Thursday, July 18, 2013

sweat baby run

Hi there.  For the last couple of weeks I have dived head first into a new mission to get fit.  I was in really great shape and running a ton before I had my babies.  Since then, well, I've made a lot of excuses.  I've made a recommitment to myself to get in shape and work on the post-baby body and I've started a new blog to keep track of my journey.  I think that by documenting my process it keeps me on track and maybe helps inspire another Mom out there too.  If you are interested you can follow my new blog here.

I've named it sweat baby run.  www.sweatbabyrun.com

I'd love to have you follow my journey.

I haven't decided what I am going to do with The Little Things.  I have wanted to rename and move it for a while but for now I am just going to let it sit.  If I feel inspired to continue, well, you'll know about it.

See you over at sweatbabyrun!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Settling into Arizona

Our first two weeks in Arizona have been fun and frustrating. 

Despite not having our household goods so I can begin unpacking, I have been busy from sun up to sun down entertaining Emmi & Landon and keeping them out of all the trouble that comes with a nearly empty house.  Did I mention Emmi is crawling and getting into everything now?  Anywho, here are a few tidbits about our first week in a new state and new home.


- Arizona is backwards.  If you are in the left turn lane at a light you will get a green arrow after the straight ahead traffic, not before.  Target's entrance is backwards to.  I walk in the exit every. single. time.

- Obey the traffic laws here or you will get a ticket (with a picture of you driving) in the mail.

-I found a local farm csa and a farmers market!

-Waiting two weeks in an empty house for your household goods is much easier without kids.

-I want to join a gym but the "child care" is extra.  "Child care" is in quotations because they don't change diapers or give bottles so I'm not exactly sure what I'm paying for.

-There's a six month wait for on-post part-time toddler care.  Off-post daycares want a longer than six month agreement.  We will be here for six months.

- So far the weather is gorgeous and as it turns out I'm pretty happy when a monsoon comes through because we usually need the cool down.


Tonight we are going to make fajitas with our local (made today) tortillas, tortilla chips & salsa, and have dinner in our camp chairs around a box dinner table.  Hopefully for one of the last times.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cross Country Road Trip Day Four

 
 

Landon's expression pretty much sums it up.  We rocked this road trip!  A short six hour drive is all the stood between us and our new home in southern Arizona.  So, we hit the road early, the kids both took a morning nap.  We lunched at McDonald's. (Read here about how the kids were completely over our picnic lunches.)  Then we hit the road again and made it into our new town between one and two in the afternoon.  I mentioned in my road trip prep that I was planning daily new gifts for Landon to help encourage good behavior in the car.  Here are the pictures of him each day.
 

 

Day 1 - Superman notebook and pencil.

 

Day 2 - Superman stickers & pencil case.
 
Day 3 - Dinosaur Train book.
 

Day 4 - Superman Wallet & a pop-up book.
 
 
Landon got about 3 new toys on the last day because we weren't sure how many days the trip would take.  Shorter was definitely better! 

So, we arrive in Arizona.  First stop was to pick up keys to our rental house.  Second stop - home!

Some notes to myself for the next time we PCS:

-Make sure power/water/gas are turned on at your new location before arrival.
-Easy road trip does now mean easy first week in new home.
-Your household goods will NOT show up when you think they will.
-Packing mattresses in our trailer - BEST. DECISION. EVER. (although a couch would be nice too.)
-Coffee pot should be unpacked first with toys.
-Pack a TV next time.
-Oh, and schedule TV/internet hookup ASAP.

Ok, road trip over.  New mission - find daycare/preschool, sign up for gym, and find way to pass the time until our stuff ever arrives aannnnnddddd....sleep. 

Yes, I need lots more sleep.

Cross Country Road Trip Day Three

 


If you are just now joining us, you can read about Day One and Day Two here. 

Day two began with a hotel coffee fail so I was pretty excited last night when I spotted a Starbucks not far from our hotel.  Mental note for morning.  My husband thankfully agreed to the extra stop for my much needed coffee fix.  Last night we stayed at a Spring Hill Suites (in Oklahoma City) which was very nice, but caused for a chaotic morning as there were not two separate rooms.  It doesn't matter how tired my littles are if they hear you awake they are going to wake up and usually not happy.  So it just meant for a quick exit from the hotel before we woke up everyone!

