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Kansas City Vacation

I have no idea where to even begin! I guess by saying… in the girls eyes the vacation was amazingly fun… in my eyes, it was very stressful! I’m beginning to think that the key to lifelong happiness is to see life through the eyes of a child. Everything is wonderful and fun to my girls! But, as a friend told me…

Traveling with toddlers is a trip, not a vacation!

We left home last Monday and stopped at the zoo in Des Moines on the way to Kansas City. It was really just a way to break up the day for the girls. The DM zoo was surprisingly good, considering it’s in Iowa! We skipped naps that day though and didn’t get to our rental house until after 6pm though… so obviously the girls, especially Nora, were cranky. Actually, skipping naps and cranky girls was the overall theme for the week.

On past trips we really tried to adhere to a nap schedule. But we found it broke up the days too much and really just made us feel like most of our time was wasted in our hotel. Now I realize naps were smart. But thus, I digress.

The days are all running together in my mind now, but in addition to the zoo in Des Moines we also went to the Kansas City Zoo, the aquarium, Science City, Lego Land, a mall, and lots of boring restaurants. I say boring restaurants because clearly we’re not brave enough to take two (overly tired by 5pm) toddlers to fancy establishments! Well, we actually did go to a somewhat fancy Italian restaurant one night, but learned our lesson. There was some smiling at dinner before the meltdowns though!

Eating at a not so fancy restaurant…

LEGO Land was one of the girls’ favorite places. And OMG, did you know it’s someone’s job to just build huge Lego sculptures?? What major should I have picked for that profession??

The day we went to the zoo in Kansas City was beautiful. The weather was just perfect, about 65 and sunny! I know the girls had fun, but honestly, zoos are always my favorite. I’m amazed at the creatures! The Des Moines zoo actually had five month-old lion cubs. Talk about adorable! And huge! I especially liked how they climbed on mama and she literally threw them off across the park. I won’t be adding that to my parenting skills anytime soon, but it was certainly interesting to see. The pictures below are from our zoo adventures. Obviously taken before Nora lost her binkie and had the mother of all meltdowns. Yes, it was one of those moments when you feel like thousands of people are staring at you and judging your parenting skills. Probably because they were. It was awful. Another day with no naps though, we should have known better.

We did spend a few hours one afternoon at your typical bigger city mall. I was desperately looking for outfits for Nora’s three year-old pictures, and did find one dress. In the process though, Nora insisted I carry her on my back. And of course I’d only brought the waterproof carrier, which has zero padding!

We didn’t spend much time, other than sleeping, at our rental house. And let me say, I would not do that again based on this experience. Separate post needed for that. Maybe a book. At least a chapter. But again, in the girls’ eyes, it was perfect and fun and special. Eric was brave enough to get down on the floor for playtime with the girls… Not so much for me.

Thursday night as I was putting Nora to bed, the night before her 3rd birthday, I got a bit emotional. I know I bitch and moan and complain a lot, about how hard parenting can be… because let’s face it, it is hard. But it’s also wonderfully special, and priceless, and timeless… So often I want to speed up the days or weeks or years, thinking life will be easier if the girls were older. But honestly, who the heck knows if that’s true. All we really know is it will be different, and nothing, no amount of wishing or praying will bring back the past. We must make the best of the hard times and cherish the good, making memories of both along the way. As Nora and I were snuggling in her travel bed that evening, after finishing reading together, I snapped a bunch of pictures of her and I, hoping to always remember the moment. Here is one of those…

Looking back on our week, I think five days/four nights was too long. Friday of the week was Nora’s actual birthday, and honestly, it was probably the hardest day for all of us. We were tired, sick of being away from home, sick of the car, etc. Again, we celebrated Nora’s birthday for about six days straight, so to her, Friday was fine, and her birthday overall was wonderful, but for me, it was disappointing. I think sometimes I just want everything to be perfect and special, as I somehow connect that with showing my children how much I love them. And since Friday didn’t live up to my special and perfect expectations, I was a little sad. We did start the day with special cupcakes from a cute shop in Kansas City. And of course, Nora only took maybe two licks of the frosting and was finished!

