Mediterranean Cruise

A few weeks ago, we got the travel bug real bad. We had been looking into cruises a little bit. It’s not my favorite way to travel, but it seemed like the best way to see the most places for the least amount of money. There was one cruise in particular that we wanted that left the end of February. When we went to book it, we thought we should think about it one more day before we decided. The next day, the cruise was completely booked up, and we were so bummed! The majority of the other cruises didn’t sail until after we would be back in America, so we thought that we would no longer be able to go.

Austin got on to check a few days later, and there was the exact same cruise, leaving the next day, that had one room open up due to a cancelation. We didn’t wait to book it this time. Everything was looking good and we were getting so excited. Then, since Skyler would turn two years old while we were on the cruise, it wouldn’t accept her age as one or two, so it wouldn’t let us book it and sent us back to the beginning. Austin was in a frenzy to book it, since it was the last room, and in the hustle, accidentally booked us on the wrong cruise. Finally, we just called the cruise line and had them help us out and we snagged the very last room on this 12 day Mediterranean cruise! So by this time it was 6:30 pm and we had to be on the ship in Rome the next day by 11 am. Luckily we found a flight leaving early that next morning, so we hurried and packed and got ready to go. Austin and I are both really spontaneous, so I actually really liked not having to wait for our vacation and didn’t mind how last minute it was.

The next morning started at 4:30 am when we left for the airport to catch our flight to Rome. We took a taxi straight to the port, so we didn’t get to spend anytime visiting the sights there. We were one of the first ones on the ship and it was so fun to be able to explore it and get settled before it got too crowded. We lucked out and got an ocean view room, and Skyler and I would sit by the window and watch the waves and cities that we passed. We also loved the pool, well Skyler and Austin loved the pool. I need it to be at least bath water temperature before I’ll even dip a toe in! They didn’t allow babies that were still in diapers, so naturally, we lied and said Skyler was potty trained! Then we hit the pool where she pooped! Luckily she was standing outside of the pool so it didn’t get in and we hurried and caught her and took her to get changed. We made lots of friends on the cruise who had girls Sky’s age. Her best friends were Pippa and Alexandra.

Our first stop was in a little town called Genoa in Italy. We read up about it and found out that it is actually the home of pesto! I love pesto so all I wanted to do at this stop was to find the best place to get some to eat. We wandered the little streets and alleyways and found a local shop that sold basil, so we thought they would know where to go. The owner was so sweet and walked us to a hidden little restaurant with the BEST pesto pasta and focaccia bread that we’ve ever had. I still crave it like crazy!

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Our next stop was Olympia, Greece. We went to the birthplace of the Olympics. Unfortunately, most of it was destroyed in an earthquake, so it is all in ruins, but still very cool to see. I learned that they still light the torch here, then take it to Athens before it’s journey to it’s next host city. I never knew that before, so it was a fun fact for me to learn. We also had our first gyros here. Neither of us had had them before, so it was fun to eat our first ones in Greece! They were so yummy, by the way. After lunch we did a little shopping. Austin got me a ring with a design called “the greek key”. We later learned that it means eternal life and love! Driving back to port, we noticed tons…and I mean TONS of garbage everywhere! It was in huge piles all along the road, in fields, in people’s yards….everywhere. Our driver told us that it was because of a strike that had been going on for months. It was sad to see such a pretty place covered in that much garbage.

Next up was Athens. When we first learned we would be getting to live in Europe, Austin told me the two places he wanted to see the most was Athens and Rome, so he was pretty excited for this stop. We went to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. The steps to the top are all marble and so slippery! Sky got so many bruises on her knees from falling down, poor girl. We were a little let down by Athens. It wasn’t really what we were expecting. We did, however, learn some cool facts about all of the optical illusions in the design that make it look perfectly straight from far away. Did you know that if it kept going straight up, it would actually make a pyramid? So that was interesting and we also got to get some real homemade greek yogurt that was delicious, so it wasn’t a total bust!

