Wednesday, July 19, 2017

the one with all the manatees

We had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the beach last week! It was Millie's third year going to Cocoa Beach with us, and each year gets more and more fun! 

Ever since we took our mini-vacation to Cape San Blas in April, Millie has been BEGGING to go back to the beach. Parenting pro tip: maybe don't tell your distraught daughter about your next beach trip while you are leaving from your current beach trip if there is more than about 2 days until the next one. "In July" meant NOTHING to Millie, and so it's been a lonnnng three months of telling her "not today!!" every day when she thinks we are going to the beach that day.

See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me...and no one knoooooows how far it gooooooes...
But finally the day came and we got back to her beloved "BIG water!" and all was well with her soul. And mine. But then...

But then.

Then it was Thursday. Thursday, July 13, to be exact. A day I shall forever remember with fondness, joy, and delight.

On Thursday we decided to go kayaking. Same place we've gone before- the Banana River, less than a mile from our condo. The river is where my love of manatees was born back in 2010, when I unexpectedly came upon them while kayaking. I've been a woman obsessed ever since. But I've never had as much success finding them again. Occasional sightings, a glimpse from afar...enough to keep fueling my passion, but not enough to quench it, right? But I get it. It's July. It's hotter than Hades. It's not "manatee season," even though it's a manatee zone. So I keep my expectations low reasonable-ish.

But on Thursday...

A manatee? There wasn't a manatee.

There were four.

Four giant, lovely, fat, happy, playful manatees. They were hanging out in a little cove, doing what manatees do. Rolling around, being adorable, and BE STILL MY HEART, curiously checking out the kayakers who happened by.

Like, they just came up to us! They KEPT coming up to us! The swam under us and rubbed their backs on the bottom of our boat! The stuck their noses up and sniffed us!!

I GOT TO PET A MANATEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot even describe this.

Over and over and over, they came up, rolled around, said hi (with their bodies. I speak the body language of the manatees, trust.).

Millie's sweet little hand got to PET A MANATEE!! She was so brave!!
Indescribable, people. Absolutely amazing. I have videos (and videos, and videos) of the whole experience and my voice is like 12 octaves higher than strictly necessary and I am gushing and nearly sobbing and like OH MY GOSH I WAS BEING SWARMED BY HAPPY, ROLY POLY MANATEES!!!

They have whiskers!! Or "beards," if you're Millie.

They showed off with cute party tricks like this!

Oh look, it's Erika tanning on the beach a manatee tanning in the water! (P.S. I touched their bellies too, don't worry. They were much smoother than their backs and didn't have all the algae/barnacles. Very interesting!)

We stayed in that cove and just watched and played for over half an hour. They never left us- they kept swimming around us and coming up. I really just cannot believe it happened. I think I'm still in shock.

This is how we felt about the whole experience.
I am just so incredibly thankful for such an amazing, unexpected opportunity. That my parents, Matt, and Millie got to experience it alongside me was even better. You better believe none of us have stopped talking about it ever since. And now that we're home, with no upcoming beach trips on the agenda, Millie asks "when we see manatees again?" and like...what am I supposed to tell her?! At least I've got a co-manatee lover in the house with me.

July 13, man. July 13. You know, on the Tuesday and Wednesday before, I'd been sick with a stomach bug and stuck in bed (so stupid on vacation!!). But on Thursday, I woke up, felt a bit better, and figured we may as well go for a paddle down the river. What a wonderful spur-of-the-moment decision THAT turned out to be!!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

summer fun

Well, the summer keeps on trucking along. It's hot. It's humid. It's inexplicably raining and storming nearly EVERY day. But we're having a lot of fun! For example, thanks to the frequent storms (and fireworks...), Lola is getting a lot of opportunities to wear her ThunderShirt. Millie knows this, and knows that Lola gets scared of the storms, and this has resulted in two very funny things.

