Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend at the Cabin: First Signs of Spring

Andi and I had a great weekend at the cabin with the kids. The weather is finally showing signs of spring with temperatures in the 40's and 50's so we were eager to get outdoors and enjoy it.

Saturday, we met up with our cabin neighbors Joe & Lisa and Oscar & Deanna for a bonfire and weenie roast on one of Pipe Lake's islands. There are two state-owned islands directly across from our cabin in the bay (shown here last June - those two groupings of trees are each the small islands) and they're open to anyone for use.

Andi and I daydream of the kids taking the paddle boat out to the islands someday, or Andi taking the kids there overnight to camp (I fantasize about that one because, OMG a full night of sleep, I can't even fathom that right now!). The islands aren't far from our place and they hold a special place in our heart since they're part of the landscape we see every time we gaze out our cabin's windows to the lake.

We've never actually done much on the islands, other than stop in the paddle boat and putz around. It was fun to have our little get-together there on Saturday. Of course, the scenery looked a bit different than it did above on that warm summer day.

Andi called this "Mid-West Spring Break"

All you non-Up North folk deeply concerned about my kids being on the ice in late March (hi Mom!), I assure you the ice is still very, very thick. Believe it or not, people are still driving cars on the lakes around here. 

Joe built a bonfire on the island and Andi set to work grilling bratwursts for everyone. It's hard to explain it, but everyone was just so happy to be outside enjoying this place we all love so much. We had lawn chairs scattered around near ice fishing tip-ups and Tory and McCall built little snowmen together (only for Tory to stomp them flat the moment McCall erected them). 

Joe and Oscar
See our cabin in the background?

It was the first time Aden's been outside other than our few days in Cabo San Lucas earlier this month. I can't say he was a fan ... of his snow suit mostly, though who can really blame him. Aden could barely move in the thing. I held him in the Beco carrier where he took a short nap, then he'd had enough and was ready to go inside.

Tory and Andi stayed outside and played on the island for another hour or so. Despite not having an afternoon nap, there was no slowing this girl down. She played and walked in the snow for three hours. You'd think she'd have crashed from exhaustion afterwards, but nope! Andi put her down for a late afternoon nap and she slept for 30 minutes. Seriously. This child has so much energy.

Later, Andi and I packed up the kids and went for a long drive around the cabin area. We easily put 100-200 miles on the car every weekend. Going for drives to look at the wildlife is one of our favorite things to do together on the weekends. (We'd be riding around in the Ranger ATV if the weather was warmer). It's also the only time Andi and I can sit, drink coffee and talk without shouting over the kids or meeting demands for yogurt and episodes of Dora the Explorer. I finally see why my parents loaded us up in the car as kids and did the same thing.

I bet we saw 150 deer during our drive Saturday night. It's funny how most people pray they don't see a deer while driving (so they don't hit it) and we do the opposite - we drive slowly down country roads in search of deer, turkeys, cows, etc. It's obvious what a long and brutally cold winter it's been for the animals around here. Just before sunset, many deer emerged from the woods looking for food, standing in ditches, fields and along tree lines. 

It's hard for Tory to see the wildlife from her car seat, so at one point Andi stopped along the side of the road and I unbuckled Tory from her seat so she could get a closer look out the window. She spotted the deer and we talked about the animals before buckling her back into her car seat and continuing our drive. A few minutes later Tory asked from the backseat, "Hey, Dad, can you stop for a minute?" Sure, Andi said, and pulled the car over. "Can you unbuckle me, Mom?" she asked. Um, no. Whoops! We started a bad trend. Sorry, kiddo, you can't get out of your car seat every few minutes. After that, Andi and I lied every time we saw a deer. Oh, sorry! It ran back into the woods. We're mean parents.

The country roads are going to be a real mess this spring as all the snow melts. There were already some big mud puddles and Andi, being a guy, couldn't resist splashing through a few of them. "Good one, Dad!" Tory would shout from the backseat as watery mud splashed up on the windshield. That kid. If she's not her father's daughter ....

