I really need a selfie stick.
+ Your morning pep talks with yourself. “Boungiorno!”
+ The way you seemed to be lost at sea, just staring out into the waves. Totally at peace.
+ Your back rubs.
+ The way your hand feels in mine.
+ How much you hate getting your hair cut.
+ How much you still love peanut butter. All day, every day.
+ Your pushups, squats, and baby yoga.
+ The way you look when you are sleeping.
+ Requests for “Mama Papa Bed” at night, and when the answer is no, your insistence that I at least lay in your crib for a while.
+ When you find a stuffed animal you haven’t seen in a while and you squeeze the stuffing right out of it.
+ “Okay Mama???” if I sigh, or close my eyes, or sniff.
+ How hard you love.
+ How stubborn you are.
+ The way you look up at the ceiling or the sky when a stranger talks to you.
+ “Nice to meetu!”
+ The way you feel too big to cuddle up in my lap at bedtime, but you curl up just perfectly and fit right in.
+ The giant clapping I saw as I rounded the corner to the finish line.
+ Your jumping. You worked so hard on it, and you finally nailed it bud.
+ Your focus. You can focus on a toy for longer than I ever expect.
+ Books. All the books. You love reading.
+ “Up to Mama!” and then the way you settle into my arms for a split second before you start leaning every which way.
+ Playing with your hair.
+ When you “clap” your face.
+ This time of parenting when we’re learning how to discipline, learning how to give you space, learning how to let you figure things out on your own, learning to let you be you, but still staying close and holding on when we need to.
White boys can jump, and will do so as their primary mode of transportation when the mood strikes them.
PS Sorry about the radio silence! We hopped a plane (and a shuttle, and a bus, and another bus) to Positano last week to celebrate our fifth anniversary. It was a week spent doing nothing but collecting sea glass and listening to the waves. We also ate a lot of pizza. I promise to make up for my absence with an inordinate amount of vacation photos as soon as I have them all edited and organized. XO
Last week I had a few requests to share Harry’s favorite books, so today I’m over at The Wise Baby with the current list of favorites. Feel free to head over there and check it out!
Here’s a little peek into five minutes in Harry’s room. This particular day, we played with The Guys, pulled out every single puzzle on the shelf, played a little Do a Deer on the piano, and read some of the favorite books. It actually all started because I spotted him reading Goodnight Moon from the hallway and needed a picture of it. This kid. He’s the best.
A cold has been ripping through our house over the last week. Jon brought it home and then handed it off to Harry, and then one of my boys gave it to me. Then Jon promptly left for a four day trip, leaving sick Mama and Harry behind.
When Harry is sick, it doesn’t really slow him down much, it just makes him a little more cuddly and clingy than normal. So bedtime takes a little longer as we draw out the bath and the lotion and the books and the singing and the back rubs. But the other night, after a very rough after-bath time (let’s just say it’s the hardest thing in the world to look at your baby who is crying his little heart out and asking to sleep in Mama’s bed and say no), Harry requested that I get in his crib with him. I couldn’t say no to another request that night, so I climbed in and laid down next to my boy.
The second I cuddled up next to him, he grabbed my hand and held on to it with all the strength he possessed, sleepy as he was. We laid there, foreheads touching, holding hands, for a long time, talking about our day, about his Papa, singing songs, and just listening to each other breath. Harry’s grip never wavered, worried that I would get up and leave his tiny crib for my own queen size bed.
One day he won’t sleep in that crib anymore. One day he won’t need his mom to lay next to him while he falls asleep. One day he won’t want to hold my hand. But today, while he still does, I’ll put aside any chore, any email, any book to lay next to my sweet boy, holding hands, while he drifts off to sleep.
Every time I post a picture on Instagram of Harry galavanting around on vacation, I get someone asking how we do it. How we vacation with Harry and still have fun. I’ve actually discussed this over at The Wise Baby before, but I’ve only focused on the beautiful vacation pictures with smiles on every face on the blog before now! So here you go people, eight of my best tips (pay special attention to number 8!).
Change your expectations. Notice I didn’t say “lower your expectations.” Your whole life had to change when you had that babe, so why wouldn’t your vacations change a little bit too? Instead of spending all day walking around a museum, you might need to throw in a few breaks to a nearby park for running and jumping. Instead of sleeping in and then regretting it when you realize you just wasted half of your vacation morning in the hotel bed, enjoy waking up early with your kid and get an early start on the day (and avoid the crowds!). Just because your vacation is going to look a little different than it did sans kids, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Just make sure you go into vacation realizing you’re going to have to follow your kids lead from time to time.
Push the rules, just a little bit. I am a stickler for bedtime, and a bedtime routine (bath, books, singing, bed). But on vacation, I push it a bit further than normal. Harry stays up pretty much as late as he wants to, we often skip baths, we eat waaay different than at home… basically, routines and rules are great and all that, but when you’re on vacation, it’s okay to go a little off the crazy side of the line. Just keep it a little under control for everyones sanity.
