Christmas 2014

We had such a fabulous Christmas this year. Christmas Eve was full of homemade pasta and cookie making, followed by a candlelit church service. Christmas Day was filled with coffee cake eating, present opening, Frozen watching, family time. Although this was Leah’s 3rd Christmas, it was really the first year that she truly GOT what Christmas was all about. Leading up to Christmas, we read her so many books about the birth of baby Jesus that, on Christmas morning, every time she opened a present and we asked her “What do you think it is!?” she would answer back with glee, “I think it’s baby Jesus!!” Unfortunately for her, none of the presents actually contained a wrapped up baby Jesus, but hey, at least she understood “the true gift of Christmas” in her own way, right?! She also understood that, thanks to VERY generous grandparents, plus gifts from Santa, 90% of the gifts under the tree were for her. Every time anyone else opened a gift she would get a very concerned look on her face and say, “Well, what about Leah?” Let’s just say that Leah received more than enough gifts this year. I would say her top presents were her beloved Elsa doll from my sister, Lego’s from Santa (aka mommy and daddy) and her new toy double stroller from my parents, which she stuffs full with at least 4 baby dolls on a daily basis. Brett and I soaked in the holidays, thankful for the new addition to our family, a sweet little chub, who I don’t think was put down for more than 10 minutes during the holidays, as she was passed from family member to family member and given tons of snuggles. Now, with the holidays over, Leah, coming out of a fun-filled month of visitors, is slightly depressed to find only mom here every single morning, instead of grandparents who spoil her rotten all day long. Sorry kid, welcome back to the real world. 😉 And now we are ready to begin 2015 as a family of 4. Excited for all the adventures this year brings!!

Christmas 2013

Christmas Day was a quiet affair here at the Becker house. We spent the relaxed morning enjoying homemade cinnamon rolls and coffee while Brett worked long and hard at putting together Leah’s new dream kitchen (while she enjoyed playing in the box…) before I headed into work around noon, where I spent the afternoon walking Santa and his elves around the hospital, delivering toys.

The day AFTER Christmas, however, was when the real fun began. We headed to the airport nice and early to catch a 6 am flight to Vermont to visit my family and finally meet my sister’s beautiful new baby, Amelia Lynne, who was born on December 21st.

My sister and her husband live in a snowy little ski town and we had such a blast visiting; hanging out with family, walking around town all bundled up, letting Leah play in the snow for the first time ever (it was very short lived) and (mainly) holding that sweet new chubby baby!! Leah affectionately calls her new cousin “baby Me-me” and she was completely crazy about her. Anytime anyone was holding Amelia, Leah had to go over and give baby a snuggle, resting her head against Amelia’s, or giving her a sweet kiss on the top of her head. Watching Leah with Amelia, seeing how gentle she was with her and how much she loved on the baby, made me excited to make Leah a big sister! (Not anytime too soon! haha) And that baby is seriously the sweetest newborn I have ever met. She is so deliciously chubby and honestly barely cries. I think the whole week we were there I might have witnessed her crying (well really fussing would be more accurate) a hand full of times and it never lasted long. She is just so content! My entire family cuddled that baby like crazy, I don’t think she was put down during the day the entire week!

Brett, Leah and I got to stay with my other sister, Caitlin, in her cute little house she is renting in a nearby village and Leah had a blast with her Aunt “Yate-lin” and her “woof woof.” My sweet sister had stocked her house with all of Leah’s favorite foods as well as new blocks, puzzles and the ever-loved new Elmo doll so Leah felt right at home. Her poor little dog spent the week being chased around the house and lovingly hugged and patted every chance she got. We got to experience a big snow storm one night and we just had to wake Leah up in order to take a bundled up walk through the deep falling snow. It was incredibly gorgeous and did make me miss New England’s winter just a bit! (Although I changed my mind once I got off the plane and walked into the warm, ocean smelling Florida night air….) It was so hard to leave my family and that sweet little babe at the end of the week, I miss cuddling her already!

But now we are back to reality and are enjoying Florida’s winter, which is my favorite time of the year here! I’m looking forward to cooler days that are perfect for evening runs and sleeping with the windows open. We are looking forward to a new year and and exciting new changes it will bring to our family!

Happy New Year!

Tis the season

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well…besides the sunshine and the 80 degree weather, but such is life in South Florida. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the changing seasons, as they tend to all run into each other. However! The past few evenings/nights have been downright chilly! Last night we actually had to shut the windows a little because it was so cold, even with our feather duvet on our bed! Woah Florida, you’re really bringing winter this year!! 😉

Even with the perfect beach weather in December we still try to fill the house with a cozy Christmas feel. Holiday candles burning, Christmas music on the Pandora station 24/7 and lit up Christmas trees. I’ve got a stack of Christmas cards sitting on the coffee table that I’m determined to get out by the end of the week so at least most of them can get to where they are heading before Christmas Day. I’m always so good with being on top of the actual ordering of the Christmas cards, but then I down right stink at actually getting them out on time. It always comes down to running out of stamps. And then it takes me a week to remember to get more at the post office or grocery store. Why don’t I stock up on stamps BEFORE it’s time to send the cards out, you may ask? Well, that would obviously make logical sense, but sadly I run into the same problem year after year.

