Monday, January 11, 2016

Fall & Winter update {The Rest of 2015}

At this point, Fall 2015 seems like a lifetime ago.  The end of the year flew by for us and by the time the holidays arrived, we had an 18 month old on our hands.
We kicked off Fall with a trip to the pumpkin patch with our friends the Vadas's.  It was a cute farm with a few animals, a play area, hay bails and, of course pumpkins.  The Vadas's also invited us over for Halloween night.  They live in a popular neighborhood for trick-or-treating and since it's probably the last year we can get by without going trick-or-treating ourselves, it was fun to be able to see all the other kiddos coming by.  I made Sydney and owl costume, but wasn't organized enough to make costumes for Brian and I.  She still wears her owl hat and always says "whoo whoo" when she see it.
A little pumpkin for our little pumpkin
August & Sydney having a chat on the hay bails
family photo
Well, this is fun
Getting ready

August dressed up as a horse.  Apparently horses and owls don't get along...
We had some fighting over the pumpkin decorations
 Happy Halloween
We stayed local for Thanksgiving, spending it with most of the Lederman's and most of the Davison's.  Sydney had fun playing with her cousins, and spent most of the evening taking off, and putting on a beaded necklace.  It was nice to see her being girly amongst all her boy cousins!
The cutest dress made by MarMe
Loved that necklace
She really liked Bama's famous spinach balls
Soon after Thanksgiving, we went to Adina's for the first night of Hanukkah.  It was a last minute get together, but you would have never guessed from the meal that Adina and Sean served. Brian and Danielle couldn't make it, so the kids outnumbered the adults - which made for a semi-chaotic dinner.  Sydney got her very own water bottle for her first Hanukkah gift, and would not let it go all night. She must have drank at least 10 oz of water.
We officially celebrated Hanukkah with all of the Lederman's on a Sunday in Santa Rosa.  We had Brian's company party on Saturday night, so we sent Sydney with Adina, Sean and Billy that morning and drove up after Brian's party so we would be there with the family on Sunday.  Sydney had a blast hanging out with Billy, Bama and Papa and we enjoyed a day & evening kid free.
Mike and the boys lighting the candles
Sydney sharing some of her water with her buddy Billy
All the cousins
We clean up well
Billy & Sydney at the park
entertainment for hours
I love this one of Billy
Onto Christmas.  Sydney and I went to visit Santa in California before heading up to Portland for the big day.  The Santa visit went as well as I expected - you'll see in the photo. She is really in a stranger danger phase and it takes her a long time to warm up to anyone, even if she knows them (except me and Brian, obviously - and Ceci at daycare). 
We spend almost a week in Portland for Christmas.  MarMe and Grandpa Bill completely spoiled Sydney.  MarMe pulled out all the old toys she saved and had stuff all around the house for Sydney to look at and play with - she was completely entertained.  Aunt Jenn was also home in Portland and got to spend some time playing with Sydney and watching her new antics.  Santa also spoiled Sydney with some fun new toys and clothes, lucky girl.
We always enjoy seeing our friends up in Portland, both time with the kiddos and without.  While we can never see everyone, we did our best to balance our time between friends and family and really enjoyed our time up there.
Classic!  I love that Santa was in good humor.
When we walked in, he said "she looks like a crier"
This went a little better
Due to a really, really early morning flight,
I got spoiled with a nap in my arms - lucky mama

MarMe hung the advent calendar low, so Sydney could help put the last ones on
Showing off her belly
Our best attempt with Aunt Jenn
Looking like a big girl with MarMe & Grandpa
Helping MarMe make aebleskiver
MarMe even made Sydney an apron to wear in Portland
sliding with Aunt Jenn
and with Grandpa Billy
Grandpa earned some good cuddles this trip
story time with Grandpa
And to ring in the New Year we had a few friends over to our place for a dinner party.  The Bukata's came from Mill Valley with their 4 month old and spend the night, and the Vadas's joined us for dinner.  We were so excited to host a dinner party.  Brian put together an incredibly delicious feat, we popped some bubbly and of course I made a few decorations.
The New Years table
Happy 2016
If that wasn't enough, we squeezed a lot more the last 3 months of the year, so I have to share some more photos.  I met my colleagues and their kids at the Academy of Sciences, Brian and I took Sydney to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, we took many trips to the park, played with cousin Billy and had a lot of fun around the house.  My office was shut down between Christmas and New Years and the way the holidays fell this year, it was a nice, long break.  I had such a good time with Sydney, she is so much fun right now. 
Helping Dada make pancakes
This is so much fun
Loves the park

