Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Quick Weekend Trip to DC

(Thought about splitting up this post, but I didn't. Get ready for a long one...)

We knew we wouldn't get to do anything over spring break (this week) since Darin is trying to finish up two papers for a conference he is presenting at next week, but when we heard about Darin's cousin's mission farewell in D.C. the weekend before spring break, it seemed like the perfect quick trip to tie in with a little Easter/Philip's birthday visit to my parent's house. Being that close to Williamsburg and not going was a little hard (especially with a good friend from Germany visiting and another good friend who just had a baby there), I only tried to convince Darin like 20 times to let us take a day or two to go down and visit (I'm such the supportive, understanding wife in his time of overwhelming paper stress), but in the end I'm just grateful that he was able to take the weekend off for us to take this fun little trip.

The kids fell asleep about 15 minutes into our trip which was money in the bank. Whhhatttt. We got to peacefully listen to a few episodes of RadioLab, my new favorite podcast. (If you haven't listened to it before, try the "60 Words" episode, or "I don't have to answer that"... pretty fascinating). 

Kids sleeping at the same time is just so rare these days.

We took the metro in to D.C. I loved watching Shae light up as we got on the train. He told us that the metro was his favorite part of the weekend. 

Belén seemed more interested in my camera lens cover than the metro.

We easily picked one of the busiest days of the year to go to the National Mall (Fourth of July might be a little worst). With Spring Breaks and Easter and the Cherry Blossoms, it was buuusssyyy. 

When we got into the city we went straight to the Air & Space museum and still had to wait quite awhile to get inside. The kids did so great with all the waiting. Shae looked at the letters on the museum and I took Belén up and down the stairs outside of the museum. She would have been content doing that all day.

When we finally did get in, we looked at a few exhibits, but couldn't see much due to the wall to wall people. We waited in some more lines to go through a few airplanes which Shae really wanted to do. We also pretended to put on our astronaut uniforms and go to space which he loved. 

After leaving Air & Space we ate lunch outside on the grass of the Mall. The weather was Purrr-fect. We couldn't have picked a better day weather-wise. Bright blue sky, sunny, 60s. Perfect.

After eating we tried to look around the Museum of Natural History, but again, we didn't last long, even less time here actually than the other museum. We literally could not get to any of the exhibits due to wall to wall people. We took the obligatory picture of us with the big elephant, let Shae crawl through the ant hill and got out of there. 

We were really flexible with our plans since it wasn't either of our first time going to D.C. and we'll have plenty of opportunities to go in the future. With the two little ones, we saw enough of the museums to make them happy and then really just enjoyed being outside in the beautiful weather. 

I am still in shock that both of our kids fell asleep while walking to see the cherry blossoms. The chances that they  BOTH fall asleep at the same time are so slim and this was a second in two days. Score.

We slowly made our way over to the cherry blossoms, Shae didn't even wake up until we were walking away.

Shae's experience with the cherry blossoms. 


Shae woke up saying, "Ice Creaaaaam..." There were food trucks/ice cream trucks everywhere, apparently even in his dreams. We went ahead and splurged and spent 12 bucks on three ice cream popsicles. Thankfully everything else we did was free (besides the metro so it didn't hurt AS badly as it could have, but really, 4 dollars each!)
I couldn't get over these trash bins that were piled high everywhere as we were leaving. CRAZY.

We took the metro back to our car and then headed over to Elizabeth's mission Open House. The house where it was held was just gorgeous. 

Shae loved this swing bed in one of the sun rooms.

He also had a blast playing down at this tree house.

