Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2017 Summer Bucket List | Part 1

This summer will go down in history as one of the best summers we’ve had as a family, without a doubt! It’s been busy, at times crazy, but amazing! For starters, G and I were able to spend the first 3 months of summer at home with our kids, which for a couple of working moms is unheard of and a total dream come true. For two, it’s been our first summer as a family of four and the excitement that comes along with that is what’s been the most amazing of all. Thirdly, we successfully completed our #12weeks12adventures plan that we set out to do at the start of the summer (and yes, we created a hashtag for it, lol). The idea was that even with a new baby, we would do things a bit differently this maternity leave and set out on at least one family adventure each week of our 12 weeks at home. To understand what a mission this was for us, you should know that with Gracie, we almost never left the house when she was a newborn… so this was a challenge we made to ourselves to step out of our comfort zone. We wanted to get outdoors, fight our natural inclinations to be paranoid helicopter moms and make the most of what will be the last time we’re all home like this together. All in all, I would say we totally nailed it!
FMLA mission accomplished!

Train Ride to Santa Fe, NM | Gracie’s Last Prek Field Trip
We kicked the summer off by taking the day to go with our gal on her very last preschool field trip (and I’m feeling teary again just thinking about the fact that prek is finished for her) waaaaaa! The field trip was a two-part adventure. First, we all took the Rail Runner to Santa Fe, NM and this was a mini field trip in itself. Grace had never been on a train before and all the kiddos were a bit nervous but so excited to go! Since it was the last field trip of their preschool years, all us parents tagged along and I think we were just as excited as them. The kids had a blast on the train and then enjoyed a yummy picnic in this awesome industrial park in Santa Fe. I had lots of time to reflect during our train ride back into town and felt sad as I thought about this chapter of Gracie’s childhood coming to an end. At the same time, I felt excited for how amazing I know elementary school will be for her. I guess sometimes I just wish I could slow everything down a bit and keep her a baby for a little while longer. But don’t let her hear me say that! If there’s one thing that drives my kid crazy, it’s when I say I want her to stay little. “I’m going to keep growing, Mama! It’s what I’m supposed to do!” This one. 5 going on 15, I tell you! 

Museum of Natural History | Our 1st Family Outing!

For our first adventure as a family, when baby boy was just a little over a week old, we spent the day at the Natural History Museum. We wanted to start with something indoors as it was hot as hell outside, mid-April! Like seriously, it’s been the hottest summer this town has had in 30 years (thanks climate change that apparently doesn’t exist) and because babies overheat so easily, indoors was the only option for us. Grace was super pumped because it had been more than 2 years since we last visited the museum and she’s at an age now where she’s really into dinosaurs and things like the constellations and planets. We also kinda loved that Will’s first family adventure would involve being introduced to outer space, since that’s been the theme for little dude’s nursery, his baby shower and half his wardrobe!

If I’m just being honest, baby boy slept through about 95% of the day as he did for most of our outings at the start of the summer, but he was there with us looking all cute and cuddly, and just being out as a family of four was the best feeling in the world. Grace basically ran from exhibit to exhibit at full speed asking us to read everything in sight. She would often come over to the stroller to tell her baby brother something, even though he was fast asleep every time she peeked in on him. She would smile and touch his little belly or feet and say “aww, he’s cute” before running off again. It made my heart so happy to see her try and involve him over and over. It was just the cutest! :)

We ended up staying all morning and afternoon before heading out because Georgia needed to pump, but not before visiting the museum giftshop! Gracie picked out a little stuffed green triceratops for her bro and a gift for herself and just like that, brother had his first ever souvenir and our first outing as a family was in the books! This family outing went way more smoothly than I thought it would and it surprised us. It showed me that things really are easier with your second child and I think you can attribute this to the fact that most parent chill the F out by their second baby. We weren’t worried about every person who came within 10 feet of us. We didn’t feel the need to get home right away and we knew that every possible disaster would likely NOT take place. This meant we left the house with a stroller and one diaper bag, as opposed to packing for a 2-day trip like we did anytime we left the house when Grace was a babe. We put mittens on Will’s hands (like any good germaphobe would do), packed an extra outfit in the event of a blowout and that was it. Live and learn, less is more, or whatever.

