Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 6 months

August 16, 2017

Sleeping: Lark is still sharing a room with Prim and is sleeping really well for the most part. She’s generally only up once at night, around 5 or 6am, which I’m hopeful means she’ll be sleeping through the night within the next month or two, since that feeding is so close to when she wakes up for the day at 7am. And in case you’re wondering about how the room sharing works with these girls being so young — they do generally just sleep through each other’s noises (even crazy crying!) Prim will sleep through just about anything and Lark sleeps through Prim’s antics probably 50% of the time. I’m sure that as she gets older and better at getting herself back to sleep, she will sleep through a lot more.

How we’re adjusting: We just got back from Madrid, and Lark, ever the easy-going child that she is, did wonderfully. She would nap on the go all day and then go to bed in a new environment with hardly a whimper. KC and I at multiple points during the vacation would turn to each other and be like, “Who is this baby??” because she is sooo chill, you guys, it’s nuts. 

Lifesavers: I know I’m a broken record talking about my Solly wrap on here, but seriously, it is maybe the best baby purchase ever, especially for traveling. Anytime Lark would get a little fussy I would pop her into the wrap (after feeding her, obviously) and she would just conk out or hang out quietly. It was also amazing because it was so sunny and hot in Madrid and Lark is still too little for sunscreen, so I would pull the front of the wrap down to cover her legs and throw her hat on and she would be completely covered.

Latest trick: Lark is getting really close to scooting/crawling now. I watch her on the floor on her belly as she hitches her leg up trying to wiggle closer to a toy and I know it’s just a matter of time before this girl will be all over the place!

Sweetest things: Lark is obsessed with Prim (and vice versa). It’s an all-day lovefest between these sisters, my heart can hardly take it.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark makes these hilarious screeching pterodactyl noises when she’s just happily hanging out. I love listening to her little voice, especially because Prim is so crazy that I sometimes forget that Lark is a chatty little extrovert too.

The Rundown

Currently

July 26, 2017

Photos from our trip to the zoo this weekend!

Making: peanut butter chocolate chip cookies as a belated treat for KC’s birthday (he has been working in Dublin for most of the past two weeks)

Cooking: the “Amsterdam” version  of this White Chicken Chili (because I can’t find all the ingredients here.) It’s delicious and healthy!

Drinking: Dutch beer, duh.

Reading: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

Wanting: more time and more sleep, always.

Looking: at mamafiets (“mama bikes”) — though not anymore! I bought a new one this weekend!

Eating: peanut butter cookie scraps… They came out kind of crumbly, I think because I only have a hand mixer here. Plus my oven is weird.

Wishing: for nice weather for the next week. We’ve got visitors!

Enjoying: the fact that the kids went to bed super easy tonight. Hallelujah.

Loving: our weekend adventures. We did brunch, the bike shop, one of my favorite toy stores, and the zoo all in one day.

Hoping: to catch this damn mouse that is running rogue lately. Get outta here.

Needing: to get ready for tomorrow. Blah.

Smelling: lavender extract. I put it on the kids before bed to keep the mosquitos off them. (Prim and I are being eaten alive.)

Feeling: accomplished. Moving the girls into the same room has been an adjustment for both of them (and us), but so far with some sleep training and schedule fine-tuning, things are going really well.

Wearing: jeans and tees. Mom life.

Watching: Game of Thrones (delayed on US cable via VPN — ha!)

Bookmarking: accessories for my new bike!

Life Abroad / Personal

Our Life Abroad: One Year In

July 25, 2017

Now that we’ve been in Amsterdam over a year (more than 14 months, actually!) I thought I’d write a post about how things are going.

When we moved here, it was really exciting and stressful and overwhelming and… all of these BIG feelings, basically. Then I got pregnant IMMEDIATELY and descended into the lovely world of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, so my first summer here was spent missing home and feeling like absolute death every minute of every day.

In a nutshell, last summer was pretty rough. I know that so many people look at this opportunity and think that they would jump at the chance to do something like this, no questions asked; but a move like this, in addition to being amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, is also a huge adjustment. There were so many times I wished we could just move back to California and pick up our life where we left off.

Now that we’ve been here a year though, this city is really starting to feel like home. It dawned on me when we were in Barcelona earlier this month — we had been in the city a few days already, and we were picking up some groceries at a local grocery store. I was standing in the frozen section looking for something and overhead a couple standing nearby speaking Dutch. Without even really realizing it, I thought, “That sounds like home.”

