Josie is in preschool

Seems fitting that after closely documenting Josie’s first year of life and then taking a very long break that I should begin again with a Josie update.

She is 3, almost 3.5 somehow.

She started preschool two weeks ago, in the last week of August. She attends two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and she is in a 3’s class of about 20 kids. She was, and still is, very excited about being in school! The whole summer one of her favorite games to play was “school” – however in all her simulations she was the teacher and I was the student. This is important information.

On her first day we all woke up in a bit of a tizzy: Zach was getting ready for work, I was not used to having to wake up at any certain time therefore had no inkling of what kind of time window I should work with on preschool mornings. Josie was not used to having to get dressed right away, actually eat her breakfast, etc. We managed, though! Drop-off was wonderful, Lindy and I enjoyed a nice quiet morning and then at 11:15am it was time to pick her up again!

Josie came running out the door all smiles, happy to see us and gave me a big hug and said “I was not a good listener and I made bad choices!!!!!” My heart sank. Her teacher asked to speak to me after all the other kids and parents left and let me know that Josie had had a rough first day. It turns out that when you fully believe you are the boss of everyone else in the entire world, it’s hard to be told otherwise! We face this challenge at home of course but on a much smaller, less overwhelming scale. Josie’s teacher was very encouraging and assured me that it was going to be a transitional period for the first several weeks for all these kids, especially the ones new to the classroom environment like Josie. Man, I was so disappointed and sad. I was so nervous all morning and even mornings leading up to that morning just hoping and praying Josie would have a good first week at school. We had enjoyed a really positive orientation morning the week before where she was so excited and well-behaved, it had really put my mind at ease! But still we were standing there having chats with the teacher on the first day about not kicking someone off the letter J on the alphabet carpet, just because our name starts with J!

The rest of my day was hard. I struggled with Josie going about her day like nothing had happened meanwhile I was so frustrated that she didn’t seem to care that she had made me feel like a horrible mother on her first day of school. We got through it and had lots of pep talks in the following day about using manners, being kind, making good choices.

When Thursday rolled around and it was time for her second day of preschool I prayed fervently that she would be in control of her feelings and remember to be kind to others. I prayed the night before. I prayed in the morning. I prayed in the parking lot after I dropped her off and all through her morning. She had a MUCH better day! Her teacher said everyone had a much better day. I was so incredibly relieved and proud and happy! Since then, her behavior has been good, she’s been getting good reports and really having fun. Yesterday (her 5th day of school) her teacher asked me to hang back again and my heart sank again – but this time it was to tell me that she had been wonderful in class and was a delight! My smart girl.

I feel that I’ll be on my toes for this whole year of preschool. Maybe because of the rocky start, maybe because my baby is gone to school for the first time and it’s such a roller coaster of emotions. I’m thrilled to have Lindy to myself for awhile each week and have peaceful mornings where I know Josie is having fun and learning so much. But it also begins the lifelong worrying that comes with her being in someone else’s care and hoping that what I am teaching her at home is helping her to be a kind, respectful and good human when she isn’t around me. Thank you Jesus for picking me to be her mom and teaching me so much through the experience! So much…. soooooooo much….

Things I want to remember

It is April 1, 2017 and these are some things I want to remember:

The ice is thawing. Spring is coming. It is 55 degrees today. Last night after Josie went to bed, it was still light enough out for a quick run. I did a mile and a half and felt pretty good – I enjoy running much more now because it is an escape. It’s something I have the luxury of doing, rather than task of doing. Thanks, motherhood.

Josie’s cheeks look extra big right now. Last night she ate a whole puree of turkey and rice, an entire greek yogurt (that I was planning on having to share with her), a whole string cheese and some crackers. Girlfriend is packing it on!

When Murphy gets too close to her high chair she violently wags her finger, AND shakes her head, yelling “NA, NA, NAAAAA.”

Now when she starts to do something she knows she is not supposed to, all I have to say is “Josephine….” and she wags her finger, “NA NA NAA” and leaves it alone.

She is almost one. Almost not a baby. But she still is a baby right now. So I will nurse her for her naps if I want to. We’re down to three nursing sessions per day, and I’m planning on bringing it down to two next week. We’ll see how it goes… the only reason the mid-day feed remains is it is crucial to her afternoon nap. She goes down fine but wakes up way too soon!