Day three went pretty much like the previous two - began with Landon's 'new' toy for the day and a new DVD or two to watch.  Soon it was time for lunch and well, the picnic lunch has lost its appeal completely.  Neither kid wanted to eat, again, and they were too curious about their surroundings.  We tried to keep meal times on schedule with the time change each day, but of course hunger came early and both kids snacked in the car.  Ah well, at least they were eating something!  After lunch time both kids have been taking a nearly two hour nap.  That has made for a nice break, even for sitting in a car.  Also, on day three the landscape finally started to noticeably change.  This was a stop in New Mexico.
 
 
We arrived in Albuquerque mid-afternoon between the early start and gaining an hour crossing into New Mexico.  Exhaustion has begun to set in so we order in a pizza, then give the kids a bath.  It's amazing how fun two empty water bottles can be to play with.
 
By 8pm (10pm Eastern time) our hotel room looked like this:
 
Ahhh, sweet silence.  One more day to go.

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cross Country Road Trip Day Two


If you are following, we recently drove from Virginia to Arizona with a toddler, baby, and one very large dog.  Our trip actually began in upstate NY (Fort Drum if you are military) but we detoured for two weeks in Virginia to visit with family.  I've been slow to post each day because we've been adjusting to our new home, trying to get the kids off of East Coast time (which has made for early mornings AND late nights) and dealing with a fever in the littlest one.  Here is a little bit about day two.
 
Today is Day two on the road.  It began with a huge hotel coffee fail.  I filled to the max line.  Apparently that will fill up about 3 cups off coffee.  Oops!  We made it all the way to a small town in Tennessee between Nashville and Memphis on Day one.  We were off to a later start this morning (about 8:30am) but we enjoyed a little extra sleep as day one was our longest.  Our hotel stay at La Quinta was great and highly recommended if you have dogs (no extra pet fee - even for a Great Dane!)  Getting a suite so that our toddler could sleep in a different room than us?  Genius!  He fell and stayed asleep so much better than if we had been in the same room. (*Disclaimer – I don’t mean an actually separate hotel room, a suite with two connecting rooms, but a wall separating us.)  Anyways, our Great Dane, Tucker, slept in the room with Landon and he thought that was pretty cool.  We grabbed (free) breakfast at the hotel and hit the road.  We had another lunch picnic but neither kid ate so that was kind of a fail.  There’s been a lot of snacking in the car so maybe that is to blame.  I expect all routines will be a little wacky until we get to Arizona and settled.  I stocked up on organic, squeeze pouches of baby food for Emmi so that I had a way to satisfy her hunger if we weren’t at a stopping point.  She can actually hold them herself and sucks the baby food down like a yummy smoothie.  I should point out here that Landon never could have those on his own.  He had too much fun squeezing and making a huge mess of them so I was pleasantly surprised to see Emmi EAT them and not making a mess of them.  Yay for little girls!  Day two was for the most part uneventful, so here are a few pictures.
 
Lunch picnic!

Emmi preferred dirt and rocks.
 
Traffic jam = fresh air.
 
A fun game of peek-a-boo between Landon and Emmi.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cross Country Road Trip Day One


 
We're now settling into our new, temporary home, in Arizona.  I took some notes at the end of each day of our four day drive from Virginia to Arizona.  Here is a bit about Day 1:
 
Our road trip to Arizona got off to a great start.  The day before, we went to a local Splash Park and wore the kids out with water, sun and playtime with their cousins.  I’m convinced that helped us get through our first and longest day on the road.  We kicked off about 6:30am and woke the kids just enough to dress them and throw them in the car.  We stopped for breakfast a couple hours down the road.  I’ve found this makes a long day on the road go faster than attempting breakfast before leaving.  Tucker, our Great Dane, traveled well as usual, although he seems to be having more trouble getting into and out of the truck.  Landon and Emmilyn shared applejacks during our breakfast stop (pictured above).  Our goal for this trip was to only buy dinner for two reasons.  1. To eat healthy and 2. To feel good.  I always find on a road trip I feel miserable because of the food I eat, usually purchased at whatever stop we make.  Saving money is definitely a bonus. Traveling with a big dog gives us limitations too.  We can't go sit down at a restaurant or visit some touristy site.  We can pretty much stop, eat outside, walk the dog, and let the kids play.  I was a bit more lazy packing food this time around but here is what we did pack:

-          Ham biscuits (Ham & swiss rolls with a Dijon mustard/worstershire sauce.  I toast them in the oven then put one bag in the fridge and one in the freezer so it will last longer.