I know Tory's too young to remember this particular weekend, but I hope these are the memories soon etched in her mind when she thinks back on her childhood. I know these are definitely the kind of moments I dreamed of when I thought about having a family of my own one day (though, truthfully, I'm way more outdoorsy than I would ever have pictured myself to be). Spending quality time together as a family is food for my soul and that's really what the cabin is all about for us. I love it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Learnings From Our First International Trip with Kids

Following our first international trip with the kids, I wanted to jot down a few things we learned along the way. Andi and I traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for eight days with Tory (2 1/2 years), Aden (4 months old) and Andi's mom, Janie (age: classified). For the record, Cabo is very Americanized, so we truly weren't removed from any modern-day convenience; compared to say, a stay in the Amazon jungle.

I know vacationing with small children isn't for everyone, but for us it wasn't a daunting task or any less fun. It's true I've had more relaxing vacations, but with Aden being so young and still nursing exclusively, bringing him along was the only way this mama was going someplace warm. That decided the "are we bringing kids with us?" decision pretty quickly! Our big dream is to travel the world as a family one day, so this vacation was a great way to "test the waters" and see what it would actually be like to do so.

Pre-kids, Andi and I touted our ability to travel lightly. We'd each bring a backpack (with room to spare!) including a few shirts, shorts/skirts, a swimming suit and one pair of shoes. Andi has this thing about being the first person in line at Customs, so we'd grab our packs and book it through the airport like we were on an episode of The Amazing Race.


The "old" us would fall down laughing at the "new" us because traveling with kids is a whole new ballgame. We traveled for eight days and brought two big suitcases, two car seats / carriers, two strollers and a carry-on diaper bag. Nothing changed in the way Andi and I pack for ourselves but the kids required so much stuff. I knew there was a Wal-Mart in Cabo San Lucas so truthfully I wouldn't have been without anything, but last minute I opted to bring all toiletries, diapers, baby wipes, etc. along with us ... just in case. Inside our luggage, specific to kid stuff:

  • 10 outfits for each child (figuring Tory and Aden would each dirty one outfit per day, leaving two back-up outfits), of which included -
  • 1 sweatshirt for each child
  • 2 pairs of pants for each child
  • 2 swimming suits (though Aden never wore his) and swim shirts for each child
  • Sun hats for both kids
  • Aden's favorite blanket, plus two light-weight cotton blankets for him
  • 2 pairs of socks, each 
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of sandals, and 1 pair of water shoes for Tory
  • An 8-day supply of diapers and baby wipes for each child
  • Baby soap and lotions (two kinds, because Aden has his own sensitive skin version)
  • 1 bottle of sunscreen for each child
  • 1 bottle of Infant Tylenol and one bottle of Children's Tylenol
  • Video baby monitor
  • Breast pump
Andi bought me this suitcase which I love and use every single weekend when we go to the cabin. I also brought it along on this trip. This bag has individual compartments that zip close. I use the big section for me, the middle section for Tory and the two smaller-sized sections for Aden. All of our stuff fits in one bag and keeps things separate and organized.

We brought my suitcase and one similar as our luggage. Andi used the second bag as his own (though he only a handful of t-shirts, shorts and swim trunks in there) which left plenty of room for all the "other stuff" we brought along for the kids.

Kid's Gear

Items We Elected Not to Bring
  • Beach towels
  • Baby bouncy seat 
  • Toys 

Items We Brought But Didn't Use
  • Baby sun tent
  • Beach blanket
  • Breast pump
  • Video baby monitor

