How to Enjoy Paradise When You Have Babies: Barbados with Littles

DSC_0028We recently vacationed on the beautiful island of Barbados – a place known for the bluest waters, the friendly people, and their rum industry. One of the best parts of our vacation was that we were able to take our daughters along with us.
When I was researching the island, there was a lot of info for honeymooners or couples, but not a ton of advice for children, especially young ones like ours (under three). So here are some reasons why Barbados is one of the best places to vacation with children.

  1. Friendly locals – the Bajan locals were amazingly accepting of tourists. We had so many comments and friendly gestures from locals and other tourists alike. Maggie made friends everywhere, but played the most with a local girl on the beach who was with her father. Maggie hung out with them for most of the morning; enjoying running in and out of the waves with the slightly older girl. The father was very helpful as he would stand by the girls in the water and spent time conversing with us. We didn’t meet anyone who left us with a bad impression!

2. Low crime rate – there may be different opinions on this, but have the perspective that there is no habitable place in the world with zero crime. Wherever you go, be smart and alert. The biggest issue we had was peddlers approaching us, but my sister-in-law said it was so mild compared to Jamaica. The sellers are pretty polite and will take a kind “no” very well, as far as we saw. One day we were exploring a new remote beach area and were approached by police to make sure we were safe and to give us advice about staying in safe areas. I’m sure if you go looking for danger, it’s there. The general rule is to follow the same safety guidelines we have here in America.

3. Many kid-friendly activities – even though the island is thought of as a paradise for lovers, I found it quite easy to bring the girls along on whatever activity we had planned. We did bring our own car seats and rented a car. That simplified our adventures and allowed us the flexibility of driving right to the hotel if someone was  crabby. We took the girls on a catamaran cruise for five hours and had a blast! The cruise lines are outfitted with toddler life jackets, but we brought an infant one from home. We cruised with El Tigre and had an absolute blast. The crew was so considerate and fun; the director of the cruise hung out with Maggie for a while, gave us ALL of the towels to make a bed for Juliet, and made us feel like family. Maggie got to swim in the ocean while we snorkled for a bit, so we say she swam with sea turtles even though they were hiding at the bottom. Overall, we loved everything we did with the girls and are glad that they got to experience it with us.

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As with everything in life, there is a learning curve and this trip definitely taught us a couple things.

Don’t bother with a stroller through security. We found out quickly that it is way easier to put both kids in carriers so we could be as hands-fee as possible. Maggie escaping from the stroller and throwing everything on the ground while trying to get through security was not fun. Honestly, if we did it again, we would not bring the stroller and probably bring a utility wagon that would work well in the sand. There aren’t many sidewalks in Barbados and even where there are, I would prefer my kids close to me.

Prepare to have your kids nap on the go. Our kids napped all places – the car, the beach, a boat…I hate wasting vacation time inside a dark hotel room waiting for my kids to wake up, so our kids were forced to nap wherever they dropped.  Bring their blanket or lovey wherever you go and they will be so tired from the water and sun, they will sleep well. Believe me, it’s worth it. They’ll get back to their regular nap schedule when you get home.

Relax. Things aren’t going to go perfectly. Kids are going to have meltdowns. Just do your best and don’t expect too much of your kids. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant one night with our friends and Maggie was screaming and trying to run away, so I took her for a short walk and distracted her. There’s only so much a toddler can handle. Bring a bag of small toys or drawing tools to occupy them during waiting periods.

Pack as little as possible. We packed four of us into two carry-ons and a backpack. We spent $10 on laundry one time at the hotel and it worked pretty well. You could also just wash your clothes in the sink. It’s hot and you’re going to be in the water most of the days anyways, so you won’t need a lot of clothes. It’s worth it to not have to lug around a ton of bags to and from the airport.

DO YOUR RESEARCH. As you should do before you travel anywhere; Barbados has some rules that aren’t common. One is that one must wear a cover-up while out in public (no walking the streets in a bikini) and another is no camouflage (I don’t know why, Ii just know it’s on a big sign in the airport). Things that may not be in the front of your mind as your thinking about vacation, but you should always be aware and respectful of the culture you’re visiting.

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That’s all I have to say about beautiful Barbados! I hope I get to visit again soon.