Check-out of the rental was noon, so we had to get up and be on our way shortly after cupcakes… And on our way meant the five-hour drive home. Four hours in the girls were sick of their car seats, and even sicker of traveling, being the God-forsaken DVD player on our van picked that day to stop working. (Remember how every single thing on that new van has broken??) Anyway, we were hungry and tired and needed out of the car, so where did we stop for dinner on her actual birthday? A restaurant connected to a gas station. It seriously doesn’t get any fancier than that. But… the workers were the nicest most amazing people I’ve ever met in my entire life. They got the entire crew, cooks and all, to sick Happy Birthday to Nora with ice cream and candles. She was smiling from ear to ear!

All in all, a good week. A test for Eric’s and my parenting skills, but I think we passed, for the most part. I know we will travel again, and more often in the future, but honestly, I’m in no hurry to pack up and go anywhere anytime soon!

Oh, and that travel toddler bed… Nora did AMAZING in it. She never once tried to escape its boundaries. Seriously, never came out the of the strange bedroom we stuck her in at the rental house. When we got home we figured she did so well we’d convert her crib to a toddler bed. And again, she’s been doing awesome, no different from when it was a crib. She doesn’t ever get out, waits for us to come get her up in the morning, even if she’s awake before we are. How did I get so lucky?? And does this mean it will be impossible with Nadia??

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Happy Friday!

We made it to another Friday. Eric is on-call this week, and worked late EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I know I should be used to his schedule by now… but I’m not. I still get angry, discouraged, disappointed, overwhelmed, etc. when I hear he’s going to be late. Why is it the girls have to both cry and whine from 5-7pm?? Yesterday Nora and I were playing outside around 4:30pm and I saw several neighbors arrive home, I assume from work. Made me sad that scenario can’t be my reality.

Yesterday Eric was seeing patients at his Ft. Dodge clinic. Now I know this will piss some of you off, but… would I be a good blogger if I didn’t sometimes post controversial stuff? So I’ll just say it. I hate Eric has a clinic there. He is more than busy with his patients in the darn city where we live. I travel to Iowa City all the freaking time to see specialists, as I understand that some surgical specialties aren’t available in smaller cities. (Supply and demand people.) Ft. Dodge is small. Can’t those people travel for their care, just like I do all the freaking time with the girls? Eric going there a few times a month means even less time with him.

Monday is Eric’s birthday, and it sounds like for his gift he wants to spend the weekend away with his dad’s brother and family. I forget where now, but I think it’s a 3-4 hour drive from us. His uncle has a cabin on a lake and is inviting a bunch of people to stay the weekend. Not my kind of time away, and I have little to no desire to sit in a car with little ones for any length of time. Eric wants to go though, and mentioned this morning he would like to take Nora. Now, I personally think it’s a horrible idea, but I’m not going to tell him no. I just think once he gets there with her he might regret it. Kids out-of-town, overnight, are a lot of work. Plus, he wants to stop on the way back and spend time with some friends in Des Moines that he hasn’t seen in a while. The weekend would be easier for me with just Nadia… Another weekend alone though. I did purchase gifts for Eric, whiskey glasses and an aluminum wallet. Eric is very picky… so we’ll see.

In other news… I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. Am I in my mid-life?? Anyway… You know I still have the idea of opening a coffee shop in the back of my mind… But I have other ideas too. Maybe I have too many ideas. I need to focus and narrow down my options. But how? And are any if these good ideas when I have two little girls? And would like a third child at some point… which would probably be another high-risk pregnancy ending in the birth of a preemie…

