Family renewal

Although Claire is over 2 months old, we really haven’t had many weekends where it’s just been US-our little family of 4. Between multiple visits and the holidays-we have had family here almost every weekend since Claire was born. Which, don’t get me wrong, has been wonderful, but we were more than ready for some relaxing time together as a family. So, this past weekend we decided to head up to the island alone. We went out to breakfast at our favorite spot, strolled through a very busy farmers market, spent some time with my great aunt and uncle, drank wine and watched the sunset on the beach, and splashed in the pool. It was fun and relaxing, and exactly what we were hoping for. Claire totally got into the laid back, relaxing spirit and slept from 10 pm-7:30 am on Saturday. If she always slept like that, I think we would move to the island full time! 😉

Every time we head up to the island we talk about how lucky we are to have a connection to this place. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up vacationing here. My great aunt and uncle have owned a condo-just down the road from my in laws condo-for as long as I can remember, and my grandparents used to rent a place here for the winter as well. I have a photo album filled with pictures of me at the island as a young teen and lately Leah has become obsessed with carrying that particular photo album around and asking multiple times about everyone she sees as she flips through the pages and intently studies each photo. It makes me smile to think that one day she will have her own photo albums filled with pictures of her and her siblings playing on the same sand mommy did when she was a girl.

So a relaxing weekend it was and now we are back home where we have been enjoying some “cold” South Florida weather; perfect days in the low 70’s and chilly 50 degree nights. I know, I know, everyone up north dealing with snow storm after snow storm probably wants to kill me for calling that “cold,” but I’m just saying; when you live in South Florida, AKA the tropics, you gladly take any temps lower than 80 and call it winter!

A trip to the zoo

As we get closer and closer to baby’s due date, Brett and I have been talking about things we should do with Leah to celebrate her last few weeks as an only child. One thing we definitely wanted to do with her was take her to the Miami Zoo, which is one of the largest zoos in the country! Although it’s only 45 minutes away, we have never been there and we figured that Leah was now at the age where she would love seeing all the animals so last weekend, once the weather finally started to “cool down” (at least by Miami standards!) we set off in the morning to explore the zoo. Our plan was to get there right around opening time to beat both the crowds and the hot weather and it worked out perfectly! We were there until about 1:30 pm, leaving right when it was just starting to get hot and crowded.

Leah had an absolute blast the entire time. She would run over to look at an animal, yell hello to whatever it was “hello zebra! hello!” before running down the path yelling, “what else are we gonna see?!” We brought the umbrella stroller because the zoo is over 3 miles around and I didn’t think she would ever be able to make it around, walking the whole way. Well, this child of ours never slowed down. A couple of times I would ask her “Leah, do you want to take a rest and ride a bit?” and she would always answer, “no mommy, I walk!” And walk (and run!) she did. We continued walking around the entire zoo and Leah quickly made her favorites known (the gorillas, or as she called them, the monkeys, were her hands down favorite). Finally, after 3 hours and 2 1/2 miles, this 8 month pregnant woman was ready to be done. So we stuck Leah in the stroller to get through the last 1/2 mile a little faster, which was NOT a popular decision with the walking queen. I was so shocked (and proud!) that she was being such a good walker, but it was getting hot and I was hungry and we just needed to get back to the car already. 😛

On the way home we stopped at Trader Joes to stock up on some of our favorite items (which, side note, never go into TJ’s when you are hungry and 8 months pregnant. You will end up buying everything in sight, to the alarm and dismay of your husband…) and this picture cracks me up:

Leah INSISTED on carrying the animal crackers and the chocolate peanut butter cups. Obviously she knows what’s important and she wasn’t about to let those tasty treats out of her sight!

Overall, we had a blast at the Miami Zoo and I am so glad that we were able to take Leah before her baby sister arrives. As excited as I am for the new baby, I am trying to soak up these last few weeks with Leah as an only child. She is such a good girl, and my very best little buddy, and I want to enjoy all these precious remaining moments with just her before it’s too late!

