I vaccinate to protect my winter babies

An F-bomb was dropped in our house last month. No, not that one. I’m talking about the dreaded FLU.

Growing up, I only remember thinking that the flu was no fun. As a parent, the flu is downright fearful. What if I get it and can’t take care of my girls? And worse, what if they get it? I’ve seen the conversations in the various mommy groups I belong to on Facebook; moms are scared. Every visit to a public place is wrought with fear of germs. My throat feels scratchy just thinking about grocery carts.

It feels like this flu season has been particularly scary. According to recent reports, the flu is killing up to 4,000 Americans a week. That is staggering. My news feed has been filled with stories about the flu, and it makes me want to stay home and hibernate until the coast is clear.

Despite our entire family getting flu shots at the beginning of the season, Zack was diagnosed with Influenza B a few weeks ago. This kind of thing can happen, even when vaccinated, because of the many different types of flu viruses. After we got the news, he barricaded himself in the basement and the girls and I kept away as much as possible. Thankfully — knock on wood — the girls and I escaped relatively unscathed and Zack was back on his feet a few days later.

Children under the age of five are among those who have a higher risk of developing serious flu complications, which is one of the reasons why making sure the girls both got the flu vaccine this season was very important to me. I can’t imagine how I might have felt about Zack having the flu if Margot was too young to get the vaccine this year. Continue reading “I vaccinate to protect my winter babies”

The bad days are the longest

I’ve seen a quote about parenthood floating around in mommy groups: “The days are long, but the years are short.” It’s from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and as a mom it rings pretty true. Heck, as a human, it rings true.

However, I would like to make an addendum: The bad days are the longest.

Cue some vintage 2005 Daniel Powter, because yesterday was a really bad day. In the scheme of the things that can happen in a bad day — an accident, a death, losing a job, a major crisis of the mind and/or body — yesterday would barely move the needle on the Worst Days Richter Scale.

And I feel silly even complaining about it. But I also think this feeling is something so many moms (and dads) face and ultimately internalize because, well, not all days can be diamonds. Every parent deals with bad moments; most times, even good days have them. And sometimes bad days have a couple of bright spots.

With everything going on in the world, in our country, heck, right here in mid-Michigan, who cares that some days, I’m not floating on a Valencia-tinted lily pad of motherhood?

Continue reading “The bad days are the longest”

Annmarie Walker is the best newborn photographer in Michigan

In a recent list of the 50 Best Newborn Photographers by State from Bored Panda, Annmarie Walker Photography is featured as the best of Michigan. This comes as no surprise to me, as I’ve admired and enjoyed Annmarie’s beautiful work for years.

Margot, Photography by Annmarie Walker

When two of my cousins had their daughters in 2012, they did newborn sessions with Annmarie, and I fell in love with her photography. The early weeks in a newborn’s life are so precious and fleeting, and Annmarie preserves that time in her gorgeous photos. I knew that whenever I had a baby, I would want to schedule a session with her.

We did just that in 2013 when our daughter Stella was born. In fact, shortly after I found out I was pregnant and due in March, I contacted Annmarie right away to get on her calendar.

Continue reading “Annmarie Walker is the best newborn photographer in Michigan”

Favorite Costco finds in January

Costco is a magical place. For years, Zack and I have had a membership, but our visits were limited to the location near my parents’ house. Despite great reviews about their freshly prepped foods and prices on staples like eggs and milk, we often stuck with frozen foods and paper products due to the distance from home. That, and treating ourselves to the $1.50 hot dog combo, obviously.

That is, until this past year.

Finally, the Lansing area was blessed with a Costco this past fall, and we’ve been able to enjoy frequent visits ever since. While weekends are very busy, I’ve enjoyed a couple of low-key visits with Margot on weekday afternoons, and it is eerily quiet in there. Margot also doesn’t have to throw elbows when it comes to grabbing samples, so that’s a plus.

Our proximity to the new Costco has opened up a world of possibilities as far as trying out fresh food products, and even venturing into the center aisles of clothing items. Wow there’s a whole new world in there.