First trip to the zoo!
Looking super cute
Bay Area Discovery Museum - she had a blast in the Tot room
Watching the bubbles

Mama's vest!
Silly girl
fascinated by the aquarium at the Academy of Sciences

spoiled with post nap cuddles
entertaining herself at the grocery store
(she is laughing - not throwing a fit)
Thanks Aunt Jenn for the cute outfit
Big news: we took away Sydney's pacifier
We went cold turkey and she wasn't phased by it at all
I was blown away
Since we took it away, we started giving her "little bear" or Paddington to go to bed with
She loves him and I have a feeling this is going to be her "lovey"
What a year it was.  We are so grateful for our family, for our families and our friends.  We are really starting to feel at home in Walnut Creek and are always dreaming big of what we want to do with our house.  We are amazed  everyday by Sydney and how she is growing and learning and becoming a full blown toddler.  We just love her to pieces.
We have a lot to look forward to in 2016 and I can hardly believe that as I write this, we are already in the second week of January.  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Europe with a 14 Month Old {October 2015}

Some people thought we were crazy, and there were moments that we thought we were crazy too.  We planned a 10 day, 3 country trip to Europe with our 14 month old.  And we only took carry on luggage.  Turns out, we had a great time.  I'm not saying it was flawless and without any challenges, but at the end of the trip, we both agreed without hesitation, we would do it again.
Sightseeing in London
We started our trip in London, staying 4 nights with some good friends.  Then took the Eurostar to Paris for 2 nights where we met up with friends from Dublin.  And ended our trip in Amsterdam, staying 4 nights with another good friend.

There were two really hard parts about traveling with a 14 month old.  First, she is active.  She couldn't just sit in a stroller all day, so we had to take a lot of breaks & make a lot of stops to let her get out of her stroller and run around.  Either at parks, in squares, or courtyards.  That said, she was such a trooper the whole time and took all her naps in her stroller.  Second, her comprehension, or lack there of.  We moved around a lot, and our days weren't consistent at all.  That can be really hard on little ones.  At 14 months, we could tell Sydney we would be sleeping somewhere new, or getting on a train for a while, or we would let her run around right after we finish our lunch, but she just wouldn't understand.  I assume this made the trip a little stressful for her.  But, she also spent 10 straight days with Mama & Dada by her side, so I hope that made it a little easier on her.  Jet lag was also a challenge, but more of an expected challenge, I'll talk about that later. 
Playing in Amsterdam
Here is how it all went down.

We took a red eye flight from San Francisco to London.  The flight left at 7:30pm, and Sydney's bedtime is 7, so we figured she would sleep most of the flight.  If traveling with a "lap infant", you can request a bassinet and get upgraded to the bulkhead for free - score!   Was it possible that with the bassinet, Sydney would just lay down and fall asleep for us?  Nope.  With all the people, lights, noises, there was no way she was just going to fall asleep.  Plus the bassinet was too small for her.  After things settled down and the dinner was cleared, we got out the Ergo, strapped her in and walked up and down the aisle until she finally fell asleep around 10:30pm.  She slept restlessly for the duration of the flight.  For a few hours on me in the ergo, then we were able to squeeze her in the bassinet for a few hours too.  
Getting ready to board
We arrived in London in the afternoon of the following day.  Customs wasn't too bad for Heathrow - and we even got pulled to the front of the line at one point.  See, there are some perks to traveling with an infant.  We hired a car, with carseat, to drive us to our good friend Todd & Lauren's in Primrose Hill.  The driver was waiting when we cleared customs, and we were off.  Sydney didn't make a peep the entire hour drive.

