Thursday, December 18, 2014

And Then We Found Olaf

Our first 24 hours away in Fredericksburg were admittedly a bit rough. It's amazing how much of our experiences ride on the coattails of our toddler's moods and temperament!

Happily when Iyla awoke from her nap on day 2, the clouds parted, the rainbows came out, and she was in the sweetest, happiest, most joyful mood. We decided to take advantage and head downtown- where lo and behold, there was a life sized Olaf cavorting in the downtown square! BC says this might be one of his favorite moments ever with Iyla- watching our child's face light up as one of her story book characters magically was brought alive.

We then had a fun dinner downtown complete with live music:

And returned back to our cabin for a cozy fire and s'mores:

It was definitely a welcome and wonderful conclusion to our getaway!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Vacation" With a Toddler: Fredericksburg 2014

When we returned from Kansas, BC mentioned he'd taken a few days off of work in December to provide for a 4 day weekend, and that he'd love us to stay in Texas' Hill Country. He asked if I could take the reigns to plan it?

My honest first thought was: that sounds like a lot of work. 

Call me a curmudgeon, but instead of feeling excited I felt overwhelm at the prospect of planning all of the to-do's that a weekend away would necessitate. All of the food and supplies to pack for Iyla. All of the research to find the right spot that could accommodate us comfortably and allow for a toddler. BC thinks I over-plan things (guilty) and is known to say "let's just wing it." Ahem. If I 'winged' it our child probably wouldn't have milk, snacks, her pajamas, potty, toys, etc. You get the idea.

In the vein of acknowledging this could be fun and relaxing once there, I pushed past my initial reservations and did the research- finding what seemed to be a perfect little cottage community on 200 acres just outside of historic Fredericksburg Texas. We were off!

And now I bring you a series of photos I'd like to call "Image vs. Reality."
Subtitle: "No Matter How Much I Plan, I Cannot Control the Outcome."

 IMAGE: Darling, idyllic private cottage in the country. 
NOT PICTURED: The loud partying group of 10+ people in the cottage immediately beside us. And their yapping dog.

IMAGE(S): Iyla communing happily with nature. 
NOT PICTURED: Deer poop EVERYWHERE (and of course smeared all over the bottom of Iyla's shoes). The fact that all of these photos were taken in a 10 minute period, after which Iyla was instantly fussy and bored again.

IMAGE(S): Happy family playing in Fredericksburg's center square. 
NOT PICTURED: Iyla's repeated tantrums & food throwing at breakfast, my endless yawning.

IMAGE: Iyla peacefully relaxing under the cottage Christmas tree.
NOT PICTURED: Iyla's refusal to do ANYTHING other than watch videos at the cottage.

Here are a few shots that show a bit more of reality:

Pacifying Iyla with snacks

Iyla spitting out her snack

Iyla refusing to cooperate

Iyla having a meltdown

Iyla giving me the side-eye

"I will ruin your getaway!"

Suffice it to say we are all pretty exhausted and I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in Austin. We have one more night here in the Hill Country, and luckily two bottles of wine…. wish us luck!

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Iyla at 25 Months

Sweet Iyla Grace, today you are officially 25 months old! You are so full of curiosity, affection, sweetness, feist, & wonder, and continue to amaze us at your capacity to learn. You are such a smart girl!

This month you have become extremely interested in letters. Every time you see a word- whether in a book, a billboard, clothes tag- you'll say "those are letters!" and ask me to "count" them, meaning you want me to name off each letter as you carefully study them. You know quite a few by sight now, and I'm planning several Christmas gifts for you around this newfound interest.

Speaking of Christmas, you are LOVING this Holiday- especially the decorations! You think snowflakes are called "Let it Go's" (from the Frozen movie- your only real reference to snow, being a Texas babe) and recite "flower gleam and glow, let your powers shine" from the Tangled movie every time you sit under the Christmas tree. So cute!


You love listening to Christmas music, and when we go on evening bike rides we always look for Christmas lights around the neighborhood.

We also went to the tree lighting ceremony & caroling at the Capitol, and started the evening with a visit to the Driskill Hotel. Your eyes were huge with wonder when you realized Christmas was at the Driskill too!

Ever since we've returned from Kansas you've been especially affectionate with Sam. You've also discovered he is fun to dress up! He's been a patient playmate, and I am still SO amazed he has never bit you. Lately when others have cared for him while we've been out of town every.single.person has gotten a pretty significant Sam bite. But somehow he just knows to be extra gentle with you, and it warms my heart.

The weather has been gorgeous, so we've been enjoying daily walks to our local park. You know the way there, and hold my hand for the entire walk. I love these afternoons with you so much.

This month you had 2 days of extreme "growing"- which is what we term days when your emotions are on HIGH and meltdowns occur over the most seemingly trivial things. For example, last week when we went to pick up Papa from the airport we walked up a huge staircase to the floor where we had to meet him. You then had a HUGE meltdown because you wanted to immediately ride the escalator back down. After taking a millisecond to try to reason with you (we need to wait here for Papa! We'll ride that escalator with Papa soon!) I very quickly discerned that the best course of action was to just go ahead and ride that escalator. You were what we call a 'hot mess' that entire evening, and spent much of the time while we waited alternating between watching videos on my phone and writhing in defiant fuss on the airport floor. You KNOW when that paci comes out outside of bedtime things are serious!

