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Myrtle Beach / The Month of Sickness (May 2017)

The week after I got back from Mexico, John, the girls, Irene (John’s mom), and I went to Myrtle Beach for 3 days and 2 nights.  I grew up going to Myrtle Beach quite frequently but John had never been before so we decided to check it out.  John found a great deal for a time share rental since it was before peak season.  We reserved a two bedroom unit at the hotel, but when we got there they upgraded us to a 3 bedroom with no charge, so that was very exciting.

The unit we stayed in was so nice.  There were 3 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, a washer/dryer, a full kitchen, and a nice dining/living space, plus a great little balcony area.  We were really surprised with how nice it was considering the price.  Irene was able to have her own bedroom and private bath, the girls had the room with two queen beds with a bath just outside, and John and I had the master with a huge bathroom.

The weather wasn’t the greatest while we were there, it was mostly overcast and windy with scattered showers.  But the weather didn’t get us down because the hotel had several pools and hot tubs so we were able to swim a lot while looking at the ocean.  And we could sit on our balcony and watch the water and hear the waves which was very relaxing.

Lyra L O V E D the pools, in particular the kids fun pool that had a bunch of different water falls and sprinklers and things.  She spent a lot of time there.  John and I loved the lazy river.  Unfortunately the second day, first full day, when we went down to the pools in the morning you could tell Lucy just wasn’t feeling the greatest.  Her eyes looks so tired and she was just really quiet and not her usual lively self.  Before we left, Lyra had some sniffles.  Anyone with children knows that they pretty much constantly have sniffles with varying degrees of severity, so we didn’t think much of it, especially since Lyra was still so energetic and playful.  I figured it was just a couple days of a runny nose, no big deal, but that second day Lucy and I started to go down.  As the day progressed so did our colds.  By the afternoon we were both snotting coughing messes.  It happened so fast.  That night John went out for cough drops for me because I would get into these coughing fits.  So we had a cold, but we were still in good spirits.  We ate well and played Bananagrams and Lyra and John swam a ton, but the cold dampened some of that trip because we were losing energy.  After we checked out of the hotel on the third day, we explored a little of Myrtle Beach and did the big ferris wheel which was pretty neat!  And overall our trip to Myrtle Beach was a good one, we had fun, our hotel was awesome, we were able to make most of our food in the unit since we brought a bunch with us and could cook, we played games, and relaxed to the sound of the ocean.

Here are a couple pictures of the trip.  I didn’t take a lot because we were swimming or just hanging out at the hotel most of the time.

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yeah, that’s my fat finger in the corner.  photo fail.

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Lyra on the big ferris wheel

BUT!  Dun dun dun, forever in my mind that trip will be associated with what we’ve now called The Month of Sickness.  What we thought was a harmless little cold, turned into so much more.  Lyra was Patient Zero, probably picking it up from an indoor playground we had been to a few days before the trip, but Lucy and I were the first to really go down.  Within a day or two of us coming home from Myrtle Beach, the whole family was hit with a massive head cold.  Thankfully Irene never got sick!  How she came out of that trip with us and didn’t get sick is beyond me, but she is lucky.

Okay, so we had a cold, no big deal.  It’s pretty annoying mostly having to blow your nose constantly and not being able to get comfortable enough to sleep.  Add in two young kids with the same thing and even a mild cold becomes bad quickly.  But we figured we’d make it through, lots of rest and fluids and vitamin packed meals.  Diffusing essential oil blends, getting out the humidifiers, doubling up on the elderberry syrup, the usual protocol for Sickness in the Wells House.  Only nothing seemed to work this time.  After a little over a  week (usual time it takes for a cold to go away) the girls were getting more sick and miserable instead of better.  They were hurting and spiking temperatures, so we decided to take them to the doctor.  This was a milestone for us – the first time we’ve had to take either girl to the doctor for anything other than a well-child check.  We’ve managed to go 3.5 years without anything more than a 24 hour stomach bug or cold so we hadn’t had to seek medical attention.  The doctor looked at both girls and found that their colds had turned into sinus and ear infections for the girls and had prescribed them antibiotics.  She offered to check us over but we declined because we thought we could power through.  We started the girls on their medicine the next day and then a few days later John and I were continually getting worse and running fevers so we made appointments for us.  We gave in and got checked over and we both had sinus infections and one of my ears was infected.  Yippee!  We were so desperate to feel better at this point we were like “please give us all the drugs you have!”  John and I do not take medicine frequently, it has to be pretty bad for us to take some ibuprofen, tylenol, or benadryl, but we were miserable.  I’m not sure about John, but I know I haven’t been sick enough to warrant antibiotics in over a decade – I vividly remember that sickness, laryngitis and a double ear infection that was the most painful thing.