These past few weeks have been INSANE at work. It’s hard to explain just what being a child life specialist means during the month of December. I don’t think anyone can fully grasp the craziness unless you yourself are a child life specialist. But I’ll try to break it down for you. Imagine hundreds of people, churches, organizations, etc calling you to set up a date and time to come in for an activity, performance, or just to hand out gifts. And then imagine, once your calendar is booked with said groups, still getting call after call from upset people who feel you are being a Scrooge for not letting them come in to visit with the patients. And then imagine donation after donation being dropped off. Seriously, the moment we are called down to security (frantically searching for a flat bed along the way), load up, and are on our way to bring the toys to our storage room, we are called down yet again to pick up more toys. And then, on top of all this, we still have our normal units and patient load to take care of on a daily basis. As well as our other side jobs (like pet therapy) on top of it all. I come home from work on a daily basis and collapse on the couch, not wanting to move or look at another toy for the rest of the day. Let me say this, as CRAZY as it is, we LOVE the joy it brings to our patients, and, in the end, that’s all that matters. Although I get stomach ache stressed at the 19th phone call of the day from some upset church group that I have to tell we don’t have space for, I still love my job. I love seeing a random group of employees from some bank company glow with excitement as they decorate stockings in the playroom, I love seeing a patient’s face light up with glee as they watch a Christmas musical performance, I love to see a parent’s eyes fill with tears when their child is handed that one toy they’ve been asking for all season; I love it all. But, let me tell you, it is EXHAUSTING and I can’t say I won’t be happy once December 26th rolls around! I’m working part day on Christmas this year and I am psyched. It might sound weird that someone is actually excited to work on Christmas, but, let me tell you, it’s going to be a great day. We have this wonderful Santa that has been coming in for years and we get to spend the day being Santa’s elves and walking him around to visit and give gifts to every single child and sibling in the hospital. And I am so excited that I get to be a part of the joy Santa will be bringing to those kiddos on Christmas Day!

And then we are off to VT the day after Christmas to see my family and (hopefully) meet my sister and her husband’s new little bundle of Christmas joy! She is due this Friday and we are all waiting on pins and needles for her to make her grand arrival!

Until then I plan on running around the hospital while trying not to lose my sanity under our ever expanding pile of Barbie dolls…..

Gone to Carolina in my mind….

We had a blast in Asheville, NC for Thanksgiving this year. This was actually the first time we had ever been there since my parents recently moved there at the beginning of the summer. There’s just something about Asheville….even way down here in South Florida, whenever I mentioned that we were traveling to Asheville for Thanksgiving EVERYONE I spoke to seemed to know something about the city and would always remark on how gorgeous the city and surrounding area was. I started to think that I must be the only person alive who had never heard of this magical place up until my parents moved there!! So, after months and months of hearing only fabulous things about Asheville; from friends, strangers, and my parents alike, I had some pretty high expectations about this place and I can honestly say that the town did not disappoint.
My parents packed a lot into our short 4 day stay; trips to tour the Biltmore Estates and Grove Park Inn, exploring the downtown area with it’s many shops, and eating at all their favorite restaurants and bakeries. I think in order to do and see everything they wanted to show us we would have had to be there for 2 weeks! I was sold on the town in a second when we drove past a Trader Joe’s and Greenlife (Whole Foods Market) within a block of each other and within minutes to their home. I would seriously kill to have a Trader Joe’s close by so that alone pretty much convinced me to pack up and move north.
But seriously, this town? Amazing. It’s like a mini New York city except cleaner….and with more hippies. The downtown area has an artsy, urban feel to it, and yet, just outside town are villages with gorgeous historic homes and the awe-inspiring Biltmore Estate. We (along with a hundred other people with the same idea) decided to tour the Biltmore Estate on Friday and I couldn’t help imagining that I was in Downton Abbey the entire time. It’s so crazy because on the 2 hour tour you only get to see about 1/4 of the entire house. Seriously that place, with it’s 250 rooms, would take you an entire day to tour the whole house. My sister and I kept laughing as we imagined being guests in that house, back in it’s prime, and wandering around lost as you tried to make your way back to your room at night after dinner. That place seriously had stair cases up and down and all over.
Saturday my parents took us to explore Grove Park Inn and Brett and I went around trying to find some good locations for our Christmas card photos. I think we got a lot of cute ones to choose from, although little Miss Drama didn’t want to smile or hold still for most of them. Of course when we took her pictures alone, she posed and proudly said “cheeeeeeseee!!” for every one. She’s not one to shy away from the spot light.
The only negative part of our entire trip was the drive back on Sunday. Yes, we drove. Since my parents moved into a much smaller house than they had in Pennsylvania, they had a lot of wonderful furniture to give us that they no longer needed (including a dining room table and a complete wicker furniture set for our back porch!) Now, I’m not one to say no to free furniture, especially free expensive furniture, so it was a very easy decision to drive so we could rent a trailer for the way back. The drive there on Wednesday was quick and easy, even if it was 10 hours long. The ride home on Sunday, however, with all the Thanksgiving travelers, was a mess and it took us 14 1/2 hours to get home!! Leah did AMAZING though. I told Brett that I seriously think we have a magical baby, as I do not know many 15 month olds who could sit in the car for 14 1/2 hours and not lose their cool. We were way prepared though and I will definitely be writing a blog post on what worked for me when it came to traveling long distance with a toddler!
So Asheville….we loved it and I can see why everyone else seems to as well! We are so excited to go back in the spring or summer when we can hike those gorgeous mountains! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Father’s Day

