New year, new reads.
We recently went on a trip to Florida. It was a first for both boys. As I am not much of a long distance driving fan, we opted to fly. To prepare Jay for the big day, we did a lot of talking about what to expect. Baby Max just hit 11 months, so he was along for the ride!
A few weeks prior to lift off, we began talking to Jay about going on our trip.
We’ll need to pack some of our toys, take our headphones and iPad and some clothes for warm weather. At the end of the flight we will meet up with Grandma Sisa (Lisa but the kids say “Sisa”); which was the biggest motivation of all. We’ll get to wear shorts and t-shirts every day. We’ll get to go swimming in the pool and out for walks. We might see dolphins at the beach or alligators in the golf course pond. We’ll go to the zoo. We’ll look for sea shells. We’ll play games on the porch. And so much more. But to get to do all that, we have to go on an airplane. We’ll go up in the sky and fly. We’ll look out the window and see houses below us and clouds beside us. We’ll be on the airplane with lots of other people going to Florida.
Here’s how we framed the day of travel plan for Jay to digest. Our flight was at 9am and our wake up time was only slightly earlier than a normal day.
Step 1. Wake up, get dressed and eat breakfast.
Step 2. Drive to the airport.
Step 3. Get on the airplane, watch a movie and eat snacks.
Step 4. See Sisa at the arrival gate and let the fun begin!
Our flight to Florida was a dream. The kids were great. Getting through security was easier than I had anticipated. I had a TSA card for Jay, and that helped as they assigned an Agent to assist us through the process. We left from a small airport and we didn’t have to wait in a long queue to go through security. That definitely helped with the overall experience.
Once we were on the plane, Jay didn’t even realize we’d left the ground because he had already started watching a movie. We decided to board early with the announcement for “families traveling with small children” and that was a good move. I’d recommend that to anyone flying with kids. Get on the plan and get settled! We even took a little trip to the lavatory for Jay and he was confident and did his thing. No tears. No fear. Max played for a while and fell asleep in my arms for a good hour of the flight.
The flight home … not so heavenly but we made it. We were delayed two hours and didn’t leave Florida until nearly 9pm. The kids were overly tired, over stimulated and exhausted from the week. It took some time but they finally settled down for the final hour of flight. Lesson learned…fly in the morning or midday!
We fit in all the things in a few short days on our Tuesday to Saturday trip. The kids were in the pool every day at least once; we visited the zoo where the highlight for Jay was meeting and getting a picture with Mirabel from Encanto :); we took a boat ride to a special beach, played in the waves and looked for sea shells; we walked around the condo association–Jay spotted several lawn care blower and mower crew members and we followed around one worker for a good 20 minutes while watching at a safe distance, he got waved at several times!; we saw an alligator swimming in a pond just behind the condo’s porch; Mom kept the kids here and there so Ben and I could do a few things like go on an evening date out to dinner and to watch the sunset at the beach or bike ride to a local café for a mid-morning hot tea and a slice of quiche to share; Jay learned a few new songs from grandma; Max ate everything we gave him; Ben got to watch a bit of March Madness Basketball; and I got some much needed time in the sun.
My trip was clouded a bit by a sinus infection that flared up on the decent into Florida. It was so bad that I went to a walk-in clinic on Wednesday to get an antibiotic and advice on how to treat the pressure in my head and aching in my teeth. Not ideal, but I made it through and still enjoyed each day.
All in all, our first family trip to Florida was wonderful and we look forward to the next one!
Jameson is in his second year in a fully inclusive Montessori preschool. To say he is thriving is an understatement.
Last year our daily mantra was, “no hitting, no kicking, no spitting” and eventually it stuck. This year, we haven’t had to use that phrase much. Growth! Progress! He still has moments, like for some reason he thinks circle time or group time is the best time to make random, obnoxious noises. But, overall, he’s participating fully in his school day, engaging with other kids, trying activities and new snack foods, and working both independently and with help when needed from his teachers.
I am writing this post today to share an amazing moment, and to solidify it as a big win for this school year. Without a prompt from me or even a “what was something fun you did at school today?” Jameson shared something he learned in his own way.
After taking his bath and going through the process of ‘jammies, comb hair and brush teeth’ (we are a household of routine) he starting singing a song and doing hand motions. At first I didn’t think anything of it. But then I started really listening to what he was singing and he was consistent in his sounds, pronunciation, inflections and motions.
“What is that you’re singing, Jay?”
“Stirring, stirring …” said Jay with a big smile on his phase.
“Where did you learn that?”