Girl’s Weekend: Island Style

I’m lucky (very lucky!) that I get to work with some AWESOME child life girls at my hospital. 6 of us have gotten very close and we have been wanting to do a girls weekend for a long time now. With 3 of us pregnant, and with babies and maternity leaves right around the corner, we decided that it was now or never!! Lucky for us, my awesome in-laws said we could use the condo for the weekend so with that, we all packed our weekend bags and headed up to one of my favorite places in the world: our island!

We had the brilliant idea to each be in charge of a meal for the weekend. It was super fun to, not only see what everyone picked, but also get to pig out on SO MUCH food for the entire weekend! Everyone made some really amazing and delicious meals and desserts and we all, of course, brought along a huge selection of beach and pool snacks. It would be so funny because after enjoying an awesome and huge breakfast made by one of the girls, we would all turn to whoever was in charge of lunch and say “We are so excited for your lunch plan!” So basically we ate all. weekend. long. Which was wonderful. 🙂 Add in long conversations, perfect beach weather, late nights, funny chick flicks, and a hilarious game of HedBanz (which is actually now downloadable onto your Iphone!!) on the way home, and it was all in all an awesome and relaxing weekend! Some lovely Iphone pics of our time:

^^The world’s most relaxing balcony view. I think I have 1 million Iphone photos that look EXACTLY like this, but for some reason I feel the need to snap this same pic every time we visit and I step out on the balcony for the first time.

^^The whole crew on the beach!

^^Mandatory condo bump shot. I take this picture every time we visit (while pregnant, of course….)

^^Bumps in order of size from left to right: 21 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks! I cannot believe how fast everyone’s pregnancy is going! Shannon and I (the one in the black suit) are having girls and Katie is having a little boy!

^^The beach belly relaxing with a good book!

^^Kitchen meal prep

^^So on the second day Shannon and I had a good laugh when we walked out of our rooms with pretty much the exact same one piece on, only in different colors. Gotta love the mom skirted suit!! 🙂

^^So blessed to have these wonderful girls in my life!!

It was such a fun weekend, although I did miss Leah and Brett terribly! Saturday night Brett FaceTimed me with Leah before she went to bed and I teared up hearing her little voice tell me about her day with daddy! ALSO! Of course on Friday night I missed Leah’s first ever poo in the potty!!! It sounds so silly (and like such a mom thing) but I was seriously SO UPSET that I missed it!! Brett texted me with the whole story, complete with a proud picture of Leah eating her ice cream reward and I wanted to cry. As silly as it sounds, every milestone (poops and all!) are so special and it kills me to miss even one. However, I am WELL aware that I will be here for so many more potty poops and I’m willing to bet that it will lose it’s charm quick. 😉 But, even still, I am so proud of our big girl!!

Sunday, I came home to a clean house complete with a freshly painted back patio, so of course Brett was a super dad/husband over the weekend. It was so sweet of him to give me a relaxing weekend with the girls AND take care of everything at home that needed to be done! Such an awesome weekend and a fun way to celebrate these 3 new babies that will soon be making their way into the world! 🙂

Date Night

So Brett and I don’t get out on many date nights. At all. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I could count how many dates we’ve been out on since Leah was born TWO YEARS AGO on both hands. That’s pretty sad. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to finding a babysitter for Leah. Which can be seen as a bit ironic since I started babysitting at the age of 12 and obviously saw myself as the most mature, competent babysitter in the world. But sadly I cannot hire younger me. Therefore, the only times we have left Leah is with family members or good friends of mine…And this post is starting to sound like I need an intervention on my babysitting trust issues….

But, moving on!! A few months ago Brett and I opened up our home to a wonderful young lady who was completing her child life internship at the hospital where I work. And just recently she applied (and got accepted!) for a child life position we had open in our ER and she made the big move down to South FL to start her new career. We were lucky enough to have her stay with us again for a few days while she waited for her apartment to be ready and she generously offered to watch Leah so we could go out on an actual date! And since we just recently went out on a date in New York we felt like we were being spoiled! 2 date nights in one month!? Look at us crazy kids!!