 

After a sea day, we hit Rhodes, Greece and it just happened to be Skyler’s second birthday! We couldn’t have picked a better stop than this charming little island to celebrate. It was like we stepped back in the middle ages to a little storybook village with castles, cobblestone streets and town squares with fountains, restaurants and shops! It was so much fun wandering around Rhodes. We stopped at a toy store and let Skyler pick out a few birthday toys, then we got her and baby sister matching greek dresses. We wanted to keep it casual and just let Sky enjoy the day, so we got her a giant chocolate muffin and played with some local kitties! Austin was following us around with hand sanitizer the whole time! Back on the ship, we got dressed Sky dressed up in her fancy new dress, went to dinner where they brought out a cake and sang and then went to play in the kids place with her best friend from the cruise, Alexandra. The two girls ran around holding hands, giggling up a storm and having the best time. Alexandra is from France, so the girls don’t speak the same language, but that didn’t hold them back at all. Sky kept saying words in French the whole rest of the cruise and we would have to ask Alexandra’s parents what she was saying. Then we ended the night with a music show and some dancing in Skyler’s favorite lounge. It was such a perfect day! I don’t know how we will ever top this birthday.

Our next stop was Haifa, Israel, and I’m not going to lie, we were really nervous about visiting the Middle East. Israel is right next to Syria, and everything with Isis had us pretty freaked out. When I checked online, there were travel warnings for Americans visiting Israel and we had just heard a few scary stories. We considered just staying on the ship for the two days we were stopped here, but after really thinking and praying about it, we felt like we would be safe and that it would be okay to go. Our plan was to tell everyone we were from Barcelona and only Austin would speak to them in Spanish, haha that’s how nervous we were. So the first day there, we stayed around Haifa. We went to the Baha’i Gardens, where someone important is buried, I just can’t remember who. Anyway, the gardens were beautiful! Then we just walked around the town. We had to leave really early the next morning to take the two hour bus ride into Jerusalem, so we headed to bed pretty early.

The bus ride the next morning was long and our tour guide, although very nice, really needed to stop talking so we could all try and sleep. We first went to The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born. Constantine’s mother, Helena, decided to build big churches over all of the sacred sights 200 years after Jesus died. I didn’t know that they had done this and was expecting (and hoping) to see these places in a more authentic state. The churches were dark and gloomy and they covered everything up but a small circle of the original floor where the stable was. There was a long line of people waiting to see and to touch this small piece of floor. Many people prayed, or kissed the ground when they got to it. Skyler and I were singing “picture a stable in Judeah…” which is one of her favorite songs, because I wanted for her to kind of understand that this is where that stable was. I felt that being here while I am pregnant made me feel a little bit more connected to Mary, and it made me a little extra emotional. I imagined what it must’ve been like, to give birth in that stable, and I felt a deeper appreciation for what she went through.

After stopping for some delicious lunch, (seriously, the hummus here is amazing!) we went to a lookout point where we could see all of Old Jerusalem, The Mount of Olives and The Temple Mount. It is such a beautiful city! Then we headed in to Old Jerusalem. We went to the church which housed the location of the cross Jesus was crucified on, the place they prepared His body and also His tomb. I had no idea how close they were together. It was insanely crowded with people pushing and shoving to get to see and touch these sacred places. It was in another dark and dreary church and Austin and I both agreed, it didn’t feel spiritual at all. We were really hoping to have a special experience here, but it just felt touristy and not reverent at all. I am still glad we got to touch the rock where the cross stood and to go in to the tomb, and I will always remember it, even if it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.

Temple Mt and Mt of Olives

Next we followed the “Path of the Cross”, which is the exact path that Jesus took when he was carrying the cross. They even had markers indicating the spots where he fell. There is a hand print in a wall on the path and the story goes that Jesus put his hand there as he was walking and it melted his print in to the stone. No one has confirmed if it is true, but we still got a picture with our hand there!