And finally ...
What I Learned
  • After the sun goes down in the evenings, it gets chilly in Cabo and I wish I would've realized this before selecting our clothing options. We each wore our one sweatshirt nearly every night. The kids had plenty of pants to wear, but maybe I would've thrown in another long-sleeve shirt for myself. 
  • The number of outfits per child (10 each) was the perfect amount. Tory and Aden wore everything at least once. (There was a washer/dryer in our condo so I did laundry once, but I could have made it all week without doing so).
  • I neglected to remember Mexican sidewalks aren't the cleanest places for children (i.e.: broken glass, dirt and holes everywhere). Flip flops and sandals weren't very easy (or safe) for Tory to walk in, so she wore tennis shoes everywhere. Therefore, I didn't need several pairs of sandals for Tory, and I wish I would've packed more socks for her. She ended up wearing the same pair of socks a few times - no biggie. She also wore her water shoes to the pool and the beach everyday and the sand and cement were hot, so I'm glad I brought those for her.
  • The sun hats and sun shirts were a big hit. Glad I brought those along. Aden didn't end up wearing his because he was never was exposed to the sun, but that's okay.
  • Never used the video baby monitor, so that was excess.
  • I was never away from Aden more than two hours at a time, so I never pumped breast milk more than once. Likely didn't need to bring my breast pump along.
  • We bought a sun tent for Tory (similar here) when she was a baby and never used it. So, we brought it along on this trip thinking surely Aden would lay in it while we were at the beach or outside by the pool. Nope. Definitely didn't need to bring the tent. Probably a waste of money purchase to begin with.
  • We use this beach blanket at the cabin all the time, so I brought it along on this trip thinking we might use it at the beach. We did use it once, but it wasn't necessary to bring.
  • Beach towels - I took a gamble that our condo would have some available for us to use, and they did. 
  • Bouncy seat for Aden - seriously considered bringing one with us, or buying a new one at Wal-Mart upon arrival. We ended up using Aden's car seat to sit him in when we didn't want to hold him and it worked fine
  • We brought Tory's car seat onto the airplane which is not something we usually do when flying with her. We just thought she might be more comfortable sitting in her own car seat for 4+ hours and this proved to be a brilliant idea because she actually slept for half the flight on the way to Mexico. The car seat we use for travel (linked above) only weighs 13 lbs. so it's easy to carry on our backs using the car seat carrier (also linked above) and to buckle in/out of a seat belt. We also used her car seat in the taxi rides to/from the airport. I was really glad we brought a car seat for Tory.
  • Same with Aden's car seat - in addition to using it like a bouncy seat at the condo, his car seat fits in the stroller and we used it in taxis. Often times, Aden would fall asleep while we walked to a restaurant and slept snugly in his car seat throughout meals. 
  • Andi and I went back and forth whether we needed a stroller for Tory and ultimately, I'm glad we brought one for her. It would've been too much walking during our daily excursions and it kept Tory safe and secure while walking along busy streets and sidewalks.
  • Toys for Tory - really glad I didn't bring any along with us. She was fine playing in her new environment (swimming at the pool, feeding bread to birds, etc.). Bonus that we met a little girl staying on the condo property that brought tons of toys with her, so we just mooched!
  • Next time, I'll definitely bring more children's medicine. Aden came down with a mild fever during our trip and also developed a rash on his neck, arms and torso. I brought Infant and Children's Tylenol but I wish I would've had a thermometer and Children's Benedryl, too. We ended up buying a digital thermometer (which was broken straight out of the package) and a bottle of Children's Benedryl with dosing information written in Spanish. It worked, but I had to guess on the dosage. Eeee. Definitely learned my lesson about this one and in the future, I think I will make a special medicine kit to bring along with us.
  • Finally, I don't think I'd ever take the kids on vacation without another person to help (specifically, Janie). I'm not saying everyone should vacation with their mother-in-law, but I happen to love mine and she was such a big help with the kids. Because of Janie, Andi and I were able to sneak away for some couple time alone. Andi and I also spent quite a bit of time with Tory while Janie watched Aden. If Janie wouldn't have been there, I wouldn't have had one break from the kids and it would've basically been my daily job in a tropical location. Which wouldn't have sucked, but it wouldn't have been a vacation either.

We choked our vacation with the kids up as a success, and are already planning another one. Tory's favorite game these days is "beach party" and she can't stop talking about the whales we saw in the Pacific Ocean during our whale watching tour. We made some great memories as a family, and I can't wait to do it all over again. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let's Talk about Sleep

What good is a personal blog if you can't rant about sleep (or, the lack of) once in a while?

I am tired. Tired. Apparently, I've been selected to parent children who do not sleep well. I thought Tory's poor sleep habits were isolated and hoped (wished! prayed!) Aden would be better. He is in some ways, like how I can lay him in his crib in the evenings and he'll fall asleep on his own. That's one big mistake I made with Tory, and I vowed not to make the same mistake again. The trouble is, Aden is still waking up every two hours, if not more often, throughout the night. Couple that with Tory who's also waking up several times a night and I'm basically bouncing from bedroom to bedroom all night long. I haven't slept more than three hours in a row in four-and-a-half months. Last night was seriously brutal and I slept in 45 minute clips until 3:00am when both my children finally passed the hell out. Until 5:00am. (Thank you, Aden).