We had the warmest welcome from Todd & Lauren.  I mean seriously, talk about making someone feel right at home.
Such a sweet welcome after a long night/day of travel
A few days later, Sydney got her hands on the sign
The first day, Todd & Lauren had to work, so Brian, Sydney and I headed into town.  We had a small bucket list of things to do.  Lunch at Tonkatsu Ramen in Soho, swing by my old office to see some colleagues, grab a tea at Pret a Manger, and cruise through the impressionist wing at the National Gallery.
First tube ride
Taking a break at the British Museum courtyard - chasing pigeons
playing in the park
That night, Lauren arranged a babysitter for us, so the adults could go out for dinner & drinks.  We went to an amazing restaurant Lyle in Shoreditch.  It was so nice to have a night out, and Sydney did great for the babysitter.
Drinks before our night out!
Let's pause here to talk about jet lag.  I was really optimistic that with the reduced amount of sleep on the flight over, that we would all just beat jet lag and not have anything to discuss.  Wrong.  The first 4 nights of the trip she was ready for bed around a normal time, 7-7:30pm, so we put her down.  All seemed great, until she woke up between 11pm/12am and stayed awake until 2am/4am.  Wide awake.  Like, running around, laughing, eating breakfast, playing - we even gave her a bath one night during this time.  It both sucked and wasn't that bad at the same time.  Since we had been to London many, many times before, we didn't have anything specific planned, so we just slept in, took our time and enjoyed our day.  We still got enough sleep, just with a looooong break in the middle.  Every night we went to bed we were just hopeful it would be the end of it.  We tried to take turns being up with her, but it was hard for the other one to fall back asleep.  We were pretty defeated, thinking that the entire trip might be like this.  We didn't know what to do.  Finally, when we got to Paris, we decided to just keep her up later with us and hope she would sleep.  And it worked, thank goodness.

The rest of the time in London was great.  Todd & Lauren took us to an amazing, hole-in-the-wall famous, fish & chips joint.  Sydney loved it, we all did.  We hit up an amazing street market, where I ran into my pal Shannon & her sis Maggie (we were going to try and meet up & just happened to be at the same market that morning), followed by a mini pub crawl of some small, local breweries. 
local Primrose Hill pub
The whole gang sampling some local brews on Beer Mile
We also spent some time checking out Primrose Hill, which is a super cool neighborhood on the North side of Regents Park.  It was really family friendly and very cute.  We cruised their weekend market, spent time in the park watching the dogs - Sydney loved pointing at them and saying woof-woof to all of them, hung around the local playground, and of course a few of the pubs.
Primrose Hill playground break
Sunday roast at Todd & Laurens favorite local pub
Full group shot in front of the pub - we met up with some other friends that
recently moved from SF to London
We wrapped up our time in London with some sightseeing and a night in with an incredible home cooked meal from Todd.  We had a great time, and are so thankful for Todd & Lauren for opening up their flat and making us feel right at home, even with our jet lagged 14 month old.
London Eye
Big Ben
You can see London Eye in the back
We took an early morning train from London to Paris and met our friend Dana & Iain and their 6 month old, Ella, in Paris.  We shared an Airbnb near St. Germain that was on the top floor up a ridiculous amount of uneven, skinny, tilted, windy stairs.  It would have been tough without kids, but once you got there, the place was just fine.
Admiring the view
Sydney didn't nap on the train, so when we got to Paris, she passed out in the stroller.  Turns out, that was perfect.  We met up with the Drummonds, and headed to an awesome cafe for lunch.  Sydney slept in her stroller the whole time.  After lunch, we went to Luxembourg Gardens.  None of us had been before, and the kiddos needed some space to stretch out and run around.  It was beautiful.
The whole gang at Luxemboug Gardens
We spent the rest of our time in Paris having cafe's, visiting the Musee d'Orsay, riding a carousel, running around parks and walking along the Seine enjoying the beautiful city.  It was so fun to spend a few days with Dana & Iain and getting to know sweet, happy Ella better.
It's true, compared to London and Amsterdam, Paris is not very kid friendly.  We didn't see a single highchair, and Sydney didn't get the sweet smiles or comments from strangers that she got on the rest of the trip, but we were still enjoyed ourselves.. 
See the original of the painting we have in our family room
Musee d'Orsay
Taking a break with Ella
Running around the park with Dada
Being Silly by Notre Dame
First carousel ride
For Ella too!