1. At the first sign (or sound) of a storm, Millie will frantically tell us "Lola needs her BOOM BLANKET!" ThunderShirt...Boom Blanket...I get it. Obviously now we call it the boom blanket all the time, because that's a way better name. If anyone is thinking about starting a company to make knockoff ThunderShirts, you are welcome to use this superior name for your product.

2. Several times when it's been storming at night, we've closed the door to Millie's room while we're putting her to bed and Lola will scratch at the door until we let her in. Therefore, for the past few days, at ALL times of the day, regardless of weather, Millie will stop, fold her hands, and pray for Lola: "Dear Jesus...we just thank you dat Lola NOT scwatch at my door. Pwease make Lola not scared and not scwatch my door. Thank you for her boom blanket. AMEN!"

Gimme all the storms if I get this kind of hilarious payoff. Also, Jesus, please help Lola not be scared and scratch on Millie's door, because apparently it really distresses Millie. ;)

And now, some random pictures and stories. 

We're heading to the beach next week (YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!) and needed to practice setting up (easy) and taking down (what the *@#!) our beach tent. In between those two events, Millie found it to be a good place to have some reading time. It should be noted that Millie has almost completed her second library summer reading program of the summer (you know, read 50 books and get prizes sorta thing). They are going to have to name a shelf of books after us or something by the time summer is through! LOTS of reading going on in our house!

The Big Girl Bed situation is going great!! She is sleeping well and only getting/falling out of bed occasionally in the wee hours...when that happens she tends to seem very confused and discombobulated and goes right back to sleep without a problem, so I am thankful for that! When she does wake up, though, we are treated to alien-ish sights like this as she helpfully goes over to turn off her sound machine.

We played dress-up one afternoon. She apparently thinks princesses have attitudes or something.

WATERCOLORS, guys!! I've finally found the Holy Grail of toddler entertainment. Hours (literally) of fun that ISN'T MESSY!! We all win. She will paint contentedly and independently for a super long time, and then we make "books" (by stapling pages together)'s the best. For whatever reason, she manages to keep pretty clean with these paints (her other paints end up EVERYWHERE and have to be used basically naked outside) and like...I'm about to hit those back to school sales at Target and STOCK UP on watercolors, yo. 

We had some fun firsts this past week!

First fireworks! See also: first intentionally keeping her out and awake WAY past her bedtime. Luckily she did fine!

Well, I mean, until about 10 minutes into the actual fireworks part, when she managed to fall asleep. Hahaha. Poor baby. Luckily for us all, once we actually got home and put her in bed (10:00, so a good 1.5 hours past her normal bedtime), she went right to sleep and even slept in the next every weekend, right?

We also went to the movie theater for the first time!! Well, first time EVER for Millie...first time since Millie was born for us, haha.

A local theater does a "kids movie" thing every Tuesday/Thursday morning during the summer...older movies, but $1.50 tickets, $1.50 popcorn, and $1.50 drinks, so THAT is a win. We enjoyed watching The Secret Life of Pets, which was pretty cute, and Millie was SUPER into the whole theater experience. Possibly my favorite part was watching her deal with the theater chair. Hahahaha. She didn't quite weigh enough to keep it from springing back up into the closed position if she sat towards the back, so she would balance way up at the tip of the chair, but every time she forgot and scooted back, it would try to close her up...haaaa! Free entertainment there. For me, anyway.

All the rain has resulted in LOTS of tomatoes this year! On Monday we picked some and then took some across the street to our elderly neighbors, a practice that Millie found VERY confusing. "Why we give dem our matoes??! Dey hungry? Dey no have matoes?" Later she informed me that she missed the 'matoes' that we gave to our neighbors. Apparently those 20 matoes were her favorites and now they are GONE. Crazy baby!