I joked to John that I wanted to take a picture of everyone’s medicine lined up but I never got around to doing it.  But here was the lineup:

Lyra: two bottles of liquid antibiotics
Lucy:  two bottles of liquid antibiotics
John:  two bottles of heavy duty cough syrup, one bottle of antibiotics in pill form, steroid nasal spray
Rhianna:  two bottles of heavy duty cough syrup, one bottle of antibiotics in pill form, steroid nasal spray
Everyone:  all the boogie wipes in the world plus tons of toilet paper turned kleenex

We spent the next week convalescing and slowly getting better.  It took a long time.  We were zapped and getting stir crazy from not going outside of our house/yard.  And on top of that, towards the end of my antibiotic treatment I started getting hives.  It turns out that I had developed an allergy to amoxicillin that I never had in my youth.  The first 3 days of hives I had to take benadryl every 4 hours on the dot or I’d get incredibly itchy and break out in hives.  So now that I was getting better from the sinus infection, I was drowsy all the time from the benadryl.  It started to get better after a few days and it morphed into dermatographia that could be managed with some benadryl that I was only having to take 2-3 times a day/night.  It took almost two weeks for it to go away completely and I kept benadryl on me because I never knew when I’d start to get uncontrollably itchy and therefore get dermatographia.   It was not that fun.

But in the end, we all got better after a month of being sick in some fashion or another.  And I hope our sickness quota was filled for the rest of 2017.  I’ll keep you posted. ;)

Here’s a sweet little, sad photo of Lyra during one of her naps while sick.  She rarely naps, but during our sickness she napped a lot.

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J&R

Four Days in Mexico – May 2017

My mother found out at the very beginning of the year (2017) that she had made the President’s Club at her work.  This meant she got to go to an all-inclusive resort in Tulum, Mexico.  She got a Plus One for the trip and since my father didn’t want to go, she asked me to go with her.  I immediately said yes to the trip that would happen in May.  I got to work renewing my expired passport and got excited for the trip.

At the time of the trip it had been 4 years, almost exactly, that I had been sharing my body 24/7, either pregnant or nursing or both.  This would be the first time that I would be away from both of my girls and I would have a few days not breast-feeding and I wasn’t pregnant.  I was nervous and excited.  I needed a bit of a break, my body was starting to feel really worn out so I knew I needed to get away for a few days.  I would still be pumping to keep up my supply while I was gone, but I would get a break of someone else attached to me for a bit.  I enthusiastically said yes in January because I was feeling so tired, but as the trip approached I started to not even be able to talk about the trip without getting really sad about leaving.  I didn’t tell that many people that I was going because I didn’t want to talk about it.  I was worried because Lucy wasn’t even 1.5 yet and she was a very attached baby and the longest I’ve been away from Lyra was 48 hours just a couple times.  If John hadn’t pushed me to go in the last two weeks, I probably would’ve canceled.

But I went!  We flew out on a Tuesday afternoon and flew home Saturday morning.  I’d be gone for about 4 days total.  In the end I was so glad I went and so thankful for the opportunity.  Though I do think that 4 days is more than enough time away from my babies (and husband especially!).  Pumping was not very fun.  I had to pump 3 or 4 times a day for 30ish minutes at a time just to stay comfortable but luckily my supply didn’t drop  that much and after being home with Lucy my supply was 100% back to normal within 24 hours.

 

We flew into Cancun, Mexico and had a van take us to our resort, which was a little over an hour away from the Cancun airport.  It was really fun to meet some of my mom’s coworkers that had also made the President’s Club, she works with really kind and delightful people, not only were they nice but they were a whole lot of fun.  The hotel was really nice.  I had never been to an all-inclusive resort before so that was something new and exciting.  It’s weird to get used to not having to pay for anything and just going into a restaurant and eating without getting a bill, but I loved it.  There were plenty of food options, both quick service and sit-down meals.  There were several bars and there was a night club.  The resort had 3 pools total, my mom and I spent most of our time by the quiet pool because I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t want to be around wild and crazy college kids and I also have two very loud children soooooo quiet time is what I needed.  I went to the gym a couple of times while there and did another exercise class that they offered by the pool.  There were a few events that we had to go to:  Tuesday evening welcoming reception, a Wednesday evening get together with just my mother’s office (there were a bunch of branches of her company represented from almost every state), and Friday evening was the big President’s Club reception, dinner, and awards ceremony.  Other than the required events our time was our own.  My mom and I originally were going to do one of the day trip expeditions but when we learned it was going to be literally all day, sun up to sun down, we decided against it.  There was a spa there, but it cost extra so I didn’t do any of the treatments.  A few times we ate with some of her other coworkers that were there.  But mostly we just lounged by/in the pool and beach and enjoyed the places the resort had to offer.  There were shops around and each day they had different things set-up around the resort for you to do.  It made me really want to do a week at an all-inclusive resort with John in the future, it seems like it would be super fun for couples to do.

Saturday morning we were packed to go home and after breakfast we had a van drive us back to the airport.  The airport was PACKED.  Thankfully we had all checked-in the day before but we still had to wait in crazy long lines to check our luggage.  We were at the airport way before our flight, but by the time we checked our bags and got through security, we only had to wait by our gate for a short time before boarding.  The flight home was a direct flight (we had a layover on the way out) and we got home to RDU and through customs and then back to our home town.   John and the girls had put back Welcome Home balloons on the mailbox which was a fun surprise. Lucy was napping when I got home which was nice because I was able to pay close attention to Lyra.  I knew once Lu woke up I’d be nursing a ton.  I gave the girls, John, and Irene their souvenirs and then I was settled back home for the night.