I'm so tired I have no ambition to do anything extra. I want to blog, but I don't have the mental energy to write. I literally stare at the screen for three minutes and then shut the lid. Laundry? Piled high. Most days, clothes don't even make it into the laundry room; I just chuck them down the stairs. Cleaning? Forget about it. My floors are dirty and I'm so stinking tired of picking crumbs off the bottom of my feet. My dining room table is smeared in jelly. This afternoon I sat in a sticky something stuck to the table bench and I about cried. I don't have the energy to keep up with all this.

The bright side is I feel less stabby towards Andi this time around. He helps put Tory to sleep at bedtime and I do appreciate it. But, nighttime wake-ups are all me (unless I'm in the middle of feeding Aden and then I usually jab Andi until he goes in to Tory's room to comfort her back to sleep). I accept it as my responsibility to care for the children in the middle of the night as part of my role as stay-at-home-mother, and Andi runs a successful business so I know he needs rest. It is easier to cope being a SAHM and not having to work outside of the house everyday. I am grateful for that. Still, I am running on fumes over here. I try to keep a positive attitude and say things like, "This will get better! Eventually the kids will sleep ... even if it's not until they're 15!" (insert: nervous laughter)

Seriously. Will it though? The logical part of me knows it will (the days are long, but the years are short ... and all that jazz) but I am eyeball-deep in the fog right now and it feels like that scenario will never be true.

Sadly, I'm thankful when Andi informs me he's sleeping downstairs in the spare bedroom at night. Then, I don't feel guilty about the kids keeping him up all night and our bed's free for a kid(s) to sleep with me. It definitely easier (though only enabling the problem) to let Tory sleep beside me, or Aden if she has yet to stumble her way into the master bedroom. Andi and I bit the bullet and purchased a king-size bed that's being delivered on Thursday. I think we both realized this crap isn't getting better anytime soon, so we might as well accommodate more appropriately.

I have fears Aden's not getting enough to eat, that he's not starving but not satisfied either, and that's why he's not sleeping well. I don't have much of a milk supply and had the same issue with Tory when she was his age. I'll spare the details for now, but because of this fear I have a hard time letting him cry at night. I visited a lactation consultant last month and she gave me advice to try to boost my supply, so we'll see if that helps. I started offering Aden pumped breast milk /or formula to see if he's still hungry after a nursing session, but he doesn't seem to take much by bottle. If he's truly hungry during the night, which he seems to be every two to three hours, then I will nurse him. I can't very well be upset with him for not sleeping if he's hungry. But, I also don't want to train him to eat all throughout the night if he doesn't need it. So other times he wakes up in the night, I get up and give him back his pacifier. He seems so restless when I watch him lay in his crib and I think that's how he loses it so frequently.

There's really no point to this post other than to word-vomit how brain-dead I am to someone/no one. Both kids are in bed and Andi's downstairs with a stomach ache so I really should take this time to rest myself, but I know Aden will be up in the next 45 minutes to eat. Why bother, right? Remember the days pre-kids when you could lay in bed whenever you wanted, for as long as you liked? I should have enjoyed it more back then.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Modern-Day Mom's Meet-Up

This spring marks two years Tory and her best friend Ashley have known one another. We met Ashley and her mom, Lindsey, in the very same swimming program we started again last week. It's crazy how much the girls have grown and matured in those short two years. Of course, I had to snap a few photos before they hit the pool. It's pretty obvious how much Tory and Ashley adore one another.

Tory and Ashley do nearly everything together (swimming, music, gymnastics, etc.). Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that her mom Lindsey and I love getting together to socialize as often as our schedules allow. Ahem. I guess you could say it's our version of the modern-day Mommy and Me meet-up. We don't live close enough to swap stories over the backyard fence, so we sign the girls up for fun activities together to get in our (near) daily dose of friendship and peer support.

As a SAHM, I enjoy having one activity a day to keep Tory and I busy. Our daily routine usually consists of a morning class or play date followed by lunch at home, afternoon naps for the kids, then free play at home (or laundry, dinner prep, baking a treat together, etc.). But, truth be told, I completely over-scheduled myself this winter. I'm not sure what I was thinking given I was adjusting to a newborn at home on top of it all. Tory was enrolled in toddler preschool on Tuesdays, gymnastics on Thursdays and music on Fridays. Some of my other household duties were slipping because I wasn't home enough to do them. Plus, it's a lot of work bundling the kids up in their winter garb and hauling them outdoors everyday. I will say it kept my mind distracted from the long winter because we stayed fairly busy throughout the week and we're always at the cabin on the weekends.