“Miss Elizabeth. School,” was Jay’s answer.
Now, Jay is verbal. But he doesn’t always link concepts and ideas together on his own. His response floored me, in a good way.
“Can you sing it again for mommy? I want to learn it!” We proceeded to sing and do the hand motions together until I had a better understanding of the song. Jay was so proud of himself and I could tell he was excited to share the song from school with me.
I later emailed his teacher to ask about the song and hand motions. She sent a quick response that, yes, Jay did learn the song in school, and she shared the full lyrics and hand motion directions. To top off the amazing moment, he was pretty spot on word for word and motion for motion with what his teacher emailed me!
This is the first time that Jay initiated sharing something he experienced or learned. He obviously enjoyed the song activity at school. He liked it enough to repeat it. He remembered the lyrics and hand motions. He retained that information from the classroom to our house. And he shared his learning with me without my asking him to. Wow! Just wow!
It’s not everyday that we get to hear from Jay about how school went. And obviously in this situation, he didn’t say, “School was good mom, we did an activity and sang a song and it went like this….” But, he told us in his own way, and that is the biggest gift of all. It’s a learning milestone and a major school-year win.
Jay is growing up so fast and becoming more independent. He’s a rockstar big brother and always doing what he can to make Maxwell smile. Which, really isn’t much, Max looks at Jay with so much love. Jay is definitely Max’s favorite person. The two already have one heck of a bond.
When in doubt about what kids are learning or not learning, this experience reminded me that Jay will tell me in his own way and on his own time, whenever and wherever that is meant to be. <3
Welcome, Maxwell! Jay is officially a big brother and absolutely stellar at it. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure a second baby was for us. It’s hard to think about how to share your love. Jay has been our focus for so long and although he’s growing like crazy, I still feel the need to be his protector and advocate. I think that will always be part of our mother-son relationship.
Throughout my pregnancy with Maxwell, Ben and I made it a point to include Jay as much as possible. He was part of conversations about baby; learning about the baby growing in “Katie Momma’s” (that’s what Jay often calls me!) belly and active in our preparation and nesting phases. Jay started school last fall and his independence and self confidence are soaring. I need to share a bit about all of that and I will make time soon, I promise!
A Quick Birth Story
I was scheduled to be induced but nature had a different plan. My water broke around 4pm on April 14 and after what felt like no time at all, Maxwell “Max” joined us at 12:55am on April 15. Again, I was one of the lucky ones. I chose to get an epidural (power to you women you go without!) and after a short nap, the doctor came into our room to check progress and said it was time to start pushing. About 10 minutes later, little Max was resting on my chest and Ben was cutting the umbilical cord. This might be too much information, but my body was ready and baby Max eased out without a fuss or extensive pain for me. I am so grateful for that. Those daily walks really do help!
We spent a total of three nights at the hospital. Jay joined us for his first visit on Friday after school. He brought a little bunny for Max and some flowers and balloons for me. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, we could only have two people in the room at a time. So my mom brought Jay from school, and Ben met that at the hospital entry to bring him up to our hospital room.
Jay walked in calm, collected, and excited. He said, “where’s baby?” And I pointed to Max in the bassinet. Jay proceeded to say “hi baby, see, look” as he tried to hand over the stuffed bunny gift. He then turned and gave me a big hug. The best hug in the world!
We let Jay climb onto my bed and brought Max to him. We set Max in Jay’s lap and he was so calm and gentle. He softly rubbed Max’s head while saying “hi, baby, hi baby, you ok baby.” Living that moment was amazing; and the video I captured is one I’ll cherish forever.
Jay joined us the next day for a hour or so in the afternoon. He snuggled Max, sat in my hospital bed and made the head move up and down with the remote, watched a movie, and danced to music. Our family unit felt just right.
We’ve all been home now for nearly three weeks and we are settling into a routine of sorts. Max is beginning to get the hang of sleeping at night and being awake during the day … but I am still up with him for feedings every 2-3 hours. I am nursing exclusively, as I did with Jay. Again, we are lucky in that my supply is ample and Max can latch like a pro.
Jay is just as caring, loving, interested, curious, and helpful as ever. He loves to hold Max and help with diaper changes. When Max is crying, Jay is often nearby saying, “it’s ok, baby.”
Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
This year is the year! 50 books is the goal. Here’s what I read in 2020 and 2021.
I didn’t quite hit 50 books in 2022, but I came close! (I guess I did exceed 50 reads if you count the hundreds of children’s books I enjoyed with Jameson and Max!
Here’s to 50+ books in 2023.
