Wednesday, July 23, 2014

California or Bust

I believe "California or bust" is an apt title because anyone who has ever traveled with young children knows how difficult it can be. But we made it and the only thing about to bust was our midsize SUV that was crammed to the gills!

David had two weeks off between his first and second years of residency last month and we decided to visit my dad's father in California who will be 91 this fall and has never meet David or my children.  My dad's brother and his wife graciously offered to host us in San Diego for four days. My younger brother Brian came along as well.

We left from San Antonio and arrived midmorning at the San Diego airport where we picked up our rental car. Flying west is wonderful because we gained two hours. The kids are great flyers now and did wonderfully on the plane.

I was concerned about space in the rental car with two suitcases, five people, a pack 'n play, an umbrella stroller and Brian's wheelchair and luggage. I just couldn't bring myself to spring for the insanely expensive minivan rental so I reserved a midsize SUV. I was hoping to get a car with a roof car but they didn't have anything available. The rental car place was rather odd. The 10'x10' office was spilling over with people and rather chaotic.

It was directly below the flight path and every time a plane came over it was so painfully loud I had to cover my ears. I'm sure the people who work there probably had hearing damage. Once I gave the attendant our reservation paperwork we were free to checkout any car in the lot that was the type we reserved. They all had the keys in them and then you hopped in, drove up the the gate and they checked you out.

Uncle Mitch and Aunt Cheryl live in North Park just north of Balboa Park. Their house is a charming 1920's Craftsmen bungalow that has been kept up to historical standards. They were incredibly gracious hosts and we were so thankful to be able to stay with them. The most relaxing part for me was having lots of help with the babies and no house work or cooking to speak of! It's not vacation if I have to cook.

We visited Cabrillo National Monument with my grandfather Saturday afternoon. He is doing incredibly for his age and gets around as well as many people in their 80s. The Hall men live along time and I hope he has many more years to enjoy life.

The monument at Point Loma commemorates the landing of Juan Cabrillo in 1542. He was the first European to explore the America West Coast.

Sunday we visited a PCA church in downtown San Diego. We always enjoy worshipping at new churches when we travel. It's wonderful to see God at work across in country in different congregations.

After a quick lunch at In 'N Out Burgers we drove over to Petco Park to attend the afternoon Padres baseball game. We were able to get great seats with a Sunday military prices and enjoyed the perfect San Diego weather and a win by the Padres. David loves baseball and I'm slowly learning to appreciate it. I think I will find my self in the bleachers of many little league games in the not too distant future.

A trip to San Diego with kids isn't complete without a visit to the zoo. We got there midmorning and road the bus tour around the perimeter. The zoo is so huge you really can't see all of it in a day so we hit several highlights before heading home for lunch and naps. We went back after dinner but it seemed like many of the animals were asleep which I was somewhat disappointed by. All in all, it is a great zoo  but I don't think it warrants the steep ticket prices and I will always miss the Colorado Springs Zoo.

On Tuesday we drove over the bridge to Coronado Island to spend a few hours at the beach. As the locals say "May gray, June gloom." and gloomy it was. By the time we headed home at nap time (my life is micromanaged around certain tiny people's sleeping schedules) the gray overcast skies had cleared to blue. Laura enjoyed digging in the sand and Daniel enjoyed eating it despite my best efforts to keep him on the towel.

Wednesday we rose early than should be allowed on vacation (3 am to be precise) and began our six and a half hour trip north to Yosemite National Park. The kids were amazing in the car and David did the majority of the driving.

Pictures of Yosemite cannot do it justice. Beauty this stunning always reminds me of God's incredible goodness, power and glory. Mountains and the outdoors are something I miss greatly after living in Colorado for a year. I might be a native Texan, but the Hill Country pales in comparison to Half Dome or waking up to a view of Pikes Peak every morning.

While in Yosemite, we stayed in Curry Village on the Valley Floor in the heart of Yosemite. For the price of a nice hotel room you can pay to "rough it" in tent cabins which are simple hard floor cabins with a single light, beds and canvas sides. They have been described as a "refugee camp" but the location can't be beat. I was anxious about how the kids would sleep and nap since your neighbors are just feet away with only air and two pieces of thin plastic to guard against noise but they managed to sleep relatively well.