New Mexico BioPark Zoo | Will’s 1st Play Date

There are a few friends from my college sorority days that I’ve stayed in close contact with since graduation and my good friend Katy is one of them. Katy and I shared the experience of struggling to conceive at roughly the same time, with Georgia and I finally getting our baby girl in 2012, followed by Katy and her husband, Sean having their beautiful boy Logan in 2013. A few years later it was a struggle again for both of us to conceive our second little ones. Katy ended up getting pregnant first this time around, welcoming her adorable son Jackson in 2016, followed by the arrival of Will in April, 2017. As I’ve written in the past, conceiving was such a roller coaster, involving so much emotion and through it all, Katy was an amazing support to me, as I was to her. Now that our families are complete, it’s the absolute best when we’re able to get everyone together and this play date was the first that it was all 4 of them!

I knew I wanted Will’s first “play date” to be with Jackson, so when we noticed that a few cloudy days were on the horizon, we all planned to meet at the Zoo! It ended up being hot, but it was a bit overcast and so we found ways to keep cool as the kiddos ran their little legs off, all through the Zoo! They got to see nearly every animal attraction including some new attractions that just opened this summer. Again, brother bear slept, but this time he had a bit more awake time and seemed to be fascinated by all the trees. Gracie and Logan picked up right where they left off the last time they hung out, even though it had been almost a year. We picnicked, we visited and we loved on all the babies. So much fun!

And about these photos, ughhhh… can we please talk about how tiny my sweet boy was in these pictures?! I know they say time flies, but I don’t think anyone prepared me for the fact that it passes even faster the second time around! It really wasn’t until I starting writing this post recapping our summer and looking back at pictures, that I realized just how big Will is now! I’m sure I’ll say this again when I finally get around to uploading the remainder of our summer photos, next month. Be still, my heart!

A Day at the Aquarium | with a side of rain… 

I should start my story of our day at the aquarium with a warning. Never let your older kid think it’s ok to place things like wooden owl figurines in the base of your baby’s car seat. Even more importantly, don’t fail to notice said item and fasten your car seat down, right on top of it – because here’s what will surly happen… An epic thunderstorm will take place as you’re trying to take your car seat out of your vehicle and you will find that much to your dismay, it’s completely stuck. What will follow will involve buckets of water raining down on your head as you struggle to remove the car seat and you’ll end up spending the remainder of your day at the aquarium with swap ass, (caused by soaking wet pants). True story, this is how our day at the aquarium began.

Thankfully, we were super pumped for our visit, so we all forgot about getting poured on pretty quickly. Gracie is obsessed with sea life and always has so much fun at our local aquarium, so she cared the least that she was wet, ha! This is the place we visited when the bean was a newborn for her first play date with bestie, Olivia and she could not wait to show Will all the fish, especially the sharks!

Grace knows her way around the place at this point and we’ve learn from previous visits that we have to slow her down and actually read the displays for each exhibit or we get through that place at lightening speed. Now that our gal is older, she was really into hearing about all the species of fish and happily accepted our challenge to identify each type of fish in the tanks as we read them off. Brother bear was more awake on this adventure then he had ever been on previous outings and while he did keep nodding off, he was awake long enough to see the awesome tanks and stare wide-eyed at the glowing water! We made our way through in about 45 minutes to find that the aquarium cafĂ© now serves our favorite beer on tap, so we grabbed lunch and some drinks… because it’s totally acceptable to drink beer on a Tuesday afternoon when you're on maternity leave and we all know that beer increase milk supply. Two birds, one stone! Yay!     
And there you have it, Part 1 of our 3 part blog series – The Roybal Family 2017 Summer Bucket List Adventures!