There were some other kids down there when he first went and I just watched from a distance up on the patio. The kids were probably about 7 to 8 and did not want anything to do with Shae. Friendly little Shae just wouldn't stop trying to get them to play with him. At one point, I heard one of the kids turn to him and yell, "I don't like you!" then jumped on the zip line and sped away. Shae sulked, his shoulders fell, his head bowed down and he walked away. It kind of broke my heart watching the entire scene play out. I know we have a lot of that coming in the future, but it kills me to think about it. I know that kids will be kids, but seeing that was pretty eye opening to me about the importance of my role as mother and teacher to my children. I know that I can teach them to be kind, to be charitable, to be respectful to anyone they come in contact with. That is really important to me.

After the Open House (which I forgot to mention was catered by Cafe Rio!!), we were all exhausted so we checked in to our hotel. I did my first Hotwire Deal, like the ones where they don't tell you the hotel or the exact location but you get the hotel for a good discount. We weren't sure what to expect, but the Extended Stay America we stayed at was actually really nice. We were very happy. There was a nice little pull out couch for Shae to sleep on. There was also a little mini-kitchen (behind me in this picture) where we put Belén's pack n' play. (Please just ignore my son picking his nose on our bed in the this picture...)

Getting ready for bed after a long day. We forgot the sun screen...poor Belén. Her face was so red.

Sunday morning we went to church in McLean. Our kids were a bit of handful, unfamiliar church? I don't know what it was but they were not the best behaved. I took both of them out so that Darin could listen to Elizabeth's talk. I'm sure it was great :).

We stopped by his Aunt Melanie's house after the service so that we could grab a quick lunch and take some pictures. Shae just loved "Cousin Elizabeth," as he called her. He kindly photo bombed a few pictures they were trying to take because he wanted to be by her.

It was just so great to meet some members of Darin's family that I hadn't met before and to spend a little time with Ken and Melanie. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Thanks for letting us stop in and for playing with the kids!

My little Easter family. Hallelujah. Love these guys.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Year Differences

I saw this article floating around Facebook last week and it made me start thinking (again) about how different the first year of life with Shae was from how it's been with Belén. I've pondered a lot about whether things have been easier this time around because we've already had a kid and maybe know a teeny tiny bit more than we did with Shae, or if Belén was just an easier baby. While there are some definite aspects of life that made having a second baby easier (like the fact that I was already waking up at 6 or 7 in the morning every single day), I really do think that some babies are just easier than others. This makes it really hard in the mommy world of baby talk to not think you are doing something wrong if your kid isn't sleeping through the night when someone else's kid who is the same age is. Or why your kid doesn't have a good nap schedule when someone else's kid does. (The heart of all mommy talk-- SLEEEEEP). The way we parent definitely affects our kids schedules and behaviors, but only to a certain extent because the kids really do come with some pre-wiring that we just can't change.

While Belén has always been quite the sleeper and Shae was never a sleeper, there are so many other little differences that I find so interesting about these two that I wanted to record.

*Pacifiers: Shae took awhile to grasp on to the pacy, but at 5 months he finally figured it out (and I thought, "YES, he will finally sleep." Wrong). He took a pacifier until he was 18 months old when we realized he was starting to get really attached and should take it sooner rather than later. Belén has never ever once taken a pacifier. She played with it, sucked and chewed on different parts of it, but never used it how it should be used. Just recently her bottom lip has become her comfort sucking item. When she is sad or tired, she sucks away. We won't be able to take that away at 18 months so here's to hoping she doesn't suck a hole right through her face.

*Crib: Shae was ALWAYS getting his limbs stuck in the crib. A leg or an arm was always hanging out while he slept, and if he was crying instead of sleeping, it usually meant we had to run in and help him get out of a sticky situation. Belén has gotten stuck in the crib ONCE. Just last week actually, I was so surprised to walk in and see her crying because her chubby little arm was stuck and she couldn't pull it back out.