Here are some of my favorite Costco finds from this month, including a ready-to-make meat Korean BBQ dish that I’ve turned a few friends onto the last couple of weeks.

Continue reading “Favorite Costco finds in January”

Escape to Margot-ritaville: Margot’s first birthday party

I am pretty notorious for planning and dreaming ahead, from Halloween costumes to birthday parties. I’m also a big fan of puns. So at some point last summer, it dawned on me that Margot’s first birthday party would absolutely have to be a Jimmy Buffett-themed extravaganza called Margot-ritaville.

As a lifelong Parrothead thanks to my mom, I’ve seen Jimmy in concert dozens of times. His songs are tied to so many memories made on boats, in the sand, in the pouring rain, under the summer sun, and everywhere in between.

First birthday parties are usually when the parents can get away with something a little more adult-orientated since the guest of honor doesn’t really know what’s going on anyway — hence why Stella’s first birthday party was Academy Awards-themed with a faux red carpet and caramel corn for favors.

As a Michigan-born January baby, Margot is sort of doomed to celebrate her birthday parties in the winter cold. But being able to ignore the freezing cold for just a day made having a Buffett paradise party that much more fun.

Here are some of my favorite details and how things all came together for Margot’s birthday party.  Continue reading “Escape to Margot-ritaville: Margot’s first birthday party”

Okay, I finally get it. Kroger ClickList is amazing.

It would be obvious to say that it’s been absolutely freezing outside the last week, with little sign of relief anytime soon. And while times like these mean bunkering down at home with the girls and slowly going stir crazy, some things still need to get done. Namely, grocery shopping.

In that time between getting married and having kids, grocery shopping could be an enjoyable adventure. I could adult and stock our pantry and refrigerator with whatever our hearts desired, lingering in the aisles, deciding what to make for dinner.

But with our little gals, it’s like Supermarket Sweep. I’ve gotta get in and out of there quickly before a meltdown or begging for fruit snacks. I prefer our nearby Kroger because I have the layout and the location of all of our usual list items committed to memory. Nothing annoys me more in a shopping trip than forgetting to get something back in produce, and doubling back over my counter-clockwise path.

I’ve been able to conquer the grocery store or just about any other shopping experience with the girls at my side or in my arms, because necessity of the mother of mothers getting stuff done because it’s gotta get done.

But this week, after the holidays depleted our grocery resources and a vacation away from home, I needed reinforcements. There was no way I wanted to deal with taking the girls out into the freezing cold, stocking up a cart with groceries, loading and unloading. Mama needed some help.

Enter Kroger ClickList. I’ve heard about this magical service (as well as Meijer Curbside and Shipt) from so many friends, but I hadn’t indulged until earlier this week. The truth is I still do like going to the grocery store. I know that even with my list of items, I end up remembering something else we need, or decide to get ingredients for dinner on the fly.

But because of my mini shopping partners and the cold, I tried ClickList this week. And it was amazing.

My only complaint is that our Kroger five minutes away doesn’t participate, but it was worth the 20 minute drive to pull up and have bags of groceries stored in the back within minutes.

The first three times with Kroger ClickList, the service fee is waived. And heck, for days when the high is in the single digits, I will pay that five bucks when my free ones are up.

The Meijer near our house does offer Curbside, but I’ve noticed that the same-day pickup times are often much later in the day than what Kroger has been offering. Because even with convenience and time saved, I still need to be considering naps and temperaments.

My friend Tessa has been singing the praises about Shipt, which I admit I am interested in checking out sometime in the future. But really, if I didn’t go pick up my ClickList order the other day or have one scheduled for this afternoon, I wouldn’t be leaving the house at all. I do still need that (bitterly cold) fresh air and some drive time to feel a little bit alive on days like today.

If you’re considering checking out ClickList or another similar service, my advice is DO IT. Don’t hesitate like I did. It’s been amazing so far.

 

Twelve months of Margot

A couple days late, but Happy New Year everyone! After the craziness of the holidays and a trip down to Florida (really, really ready to get back down there soon with this ridiculous cold weather), I’m rested and ready to get back to the blog.