I was able to get away by myself for a few hours on a trail ride which I really enjoyed. There's no cooking allowed in Curry Village and all food has to be placed in a bear locker outside you cabin which is a major pain considering my kids want to eat every two hours. Our camping food wasn't hot or glamorous but we had full bellies. The Village has a very well stocked store as well as a pizza restaurant and cafeteria. I stumbled my way over to the coffee stand each morning and enjoyed my coffee in the cool morning and towering cliffs above me.

With my brother now in a wheelchair much of the time our hiking was limited to accessible trails and what we could see from lookouts along the road. Despite this, we were able to hit up most of the major views and take in the park from along the paved trails.

All in all, we had a great trip and it was a nice break for me from the endless cycle of dishes, dinner and diapers. I love my job as a mom but I was in desperate need for a change of pace for a bit. When we got back a friend told me it's not a vacation if your kids come along, she calls those "trips" and I heartily agree. David and I will celebrate five years of marriage this Christmas and we are hoping to get away for 24 hours for a true mini vacation.

Seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla

Tunnel View of the Valley 

Grandpa Stafford and his great grand kids 

Laura holding a picture of her late Grandma Margaret at age 3 

Mariposa Grove of the Sequoias 

Half Dome from Glacier Point  

Mirror Lake 

Merced River 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Daniel is 10 Months and Us Lately

How time has flown by. In May we hit our one year mark of living in Texas. We visited David's family for his youngest brother's wedding. Then David wrapped up his first year of residency and we headed out for a family vacation in California. I may post a recap on that later.

It has been a wonderful year of many transitions and exciting changes. We love living here in Texas close to my family and will be sad to leave in another year from now. We are all (and David most of all) ready for David to finally be done with his residency and schooling. By the time he completes residency next year, including college, dental school, general dentistry residency and now orthodontics he has been in higher education for the past 11 years! To our friends in medicine, I know that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the decades you spend preparing for your profession.

In baby news, Daniel is a busy boy and keeps me on my toes constantly. If he's not pulling skillets off the counter onto his head, he's cleaning the toilet bowl for me or getting some extra calories in via puppy chow. I have never seen such a happy, go lucky baby. He never cries unless he is out of food on his tray or he's just woken up and wants someone to come get him. He doesn't need entertainment, just supervision to ensure his safety (from himself mostly) and to keep him from destroying whatever Laura's playing with.

He appears to be over whatever dairy intolerance that plagued us for the first six months of his life and I am loving having dairy again. He is still small at less that 17 pounds at his 9 month visit and barely hanging onto the 5th percentile but he's meeting and surpassing all his developmental milestones. Thankfully, our pediatrician wasn't concerned about his small statue which put my mom guilt on the back burner until next week. The boy eats like his daddy and I find myself feeding (and cleaning) him five times a day plus nursing five or six time as well. He is finally filling out a bit too.

Laura is learning to play with him, but he is still somewhat of a nuisance to her as he is mostly destructive. I joke with my sister in law that Daniel has been taking secret lessons on mischieviousness and peril from her youngest boy. Trouble with a capital T that boy. He even ended our evening last night with a lovely surprise in the bathtub. Maybe boys just really are gross?

He loves pushing the walker around and Laura's metal shopping cart. He has even taken a few tiny steps so I wouldn't be surprised to see him walking in the next few weeks.

Also as a random side note, we have the creepiest ice cream truck that trolls around our neighborhood that makes me laugh and it just drove past our house as I'm typing. It plays a little tune and then says "Hello?" in the weird mechanical voice. Am I a bad mom if I tell my children "that's a truck that plays music" and leave the ice cream part out of the explanation? It will be half a decade before they're any wiser!

Sibling love

We call him "smiley boy"

Standing all alone!

Ehh, Deh-doh (Daniel) is touching my chair!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

6 Months Old!

Like most things around here, I'm just now getting around to finalizing this post that I wrote a month ago!

We celebrated Daniel's half birthday last weekend! I feel like we just brought him home but at the same time, I can't remember our family without him. He is an incredibly happy, sweet natured little guy. He loves to make a funny little noise my aunt calls the squeaky door when he is happy. He loves attention of course but is more than happy to amuse himself on the floor or in the exersaucer.

He has been scooting his way around the floor for a few weeks now but last week he started to get on his hands and knees! He hasn't made any progress this way, he just rocks back and forth until he finally collapses on his tummy.