You know how when you’re traveling in a foreign country and you haven’t heard the sounds of home in a long time, how something familiar can be suddenly so comforting? I remember traveling around Europe with my sister years ago, and we stumbled across a group of people speaking Spanish with a Mexican accent while we were in Vienna. We both stopped in our tracks for a moment and then turned to each other and said, “Oh, it sounds like home.”

I was so surprised to have had the thought that hearing Dutch sounded like home that I was immediately jolted back to reality and stood there for a second thinking, “Oh my god… What does this mean?”

As you can imagine, KC and I are having an ongoing discussion about what we are going to do when his contract is up next year. We have so many options and possibilities, which is simultaneously amazing and overwhelming.

As much as we miss our families, we both wonder whether the Bay Area is going to be able to provide us with the life that we want. And as much as we love Amsterdam, I wonder whether I’ll ever be ok with raising our kids so far away from our families. As of now, nothing is set in stone, we just continue to go over and over all of the options and pros and cons.

I will tell you though, every time I ride my bike through this city I can’t help but feel like I could stay here forever.

Baby / Family Fun / Life Abroad / Summer / Travel

Our Trip to Barcelona + Traveling with Littles

July 19, 2017

We recently returned from a week in Barcelona and had the most amazing time. Barcelona is one of those dreamy cities that you feel like you could wander forever and never get tired of.

We visited a bunch of the “must-see” sites and ate our weight in tapas and pintxos, and I’m already plotting our return — I couldn’t get enough of Barcelona! KC and I both at one point were devising a plan for him to do a secondment with his firm in the city (the one hitch being that KC doesn’t speak Spanish… which is sort of a must. Ha.) But with the gothic architecture and countless skinny alleyways just begging to be explored, how could you not want to spend more time there? 

For those of you wondering how traveling with two little ones was — it was actually great. Prim and Lark were amazingly well- behaved on both flights (Prim even slept on the flight over — serious win) and they adapted to their new surroundings without a second thought. We played fast and loose with their schedules and they took it all in stride like a couple of pros. Traveling with kids is of course never as easy-going or stress-free as I really prefer my vacations to be, but I have to admit that the kids were really good on this trip. Even though they’re both so young (newly two and four months at the time of our trip), they both adapted well and I think really enjoyed seeing a new city. That’s Prim running around in the background of that picture above ^^. Some guys had just come though and done a sort of tumbling/street dance performance while we were having dinner and Prim felt inspired to go run around do some dance moves of her own after they had passed through. She was quite the hit with a lot of the locals. If you’re considering traveling with kids, my advice is do it. I am pretty structured and type-A (KC I’m sure is laughing out loud at this — “pretty structured??”) and I have to admit that the idea of yanking the kids out of their comfort zones and subjecting them to an unfamiliar city and upending their schedules totally stresses me out. BUT, since we are in Europe for a finite amount of time (or, at least that’s the plan for now… ha!) I have embraced the idea that we will be traveling with our kids a lot. We have four more trips planned before the end of the year and may be adding a fifth. I have also learned that taking these trips and pushing them outside of their routines seems to be a good thing overall. I like to think that it’s not only opening their eyes to new places, people and things, but also making them more adaptable to life in general.

If you’re wondering what we bring with us travel-wise, here is the general list. (Keep in mind that your child’s needs will vary based on their own age and home life and this is just what worked for us.)

European airlines tend to have stricter carry-on rules and more fees for checking bags than US airlines do, but that said, some things are non-negotiable when traveling with little ones. We luckily have been able to find flights that allow us to check a stroller and carseat for free, so in addition to that we check one large suitcase with all of the stuff for me and the kids and a travel crib (we love our BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light). We bring three carry-on bags: a small suitcase (verrry small. Europe!) with KC’s stuff in it, a backpack I use as a diaper bag with stuff for the kids, and a travel bassinet.

I brought four thin paperback books for the kids, a teether for Lark, and Prim was allowed to bring her small Jellycat lion and her baby doll. Aside from that, we brought our iPad loaded with a couple Disney movies and Prim’s headphones, and that’s it entertainment-wise.This is our travel bassinet. I found it super-cheap on an online family market here in Amsterdam and it’s been awesome for travel because it folds up into a bag the size of a standard diaper bag (similar here — on sale!). I brought it with me when I traveled with Lark to the US also and was able to have her sleep in it on one of the flights, as I had two extra seats next to mine. She will likely outgrow it before our next trip, but since Prim is now sleeping in a toddler bed, we will be able to transition Lark into the travel crib and put Prim into a regular bed with our travel bed rail.