This is a total princess problem I realize, but I told Lindsey the other day I needed to dial things back this spring. She agreed, and we came up with the fantastic idea to schedule a rotating calendar of activities to do with the kids every other Friday. That way, on the opposite Fridays we'd each have a "free day" to run errands or do things on our own. We'll still see each other often and get in the "gab time" we love while having the chance to do fun (and many times, free!) activities around the Twin Cities. We came up with a great big list of things to do this spring / summer. I can't wait to get started!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Letters to Aden: Four Months


Just like that, you're four months old! Really, where has the time gone? You continue to be the happiest little baby on the block. Your demeanor is sweet, snuggly and almost always content. Everyone who meets you - from friends to strangers - comments on how good-natured you are. You'll flash a big gummy smile to just about anyone you see.

At four months old, you weigh 14 lbs. 4oz. (37%) and are 24.5 inches tall (20%). To me, you seem like a big-sized baby, now wearing 6-9 month clothing and size 3 diapers, so I was surprised to learn at your four month well-child check-up that you're in the lower percentages for weight and height. You are a solid little guy, there's not a lot of rolls and creases to you. Well, except for chins that go on and on for days. Your hair is growing in and it's turning from blond to light brown. Your eyes are a gorgeous bright blue color and I'd be surprised if they change to anything else. The older you become, the more similarities I see between you and Tory in appearance, but your eye color sets the two of you apart.

Sleep is another area you're taking after Tory. You still wake up every 2-3 hours throughout the night. I had high hopes you'd figure this sleep thing out by four months old, little buddy. I thought I'd paid my dues to the universe with your poor-sleeping sister, but that doesn't seem to be the case thus far. You have no problem falling asleep on your own, but wake to eat or need your pacifier popped back into your mouth on the dot at 9pm / Midnight / 3am /and 5am. Oof. I'm working on letting you fuss for a few minutes in your crib, but honestly I'm exhausted and basically doing whatever I have to do to get sleep. During the day, you take a late morning nap for about an hour, sleep for about two hours in the afternoon and still take a power-snooze around 5pm. The day you outgrow your baby swing is the day I'll weep with sadness because you sleep your longest stretches in there.

You continue to love the pacifier, your swing, being carried in the Baby Bjorn and have just started to show interest in toy rattles and sucking on your fists. Your head/neck control is getting better when being held, but you're rather content to lay on your back vs. practice tummy time and therefore, you're not very good at holding your head and chest up off the ground. We need to work on this one. Recently, you've learned to roll onto your left side but have yet to figure out how to roll over completely from back to stomach.

Around three months old, you developed a skin rash on your neck, cheeks, in your armpits and on your chest. I tried all types of creams and lotions before I finally found something that worked to cure it. You felt so miserable when the rash would flare up and it's some of the only times I've seen you truly fuss non-stop. You have more sensitive / fair skin that I've ever had to deal with, so it's been an interesting lesson in trial and error to see what soaps and lotions work for you without irritation.

This month, you took your second plane ride and first international trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. You now have your very own passport which is simply adorable. You were a rockstar traveler on the airplane and had many firsts during our vacation including visiting the beach / ocean for the first time, wearing shorts and being outdoors without fifty-million layers and blankets over you, going for a boat ride, seeing whales swimming in the ocean (although, honestly, you slept through that part) and hanging out by the pool. We loved making memories together and look forward to many more trips as family.

Aden, I'm more in love with you each and every day as your personality begins to shine. Thank you for being my happy, easy-going baby. I can't wait to see what the next month brings.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Patrick's Day 2014

Andi traveled to Las Vegas and Los Angeles for work this past weekend, so the kids and I were flying solo. I've been exhausted since our return from vacation (princess problem, I know) -- running on fumes with a sleep-refusing Mr. Aden. My poor little man is suffering from eczema on his neck and chest and no matter how many different creams and lotions I try, nothing seems to relieve his pain and itching completely. We see the pediatrician on Wednesday for his four month check-up, so I'm anxious to see what the doctor says about it. In the meantime, Aden can't seem to get comfortable enough to stay asleep for long, plus the time change from vacation and Daylight Savings have really thrown his schedule for a loop. Oof. I'm one tired mama over here. Luckily, Tory doesn't seem to be affected by our travel or DST and as long as I let her sleep in bed with me while Andi's away, she's out like a rock.