As 2017 wrapped up and 2018 began, I had so many thoughts and emotions. The end of a year and a beginning of a new one is always an introspective time, but that has increased tenfold with having a New Year’s Day baby. It’s crazy how quickly 2017 flew by for me, and there is a lot to process and write about soon when it comes to our last baby turning one. But that’s for another day with a little more time. I’m also wanting to write about how to survive (or barely survive) a flight with a fidgeting one-year-old baby. Oh boy…

For now, here are twelve months of Margot, featuring the adorable Lucy Darling monthly stickers and our Margot blanket from the wonderful Pirates and Peonies Etsy shop. At ten months, I couldn’t get her to stay on her back for a picture. By the time we arrived at Margot’s first birthday, she wasn’t having it with that sticker on her shirt.

I couldn’t get a face-on photo of Margot with her sticker on her birthday, and that probably best illustrates our little headstrong girl.

Happy birthday, sweet Margot! From a little peanut to our pumpkin pie, we love watching you grow.

2018… let’s do this!

Santa: To wrap or not to wrap, that is the question

One of the magical things about Christmas is that while much of the holiday is steeped in traditions, there are so many different kinds of traditions. As annoying as most found that “Frozen’s Olaf Adventure” special before seeing “Coco,” I did appreciate how it showed that each family has their own special ways of celebrating Christmastime.

When my husband and I were dating, we did our best to celebrate Christmas together while also holding on to the ways that we celebrated Christmas with our own families. But when we got married, a lot of traditions had to combine or evolve. That changed even more after having kids.

Which brings me to the big guy. Kris Kringle. St. Nick. Santa Claus. The man.

When Stella was old enough to understand Santa Claus, Zack and I realized that Santa did things very differently in Farmington Hills and Holt. When Santa visited my house, his presents were left on the coffee table by the fireplace, our stockings filled with goodies sitting next to an empty plate of cookies. Santa didn’t wrap our presents. It made the moment we came downstairs so fun and surprising. Look! He brought me the doll I wanted from the Franklin Mint! (How sweet was that store??)

But when Santa visited Zack in Holt, the presents were wrapped — in a different paper, of course. They sell different kinds of paper in the North Pole. Santa also hid Zack’s stocking for him to find.

So what would he do for Stella? What would our family tradition be?

Ultimately, we agreed to tell Santa that he didn’t have to wrap the presents he brought to Okemos. Save Mrs. Claus and the elves the time. But Santa could absolutely hide Stella’s Christmas stocking somewhere in the house after eating some cookies.

I’ve seen so many posts in mommy Facebook groups asking this very question though: does Santa wrap his gifts or not?

And while I have my own sentimental and practical feelings on the matter for our family, the beautiful thing is that there isn’t one correct answer. Like most things, all that matters is what works for each family to make it the most magical time possible.

Merry Christmas Eve, all!

Themed Christmas trees for our daughters (and doggy)

In the past week, our family has decorated four Christmas trees: a larger tree filled with family ornaments; a mini tree with star ornaments; a mini tree with pearl ornaments; and a mini tree with fox ornaments.

The mini trees represent the little girls and pup in our family.

All of this started in 2009, the year Zack and I got married and shortly thereafter, adopted our goofy dog Zuzu. We went to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth and looked for an ornament to commemorate Zuzu’s first Christmas with us. They have a million ornaments, and plenty dedicated to specific dog breeds, but none of them looked like our goofy dog. Finally, we spotted a fox ornament that looked a lot like her.

We’ve been collecting fox ornaments ever since. Amazingly, there are a lot of them to be found out there. After a couple years, we had enough of them to place them on two small trees that flanked our fireplace. And after eight years,  the collection has grown to nearly 50 foxes.

Now, Zuzu has her own mini tree:

When we were expecting Stella in March 2013, my family threw us a baby shower that January. I had an idea that if the guests wanted, they could bring a star ornament in honor of her name to be used on her own Christmas tree.