After that we went to the Western Wall, which is considered to some,the most sacred place in the world. There were many people there praying and shoving little notes in to the wall. Men and Women pray separate here, so Austin and I took turns going. Austin had to cover his head and we had to wash our hands in the fountains they had there. It was very interesting to see. By this time, the day was over and we were all exhausted and ready to go back to the ship. We really loved visiting Jerusalem and feel like it was a once in a lifetime experience!

The next stop was in Crete, Greece. We got off the ship and it was freezing! The city didn’t look that fun to walk through and the main castle to visit was outside. Since we were so cold and exhausted from our long day in Israel, we bought ourselves some Pringles and turned right around and got back on the ship. It was practically empty with everyone off on an excursion so we took advantage and had a fun day on board. We ate our chips, let Sky jump around the empty lounges, took a good nap and just relaxed. It was a much needed day!

On our last day, we would be disembarking back in Rome. We got off the ship at 8am but didn’t fly out until 9pm so we could spend the day exploring. Since it was an hour drive to the main part of the city and an hour in the opposite direction to the airport, it would be a little tricky and expensive with all of the taxis. Our cruise let us book an excursion through them, that took us in to Rome on the bus, where we could leave our luggage underneath, do the tour with them and then leave us to catch a taxi to the airport. It was a perfect solution! So we got up early and headed out to get on the tour bus, but they wouldn’t let us out of the gates without having police check our suitcases. They didn’t have the police scheduled to come for another hour, so we weren’t able to make our excursion. We saw a mother and daughter who were supposed to be in our same excursion group who had the same problem. After we were refunded for the excursion, we stuck with our new friends Helen and Maria and caught a train in to Rome. They were staying the night there, so they let us leave our suitcases at their hotel. We went with them to St. Peter’s Square, saw the Vatican and the Vatican Museum, including the Sistine Chapel. We took a private tour so we got to learn lots of interesting facts about the paintings. They didn’t allow pictures inside, so we snuck a horrible selfie of the ceiling.

After that, we parted ways with our friends and caught a taxi into the city center. We made wishes in the Trevi Fountain, ate yummy pasta and topped it off with even yummier gelato. I fell in love with Rome during our short time there. It is definitely one of my favorite cities! It felt very similar to Barcelona, but just a little more romantic. I really want to go back when we can spend more time.

We flew back to Barcelona that night and Skyler fell asleep while we were waiting for our bags. She stayed asleep all through the night until the next morning. We were all exhausted, but so glad we got to go on this trip and see so many amazing places. It is something we will never forget!

 

 

 

Bubbles and the Beach

We love living a few minutes away from the beach. Even though it’s not warm enough to put on our swimming suits, we still have so much fun walking along the boardwalk. Barcelona is such a vibrant, bustling city! We can’t go more than a few blocks without bumping into musicians or artists who are well worth stopping for. Skyler loves it and always asks to go see the music. She especially loves the giant bubbles and “dancing boy”, a puppet on strings that dances to hip-hop music.

Our strolls to the beach almost always end with gelato or some sort of ice cream treat. On our last walk, we found a restaurant that only sells fries. Being the fry connoisseur that I am, I was just a little too excited. I made Austin buy us the biggest bucket they had. We made a stop at the next soft serve ice cream stand so I could dip my fries and work on getting gestational diabetes.ūüėõ

We are really hoping that by the end of our time here, it will be warm enough to dip our toes in the water!

Barcelona!

We made it to Barcelona a little more than two weeks ago. We caught an Easy Jet from Paris and made it in about an hour. I love how fast and easy travel is over here. We flew in over the beach and got some gorgeous views of Spain.

Family in front of Barcelona Cathederal

Our apartment is in the Gothic Quarter, which is such a great spot for us. Really, it‚Äôs a great spot for everyone! It has so many different alleyways with beautiful architecture, yummy restaurants and so many places to shop and explore. We constantly find ourselves taking the long way home, just so we can discover what’s around the next alley. Normally, I used to think of alleys as scary places where sketchy hooligans would hang out, but that isn’t the case here. We have felt so safe and the people have been so friendly. We live really close to the Barcelona Cathedral. It is one of our favorite buildings here. We took a tour and got to walk around the top of it.