I wanted to wait until he was officially 6 months to start solids but his doctor was concerned about his large dip off his growth chart down to the 4th percentile. That compounded with his lack of dirty diapers compelled me to start solids two weeks before his 6 month mark. I had already decided to skip the rice cereal and dive right into real foods. Certain foods can help little tummies move along so we started with pears because that's what I had ripening at home. He's had pumpkin, avocado, pears, peas, applesauce and bananas. Those last two aren't in the moving things along catergory but we had them so that what he got. That's pretty much how I role with baby food- healthy and in my fridge? That's what you're getting for dinner.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Break Trip

David was given last Monday and Tuesday off from his residency to make a four day weekend so we decided to head out to the Texas Hill Country for a few days. For you non-Texans out there, the Hill Country is the area West of San Antonio and Austin that features rolling hills, ranches and beautiful country side covered in Live Oaks and cactus.

On Saturday we left for Johnson City, a little over an hours drive due north of San Antonio. We stopped for lunch at the Pecan Street Brewery. This little place reminds me of a great brewpub you would find in a major city. The beer was top notch as was the delicious food.

President Johnson was raised in Johnson City and the town is named for his first cousin once removed. We toured his boyhood home after lunch and then left for the LBJ ranch.

The ranch is still a working ranch where LBJ spent much of his presidency to get away from the hustle and bustle of Capitol Hill. But this was no vacation, he would often spend 18 hours a day on the phone during his presidency. They also have a working farm with farm houses that were originally on the property from the 19th century. Laura enjoyed running around and seeing all the animals including a brand new calf. She was a bit scared of the huge hogs and said "I want to go now" when the pig oinked at her.

We stayed with my mom's sister Jan in Dripping Springs and her husband. They love dotting on and spoiling the babies of course.

Sunday we enjoyed a massive breakfast courtesy of my Aunt and Uncle and drove another hour west to Fredericksburg. When German settlers came to Fredericksburg in 1846  they found themselves in dangerous Comanche territory.  In 1847 a treaty was signed between the German settlers and the Indians fostering peace and trade between the groups.

I wanted two things in Fredericksburg- beer and German food. We ate dinner at the Fredericksburg Brewing company but I will say I've had better beer and better German food elsewhere.

Monday morning drove north to Enchanted Rock State Park. The rock is a huge exfoliation dome composed of granite. Laura walked the better part of the hike but took frequent "rest" breaks. People kept commenting on how brave we were to hike with our kids. I wore Daniel on my back in the Ergo and he pretty much slept away the day.

Trying to rest on the rock

Our little family of four
Tuckered out little hiker

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Daniel's Nursery

First child- nursery done a month before your due date.

Second child- sleeps in mom's room for the first three months, then moves into a half way decorated nursery at four months. By five months his mom finishes said nursery. 
Little man at five months
I'm so happy at long last I have finished Daniel's room. For months there were floating bookshelves laying on the floor waiting to be hung, a blank wall where I had every intention of painting letters to hang and a sweet little handmade mobile from a friend tucked into the closet.  Now that I feel like we have a "new normal" around here and I have my head wrapped around this whole two kids things I was able to finish his room.

We kicked Laura out of her crib around her birthday and hyped up moving to a big girl bed which was the full sized guest bed with a bed rail on each side. The first night she came out and I just stuck her back in her crib but the next nap she slept in her new bed and we haven't looked back since. I love being able to lay down with her at bedtime to read and pray. 
The majority of Daniel's nursery is from when Laura was a baby but I feel like I've made it work for a baby boy now. The moving company broke part of my wooden rocker so I was compensated enough to purchase a new glider. David was able to fix my rocking chair so now we have a chair in each child's room. I also purchase new green curtains with a black out lining from Pottery Barn Kids. The moving company was kind enough to break several non replaceable items during our last move so I had a bit of extra money I was able to spend on Daniel's room that I probably wouldn't not have spent otherwise. 

The little bookshelves were a Pinterest idea I had seen probably a year ago. I bought the shelves and  painted them while I was still pregnant yet they just laid on the floor of his room until a few weeks ago. I stuck a little chair in the corner as a reading nook although I'm pretty sure it's meant to be a doll chair. I'm a bit worried Laura's going to break that poor little chair soon but it will have to do until I find something a bit sturdier. I'd love one of the Pottery Barn Anywhere chairs but I can't fathom spending $100 on one. Maybe the next time we move something I don't care about will break and I can use our replacement money to buy a cute little chair!  