Up next: Will & Gracie’s 1st Swim Party, Family Bowling Night, Soccer Camp, Cabin Camping in AZ, Baby Boy’s 1st Stay at a Resort and so much more. Damn, I have a lot of catching up to do! #storyofmylife ;) 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

4 Months of William

Hey cutie patootie! As of this past Friday, you are now a big, oh so handsome 4-month-old and your little family is still totally obsessed with you! I feel like I say this every month, but you changed a ton this past month and checked several more milestones off your first-year to-do list! I feel I should start with the most exciting thing that happened in month 4 and that would be that you – my little man, rolled over and completely shocked Mommy and me! Ekkkkk! You’re not a fan of tummy time and usually only last around 5 minutes before you let us know that you’re over it, so we haven’t been the most consistent with your TT. Then, this past weekend, as you laid on your back under the lights of your play mat, you began swinging your legs back and forth and started flopping over on your side, which totally surprised us! Your sister bear rolled from tummy to back for the first time when she was nearly 5 months and then mastered the back to tummy roll over at 5 1/2 months old, so we weren’t expecting this from you so early on! You have since rolled over 4-5 more times, so now our days of leaving you laying on the bed without supervision, even for just a quick second are over and you’re only 4 months old. Slow down, sonnie bear!

You can now hold your own bottle for up to about a minute even though your bottles are heavy, you strong little dude! Mommy and I use glass bottles for you, which means they are heavier and a bit bulky with the silicone covering they have on them, but I think the silicone outer cover is what has actually helps you to grab the bottle so well. When feeding time rolls around, you are usually so starving that if we let you try and hold your bottle the whole feeding, you get frantic and try shoving the entire top of the bottle in your mouth and end up spilling milk all over your face and bib! You’re just such a hungry little man 24/7, but you’re getting better and will be holding your bottle for entire feedings soon.

The thing that Mommy and I are loving the most is watching just what a happy baby you continue to be. It takes next to nothing to get the biggest smiles from you and the giggles haven’t stopped since you learned how to laugh. You love being tickled and you want to gaze happily at us all day long. Seeing your smiling face first thing when you wake us (regardless of the hour of night), makes everything better! We keep waiting for you to go through a fussy stage, but it has yet to come. Still, now 4 months in, the only time we hear anything that remotely qualifies as crying, it’s typically caused by 3 things: 1. You’re hungry 2. We’re making you do tummy time or, 3. It’s bedtime or naptime and you want to be swaddled. Even when these things happen, you cry for about 30 seconds and as long as we love on you, you’re all better.

On a side note, you are the absolute cutest when you cry, so Mommy and I don’t mind one bit (and usually take pictures of your adorable crying little face). Hehe! #meanmommies

Your Mommy is amazing and just celebrated 4 months of exclusively pumping breastmilk for you, which means she has pumped day and nights for going on 150 days! I know that you don’t understand why this is such a big deal right now, but you’ll get why it’s been so important to us when you are a parent yourself. Right now, Mommy’s pumping efforts are giving you super important antibodies that will help you fight off viruses and many kinds of bacteria. Because of the yummy breastmilk you drink daily, you have a lower risk of having asthma or allergies and a much lower chance of developing ear infections, respiratory illnesses or even things like diarrhea! You, my precious son, will now have a lower risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and obesity, which makes us very happy. Your mamas have introduced a bit of organic formula into your diet so that it’s not a total shock if we transition to that in the future. Unfortunately, the organic formula we introduced made you very constipated so hopefully we won’t need to make that transition any time soon!

Here’s more of what you were up to in month FOUR!

* You have officially lost most of your beautiful hair, you little baldy! You were born with a ton of hair but when you were 2 months old, you developed cradle cap and mama did all the wrong things in trying to care for it. I washed your little head way too often and dried out your scalp making it worse! Then most of your hair fell out, tear. :(  Thankfully it’s growing back now but you’re still pretty much bald… Sorry kiddo!

 * You have discovered your toys and actually grab on to them and put most directly in your mouth now! You have a few colorful toys that have hung from your car seat since we brought you home from the hospital, and up until about 2 weeks ago, you never really noticed that they were there. Now you’re grabbing on to them, swinging them around and laughing anytime they hang overhead. 

* You’ve been spending more time on your activity mat and seem to really love it! Anytime we lay you down there, we can hear you talking up a storm, cooing, giggling and yelling, which always makes all of us laugh! Because you like to be in the mix with us but no longer like hanging out in your bassinet, it’s nice to have other places for you to chill. Having the option to plop you down in the Bumbo or lay you out on your play mat helps keep you happy and that makes us happy! Especially when you join us at the table for dinner, hehe!