-          Pasta salad – thanks to my Mom for making this.  Everything from pasta, peppers, carrots, squash, salami, cheese.  Lots of fresh goodies that all four of us could eat.

-          Cheese, crackers, and pepperoni snack kit.  The kind you buy in the store.  Yeah.  Lazy.  But as it turns out, the perfect travel food!

-          String cheese, individual boxes of Horizon milk, lots of water.

-          -Dry snacks put into individual snack bags. Cheerios, pretzels, dried apricots, craisins, cheese-its, Belvita breakfast biscuits, Applejacks.

We’ve had to stop for gas often because we are pulling a huge trailer so we set up a lunch picnic in the back of a truck stop parking lot.  Sounds classy, eh?  The sacrifices you make traveling with a dog and a gas guzzling truck & trailer.  Our first day we logged over 600 miles, 10-11 hours of driving time, and about 13 hours on the road total. The remaining days should be shorter. 

 

Remember when I said I was going to have this road trip all planned out before we left?  Well…I didn’t.  I’m not sure if it was part denial, part laziness, or the realization that flexibility was the only way we would survive a road trip with a toddler, baby, and a VERY big dog.  We had sorta kinda looked up the route and discussed it but ultimately we left Virginia without a single hotel booked and we hadn’t yet decided which route we were going to take.  Thanks to technology we discussed on the first leg of the trip and searched hotels while driving down the road.  Our plan as of now is to take each day with this method.  Decide on the road in the morning how far we want to go, book a hotel for that night, and take the next day as it comes. 
Wow, perhaps I am moving past my obsessive planning?  I guess kids will do that to you. 

Ah well, here’s hoping tomorrow is just as smooth.
Here are two more snaps towards the end of the first day.
 
Still happy and watching a movie.  Probably Marmaduke.

We managed to also eat healthy for dinner.  Check out the delish looking fish tacos!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Toddler Travel Finds

I like to think of myself as a bargain shopper.  It's just a way of shopping that was embedded into my brain by my mother.  At times it's frustrating because I see something I really want and I just. can't. buy it.  That little voice in the back of my head won't let me!  Have I ever mentioned that my Mom bought my prom dress for $30 without me even being present?  It fit perfect and was gorgeous!

When it came to picking up some toys and dvd's for our cross country drive I was not going to spend much money.  Speaking of dvd's, what's with them being so expensive to begin with?  $20-50 for a single movie?  No thanks, we'll rent through red box or Vudu and be done with it.

The first place we went was Target (as if I needed a reason) and I noticed a bunch of Superman themed items in the dollar bins. 

 
I picked up a sticker book, pencils, a pencil case, velcro wallet, and a little notebook.  They also had these adorable pop-up books.  One is about robot cowboys and the other dinosaurs in outer space.  In other words, perfect for little boys!  I realize most of the Superman stuff is way above Landon's age of 2 but I know my kid.  He loves stickers, containers to put random things in, and he will probably play with the velcro wallet for about half a day.  At a dollar each, mission accomplished.
 
Next we went to Ollie's Bargain Outlet and found the following.
 

Word World, Bob the Builder, two Thomas the train DVD's each over an hour long and a Dinosaur Train book.  Each of these items were only $3.99!  My plan is to give Landon one or two of the new items each day on our road trip which we are expecting to be 4-5 days long (still working out the drive details.)

Neither store really had bargain items suited for Emmi, but I have a bunch of Baby Einstein DVD's I plan to use (in case of emergency) and I'll just rotate some of her smaller toys she already has.

We expect full on meltdowns from both kids probably more than once on our drive but with a few new items we can at least minimize the damage!