Actually, my little Tory Bean has been an angel since we returned from vacation on Thursday, so there's that little blessing. The other day, it was all too quiet so I went to investigate. I opened Tory's bedroom door and found her snuggled in bed, reading a book. Um, excuse me? I think we might have left our rambunctious toddler in Mexico and brought back this little girl by mistake!

Sunday afternoon, Janie invited us over to her mom's house (Grandma Marion) for a St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner. Tory and I decided to bake a Poke N' Pour cake to bring along for dessert. We ran to Target in the morning to pick up a cake mix and a few other ingredients. Tory asked if she could walk alongside the cart and it was against my better judgement as I don't usually bring her to Target because she's such a handful. I decided to give her a chance and asked her to stay close to me. "I promise!" she said. And, she did. Tory stayed by my side the entire shopping trip and I was so proud (and shocked!) of my little girl. She is growing up so fast.

We came back home and baked our cake. Tory licked the beater and proclaimed her love for "white cake." As I was about to pour the lime green Jell-O on top for the "pour" portion of our recipe, Tory shouted, "I not like green cake! I like white cake!" Fortunately, she forgot and enjoyed a piece of cake after dinnertime.

We enjoyed ourselves at Grandma Marion's house. Tory played with her cousin, Connor, and Aden happily bounced from lap to lap amongst family. Best of all, I enjoyed a little break from solo parenting and didn't have to come up with something for dinner. Win-win.

Aden and Auntie Lindsay

Janie's corned beef feast

Our traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner
Corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes, carrots and Irish soda bread

Next year, Aden. Next year ...

Grandma Janie and her (non) Irish cuties
The green Poke N' Pour cake was a hit, by the way. It was the first time many of Andi's family had tasted the refreshing dessert, so I felt like a star for bringing something delicious to the party. My mom used to make this cake all the time when I was growing up. I added green food coloring to the whipped cream frosting to give it a little more flare. You could use whatever color, for whatever holiday. Recommend!

Decked out in the only "green" we own.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cabo San Lucas: Days 7-9

Day 7 - Tuesday
We woke up excited for the day ahead: Andi arranged for the five of us (Andi, his mom Janie, Tory, Aden and I) to go whale watching with Rissalena Cruises. March is prime whale season around Cabo San Lucas, so Andi and I thought it'd be the perfect activity to do as a family. I couldn't wait to see Tory's reaction to whales swimming in the ocean and if we planned it right, Aden would be protected by shade on the boat.

Early Tuesday morning, Andi and Tory walked the few blocks to Cabo Bakery and brought back freshly baked pastries to the condo for breakfast. Then, we loaded the kids in their strollers and made the short five-minute walk to Cabo San Lucas' marina. (I'm going to do a recap about traveling with little kiddos later but worth mentioning here, Tory's stroller was such a lifesaver). I give Andi mad props for doing his homework to ensure we had the best experience on the whale watching tour. He researched and consulted with several companies about timing, boat size, number of guests, food and other accommodations before ultimately booking with Rissalena Cruises.

The boat crew welcomed us with warm hospitality the minute we stepped foot on the catamaran. The price of our excursion included open bar and lunch served on the boat. There were two other groups of about six people each with us with plenty of room for everyone. Andi checked with Rissalena beforehand to make sure bringing kids was acceptable (it was) and luckily, none of the guests seemed to mind small children being around them. In fact, one of the female employees rushed right over to me once we were settled and asked to hold Aden. Now, this isn't something that happens often in the U.S. - strangers don't usually walk up and ask to hold your baby and really, I can't imagine handing Aden over to a stranger if they did! - but I wasn't shocked when Laura (the boat employee) reached out for Aden. The same thing happened the day before with one of the Casa Dorado waiters on Medano Beach. It must be a part of the Mexican culture; to gush over babies and allow other women to hold them. Almost every Mexican woman we saw on the trip was enamored with Aden and his gorgeous blue eyes.

Aden and Laura, one of the Rissalena employees

We took the 10:00am - 1:00pm boat cruise which was the perfect time of day. The sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky. The weather was comfortable with a breeze especially once the boat started moving in the water. I brought sweatshirts and light blankets for the kids and the Rissalena crew also gave us thick, soft beach towels to help keep the kids warm.