The girls did well while I was gone.  John caught me up to speed on how they spent their time while I was away, he had intentionally been keeping things vague so I wouldn’t dwell on being away from my family and enjoy my time and he didn’t want me to worry if Lu was having a rough spell.  Lucy had a couple good nights and a couple rough nights.  It was good for her to see that her dad could be just as comforting as mom while I was away.  Everyone was fine while I was gone but everyone was also happy to have me home.  I was especially happy to be home and back with my family.  Those four days were very refreshing.  It was nice to have some time to myself, but man am I thankful to have my family and get to spend so much time with them.  It made me excited for when the day comes that John and I feel comfortable leaving both girls for a vacation ourselves, but I don’t think either of us want to be away from them for more than a few days right now.  For now we will enjoy little bursts of time by ourselves or with each other and then in the future we might just get to do a week at an all-inclusive resort by ourselves!

Anyway, here are some pictures!

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the view from the hotel lobby
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they gave me white wine as soon as I got there, nice!
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(a bad picture of) our room
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bananas outside our window
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we didn’t have an ocean view, but it was still cool
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the quiet pool where I spent a lot of time
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the pool closet to the ocean
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the gulf!
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balloons upon my return

 

all of us

Florida Trip – March 2017

In March we embarked on our first long road trip with both girls.  John’s father lives in Florida on Lake Okeechobee.  It is a long way from where we live, but then again, everywhere in Florida feels like forever away.

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a trip to Florida meant the girls got new Minnie jackets! and we needed them, it was COLD!

We left on a day John had to work so I was the one to pack the car up.  John’s mother, Irene, drove him to work in the morning and then the girls and I drove the van to his work to pick him up and get on the road from there.  We knew we were going to break up the trip – we had to – so we didn’t mind getting on the road a little later in the day.  We were hoping to make it to Jacksonville the first leg of the trip, but after frequent stops (three year olds have small bladders, imagine that!) we realized once we were stopped for dinner somewhere in South Carolina that we were going to have to settle for Georgia as a stopping point.  When we headed down 95 we started calling hotels for vacancies from where we were in South Carolina to Jacksonville and we weren’t having any luck.  We didn’t know how much longer we would be able to drive that night before needing to stop.   We needed gas once we were in Savannah so we got some gas, and then pulled our van over in the parking lot of the gas station, it was crazy busy, and John just kept calling hotels that were in the area they were all completely full.  We could only find one opening and the hotel happened to be at the exit where we were so we said we’d take it!  It was pricier than we wanted to spend for just one night but it was the only thing we could find available at the time.  This made me realize we should’ve put more planning into our trip and gone ahead to pick exactly where we would stop for the night and make reservations in advance, but we had no idea how busy it would be.  It happened to be Spring Break for many colleges and schools so everyone was going to Savannah or Hilton Head or heading further south to Florida and had snatched up all the hotels.  But this is how we found our favorite hotel chain, the StayBridge Inn and Suites.

Our hotel room was more like an apartment and it was so lovely.  The girls were SO excited as the stretched their legs running around the rooms.  After the frustration of our travel so far from not knowing if we’d have somewhere to sleep, it was nice to settle into a comfortable hotel for the night.  In the morning we packed our bags, got ready, ate breakfast, and then headed back on the road for the longer leg of the trip.  John’s dad’s house is kind of in the middle of nowhere.  Thank goodness for GPS because I don’t know how we would’ve found it without it.  There’s not much to say about our trip down, the girls were great in the car, we had frequent albeit quick stops, no crazy traffic, just a long drive.

We were so happy to get to our destination.  The house is on a little canal that connects to the lake.  We unpacked the car and settled in our room and set up some toys for the girls, and chilled out at the house.  We didn’t do much the first day, just hung out around the house and ate dinner, we got the girls down to bed and then the adults watched a movie.

The next day we took out the golf cart and road around the area which both girls loved.  They live in a quiet, country setting and it was fun getting to tool around in the golf cart outside.  Lyra also swam in the pool and hot tub.  When Lucy was down for her nap, Mim (John’s dad’s partner) stayed with her and the rest of us went on a boat ride.  John’s dad, his name is also John, had a couple boats and we took the bigger one out with Lyra.  She loved it.  We went all around the canal and up into a bigger part of water and saw so many alligators.  It was a little scary, to be honest, because they just appear out of nowhere and then they sink without a trace.  I wasn’t too worried about Lyra falling in, but that fear was still there – I mean, if any one of us had fallen in for any reason, we would probably be eaten pretty quick.  We did see a lot of baby alligators which were so cute, but we also saw quite a few big alligators which were … not.