About 2 months before we moved to Amsterdam, we shipped our regular stroller with all of our other things to the Netherlands. Since we needed an interim stroller and wanted something compact for travel, KC started researching umbrella and travel strollers. He happened to come across the Babyzen Yoyo, which was in basically zero US stores at the time and I had never even heard of. After some intense online-sleuthing, KC determined that this was the stroller to get for travel, as it folds up suuuper small (seriously, TSA is always like “WHOA that’s small!” whenever I have to zip it through security) but also has a pretty legit suspension system, making it ideal for handling all of Europe’s cobblestone streets.

At the time, I thought it was a little insane to spend so much on a second stroller; but now that we’ve taken multiple trips with this stroller and had a second baby, I am so glad that KC insisted on this purchase. Though it folds up smaller than an umbrella stroller, it has the options and amenities of a full-size stroller. We’ve added the carseat adapters (ideal for traveling with a baby less than 6 months old) and the ride-on board, which is perfect for P. Prim is able to sit or stand on it when she feels like it (or when we force her to — 2 year olds!) or we can pull the board up when it’s not in use (see the picture of KC with both kids and the stroller above to see the board pulled up).  And of course I can’t live without the Solly Baby Wrap. It’s so light and versatile, it’s perfect for travel. It can be balled up and shoved into a suitcase or diaper bag, it works as a lightweight blanket in the stroller, as a makeshift nursing cover, and it’s light enough to use in hot weather. Not to mention that the Spanish ladies were all totally obsessed with my wrap (and Lark in the wrap for that matter). I was stopped so many times on the street to have conversations in broken Spanish and English about my wrap (and its contents 😉 ) — clearly Solly needs to start some kind of global expansion program here.

We loved you, Barcelona. Someday I will be back to walk your streets and drink all the cava.

PS: If you have any travel-related questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll respond. 🙂

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 5 months

July 16, 2017

Sleeping: Lark is now sharing a room with Prim and has been sleeping really well. She’s up once or twice at night to nurse and naps like a freaking champion. She is regularly woken up by Prim in the evening when she goes to bed (let me tell you, it is HARD for a 2 year old to do anything quietly) and 90% of the time Lark can get herself back to sleep. As much as I would like Prim and Lark to go to bed at the same time, it’s proving not to be feasible right now as Prim goes to bed at 7:30pm but Lark can’t seem to make it past 7pm. Oh well. We’re still in the adjustment phase of room-sharing, so I am trying to remember that things will settle eventually and we will get to a point where it will be a little bit easier.

How we’re adjusting: You may already know that we just got back from a week in Barcelona, and I have to say that I am super impressed by how well the kids did. The flights were successful (no meltdowns!) and both Prim and Lark adjusted to their new surroundings seamlessly. We played fast and loose with their schedules while we were away and they handled it like a couple of pros. I’ll try to write up a post about our trip and what worked for us travel-wise soon!

Lifesavers: Lark was gifted this little stuffed lamb lovey (I guess the Dutch word translates to “cuddle cloth” which is, um, ADORABLE) before she was born. When I started sleep training, I started giving it to her when she went to bed so she would have something familiar nearby when she woke up (since she refused to take a pacifier). She is obsessed with her “lamby” now, and nuzzles it when she wakes up and is trying to get herself back to sleep.

Latest trick: Lark is continuing to wiggle her way across the floor and is actively grabbing every toy in sight. She has some amazing stamina when it comes to tummy time — she can hold her head up forever without having to take a break.

Sweetest things: Lark now reaches out to grab my face when I come close to talk to her or kiss her. She no doubt gets it from her older sister (who I have to admit, gets it from me!)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is so interested in everything that’s going on around her. She watches Prim intently, and it’s so sweet to see her readily recognizing people now (like when KC comes home and she breaks out into a big grin). The best thing is coming to get her up from her crib in the morning or after a nap — she gets the biggest smile on her face and starts cooing wildly like she’s filling me in on all the things she’s planning on doing during the day.