Brett and I were actually on a date at PF Changs when I told him I was pregnant so we decided to head on back there for dinner because we don’t like change we were feeling sentimental.  And mostly because I’ve been craving their tofu lettuce wraps something fierce. So off we set at the senior citizen hour of 5:15 because we wanted to get there before happy hour ended at 6. (You can call us cheap, we don’t mind..) So there we were at 5:30 pm, scarfing down our lettuce wraps and spring rolls and dumplings and then we were done. And it was 6:15 pm. Which is a very embarrassing time to end a date night. Unless you are 80. I suggested a movie, but Brett had the better (and more romantic!) idea of setting out on a dessert adventure in South Beach, Miami. So off we drove, down the ocean lining A1A, while I quickly attempted to Google the best dessert place in Miami.

We decided (well really, my pregnancy cravings decided) on The Icebox Cafe mainly because Oprah claimed that they had the best cake in Miami. We are trusting you Oprah!! I also liked it because, although they were a full service restaurant, they offered a “cake bar” where you could order a piece to go, which was awesome since they were right across the street from the marina. So we get there and Brett had a moment of doubt because the place looked “too trendy” but I was determined to trust Oprah and her cake loving knowledge. Brett knew right away that he wanted the strawberry shortcake (his favorite) but I waffled back and forth between the coconut with butter cream frosting and the Oreo fudge cake. But, life is full of tough decisions, and I finally settled on coconut. I’m sneaky like that because I know Brett hates coconut so this ensured that I would get to eat my entire piece as well as some of his. I never admitted to being considerate when it comes to my dessert decision making.

^^It was a good decision because this cake was AH-MAZING. I liked it better than Brett’s strawberry shortcake that he deemed “Good, but nothing special.”

^^Baby loves cake.

We look our cake across the street and sat on a bench overlooking the bay (and the many million dollar yachts) and watched the sunset. It was fun and romantic and simple and totally perfect.

After cake we walked along the marina, picking out which yacht we would choose once we make our millions. Which could happen, you know. I’m not a HUGE fan of South Beach and it’s crazy party energy, but this part; the gorgeous palm trees and the picture perfect pink sunsets over the bay, is right up my alley.

^^Crappy quality Iphone picture to show our happiness and date night love.
After our walk we headed back home, up A1A, so we could oogle at all the beach front mansions. And then we got home at 9:30 pm, which is a much more respectable end time to a date night, right?? Or maybe I really am just a grandma. All in all, it was a PERFECT date night and I’m so glad I got to spend a wonderful night with this amazing husband of mine!!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Leah Grace!!

Saturday was the big day! My baby turned two and is officially a baby no longer. I mean, I know that technically she hasn’t been a baby for awhile now, but, when you can still say that you have a one year old, there’s still a “I have a baby” sound to that. But a two year old? A two year old puts you firmly into the “I’ve got a toddler phase.” And there’s just a little bit of heartache that comes with that!

So, in honor of Leah’s big day I hear by give you a play-by-play of Leah’s 2nd birthday!! (Also known as, how a 2 year old refuses to stick to your perfect plan for the day….)

Friday Night
After a fun date night we come home and decorate the dining room with a bunch of Minnie Mouse decorations I picked up at Party City earlier this week. Leah is all about Minnie (and Mickey) these days, so I’m envisioning squeals of utter delight as she happily gazes upon her mother’s hard work. I’m excited.

Saturday Morning-6:45 am:
We wake to the sound of Leah calling for “daaaa-DDDY!” and Lucy whining from her crate. Apparently neither one of them wanted to sleep in. Or maybe Leah was just too excited for her big day? Who knows. Brett and I usually play the “who is going to get out out of bed first” game when it comes to getting Leah on a weekend morning, but today we both bound out of bed to go wish our girl a happy birthday. Brett goes out into the kitchen so he can see Leah’s reaction when she sees the dining room decorations for the first time. I may be a BIT too over-enthusiastic for 6:45 am (Leah is NOT a morning person) and, upon seeing the birthday decor and hearing her mother’s (way too loud) excited squeals of glee, Leah gives the room a half hearted glance and buries her head in my neck.