Enjoying French cuisine - pounding a quiche
Family photo on the Seine
Beautiful Paris
Hanging on the "Midnight in Paris" steps
time for some fun
And look was teeter-tottering with us!
That shall, come on

shopping in the Marais
One last stroll through the park
After a few quick nights in Paris, we were back on a train and on our way to finish off our trip with our friend Linda in Amsterdam.  It was a perfect way to end our trip.  Linda lives in a big, beautiful flat in one of the coolest parts of Amsterdam.  She is the most gracious host, and even had some fun toys for Sydney to play with.
We spent our days walking around, admiring the canals and neighborhoods.  We did some shopping, went to the markets and the Rijksmuseum, which was closed the last time we were there.  My highlight of Amsterdam was our pancake breakfast - traditional dutch pancakes are delish.  Sydney's Amsterdam highlight was playing Linda's piano.  She loved it, and loved listening to Linda play.  We may have a budding musician on our hands.  Brian's highlight was seeing Sydney so happy running up and down Linda's long hallway.  Oh, and the sausage at the markets, which was so good, we brought some home with  us.
We stopped for coffee one afternoon and Linda ordered Sydney a "babycinno" which is actually a thing - it's a tiny little cup with luke warm steamed milk and a few sprinkles on top, made for babies and kids.
Linda also arranged a babysitter one night, so we were able to get out for a night.  We had an amazing meal at a super cool restaurant in her neighborhood, and finished the night off with a nightcap at a trendy hotel.
Family shot
it's beautiful, even with a little rain
playing piano with Linda
the best family shot on the canal that we got
enjoying a fresh stroopwafle & hot cocoa
Not a lot. We ended up boarding the plane with 2 duffle bags - Brian wore one on his back and carried the other.  I had a small dayback backpack, my longchamp (which is my diper bag), an umbrella stroller & baby.  We purchased a few things specifically for the trip - our Summer Infant 3d Lite Stroller.  We picked this one because it was it was lightweight, it reclined (we knew there would be lot's of naps taken in the stroller) and it was reasonably priced (this is our 3rd stroller we own...).  We also bought a rain cover that would fit over this stroller.  We weren't sure what the weather would be like but mid-october in Europe, it was likely we would get some rain.  We used it once, in Amsterdam.

The other big items we packed for Sydney were, our Lobster High Chair.  Amazing.  Since we stayed with friends and in an Airbnb, it was so nice for Sydney to have a seat she could sit in and couldn't climb out of.  The Ergo carrier.  We debated on packing this - would we use it?  She is too heavy to carry around all day/wouldn't be happy that confined.  Turns out, we used it in several vital instances when trying to get her to sleep on planes and trains, so we were really happy to have it.

We knew we would be able to do laundry so we packed about 4 tops and 2 bottoms for each of us (a few more for Sydney), and brought along coats and hats too.  

We brought 3 of Sydeny's favorite board books (Hand, hand, fingers thumb, goodnight moon, your baby's' first word will be Dada), and just a few toys.  I put some expired cards, and used gift cards in an old wallet for her.  We brought her favorite stacking cups and I bought one of those books that you "paint" with water.  She had no interest in the book but loved taking out and putting the "paint brush" back in the front of the book, go figure.  And, don't judge, in one of our desperate nights when we just wanted her to calm down and sit still, I bought her an iPhone game - Peekaboo Barn.  She was obsessed, and it was actually nice to buy us some extra time at cafes/meals.  She has only played it 2 times since we got back.
Up waaaay past her bedtime (it was after midnight) but still
smiling and having fun during our layover in Houston
We had a ridiculously long journey home, a 10 hour flight from Amsterdam to Houston - then a long layover and another 4 hour flight home.  Sydney did great, but kept us on our feet basically the full 10 hour flight.  She finally crashed on the 2nd flight and fell asleep easily when we finally made it home. Lucky for us, she totally beat jetlag on the way home and we had an easy transition back to our normal routine.
Our little peanut already has 3 stamps in her passport.  We hope we can help her experience more of the world in the coming years and get her many more stamps along the way.