We ended up with several beautiful star ornaments of all different types. And for the last several Christmases, we’ve decorated Stella’s star tree:

And finally, with our Margot due in late December of last year, we continued the tradition and asked for pearl ornaments in honor of her name to go on her very own Christmas tree. Pearl-themed ornaments proved to be a bit of a challenge compared to stars, but our family found a beautiful array of ornaments featuring pearls.

Even though Margot missed her own first Christmas by arriving on New Year’s Day, I still decorated the tree for her last year. We also had her stocking ready and a Baby’s First Christmas ornament in place, but instead of a baby photo inside, there’s a sonogram picture.

Now, Margot’s pearl tree is a part of our tradition:

Themed trees are so much fun, with their endless options and opportunities for creativity. I’d love to have a Michigan State-themed tree one day, but I think Zack might think five trees is a little nuts.

It brings me so much joy to decorate our Christmas trees each year. There’s often an ornament or two that I’ve forgotten about, and one glance brings a flood of memories about where and who they came from.

I’m looking forward to the girls being able to understand how special their trees and ornaments are, that they were loved by so many even before they were born.

Family, friends, and traditions. That’s what Christmas means to me my love.

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Three reasons why Lansing’s Brunch with Santa rocks

For the last several years, one of my favorite traditions to kick off the holiday season is Downtown Lansing’s Silver Bells in the City. And last year, for the first time, we enjoyed the annual Breakfast with Santa event at Troppo.

Stella was three years old, and the opportunity to start a special holiday tradition with her when she’d “get it” was one we didn’t want to pass up. Also with Margot’s due date just days after Christmas, it felt as though our entire Christmas holiday was going to be up in the air. We didn’t want to commit to anything, not knowing when little Margot might show up. Turns out, she waited until New Year’s Day. What a gal!

I was very excited to see that despite some changes to Troppo, the event will continue on during Silver Bells weekend this year, November 18-19.

I have our family all signed up for Brunch with Santa, and here are three reasons why I think it rocks.

  1. You get a quality photo with Santa Claus (and Mrs. Claus!) with no rush, no mall crowds, and no crazy-expensive prints. For Stella’s first couple visits to see Santa Claus, we went to Meridian Mall. That Santa Claus was awesome, but to purchase the photos was very expensive. Who needs a dozen wallet-size photos of your kid with Santa? Instead at the Brunch with Santa at Troppo, I was able to take photos with my own camera. There was also a photographer who shot a photo that we could purchase and receive digitally. The cost was minimal in comparison to mall prices, and I was glad we bought it. It turned out much better than my photos did. I also loved getting our photo with Santa knocked out in November so that I could order Christmas cards and not worry about expediting the printing and shipping.
  2. Crafting stations and activities like cookie decorating are included. When you’re done eating your pancake breakfast (which, by the way, is served very promptly. Awesome when all your kid wants to do it see Santa), you can head upstairs to a large room filled with holiday crafts. We spent a good 30 minutes making fun etching and painting crafts, and also decorated sugar cookies. This area is great to help break up the wait for Santa and also extend the fun.
  3. It’s a special way to celebrate the beginning of the holidays with your children right in downtown Lansing. Admittedly, we haven’t taken Stella to the Silver Bells in the City parade yet. Often it’s either very cold, very crowded, or both. And for the last many years, we’ve gone out to dinner with Zack’s cousin Brian and his partner Rion in downtown Lansing during the Silver Bells festivities. I hope to bring our girls to the parade in a few years, but I love that we can enjoy the spirit of the weekend together as a family without fighting crowds, traffic, cold, and bedtimes. Along with a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a daytime visit downtown means getting some great photos of the state Christmas tree outside the Capitol building. If the parade isn’t your thing, Brunch with Santa is an excellent way to get little kids excited about the holidays… as if they needed the help!

Reservations are strongly encouraged and time slots usually sell out, so it’s good to book ahead of time. This year they have an online system, which is much easier than calling the restaurant during business hours. It helps make selecting a time and paying a snap.

Click here to make reservations. Maybe we’ll see you there!