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Lyra “driving” the boat

 

On our last day at John’s dad’s house we had a lazy morning with more golf cart rides and hanging out on the porch and then we packed up because all of us – John’s dad and Mim included – were heading to Orlando to do a day at Magic Kingdom the next day.  It was a two hour drive up to Orlando and we stayed at Buena Vista Suites which was close to Disney Springs.  It was a great hotel for being close to Disney even though it was not on property.  Once we checked into our hotel our family cleaned up and rested a bit before John’s dad and Mim got there, they left a little after us.  We decided to go into Disney Springs that evening to eat at the Rainforest Cafe and we also had to go to Guest Services to figure out something with our tickets to the park.  Dinner was fine and then we walked around a bit, it was raining at this point, and headed to Guest Services which was packed because people were sheltering from the rain.  We had a very long wait before we could be seen.  Lyra, however, didn’t mind – she was going around talking to everyone and making friends, my little extrovert.  While it wasn’t fun having to wait for a long time in a crowded area where all the seats were taken, I do have to share this sweet tidbit:  Lucy needed to nurse while we were waiting.  I am not shy about nursing in public but there was nowhere for me to sit so I asked a cast member if they knew of anywhere I could go with a chair so I could sit and nurse Lu.  A cast member immediately cleared out one of their offices and told me to go in there and take as much time as I needed, they closed the door for privacy as well.  I was very touched by this gesture.  They didn’t hesitate to assist and find a solution even though they were very busy at the time.

For posterity’s sake I’m going to write about this day at Disney, though it honestly brings back really unpleasant feelings for me, it has a happy ending, very happy.

Our day at Disney was honestly kind of a bummer.  We didn’t know we were going to Magic Kingdom until a little before our trip and we didn’t have our tickets in hand until a couple days before, so we were unable to schedule fast passes and dining in advance.* When I got on the My Disney Experience app fast passes were unavailable for the things we wanted to do with the girls until night time when we weren’t going to be there. We hadn’t planned on taking the girls until they were a little older so we didn’t know how they’d do at the park.  It was also Spring Break and one of, if not THE, busiest times of the year for Disney World.  The park was very crowded.  We were shoulder to shoulder with people the whole time, we had a huge stroller that was hard to move through, by the time we actually set foot on Main Street USA we had already been waiting in some line or another for hours.  With two little ones, waiting in line, where you cannot take your stroller, is hard when wait times are 90 minutes +.  We weren’t able to do a whole lot.  Lucy was also cutting her molars at this time so she was super fussy.  We rode only a few rides because we had to wait so long, but at least Lyra got to meet Minnie Mouse and Daisy.  Towards the afternoon when the girls were way over stimulated and tired of waiting in line, we called it quits and decided to head back north. John’s dad and Mim were going to stay a little longer (they are both Annual Passholders, by the way, so they can go to Disney whenever they want), but not long after we were on the road they texted us and told us they decided to leave too because wait times were almost all over 2 hours and bus loads of high school kids were entering the park.  I was very upset by the whole day, I get teary just thinking about it.  We love Disney and we had such a horrible time.  I was crying on our drive back to Savannah because Lyra had asked why Mickey wasn’t there and we didn’t know how to explain to her that the line was over two hours long to see him.  I wanted so badly for it to be a fun day at Magic Kingdom and it wasn’t.  But it was in the car on the way home that John and I decided sometime before the end of the year, we would come back with just Lyra and take her to Magic Kingdom and do it the way Disney makes you do it, by scheduling every little thing far in advance so you could see the things you wanted.  I didn’t want to play that game, but I was going to if we had to.  And to make a long story short, John wrote to Disney to tell them about our experience and someone called us to talk about it, after speaking with us they gave us tickets to come back.  We have a lot of issues with Disney – it is a billion dollar corporation after all – but their customer service is one of the best.  So I started planning our trip and 180 days in advance I found myself waking up to make dining reservations, but that is a story for another blog post.  (Spoiler Alert, it was the best trip ever, so I promise this has a happy ending)

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It was actually really cold for most of the day, glad we had jackets.  Neither really wanted a picture at this point since we had already been in 3 long lines for hours just to get in the park.
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Lucy loved the Dumbo ride waiting playground.
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they were both happier than this picture would lead you to believe.
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Lyra on Dumbo!
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Daisy!
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We didn’t buy the photo pass photos for this trip so excuse the low quality pics.
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This was the brightest spot of the day – she LOVED Minnie.
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Lyra hugged her for so long, it was so so so sweet.
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HERO!
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me and my girl.  I love her so much.

*John and I hadn’t been to Disney since 2011 and at that time they were using the old fast pass system so we were unaware how the new one worked until it was too late.  If you are going to Disney World you need to schedule MONTHS in advance.  You need to schedule dining reservations 180 days in advance and fast passes you need to schedule 60 days in advance, at least if you are staying on-property, if you aren’t you can only schedule them 30 days in advance.  This new system makes deciding to do a day at Disney spontaneously absolutely impossible.  It also takes most of the flexibility out of what you want to do at the park which is hard when you have little ones.  You want to kind of follow their lead, but if you haven’t made your itinerary 60 days in advance, you’ll most likely be waiting in long lines if you are there during a peak season.  We understand why this system is implemented, but it still doesn’t make it fun if you aren’t aware how you have to play their game.  But we know now.

