Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Adelaide Jane: 11 Months

Dearest Adelaide,

Eleven months has brought so much to your life. A month of many firsts, mostly in terms of travel & food. Surprise, surprise I know!

You ventured on your first camping trip with mommy & daddy (and Beau!). We swam in the lake, roasted s'mores, and slept in a tent. Oh you also loved to put rocks in your mouth. Yucky!

We took our first mommy/daughter road trip to Rhode Island. We went to the Roger Williams Park Zoo, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Providence Children's Museum. We covered a lot of ground in Providence & Newport. It was your first time to a museum and our first time to Rhode Island. 

On that fun trip, you tried your first happy meal from Mc Donald's. You loved it. You are my child 110% for sure now ;) You have also tried grilled cheese which you absolutely love as well as meatballs, apple juice, and a plethora of other little munchies.

You had been to Tennessee before but not Gatlinburg. We traveled their to celebrate your great-grandmother's birthday, Grandma Lee. That is daddy's grandma. We stayed with lots and lots of people in one big cabin. We took daily walks and swam in the pool. And everyone loved on you.

The basement stairs and entry stairs are your favorite toy at the moment. You love to climb both flights of stairs all day. This is why we started putting gates up because we spend all day chasing you if not ;)

You gained two teeth this month and I have a feeling more are on the way. You are chewing on just about anything from my arm to your toes to anything in between. Teething is a real treat.

As we speak, our family of 3 is on a trip to California. You are meeting all sorts of little friends along our trek from San Francisco to San Diego plus seeing all sorts of sights where mommy & daddy used to live. Truly a great trip and one that we will remember & cherish for years to come.

But my all time favorite part of this month is your ability to understand what hug means and hug me (or your stuffed animals). You give them all on your own. You give them when I say can I have a hug. It melts my heart as your little arms reach around my neck and squeeze. It especially melts when you lean in for an *open mouth* kiss ;)

I can't believe that in 30 short days you will be one year old. It doesn't seem possible. Life moves pretty fast especially when you are growing up with each passing second.

I love you baby boo!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Snapshots on a Saturday: Pool Days & Play Dates

Here is what we've been up to in picture form...

Trying on hiking backpacks with daddy

Getting up close & personal with the A/C

Swinging at the park

Enjoying lunch & a swim at Camp Weiner

Hanging with my BFF Caileigh at Knollwood CC

Play date at Stone Barns with Allie & Matthew

Cheers to the summer and lots of fun friends!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Call: A Movie Review

Friday night Ryan was flipping through the Netflix movies on our TV to see what new flicks were out. After a few previews, he played the trailer for The Call. It caught my eye enough to make me look up from my serious craft session, but since it was nearing midnight we opted not to watch it. So Saturday night after dinner and putting Adelaide to bed, we decided The Call was the perfect ending to our evening.

The film is about a 911 operator Jordan (Halle Berry), who blames herself for the kidnapping & death of a young teen who she called back after their call was disconnected. Now as she steps back on the floor to return to her duties she finds herself in a similar position. A young teenage girl has been kidnapped and the race is on to save her. Jordan scrambles to keep her focus and find Casey (Abigail Breslin) before its too late.

A hanging-on-the-seat-of-your-pants-the-whole time while making-you-close-your-eyes-and-watch-through-your-hand kind of scary, suspenseful, thrilling movie. If you like to have your heart pumping, I suggest checking out The Call.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Caileigh's Clubhouse

We met Caileigh and Whitney (the mom ;) ) at our Bedford Mommy & Me back in January. Caileigh & Adelaide have the same disposition. Beyond sweet and happy-go-lucky babies. They play the same which means hands on the face, exploring each others little noses, hair, hair bows, and mouths. Whitney & I are quite similar as well (must be the awesome name!) in how we parent & are general personalities. So we became fast friends and have been spending a lot of time together this summer with various play dates.

We were so excited to be invited to Caileigh's Clubhouse to celebrate her 1st birthday this past Saturday. With a Minnie Mouse theme, every single detail was perfect. There were the most adorable Minnie Mouse ears with pink bows of course! The cutest centerpieces complete with lots of pink & black decor. Caileigh was wearing a personalized Minnie Mouse pillowcase dress and a big pink bow. She looked precious! We snacked on Minnie's Munchies & Chip n' Dale Chips. We grabbed lunch at the Hot Diggity' Dog Bar which was beyond delicious and used our Muskeetools for the refreshing sides. The babies & kids played on the mini jumpy, drew at the coloring table, and roamed around the grass chasing puppies. But their favorite part was the music teacher who came to play & sing songs.