After everyone on board was situated with a cocktail, the boat motored out to Lover's Beach and to the famous Cabo San Lucas arch, and we had our picture taken as a family before it. Andi and I had taken a smaller water taxi out to Lover's Beach a few days prior, but this was the first time Janie and Tory saw the rock formations up close.

Next, we boated into the Pacific Ocean toward a group of boats already stationed by gray whales in the water. But before we got to them, our catamaran ran over a rope in the water and it tangled around the propellor. The boat captain, Eduardo, changed into swim trunks and jumped into the water to cut it free. When he returned to the boat, everyone clapped as he took pictures with the knife between his teeth like a superhero who saved the day. It was pretty funny.

With the prop free and clear, we continued on our tour. A few minutes later, we saw several whales in the water and they were huge, easily 50-70 feet long. They gave us a show as they spewed water out of their whale hole (??) and dived up and down in the water. The gentle rocking of the boat ride caused Tory to nod off to sleep on my lap, so I woke her up (something I hate doing to the child who never sleeps!) so she could see the whales swimming. See them, she did. We were fairly close to four or five gray whales swimming along. By this time, Aden had fallen asleep in his car seat and remained asleep for the rest of the boat tour. Andi said he couldn't believe Aden slept through all the noise of people partying, drinking as the open bar flowed and loud music on the boat.

I thought our luck of no toddler meltdowns had run out as Tory started to whine she was hungry. Of course she didn't want any of the snacks I'd brought along for her, so I asked the boat crew for some tortilla chips to tide Tory over until lunch was ready. Shortly after, we feasted on rotisserie chicken, cold salads, chips and guacamole and fruit for lunch. The food was delicious and it tasted great having something home-cooked by Laura, one of the staff.

After the boat tour, we walked back to the condo and put Tory down for a nap. Aden was up now since he'd slept for the last few hours, so I stayed with him while Andi caught up on some work emails and phone calls.

When Tory woke up, Andi and I decided to take her out on a little "date" with just the two of us while Janie stayed back at the condo with Aden. We decided to rent one of those bike taxis (the ones where a guy peddles a bike attached to a cart on the back) and take a tour of the downtown Cabo area. We'd already walked around some, but it was fun to see some of the backroad streets we hadn't yet explored. One of the sights was the marina's fishing dock (away from the more ritzy part of the harbor with shops and restaurants) and a few fisherman were there cleaning their freshly-caught marlin. It was neat to see the big fish up close. They were huge!

We hopped out of the bike taxi and decided to walk back the rest of the way to our condo. After walking in the heat for a while (and carrying Tory half the way because we hadn't brought her stroller), Andi and I were thirsty so we stopped at an outdoor bar. This was Tory's first bar experience (ha!) and not a shabby place to be, sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and a refreshing beverage. Andi and I each had a margarita from Cabo Blue and ordered Tory her very first Shirley Temple. She was in love! She took one sip, her eyebrows raised and she gave Andi and I the biggest the smile. Cherries became a favorite treat of Tory's on this trip.

Later, Janie said she wasn't hungry for dinner so Andi and I decided to take advantage of a free babysitter and go out for a sushi date night. We ate at Nick San where I had the best sushi roll (the Magure Lime Roll, for future reference) I've ever eaten. The flavors were so complex with a bite of lime that hit your tongue at the end. Delicious. Andi and I walked around downtown Cabo for a while after dinner and just enjoyed each other's company.


Day 8 - Wednesday
Andi and I had so much fun with Tory on our little date the day before, we decided to take her to the beach to play on our last full day in Mexico. After breakfast at the condo, we loaded up her stroller with sand toys and walked the short block to Medano Beach. Janie offered to stay back at the condo with Aden, so it was just the three of us.

First thing, we secured a beach cabana in front of Casa Dorado as had become our beach routine. Tory was biting at the bit to get into the water and chase the seagulls down by the waves. Andi and I ordered mojitos for ourselves and found a good spot by the water, built sandcastles with Tory (who promptly squished them with her feet as fast as we could make them) and had the best time together. If only every day was like this; quality time as a family, no worries - just time at the beach, making memories together in the sunshine.

We played for a while on the beach before Tory said she was hungry for a snack. Andi ordered her some French fries and a strawberry smoothie. She was such a delight on this trip. Really. I loved having her along, hearing the funny things she said and listening to her communicate with locals in Spanish. It's amazing how grown up our baby girl is becoming. And without the distraction of everyday schedules or caring for baby brother, it was nice to actually see Tory for who she is these days. After our mid-morning snack, Andi cashed out with the waiter and he took our nearly empty plate of French fries away. Tory looked at me and asked, "hey, where's he taking my breakfast?" (because she calls every meal /or snack "breakfast"). She's too cute.