She is starting to bring me  books to read and actually sits and listens to them. This has to be my favorite thing so far in her development. It absolutely melts me. My busy little baby sits in my lap and sits for a whole book. I mean she brings me something?? It feels so grown up. Stop it.

I want to murder Duncan most of the time lately.

Except for around 9pm when he suddenly turns so sweet and cuddly and puts himself to bed in my room. When he isn’t there I miss him.

I am anxious for it to get even warmer so Josie and I can have picnics outside and explore my parents woods. Maybe even get out on the boat!

I’m feeling proud because I’ve lost about 40 lbs since Josie was born, and 15 since January! I have about 20 to go to get back to my pre-pregnant weight. Pregnant moms: resist the urge to eat entire boxes of frozen waffles in one sitting. It’s not worth it!

We are house hunting via the internet and taking a trip soon to do it in person. It is so much fun I could burst with excitement, but also throw up from the stress. Fun combo. Really though, it is a fun combo. It’s such a fun time for our young little family.

We get to see Zachary next weekend and WE. CAN’T. WAIT!

 

 

11 months of Josie

Eleven MONTHS, people.

My Josie is becoming… a person. A tiny, powerful, hilarious, gorgeous person.

My snorty little 7 lb, 13 oz, scrunchy faced, cluster feeding, wide eyed newborn baby sweetness. Amazing.

Josephine Rose is one busy lady. She goes, goes, goes! Snuggles are still rare but every once in awhile she’ll lay her head down on my lap for a couple seconds and SOMETIMES even let me stroke her hair a little. But then she’s right back to it!

She is in the process of cutting one of her top lateral incisors. It is roof stoof for this poor lady! Whenever she has a tooth coming her naps really suffer. I usually try to get ahead of them with some baby ibuprofen so we at least have a shot at a nap, but I usually have to rock her to sleep and then attempt the dreaded crib transfer. Some days we win, some days we don’t.

She has been saying mama/dada/nana for awhile, but recently she said “ball.” It actually comes out more like “bah!” And she points to her toy ball! We were so excited that we were FacetTiming with Zach when she said it for the first time, it was so sweet that Zach could witness it. A few nights later, she repeated “night night” (“nah nah”) to Zach when we were saying goodbye!

I’m teaching her how to give kisses, starting with her stuffed animals. When I showed her I made the “mmmm mwah!” sound, so Josie holds the animals up to her mouth and goes “mmmmm!!!” Sweetest sweetness.

She pulls up on everything but we aren’t quite cruising yet.

She is one speedy crawler, I can’t take my eyes off her or else she disappears!

Josie is still not a fan of car rides. This baffles me. She is in the car so much! We are the girls about town, man! You’d think she would realize ok this is just something we do…. not so much. But we don’t let it stop us from getting out of the house – we just suck it up and go! Homie will get used to it some time or another.

Meal time is always interesting. If Josie is hungry enough it goes pretty well and she eats most of what I give her. If she isn’t that interested for whatever reason, she flings food onto the ground and/or feeds it to the dogs. Fun! We’re working on signing “all done” when she doesn’t want anymore but so far it’s not going great. I’ve been trying to cut down on nursing sessions during the day and that is definitely helping!

Her favorite food is cheese. String cheese, cheese quesadillas, scrambled eggs with cheese, cheesy broccoli, cottage cheese. It’s fitting that we are in Green Bay because she is a total Cheese Head. She also loves crackers, taco meat, seasoned steamed broccoli, bananas and her trusty chicken/apple puree.

Joey is ever observant. She scrutinizes everything and watches very closely before acting. She is such a thinker. When strangers approach us in public places, she rarely offers a smile right away… more like a serious stare. If they linger long enough they will catch a smile though!

Her laugh is the sweetest sound I ever heard – thank goodness she is such an easy laugher. The more those top teeth come in the cuter it is.

JoJo loves when I chase her around the floor. She starts off as fast as she can, then turns back to see if I’m chasing her. She cackles wildly and it just kills me! She also thinks it is hilarious to go up to plugs, cords, anything she’s not supposed to touch, and stick her finger out dramatically while looking at me from the corner of her eye. Oh boy.

She holds any and every object up to her ear to use it like a phone. She holds it up and says “AH?!?!” When she wakes up from her naps and I go to get her, sometimes I call out to her from around the corner in the dark. I say, “Hello??? Is Josie there?” Her eyes get so wide and she throws her hand up to her head, and listens very closely.