After a fun afternoon outside, we came indoors to sing Happy Birthday to Ms. Caileigh and watch her blow out her candles on her cake. A 2-layer black & pink Minnie Mouse cake which was unbelievably delicious and too cute! Plus little cupcakes complete with mini ears. The favor bags were all personalized with the sweetest Minnie Mouse embellishments & treats inside!

We had an absolute wonderful time celebrating Caileigh and look forward to many more celebrations with The Kennedys!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fifty Shades Freed: A Book Review

About this time last year, I started the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. I was able to complete the first two books just before Adelaide arrived. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I finally got around to purchasing the third one. Fifty Shades Freed.

Picking up where Fifty Shades Darker left off, the final book in the trilogy had me holding onto my seat. A mixture of romance, thrill, mystery, and exhaustion. I enveloped myself in the newlywed, honeymoon bliss that Ana & Christian were experiencing. (Oh to go back to our two week vacation would be heaven.) Then I related to the mundane reality that life & relationships become once you realize that the wedding & honeymoon are finito.

Throw in a wild car chase, family illness, & a shocking surprise and you have a well-rounded, fun to read story wrapping up the one and only Christian Grey. Plus as a bonus there is a sneak peek into the mind of Christian which put so much into perspective.

If you haven't had a chance to read these books, I definitely would check them out...especially before the movie comes out!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Road Trip to Rhode Island

When Ryan mentioned he would be going out of town for the week, I had an idea. How about a little girls road trip?!

So we packed a small suitcase, hopped in the car (Beau included), and headed northeast to Rhode Island. We arrived early evening on Tuesday after Adelaide being treated to her first Mc D's Happy Meal. And happy she was indeed! After dinner we nestled into our hotel bed, jammies & all for some good girl giggles.

Rising early Wednesday morning, we headed to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. It is hands down the best zoo I have been to and believe me I have been to many around the world. The animals were in as close to their natural habitat as possible with freedom to roam & play throughout. Around each corner sat a learning center with hands on experiences for children to learn more about the animals. Mystic water stations helped keep us cool on such a hot summer day. But the best part was the Hasbro Our Big Backyard which showcases a huge tree house, various water activities, an art center with chalkboards for drawing, and much much more.

pulling up to the zoo this is what was on the GPS ;)

Next we drove down to Newport for lunch. We sat in the shade on the dock at The Deck watching the boats roll in & out. Adelaide indulged in a grilled cheese while I enjoyed the fish & chips with a glass of rose. It was crisp and chilled to perfection.

Full and happy we strolled up to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We oohed and ahhed at the pristine grass courts (and the kiddos playing on them in their all white attire), admired the legendary names of the game, and noted the decades worth of memorabilia. And we snagged a few souvenirs to boot ;)

I didn't quite feel right leaving Newport without making a pit stop at the beach so we did just that. Laying our blanket out on the sand, we left our flips flop on shore and dipped our toes bodies in the water. Adelaide splished & splashed about in the east coast waves as I admired the shoreline beauty. It really is breathtaking. Once we were cooled off, we headed back up to Providence to shower off & have movie night.

Thursday morning we awoke and packed up for the journey home. With the car loaded and ready to set south to NY, we had one last stop to make: The Providence Children's Museum. A two-story, impressively interactive & educational establishment designed with every child in mind. From newborn to pre-teen. We spent our time in Littlewoods for kids 4&U. Adelaide cruised across the baby bridge, crawled through the tree house tunnel, played with wild animals (plastic mind you), and mingled with fellow babies. After she got her playtime fix, we journeyed on back home.

Not only is Rhode Island gorgeous, but it is also one of the more kid-friendly places to visit with so much for families to see & do. And reasonably priced too! If you are in the area or looking for a fun family trip, RI is your place. Staying in Providence or Newport is great because you have access to both cities with a quick drive. I am looking forward to going back with my family soon!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Weekend in Gatlinburg

Thursday we headed to Gatlinburg, TN to celebrate Ryan's grandma's 80th birthday. His mom's entire side of the family came in per Grandma Lee's request to stay in the River Lodge Cabin. Yep all 32 of us in one log cabin.

After a long day of travel (3 hour flight + 4 1/2 hour drive), we arrived tired and in need of a glass of wine or three. A summer BBQ dinner awaited us along with trivia about Grandma & Grandpa Lee. Late night talk ensued before finally hitting the hay around midnight.

