Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gabriel Meets Santa Claus

+JMJ+

A couple weekends ago we spent some time at the largest mall in the U.S. and couldn't help but notice their MASSIVE Christmas display for the children to meet Santa Claus. We thought the mall in Florida was oh-so-fancy last year, to the point that we never thought another mall could top their display...but we were wrong. As we walked towards it I got so excited that there was a carousel of reindeer - a huge carousel of reindeer! What fun! Gabriel would have so much fun riding the carousel!

And then I realized that it was fake.

If I was disappointed, I can only imagine how many hundreds of children had the same reaction to this epic tease. It makes for beautiful photographs, yes, but whoever designed that didn't really think it through that children would be walking through to meet Santa Claus....

Anyway, the display was over the top but it reminded us that we wanted to take Gabriel to meet Santa Claus at some point this year. Last year he was 4 months old and the lines were absolutely not worth it, but this year we thought it would be fun.

Needless to say, the mall was packed on the weekend and we weren't about to waste time in those nonsensical lines for a 15-month old, but we did head back on a weeknight and were quite pleased to see that there was absolutely zero line. :)


Of course Gabriel had nothing to say to Santa and had no idea what was happening, but he seemed intrigued and perfectly content to sit on this curious man's lap while his daddy snapped some photos.


Afterwards, Santa gave him a page of stickers and a reindeer hat which I wasn't expecting at all - especially since we didn't pay for them to take professional photos or buy the merchandise they flaunt as you exit. He didn't think much of the reindeer hat, but he did have fun wearing it for 30 seconds - just long enough to catch another photo. After that he focused on the stickers, which he happily held for an entire ten minutes before attempting to eat one. 


Before heading home, we made our way to the new pho restaurant because their bubble tea is much better than what is sold at the mall's bubble tea kiosk. On the way we stumbled across a big jewelry sale and Michael slowed down to look at their collection of pearls. Before I knew what was happening, we had found a beautiful 5-pair set of earrings that I loved and Michael just...bought them. My birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so I thought he was going to ask if I'd like them for my birthday...but instead he told the sales person that they were a "just because" gift. Honestly I'm still soaking that moment in, because even though I'm not huge on the "gifts" love language that gesture meant so very much to me.

We eventually ordered a bubble tea to share and, because Michael knows it's my favorite, we got taro. Then, as if I didn't feel loved enough, the person making the milk tea accidentally made a taro smoothie as well - which he gave to us for free. Taro bubble tea and a free taro smoothie right after my husband bought me beautiful earrings for no reason?! For a second I actually thought it might be my birthday but then I remembered that it isn't even December yet.

Since we had an extra drink, we let Gabriel try the taro smoothie and let me tell you: little boy was in heaven. He practically jumped out of his stroller trying to drink it, which led to this hilarious photo that I love:


He ended up drinking nearly half the smoothie and was one happy boy. All in all, it was such a lovely family outing that left me feeling completely blessed.

Now we're off to Ohio to stay with my in-laws for the next 4 days! May you all have a blessed and very Happy Thanksgiving surrounded by your own loved ones!

"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Sock Monkey Goes Trick-or-Treating

+JMJ+

Happy Veterans Day! May God bless all the men and women who have served and continue to serve our blessed nation. +St. Martin of Tours, pray for us+

It's taken me awhile, but I've finally compiled the best of the best Halloween photos from Gabriel's first time trick-or-treating!

First, here are the links to look back at Gabriel's very first Halloween when we dressed him as Winnie the Pooh. Secondly, here's a little peek at this year's costume inspiration and the costume itself:

Left to right: Gabriel's sock monkey and comfort object, costume front, costume back (it's hard to see, but there is a tail!).

Originally we wanted to dress him as a different character, but it would have required me to make a costume from scratch...which needless to say, I was not up for this year. Perhaps I can work on some of my domestic, crafty skills this year and get ready to create costumes for future Halloweens...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In mid-October, I began searching for baby/toddler costumes that were cute and affordable, which led me to this fantastic sock monkey costume. As soon as I found it and saw that it was only $10, I knew the search was over and my husband readily agreed. We began introducing Gabriel's sock monkey blanket as a comfort object when he turned one (as part of the weaning process - something I'll write about later, I'm sure). Ever since then, he has been making monkey sounds - long before he uttered his first word (which happened 10 days before Halloween when he was 14.5 months old). To top it off, his first word was none other than "nah-nah" which means...you guessed it: banana. Imagine a little boy obsessed with his sock monkey toy making monkey sounds and running around asking for bananas all day long and try and tell me this costume wasn't perfect for him. :)

On Halloween night we joined a couple of my friends from my Catholic moms' group (and their husbands and children, of course) to take the children trick-or-treating. There were 4 little boys in our three families ages 16 months, 14 months, and two under 6 months. My friend Lillian's son was one of the babies who clearly couldn't gather candy for himself, but he was dressed as a monk and had a little box they labeled "alms" that people happily tossed candy in all evening. Clever and adorable to boot!

