hat. He has always been anxious and nervous. He hates water unless he's drinking it (not a swimmer at all), and giving him a bath should be considered an Olympic sport--he fights it with all his might, and I've got some pretty vicious scratch scars to prove it. Just a couple of years ago, our grooming salon "fired" us after he put up a vicious fight while being groomed; they refused to finish him. He now has to be sedated to be groomed! He's always underfoot, especially in the kitchen as he waits for someone to drop some food. He barks incessantly at anything and everything outside, and I've seriously considered getting a bark collar for him on multiple occasions. He also seems to have amnesia when it comes to the "no Kenny on the couch" rule. He gets up there, we tell him to get down and he drops to the floor; no more than a minute later, he's back on the couch again...and this happens repeatedly at least 5 more times before he gives up and goes to his bed across the room.

He's gone through many changes with me in his short 9 years. We started out sharing an apartment with my friend from Ohio, then we moved into our own apartment and it was us against the world for the next 3 years. We then moved in with Victor, and Kenny was more or less "adopted" by Victor once we got married. We later moved to a new house, welcomed Max to our family, moved to another new house, and most recently we've welcomed Louisa to our family. People told me before Max was born that once you have a baby, the dog becomes "just the dog," and it pains me to say that this is the case in our family. Kenny used to get unlimited snuggle time with me and Victor before we had kids, and he dominated my social media feeds. Now he is on his own a lot (his favorite place to hang/hide out is under the dining room table), and he jumps at the chance to get in on the action any time we play on the floor with the kids...he's right there next to us, making sure we remember he's still here and wants to play too. If he's in any of my photos on Instagram anymore, it's because he's photobombing or because it's his birthday. I feel like such a bad dog-mom! He's handled his change of station in stride, though, and we're so lucky to have him as a part of our family.

Here are some photos from the past 9 years with #kennythedog. Happy birthday to our favorite mutt!

The day I brought him home: January 27, 2008

 Gallavanting around downtown Annapolis in Spring 2008

Camping in Summer 2009, being a diva and stealing a human's chair

His first major snowstorm, January 2010

Getting used to his human brother, Max

October 31, 2016: Kenny's 9th birthday!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Oh hey, Friday! A (much-needed) quiet week

This week was a welcome reprieve from the craziness that was last week. Preparing for that party was quite intense...which is the main reason why there likely won't be another Fall Extravaganza at Casa Little Blue Sailboat. I enjoy gathering family and friends together, but that party prep was next-level crazy!

We've had a quiet week here this week, and it was glorious. Here's a peek at what we've been up to:

1 |  We've been trying to nail down our family Halloween costumes. I'm not a huge Halloween fan, so something easy and not scary is always up my alley. Victor LOVES Halloween and frequently pushes for a couple/family theme (see last year's photos), so for a while we thought we were going to be Jake and the Neverland Pirates, which is Max's newest favorite TV show. However, I put off getting our costumes around until after the Fall Extravaganza party, so this week didn't leave much time. Plus Max kept changing his mind about what he wanted to be. First it was a shark after seeing a costume at Target, then it was "Pirate Jake," then it was a Ninja Turtle. We went to TJ Maxx on Monday to find some shoes for our family photo shoot and we happened across this airplane.

Awkward smile phase. How long will it last?

Max wore it all around the store and kept saying he wanted to be an airplane for Halloween, so I bought it. However, we've since changed our minds, and the airplane has been returned. I'll post a photo of our final costumes on Tuesday next week!

2 |  On Tuesday evening, we had our family photoshoot with our good friend and talented photographer, Dottie Millwater. It was a bit chilly and windy, but the light was gorgeous and she got some great shots of our little family. I can't wait to see the final edited photos! We went to Dottie's house for dinner afterward, and Max played his his BFF, Dottie's daughter, Eleanor. Max loves playing with her toys...they're so different from what we have at our house!

Post-photoshoot selfie

3 |  Max loves playing with Kenny, our dog...until he doesn't anymore and starts shouting "Go away, Tee! No Tee!" Don't ask me why he calls him "Tee." We can't break him of it. They had a sweet moment earlier this week, and it reminded me of a photo I took of the two of them when Max was Louisa's age two years ago. Enjoy the throwback, folks.