Friday included a plethora of activities as people split up. Some going for walks; others shopping; more hiking in the mountains. Adelaide & I enjoyed a morning walk before hitting up the pool post lunchtime with Kara, Kinlee, Kendahl, & Nana. While she napped, I wine tasted per Aunt Shirley's excellent pouring skills. Ryan hiked with several of his cousins before heading back for a Mexican Fiesta dinner. Nighttime corn hole & dancing concluded the evening.

Saturday we took a morning stroll up to Apple Barn to check out the Christmas store. I could have spent mucho moola in there but managed to come away with only a few ornaments. We stopped in the wine store but felt 10am was too early to taste (in CA it would have been ok but in TN not so much). So we opted for a smoothie from the creamery instead. Ryan went on a solo hike while Adelaide & I caught some rays poolside again. What can I say, I have a little fish on my hands! Back at the house, the corn hole tournament kicked-off while wine tasting part deux occurred. Italian night was delicious and topped off with a chocolate fountain! The evening rocked on with a dance party on the front porch and late night trivia games.

Sunday we headed out early for the long journey home. Because my grandparents are deceased, I encourage Ryan to speak with them frequently and visit with them as often as possible. It was nice to spend some time with them and celebrate 80 years of life.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Parenting Without Borders: A Book Review

My second book about parenting around the globe was not as entertaining as the first, but it provided some more good information on various issues that all parents face. More of a research edition with less autobiographical examples and more studies & interviews, the harsh reality of American parenting faux pas were exposed. In some ways, I felt as if the author was not a fan of our culture at all. Though as time went on I came to realize that she was merely showing the differences in societies across the world through a new lens.

Broken into four parts, Parenting Without Borders gives us another look into the worries & wonders of parenthood.

  • Part One: Caring & Feeding for Children
    • Sleep- only in America is co-sleeping a tsk, tsk and baby night wakings frowned upon; research shows that babies/children who are cuddled during sleep time early on turn out to be more independent
    • Stuff- too many choices have a negative impact on us; we often believe that more material things equal happiness; in Japan less equals more and in France excess "stuff" is considered gluttony
    • Food- educating our children is key; meal time should be a pleasure; allowing our children the absolute freedom to choose whatever they want to eat can have consequences
  • Part Two: Raising Children
    • Self Esteem- we need to teach our children that the effort they put in is greater than the result; making mistakes & failing is OK and should be recognized as it means growth; false praise of our kids can actually hurt their self-esteem; empower our children to know that they can do things on their own
    • Self Control- hovering parents cause kids to rebel and lash out because they don't need to have self-control if you are doing everything for them
    • Play- unstructured playtime is an essential part of growing up; there is no race to grow up so allowing for free time to be creative & grow is part of learning; the great outdoors is a magical place to grow
  • Part Three: Teaching Children
    • Pressure- in the Asian culture, there is an intense academic regime that accounts for almost all of a child's day; there children see their dedication to learning as a sign of love to their parents; in Finland they offer a variety of subjects to build creative thinking & entrepreneur spirits; there they adjust education to fit the needs of the student and there is no such thing as a special needs student
  • Part Four: Character of Children
    • Kindness- a lack of manners inhibits kindness in children; babies are born kind and react to situations with that kindness in their heart & soul; parents should foster that innate kindness through teaching children manners
    • Responsibility- in todays world we have less expectations of our kids & their abilities to perform chores/tasks; we also lack the patience to let them try & make mistakes; we are inhibiting them from growing as well-rounded people
All in all, Parenting Without Borders reminds us as parents that there is no right or wrong way to be a parent to your child so long as you love them. Love them for who they are and for who they will become.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July Date: Camping for Three & Campfire S'mores

For our July date, I opted for a little *free* outdoor fun as a family. Last year we camped a mere 30 minutes from home when I was severely pregnant. I remember looking at the family next to us with a new baby thinking these people are cray cray. Guess in the midst of making these dates a few months post camping & baby being born I forgot. Oops! In all seriousness, camping with Adelaide was not more difficult than had it been just Ryan & I. See after camping last summer and making notes on all of the things that crazy family had brought, I in turn bought many things to make camping with a baby feasible. Of course I did because I was in full nesting mode and had already nested the crap out of everything else. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when we were packing Friday night and I recalled how smart I had been last year. YAY for me outsmarting myself ;)

Albeit a major heat wave in New York, we packed up our little family of three four (including Beau) and headed up north for some 4th of July weekend camp fun. Nestled just an hour and a half away is Mills Norrie State Park yet it feels worlds apart from the hustle & bustle of NYC. We left late morning on Saturday and arrived in perfect time for lunch. We unloaded the car and got Adelaide situated on two large blankets with her toys (she cared more about playing with rocks but whatever). Then set up camp via our tent, camp couch, picnic table (I purchased some adorable tablecloths last season!), camp kitchen, & cooler.