We will be celebrating Josie’s first birthday in Williamsburg next month. The theme will be Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – Josie’s favorite book. I can’t wait!!!!!!

10 months of Josie

I wrote this four weeks ago just before Josie actually turned 10 months, but was holding off so I could take her pictures! The time keeps getting away from me and I have a mysteriously missing SD card so I just gotta get this up here and use some other pics!

Happy 10 months to my Josephine Rosephine!

We’ve been having a grand ol’ time up in Wisconsin with Nana and Grandpa, but I write this from GiGi’s house in Williamsburg! We arrived Friday and were able to spend the long weekend with Zach. He had to go back to work for the week, but we will stay here and he’ll come back again next weekend so we can see him again before we head back to Green Bay.

That makes three plane trips that Josie has been on so far in her little life!

This was definitely the most challenging, because Josie is ON. THE. MOVE. She wants to crawl anywhere and everywhere, so sitting on my lap in a way-too-small plane seat is not high on her list of things to do. Luckily the flights aren’t too long. This was the first time we flew with a layover and it worked out pretty well. We had a layover in Detroit and that’s a nice airport – we rode the monorail back and forth a few times, we crawled around an empty gate area and we shared some Chickfila. By the time we did all that, it was time to board the next flight and we hadn’t even discovered the kids play area! On the way back maybe. Also on the way back I will 100% be upgrading to the extra legroom seats. Josie didn’t sleep at all on either flight, so I basically stuffed every variation of Gerber Graduates snacks into her mouth for an hour!

So – Josie crawls everywhere, and loves to explore. She is one busy bee. She pulls up to her knees on everything but not her feet yet. She’s done it once or twice but isn’t too sure about it.

She had her first trip to a playground!!! It has been too cold/snowy/icy in WI to go outside at all but here in VA it feels like spring. She LOVES the swings!!! It’s the most fun thing ever! She also loves going down slides with us!

Josie’s favorite foods are peanut butter oatmeal, chicken/apple puree, bananas, cottage cheese and pancakes I make out of egg/banana/cinnamon. She also likes spinach and pasta! She does not like strawberries or peaches and most of the green vegetable purees make her gag.

She has her two top teeth now bringing us to a total of 4 teeth! Cutting those was a real doozy. She’s got all her central incisors and now I think one of her bottom lateral incisors is about to burst forth.

When Josie isn’t cutting teeth her sleep is pretty good! She goes to bed at 7pm and sleeps until 4-5a. I feed her and put her back down and she usually will go back to sleep until 630-7a. Once in a blue moon she even goes until 8a!

Naps are another story, but as long as we’re sleeping at night I can power through. I imagine unless you have a child/care for children, you really cannot fathom why it would be such a big deal if your kid didn’t nap. I know I couldn’t. Just take my word for it, those little tiny breaks in the day make a huge difference in your attitude, energy, outlook on life, etc. JoJo generally takes a short morning nap but the afternoons had been tough. In the last few days I started trying the “2-3-4” routine: wake up in the morning and stay awake for 2 hours, then nap. Then awake 3 hours, then nap. Then awake 4 hours, and bedtime. It’s actually working great, and I am putting her down for her afternoon nap earlier than I had been so I wonder if I was waiting too long before and she was just overtired. Anyway I know everyone is just enthralled by my nap chronicles so moving on.

We spent a week at Nonnie and Boppa’s in Door County while my parents went on vacation, and it was a blast. I boarded two of the three dogs and brought Gus with us, since he’s an old man now and basically just lays around all day. Josie had a great time exploring their house and we had a bunch of outings. Mostly to Al Johnson’s and Shopko – there aren’t a lot of winter activities in Ephraim but we really enjoyed ourselves. I hadn’t had my Nonnie and Boppa to myself for a whole week since sailing camp when I was 8 years old!

Our Joey is becoming quite opinionated and letting us know when she is not pleased. This is terrifying and I’m already having to practice my stern mom voice. She started hitting things out of my hand when she’s mad and throwing a fit when she doesn’t get something she wants right when she wants it. Example: when I’m giving her Puffs in the car to keep her happy on a ride, she simply must have one in her mouth, and one in each hand at all times. Or else.

She still loves baths and we started baths in the big bathtub with big girl bath toys!