October 2016

October 2014

4 |  Louisa has started taking an interest in sitting up lately, but she doesn't last very long. AND she finally rolled from front to back for the first time last night! Both my kids were late rollers, and I think the issue with Louisa is that she doesn't spend enough time on the floor since I'm always worried Max or the dog is going to pounce on her. We'll keep working on it! Max sat up unassisted for the first time on Halloween in 2014. Perhaps Louisa could do the same???

October 31, 2014. Photo by Dottie Millwater Photography

5 |  I'm happy to report that our sleep problems we were having with Max over the past month and a half are starting to ease up a bit. I still have to sit in his room until he falls asleep (otherwise he won't stay in his bed), and he sleeps with his door partially open. If we wakes in the middle of the night (still happening, I think more due to nightmares than separation anxiety these days), I am usually able to get him back in bed and tell him he can sleep with the door wiiiiiide open, which comforts him enough to help him fall back asleep until his OK to Wake! clock glows green (it's set to glow at 7 AM). It took about a week for him to understand the concept of this AMAZING clock, and he doesn't come out of his room in the morning until it glows; however, it doesn't help with night wakings.

It's definitely been an adjustment waking up to Max standing next to my bed, but it's much better than him screaming from his room! He's very quiet about coming to our room in the morning: he tiptoes in, then stands by my side of the bed to see if I'll notice he's there. If I don't, after a few minutes he'll quietly tap me and say, "Mom, clock green!" It's so cute! Now if I could just get in the habit of waking by 6 or 6:30 to get my shower in, we'll be in great shape!

Other great sleep news: Louisa is regularly sleeping in 6-7 hour stretches now! I love that baby-child. 

As I mentioned, I've been greatly enjoying this quiet, normal week. I've also been going through the kids' closets and dressers and boxing up out-of-season/too-small clothes. It's so crazy to think that NONE of Max's shorts I boxed up will fit him next summer. His size 2T pajamas are already too snug and we've had to graduate to 3T! His 2T t-shirts won't last much longer, either. Stop growing!

Hope you all have a spooktacular Halloween weekend!

Linking up with 
Karli at Sept. Farm

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The first (and possibly last) annual Fall Extravaganza!

If you saw my Instagram stories last week, you know that I was working hard on preparing everything for a fall party we were hosting at our house on Saturday. Even though I was stressed beyond belief, I was really excited for it. I invited a bunch of our family and friends who have young kids (about 14 kiddos and 25 adults attended), and I had planned games and a craft for everyone to do. It was originally scheduled for October 15, but since I went to Ohio from Oct. 9-13, we pushed it back a week to give me time to prepare.

The activities/games I had planned were (all found on Pinterest):
+  Pumpkin Chunkin' (using orange fabric-wrapped rolls of toilet paper and bushel baskets)
+  Squirt and count cup-squirting game
+  Spider races (straws and ring-less spider rings)
+  Parachute
+  Fall Jar Luminary craft
+  Punching Pumpkin
+  Donut-on-a-string donut eating contest
+  Pumpkin hat photo
+  Photo booth

Saturday, October 22 turned out to be a suuuuuper windy day, so my plans for doing the activities outside had to be tweaked and we had to find room in the basement for everything (I had to scrap the parachute and the water-squirting game, as those could only be done outside and NOT in such windy conditions). The photo booth also was a dud since it was so cold, no one went outside to put it to use!

In my head, I expected to have everything set up and be able to explain each activity to everyone shortly after the party started, then parents and their kids could explore at their leisure. In reality, I was nursing Louisa as our guests were arriving, and I was continuing to bake some pigs-in-a-blanket appetizers that took WAY longer to cook than the box indicated. I gave a quick run-down of the process for the jar luminary craft, then ran back up to get everything ready to bring dinner downstairs. Everything did NOT go according to plan, but everyone still had a great time. If anything, I did way more than was necessary--the kids had the most fun playing with Max's train table and chasing one another around the basement.