Well, that about brings us up to speed. Congrats if you made it this far. Also, if you happen to be reading this ON my blog (and not through Bloglovin or something), you might notice that I got a new design! Thanks to an astute blog reader, Jackie, who yesterday pointed out that most of my design images (the header, about me, section labels on the right hand side) had gone WAY wonky and the images were gone and replaced with some ransom thing from Photobucket (where they had been hosted) was super weird and unattractive, haha. I couldn't figure out how to easily fix it without tracking down the girl that created the design for me 3.5 years ago, so I decided to just make a new one myself. It was an unexpected turn of events, and I certainly had no plans to redesign a blog I barely ever use, hahaha, had to happen! Anyway, I'm happy with how it turned out and it even encouraged me to actually BLOG so that other people might see it, too. :) 

Happy Friday! And happy almost-vacation to meeee!! Counting the minutes til I see my sweet girl running through that sand!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Operation BGB: more emotional than I'd planned

Well, Operation Big Girl Bed is a wrap, folks. The crib is gone, the bed is in, and Millie stays in her bed and sleeps perfectly like a little angel champ, so go ahead and give me my gold star for parenting. BAHAHA. Or not. But seriously, it wasn't too painful.

We got both the upholstered bed and the mattress on Amazon- I'll keep ya posted, but so far we are very pleased with both items! They both had great reviews and were freaky cheap, so that's how we made those difficult shopping decisions, haha. (FYI- those are affiliate links!)

So the bed was delivered on Friday, but we knew the mattress wasn't going to come until Monday. We knew we would have to a) deconstruct the crib, b) construct the bed, and c) when the mattress came, it would need 24-48 hours to grow to its full mattress size once we released it from the box, so we didn't go into the weekend with a real plan of when and how we were going to do all of these things. However, once Millie and I were up bright and early Saturday morning, I made the executive decision that we should go ahead and take down the crib and build the bed that day. I'll be honest- the main reason I wanted to go ahead and do it was because I knew that losing the crib was going to be the hardest part (emotionally) for me. I didn't want to have a "last night" putting her to bed in it because I would probably have just sobbed for hours and made a big messy deal out of the whole thing. As it was, we'd had a relatively routine "last night" the night before and that was just it. I didn't want to put it off. 

But guys- it was hard

June 17, 2017- our last morning with our crib
I know you know what I mean. The pain of infertility and loss and waiting and heartbreak is not nearly as salient as it once was, but it's not nearly forgotten. That crib is a lot more than a piece of furniture to me. It is a tangible symbol of hope fulfilled, of answered prayers, of beauty and life. It represents what I longed and prayed for for years and years. And I couldn't be any more thankful for the baby that came to sleep in it, who has grown and thrived and now needs to move on from it...but if I had a lot more rooms in my house, I would leave that crib standing forever. A testament to answered prayer. Something to lay my hands on when I need to remember that He heard my cries. And it doesn't make sense to me, logically, because I have Millie for that, right? I can hold her and remember the same things. And I do. But that crib.

I knew it was gonna be tough.

As I started untying the bumpers, I just lost it. Those are the bumpers I sewed. For our other baby, our first maybe-baby...the baby we didn't get to keep. I wept and prayed for another baby as I sewed these bumpers nearly four years ago. And that baby never got to see them, but in the wake of that loss, Millie came. And Millie did see them, and slept with them, and stepped on them, and smooshed them, and they don't look so hot anymore, but that didn't matter a whole lot to me on Saturday as I sat there untying their impossibly tight knots with tears leaking out as I worked. Like nearly everything in her nursery, those bumpers are more than just (hazardous) pieces of foam-filled fabric. They remind me of our wait. Of the months and years of planning and hoping and making ridiculous, unnecessary hand-made mementos for the baby we hoped would come.

She came. We don't need the bumpers anymore.

I knew I wouldn't be able to watch Matt dismantle the crib itself, so Millie and I left to take a trip to Target. She was watching me as I cried, and when she asked why, I tried to explain. "I'm just sad because this really means you're not a baby anymore, Mills. I can't really explain it any better than that."