I could write a whole post on the food alone. Almost everything we’ve had has been SO delicious. We stopped at a busy local restaurant uptown that was popular amongst the locals. We decided to try the traditional dish here- paella. It is rice and seafood so it sounded safe enough. It came with all kinds of huge shellfish, completely in tact with their eyes staring up at me. When I picked at the rice to get my first bite, a long orange string came through my fork. I didn’t really think much of it-thinking it was a shredded carrot. I had a bite of the rice and the flavor was so good. I enjoyed a few more small bites before I hit something really crunchy. What I thought was a carrot turned out to be a shrimp leg! Then when we started to dig through the rice more, I noticed lots of other shells and that long orange thing was actually a shrimp antenna! Austin and I were both trying not to lose what little lunch we had right then and there. The whole rest of the day we kept downing water to try and get rid of the phantom shrimp legs we felt in our throats. Other than that one experience- the food really is amazing! I’ve never tasted fruit so delicious in my whole life, and it is so inexpensive.

On one of our first days here, we decided to take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to get acquainted with the city and figure out where everything is. It was fun to get to do a lot of the tourist things we had on our bucket list, too. We got to see the Sagrada Familia church. I’ve never seen anything like it. Gaudi, who died before it was completed, originally designed it. It has taken over 100 years to build and they’re still working on it. It is projected to be finished in 2026. We stopped and walked around Park Guell, which was also designed by Gaudi. We wandered down Las Ramblas street, where they have artists, music and tons of flower shops. During a pit-stop to a playground, we stumbled across Barcelona’s Arc De Triomf, which is beautiful.

One thing I love about Barcelona is that they have little town squares all throughout the city. Most of them have some sort of water fountain and are usually in front of an old church. It is so beautiful. In the city center town square, there are so many pigeons. Austin pushed Sky in the stroller and chased them around and she thought it was the funniest thing.

We couldn’t be happier with the time we’ve had here and are looking forward to the next 2 1/2 months!

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La vie est belle!

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Paris!

I have been dreaming of going to paris since….forever! Honestly, I can’t remember when my love affair with France began. My family is French, so I guess I was born with it. But really, I could not have been happier about our 4 day pit-stop to Paris on our way to Barcelona. As soon as we landed I could feel it, there was something in the air there that just felt so…je ne sais quoi!¬†

As we were driving to our Air BnB, I could not keep my mouth shut. I know the taxi driver probably thought I was such an annoying American tourist gawking at all of the architecture and asking “quest que cest?” at everything we passed. I still can’t get over how pretty everything is there.¬†

sky in paris

When we got to our Air BnB, we crashed. A lengthy 3 hour nap for me and Austin while Skyler indulged on more Mickey Mouse, which was a definite no for the rules of beating jet-lag…whoops! We quickly realized that this little apartment would not work for us. It was tiny, like…tiny, and the heater did not work. We made the move to a nice hotel that was next to the yummiest cafes. We were much happier and warmer here. Since it was New Year’s Eve, we decided to ring in the new year at the Eiffel Tower. Let me tell you, stealing a kiss from Austin at midnight in Paris under that twinkling tower-¬†may be one of the top 5 romantic things I’ve ever done! I highly suggest you add that to your bucket list.¬†

That next day we didn’t wake up until 2:30pm! We were so mixed up on time. We hurried and got ready so we wouldn’t miss any more of our time in Paris. We went to the Louvre, only to find it was closed for New Year’s. So we bought a lock and headed to the love lock bridge. We locked it on to the bridge, kissed the key and threw it in to the Seine River- locking our love for eternity. Then we got tickets for a hop-on, hop-off bus and went around the city. Skyler wanted to sit by herself on the bus and waved to everyone while saying “bonjour!”, it was pretty cute! We saw so many amazing sites, one of our favorites was Notre Dame. I also found out that there is a grave of an unknown soldier under the Arc De Triomphe with an eternal flame. I didn’t know that before.¬†