After lunch, we took a little hike towards the cabins & river. We only went about a 1/2 mile before turning back because Beaumont was panting like he's 100 and Adelaide I was desperate for a swim to cool off. Changing into our swim gear and jumping in the car, we drove a few miles up the road to Lake Taghkanic. It had a make shift beach with volleyball to boot. Adelaide & I dipped right in with the other fellow campers. We waded around and made friends with a little girl names Madison. She was smitten with my baby girl. The boy stayed cool under the shade of a nearby tree.

Once we had satisfied our need to swim like fish, we headed back to our campsite to get dinner ready. Ryan prepped & cooked while I handled the princess who kept attempting to eat rocks and chase Beau around. The three of us enjoyed dinner, steaks & veggies for the adults/formula for the baby, and put the little one to sleep as the sun was going down. Of course no camp night is complete without a few s'mores so Ryan roasted a few up as we gazed up at the stars.

Ms. Adelaide was up bright & early at 6:30am thanks to the blazing, bright sun. She flipped & flopped around the tent, over the sleek sleeping bags from mom to dad to Beau for about an hour before we all decided to finally get up. A quick camp breakfast of egg & cheese sandwich then we were breaking down camp to head home.

Although short, our camping trip was sweet. I think we plan to make it a yearly tradition. Who knows, maybe next year we will make it two nights. The important thing is that we are getting out & enjoying nature together as a family!

Friday, July 5, 2013

An Anniversary Gift

My brother & sister-in-law celebrated their 2nd year of marriage on July 2nd. I remember their wedding like it was yesterday. Held in Michigan and one hell of a weekend. We roasted my brother the evening of their rehearsal dinner by singing My Shaneen to the tune of My Girl. One of the groomsmen introduced us all to his signature dance move...tease, tease, punish...by demonstrating on the bride. My dad busted a move to Baby Got Back and all sorts of other rap songs. Many laughs & tears were shed.

I think it is important to celebrate anniversaries. For my own marriage as well as for my family members. I always give my parents, Kendahl & Peter, and Amanda & Shane a little something to acknowledge the love they have for one another and to celebrate the commitment they made to their marriage.

This past year I made homemade hot cocoa kits for K&P since their anniversary is in December. Fit for a date night in or a family movie night. I like the homemade gifts especially when they entail food because they can compliment so many date night options.

hot cocoa & crushed peppermints

marshmallows & wafers

straws for stirring

For A&S I opted for an ice cream kit since July is HOT, HOT, HOT! Plus they have a gorgeous backyard deck and hot tub which they frequent often. So I gathered all of the necessities for ice cream, including waffle cones, waffle bowls, chocolate chips, gummy bears, sour patch kids, M&Ms, caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, and more. I packaged it in two little cupcake boxes and tied them together with a cute bow. Then added a tag saying just add ice cream. I stuck with red & white for a little 4th of July color theme.

I turned out super cute and they both liked it!! Which is always a plus :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vaca to Naples, Our 2nd Home

When you take 9 adults + 4 kids + 2 babies and put them under one roof, you get insane madness all day, everyday. The good kind. The make your tummy hurt while you laugh, slap-happy, silly giggles. You get pool time day & night. Numerous runs to Target to escape the madness and rejuvenate with a Starbucks. Yummy dinners out & about. Loads of homemade sweet treats at home. Countless games of cards (rummy) while children are napping. A lesson in Disney movies. Game night hysterics. Morning walks. Tennis challenges. Naples Zoo visit. Miami Seaquarium shows. Sun n' Fun Waterpark adventures. Nap time snuggles inside & outside...wherever there is room to lay your head. But mostly you get a wonderful 10 days with your family. The people who make you smile when the going gets tough. The people who wipe away your tears from the sadness & the laughter. The people who (along with my husband) make my heart beat.

Here's what it looks like in color...

Can't wait to see this crew again soon!!!