* You LOVE to laugh out loud and do it often. Sister is still the one to get the best smiles and laughs out of you but Mama can crack you up too (and it’s my favorite thing to do)! Here’s one of my favorite videos of your little giggle. :)

* You love to be swaddled and fall asleep almost instantly when we wrap you up. We tried ditching the swaddle once you started rolling over but that did not work for you, at all. You ended up swinging your arms all over the place while you slept and woke up with scrapes on your precious little face. Mama ended up just buying you larger swaddles so you have plenty of room to move your arms and legs while still being wrapped up.

* You are officially big enough to wear hats and Mama is obsessed with putting them on you. You look adorable in all of them and we’re hoping that if we keep putting them on your head, you’ll get used to it and let us put cute hats on you forever! Look at how adorable you are!

* There have been some other exciting things that happened this month for us! You finally got to meet your cousin H and even though the two of you didn’t really pay attention to each other, we know you’re going to be total buds!

* Your very own amber necklace has arrived and it looks so cute on you! Sister bear had one when she was a baby too but hers was a light honey gold color. You are showing all the signs that teething has begun, so we’re hoping your amber helps you as much as it helped sissy.

* You went to your very first baseball game with Mommy and Gaga and I’m told you had an absolute blast! I was sad that the game was during a workday and that I wasn’t able to go with you, but Mommy made sure to send me lots of pics of my adorable baseball boy. You could not have looked cuter in your “little man” bandana bib and “H is for Hunk” hat! Gaga and Mommy said that the fans in the seats around you thought you were the cutest little boy on earth and I would have to agree!

* And your absolute favorite things are still ceiling fans, your blankie, your binkie and cuddles. Here’s a picture of you looking all excited at the ceiling fan in our room, lol! You’re wearing the elephant onesie we bought for you a year ago at the Farmers Market. I still can’t believe you’re actually here and wearing the special things we collected for you when you were still just a dream in our hearts.

Your Mamas and sissy love you so very much! Everyone loves you, sweet boy!
On to month five. :)


Our beautiful babies | 2012 & 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

5 Years of Gracie & Pre-K Graduation!

Ok, so it’s more like 5 ½ years of Gracie as we are now halfway to Bubba’s 6th birthday and consequently, this is a very long post as it was previously a draft that I’ve been adding to for months! That and I just really feel like I haven’t written about my first baby love in forever. So, now it’s all here. All the details about who this sweet girl is as a 5 year old + her 5th birthday and birthday party + preschool graduation (cue tears) + about a million pictures of the amazing in-between stuff. It’s all here for me to look back on when she’s 17 and driving me crazy, ha!

So, take a quick bathroom break and grab a snack… I’ll wait… ;)
I’m not sure why, but for some reason, 5 feels like it’s our gal’s last year of being my baby and when age 6 rolls around, she’s going to somehow morph overnight into a big girl and head off to college. The thought of her even being 6 makes me want to burst into tears! Really, it does. We’ve all heard the phrase, babies don’t keep, but it isn’t until you’re parent that you truly grasp just how devastatingly true it is. Our kiddos reach milestones and go through so many phases each year as they grow, and even with those days (or weeks) that make us want to pull our hair out, the time flies and we’re left missing each special moment of their development that’s passed. I really do feel like we were just planning our gal’s 3rd birthday trip to Disneyland, which was such a special birthday for all of us, and yet that was nearly 3 years ago. It’s crazy, but here’s the funny thing – as heartbreaking as it is to watch Grace grow so fast, we’ve absolutely loved experiencing every single age and all her little phases of development. It's just when I think she can’t get any more amazing, that she grows, she changes, becomes hilarious and says more off the wall stuff that has us in stitches!

Gracie is such a good kid. It’s that simple. She’s smart and beautiful and all that good stuff, but really, she’s just so darn good. She listens intently to the things we say and listens so well to her teachers. She is so very in tune with the feelings of others and can pick up on the slightest change in demeanor, which often results in her checking in with those she cares about to see if they’re okay. She is friendly and as we were told by literally every one of her preschool teachers, she has the ability to connect with all the students in her class. By the end of her 3rd year of prek, she had developed strong friendships with the quiet kids in class, as well as the kids who were “popular” and made a point to always include the two students who struggled with some developmental delays in her last year of preschool. I can’t count the number of times other parent volunteers made it a point to tell us just how kind they observed Grace being and what a good kid she is and for Georgia and I, that’s just about the best compliment you could give us about one of our kiddos.