 

So anyway, the drive back to Savannah was quiet because the girls were tuckered out and John and I were both sad with how the Magic Kingdom turned out.  But we were so happy to roll back up to the StayBridge Inn and Suites that night, where we had called ahead and made reservations.  We got some take out food and brought it back to our hotel room, watched a movie, ate dinner, and passed out.

The next morning we took our time hanging at the hotel, eating breakfast, and then eventually got on the road and continued on home to North Carolina.

I hate that I had the sad chunk in this post, but it’s worth remembering.  We had such a fun and relaxing time down in Florida even though our one day was sour.  It was such a nice, quiet place and it was fun taking golf cart rides and boat rides and just catching up with John and Mim.  It did help that very quickly after this trip we had plans to meet back up with John’s dad and Mim at the Magic Kingdom to really do a day at Disney.

all of us

Sedona, Arizona 2017

In February my mother’s side of the family had a family reunion in Sedona.  My Uncle Mark and Aunt Lynda have a beautiful home there.  I have another uncle & aunt that live in the Phoenix area, and I have a cousin that lives in the Phoenix area with his family.

My mother comes from a family of 9 children.  One of her sisters passed away many years ago, my Aunt Karen, and her son is the cousin of mine that lives in Arizona with his wife and children.  And, sadly, another of my mother’s sisters passed last year, my Aunt Mimi.  Our family was getting together to not only visit, you can imagine how hard it is to get a majority together with 9 siblings and their families scattered throughout the US (and one family in England), but to also scatter some of my aunt’s ashes by Cathedral Rock in Sedona.

When John and I first heard of the plans for our family reunion in Arizona we both decided we wanted to figure out how to make it work for us to attend.  John had never been to Sedona and I wanted to share that beauty with him and the girls.  I have wonderful memories of Arizona as I grew up going out there quite frequently to visit family, but I hadn’t been to Arizona for ten years and hadn’t been to Sedona in almost 20 years (ouch, typing that out made me feel old). It was also important for me to introduce my girls to some of the family members that they probably won’t see very often.  We booked flights and a rental van a few months in advance and awaited our trip.

This was our first big trip together as a family of four.  It was also Lyra’s first plane ride.  Lucy accompanied me when she was just 8 weeks old on a quick trip to Kentucky so she had already been, though I’m sure she doesn’t remember.  My mom arranged her flights to go out with us, though she had to fly back earlier than we did so she didn’t go home with us.  It was really nice having an extra adult to help us with the girls in the airport, though I have to say, both girls did really well.  On our first flight (we had a layover in Chicago), Lucy would not sit still and though she was relatively happy the whole time, it was a challenge getting her to stay happy in our little row of seats.  Thankfully she slept the whole second flight which was the longer one.  Lyra was fascinated with the whole plane ride and was a champ, even though she couldn’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep on the second flight, she remained in good spirits.  We got to Phoenix late at night and took a shuttle to the hotel we had booked for the night and immediately collapsed in the bed.

In the morning, John took the hotel shuttle to the rental car place to grab our minivan and drove it back to our hotel.  After everyone got ready for the day and ate, we hopped in our rental van and started making our way north.  The drive was beautiful.  The beauty of Arizona is so unlike the beauty on the east coast, we loved the drive because it offered the most beautiful vistas as we climbed higher and higher in elevation.  Our ears also kept popping every 1,000 feet.  We decided to go to Flagstaff first and then back track a little to Sedona.  As we got closer to Flagstaff we started seeing SNOW on the ground!  We aren’t guaranteed to see snow each year where we live in North Carolina, and even if we do, it’s just for a day or two, so this was so exciting to us and the girls.  Our first stop once we got to Flagstaff was Target, of course.  We decided to get a couple toys for the girls to play with for the trip as well as a movie.  We then ate lunch up there before driving back down to Sedona.

the drive up to Flagstaff

My uncle lives in the Oak Creek part of Sedona (if anyone is familiar with that area) and his home has huge windows along the back of the house that perfectly overlook Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.  His home was so lovely and he had everything set up so nicely for our stay.  Lyra was in one of the guest rooms with my mom and John, Lucy, and I were set up in another room.  My aunt and uncle had a stocked mini fridge and coffee pot in our room as well as basket of snack food items – they really made it feel like such a nice retreat.

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the view from my uncles back deck. pictures don’t do it justice.
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javelinas outside the cantina

The other family members that were coming into Arizona were staying in Phoenix the first day so it was just us with my aunt and uncle that day.  After relaxing and playing outside in their yard we cleaned up for dinner.  John told me he’d stay at the house with the girls so I could go out to an adult dinner with my mom, aunt, and uncle.  It was so nice.  We are at a stage right now where going out to eat with the girls is just more of a hassle than anything, mostly with Lucy, so getting to go to a restaurant feels more like a chore than something fun.  I was so grateful for that chance to catch up with my uncle and to really enjoy a meal.  (Thank you, John!) We went to Javelina Cantina where we had a nice window table.  The restaurant really does have a family of javelinas living outside so we were able to watch them at the restaurant, it was really neat.

