Here is my sweet girl at two and a half. How did that half appear there so quickly? Wasn’t she just turning 2 with family in town? I was talking to my mom about the struggles and the joys of this age, and decided I better jot down some of these parts of 2.5 that I want to remember – a snapshot of Audrey right here and now. This is two and a half with the sweet leader of our house!
Let’s start with the sassy. A few months ago she decided to stick a pea up her nose at dinner as I was refilling drinks. She looked at me panicked, “It’s stuck!” From somewhere in my engineer/mother brain I had the instinct to ask her to open her mouth wide, placed my mouth wide over hers (CPR-style), blocked the free nostril, and blew in her mouth. That pea popped right out! Let’s hope that was the first and last item to get a tour of her nostrils.
She loves to play (& fight) with Jack. Like most siblings they adore each other once second and then decide to pass the time by fighting over the same marker. I hear I will be dealing with this phase for awhile….BUT in the last two weeks they have started playing together for longer periods of time without needing a parent. It has been so fun to listen to their make-believe games.
Even with the crazy twos, the fun stuff is SO much fun. She has named her expected little brother, Jack Quack Mack, or Quack for short. She found her inspiration from the children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings. We all now affectionately refer to the baby as Quack too.
She loves to play – anything from taking care of her baby dolls to racing cars, coloring, PUZZLES (her current obsession), riding her trike outside. And the books! So many books every day with favorites almost any of the Little Golden Books and anything Curious George.
She gets to do “Gym Bus” once a week – a converted school bus with the seats taken out, fully open and tumbling ready. This bus comes to their daycare once a week, and Jack has been doing it for almost 2 years. Jack was thrilled to have Audrey in his class (“Mommy, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Audrey was on gym bus today, and didn’t cry or anything!”) She also plays soccer once a week…whatever that means at 2. Ha!
She is Miss Independent and is definitely the leader at our house…but she’s still small enough to curl her body on top of me when we rock. Such a truly wonderful age!
We were home together yesterday, working on a third day in a row of very successful (and focused) potty training. She is so proud of herself (“I’m so HAPPY with me!”) and has enjoyed looking through pictures of herself for this post while sitting and waiting. Maybe this will mean a short diaper reprieve before Quack arrives….
Our favorite little guy turned 4 in December! (And this post has been in draft form until I could commit to going through some pictures.) We celebrated right before the actual date with his first friends’ birthday party at Imagination Station, a kids’ science museum in town. Lots of his friends and their siblings came to celebrate. The kids ran around playing with big foam blocks, magnatiles, dinosaurs, and trains. The museum has a lizard to pet, and we had a special liquid nitrogen ice cream demo that the kids loved!
We had his 4 year check up and Jack is right where I expected him to be. Height and weight: 42 lbs and 43.5 inches (90% for weight and 97% for height!). For comparison he was 7 lbs 13 oz and 21 inches at birth. What a difference in 4 years!
Jack’s Favorites: Cars, trucks, tractors, and trains – anything that moves and is loud. He loves gymnastics and goes to “gym bus” every week. Now that it is cold again he will start inside soccer once a week to burn off some energy. He has started enjoying coloring a lot in the last few months, and loves us reading books to him as much as ever. (He would also happily watch TV every day if we would let him). He loves to play and fight with Audrey – and she loves him back.
Our favorites about this age: Getting into big kid stuff is fun! I do miss some of the cuddly baby days, but luckily Jack loves to get in bed and cuddle with us every morning. He is so sweet (& quiet) when he gets up. He is really fun to converse with, and asks great questions. And he is quite the jokster, and loves to make everyone laugh. Jack has such a beautiful voice and I really enjoy singing along with him.
Looking forward to: Taking him skiing this winter. We’ll stay fairly local for his first time out, and can’t wait to see what he thinks.
Audrey turned two on Monday October 17th. We celebrated with Gigi and Papa, all of my siblings, Cousin Maurine, Aunt Stephanie and Michael (while Grandma & Grandpa were en route to welcome our first nephew, Cole). Jack declared it “Audrey’s best birthday ever!” and he was totally right. I don’t know how many birthdays we will be able to celebrate with so much family and it was exactly what all of our hearts needed this month.
Height and weight: 28 lbs and 38.75 inches…although we think the height measurement was a bit generous (70% for weight and 99% for height!). For comparison she was 8 lbs 3 oz and 21 inches at birth and 21 lbs and 31.5 inches last year at this time.