Day three was spent at the Louvre. The line at the main entrance was SO long. Luckily, we read a tip that said there are actually 4 entrances, but most tourists don’t know that. We stumbled across one of the other entrances and walked right in! Honestly, I wish I could say we had an amazing time there, but it was just too crowded and too long for Skyler to sit patiently for. We had to find our way through the maze of crop-dusting tourists to find elevators for the stroller and shove our way through to see the paintings. I hope I can go back again some day when it is way less crowded and really enjoy the museum. Seeing the Mona Lisa was fun, though. My favorite was Da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks.¬†

On our last day, we went to Versailles. We were all really excited to see this. We knew it would be expensive to get a taxi there, but decided it would be worth it. When we got there, it started pouring rain and was so windy. We were freezing and greeted with an even longer line than the one at the Louvre the day before. We decided to try and buy a private guided tour to skip the line. We found out that there were no tours that day – we had no choice but to wait in the line out in the cold. As sad as we were to not get to go in, we thought it would be best to get Skyler out of the weather and just go back. On our way to get a taxi, we saw a guard standing at a side door. We asked him if there was any way he would let us in that door. He stood there a while, thinking, and we knew it wasn’t likely, but then he smiled and let us in. Not only did we skip that huge line, but he also let us in for free! Fun side story: a nice man offered to take a picture for us, and when he spoke to us in English, we asked where he was from. He was from Utah, too! He and his group of friends were in Europe on a ski trip. They were heading to Barcelona after Paris, like us and we even saw them at church the next week in Barcelona! The castle was amazing and so much bigger than I knew. Since it was such bad weather, we only saw the gardens from the windows- but that’s just a reason to go back some day.¬†

We saw so many things and ate so much yummy food РI made it a point to eat as many croissants as I could while I was there. I absolutely love Paris and am so glad we are flying back home through there so we get to go back!  

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Our European Adventure

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Well, we are actually doing it. Three months in Barcelona, Spain for Austin’s last semester of grad school! When we heard a study abroad was an option, I nagged Austin relentlessly until his application was in. I had always dreamed of being a world traveler, but honestly never thought I would get out of Utah. (Funny that we’ve lived in New York, Georgia, and now Europe, all we want is to get back to Utah.) I’m so happy that I married someone who will take me on all of these great adventures!

The night before we left was filled with stress and excitement. Since we had just packed up and moved from New York to Utah two weeks before, our life was still in boxes scattered around Austin’s parent’s house. So we stayed up late finishing laundry, unpacking boxes, packing suit cases, and dreaming of the experiences¬†we would have. Somehow we were able to fit our entire lives into 5 suitcases, a backpack and a diaper bag. I’m still not sure how we were able to do it.

We flew direct from Salt Lake to Paris, which took about 9 hours. I was so, so anxious to make this flight with a toddler. The longest flight we’ve done with her had been 6 hours, and she was pretty much done after the first 4. This is the first time she would have her own seat, though, so we were pretty hopeful that would help. We stocked up on snacks and books and prayed for the best.

When we got to the airport, Skyler was CRAZY hyper. Running in circles around people at the airport and screaming with joy as she ran away from us. I saw all the people waiting to get on the plane with us look at us with dread that this little tornado would be on their flight. I was dreading it, too. Once we got on the plane, she was so good. She’s always been a great flyer, but I was so proud of her on this flight. She watched countless Mickey Mouse episodes, ate just as many snacks and then curled up for a nice long nap. We managed to get to Paris with only one tantrum!

We have now been in Europe for two weeks, but I swear it feels like we’ve only been here two days. I blame that, mostly, on jet-lag! Skyler was a champ and adjusted the first couple of days, it’s me and Austin who really had a hard time. We are hoping to do better when we come home. I will be doing my best to document our time here on this blog for us to keep as a journal and for our family and friends back home who want to read!