Fun story from dinner:
I ordered a margarita, because no kids!, and the waitress didn’t want to serve me because I didn’t have my ID and she said I looked young.  Even though my mom and uncle were right there with me she said she didn’t feel comfortable serving me.  I asked her if I could have my husband take a picture of my ID and text it to me  and she said that would work.  So I had to call John while there and have him give me a picture of my ID so I could get a drink.    I think because Sedona is mostly populated by retirees that it is hard to guess the age of anyone under the age of 40.

Anyway, we had a lovely dinner – I had veggie fajitas that were delicious and I brought most of them back for John to eat – the portions were HUGE.  After the day of traveling and big day driving around, we all slept well that night.

In the morning we asked my uncle to take us to the Buddhist Stupa.  We had a small wishlist of things we wanted to do in Arizona and this was at the top of the list.  There aren’t that many stupas in the USA and there aren’t any in North Carolina or anywhere near us. John and I identify strongly with most Buddhist ideologies so we really wanted to be able to visit this sacred place.  (Here’s a good ole wiki page if you’re curious about what a stupa is, it is different than a Buddhist temple or monastery)  I wore Lucy in the ergo and Lyra walked.  We explained to her that we were going to a sacred place and we needed to be reverent.  Lyra did really well, even telling my mom “shh!  We need to be quiet so people can pray!”  She surprised us with her reverence which is pretty hard for a three year old, but I think even she could feel how sacred that place was.  The stupa was magical.  That word sounds so trite, but I can’t think of another word.  The energy there was palpable and awe-inspiring.  We all split up at different points to walk the grounds and meditate, my mom and John were able to circumambulate the stupa.  I wanted to as well but Lucy was starting to squirm a lot in the ergo so I took her further up the grounds to let her out on one of the hiking paths to get some energy out.  I knew as soon as we got there that we would visit again during our stay so I knew I’d have my chance to walk around the stupa eventually.

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After seeing the stupa, my uncle took us on a driving tour of Sedona, pointing out all the famous red rock formations and the vortexes.  (What’s a vortex?  Try here!) We stopped a few times to get out and explore and take pictures.  When we went up to Airport Vortex, the view of all of Sedona was incredible and pictures just don’t do it justice at all.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to hike up to the peak of any of the vortexes because the girls are a bit too little to make those hikes.

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the view from a lookout near Airport Vortex

Another thing that was on my wishlist other than the stupa and seeing the vortexes was to buy some Navajo turquoise jewelry.  My uncle took us to a place where he knew some of the families that sold their own jewelry so we wouldn’t be getting ripped off and we picked out some things.  I ended up getting some simple stud earrings and a plain turquoise band.  Lyra got a necklace and bracelet as well as a dream catcher for her room.  After our busy morning we met up at a restaurant with two of my aunts and their husbands for lunch.  It was so wonderful to get to see them and hang out.  After our lunch we all went back to my uncle’s house to hang out.

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the bumper sticker on my uncle’s jeep made me laugh.

My mom and aunts told John and I that we could go out for a date while they watched the girls at the house.  My uncle let us take his jeep out to town for our date which was really fun.  Our first stop was to go back to the stupa.  I was able to do my circumambulation and then we both hiked a long time around the grounds, John wanted to make his own rock stack (there were many throughout the grounds, pictured above if you don’t know what I mean), and we just sat and enjoyed the energy of the stupa.  We then went to a new age shop that had a lot of crystals amongst other things.  We browsed forever in that store because it had so many wonderful things.  We really wanted to get a beautiful singing bowl that John found but we didn’t have a lot of room to take back things in our suitcases so ended up just getting a small magnet and I got an amethyst bracelet.  We drove around looking at all the town had and stopped in a small natural grocery to get a few things for the house to make smoothies.    Then we found a wonderful, small little restaurant called Taste of Marrakech that used organic, local ingredients and had an amazing meal with some homemade kombucha.  It was a great day date.  When we got back to my uncles house we put the girls to bed and hung out with our family.  That evening we were able to go outside and enjoy the dark sky – it’s so trippy to be able to see the Milky Way galaxy.  We just laid outside looking up at the stars forever.

Some more photos from the Stupa later in the day when it was just John and me.

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The next day was the official family reunion day.  Five of the nine kids in my mom’s family were there and 2 more were represented by their children (my cousins) and then we had my Aunt Mimi’s ashes.  It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone and watching my girls interact with everybody.  Lyra took an immediate liking to her second cousin (my cousin’s son) Ben.  She was enamored with him and he was so sweet to play with her and read to her.  And later Ben’s older sister, Liz, played with Lyra and she was in seventh heaven.  She adores older kids.  We ate a lot of yummy food and played games outside.