All Disney music (and she seems to know all of the words), baby dolls, trains, picking out her own clothes and shoes, putting on her coat, pushing her shopping cart around the house, going to the real grocery store (“I get popcorn and cookies, right mommy?”), hikes and walks, puzzles, going along on bike rides, looking at pictures of herself (“May see please?”), books, sucking her thumb.
Being told what to do. She wants to be in charge of EVERYTHING (gotta love a girl who knows what she wants, right?). Me being sweaty (“Mommy sweaty? (with look of disgust) Go upstairs. New shirt peese!”), trimming toenails (ugh!). She can be slow to warm up to people, and the one time in the last 6 months I took her to the gym she freaked out.
Eat & Sleep:
She eats pretty much everything. Most kids seem to be carb lovers but Audrey is a carnivore – Chicken, beef, fish is all fair game. She is adventurous and likes whatever is on the adults’ plates (like raw red onions – one of her favorites!). I am SO thankful for my good eater. I am equally appreciative of her good sleep habits. We usually read books with the boys before she asks me if I’m sleepy. She announces, “Girls are sleepy” before kissing the boy goodnight. We read another couple of books, tell a story, and both sing songs together before she sweetly lays in her bed. She gets a solid 11.5-12 hrs at night, sleeping 7:45ish-7:30 and gets a 1.5-2 hour nap each day. (Photo Credit: Kim Davis Photography)
Looking forward to:
Teeth coming in. Two year molars haven’t been too bad (yet) but we keep waiting for it knowing its coming.
More family time! Having Audrey and Jack with their cousin, Maurine, these last few days was SO much fun. They all adore each other and it was so easy to have them together. We are traveling to California in mid December to go visit Uncle Mark and family AND to visit Aunt Tina and Uncle Brandon (& Baby Cole!!). Now we just need a visit to see Uncle Doug and Aunt Candice (& Baby Lee) so we can get all of the cousins together.
Another Disney Cruise. No plans for one but Audrey and Jack request a repeat often.
Halloween! Audrey and Jack have given a couple of (constantly changing) suggestions for Halloween costumes and I think we have a winner.
I couldn’t love my Audrey Elizabeth more than I do. I am so honored to be her mother, and adore her loving and assertive personality. She completes our family, and has made these last two years even sweeter than I could have ever imagined!(Photo Credit: Kim Davis Photography)
My last few posts have been family/lifestyle/travel. So what’s going on around here in terms of health and fitness? I used to share some weekly workouts and would highlight a workout to try for the week. I haven’t done that forever and was asked about it (Hi, Mom!) so I thought I’d do a quick check-in.
Early in May I started running with a new running buddy. Wow! Finding a compatible running partner was a long process. I have been in West Lafayette for 3 years and hadn’t been running consistently. I miss my Kansas City runner girls, and I don’t love running by myself super early in the morning. But since running with a friend, we have consistently been getting three runs in a week and have been slowly (& safely) building our mileage base from 3 miles to our current long run of 7 miles. (Sigh!) It feels SO good. We missed an early morning run this week because of lightening so I talked my little family into a quick and humid 3 miles at the end of the day. Despite her bored face, Audrey seemed to have a blast. Jack, however, has been spoiled by the bike and was insistent that we were not running fast enough.
So a typical week over the last few months has been:
Tues: am Run, pm Teach Cycle
Fri: am Teach cycle, BodyPump (~50% of Fridays)
Sat: Long run
2-3 days/week of strength training, 3 runs, and 2 cycle classes have been pretty consistent but nothing creative to blog about. I still teach TRX once a week and the occasional Saturday, but the classes are pretty full so I just coach and rarely get to train with them. Any interest in seeing TRX and HIIT workouts in the future? Here’s a teaser:
Just a quick check-in with some pictures from last weekend in Chicago. I presented at a P-12 Engineering Education conference in Chicago during the last half of the week at the Museum of Science and Industry. What a great location! I love this museum but hadn’t been in probably 5 years, since the ‘Bodies’ exhibit was there.
(Can’t beat a run by the lake pre-conference!)
Matt brought the kids up on Saturday and we spent the rest of the weekend exploring. We stayed just south of the river and rented this beauty. Jack and Audrey love side-by-side doubles, and Jack begged us to keep it at the end of the trip. We had originally planned on traveling on bike but the forecast for rain was a bit iffy. Next time (and for a longer weekend) we will have to bring the Orange Krusher (cargo bike) along.