Know thy child. Seriously, there isn’t a person on this planet who knows your kid better than you do (unless maybe it’s the other parent) so read him! When Harry is having fun running around the big town square with his croissant, I let him do it. We find a quiet spot on the edge of the square and relax while he kills some energy. When I see that look in his eye, you know the one, I know we need to take it easy, probably go to a quieter spot, and distract him with something familiar (books do this wonderfully). You know when you can push your child a little outside of his comfort zone and when it’s best to pull back a little bit – just listen to yourself!
Stay somewhere cool. Hotel rooms are great, but even better are apartments with a separate bedroom (or two!) and living area. That way, when he does fall asleep at 9 PM, you are not tip toeing around the hotel room whispering and pressing your ear to the TV. You can sit out on the balcony or in the living room and be as loud as you would be at home. Airbnb and Kid & Coe are great sources for family friendly rentals (we’ve booked through Airbnb three times this year!).
Take advantage of naps. Whether that means you take a little well deserved rest too, sneak in a romantic lunch with your third wheel sleeping in his stroller, or fit in some work (homework for Jon), just don’t waste those naps. We’ve sat down for lunch or an early dinner, we’ve caught a few winks, we’ve even read and watched a movie during vacation naps. The same concept applies for bedtime – it may be a little controversial, but put that baby in his stroller at bedtime, walk around until he falls asleep, then grab a romantic dinner at a cafe that will seat two and a stroller. (Just remember to check if your nap time activity allows strollers!)
Pack smartly. Some things you can buy when you get there (diapers) so you don’t have to waste suitcase space. Some things you might not really need for a week long getaway (all the books on the shelf – three or four favorites will do). Some things you can borrow, depending on where you are going (a pack and play from your hosts, a stroller from a friend, a car seat from the rental car company). And some things are too important to forget (favorite stuffed animals, small bath toys, noise machine and/or monitor. Think about how you will be living for the next week and what will be necessary and what won’t. Only pack the essentials, because carrying that kid through the airport is already enough extra weight.
Remember it’s his vacation too. Yes, I say push it, but when you kid needs a nap in a bed, give him a nap in a bed. If he needs vegetables for dinner to counteract the sugar high from all the treats, make sure to go somewhere you can get that. Don’t eat at a fancy restaurant every night – grab a picnic dinner and head to the park. Make it fun for your kid, and it will be so much more fun for you.
And finally, just do it. Sure, it might be harder to bring your kid on vacation. But it’s so worth it. He may never remember his trip to Amsterdam but we had so much fun riding around the canals on the “green! bicycles!” with him. Seeing the world through your kids eyes is always the best, so why wouldn’t you want to see vacation through his eyes? There will be melt downs, there will be accidents, there will be exhaustion, but there will also be relaxation, laughter, and amazing memories made. Just take your kid on vacation with you – you’ll figure it all out. I promise.
PS see some more of my tips for traveling with kids (more specifically babies) here.
Let me tell you. Germany is a beautiful country. It has surprised me in so many ways, and I can’t believe we’re lucky enough to call it home. But one of the best parts about living here? It’s central location. You can hop in your car and five hours later you’re munching on Pain au Chocolat and wandering around Marie Antoinette’s bedroom.
The first trip we took when we got here was to Versailles, and man I loved it! It was all very last minute, we booked our hotel using free WIFI at a cafe with a view of The Palace. We didn’t read any guide books or talk to anyone who had been there. But it was amazing. And I don’t think I ever realized how high up on my list of things to see before I die The Palace of Versailles is until I crossed it off. Though I will say this, I’m already planning a return visit with a grandparent because I would love to have a few more hours than our littlest travelers attention span would allow for to explore The Palace. Oy, it’s beautiful.
(Parenting Tip: Strollers are not allowed inside of The Palace of Versailles! We planned our day to explore the jardin while Harry was up and running around and then head inside to tour when he napped, but ended up waking him up when they took our stroller from us! My makeshift carrier from my scarf wasn’t cutting it and 30 minutes of grumpy, missed my nap Harry ensued. So plan accordingly (and bring a good carrier!))
PS I always get questions about vacationing with toddlers/babies. Tomorrow I’ll put together a list of all my tips + tricks! We love vacationing with Harry!
Have you ever dreamed about writing a children’s book? I think about it all the time. I’ve “written” a few with Harry when he needs a little entertainment.
I have an infatuation with good kids books. Something about the illustrations paired with the childish humor, and the quick, short sentences… I love them. So imagine the glee I find in the dozens (literally) of books Harry brings me to read throughout the day. The kid loves his books – they are his favorite toys (maybe tied with The Guys). This is not an uncommon sight to find upon walking into a room, and I don’t think I could love it anymore.