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Ben reading to Lyra
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Ben, Lyra, Liz, Lucy, and Sam

The last full day of our trip, the next morning, everyone woke up early and we met up at a restaurant to eat breakfast before heading out to Cathedral Rock to spread my Aunt Mimi’s ashes.  Unfortunately it was raining that morning so our short hike to the creek was a little treacherous, but there was still a very sweet and calming spirit in the air.  A few of the siblings said some words and my uncle spread the ashes in the water.  It was such a beautiful spot.  I didn’t get any pictures because it was raining and it was also a solemn affair, but I wish I had.  Next time we get out there I’m planning on visiting this spot again.

Later in the day after going back to my uncle’s house, John had to do some work so he suggested I go out with my mom and aunt while he stayed at the house to do some grading and watch the girls.  So I went with my mom and Aunt Beckie to a lovely outdoor shopping center and we browsed all of the shops and had a great late lunch before heading back to the house.  In the evening we got back together with everyone still in town at a restaurant my aunt picked out specifically for our little family, it was called Piccazo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen.  This restaurant had so many plant-based options so we had fun creating our own pizza that we could eat.  It was really easy to eat plant-based in Sedona and Piccazo’s was a great restaurant to end with, stuffing ourselves with yummy pizza (my favorite!).

Early the next morning we said our goodbyes and got in our van to travel back down to Phoenix to drop my mom off at the airport.  She had an early afternoon flight, while we were taking a red eye later that night.  Once we dropped mom off, we found a restaurant in Tempe to have some lunch and it was walking distance to Tempe Town Lake so we walked over to the Tempe Beach park and let the girls run around.  We contemplated renting a boat but in the end we didn’t want to fork over the money for the rental since we weren’t going to be on the lake for that long.  There were a lot of people out enjoying the nice weather and it was nice to stretch our legs before heading to the airport.  Once we finished with the park we walked back to our van and drove around looking at Arizona State University and the surrounding area.  Then we headed back to return the van and head over to the airport.  Once we got to the airport we had to wait an hour before we could check in so we walked around the area we could and then checked-in.  Once we checked-in we found our gate and took turns walking to find some food we could eat for dinner then we settled in at our gate, putting a movie on for the girls to watch.

Our flight didn’t leave until 11PM so we had a lot of time to kill.  Once it was around bedtime I took Lucy to the nursing room to nurse her down to sleep.  The room was in a super quiet part of the airport and no one was around.  So once Lu had nursed down I texted John to tell him to bring our stuff and Lyra so we could all chill in this room.  We closed the door and set up a movie for Lyra and we were able to just relax for the next few hours before boarding.  (FYI – we were prepared to vacate should another family need the room but no one came in)  Lyra ended up falling asleep on one of the little tables, which amused us.  When it came time to board, we just lugged on our luggage and  sleeping babes to the very back of the plane where they thankfully stayed asleep and slept the whole flight and we were able to snooze too.  We did have a layover and at this time Lyra was awake, but Lucy was in and out of sleep on me in the ergo.  Our second flight was super short and Lyra was awake but enamored with the movie options so she chose to watch something with her headphones and Lu fell asleep again.  We got back to RDU in the morning, found our car, and headed home.  It was such a peaceful trip back and it made me want to only travel on red eyes, especially if the girls are with us.

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Lyra asleep in the nursing room. Passed out on a table.

All in all, it was such an amazing trip.  John and I kept talking about how good it felt for our souls.  The energy in Sedona is truly something else.  It feels different and it felt like we could all just breathe easier and really relax even though we had a one year old and a three year old with us.  If you’re into healing vortexes and crystals and stupas and hiking and all that good stuff, it’s a definite recommend.  It’s a recommend even if you’re not because the beauty you’re surrounded by is just unreal.  We can’t wait to go back!

 

Lucy

Lucy at 15 months

This is just going to be a bunch of rambling paragraphs in no particular order because I’m typing them as I can during the day while watching the girls.  Sorry for the disorganization.
Lucy is now 15 months old.  She has another month before her official 15 month appointment so I won’t have stats for her but I don’t think she’s much bigger than her one year appointment.  She’s wearing 12-18 month, 18 month, and some 2t clothes.  She can still wear some 12 month but they are starting to get too small in the length of sleeves and pants.  Her hair is still pretty short.  I’ve only put her hair in a ponytail once, but she loves to wear bows to be like her big sister.

She just got her upper molars and the bottom ones are just under the surface so I know they will be coming through very soon.  I won’t lie, the week her upper molars came in, my spirit was broken a little. Ha!  Teething babies are no fun and those molars are huge.   There were a lot of tears from both of us.  I’m just praying the bottom ones come in quickly so we can get this over with.  Hopefully the canines will come in soon too and then we can get a nice long teething break.  From my keyboard to God’s ears… isn’t that the saying?

We are in the super fun stage of learning a new word almost daily.  It’s a whole lot of fun to watch her learn the names for things.  I love it when she says “why-ra” (Lyra) and “luh you” the most.  It’s so sweet.  I’m not going to type out all her words because it would take a while.  I do not think she’s as verbal as Lyra was at this age, but she still has a lot of words when she needs them.