I have some exciting news – you can easily connect your family through the power of storytelling! I Am Me is now available for purchase as a recordable, downloadable e-book through MakeMomentos.com! Yo soy yo will be available in mid-2022.
What is Make Momentos?
Whether you live thousands of miles apart or just down the street, children can listen as their
grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle or favorite family friend brings the story to life with the sound of their voice. It’s an easy-to-use platform designed for busy families looking to bridge distance and active lives with a special time of connection. Children can enjoy the customized stories anytime and anyplace. The best part is, the personalized recordings become keepsake e-books that can be passed on to future generations!
How It Works
Create your keepsake e-book in 4 easy steps:
● Record your personal introductory video message
● Narrate your e-book
● Preview your keepsake e-book
● Send it to the child in your life
It’s July 2021! What a year so far in life, work, and reading. Last year I read 46 books, just shy of my personal goal of 50. From historical fiction to self-help to fantasy, reading helps me unwind and explore new-to-me worlds and experiences. The below list includes all of the books I read between July 1 – December 31, 2021 (not including 4-10 children’s books that I enjoy reading with Jameson daily!) Here’s 2021’s Part I if you’re interested.
43. Little Bee by Chris Cleave. A second-hand bookshop find. This book reminds you that the world is a very different place for many — good and bad. “If I was telling this story to the girls from back home, I would have to explain to them how it was possible to be drowning in a river of people and also to feel so very, very alone. But truly, I do not think I would have the words.”
42. A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin. With scenes set in parts of Northern Michigan, this book was one of deep pain, high knowledge, and the thrill of the human mind and condition. It’s about striving for something and still being unable to fully grasp it. When failure outwits success every time, what do you do with your life? I enjoyed this read thoroughly. “Transire suum pecuts mundoque potiri – Rise Above Yourself and Grasp the World.”
41. Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black. So many twists and turns, some heartbreak, and a lot of she-power! “Either he’d recognize the sewer worker’s code or she’d have to move fast. In either case, he couldn’t be alone. If there was a naked man in a bed in the middle of the afternoon, there had to be a lover around.”
40. The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman. Feeling good about reading again thanks to read 39 and this one! I zoomed through this war-based, identity-based novel and jumped into the next read with ease. ‘”That is why a mother triumphs,” Bobeshi said. “All you have to do is survive and your mother lives through you.”‘
39. Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Crosby. Great read! After trying and failing for long to get through book 38, this was a much needed reading win. The story also brought me out of myself and forced me to view the world from a different perspective — always a good sign in a book. “Listen, when you’re a black man in America you live with the weight of people’s low expectations on your back every day.”
38. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. I just couldn’t get into this book, no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t finish but got nearly there (page 167 of 289) before I moved on to a different read. “But it’s never starting over, Cindy. It’s just continuing on.”
37. The Goodbye Cafe by Mariah Stewart. A cute novel loaned to me by a neighbor. I may have to read another work by Maraih, she’s published over 40 books! To write for a living…the dream. “I guess we’re all different things to different people. … Oh well. Different environment, difference influences.”
36. The Shades by Evgenia Citkowitz. A short novel with a deep look at family, trauma, and the way some things just unravel. “As his research was teaching him, photographs were framed to create impressions; often designed to obfuscate and lie.”
35. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. A powerful glimpse at upbringing, science, god, addiction, and the people who live through it all–or don’t. “We know right from wrong because we learn it, one way or another, we learn it.”
34. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. My first read by Hamid and definitely not my last. “… and so by making the promise he demanded she make she was in a sense killing him, but that is the way of things, for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.” And I also really liked this bit: “… which is to say that while the changes were jarring they were not the end, and life went on, and people found things to do and ways to be and people to be with, and plausible desirable futures began to emerge, unimaginable previously, but not unimaginable now, and the result was something not unlike relief.”
33. The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser. A lovely read about a woman going through a wake up call in life, and how fate seems to step in at some of our lowest moments. “And I’m sorry I said all those awful things. It’s frightening to have these feelings. And I know you don’t feel the same way, so probably I should have kept all this to myself. But I didn’t . . . I didn’t want you to think that we weren’t friends because I don’t like you. I do, I really like you.”
32. The Diamond Caper by Peter Mayle. A Little Free Library neighborhood find. Fun read, a bit predictable. “I haven’t met many celebrities, but the ones I have met were so pleased with themselves it kind of put me off the whole idea.”
31. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous. A Bluestocking Bookshop buy and solid read. It was emotional, culturally new to me, and full of love, loss, and longing. “When I wake up, the whole world has been transformed.”