IMG_0167 IMG_0168 IMG_0171 IMG_0174 IMG_0175 IMG_0176 IMG_0179 IMG_0183 IMG_0186 IMG_0187Leah insisted on doing a mini photo shoot so she could frame a picture for dada’s desk as a Father’s Day gift. She’s so thoughtful like that. Of course, I had this idea in my mind, of Leah perfectly holding her “I love Daddy!” sign on her lap while smiling directly at the camera. Obviously the reality was far from the imagined. Although I DID end up getting some pretty cute pics (I ended up choosing and framing the B&W pic second from the top) it took me close to 100 shots to get a few good ones. And by the end that “I love daddy” sign was reduced to a crumbled mess. Because obviously wrinkling and crumbling a piece of paper is far more fun than holding it up.
It’s pretty obvious to anyone and everyone that this girl LOVES her daddy. All he has to do is walk into the room and this girl starts laughing and dancing. It’s like she just knows, “Dad’s here, let the fun begin!!” They have a special bond, those two, and I feel so blessed that I’m given the privilege to witness it daily. Happy Father’s Day, Brett, we love you!

IMG_0890And to this man, the one who traveled all the way down to Florida to help us rip out, and then build, our dream kitchen, the one who would drop ANYTHING to help out, the one who loves his 4 girls (well 5 including his lovely wife) and 1 granddaughter with all his heart, I am so thankful for you. Thank you for being the most wonderful father and grandfather a girl could ever ask for. I love you!

Happy Father’s Day!

Easter

Hubs and I spent Easter on our favorite island with Brett’s parents. We hadn’t been to the island in a very long time (since Leah was 10 weeks old!) since we’ve been a bit crazy with our newfound homeownership and all the projects that come with. Driving over that bridge on Friday evening, I found myself sighing with relief as any stress I may have been feeling went flying out the window. We love this island. And being there renewed our feeling of “Hey, we need to come here more often!” and we vowed, house projects or not, to reinstate our once a month visits to my favorite place in the world.

Easter was a relaxing day. Leah looked adorable in her big, puffy pink dress my mom gave me back when I was still pregnant (and funny side note, she gave it to me exactly one year ago this past weekend, while we were all visiting the island). I remember opening the gift, seeing the adorable pink gown (this was right after we found out noodle was a girl) and thinking,  “This is adorable, but where and when will she ever wear this!?” I should have known my mom was thinking ahead because, exactly one year later, and that little number was exactly the right size for a certain baby’s first Easter celebration.

I have so many pictures to share from our weekend (Leah at the beach, meeting her great aunt and uncle and swimming in the pool for the first time!) but for now I will leave you with way too many pictures of Leah in her Easter dress and a few of my favorite family Easter pictures.
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This girl and her tongue. It's hanging out of her mouth 90% of the time.

This girl and her tongue. It’s hanging out of her mouth 90% of the time.

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Her clench her fists and scream look. She does it quite often and finds it hilarious.

Her clench her fists and scream look. She does it quite often and finds it hilarious.

IMG_0161 IMG_0172 IMG_0178 IMG_0186 IMG_0208 IMG_0213 IMG_0219I’ll be back soon with way too many beach pictures. Until then, hope you all had a wonderful Easter!!

Happy Halloween!

Leah and her best friend Bradley

Leah had a low key first Halloween.  She spent her morning posing in front of pumpkins at Nurturing Your Newborn with her best friend Bradley and the afternoon was split pretty evenly between crying and napping. Quite the productive day. She did look adorable in her Trick or Treat shirt, minus the fact that the 0-3 month size was stretched tight over her impressively expanding belly. Luckily it only needed to fit for one day! I will admit that I am looking forward to the coming years when she is old enough to take trick-or-treating, but still too young to eat the candy. Those will be the best years. Parents trick-or-treating with your two year old? We all know you’re basically collecting candy for yourself, you don’t fool anyone. Until then, we will spend Halloween sitting home, watching The Office and squishing the babe’s chunky cheeks. Happy Halloween!!