FaceTime is heaven-sent. We try to FaceTime with Zach every night before bed and Josie loves it. When he walked in the door Friday and she saw him for the first time in 6 weeks, she absolutely lit up. She let out a big giggle and reached right for him! I teared up and Zach was so relieved she hadn’t forgotten who he was. It was the sweetest thing, wish I’d filmed it.

She knows that phones go up by her ear. Whenever she gets hold of mine, she puts it up to her ear and says “AH????” She does it with everything. Toys, food, her hand. We put our hand up to our ear and say, “Hello?? Is Josie there???” And she puts her hand up to her ear. IT KILLS ME!

She waves “bye bye,” but usually she thinks about it for a good 10 seconds and by the time she does it no one is there and she’s waving to nothing.

When I brush her hair she takes the brush and tries to brush her own. When I lean down and give her my hair she brushes it too!

When she does something she’s proud of she claps for herself! We cannot get enough of this little ham sandwich and her personality comes out more and more every day!

 

 

The roller coaster

If someone were to build a roller coaster made of all the emotions I feel in a day, as a mother, it would be the most insane, terrifying, thrilling roller coaster in the world.

Firstly, it would be made of wood, so as not to be too terribly stable.

It would have a long, long line to lull you into a false state of unassuming innocence.

The attendant would check your harness and roll their eyes at your gleeful naïveté.

It would shoot off at warp speed right out of the gate – no slow build up on this ride!

The kind that makes you sick from all the twists and turns and loops.

You may even black out a little.

The kind where you get to the very top of the peak and are marveling at the gorgeous view. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? Peaceful? Still? You could sit there forever.

… then two seconds later you are plummeting to the ground with unbelievable force.

The kind that makes you shriek with delight and fear all at once.

The kind that makes you jump out of the seat, glad to be on solid ground again when it’s over.

But then you can’t stop talking to your friends about it when you get off.

The adrenaline lingers and you look back at the line.

You forget those scary loops and your nausea disappears.

You remember just how breathtakingly gorgeous that view was at the top of the peak.

And you get back in line to ride it, again and again.

27

I turned 27 on Sunday! I feel that now I am in my “late twenties” and maybe old enough to have a baby? And at the same time wish I’d started having babies earlier. And also at the same time realize that Josie came at the perfect time in my life, really.

We had a low-key weekend and yesterday my mom, Joey and I drove up to Ephraim to spend a few hours at an art class held at the sweet little Moravian church. Nana and I took turns playing with Josie in the church nursery and following her around as she crawled around exploring the halls of this little building that’s been standing since the 1850’s. I love being there because the history is just so amazing. The founder of the church walked from Green Bay north to Ephraim, ON Green Bay, as it was iced over. That’s about 80 miles walking on ice! It was the first church in Door County if I remember correctly and it’s little white steeple is one of the most distinctive parts of the Ephraim “skyline.”

During Nana’s turn with Josie, I was able to practice my perspective drawing a bit and glean some expert insight from the art instructor that was present helping everyone with their individual projects. Everyone there was working on something different, with different mediums, so it was quite inspiring to me. I am looking forward to getting artsy and creative with my mom after Josie goes to bed! It’s pretty great to live with your mom.

Something else that is pretty great: when you realize that your favorite summer escape is just as beautiful in the winter. When all the tourists have gone and the seasonal shops are closed, what’s left is a different kind of icy, still beauty. Yesterday the shoreline was barely visible through the fog and the big chunks of ice floated silently on the harbor, and it was so stunningly gorgeous… yet I found it impossible to convey it through a photo.

Luckily I have some more time here to try and capture it. What a pleasure.

9 months of Josie

9 months is a big one for our Josie!

As of her 9 month wellness appointment, she weighs 18 lbs and is 27.5 in long. Both 50th percentiles while her head remains in the 80th!

She had her first Christmas at GiGi and Grandpa’s in Williamsburg. It was great having the full house and lots of people to interact with!

We made the long journey to Wisconsin. I sat in the back with her and Duncan kept her company via the trunk. It was tough staying occupied for 15 hours but she did great.

She had her first stay in a hotel on that trip! They had a porta-crib and she slept in that for half the night and in bed with us the second half.

Josie received a big girl carseat for Christmas so she rode in style up to Green Bay. We got the Graco 4ever convertible carseat and so far really love it! She has much more room and is more comfortable.