Perhaps the best part of it all was the food. The menu included:

- Pigs in a blanket
- Hummus with veggies and pita chips
- Applesauce pouches and cheese sticks (for the kids)

Main Dishes:
- Vegetarian chili (I will share the recipe later this week)
- Corn muffins
- John Legend's Macaroni and cheese (recipe and video delicious and easy to make!)
- Tater tots and chicken nuggets (for the kids)

- Apples
- Apple pie
- Cake pops
- Pumpkin pie dip with Nilla wafers
- Cupcakes
- Candy

I over-planned for dessert. The apple pie wasn't touched. I could've saved myself some work and not made cake pops, but even though they're very labor-intensive, I love making them, so I don't think I'll ever host a party without cake pops. Some families offered to bring something to share, as well, so we also had homemade jalapeno poppers, apple crisp, a honey ham, and a yummy dip served with graham crackers and apple slices (still don't know who brought that...I have your dishes!)

Overall, I'm glad I hosted this party. Victor continually asked me during the planning stages if I still wanted to do it (even as we stopped by the post office to drop the invitations in the mail), and I kept saying yes, so he got on board and picked up hay bales, decorated the yard, helped with party set up, and he was a pepper and onion chopping rockstar the morning of the party. He also had to run to he grocery store last-minute to get me diced tomatoes for the chili...they somehow didn't make it onto my grocery list on Friday!

That being said, I'm not sure I'll do it again. I never like relying on weather to cooperate for outdoor events. Perhaps we'll just get a group together and go to a local pumpkin patch instead.

Here are some photos from the day after the party, because I was so busy the day of that I didn't take photos!

Punching Pumpkin after it had been punched

The beverage bucket, for the adults

Pumpkin Chunkin'

This good! I tripled the recipe for the party.

Favorite activity

A well-loved craft table

The poorly-lit food table

Louisa's party outfit. I feel like Joanna Gaines would approve of this look.

Thankfully, our basement returned to normal on Sunday, and since most of the mess was confined downstairs, the rest of our house remained very clean! There are still 4 cake pops left, but I doubt they'll make it to the end of the day...Mama needs a sugar fix!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where the heck have I been? Life update, October edition

Long time, no blog, eh? I've been quite busy over here, and even though I probably could've found the time to blog here and there in the past couple of weeks, I just didn't have the energy. Here's a little peek into what I've been up to.

We got the kiddos matching jack-o-lantern shirts when we were at the beach, and I took some adorable photos of my kids one morning last week. These two just adore one another, and it makes my mama heart so happy!

Louisa and I flew to Ohio on Sunday, October 9 to stay with my mom for a few days as she continued to recover from bunion surgery. Her surgery was on October 3, during which she had 4 screws put into her left foot to correct the damage from her bunion (Louisa and I were supposed to be there from Oct. 2-6 to help her, but since Louisa had been in the hospital the week prior, we cancelled our trip). My sister was with my mom for the week of her surgery, but Mom still wasn't able to get around on her own when my sister had to return to Indianapolis for 4 straight days of work--she's not allowed to put any weight on her foot for at least six weeks!

We booked the flights on Friday and flew out on Sunday, so Louisa's first flight was a little anti-climactic due to all the haste in which I had to pack and prepare Victor and Max to be without Mommy for 4 days. Louisa did great on both flights, though, and we had a lot of fun hanging out with Gaga and helping her get accustomed to her "new normal." My mom has to get around on crutches/a knee-cart, which doesn't seem like a huge deal, but she lives in a 3-level townhouse with 5 steps leading into her house from outside. It's quite an adjustment, but she's a resilient, strong, fiercely independent woman, so she's got this in the bag! Update: she went back to work part-time this week and she's been fending for herself for the past 2 days! These next 3 weeks of recovery will FLY!

My mom's new modes of transportation. Riding in style!

Before leaving for Ohio, we had been having quite a difficult time at bedtime with Max. Since mid-September, bedtime every night was a fight and he woke several times overnight in hysterical tears. I was waking up a few times a night to nurse Louisa and a few more times a night to calm Max back down to sleep. E x h a u s t e d wasn't even the correct word to describe how I felt. I was running on empty, dead on my feet most days. I welcomed those 4 days in Ohio with open arms as a chance to catch up on sleep! The sleep problem persisted after I returned, and Victor and I have been at a loss as to what to do to get him back to his old sleeping ways. Everything we tried worked for a few nights and then it stopped working. This week, we've been letting him sleep with his door open (he's normally closed in his room with a doorknob cover so he can't get out), and last night he slept from 9:30 PM to 6:30 overnight wake-ups! I'm hopeful that having his door open will continue to comfort him in knowing that we're not far away while he sleeps. Fingers crossed!