And yet- true to our term "growing" days- after every extreme period of fussiness you emerge with newfound complexity & knowledge. I truly believe these fussy periods are times when your brain is actively shifting and imprinting, throwing your little world into temporary dismay- where everything you once knew and perceived has become more complicated and different. The fussy periods are shorter than they used to be (a couple days vs a couple weeks) but are extreme in their intensity. 

This last "growing" period saw you emerge and start identifying "he" vs "she"- pointing out men or women in books and saying "that's a he" or "that's a she" and also saw you understanding the concept of "favorite." You were playing with a toy tiara and was starting to fuss for a different one I knew was in another room. Upon fetching it for you, you told me it was your "favorite," and I knew this to be true!

You've also shown an increased interest in understanding emotions. You are aware of when people are sad, mad, or happy, and can imitate all of the facial expressions associated with those emotions. You'll often reflect that "Iyla was sad, Iyla cried" after you are fussy or upset about something. This ability also makes it easier to explain things to you- as I can say things like "Mama felt sad when you weren't being a helper at bedtime" and you can now better understand the sentiment and are more likely to cooperate.

'Oh hi- I'm getting smarter every day!'

A little blurry, but I still think you have the absolute CUTEST profile I've ever seen

This month I was struggling with what to do with your hair. It is very fine, curly, & at times unruly, definitely with a mind of its own. My big dilemma was: trim your bangs or grow them out?  I was on the path to growing them out, but they were often getting in your eyes and required that you have your hair  'done' daily. So I succumbed to practicality and cut them again- doing a more professional job than I'd done the previous two trims (which involved lots of phone videos for you as I parted and combed and clipped over and over and over again!) The new bangs backfired the next day at swimming- a place where I thought they would be MOST convenient. Turns out they drip a lot of water into your eyes, so from now on at swimming I'll need to pull your bangs up into a sort of Bam-Bam do. Overall I think it was the right move, as you can now wear your hair down AND we can still opt to clip your bangs to the side. You're adorable either way!

Still life with toddler. Typical morning hair!

Bangs in the sun

This month's LOVES:

*Bacon & Prosciutto
*Cliff Bars (we are trying to restrict this one as you ask for them all.the.time!)
*Walking to the park
*Finding flowers
*Christmas decorations
*Coloring & stickers (all day every day!)
*Dressing up magnetic dolls
*Discovering & naming letters
*Picking out your underwear each morning

You are such a JOY, sweet girl, and your Papa and I love you so very much. Happy 25 months to you!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This year we decided to take a Thanksgiving family road trip to visit BC's family in Kansas. The drive is about 12-13 hours, and we broke it up over 2 days, staying in Oklahoma City between drives. Iyla did GREAT in the car… happy as could be watching endless iPad movies. As a general rule we don't have much screen time at home, so this was indeed a special treat for her! I did make a concerted effort to alternate with reading books & playing with toys, though in the end she usually just wanted the iPad.

The elusive car nap. Iyla is an excellent sleeper at home and usually naps 2-2.5 hours. However, in the car? We are lucky if we get 30-40 minutes.

First stop: Oklahoma City! Happily the only increment weather we had this year was torrential rain -not super fun to drive in but tolerable. A huge improvement over the category 5 tornado we had on our last visit through town!

Then we were off to Kansas. We stayed with BC brother's family, which includes 3 boy cousins ages 5, 10, & 12. That first night those boys had Iyla in absolute stitches laughing- it was such a delight to hear! Iyla doesn't laugh very often, so when the belly laughs do come, it totally lights up the room.

Love these boys

Naps in cousin Jake's room looked a little different from home!

One huge advantage of Holidays with family? A Grandma who loves to spend time with & babysit Iyla! I got to go out with my sweet sister-in-law Jules for a girls' night while BC went out with his brother & the boys to a Kansas Jayhawks game. BC and I also enjoyed a lovely and much needed date night later that week.

We got to meet the newest member of the family, sweet 10 month old Crosby:

Iyla was indoctrinated into BC's alma mater, the University of Kansas, with her first official Jayhawk gear:

Her post nap hair was amazing that day

On Thanksgiving proper, BC's brother's family hosted a fantastic party & feast with 21 people. This was a bit of a struggle for Iyla, who consistently shows us she does NOT enjoy large groups or having to interact with lots of people she isn't intimately familiar with. There was quite a lot of fussing & pulling Mama by the hand back upstairs, where Iyla told me she wanted "just a little bit of quiet." I hear 'ya kiddo. I get it. It still made for a bit of a difficult holiday from my end, as Iyla wasn't all too keen to have me interacting with others either! She's lucky she's so cute. : )

A Holiday message from Iyla

We departed the day after Thanksgiving, happily having a safe and uneventful journey back into Austin. Upon arrival we went straight to one of our favorite neighborhood haunts- the Weatherup- to grab dinner & a cocktail before heading home. 

Our pants free toddler taking a moment to luxuriate in prosciutto bliss

One of the best parts about traveling? Coming home again! It was sweet to see how excited Iyla was to rediscover all of her toys. She was especially excited to see our kitty Sam, and has been giving him huge hugs ever since our return.

Thanks to all of our beloved Kansas family for such a wonderful trip!