She started sleeping through the night after we got to Green Bay. She goes to sleep at 7pm, and has been waking up between 5-6am. I feed her and put her back in her crib and she will usually keep sleeping until 7, sometimes 8am!!!

However, her naps are a disaster.Lately it’s a screamfest when I put her in her crib and we only get a decent nap if she’s nursing (yay). Everything’s a phase, I tell myself!

You can always tell she is real mad when she blows raspberries while she cries. We call her The Mad Baby.

She loves baths! And chewing on wash clothes.

Her favorite toys are things that are not toys. But of her toys, I would say her favorite thing is a little baby mp3 player similar to this. Highly recommend for car rides!

On Monday, January 9th, Josie figured out how to crawl. She has since been ON. THE. MOVE. It is the cutest thing ever to watch her get somewhere, sit up and clap for herself. She has more fun if I put toys on the other side of the room so she can go get them herself! I’m getting used to not being able to plop her down somewhere and trust she will stay put, i.e. while I take a shower.

She is eating lots of purees and her favorites are chicken/apples, turkey/veggies and squash. She loves Puffs and we are working on more solid foods! I needed a pep talk from the doctor regarding my paralyzing fear of her choking to death, but we’re doing it.

She goes absolutely nuts for FaceTime. When the outgoing call noise comes on she bounces up and down and screams! When we talk to Zach in the evening she gets so excited and demands to hold the phone in her hands while we talk. She turns the phone over to look at the back of it, to see where Daddy is. It’s the cutest thing!!! She does it over and over. She waves to Zach, and gives him the biggest grins. JoJo just adores her Daddy (and so do I!).

She is very independent and still not a big snuggler. When I am putting her to bed she will snuggle into my chest before I put her down and it turns me into a puddle.

She loves bathes and splashing her toys around.

She is not wild about diaper changes or outfit changes.

Also not wild about getting put into the carseat but she’s mostly fine once she’s in.

She is very chatty, especially in her high chair!

She bounces up and down whenever she hears music.

She still only has two little teeth on the bottom.

She’s the cutest baby in the whole wide world. This age is so fun. Forever in disbelief that she’s all ours.

Living at Home

So far, life in Green Bay has been nothing short of wonderful.

As I mentioned before, Josie and I are staying with my parents for a few months while Zach is away at training for work. We have been here a little over two weeks now and are settling in quite nicely! Zach got us all situated before he had to fly back down to DC and we already miss him terribly.

However! There are a number of things that are really, really awesome about rooming with my parents again.

  • Duncan has adjusted so well already. He doesn’t particularly love Gus or Murphy but he coexists just fine. He never really learned how to play, so he gets concerned when the other two start to really get rowdy and he tries so hard to herd them around – he’s realizing he might as well try to herd cats. But there is so much more room here for him to just be himself, all 100 lbs of him. Most of the day I hardly even have to think about him; he prefers to snooze under tables and we only hear from him if something goes on in the kitchen. A guy after my own heart.
  • To go along with the Duncan perks, it is really great having a real yard. A YARD! Dunk is in Heaven. He sits at the top of the stairs on the deck and surveys the property, and when I try to let him inside he looks at me like I’m crazy. This dog was built for Wisconsin temperatures. It snowed 7 inches last week and he laid down in it for an hour. It is so helpful to not have to leash him up and take him for a (usually stressful) walk in a crowded neighborhood every time he needs to go potty.
  • Josie and I have company all day long! We never have to feel lonely because we’ve got my mom and a zoo of animals to play with!
  • The grocery list is exceptionally different… i.e. we don’t have to eat turkey burgers 3 out of 5 nights of the week! The life.
  • We have lots of family here so I love getting to see them and not having to say a true goodbye anytime soon.
  • The Packers obsession is real. These people love their team. It makes gameday way fun, especially that big win last night.
  • Josie has her own room here and it is in the most soundproof room in the world. It is a true luxury not having to share a room with a noisy baby. No one has to tip-toe around; you can clank pots and pans around or even vacuum and the little lady makes nary a peep.
  • There is no traffic here. None! Ever! Even the Green Bay version of “traffic” is like I-95 on a great day in Northern Virginia. It took a minute to get used to. I was looking on my phone to see where the nearest Target was. I found one but it didn’t have a Starbucks (gasp) and that, as we all know, is unacceptable so I found the next one that did. It said it was in downtown Green Bay, it said it would take 15 minutes and I thought to myself, “oh no… downtown. It’s going to take forever to get there especially at rush hour. At least half an hour.” But no! Rush hour doesn’t exist here and the estimates are true! I can have my Starbucks and drink it too.
  • Everyone is just so… nice. People are chatty and friendly, and not in a never-ending rush. The other day at the grocery store, I was struggling to get Josie and all the bags out to my car when 3 employees ran up to me and said, “no no! You pull your car up and we will load these up for you!” Bless. If I had a nickel for every time a stranger in DC saw me struggling with the baby and hurried past without a word….
  • Last but definitely not least, the grocery store is called Festival Foods. You say, I’m going to the Festival! Even errands sound happy here. Am I getting my point across?