  • There is the traditional job avenue. Meaning, what I was doing before I had the girls. I started updating my resume a few weeks ago, but I’m not extremely motivated to get back into boring finance/accounting work… Do you blame me? Also, being we are in the 39% tax bracket, and I pay our sitter $12.50 an hour, I might end up bringing home less than I pay our nanny. Depressing. Yes, something to be said for working and being happy, but still. Plus, the search for jobs in this area hasn’t turned up much. Seems this city is all about labor and manufacturing positions. Which doesn’t surprise me.
  • So new idea… And this might surprise some of you, but what about me opening a salon/spa? I have the business background with my undergrad in Finance and MBA, but I would obviously need the trade schooling. We have a couple of options here in town, my fear though, is that I’d be in classes with 18 year olds. Being 37 and having worked in professional environments, I just have a strange feeling I might be a little out-of-place. Crazy idea? I’m not so sure the idea of doing hair interests me as much as skin care/make-up. And I realize the money isn’t going to come from offering those services myself, but rather from owning the business. I have not mentioned this idea to Eric yet… I wonder what his response will be.
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5th Anniversary

May 19th was our 5th wedding anniversary. And I have to say, as much as I complain about Eric (who doesn’t complain about their spouse daily from time to time?) he really does spoil me. Our wedding ceremony and reception was held at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa, and thus, Eric planned a little get-a-way for us there this past weekend so we could reminisce. We had a sitter planned for the day on Friday, and then my mom came to watch the girls Friday evening and overnight until we got back Saturday afternoon.

We arrived at the casino around noon, grabbed a quick bite to eat at their buffet and then Eric had planned a relaxing afternoon for me at the spa. And it was heavenly. I’m not a huge spa person, in fact I think this was only my second experience ever in life…  I was lucky enough to experience the Aqua Body Polish which is a full body exfoliation and refinement using natural minerals and sea salts followed by the application of custom blended hydrating lotion, leaving your skin soft and polished. Whatever oils they used smelled so good! Then I finished the afternoon with a 60 minute massage which was just as nice! I originally thought I would feel a little awkward, but I didn’t. The girl who performed both my treatments was very nice and explained everything.

After the spa we checked into our room and relaxed a bit before I showered and got pretty for dinner. Eric loves to gamble, so we hit a few table games before our 7pm reservation at Ruthie’s, the steakhouse inside the casino. We both had steaks and all the fixings, even dessert. And I have to say, we were both overly stuffed. I guess there is a reason we rarely order dessert.

After dinner we relaxed in our room for a bit, attempting to digest, and then Eric went back to the casino to gamble. And I went to sleep. And it was glorious! Five years ago I probably would have seen going to bed early as a waste of an evening out. But nope, now I see it as glorious! No baby monitor, no children waking me up! Ten straight hours of sleep! I didn’t even hear Eric come back to our room when he was out of money 🙂

I honestly can’t believe our wedding was five years ago… Five years used to seem like a lifetime, but the years have flown. We have been through so much together. Never did I dream that we’d have two children, both born very early… Those months in the NICU truly tested me and Eric, and with the death of Eric’s father shortly after Nadia’s birth, well, I’m surprised we didn’t fall apart. And moving, Eric finishing residency and starting a new practice… So much stress. Maybe I don’t give us enough credit. The hard times have made us so much stronger as individuals and as a couple. You think you know someone so well on your wedding day… but for us, that was so far from the truth. I continue to learn about and from Eric every single day. I’m so thankful for him, for our girls, and the life we continue to build together. I can’t wait to see what the next five years have in store for us!FullSizeRender 16

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Happy Friday!

It’s Friday ladies. (And gentlemen? Do any men read this?) Eric is on-call again this weekend as his partner is (still) in China. It sucks that Eric’s partners are essentially single. I feel like Eric picks up a lot of extra work because we have kids and they know we are usually in town with no big plans. Pisses me off. Actually, Eric has the week of April 15th off, and I guess maybe we are boring, as I can’t think of what we should do. I’m still afraid to fly with the kids, and driving locations from Iowa are somewhat limited. I was thinking Chicago, or Omaha. There must be things to do in both locations for kids. What, I don’t know. But do I want to sit in the car for hours and hours with the girls? Waste half our days while they nap? Struggle to get them to sleep in a strange, different place? Try to find kid-friendly restaurants? Please tell me this gets easier as they get older!!! The thought of traveling with kids overwhelms me.