"I a big girl, Mommy! But dat otay. We get a baby for da cwib."

I didn't have the heart to tell her that it's not really that easy. I don't think there'll be another baby for that crib. But just in case- we're only putting it in the attic. We can always get it back down.

When we came home from Target, I shed a few more tears as I spied the dismantled crib in pieces in the laundry room. But that was it. Then we went into Millie's room and found her bed all assembled and ready- with a suddenly tiny-looking crib mattress plopped down where the big mattress would go someday soon.

Someone was pretty jazzed about the whole situation!

It took us a little while, but we eventually managed to rearrange all of the furniture in her room to fit without having to move out the glider, which was my main hope. No need to mess up our lovely pre-bedtime rocking routine! This is what the room looked like until last night, when the mattress finally got put in place.

Millie went ahead and started sleeping in the bed on Saturday for naptime. And she did great! She's fallen off a few times (I move that truck out of the way before she sleeps, so if she falls, it's only onto the carpet), and it doesn't seem to bother her at all, haha. She just climbs back up and doesn't seem to even fully wake up. Weird, but I won't complain. I have a pool noodle that I may put under the fitted sheet now that she has the real mattress if she keeps falling- I hear that works well.

The mattress ended up getting delayed a day and didn't arrive until Tuesday. It's one of those foam numbers that comes in a small (well, smallish) box and then magically inflates to full size once you take it out of the vacuum-sealed pack. I must say- that was really fun to watch. And as an added bonus, the box it came in makes a mighty fine bear cave.

We let the mattress do its thing for 24 hours and finally, FINALLY last night got to put the whole thing together for a final BGB product!!

Ta daaaaaaa!!! (Please note Millie also taking a picture with her wooden phone.) 

We got the 12" mattress and between that and the pillows, you basically can't even see the upholstered headboard anymore, haha. But I love it!! And more importantly, so does Millie.

So far going to bed hasn't been a problem at all- we already tend to rock her until she's nearly asleep, and that hasn't changed, so once I put her in her bed she just rolls over and goes to sleep. She has been getting up and coming to our room whenever she wakes up, which is usually between 6:15-6:45...not so bad on the weekdays, torture on the weekend. Ha. But not really different than when she was in the crib, except that we don't have to get out of bed to go fetch her. But last night (the first night on the new mattress) she did wake up and wander on in at about 1:15 a.m. Not quite sure why, and Matt was able to take her back and put her in her bed and she fell asleep pretty quickly...but hopefully that doesn't become a trend. I'll keep ya posted!

And in somewhat related and EXTREMELY important news, I just figured out how to do Instagram Stories last weekend. If you follow me on probably noticed. Hahaha. I'm having way too much fun, and Millie is obsessed with the fun filters, apologies if you're tired of seeing it, but then could you ever get tired of Millie??!

And with that, we're done. Even thinking about the crib enough to type this post out has me emotionally drained, so I need to go put bunny ears or princess crowns on myself to recover a little. ;) Until next time, friends!

PS. If you need one last glance of Millie's baby nursery, you could reminisce with my old nursery tour post and cry your eyes out a little. Or maybe that's just me. Ha.

Friday, June 16, 2017

the biggest

In case you weren't aware...Millie is a BIG GIRL now.

She wears "WEAL" [real] makeup "wike Mommy!!" And she has that smoldering model stare down pat, right? 

That's not all. I'll transcribe some Millie narration to tell you what other exciting things are in store for her.

"I get my BIG GUHL BED!! I get a BIG BED wike DADDY and MOMMY!! And I seeeeeep in it. And when I awake, I wake up EVEYONE! I say GOOD MORNING FWIENDS! And den I put on my BIG GUHL makeup. WIKE MOMMY!! And den I eat my nanny [banana]."

That's right. The Big Girl Bed is coming. Should be on my porch this evening, actually. I am both super excited and not at all ready for this.