Our Bubba is full of energy, like 24/7 and her zest for life transcends all types of situations. Now, I will say that having a kid who doesn’t stop going a mile a minute until bedtime, can leave you feeling like you need to remove her batteries every now and then, lol. Still, I would prefer she be like this than any other way! I love that she gets soooo excited for the little things. We will get the same super happy reaction from Gracie whether we tell her that we’re going out for frozen yogurt, or that we’re going on vacation to Disneyland. She loves surprises and they don’t have to be big surprises. Little notes in her lunchbox, a movie rental from Redbox, a $1 pack of stickers. Every little thing makes her so darn happy and I hope she always stays this way!

The Bean also feels all the feels, and this is something that we have to keep in mind when communicating with her. She doesn’t like shouting (who does) and will be quick to correct Georgia and I if we’re bickering with one another. She’s been known to ask us to apologize to each other following even the smallest of disagreements. “Mommy, tell Mama you’re sorry. Now Mama, you tell Mommy you’re sorry” has been said by our sweet girl more than a few times. If she’s misbehaved in any way, we try to keep this in mind because yelling at her in the heat of the moment does absolutely nothing to help. Gracie needs discussion, explanations and most importantly, she needs to feel that her voice is being heard. And while we aren’t perfect in doing this all the time, we try to and I feel this is why she has such strong emotional intelligence for someone her age. The Bean is a passionate little person and we started to notice around age 3 ½ that when we would lose our cool and yell, she would yell too. We noticed that anytime she lost her temper and began melting into a puddle, it was always in response to us doing the exact same thing to her first... Funny how kids model the behavior of those around them and hold a mirror up to us, their parents, even when we don’t want to acknowledge that we could be more patient and communicate better.

Seeing our bub’s as a big sister has been the most amazing experience. Even more heart-warming than we imagined. There is no limit to her goofiness when trying to get a smile from Will and now that she knows he’s ticklish, the tickling has become a daily occurrence. She is our little helper who is constantly running from one room to another to get us what we need for her little bro. We do get some complaints from her now and then, usually when she’s tired after school and doesn’t want to fetch things, but that’s understandable. We’ve been trying not to rely on her too much as she is Will’s sister, not his nanny! Ha! I have a good friend (who also has a 5-year gap between kids) who told me that one regret she had after bringing home her second little one, was that she was too hard on her oldest and wishes she would have been more understanding and mindful of his feelings and needs. That conversation stuck with me and it’s one of the reasons we put Grace in big sister classes at the hospital. It’s why we take her on special Moms + Gracie dates and try our best to give her our undivided attention each evening, even if some nights it’s just bath time visits with one of her Mamas.

So, what else about our Bubba at 5 ½ years old? This girl of ours is so dang smart and funny! She has grown into this super witty and somewhat sarcastic little person who has us cracking up all the time. Some of the things that come out of her mouth make Georgia and I stop in our tracks and laugh out loud. Sayings things like, “Mom, you’re the bomb.com!” and “ok, got it!” said anytime we’re both getting on her case for something, or “Oh yeah, oh yeah!” often accompanied by a little dance when she’s excited about something and the funny phrases don’t end there. Girlfriend is a sponge and has the memory of an elephant, which we have to be mindful of when making promises or plans as a family. Her last year of preschool ended with her teachers once again telling us that she performed at the top of her class, with a performance portfolio to prove it! Her preschool graduation had us in tears and was just the most precious and proudest moment we’ve experienced as the Mamas of this amazing girl of ours – but I’ll save that for the end.

|| Here’s a bit more about sister bear at 5 1/2 ||

Grace LOVES:

 * All things girly! Makeup, dresses, princess everything, bows, jewelry, nail polish and cha-cha heels. We mustn’t forget the cha-cha heels!

 * Bath time and just being in water in general. She looks forward to swim school every week because, even though practice is only 45 minutes, she’s in water and that rules! She LOVES going to the lake and baths now often drag on for over an hour. She sings in there. She plays house, makes “potions” and pretends to be a cook in there. Like me, it’s her happy place.