She has learned to run pretty well, she can do a forward roll, and she’s just started to walk up and down steps like a big girl (which terrifies me!).  She can walk backwards too.  I’m trying to think of other gross motor skills — she can climb on a lot of things and is pretty fearless like her sister when it comes to testing out her skills in climbing and jumping.

As far as fine motor skills go, she’d still rather eat chalk, crayons, or playdoh so those activities have to be heavily monitored.  She does like to play with sand and doesn’t eat that too much.  She loves water play.  She still prefers to eat with her hands but she sometimes uses a spoon.

On the food front, she is still nursing a TON.  I’ve tried to introduce some milk without any luck.  I just got a small container of a soy based toddler formula that I’m now going to try.  This little lady just doesn’t want much to do with anything other than nursing.  She will drink water, but we have to encourage her throughout the day to drink, she won’t usually request water on her own.  I’m hoping this toddler formula is something she will get into.  I’m starting to really need a break from nursing.  She nurses round the clock and while I do not want her to wean before she is ready, I’d really like to cut back our nursing sessions to just a few times a day.  While we are on the subject of food, I should also mention that Lu has inherited her mother’s sensitive digestion.  She cannot have animal products or gluten.  When I was a baby I could not handle those things either.  I eventually grew out of some of those sensitivities but I had digestive issues up until adolescence that probably could’ve been controlled through diet but I was medicated (it was the 80s).  I’m hoping to bypass the medication track with Lu and help her thrive through diet.  Our whole family (including John!*) has moved to a plant-based diet and we are all MUCH better.  The gluten-free thing is new and something we are only strict about with Lu but we’ve found a lot of awesome foods to eat and I can say that we have never felt better.  Lu has not had any GI issues since we have been super strict with her diet and – fingers crossed – hopefully that will remain the case.  Her favorite foods right now include all berries, avocados, peas, and gluten-free dairy-free mac and cheese.

Playtime is getting fun with Lu.  She’s started to care for her babies and it’s so cute to watch her give cuddles and kisses.  She loves running outside.  She prefers going up and down the slide to the swings.  She loves climbing and jumping.  She loves musical instruments, particular the drums and piano right now.  And she loves, I mean LOVES watching movies.  I’m probably going to have to monitor screen time with her more than Lyra.  Lyra would watch (and still watches things) while moving around and doing other things.  Lucy is so happy to just sit and watch her stories.  This is another thing she inherited from her mom, I was this way as a kid.  Perfectly content to sit and watch a movie.  I think we have a pretty good balance of screen vs no screens right now but once Lyra is in preschool and it’s just Lu at home we might have to monitor more.  Finding Dory was her favorite.  It was the one thing we could count on to help calm her when she was fussy.  She has since moved onto Moana.  She loves Maui. She is not as much a fan of baths as Lyra is and was at her age.  I think this has something to do with taking baths with a big sister that likes to splash around a lot.  She just goes into the bath, gets clean, and then asks to get out.  Lyra would stay in the bath for hours if we let her.

Sleeping.  Oh sleep.  Right now might not be the best time to talk about it since we have molars cutting AND a small cold.  UGH.  What is sleep? HA!  I think she is at the beginning stages of going down to one nap a day, though most days it’s usually two naps.  She goes to bed later than Lyra but wakes up around the same time as Ly which was about 7AM.  Though with the time change, I think we are going to change up the girls bedtimes and wake times.  Lyra was going to sleep at 6:30 and waking up at 6:30.  But I think we will transition to 7:30 to 7:30 because that seems to be what the girls naturally want to do right now.  Lu is sleeping in our bed at night and sleeps in her own bed in Lyra’s room for naps, though sometimes she falls asleep on the couch and I don’t move her.  We have no idea when we are going to try and get her out of our bed at night, and we aren’t in any rush right now.  I have a trip coming up in a few months which I think might help with the transition, we’ll see.  It probably sounds crazy to some people, but we love it when the girls sleep in the bed with us.  We’ve travelled a lot lately and we’ve all been sleeping together and so when we got home we kept at it for a few nights until everyone started getting sniffly and we had to separate in order to keep from waking each other up.  One night Lu fell asleep cuddled up right on top of Lyra and it was so stinkin sweet.  I think they’ll like sharing a bed once we start that transition.

Here are some pictures from around 15 months for our little Louie:

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napping in her bed.
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nursing champ.
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getting ready for Disney World (that is a separate post upcoming!)
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very sad one day when John left for work.  “bye bye dada!”
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Big Edie and Little Edie (tell me you get that reference!)

 

*If you know John at all, you know convincing him to go plant-based was hard but since 2017 started he has joined us enthusiastically.  I’ll probably write about this at length sometime because it has been life-changing (this is not hyperbole) for all of us.  John had a lot of issues that have completely gone away since eating plant based.  It has been amazing for us. Maybe I’ll have him write about it.