After checking into our hotel we spent a good bit of time playing in Maggie Daley Park just outside Millenium Park steps away from the lakeshore. I saw the huge climbing structures and play garden on a run earlier in the week and knew it would be a hit with the kids. There are lots of separate play areas with signs suggesting which age groups are most appropriate in each area. There is a huge ship, tri-level climbing tower, big slides built into the side of a hill, and so much more. Kids were everywhere! It will be a “must” next time we’re back
Then we took a walk to meet Aunt Tina and Uncle Brandon for dinner. They were on their way back from a wedding and on their way home to California. We met at the Rainforest Café. Maybe not the food that Chicago is known for, but decent kid options and good entertainment.
After dinner we headed to Navy Pier to ride the newly renovated Ferris Wheel. We all loved it, and Aunt Tina got some good pictures of everyone enjoying the views. We hit up the carousel and then started more walking (with our 31-week pregnant trooper Auntie). (and unpictured Ghiradelli ice cream. Yum!) We kept the kids up late and they crashed hard when we finally hit the room.
The next day, we were woken by the alarm at 6. I am guessing Jack and Audrey were playing with buttons and accidentally set it. Yawn! But it meant that we got a head start on breakfast, checking out of the room, and off on another walk along the lakeshore. This time our destination with the Field Museum. Another favorite of mine! Matt and I hadn’t been for over 4 years and were really looking forward to sharing the adventure with the kids. They both are very interested in dinosaurs so Sue, the T-rex, was an immediate hit as was the flying pterodactyl. We checked out the rest of Dinosaur Hall for the majority of our time there. Lots of questions on whether these were “real” dinosaurs, where was their skin, etc. and some speculation on whom would be eaten first in our family if dinos attacked. With limited time before lunch we decided to end with the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit to check out the mummies. Next time we will have to plan on the Family Playlab on the ground level. Looks like some great activities for little kids.
After a quick lunch at the museum we took a water taxi back to Navy Pier and walked our stroller back to the rental. Then we lugged two tired kids back to our hotel and car. Audrey was asleep pretty soon after hitting the car and Jack gave his best effort at recapping the trip with us before he fell asleep too. With a quick overnight, I loved what we were able to fit in. As the kids get older, these trips are getting more interesting and maybe just a little easier.
Do you visit any of the museums in Chicago? What’s your favorite?
Since booking our cruise (with details in this post), we’ve had lots of friends say they have considered going the Disney route as well. Matt and I loved to research some tips and tricks as part of our planning and wanted to be sure to pass along some of our tips of making a great trip with little kids.
1. If possible, get a veranda room
Our kids took naps on the ship most days, and went to bed earlier than we did. Having a balcony was wonderful for sitting outside and hanging out while they got some rest. We kicked up our feet and enjoyed a drink (you can bring 2 bottles of wine or a 6 pack of beer per person. Make sure to bring a corkscrew and/or bottle opener.). On pirate night we were able to catch the fireworks from our balcony after Jack and Audrey went to sleep. (Matt’s tip: try for the 9th or 8th floor on the right or starboard side of the boat for best views. Mid-deck is also nice.) My parents got the regular veranda room which was wonderful and very spacious for two people and had the same balcony. We got the family veranda room which was even a little bit longer, giving more room for Jack’s couch-bed (with rails!) and Audrey’s pack and play. As an aside, I was a bit nervous about the balcony before seeing it. It is totally enclosed and worry-free with toddlers.
2. Book the early dinning time
The early dinning time is 5:45 and the other option is 8:30. I don’t think we would have ever made that option! We were assigned to the later time initially, and kept calling and checking in to make sure our name was on the waiting list for the earlier time slot. About a week before the cruise we were able to move to the earlier dining time.
3. Bring some beach toys
This was our kids’ first time on a warm beach. It was great to have plenty of beach toys for them to share. We had buckets and shovels and brought some dump trucks from home. It made the sand even more fun. (Note: you don’t need beach towels. They hand them to you when you debark the boat on Castaway Cay.) We went to the family beach. There is also a bigger kid beach with play equipment in the water – that our kids weren’t big enough for so we didn’t head that way.
4. Don’t be afraid to try out the shows and leave whenever you want
That’s the beauty of all of the shows being included, AND of being with lots of other families. No one expects perfect show behavior. We went to each show being ok with ducking out whenever it was time. We got a chance to see lots of singing and dancing that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The balcony is a good option if you know you’ll be leaving early.
Short video of Audrey dancing before crashing hard for the night:
5. Get to your room early on the first day
You are allowed in your room around 1:30/2pm on boarding day. We knew there would be a mandatory emergency drill at 4, but we didn’t know the alarm would start at 3:30. If you have little ones who nap, get to your room early so they can get settled and get decent naps before the alarm starts.