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Favorite Things - Fort Drum, NY


As we are packing and preparing to move back across the country to Arizona my husband and I have been talking about what we are going to miss about New York and what we are looking forward to in Arizona.  One of the great advantages of military life is having the opportunity to live in many different places with new experiences. 

Funny, less than 3 months ago I wrote this blog post about reasons I love the north country because I thought we were going to be here forever.  Now we are leaving Fort Drum in under two weeks!

Here is a list of my personal favorite things at Fort Drum.

1. New York Pizza - My poor husband is so sad about leaving behind NY Pizza.  We have rarely gotten pizza from a chain (mostly just when I had pregnancy cravings) in our 3 years here.  When family or friends come to visit, they know without question NY pizza is what will be served the night they arrive, in fact they expect it!  For our first two years here our local pizza joint didn't even deliver but that certainly never stopped us from eating it.  Once they delivered it just increased the frequency.  New York Pizza - your greasy goodness will be sadly missed.  We will shed a tear each time we order pizza from a chain restaurant.

2. North Country Red - Oh beloved North Country Red.  This is one of the most popular (and my favorite) wine from the local Thousand Islands Winery.  North Country Red got me through Chris's first deployment and helped me paint our downstairs one hour at a time after baby went to sleep each night. 

3. Snow - Now hear me out.  Yes, you have heard me complain a lot about the snow up here.  But growing up in Virginia we always had a very wet and icy snow that made roads terrible and everything a mess.  The snow up here is best described as a snow globe.  Fluffy, powdery, and just beautiful!  When the snow is falling and you are watching by a window inside your home you really feel as if you are inside a snow globe!  If you want to go snow tubing/skiing/ice skating/snow mobiling (is that a word?) you don't have to plan a weekend trip and drive to a resort.  You can simply drive 10-30 minutes to a local place and spend the day having fun!

4. Lake Ontario - From the local beaches, historic battlefield at Sackets Harbor, to Pirates Week at Alexandria Bay there is much to enjoy by the lake.  I love that during the Summer we can dine on the deck of the Boat House, enjoy the breeze, and watch the boaters or spend a day on the beach and then in the Winter months we can walk out on the frozen lake and watch the ice fisherman.

5. Farmer's Markets - The picture at the top of this blog is from one of my first trips to the Lowville Farmer's Market - peppers, sweet onion, sweet corn, tomatoes, red potatoes, apples, free range chicken, cinnamon rolls, white wine, strawberry, raspberry, & blueberry jam.  Several villages surround Fort Drum and most have their own market so there is always somewhere to find fresh local produce, meat flowers, crafts, or just about anything you can imagine.

6. Tractors, Cows, and Helicopters - I love that my little boy routinely can see and identify all of these things.  We pass huge farm tractors on the road and wave to the cows along the way.  Landon stops dead in his tracks to tell me when there's a plane or helicopter flying over us, which I never used to notice. 

7. Maple Syrup - Before living here I bought some random brand of syrup at the store.  Here I have been to several sugar shacks and seen the process of how REAL maple syrup is made and I'm pretty certain I can never go back.


If you are here or have been at Fort Drum before, what are your favorite things?  Let me know in the comments below!


In other news I've decided to join the world of twitter.  A little behind the curve, I know.  I actually created an account a while ago and never did anything with it.  I have a feeling this move will provide plenty to tweet about.  I mean, over 2,000 miles of driving with a toddler, baby, and a very big dog?  Yeah, so you should follow me.  @MaysLiz

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Make a list



Movers will be here to pack up our house in about 16 days.  16 DAYS!  Given that realization, yesterday I decided it was time to start making lists in an attempt to make this move organized.  Forgive the poor handwriting, it never was a strong point of mine.  I have a feeling there will be lots of additions to this list as I start to cross tasks off.  It's a great starting point though.  There is the usual tasks of cancel this, schedule that, pick up Dr. records, pet records. 

On our last two moves we packed one single container of kitchen essentials.  We don't always know how long we'll be waiting for our household good to arrive so it's nice to have a few pots and pans to make a home cooked meal.