7 am:
Although we decided on a special birthday waffles, Leah insists on her daily Cheerios first thing. This girl likes her routine.

The smile starts to come on her face, especially when she sees her special birthday princess crown!! Mommy makes the waffles while daddy takes out Lucy. I pour the batter into the waffle iron and wonder to myself why the mix looked a little funny….5 minutes later when I go to take the waffle out, I sigh when I realize that the “waffle” is as flat as a pancake and as hard as a rock. Brett points out that I forgot the egg. Whoops. Blame the pregnancy brain? Or the fact that it’s too early to think on a Saturday morning. Brett takes over, waffle making round 2.

9 am:
We start getting ready for Leah’s big birthday adventure at the splash park! This place is very cool, but we actually haven’t made it inside in the 3 1/2 years we’ve lived here. So we figured Leah’s 2nd birthday would be the perfect time to try it out! We get our suits on and Leah follows me around asking “Pool? Let’s go!!” while I try and ready our packed lunch. 

9:30 am-1:30 pm:
We get inside the park! One of the perks to being up at 6:45 am is that we are pretty much the first family to arrive as the splash park doors open at 9:30 am. Leah takes it all in and I can tell that she is excited, but cautious. This kids is the definition of “slow to warm” so I know it’s going to be an ordeal, inching into the water bit by bit, before she finally gives in and realizes how awesome this place is.

Luckily, it doesn’t take long before she jumps right in and is soon running between the smaller kiddie pool and the much larger “big kid” section. At first Brett and I both stay with her, walking from section to section, but it’s hot and I’m pregnant, and it gets (let’s be honest) a little boring so we quickly resolve to the old switch off and one of us lounges in the shade while the other runs after the little swimmer before switching off. Also, tangent side note, only in south FL do you see moms of young children at the splash park in THONGS. Seriously ladies…not okay.

We have a blast (that water slide above really was fast and a lot of fun!! Leah remained unsure, but mommy loved it…) and it’s apparent around 1:30 that the birthday girl is more than ready for a nap. We drag a crying, hot, exhausted child from the park.

2-4 pm:
After a super quick bath Leah is down for a long, much needed birthday nap. Mommy’s quick to follow.

4 pm:
Leah wakes up in an excellent birthday mood. (Said sarcastically) She decides that pants are the devil and that no one is allowed to touch her, but mommy. Whenever I remind her that she needs to be polite she snarkily responds with a “MY birthday!” as if this excuses her from all rude behavior. And, in a 2 year old’s mind, I guess it does. We quickly decide that a pants-less viewing of her favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is in order.

That decision quickly earned a smile.

5-9 pm:
Party time!! I get Leah’s favorite pizza for dinner, only to be told by the birthday girl that pizza is poison and that she would only like yogurt for dinner, thank you very much. Oooookay, when it’s your birthday, why not?

After dinner we opened presents via Skype with both sets of grandparents and my sister and her family. It cracks me up that this kid will never know anything different than the power of video chat. It amazes me that we have the capability of having her grandparents, some 15 hours away, watch her open her birthday gifts. And Leah LOVED it, so it was super fun to watch her open the gift, kiss whoever was on the screen before excitedly exclaiming, “What’s next?!”

^^The winning gift of the day: Her new baby from my sister and family. Like I’ve said, Leah LOVES babies and this one came with 2 bottles, baby food, a bib and a binkie! What more can you want!? It’s safe to say that this baby has not been without Leah (day and night) since she was opened.

^^”I Two!”