6. Request a pack and play
We had briefly considered bringing ours. Don’t! They have it all set up and it was in perfect condition. We also requested a diaper genie for the room. Good decisions all around that made for very easy travel. If you have an older toddler sleeping on the sofa bed, you can request bed rails. They were solid for our wiggly Jack.
7. Pack a “carry-on” bag for the first day
Bags might not be delivered to your room until about 5pm on the first day, so make sure you have everything you need for nap, diaper changes, outfit changes, white noise machine, etc. in a carry-on bag.
8. Little tidbits
-Sign up for earliest embarkation time. You don’t have to board at that time but you can as soon as you’re in the area.
-Disney transfer from the airport was SO easy.
-If you can easily bring 6-12 water bottles with you, it is nice to have on the beach and to keep offering when you’re out and about.
-The Cove Cafe coffee bar is in the adults only area on Deck 11. Its not obvious immediately. They have cold brew coffee…wish I would have found this earlier. (All the drinks and food there are an additional fee)
-There are a couple of breakfast options (regular buffet, menu full-service, and buffet with drink service). With little kids I really liked the buffet with drink service. We could get the kids food and have drinks brought to us…and lots of coffee.
-Bring alphabet magnets for your room door. We spelled out our names (and brought some for Gigi and Bapa). It made going back to our room fun, and made finding our rooms very easy.
-Bring clothespins to pin wet bathing suits to chairs on your balcony.
-Bring a laundry bag to easily stash dirty clothes to pack home. (will try to remember this one for future travels)
-A small air freshener/candle is really nice for keeping a small room fresh.
-Get room service ice cream Mickey bars. They aren’t on the menu but are available….And they are delicious!
-Take plenty of pictures and videos. We loved having Matt’s GoPro camera with waterproof case for the following little videos
-Enjoy being a big kid with your kids. It pretty much rocks!
Short background on this trip: Matt and I don’t consider ourselves “cruise people.” We’ve always liked planning our vacations with some out of the way little stops, and Matt especially likes planning lots of the little details. We are coming up on celebrating our 10 year anniversary (!!) and while we always said we would go back to Hawaii we found (1) that’s a really long travel for a short vacation and (2) we really wanted to have a family vacation with the kids. Matt suggested a Disney Cruise and I jumped at the idea. So here we are…
I can’t say enough good things about this trip! We did the 3 night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream. There are stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Castaway Cay. And to make the cruise even more fun Gigi and Bapa came too! (They honeymooned in the Bahamas 37 years ago – I’m sure traveling with grand kids was just as exciting, ha!)
We traveled to Orlando the night before our cruise took off so we could spread out our travel a bit more and enjoy our first day at sea. Getting on the boat on Day 1 was mildly hectic (get boarded, get lunch, get let into room for naps before a mandatory emergency drill) but the evening was a blast. At castoff, we had great Disney entertainment with singing and dancing from Mickey, Minnie and gang. After that, we had the best dinner of our trip that night in the Enchanted Garden. The kids did a wonderful job through a multi-course dinner, but were definitely ready to explore. After exploring the ship a bit, we wandered over to the Golden Mickeys, which were a Red Carpet-like show with great singing and performances. We lasted until 8:30pm, when Jack started getting scared of the dragon banner in Mulan. He has an excellent imagination! (wink, wink)
Day 2 was a day docked at the Bahamas. My parents got off there for the day, while we stayed on the boat to take advantage of the great pools. Audrey adored the Nemo splash pad. Jack had fun hanging out in there but really liked the two-story slide.
After good pool time, the kids had naps in the room while Matt and I had a drink on our room balcony. Then we walked around the ship in search of Mickey and Minnie. Audrey kept shouting “Minnie Moushhhh!” at Mickey and Minnie and was thrilled to see them from a distance. She refused to get too close though (reminiscent of Santa) but Jack was happy for a hug.
Evening was Pirate Night, and there were some fantastic costumes. Jack and I wore the provided pirate head scarves, Audrey dressed as Tinkerbell, and Gigi and Bapa were happy to join in the pirate fun. After dinner, there was another outside party with character singing and dancing. We watched from the balcony and danced until our little ones were ready for bed. After we got them tucked in bed, we took a bottle of wine out to the balcony to watch fireworks. It was an amazing day!
Day 3 was the day I was most excited for, and it was perfection! We docked at Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) and took a short shuttle ride to the beach. We had packed plenty of beach toys and trucks and got to work playing in the sand and playing in the water. The weather was absolutely perfect, and we were on the beach around 9am (one of the advantages to having early risers!).