 

 

 

February 23: Little Darlings

As you probably have heard by now, we have some change to our weather lately. My sister in Portland has some beautiful snow that shut down the city and we have had temps in the mid 50’s and flooding. I’ll take the early spring any day! It renews my spirit. We have been very on the go this week and it feels like I’ve been putting away laundry everyday, anyone else feel like everything is just piling up? I surely need some time away from the house. Although I can only imagine the laundry pileup when we get back…

Maggie: Potty training is going so well! We transitioned from the floor seat to a toilet topper. She has taken more initiative and has been very consistent as long as she doesn’t have pants on. That’s our next step! I obviously chose to potty train at the perfect time…hopefully we don’t fall backwards over our trip.

She now sings the entire song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – she knows most of the words, but she makes up the ones she doesn’t and I love it. She started saying “uh oh…oh no!” in the cutest way recently and it’s become a joke. She actually starts laughing about it, so it may be her first joke?

She has been very cuddly and loving to me lately. I keep looking back at her baby pictures and it breaks my heart how quickly she has grown. This is a precious time and I’m determined to soak in every bit of the details. I like to write them down (like in this blog), so that I forever remember how she fake cries with her face scrunched up or how she sings in a deep voice for the doctor part in 5 Little Monkeys. I just love how wild and lovely she is right now.

One last tidbit I don’t want to forget: she constantly plays with her dollhouse people and has names for them all. She has a mama, a daddy, and Baby Jesus. Who is actually Princess Aurora. Kids are just so funny.

Juliet: This champ has popped two teeth in the last two weeks. She is having trouble with sleeping as a result and also with transitioning from a swaddle. But we survive! She is very confident now at sitting up and has just started to play with toys alongside Maggie. It is SO cute!!! All I dreamed of coming true in front of me. I cannot wait for the interactive play! She is a total mama’s girl and I’m not touched out yet. She loves to be strapped on and hang out wherever I am. She loves music and has the sweetest laugh. She had her first late night giggle fit yesterday…she couldn’t stop laughing!

 

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Weekly Updates: The Beginning

I originally started this blog to keep my far away family up to date on things happening in our life, so to accomplish that and to keep me on a writing schedule, I’m going to challenge myself to write a weekly update.

These will include things we are doing, milestones and activities for the girls, and things we are into at the moment. If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’ll address them.

February 16-

  1. Juliet’s first Valentine’s Day! Of course this has to top my list. I gave her a photo shoot just like I did Maggie two years ago. She just began sitting up on her own, so this is her first sitting up session as well! 

  2. Maggie’s officially potty training! We aren’t home enough for the famous three-day method, so we are just making it up as we go. She is about 75% trained at home (as long as she is naked, haha!) She is so proud of herself when she goes and says “Maggie did it!” 20180130_100408
  3. I made some delicious almond flour pancakes for Valentine’s Day. Here’s the recipe (I just used some sugar since I didn’t have Stevia and I added some banana). Even Ryan liked them!
  4. Our big family vacation is coming up in a week and a half! I’m busy making packing lists and figuring out how to pack as minimal as possible. Airplane travel tips with two kiddos would be much appreciated. I will be sure to make notes of the good ideas to report back here to help others.

 

Photo Dump:

 

 

That’s it for this week!

Living in Grace

I’ve been working on a blog post for about two months now; battling writer’s block every sentence of it. This is not that post.

This post is just about coming as I am. As it should be. I’d love to be that Pinterest mom, but we have yet to do a Valentine’s craft (I printed off heart coloring pages, close enough?), my home is in a constantly disheveled renovating state, and dry shampoo always has my back these days.

But this obsessive planner has learned a lot in the past two years of being a mom. Letting go and accepting life unplanned has been freeing. I’m not all the way there…i still have a planner, a dry erase calendar, and TWO phone calendars ruling my days, but I no longer feel guilty that Maggie knows the entire Daniel Tiger theme song or that I have no idea how much my youngest sleeps.

My Moms group has a theme this year – “No More Perfect”. Which I think is just perfect for these crazy, fun-filled days of young parenthood. Living in God’s grace to be who I am right now and work on perfection when I meet Him 🙂

 

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Margaret Grace at Two Years

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T w o.

Two whole years I have known you. 24 months of being a mom to you. I catch myself staring at you lately, wondering how I could have been so blessed to know you.

You are beautiful. You have the sweetest curls and gorgeous eyelashes. You are solid and athletic – proof of your physical abilities. You have long limbs and fingers…and feet! (in size 8 shoes already!)