Andi, Tory and I walked back to the condo and met up with Janie and Aden. We left lunch plans to Andi's discretion so he walked down the block to Gardenia's for more fish tacos and chicken tortilla soup to-go (our 3rd time visiting this place). Seriously, traveling with Andi is such a treat because he takes care of everything. He made all of our lodging accommodations, selected the restaurants we ate at and sometimes even ordered the food items. Janie and I loved it; Andi always has a good feel for things and rarely am I disappointed in his selections. The one thing Andi requests on vacation though is that we move fast, whether it's in the airport, getting ready to leave for an activity, etc. He joked on this trip that Tory and I might have to shave our heads if we end up traveling the world together someday. It takes time to get everyone ready to go. Plus, in the world of parenting, someone always poops the minute you're ready to walk out the door. 

After lunch, I shoo'd Janie out of the condo for a little time to herself. Andi had some work to do on his computer, so he did that while I put the kids down for naps. I had high hopes of sitting on the patio while they both napped, reading a book and soaking up the sunshine, but the stars weren't aligned for me on this day. As soon as I got Tory to sleep, Aden woke up fussing and continued to be uncomfortable. I noticed the eczema on his neck and chest had flared up again and the poor little thing kept scratching at it. He seemed miserable, so when I finally got him to fall asleep in my arms (ahem, after two hours of pacing the floor with him), we all laid on the sofa and read / watched a cartoon on the iPad.

Tory's new favorite game - beach party

For dinner, we took the suggestion of the Marina Sol concierge and made reservations at Mi Casa for authentic Mexican cuisine. Andi taught Tory to hail a taxi from the parking lot of our place and we all died laughing when she raised her arm high into the air and said, "Oh, taxi!"

Aden was still a bit fussy and I had a feeling Tory wouldn't sit long at the restaurant, so luckily we were there early in the evening and our food came to the table quickly. Andi ordered for the table and we all shared el queso fundido, carne asada, the famous Mexican dish of chili nogata, enchiladas, and a quesadilla for Tory. While we waited for our food, there was plenty of entertainment to keep Tory busy. Janie took her over to watch a lady prepare fresh tortillas and a mariachi band performed music near our table.

Tortilla preparation

Always a gazillion things going on while I eat a meal

We high-tailed it out of the restaurant as soon as we finished our meal as Aden was starting to get fussy. By the time we walked outside, he was in full-on screaming mode which is so unlike him. I felt so badly and based on the bright red color of his skin, I could tell the eczema was really bothering him. We asked the taxi driver to stop at a pharmacy on the way back to the condo and picked up some Benedryl for Aden to help him with the pain. I lathered him up with eczema cream back at the condo and by morning, he seemed better. It's so strange for Aden to be the one under the weather several times this vacation. My happy little dude wasn't so happy at times, but fortunately it wasn't anything too serious and we were able to remedy the issues with medicine.


Day 9 - Thursday
We left Cabo San Lucas on Thursday afternoon. Before we left town, the five of us walked over to Cabo Bakery for one last breakfast on vacation. Andi ordered a few pastries to share, a ham and egg sandwich and a steak Panini. The food was all so good, and the pastries were still hot and fresh from the oven. The employees in the kitchen were concerned we didn't like our food because we didn't finish everything on our plates, but that wasn't the case at all. The food was delicious, but too much for the three of us to eat alone (in true Tory form, she only helped eat the pastries). My favorite item was a baked pretzel bread smothered in melted cheese. To die for.

After breakfast, Andi took Tory to the pool for one last swim while Janie and I packed up our bags and organized the condo. As we loaded our bags into the airport shuttle, the driver was standing outside the van waiting for a few more passengers. Tory took it in her own hands to ask, "oh 'nother man, can you give us a push?" I find it hilarious how "well traveled" she became on this trip. She had no problem hailing a taxi, talking with guests or various employees we met, or even asking for more ketchup during a meal. I'm excited to see how our adventures unfold over the years with the kids. Our first vacation as a family of four (plus Grandma Janie) couldn't have gone any better. We truly had a wonderful time in Cabo San Lucas!