The first time we moved to Arizona we pulled our second car on a trailer and filled the car with as much of our essentials as we could fit. (*Side note - our two big dogs fill up the back of our SUV so we can't pack anything in there.) On the way back to the east coast we rented a U-Haul trailer and filled that with our essentials.  This time we got smart and bought our own trailer!  We can fit one set of mattress and box springs and maybe even a couch!  We have air mattresses (as does probably every military family I know) but a real mattress and a real place to sit during the day until our household goods arrive sounds fantastic!

The two lists that are pretty bare right now are the 'Food/Snacks' list and the 'In The Car' list for us and the kids.  I routinely drive 12 hours to Virginia and back with both kids and have that down pat. But at the end of one long day I arrive at my parent's or my Mother-in-law's house with extra hands, food, and anything else I might need.  This time Chris and I will be spending 4-5 days on the road with two kids, one dog, and lots of hotel rooms.  I've picked up some toys and books from the Target Bargain bins for Landon and plan to have a couple new items he can 'play' with in the car each day, plus lots and lots of DVD's.  I also have an idea of foods that have worked well for road trips before...banana bread, ham rolls, scones...and of course the typical easy toddler snacks...goldfish, bananas, raisins, vanilla wafers.

Now I have to tackle this list and plan out the actual road trip.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  :)  What tips have you found work for young kids on road trips?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Moving

Here we go again!

PCSing, aka moving, can be one of the more exciting and frustrating parts of military life.  The thrill of moving to a new location and a new experience met with the terror of making new friends AGAIN, moving with kids for the first time, and the logistics.  Ohhh the logistics.  I'm sure every military spouse's story is different.  I'm not sure how many end up with cross-country trips like we do but this is my experience.  

We are currently stationed at Fort Drum, NY with orders to report to Fort Huachuca, AZ.  That's about 2,500 miles.  We did this move before from Virginia to Arizona with just the two of us.  We didn't book hotels ahead of time, we just stopped and found one.  We didn't have housing planned ahead of time, we just arrived and figured it out.  This time we have two little people so we are attempting to have a plan.  We are going to Fort Huachuca for about 6 months of school and then will PCS again to a more permanent (read 2-3 years) location.

But Liz, why don't you just stay on the East coast while Chris goes to school?

While it may seem a wee bit like torture to make this move for a measly six months, school time means quality family time.  School hours are more reasonable and Chris will likely be home for dinner every night, maybe on occasion even for lunch.  Not knowing what the next job or location holds for us, this is valuable time for us as a family.

Our most immediate to-do list involves selling or renting our current home. 

Wait.  Doesn't the Army give you housing?

Yes, military posts DO have housing.  Enough for everyone stationed there?  Ha, yeah right!  When we arrived at Drum we were told it was an 8-10 month wait for on-post housing.  I was 6 months pregnant at the time and Chris was set to deploy in 3 months so I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of moving twice, the second time by myself with a newborn in the dead of Winter.  Thanks, I'll pass and get my own place.  We didn't have to buy a home but that was a choice we made.

Now onto our move to Arizona.  

They have housing available for us!

YAY!

It's the same old housing we lived in before that has swamp coolers for a/c and was supposed to be torn down by now.

BOOO!!

They ARE tearing them down in 2014 though, so we'd have to evacuate by the end of the year and possibly move twice in a 6 month time frame.

BOOO!!

But there are lots of really nice off-post rental houses in Sierra Vista!

YAY!!!

We found one that we LOVE!

YAY!!!

But the rental company won't reserve the house for us until we do a walk-through.

BOOO!!


Call me cheap (and I am) but I'm not flying out to Arizona to look at houses we will live in for less than a year.  No matter how perfect it is.  The important thing to remember is that we have choices.  It is the little things, right?  And we'll be together as a family.  That is most important of all.

I suppose if it wasn't a roller-coaster it wouldn't be an adventure now would it?  Didn't I tell you PCSing is both exciting and frustrating?  

Just another day navigating a PCS.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blizzards for Monsoons

In good Army fashion, just as we settled into the we'll be here another year mindset at Fort Drum, we get orders to PCS!  (For those non-military PCS means Permanent Change of Station or basically a move.)  For us?  We will be on our way back to the other border and by the 4th of July we'll be in Fort Huachuca, Arizona!  While this may seem quite fast, I must say...this is the most notice we've ever been given for a PCS.