*Nursing/Milk: Shae has a love in life that no one will ever be able to compete with--his milk. As a baby, he was never content in the morning/after naps until he nursed. To this day one of the first things he asks for in the morning is his cup of milk. Belén was way more laid back with nursing and could wake up and play for a bit and then nurse. She got distracted so easily the last few months of nursing, whereas Shae was always 100% focused on every last drop of milk he could get. We just started Belén on Whole Milk and it's been really hard to get her to drink it. I just expected her to guzzle it down like Shae does. She will take a sip here or there but is so disinterested in it. I'm still not sure how to handle the shock of this one. SO DIFFERENT. 

*Spit up: Belén spit up multiple times a day for at least the first 5 months of life. Gross. Shae spit up, maybe 5 times his entire first year of life. (Like I said, the kid loved milk, he wasn't about to give any of it up).

Sensitive Skin: Belén has got some sensitive, fair skin on her. She has some kind of rash somewhere on her body every single day. Just last month she had the worst diaper rash mixed with a bit of eczema that I have ever seen in my life. We've had many talks with the doctors and are stocked up on Hydrocordizone, Aquafor, Nystatin, sensitive bath soap, sensitive lotion, sensitive wipes, etc. If it says sensitive skin on it, I'm sold. Shae had his fair share of mild diaper rashes, but nothing that even came close to this girl. 

Pretty sure he's telling me something really deep here. Love those postal stickers on his legs.

*Belén has been such a chill baby. Content with whatever. Shae was very different in that he hated being put down for the first few months of life and was only content when being carried. He also hated the car seat. He was much more demanding.

*Belén can be a bit bashful when other people look at her and will nuzzle her head into me. Shae was never bashful. He was a spirited, friendly, busy-body, smiley little baby. Grocery shopping with him as a babe was the best because of the big smiles and squeals he would give to every single person we passed. Belén is much more reserved.

*Belén is a total cuddler. Shae NEVER cuddled. Just this morning I brought her in to bed with me when she woke up (because I did not want to wake up yet and Shae was still asleep) and she just laid with me and rubbed my arm and patted my cheek for a good 15 minutes. I only tried to bring Shae in to bed to cuddle a few times because it was pointless, it turned into an instant play time.

*Sleep. Belén slept for hours on end for the first 3 months of life. She didn't actually sleep through the night for good without feedings until 10 months but she had some really bad teething/sicknesses going on for awhile which I'm sure was what was waking her up. 

We had to hold Shae for him to fall asleep for the first 5 months of his life. It was the only way that he would sleep. Belén fell asleep on her own from the start (although we had periods here and there where she struggled and needed some back rubbing while she lay in the crib to really help her stay asleep).

Shae went through all kinds of periods of 45 minute naps and that was that. Belén has been the napping queen. Three hour naps are not rare for her. Last week she took a five (!) hour nap. (Of course she is woken up by her brother every day earlier than she would like so nap time is her heaven). I have to wake her up from her naps so often because we have to be somewhere, or she's just been sleeping for soooo long. I NEVER woke up Shae from his naps. It just wouldn't have been necessary, he never slept that long.

Obsessed with his flip flops
 One thing I am REALLY hoping they have in common are the curls. It's really looked like Belén's hair is coming in super straight but just over the past few weeks there are have been some waves and curls appearing. Keeping my fingers crossed.
 Something they do have in common, they both love to be goofy and they both looooove food.

I love their differences, I love their similarities. I have learned so much from both of them. I just love love love these little kiddos to death. 

(These pictures were taken at a little pond we just recently discovered that is not too far from our house. Love discovering new places we can walk too!)

Friday, March 18, 2016


It's always such a treat when Darin and I get to go OUT on a date, like, not just the stay-at-home Netflix and popcorn Friday night date (which we definitely love as well, especially right now as we are hooked on Occupied). But going OUTSIDE of our house is pretty great. 