Reasons I'm Looking Forward to the Big Girl Bed:
1. Not having to heave 35 pounds of love in and out of the crib every day.
2. We can lay down in bed with her to rub her back instead of losing all feeling in our arms reaching over the crib rails.
3. Ummm...I like shopping and buying things. Purchasing a bed, mattress, and bedding was all very fun.
4. When she wakes up in the morning and wants to come lay in bed with us, she can come on over without us having to get out of bed.

Reasons I'm Not So Much:
1. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to come lay in bed with us, she can come on over.
2. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to play with toys, help herself to food in the fridge, wander around the darkened house, turn on the TV, etc....she can.
3. We will have to take apart the crib. The thought makes me sob.

So yes, many mixed emotions. But once we do it, there's really no going back, right? She is SUCH a good sleeper (minus an occasional desire for snuggles in the middle of the night) and I worry that not being confined to her crib could totally ruin that. But once we take the crib apart and move it to the attic...I mean, we're not getting it back down and putting it back together. Not for Millie, anyway. So what do I do if she doesn't stay in her bed?!


We keep telling ourselves that just because they deliver the bed and mattress doesn't mean we have to put it in her room. Hahaha. It can live in boxes in the guest room for a few more weeks or years if the time doesn't feel optimal, right? Right.

How is it possible that this love is almost THREE?! I dressed her up in this smocked number the other week so that I could pretend she was a baby. Ha. She was not impressed with how the long dress cramped her running and climbing style.

Summer is swimming along quite beautifully! Although it's always a bit of a bummer realizing that summer for a dual-working-parent household (where neither of us are teachers) doesn't involve months away from work, there are still plenty of perks to make life feel special. Mainly my in-laws' pool.

We haven't done swimming lessons this summer yet (and not sure if we be honest, I prefer spending my Saturdays actually just playing and lounging around the pool instead of being in lessons, haha), but Millie is doing great in the water! She loves her puddle jumper and paddles all around the pool independently. She definitely can't really swim, but she does a good toddler version of swimming when she's being held afloat by the puddle jumper! She's jumped off the diving board a few times, but prefers to just sit on it. She doesn't mind getting her face wet, but doesn't actively seek out the situation, haha. Which is fine with me, because she still has tubes in her ears and wearing ear plugs never happens, need to spend more time underwater than necessary.

We've worked out a pretty sweet system for most of our Saturdays. We head over to Matt's parents' house around lunchtime, eat, and then Millie goes down for her nap in her crib at their house. Then Matt and I get an hour or two to lounge and read by the pool- BLISS. Then when Millie wakes up, we suit her up and spend the rest of the afternoon splashing and swimming and getting decidedly less reading done. It's wonderful! Although I must admit that every week I think "wow, she has been swimming and jumping and going for five hours...she must be exhausted! I bet she is going to sleep GREAT tonight! We will probably have to wake her up for church tomorrow!"

(picture that emoji face where the eyes and mouth are all horizontal lines)

Sure, she goes to bed usual. Sure, she wakes up at 6:30 usual. Apparently the sun and swimming just don't exhaust Millie the same way they exhaust me. 

But I wouldn't trade any of it for anything. Not a minute of it. 

Oh, speaking of being grown and big... in case you've missed all of our breaking news (lol) on Instagram and/or Facebook, you should know that Millie has a baby in her tummy. The picture above reminded me. The baby had a lot of opinions while we were picking blueberries that day. Generally the baby in her tummy (no name, sorry) just dictates Millie's hunger (not so unlike REAL babies en utero, right? How does she know this?!)..."I yike dese bluebewwies, Mama! Dey make my baby so HAPPY!" "I not eat dat hamburger, Mama. It make my baby cwy. She no wike it." But sometimes the baby gets fussy, as babies do, and then Millie is able to conveniently pull her out and rock her or pat her back until she calms down. Then she puts her back in her belly. So apparently Millie is actually a marsupial, but let's not get hung up on technicalities. THIS KID. She just cracks me up!!