My favorite photo from the evening! Gabriel and his friends: a sock monkey, a monk, Pooh Bear, and Tigger

My friend who hosted us all in her neighborhood managed to score a two-seater wagon for Gabriel and his friend dressed as Tigger - and they had so much fun being pulled down the street! It made me smile to hear them squealing in delight and pointing at all the decorations and older children in costume.

After collecting some candy with his daddy

Everyone was especially in awe as we visited THE best-decorated house in the whole neighborhood. Their entire lawn was filled with all the things one could possibly associate with Halloween - complete with abundant lights, robotic displays that danced or moved and/or played music, and smoke machines. We made sure to take our time walking by as we admired the intricate details of their elaborate display (and of course all the boys were amazed).

This photo only depicts about half of their lawn display!

Once we made our way back to our friends' house we all relaxed and enjoyed hot chocolate, which is apparently a sweet tradition my friend has always done with her family each year after trick-or-treating (we just might take that and add it to our own, growing list of traditions...). Then, of course, we scoped out what goodies the boys had collected because we had zero plans to give our 14-month old any of the candy he received (I know! So mean...except that Gabriel has no idea what he missed out on and he couldn't eat over half of what he was given anyway). Because I can't handle sweet things at this point in the pregnancy, Michael made out like a bandit.

Even though Gabriel couldn't enjoy the candy this year, he had such a blast riding in the wagon, walking up to all the doorsteps, and staring at all the people and lights. With all that excitement, who needs candy? ;) Next year he is in for a REAL treat when he'll experience trick-or-treating and getting to eat some candy all in the same night! It's going to be so much fun.


"There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch."

-Robert Brault

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On Smelling Powers & Pickles

+JMJ+

Now that the online world is caught up with the latest and greatest happenings in our family life, I'll probably be sharing a lot more thoughts about pregnancy - aren't you glad?

Lately I've been pondering lamenting the fact that I'm at that stage of pregnancy when I have super smelling powers. Trust me, it sounds greater than it is. Far greater.

Honestly, I do not remember being this sensitive to smells the last time around. Which makes me wonder...did I just block it out? Was it the same as this time around and I conveniently let that slip from my memory (kind of like the female power to forget about labor and delivery long enough to set yourself up for another one)? Or...dare I ask the other question it brings to my mind? If I am more sensitive to smells this time could it mean we're having a girl? 

These are just a sampling of the endless thoughts a pregnant woman has in the first trimester.

But really. Are you able to detect that your husband somehow got his hands on a grape-flavored Jolly Rancher and decided to eat it during your trip to the grocery store...when he's standing at least a few feet away from you down the aisle? Quite unfortunately, I am. Blegh.

Or how about this weird one (which totally grosses me out): can you smell the hint of left-over/old dairy subtly wafting from the spoons you fed your child cottage cheese with - when they have been thoroughly rinsed, are placed inside the dishwasher, the dishwasher is closed, and you find yourself standing in front of the dishwasher eating a pickle (which should completely overpower any other smells, right?!)??? Gross.

I could go on and on about the nasty things I've been able to smell that have made my stomach churn, but you'd probably prefer that I didn't. Instead, I'll simply take this opportunity (which could be an entire blog entry in and of itself) to say that pickles are officially God's gift to me during this pregnancy. Of course they have no calories and hardly contribute to the nutrition in my diet, but if they never fail to keep any queasiness at bay then, by golly, they're a blessing I wouldn't know how to live without right now.

Thankfully, this time around has been much smoother with figuring out what I can eat during the first trimester. Last time I remember feeling that for weeks (literally) I had no idea what I could stomach. Granted, I never got morning sickness like many women, but food aversions were out in full force and I was often left feeling hungry but overwhelmingly frustrated that everything seemed to make me feel ill. It took a long time for me to get in a groove of eating foods that didn't make me feel sick just thinking about them.

This time I've had a better handle on understanding what kinds of foods I have strong aversions to/make me feel queasy and, in turn, which foods I can eat to help the queasiness subside. Once again I cannot handle much meat or anything sweet - but unlike last time, I can barely handle the sweetness of fruit, so in addition to things that are bland, salty or somewhat sour foods have been my friends. Pickles take it to a whole new level, though. Sometimes I eat something I think I can handle, only to be left with an aftertaste that is far too sweet or upsetting in some way. Solution? Eat a pickle. Problem: I feel queasy right before bed but am not hungry. Solution? Eat a pickle. Zero calories with all the powers to make my stomach feel well again with only a few bites.

So there you have it. Super smelling powers are terrible, but pickles are a gift sent straight from God Himself. All things considered, I'm feeling really well...and am seriously thankful for pickles. Did I say that yet? :)

For those of you that are/have been pregnant, what food aversions did you have in the first trimester (or beyond)? What helped to soothe your stomach? Inquiring minds want to know!

"Pregnancy is the happiest reason ever for feeling like crap."
-Anonymous