We're hosting a Fall Extravaganza party here at our house this Saturday, so I've been super busy preparing for that. My vision for the afternoon is a fun event with our friends and family who have littles. I've planned games, crafts, and fun fall food. While it's looking like it won't rain on Saturday, we are forecasted to have some pretty gusty winds, so some of the outdoor activities might have to be scrapped or brought inside, but we'll have fun regardless! I'm so excited! I'll be blogging about the party next week!

And finally, this chunk-o'-love turned 5 months old yesterday! I just love this girl so much. Next week we might practice sitting in her high chair to prepare for trying solids!

That's about it from these parts. I have lots to do to get ready for this party this weekend. I still have to finish a few game preparations, set up tables/decor, and BAKE! Time to get back to it!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Oh hey, Friday! | Quick family visit

We survived another week! This was a loooong one! I have been so tired this week because both kids are waking up at least twice each, which means I'm getting very little sleep overnight. Their naps aren't syncing well during the day, either, so I don't really get a chance to catch a few zzz's while they nap anymore. Also, we switched to decaf coffee in our coffee maker (still not owners of a Keurig. #rebels) so even though I drink it all the live long day, it doesn't do much for my energy level. Just call me "Mom-bie" over here!

I don't really have a clever post for today's link-up, but I did want to share about my mom and sister's 27-hour visit the weekend we returned from the beach. My mom had foot surgery this past Monday, and she won't be able to travel for a few months (she can't put weight on her foot for at least 6 weeks!). She didn't like the idea of not seeing us and the kids (let's face it, it's mostly about the kids) until Thanksgiving, so she and my sister booked flights to visit the weekend of September 24/25. Their flight got in around 11:45 Saturday morning, and they met us at our house just as we were returning from the beach! Then they flew back home on Sunday evening. It was one of the shortest visits they've made out here, but it was well worth the trip!

Here are some photos from the weekend...all taken on Sunday.

Who dey game day! My mom got Max this Andy Dalton jersey, which is perfect because they're both redheads!

It was my mom's birthday on Sunday, so my sister and I made her a cake to enjoy after lunch. Max couldn't wait to dig in!

The photo above cracks me up. It reminds me of "Full House" for some reason with the passing of the baby.

Side note: I still haven't decorated my house for fall. That's our summer wreath.

The lightning-strike scars add so much character to this tree lol

Max fell asleep in the car on the way to the airport, clutching the Delta airplane my sister got for him. He slept the entire ride to and from the airport, which was close to an hour and a half, round trip!

It was a whirlwind weekend, but we had a great time. Max loves it when Gaga and Auntie Ha come to visit, and I'm sure Louisa does, too!

Happy weekending, loves!

Linking up with
Karli at Sept. Farm

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Louisa Maria | Four month update

You guys. I blinked and suddenly Louisa is 4.5 months old. Seriously. I know parents say that all the time, that they grow up so fast and blah blah blah. And honestly, it didn't bother me so much when Max was a baby. I loved exploring motherhood at each new stage, and I relished his milestones and new skills. I loved watching him grow up and rarely willed time to slow down; all of his changes were exhilarating to me. #weirdo

This time? This time I've loved having a little, easy-going, portable baby, and it's become evident that I've taken it for granted. I've struggled adjusting to being a mother to two kids ages two and under. Max is everywhere all at once...and he's so loud...and he's so smart...and he's so mischievous...and he's oh-so sweet (when he wants to be). Meanwhile little Louisa just sits on the sidelines, smiling, cooing, sleeping, eating, pooping...she's so content pretty much all the time. She makes this mommy thing easy (except when she requires a trip to the ER). 

I was perfectly content coasting through this stage of life, simply observing Louisa growing a bit and moving up into the next size of clothing, noting the change in her features and mastery of new skills. Max loves to love on his baby sister, but he is a little too handsy and rough with her right now. Part of me looks forward to a day when she's a little bigger and can fend for herself and properly play with her big brother, whom she adores. But right now, I'm enjoying her smallness and innocence in everything.