So I'm getting out of the blizzards in Northern New York and headed towards the dry desert heat of Southern Arizona.  Poor me, right?  I know, I know.  I'm actually quite excited to kiss my snow gear goodbye, but I'm not looking forward to monsoon season in Arizona!  We managed to escape it last time as we left Arizona in early July for NNY.

                    I might actually dislike rain more than snow.

I guess I will report my official opinion on that topic in a few months.

In the mean time there is lots to do.  The last time we moved we didn't have any kids.  This time we have a two year old, six month old, and the gazillion things that come along with them.  There's a house to sell in New York, a search for housing in Arizona, lots of cancellations to make and paperwork to gather.  Lots of see ya later's (never goodbye) to say and quite a road trip to plan.  Yes, yes, we are going to attempt a road trip from the East Coast to Arizona with our two little munchkins, and don't forget the Great Dane!  The last time we did this road trip we drove as far as we could manage in a day and found a hotel randomly to stay for the night.  Something tells me this trip will be very different. :)  So stay tuned, as always, there is a great little adventure ahead of us.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baby Led Weaning

When I was approaching my due date with Landon, a friend in the office who had her baby a few months before brought up introducing solids and a method called Baby Led Weaning.  I knew that I wanted to make my own baby food instead of buying jarred baby food, but I was curious about this "new" method so she filled me in.  The idea behind Baby Led Weaning is that 1.) you don't introduce solids until around 6 months of age IF your baby is ready and 2.) your baby feeds his/her self.  If you have interest you can read more about it in this blog.  I love this resource because the Momma documented week by week with her daughter and I found it to be SOO useful.

Confession:  When Landon turned 6 months I tried it for a few weeks and then got scared of potential choking (one of my biggest fears anyways) and with Chris deployed at the time, I just didn't feel comfortable on my own.  A few weeks later our lives were turned upside down when Chris was brought home on emergency leave and we just did solids the old fashioned way for a bit.  I was browsing through my blog trying to remember when exactly we started back up with Baby Led again but Landon was 10 months old and he was already pretty much eating what we eat. 

As Emmilyn approached 6 months, I knew that I wanted to do blw (baby led weaning) with her from the start.  The second time around I feel much more comfortable with the gagging (yes, there is gagging involved) and realize it makes so much more sense for her to eat what we eat because that's what I expect in the years to come anyways.  So of the first foods we tried are banana, sweet potato, red potato, and avocado. These lend themselves as easiest to hold, and easily mushable.  Emmi was definitely ready as she reaches for what I put on her tray immediately and takes it straight to her mouth.  I remember Landon playing with food a bit more but Emmi means business!  Here are some snaps from our first couple weeks.


We started with banana and since theycan be slippery I leave the peel on the bottom so E had a handle to grip.
 


Next was sweet potato.
 

 
 

I fixed steak fry red potatoes with dinner so I decided to give E one.  She loved it!
 

 
Landon felt left out of the picture taking tonight.
 
 
Tonight I gave E a slice of avocado. 
She always grabs food off of the tray the second I lay it down.
 
 
 
I think the avocado felt good on her bottom teeth coming in.


 
 
 As with the introduction of any solids, we introduce one food a few times before introducing another.  I also don't sweat it if I don't give Emmi food one day because, as the jingle goes....

 
'Food before one is just for fun!'







Friday, April 19, 2013

Where's Landon

With all of the negative and sad news this week (don't worry, I'm glued to the TV too) I wanted to post something light and maybe a little funny.

So....                                                             Where's Landon?
 
 
 
On the couch

 
On a basket

 
In a bookshelf
 
In a box
 
On the potty?
 
On a shelf
 
In a cabinet
 
On the door
 
In his bed?
 
On Emmi's crib
 
On the dog crate
 
In the hanger
 
In the basket
 
IN the crib
 
On a ladder
 
On monkey bars
 
On the dining table
 
On a side table
 
Just on the go
 
On the floor
 
On the sink

 
Stuck in a stool

 
At Target
 
Behind the towel
 
On the TV

 
aaaaaannnnd upside down!