We had lunch on the island, and then Audrey started getting pretty droopy on Bapa. He took her under an umbrella and they enjoyed a nice nap together. Aren’t they adorable?
Two of my favorite pictures from the trip – And how appropriate since it was Father’s Day. (Matt joked that this was going to be a really hard Father’s Day to top in upcoming years)
After Audrey woke up, we decided we’d all head in from the sun and spend some time on the splash pad in the shade on the ship. My parents played in the water with the kids while Matt and I took a ride on the AquaDuck, a big 4-story “watercoaster.” I screamed like a kid and we had a blast.
We continued the fun at dinner at Animator’s Palate which was a really cool restaurant with interactive animation featuring the sea turtle from Finding Nemo. The turtle paid a special stop at our table to talk to my dad and appreciate his Hawaiian shirt. Then we finished the night at our final Disney musical, Disney’s Believe, that featured songs from Aladdin, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lion King…and others. After no nap, and a fantastic imagination the talking tree in the Pocahontas portion of the evening had Jack yelling “I’m scarried!!” So we took that as our cue that it was time to head back to our cabin for sleep. After we got jammies on, we all cuddled in our bed to sing the kids songs and they fell asleep almost immediately. From start to end, it was such a happy and memorable day. I’m already itching to go back.
I’ll check back in later in the weekend (or week) with some tips and tricks for traveling with toddlers on the cruise and a couple of our favorite videos.
Jack is three and a half. I’m not quite sure I can put a finger on it, but his personality seems so much more mature in the last quarter of the year. He is SO much fun to be around, and I find myself thinking that this is one of my favorite phases so far.
Playing with this guy is fun! He likes everything outside – soccer, swinging, tagging along on a bike ride or using his balance bike, hiking (huge surprise that he can keep up great for about 2 miles without one complaint!), and posing for the camera (photo courtesy of Aunt Tina!).
Cars and trucks are a constant favorite too.
(no worries – he doesn’t get to cruise carseat-less in convertibles!)
He’s SO sweet and loves to cuddle with me and Matt before he gets up for the day. This Saturday he was already eating breakfast with Matt when I came home for a run, and he was very concerned that I hadn’t gotten any cuddles before breakfast. His sincerity in offering his cuddles was adorable. His sweetness in the morning (almost) makes his sporadic sleep nights a distant memory.
He adores his grandmas and grandpas too. Makes me so happy!
A couple of favorites from Audrey’s last update (full post here). Seeing Jack play with Audrey is (mostly) so much fun!
Next up: a re-cap from our summer vacation on a Disney Cruise!
Audrey is 19 months – we missed the one and a half year mark but I wanted to document some of what makes Audrey — Audrey.
She keeps jumping in the growth chart. At her 18 mnth appointment she was 99th percentile for height and 85th percentile for weight.
Likes: Music and dancing, books (especially Llama, Llama which sound like mamamama when she says it, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do I see?), holding hands with Jack, being understood when she talks. Food. She is going through a phase where she eats a lot and isn’t picky about anything. She tried blue cheese this week and was not a fan at all, but I think that is the first thing in awhile she hasn’t eaten. Outside and swinging (when talking about swinging she makes the best swing motion and squeals “sing, sing!”). Her hat, sunglasses (sunnies) and purse.
She loves going on bike rides on what Jack has named “The Orange Krusher.” The duck pond is a highlight on the ride as she yells “dack dack” (her version of quack quack).
Play: She plays well independently but loves to be playing near Jack. Trains and blocks are fun for both of them until they each want the exact same piece. Ahhh!
Dislikes: anyone touching something that she has deemed hers (Mine! Mine!), Being told no. She gives a finger wag if she really wants to emphasize she’s unhappy with you.
Personality: She is such an affectionate little girl (selectively!) giving unprompted hugs, back pats, kisses and “lub yous.” She talks all the time! (sometimes she is understandable).She is the life of the party with her dance moves. She really gets into it! She is pretty opinionated about her tunes. While she does love some toddler music, her most frequent requests are “Cake by the Ocean” and “Shake it off.”
She is a caretaker. She usually gets picked up first at the end of the day, and immediately points down the hall and says “JACH!” and runs to go get him. We do stories and bedtime together some nights and on those nights she likes to help me rub Jack’s back. So sweet! She started by putting her babies to bed and loving on them, but now she really likes to love on “Jach.”She is a good combination of fearless but not reckless. She thinks she can do everything that Jack can do – and pretty much does. She tows the line between baby and big girl. Some days she wants to sit in her highchair and some days she wants to sit in her big chair at the table. But either way, Audrey wants what she wants. She has an opinion and she make sure we know what it is!