 * School and every other environment that allows her to be social, like soccer practice. I swear, our gal could make friends with a tree. I’m not sure if it’s because she was an only child for 5 years, or because it’s just her personality, but she will approach and try and make friends with anyone. This is one of the things I love most about her!

Her special little treasures, like her rock collection and pink camera. Grace is a rock hound and has been since she was tiny. She insists we save all the special stones she comes across, which doesn’t always align with my desire to keep things clean and tidy in her room! She loves using her pink camera to take pictures of the things she finds interesting and she’s really good at it too!  

Books! Girlfriend can never have too many books! When brother came along and I went through her collection to separate out the “baby books” and you would have thought she lost a limb. It took some time for her to share and she eventually did come around, but I still find some of her baby books back on her bookshelf every now and then. Her favorite book is one that was Georgia’s as a kid, that I originally thought was much too advanced for her. Each chapter of the book highlights animals from different continents and she is absolutely obsessed with it.

 * Singing and dancing! Grace has this hilarious hula dance that she does that has us in stitches anytime it’s performed. She’s either dancing or singing most days and is obsessed with the karaoke machine her Nani gave her for her 5th birthday. She adores Moana and every song in the movie soundtrack. Thankfully, we like them too because we get to hear them often. Like, all the time.

 * Her BIG family! Gracie adores her family and has a hard time when she doesn’t get to see her grandparents on a weekly basis. I love this because growing up I wasn’t close with my grandmother who lived just a few blocks away, and the grandparents I was close with lived in the Ozarks, which was so sad for me. Grace has a special room in both grandparents’ homes full of her favorite things and Papa, Gaga and Nani are basically her best friends in the world.

 * Stuffed buddies! The love our gal has for her stuffed animals drives me crazy, if I’m just being honest, lol! They seem to multiply monthly and I’ve run out of places to house them all. Still, they are all special, real life friends for Grace and she knows each of their names and notices if one goes missing… Most mornings she will come to our room with her arms full of stuffed buddies. She absolutely loves them.

|| Gracie’s 5th Birthday Party ||

You guys are going to be so proud of me when you read this – Gracie’s 5th birthday party was planned and executed in just 48 hours. There were no Pinterest inspiration boards. I didn’t spend months obsessing over handmade decorations and there were no over the top expensive invitations sent out. G was just 3 weeks from delivery, our home was in crazy baby-prep mode and all Grace really cared about was having a Moana cake and a new dress so – voilĂ ! We made it happen! Georgia and I decided that we were going to just go for it and planned her party on a Friday for that Sunday. We picked up some balloons, ordered a cake, ran to the Disney Store for a Moana dress and invited immediate family and Gracie had a blast! The party was at a Chucky Cheese and following 3 hours of playing and eating pizza and cake, we treated everyone to movie tickets to see Moana in the theater. We didn’t stress out my very pregnant wife, we saved probably around $300-$500 (compared to what we normally spend on birthday extravaganzas) and Grace said the day was, “the best ever”!  #momwin

|| Preschool Graduation ||

Now for the best part – Preschool Graduation! Yes, it’s true. 3 years of Preschool have come and gone in a flash and it makes me teary just thinking about it! I remember when I got the call telling me that our favorite Preschool that had zero openings had a cancelation and Grace was in! I didn’t know at the time that this would be the beginning of a the most wonderful 3 years. We had no idea that she would meet the best of friends or that we would become close friends with the most amazing mom squad ever! When I think of how much she evolved and grew during her years at the co-op, I’m left feeling so very grateful! The teachers were amazing. The fellow parents were welcoming and loving to our family (the only two mom family in the entire school). The curriculum put Grace in a position to do her absolute best in Kindergarten and I really think our experience there made G and I better parents.

Graduation was a BIG deal and the entire family was there to celebrate Gracie’s first of many graduations! The kiddos wore the most adorable caps and gowns. They put on a performance for all of us that they had worked on for months that had us all in tears and at the end, they each took turns sliding down the big red slide one last time as they collected their completion certificates. It was just the most precious event and will be a memory that I carry in my heart forever.

Our sweet love. We couldn’t be more proud to be your mamas and we can’t wait to see all the amazing adventures Kindergarten has in store for you!

With love, Mama

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