Hello From my Hiatis!

 

Welp, I decided to dust off the old blog. Now that I’ve finished watching Gossip Girl on Netflix, I have all this free time on my hands, so I thought I would channel my inner Dan Humphrey and get to writing. But really I just want to be able to document our semester abroad (which we leave for in 36 days!) for my family without blowing up everyone’s social media feeds. You’re welcome, Instagram followers !

We will be living in Barcelona, Spain for three months starting in January! I am trying to balance my excitement, anxieties and worries and just make sure to enjoy this time. We booked our tickets to Paris, where we will spend New Years and then travel through the South of France as we make our way to Barcelona. I finally get to check Annecy off my bucket list! This all sounded so dreamy, of course, until the terrorist attacks hit and France declared war. Cue the freak outs! I keep telling myself that it will actually be safer now and security will be higher than ever. Sometimes I believe myself. But I have a sense of peace about it and I know we will be safe.

As for now, we are trying to enjoy our lasts of Ithaca, our home for the past year and a half. I have a love/hate relationship with this place. Thankfully the hate part comes right about now, as the temperature drops, so it’s the perfect time to leave. I get a little attached to our houses. I think every mom does. This is where Skyler crawled for the first time, learned to walk and said her first words. It’s a weird feeling knowing we won’t ever be back in this house.

One thing I am so glad we decided to do was to get family pictures in some of our favorite spots here in Ithaca. I love how they turned out!

Thank you to our amazing photographer, Natalya Fiore!

What’s in a Name?

Skyler Madison

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Austin and I pretty much had Skyler’s name picked out as soon as we knew she was a girl. There were one or two names that kept getting tossed in the mix, but we always came back to Skyler. We loved it. It was cute and spunky, just how we imagined she would be. It was a really easy decision. The hard name to pick was her middle name. We wanted her to be named after someone. Someone exceptional– but we have SO MANY exceptional people in our lives, it was hard to pick just one. Of course we thought of her grandmas names’ and even went way back in our genealogy looking for names we thought were cute and they were all really great options. I remember the moment we decided on Madison like it was yesterday. We were sitting in a restaurant in St. George when Austin mentioned it. As soon as he said it- it stuck. Not only did it sound beautiful together, but naming her after my first niece was too perfect. I only wish I had thought of it!

Flash back 16 years ago when I met Madi for the first time. She was the very first niece or nephew to be born in the family. I fell so in love with being her Aunt. I took her with me everywhere, set up mini photoshoots and would always pretend she was mine. Being the youngest in the family, I never had a little sister to get to play with and Madi quickly became my very own real life baby doll. It seemed so fitting to name my real very first baby after her.

I also wanted Skyler to be named after someone she could look up to and to have a special bond with. I am the luckiest to have had four older sisters that helped raise me. I could always turn to them, and often still do, when times got hard and I needed a friend. I know that Skyler and Madison will have that same special bond and that Madi will be like an older sister to Sky. Watching them together only confirms that we named her after the right person. I love watching their little relationship grow and how special they are to each other.

Thank you, Madi, for being the kind of girl I want to name my daughter after. I only hope she grows up to have your heart of gold, compassion for all those around you, and that adorable little bubble butt!ūüėČ

A Girl’s First Earrings.

I always wanted a little girl, so when we found out at the 16 week ultrasound (that I paid extra for because I was just way too impatient to wait any longer than necessary) that my little bambino was a girl, I was thrilled! I thought all about the nursery decorations, the dresses I would buy her, the bows, oh the bows! What I didn’t really think too much about was getting her ears pierced, that came later. After she was born, everyone called her the “cutest little boy”. It didn’t help that we named her a boy name, but come on guys, she is covered in pink from head to toe and has a bow that’s as big as her head on. It’s like they didn’t even see any of that. Even at her blessing in our church, our bishop stood up and announced the blessing our our “baby boy, Skyler Madsen”…Well, it’s Skyler Madison and she’s really happy to be here, thanks. I noticed around three months, a lot of her little friends had gotten their ears pierced. My mom didn’t allow us to get our first earrings until we were 12, so I guess I didn’t really think about getting my baby’s done.