So yeah, it’s going well. We are hoping to visit Zach sometime next month, and by then we will know where we will be moving! We are so excited for a new adventure, no matter where it is. We are really hoping to end up anywhere near family, but ultimately look forward to an adventure of any kind. Even if we end up back in DC, at least we will really be there and can settle more permanently than before – plus I’m already missing my sweet friends! I spend my nap times and evenings looking at cost of living comparisons in Portland, flight costs from Chicago and Zillow markets in Anchorage – and everywhere in between, but mostly praying that God sends us where we are meant to be. The planner in me is dying to know, but this eager anticipation is exciting and I know we’ll look back on these weeks of uncertainty fondly. While I wait, I can distract myself with a cute baby and fun outings with my mama!

Christmas 2016

We made it to Wisconsin! I write to you from my parents’ cozy living room while the baby naps and the fire whispers softly in the fireplace. It has been a crazy, crazy week since Christmas but we powered through and I couldn’t be happier to be at this point!

We had a lovely Christmas! We celebrated in Williamsburg at Zach’s parents’. My parents flew down, my brother and his girlfriend drove in from Blacksburg and we spent a great week together. My in-laws were amazing hosts and put up with a crowded house and lots of dishes, all the while serving up great food and atmosphere! It was very special to have everyone present for Josie’s first Christmas. She was quite taken with all the lights and Christmas decorations. She spent the week ALMOST crawling, but not yet! She can get from sitting to her knees but doesn’t know what to do from there yet. She can also go from her belly back to sitting! When she discovered how to do this one night about two weeks ago, it took her approximately three hours to fall asleep because she was just having a wild time exercising her newfound skillz. When she is trying to get somewhere she’ll fling herself forward and land in a belly flop but hey, it works for her. I can put her down on the floor and 10 minutes later she will be on the other side of the room just by rolling and flinging herself all over the place! Baby proofing is in our very near future.

We went to the 4:30pm service on Christmas Eve and Josie looked like a doll. She was so good. She was a little chatty but the people around us were friendly and there were tons of other babies and kids at that service so it was pretty noisy with chatter and random screams already! It’s so funny how at one time that probably would have annoyed me a little but now it’s the most welcome sound in the world. We’re all in this together, parents!

Something sweet I don’t want to forget: Joey loves singing. When we sang the Christmas hymns she sang softly along with me in her little singsong voice. She sings along when I sing her the ABC’s and also when I sing her bedtime song (Skidamarink). It just kills me.

Christmas morning was magical! We did most of Josie’s presents in the afternoon because of her naps being all over the place but it was great to have the morning last that much longer. She loved all the wrapping paper and boxes, of course. She got so many adorable outfits and fun toys – there was no shortage of things to occupy her on this trip! She has some separation anxiety when it comes to Zach and me, but being around everyone for a good week helped her get comfortable playing with the grandparents now and then.

In the days after Christmas we fought the post-Christmas blues by playing with hilarious presents, shopping the sales at the outlets and meandering around colonial Williamsburg. Zach was excited to take Josie around the William and Mary campus, and thanks to the unseasonably warm weather we had a great little stroll.

Prior to Christmas we had packed up our whole apartment and did a good bit of cleaning so that we would be ready to go right afterwards. Looking back, we were maybe a little crazy to do it the way we did, but we didn’t have a ton of options! We drove back to DC on the 28th, and spent the night on our mattresses on the floor. Then on the 29th, I took my parents to the airport and the movers came to get us loaded into the UHaul! Bada bing bada boom.