You say the cutest things since you can’t talk well yet. “mina” = banana, “sasa” = applesauce, “seesah” = sister, “waya” = Leia. You sing along with me to your goodnight song and “Jesus Loves Me”, and every song from Moana and Trolls. Oh, your favorite movie is Moana. By far. But you love Daniel Tiger now and I’m grateful for the switch from Baby Einstein finally.

You know the alphabet song and can count to 10 (you try to hold up your fingers like I do). You know the colors red, blue, and purple; every other color is blue. You are getting picky with your foods and only want to eat fruit and cheese. Your favorite food is pizza.

You have your father’s mechanical mind and adventure-seeking spirit. You have my love of music and desire to have people close by. You are the most outgoing, loving, wildest toddler I know.

I couldn’t love you more…

Happy birthday, my Maggie Grace.

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Juliet’s Newborn Pictures

There’s something so fun about taking dressing up babies and taking pictures of them. Even more so when it’s your own! Thankfully, I get all the time I want to take an extended photo shoot of my baby daughter.

Here’s what we’ve worked on so far. Juliet was about a week old when we took these. Hard to believe its been two weeks now since she joined our family!

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Our Juliet Hope

The probability of giving birth on your due date is just under 4%. Of the current moms my age at my church, I know of three births in the last two years that landed on due dates. My last child is one of those punctual children.

I never announce the name I picked for my child until they arrive in the world. Partly to make sure they are the right gender (we didn’t find out for my first) and partly to make sure they fit their name.

My husband actually chose our newest daughter’s first name…Juliet, or Jules. Even in the womb, she seemed to be feminine and dainty compared to Maggie. The name just fit her, even before I officially met her. I even decorated her room with pinks and flowers, basically the opposite of what I did with Maggie’s nursery.

Hope. We (I) knew we wanted to continue with the theme we had set with Maggie’s middle name of Grace – reminding us of God’s grace. I struggled a lot with choosing the right middle name. But as we drew closer to meeting her, I got a peace about the word “hope”. Especially in the time in our world where there’s so much suffering and fear, we could use the reminder of the hope of Jesus’ return and completion of His beautiful kingdom.

Now, her birth story…

Her birth day arrived with much anticipation. Funnily enough, the day before she came, I was exhausted from trying whatever I could to start labor the whole week. I fell asleep around 10:30 Saturday night without even thinking about my due date the next day.

At 1:30 am,  I woke up to my water breaking and jumping out of bed because I had forgotten that I had put on a waterproof mattress cover. I woke Bear up and told him my water had broken. We sprang into action and I took a shower to clean up before heading  to the hospital. We chatted excitedly about finally meeting our new baby girl.

I woke my mom to tell her the news and fought the urge to snuggle with Maggie for one last time before her new sister arrived. I didn’t dare wake her up when we were trying to get out of the house quickly.

We got to the hospital around 2:30 and got checked in pretty soon afterwards. Apparently the week prior had been very popular for having babies because there  were no recovery rooms available until late Sunday afternoon! We arrived just in time to get the largest room with a jacuzzi tub in it. An answer to prayer since I chose to not use pitocin this time around. The doctors and nurses I had were awesome and were great advocates for my rights and desires in my delivery.

Since my water broke, I had more of a deadline than a normal delivery. I was granted six hours to progress from 4.5 cm. I was desperate to not need pitocin, so I did everything I could to get labor moving quickly. I walked the halls, bounced on the birthing ball, and relaxed in the tub for hours. Thankfully, my contractions began to come stronger and more consistent. By 7:30 (the end of my 6 hours), I had gotten to a six! My body was doing exactly what God designed it to do.

The next couple hours were filled with intense contractions and not even the tub would help. I honestly felt like giving up. I only labored for roughly 7 hours, but once they came, my contractions progressed quickly. At 9:15, I must have been getting really loud in an effort to manage the pain because all of a sudden, two nurses and two doctors were in the room asking to check my dilation.

I fully expected to only be at an 8. I was ready to ask for an epidural if that was the case. I was losing focus and having a hard time mentally staying on top of my contractions. Of course, I was having such a hard time because I was fully dilated and ready to push.

The doctor told me to hold on while he gets everything ready “just in case”. It was a good thing he did, because two pushes later, our Juliet came into the world with a healthy set of lungs.

We loved her before we knew her, but knowing her is so much sweeter. She has blessed our family and we never knew how much she would add to our dynamic. It’s difficult to remember life before her and we can’t get over how our love has been multiplied.

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Juliet Hope

Born on Sunday, August 27th 2017 at 9:29 am

7.8 lbs and 20.5 inches long