I asked around on mom groups and from friends and family and got tons of different opinions. It really didn’t do anything but confuse me more. Some people will throw articles at you about how they can get infected or the actual earring gets stuck in the ear- it was a little freaky. I debated back and forth for months and my husband didn’t have an opinion either way. Most the time, I love that he lets me decide these girly details, but this time, I wanted someone to make a decision for me! I really did want to get them done while she was young because growing up without being able to have earrings when all of my friends did was so hard for me. When I finally was able to get my ears pierced, I was terrified and it was a really traumatic experience. If we got them done while she was this young, she wouldn’t have to remember it, I could take care of the earrings for her and she wouldn’t even notice them.

One weekend as we were doing a little shopping on Fifth Avenue in the city, we stopped in FAO Schwartz to let Skyler pick¬†out a new rubber duck (It’s her favorite toy and thank goodness, the least inexpensive thing in the store) Well it so happens that they have a Claire’s on the top level. As we were riding the elevator to up, there was a lady who pointed to Skyler and asked, “how old is he?”. As soon as the elevator opened, I marched right to the ear piercing station and decided it’s happening tonight. I was expecting that someone would say no, don’t do it, think about it and we can come back tomorrow. But Austin picked out the cutest little diamond studs and said, “Ok, we’re doing it” and paid for it right then. I instantly felt sick to my stomach and just wanted to go straight back down the elevator and out of the store. My baby was so perfect, how could I put holes in her ears?! I still wanted it done, but did not expect to have such sad feelings about it.

The girl who was the “piercing specialist” kept setting things up and sanitizing the gun. It was happening so fast. Wait! I don’t think I’m ready. I need some time to think about this, to remember her without earrings!

Austin sat in the chair and held her as they marked the spot where the earrings would go. I could not watch any of this! Thankfully his parents where in town and his mom could be there to make sure they were even. Austin’s dad and I had to walk far away because we couldn’t handle watching, and then¬†I heard it, my baby’s scream that I would recognize anywhere. I could not even hold back the tears and just started bawling right in front of all these strangers who had no idea what was wrong with me.

As soon as it was over, I ran and picked her up to hold and comfort her. She was making the saddest little whimper that completely broke my heart in two. As I sat there crying with her, I remembered I hadn’t even looked at her new little earrings yet. As I looked them over, I was filled with instant regret. I hated them at first. It made her look older and so different and I just wanted to pull them out. I felt guilty every time I saw them. Guilty for putting her through that pain, guilty for taking away the option of altering her body for her and guilty that I made her seem so much more grown up. As the night went on and the days turned to weeks, I actually fell in love with her earrings. She got over it in five minutes and actually cried way less than I did. It was much more traumatic for me than it was for her. They look so cute on her and would you believe that no one has called her a boy since? We don’t even have to go out with giant pink bows!

I kind of love that we can tell her she got her first pair of earrings on Fifth Avenue in New York. It was a really special night that was celebrated by going to Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate – and Skyler even got her very own whip cream treat from her Papa K.

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My French Parenting Love Affair

 

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My new vocabulary list from Bringing up Bebe:

bêtise (beh-teeze) Рa small act of naughtiness

cadre (kah-druh) Рframe, or framework. A visual image that describes the French parenting ideal: setting firm limits for children, but giving them tremendous freedom within those limits.

doucement (doo-ce-mahnt) Рgently; carefully.

education ( eh-doo-cah-see-ohn) – upbringing. The way that French parents raise their kids.

enfant roi¬†(an-fahnt rwa) – child king. An excessively demanding child who is constantly the center of his parents’ attention and who can’t cope with frustration.

non (noh) Рno; absolutely not.

sage (sah-je) – wise and calm. This describes a child who is in control of himself or absorbed in an activity. Instead of saying “be good”, French parents say “Be sage.”