While my parents were here for Belén's birthday we were hoping to be able to go up to the temple for our date. It's been like, a year since we've been able to go to the temple together and were really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. The temple was closed for maintenance (good thing you have to call ahead for a reservation). This is the third time we've tried to go together since being here and none have worked out. The first time, we were literally walking out the door when I realized I had no idea where my recommend was. The second was over Thanksgiving break while Darin's mom was here. The temple only had evening sessions the day we could go, not day sessions and Belén was still nursing in the evening then so I didn't want to leave her or bring her to the temple so late (about a 6 hour trip there and back including the session). So yes, that was a little frustrating. We'll get there together some day, I hope.

We still took advantage of my parents being here and went to The Cornell Chimes concert at McGraw tower and then visited the art museum. We climbed all 161 stairs to the top of the tower. It was really cool to see the big clock from the inside.

This is the little area inside the tower where we got to listen to the 20 minute concert. 

She played a wake up song (played at 10:15 a.m. on Saturdays, but at 7 a.m. on weekdays), then she played 4 Les Miserable songs which was really cool considering how much we love that music.

At one point during the concert we stepped outside where the bells were. It was LOUD, but breathtaking. I just can't get enough of this beautiful place.


After the concert we walked over to the Johnson Art Museum. I was really impressed with how big the museum was. I did not expect it to have so many exhibits. 

 That view again. The top floor of the museum had a big open window looking out over the lake. We will definitely have to come back in the fall.

 That quilt! 

There was an entire floor of Asian art which we really enjoyed. It gave us an itch for Asian food so we tried something new and went to a Vietnamese restaurant. Everyone raves about Pho so we tried some. Neither of us loved it. There just wasn't much flavor to it. I think we'll have to go somewhere else someday because we weren't very impressed with the restaurant in general. Kind of a sad ending to our date, but we still had a really good time. (Thanks mom and dad for watching the kids!)

Then last Friday Darin asked me to go to Indonight (A taste of Indonesia) with him on campus. (Thanks AshLee and Conner for making this possible!) We're hoping to spend some time in Indonesia at some point in the future, so it was really fun to get a taste of the food and culture, and I got to meet Darin's Indonesian teacher which was nice as well. 

The evening was set up so that we received a course of food every half hour or so and while eating there were musical numbers, dances, and trivia questions about Indonesia. The first musical presentation was Gamelan (traditional Indonesian ensemble made of mostly percussive instruments originating in Java). It was...interesting...kind of loud and it didn't sound like anything really went together...but I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to Gamelan. There's a Gamelan class on campus so maybe I'll convince Darin to take it so that we can learn to appreciate it more.

(I forgot my camera so please excuse the blurry phone pics).

I really enjoyed the dance numbers. Tari Topeng Blantek is a traditional mask dance. She started out without a mask, then put this white one on, and then ended with a red mask. Very cool.

We finished the night by learning how to dance Poco-Poco (Indonesian line dance). Darin caught on quickly. He's a stud when it comes to dance moves.

No one else but me probably cares what we ate but for memory sake I'm writing it down. The appetizer was Gado-Gado (blanched vegetables with egg, tofu, chopped veggie fritter, garlic crackers, and peanut sauce). For the main course we got to try Beef Rendang (our favorite), Opor Ayam (Chicken in a white curry sauce), Sambal Goreng Kentagng (potatoes cooked in spicy red pepper sauce), and Oseng Kale (Sauted kale with spices and soy sauce). We ate everything with Nasi Putih (rice) of course. For dessert we had Bubur Pacar Cina (sweet tapioca dessert in coconut milk). 

After it was done, while walking back to our car we stopped at a building where we could look out over Ithaca. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but the lights and the moon were just perfect. I couldn't help but think about how blessed we are to be here in Ithaca, at Cornell. Darin has worked so hard to get here and has worked extremely hard every single day since we've been here (at school, at work, at being a dad, at pleasing his wife). I love being here with him and I especially love that I don't have papers to write and thousands of pages of reading to get through each week :). 
I can't imagine a better place to be for a super long graduate program. Ithaca, you've won us over easily (as long as this almost spring but not really spring snow doesn't keep up too much, okay?)