It was much more cost efficient to do a UHaul + movers combo than an actual moving company. Highly recommend! This was our third move in our 4 years of marriage and the first time that we splurged on mover help. NEVER GOING BACK. We were super happy with the movers that came out and they got us loaded and unloaded into the storage unit down the road in about 5.5 hours. Josie and I were in charge of things like delivering sandwiches! We finished the move and cleaned the empty apartment, turned in our keys and got on the road at about 5pm… We had hoped to be on the road by 1pm. Ha. It had been an exhausting day to say the least, so we made it to about Pittsburgh before we decided to stop at a hotel and call it a night.

We picked a Holiday Inn Express that was dog-friendly. I had heard lots of not nice things about pet-friendly hotels so I was kind of dreading the whole experience, but it was totally fine. It was clean and they had a portable crib for the baby, which we needed since we didn’t have room in the car for her pack n’ play. It was tough sleeping in the same room as Josie because her sleep was all messed up from traveling and she woke up a lot before I ultimately just brought her into bed with us so at least Zach could get some rest for the drive.

We got moving the next morning and enjoyed the free breakfast, and hit the road for a long day of driving. Duncan has had a rough couple weeks and has been very unsettled with all the packing up and stress. When we came back from getting breakfast (gone 20 minutes) he had thrown up all over the hotel room carpet. Poor guy. That set us back a bit but we eventually set off for Green Bay at about 9am.

Zach drove the entire 10 hours and I was on Josie duty in the back. She really did fantastic for being in the car seat all day long! We received a big girl (convertible) car seat for her for Christmas and I think it made a huge difference. So much more room for activities!!! She can also see out the window more easily which was great for seeing all the…. cornfields…. on the way to WI. The scenery wasn’t super exciting but I did love seeing the thousand snowy fields with the furry cows all huddled together. Very Americana.

We took 3 pit stops to eat, stretch and gas up. I had lots of different little toys in the back and rotated them throughout the day, and I also brought several travel sized board books to read to JoJo. Towards the end of the day when she was getting super antsy I busted out the Puffs and that carried us to home plate. We got in at about 7pm, just in time for dinner! We had a decent introduction between Duncan and my parents’ two dogs, and pretty much collapsed into bed at 8:30. Sweet, sweet relief after a crazy stressful 48 hours!

Now we’re just getting settled in our new temporary home before Zach has to fly back down to VA for his training. We are going to miss him so much but I am grateful to have this time with my family and the help with my baby and dog. We are looking forward to becoming authentic northerners!

Christmas photos!

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‘Tis the season!

Since last year our Christmas cards were stolen off of our doorstep twice by some jerk in our apartment building, we skipped a year with cards. But this year we are back, people! My brother Kevin snapped some photos for us one weekend while he was visiting and I am so appreciative because we don’t have many pictures (that I like) of all 3 of us. He has a great eye and I’m happy we’ll have these forever. Thanks Kev! Duncan could not make it into these photos on account of being a total psycho but rest assured he is still very much a part of the Raymond fam. 

We’re in the midst of a whirlwind of packing and it seems that the Christmas season has been flying by. We are really looking forward to heading down to Williamsburg this week where we can forget about the move for a little while and embrace everything CHRISTMAS while surrounded by family. It really is so much more magical having Josie with us and getting to see everything new again through her eyes, from decorations to lights to brightly colored wrapping paper.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up was making “Santa signs.” It was always my dad’s project with us on Christmas eve. We would go to the store and get fun craft supplies along with big poster boards, and come home to make our signs. We put our names on them super big and decorated them with glitter and puff paint, and then ceremoniously decided in which corner of the living room we would put our sign. That way, Santa would know where to put all our presents! Christmas morning my dad would always go down the stairs first to make sure Santa had come. We’d wait at the top of the stairs holding our breath, waiting for him to say, “WOW, he really outdid himself this year!” so we could race down the stairs, run to our signs and see what had magically appeared overnight. I definitely want to make Santa signs with my kids so Josie better learn to write her name in the next 6 days!

Zach’s favorite traditions are driving around looking at Christmas lights at night in our Christmas pajamas, and decorating the house in the most extreme way possible. Since we’ve been married we always have grilled cheese and tomato soup on the nights we decorate!

What are your favorite holiday traditions? I’m collecting ideas – Christmas is 100x more fun with a baby, in case you were wondering. I CAN’T WAIT.

dsc_0484 dsc_0497 dsc_0502 dsc_0500dsc_0540dsc_0446And this one, just because. Zach.