Ok, so I honestly don’t remember much from all of my French classes, I’ve never attempted to put my hair up in a french twist, and sadly the closest I’ve been to France is my undying love of french fries (which I am quite the connoisseur), but ever since I was young, I’ve had a love of all things French. It could be because it’s in my blood, great grand-p√®re came straight from France, but the more likely reason is the exuberantly romantic way of life that the French portray throughout daily life. I can’t even say the word “French” without seeing a leggy brunette with a flowy sundress, completely polished and put together from head to toe, walking down the street with her adorable, well behaved child, so of course I jump at any book that promises to magically turn me into her!¬†

I read¬†Bringing up Bebe¬†by Pamela Druckerman and, simply put, I loved it. I had so many “duh, that makes so much more sense” moments and a lot of it really stuck with me. I want to build a cadre for Skyler to know her boundaries, but still have freedom to explore. It just makes sense to me. The thing I loved most was that French parents don’t push their children to grow too quickly. Here in America, it is a battle to get your children into the fanciest preschools, the more advanced classes and the starting line-up for their sports team. I don’t think that much pressure can be good on a little kid. I love the idea of letting them grow and discover while they are still young. Let them be little.¬†

I’ve just started reading my next book, French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon and am excited to get into it!

Anyway, if you haven’t heard of Bringing up Bebe, look into it. It was a great read and as a bonus, it got Sky to sleep twelve hours at night without any interruptions. Maybe it’s because she has French blood in her tooūüėČ.¬†

 

Revoir tout le monde!

 

Something to Celebrate!

August 9, 2014 – Skyler’s first tooth!

skyler

Skyler woke up at her usual time on this particular Saturday. We started into our daily routine. Skyler sat in her bouncy chair, watching me make her breakfast, as I ran through all of the chores I needed to get done that day. Austin was away for a school function, so the only real plans I had were to stay around the house and clean. The laundry, as usual, was in heaping piles in our closet and the floor was in desperate need of sweeping. 

As I started to feed Sky her cereal and avocado (one of her favorites), I noticed something small and white in her mouth. I stuck my finger in her mouth to see what it was and…she bit me! It was a tooth!!! Oh my goodness, I felt a rush of excitement, like when you see the toy you’ve been waiting all year for on Christmas morning kind of excitement. I wasn’t expecting to be so excited for her first tooth, but I guess this seemed like the first big milestone to me. I kept running my finger across it to make sure it was really there! Skyler was not nearly as excited as I was, she was actually not amused at the longer-than-usual breaks between spoonfuls of food so I could feel her tooth.¬†

After texting Austin and our parents (honestly, I probably texted all of my contacts РI was so excited), I hurried and got the two of us dressed, put Skyler in her stroller and we headed into town. This was a big day! You only get your very first tooth once. We needed to celebrate. As we walked up and down The Commons, we went into every baby store. We played with the toys, felt all of the soft blankets and met Noah, his mom works at one of our favorite stores and he quickly became our new nine year old best friend and tour guide. Skyler loves Noah. He showed us all of toys he thought Skyler would like best and even showed us where the city library is! 

We had so much fun celebrating this new tooth! Skyler came home with a new skirt and some stacking bath cups. As she zonked out on the walk home, I felt so happy that we chose to spend our day together, because even though it was Skyler’s tooth, it was a big day for me too. My baby turned into a not-so-baby anymore, and I kind of hated that. I am really going to miss that gummy, toothless smile. This is the moment where I started to realize that she was in fact going to grow up, and there is nothing I can do to stop it or slow it down at all.

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I came home and put her in bed and was greeted with the piles of laundry that had been neglected for yet another day, but I wouldn’t trade our day celebrating her tooth for the cleanest house and freshly folded clothes.¬†

Oh and PS: her little toothy smile is pretty dang cute, too

! TEETH

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