We had her open her last gift after cake since I knew she would want to watch it right away. As she gets older, I’m excited to start her classic Disney collection so we started it off with The Little Mermaid. Leah was THRILLED to see Ariel as she opened the gift and we ended the night with a cozy family snuggle on the couch (with baby too, of course) to watch The Little Mermaid!

And with that, our day was brought to a close. It might not have gone as perfectly planned as I would have liked, but all in all, it was a great day to celebrate 2 years with this amazing girl. Happy Birthday, Leah Grace! Mommy and Daddy love you to the moon and back!

Leah’s (almost) 2 year old photo shoot.

It hit me the other day that Leah is almost TWO! It boggles my mind how fast time is flying by because in my mind, she’s still this itty bitty baby. As I was pondering about how big my child is getting, it hit me how few real photos we have of Leah. Don’t get me wrong, Brett and I combined probably have well over 3,000 photos of Leah, taken during the first (almost)two years of life, but 95% of those photos are taken by our Iphones. And as nice, and convenient, as it is to always have a camera on your phone to snap an impromptu photo, it’s also a shame because having that convenience means that we pull out our “real” camera a lot less often. So, with that thought, I bugged reminded Brett a million times to make sure he brought his real camera to the island over the weekend so we could do a little photo shoot with Leah on the beach. And our little model gave us well over a hundred adorable shots and I seriously love them all. So, with that, I give you way more photos than you probably ever wanted to see from Leah’s (almost) two year old photo shoot. Grandparents, if you have favorites let me know and I would be happy to send you some prints!

Father’s Day Weekend

We headed up to the island last weekend to celebrate Father’s Day with the whole Becker clan.. It was funny because a few months ago Brett’s sister Lauren texted us and asked if she and her fiance, Jessup, could come down to FL for the weekend to visit. We, of course, said “sure!” and were excited to have a weekend to get to know the (soon to be!) new member of the Becker family. Well, then Brett’s father and brother realized that they could plan a FL business trip for the week following Father’s Day, so they, along with Brett’s mom and Brett’s brother’s wife, decided to all head down to FL for a fun family filled weekend at one of our favorite destinations! My sister-in-law and her husband are also expecting a new baby, just one month before us! It was fun getting to see them and having some good pregnant/baby talk with my sister-in-law. 🙂

The weather started off iffy. The beginning of summer in South Florida brings rain and thunderstorms everyday and, looking at the weather forecast for the weekend, I was a bit worried that we would be losing our beach weekend, but the weather turned out fine! Sunny and warm, with a great breeze, during the day and amazing thunderstorms in the evening/night. Saturday night we all sat on the back patio and watched one of the most intense thunderstorms I have EVER seen! It’s insane to watch storms right on the beach because you can look out over the ocean and see the rain coming down in sheets. The storm brought some crazy lightning and some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard. We even witnessed lightning strike the sand right in front of the condo! Surprisingly, Leah sat on my lap through most of the storm, content as long as I was there to give her a snuggle, but at some point the thunder got crazy loud (which resulted in a few involuntary screams) and she finally decided that she had had enough storm watching.

We brought Lucy with us and she had a blast seeing everyone! My brother and sister-in-law are the ones who gave us Lucy to begin with (they have 2 goldens who had 9 puppies!) and it was like a family reunion with them! We brought her to the beach on Saturday and it was so much fun watching her run around the beach and play in the sand. She liked the water, but wasn’t too sure about the loud waves so we had to carry her past the wake and then let her swim in. Some pictures from our time on the beach:

15 weeks!

Leah reading with Lucy once we got back inside. These two have the sweetest relationship!!

Sunday we went out to lunch to celebrate Father’s Day. Although I missed my own father on this special day, it was great being able to celebrate with my amazing husband and father-in-law! After lunch we had a fun little family photo shoot with the couples (Although we seem to have missed taking a picture of Lauren and her fiance Jessup!)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend! We are off to North Carolina on Thursday to see (almost) my entire family and I am so excited (and I’ll be honest, I may be MOST excited to hug my squishy niece, Milly!) I will be back with, I’m sure, a ton of pictures!