Last night I decided to get out one of the knitting looms I recently purchased. I watched one YouTube video and also had the instruction guide that came with the loom, it sounded and looked so easy. No. Hell no. Not easy. Disaster. This happened. Maybe knitting isn’t for me.

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Thank you to everyone who commented on the photos I recently had taken of my girls. I got a mix of responses, as I expected. Many of you loved the pictures, and I love some of them too, but others saw what I saw, how plain the pictures are compared to my previous photographer’s work. So I emailed my old photographer and asked how soon she has openings, as she recently had a baby. In the meantime, I guess I need to learn how to use Lightroom and Photoshop. I have the software, and I see there are tons of tutorials, but I have no idea where to even start. I’ve tried playing around in Photoshop on my own, but it doesn’t seem very user-friendly for the unexperienced. Any recommendations?

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She’s Two!!!

Nora is two. How did that happen?? We decided not to do a party, although mostly for the wrong reasons, mainly Eric’s mother,  but more on that later, or another day. So instead, since Eric had a few days off work we took the girls to Madison, WI for a few days. We wanted a location that wasn’t too far of a drive, a place that had a few things for kids… I think Nora had fun, we went to the zoo one day and Nora was fascinated by the giraffes, monkeys, and an ass who was surely a horse to her, the children’s museum another day, and on Nora’s birthday went to this adorable kid’s cafe for lunch, Ella’s Deli. It was a fast few days, but very enjoyable. The girls even slept rather well in the hotel, all things considered.

So it’s Tuesday, Eric is back to work, it’s only 10:40am and Nora is already down for a nap. Nora had her two-year well-child visit yesterday and got a shot… I’m not sure if that’s why she is super tired and cranky today or what… Maybe just the terrible twos already! The house is a disaster, there is tons of laundry, I need to work out, Nadia wants to eat every three hours round the clock, so I’m tired, for some reason my lower back is killing me, and tomorrow are Nora’s two-year pictures, and I have yet to finalize her outfits. I ordered a few things, but haven’t tried any of it on her yet.

Speaking of Nadia eating every three hours… Apparently she is not allergic to the protein in cow’s milk, as for about the past two weeks we’ve been feeding her my frozen breast milk and she seems to be doing okay. We’re still putting MiraLax into her bottles as our doctor suggested, and wow, so many blow-outs from breast milk. I actually liked her on formula better for that reason, not a single diaper that exploded onto her clothing. Now though, I’m feeling even worse that I stopped pumping. So bad I considered starting again. I mentioned re-lactation on here before, right? Eric thinks it’s a crazy idea, and that I would regret it after I started, the time involved… I don’t know. Still considering it… And, I have several cases of really expensive Neocate that she doesn’t need either. You have to order it online and I doubt it’s returnable, so ugh. I mean, I guess I could keep feeding it to her after I’m out of frozen breast milk, but seems a bit of a waste of money when I could feed her any old formula. Oh wait, back to my finance days, sunk cost

I really miss writing… I’d write an entry everyday if I had the time. Not that anyone would want to read… I guess I see this blog as something I’ll want to look back on years from now, like a diary, and there are obviously lots of life events missing when I don’t write for months or weeks at a time. Maybe I’ll try to find some time tonight to catch up and write a bit more. Maybe.

One more random thought before I go. Nadia still isn’t rolling from her back to her front although she easily gets from her stomach to her back. She’s almost 7 months actual, 4 1/2 months adjusted. Should I be concerned? When did your babies roll? I’m just terrified that her brain bleed and back of oxygen at birth will delay her.

Here are a few pictures from our trip to Madison and Nora’s birthday celebration with my mom and step-dad.


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Weekend Away

I see I never actually posted this…  And clearly didn’t get very far on even writing it!  This was a few weekends ago, so I’ll just leave you with the pictures and say it was a fun weekend away with some of Eric’s friends!

This past weekend we spent in Beloit, Wisconsin celebrating with friends for their 15th wedding anniversary.