My friend Shannon from Colorado sent me this handmade mobile with a quote from the Jesus Story Book Bible that reads - 

God loves His children with a never stopping,
 Never giving up, 
Always and forever love.

Lastly, I put up a little shelf with a framed cross stitch that was David's along and a silver baby plate that also belonged to David. My mom had saved a beautiful, intricate alphabet cross stitch that was given to either my brother or me when we were babies and I hung that up as well.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Very Belated Birth Story

I logged into my blog today and the last date I posted on here was 14 months ago! Quite a lot has happened since then but let's fast forward to the events of last fall.
September 15, to be exact.
Actually this story begins the day before. 
About to leave for the hospital
Saturday, September 14- David, Laura and I headed out on a two mile walk on muggy September morning. I had 6 days until my official due date which was the 20th and was feeling great. Well, minus being 9 months pregnant in the Texas heat. I had bloody show when we got home but knew that didn't really amount to much. I was going to have a baby some time in the next few weeks bloody show or not and I tried not to get my hopes up of it being before my due date.
David sweetly washed both of our cars that morning. After Laura's nap I headed across town to a friend's daughter second birthday party. I felt like I was having some Braxton Hicks but I really wasn't sure if they were real contractions or just practice ones. They stopped while at the party and kicked in again in the car.
By bedtime I was starting to have irregular contractions that weren't too difficult to work through. I tried to sleep for several hours and finally gave up and went downstairs for a snack and to watch tv.
I got David up around 5 am and was having contractions about 5-6 minutes apart but I could nearly talk through them and wasn't terribly serious in between so I didn't know what was going on. We finally called the on call midwife Katy (my practice had 6 midwives) and she told us to come in to the hospital.
I called our pastor's wife who we had arranged to come over when I went into labor. She fixed herself a pot of coffee and we prayed together while I held back tears before we left for the hospital. Praise God Laura was asleep through all this, it made everything so much simpler and allowed me to just focus on my labor. 
We got to the hospital around 6:30 am and I was able to walk to the labor and delivery floor. I was so elated to find out I was already 8 cm! Katy wanted to break my water to move things along faster but I really wanted things to progress on their own.  
I had made a new friend at church who was two weeks overdue and using the same midwife. I asked Katy the midwife if Kali was here and sure enough she had given birth just hours before! The midwife asked Kali if she was up for visitors we peaked in on her and her new daughter Eleanor. I was happily working through contractions while we chatted and adored her new baby for a few minutes until I decided we should leave and go have our own baby!

Back in my own birthing suite I was able to labor in a nice quite dark room with the birth ball. David fed me ice chips and Jolly Ranchers and Katy wiped my brow. The contractions were all right on top of each other during transition and I could barely catch a break.
When I got to 10 my water still hadn't broken but the midwife help broke it while I was pushing.
I was somewhat scared to push after tearing with Laura and I wasn't holding my breath while pushing. The midwife told me I had to push, he wasn't just going to come out on his own (which is what I wanted!)
A few pushes later and he was here! Daniel Joseph was born at 7:52 am, 7 pounds 3 ounces of perfection. It was a beautiful birth and we got to have skin to skin right away. I didn't get that with Laura because she wasn't breathing well.
I was bleeding quite a bit so they began a Pitcon drip and then switched to a pump for an hour. I was still bleeding more than the nurses liked so they gave me Cytotec to stop the bleeding. That was annoying because I had to stay in the recovery room for much longer than normal. And with no food! 
We called about breakfast and they said they had to check my diet. I should have just sent David out for food because it was probably 2pm until I had food delivered to my post partum room. I thought I would gag if I ate another Larabar.
Kali and Eleanor came to visit after I delivered Daniel
I had several fears and anxieties during this pregnancy, especially moving across the country 30 weeks pregnant. I was worried who we would find to watch Laura, knowing so few people in a new city and God provided. I was worried about David being stuck at work for several hours or being unable to reach him when I went into labor. I was anxious about driving across town to the hospital in the unforgiving San Antonio traffic.
Proud Dad

Yet not a single one of these worries came to fruition. I went into labor at night with David by my side and we were able to drive smoothly across town in the early morning. It was a sweet reminder that the Lord cares for the little things in our lives that bring us anxiety. God looked out for all our small needs during my labor and birth.

Grandma Denise drove down from Austin
Big Sister said "baby" for the first time
Grandpa Joe
"Aunt" Shelly drove down too!
Our family of four