As she approached 4 months old, it really started to hit me that time was flying by: she was already one-third of the way to 1 year old. And then yesterday we were finally able to have her 4-month well-visit with her pediatrician (2 weeks late due to our beach trip and her hospitalization). Everything went well, she's growing and developing right on track, etc. But when the doctor told me that I could start her on solids in the next couple of weeks, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

We're already talking solids??? HOW is she old enough for that already?!?! 

I was such a well-read parent when Max was a baby. I was so well-informed and knew when every new milestone or rite of passage was imminent. I often felt like I was reciting the pediatrician's advice and tips in my head as he was saying them out loud; Duh, I already know that, I read about that last week. The second baby is so different. I don't read anything anymore; I just sort of expect it all to come back to me. I'm not as obsessive over everything as I was when I was a first-time parent, so this news about starting solids totally came out of left field. I wasn't expecting it. I wasn't ready for it. I just figured she'd be a baby forever, I guess.

Victor and I are still not sure if we want to have a third baby (I go back and forth all day, every day), but when you really realize that your current baby doesn't have much baby-ness left to her, your ovaries definitely start wailing. 

Since I'm feeling now more than ever that I need to cherish these baby days, I thought I'd give a little 4-month update on my sweet baby girl. She is such a lovely addition to our family, and we can't imagine life without her. We're all so grateful for her sweet disposition, her gummy smiles, and her ability to sleep through pretty much anything, including dog barks, brother squeals, and other ambient noise.

Louisa Maria | 4 months (September 19, 2016)

Blur-sula but adorable

Weight: 16 lb, 6.5 oz (89th percentile)
birth: 7 lb, 2.8 oz

Length: 25.25 inches (72nd percentile)
birth: 19 inches

Head circumference: 16 inches (28th percentile) (a bitty noggin, but she has cheeks for days!)
birth: 13 inches

Eating: Louisa nurses during the day about every 3-4 hours. Overnight, she will wake to nurse every 3-4 hours, as well, some nights stretching as long as 6-7 hours between feedings. I pump once per day to create a stockpile of frozen milk for her, but she doesn't really have bottles much unless we go out for a date night or I need to be away from her for a prolonged period of time.

Sleeping: Louisa is a great daytime sleeper. She's typically tired about 1.5-2 hours after she wakes up, and she'll sleep anywhere from 1-2 hours in her crib for naps. I put her down awake and she falls asleep on her own, sometimes with the help of her binkie. She will also fall asleep in her swing if she's left there long enough, and she also loves sleeping in her car seat or in the Sollybaby wrap (a fave of ours). She takes a morning nap, early afternoon nap, and a late afternoon/early evening nap. At night, she goes to bed between 8:30 and 9 PM and wakes up every 4 hours to nurse (occasionally she'll let mommy sleep 6 or 7 hours straight), and she's usually up for the day around 8 or 9 AM.

- Mama and big brother (she loves Dada and the dog, too, but Ma and Bro are her faves)
- bath time
- nursing
- standing
- sitting on someone's lap and watching the family eat
- swinging
- sleeping
- her exersaucer
- her new white noise machine (we were using a small fan but it made her room too cold!)

- laughing in response to silly faces/voices or tickles
- sleeps at bedtime and naptime in her crib in her room
- smiling socially
- cooing/squawking
- reaching out/grabbing things
- putting hands and toys in her mouth
- tracking objects with eyes and entire head
- playing in exersaucer
- trying to roll from back to belly
- teething: drooling, chewing on fingers/toys
- wearing 6-9 month clothing
- wearing size 2 Pampers Swaddlers

So far in her short 4 months, Louisa:
- vacationed at the beach twice (July and September)
- visited Ohio twice (June and August)
- helped Mommy and Daddy celebrate 3 years of marriage
- went to her first bachelorette party
- attended a going-away party, a graduation party, and a baptism
- experienced her first major league baseball game
- visited the emergency room
- went swimming for the first time
- started Kindermusik class
- got her first sunburn

Louisa is the happiest little thing on the planet. She rarely cries or fusses, and when she does, it's because something needs to be fixed (i.e. her diaper needs to be changed, she needs to burp/barf, she needs to be fed, or she needs to go to sleep). Her hair is still strawberry blonde and she has beautiful blue eyes. She's such a joy!

See how much Louisa has grown and changed!

We love our Sissy Lou!