Archive for the ‘The Rest’ Category

San Francisco Whirlwind

Friday, October 14th, 2016

This post is going to be long and rambling but also full of pictures because I currently have 30 free minutes and who knows when that will happen again, so I’m just doing this all at once.

We survived flying to California with 4 kids! A 5 week old who basically just eats and sleeps is a very easy traveler. School-age kids who whine until you buy them in-flight entertainment are slightly more difficult but still manageable. A 2-year-old is awful. He only slept on the way home after hours of rolling around and crying. Ok, it wasn’t hours. But it felt like hours to his two parents who were desperate to get him to be quiet so we could nap for at least a few minutes.

I had been really worried about the logistics of our travel, but it worked out well. We brought our Joovy Caboose stroller and both car seats to the airport, along with a Tula baby carrier and a babywearing wrap. After we parked, we loaded everything we could onto the stroller, I wore Linc on my back and we had the kids pull our rolling carry on. At the check-in counter, we checked two big suitcases and Linc’s car seat in a car seat bag. At the gate we checked the stroller and Finnegan’s car seat, so I wore him in the wrap and E wore Linc. On the plane itself, we each had a personal item, I ahad the diaper bag and E had the rolling carry-on with all our wedding clothes. It all worked in reverse in San Francisco perfectly. If we hadn’t been flying direct, we would have also gate checked Linc’s car seat (I was very worried they might lose it).

I won’t tell  you about the bathroom incident on the plane ride, but let’s just say I recommend packing at least an extra set of underpants (if not a whole extra change of clothes) for EVERY child.

For our stay, my parents rented a house from Home Away or Air BnB or one of those places, so our family could all stay together. It was the 6 of us, my mom and dad, my brother, my grandmother and my uncle. A house was SO much nicer than a hotel for a lot of reasons. The big kids had their own room, there was a general area we could all congregate to watch TV or have snacks, we kept the fridge stocked with milk and Diet Coke, and when Finn cried in the middle of the night there was space to take him so he didn’t wake EVERYONE up. I will definitely look for houses vs hotels for any future family travel.

On Friday morning, we had some free time before the wedding obligations and since everyone was on East Coast time we were awake and ready to explore by 8 am. Our first stop was Battery Spencer, an old fort overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. I needed to readjust my expectations of “old” for the West Coast – in Connecticut, 1700’s is old. Battery Spencer was built around 1900, so just slightly old. The actual fort wasn’t impressive but the views of the bridge were AMAZING. It was easy to find, an easy walk from the parking area, and totally doable both with the kids and the stroller.














After our visit to the fort, we took a very very narrow, very very very VERY windy road through the hills down to Muir Woods. It’s a really popular National Park with a remarkably small parking lot, so we parked in the second overflow lot. Since none of our group had been there before – and there was no cell phone service in the valley – we didn’t know if it was going to be stroller-friendly or not. So I let the kids go ahead with my parents and E hung out with me while I fed and changed Baby Finn, then wrapped him up on my chest so we could go stroller-free. For the record, the main path is a very wide, well-tended boardwalk, so the stroller would have been fine. There are lots and lots of trails but if you do the main one you never have to really hike at all. It took ages to find the rest of my family because our phones only worked half a dozen times in 2 hours, but eventually we met up again.

It was amazingly beautiful and the weather was perfect – nice and cool and quiet. I suspect it’s like that a lot down in the woods. I would very much like to go back some time without so many kids so we can do a full hike up the mountain (hill?) and down to the beach. I have major regrets that we never made it to a beach in California.

P.S. The National Parks offer a year-long pass for active duty military that lets them (plus 3 dependents) in for free. At Muir Woods, kids under 15 were also free. They gave E the card right at the register, no planning ahead needed, so we enjoyed our day for zero dollars.















I told Caroline this was the area where she could say anything she wanted and she said she wanted ice cream for lunch.

The rest of Friday was the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. I’ll spare you too many family photos, but the location (the groom’s parents’ newly renovated smart house) was so beautiful.



They had these instant Fujifilm cameras around for guests to take photos. It was a great idea, except for all the photos the kids wasted (and the ones I wasted. Backlight does not mix with instant photos).




At about 6:30 pm I made the call that we were done. Taking my kids at their best to a fancy restaurant is tough. Taking my kids who were still on East Coast time after 5 hours of running around is impossible. Evenings are Finn’s fussy time too, so I was at the end of my rope, patience-wise. I felt like kind of a jerk skipping the dinner when I was the maid of honor but I am 100% sure everyone enjoyed themselves a lot more without us there.

And then Saturday was wedding day! I was not the wedding photographer. I wish I had been, but only if someone else had been maid of honor and some other someone else had watched all of my kids all day, because there were so many beautiful details to photograph (not to mention the bride!!) and I didn’t get any of them because I was busy being IN the wedding. I’m just super jealous someone gets this gorgeousness in their portfolio and I only have a handful of pictures to document it.

















This is my brother, who has a promising career in leaning casually.





The catering was actually done by someone we went to high school with, so in my head she’s 15 years old and performing in The Wiz with me. But it was INCREDIBLE. The best food I’ve had in years.




The day after the wedding, the bride and groom hosted a brunch with lots of delicious food at Mountain Lake Park in the city. They even picked up In-n-Out burgers for us (although, I’m not gonna lie, Five Guys is still my true burger love). The kids had a wonderful time running around and tiring themselves out. The California trees were great for climbing and we found a pre-made fort slash fairy house in one of the groves. I’m definitely dreaming of moving to San Francisco and selling my soul to afford an apartment that backs up to that park. I might even bring one or two of my kids.














While I made them pose for this photo, literally every other person at the picnic started asking them SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE KIDS LOOK HOW CUTE YOU LOOK AS A LITTLE FAMILY I BET THAT IS WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE EVEN GOING TO LOOK LIKE???!?!?!?! Apologies to you both, guys. Please remember I said NOTHING about you having kids at the wedding or during my speech.

And then we said goodbye to San Francisco.


The last known photo of Everest. We can’t find him now, so I think he got left at those chairs during the shuffle to get everyone and everything on the plane. I think I’m more upset than Lincoln was.






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Game Night Get Together with Ellio’s Pizza

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!

Once a month – or more often, if we can manage – we share a game night with one of E’s coworkers and his family. We taught them a card game called Hand and Foot, which I was forced to learn before I was allowed to marry into the Davis family and which we now force other people to learn as a requirement for friendship. I mean, we don’t make ALL our friends learn, but if you hang out in our general vicinity for more than 6 hours at some point E will volunteer to teach you because he probably has the card box waiting right over here just in case there is a card-playing emergency. He’s prepared! He made a special box to keep the cards in! Don’t worry if you have never played, there is a cheat sheet right in the box to help you!


I’m teasing a little bit, but I absolutely love our game nights. With 5 (now 6!) children between us, babysitters are expensive and hard to come by so hanging out as a family is much easier. Plus Amanda is an amaaaazing cook and baker and always feeds us super well when she hosts.

Since I was 84.5 months pregnant at our last game night, my desire to spend two days in front of the oven making a gourmet dessert for game night was missing. My desire to eat lots of delicious food was still more than available though, so I was thrilled with this chance partner with Ellio’s Pizza for a fun family dinner option.



The husbands – who are not from New England – were puzzled why Amanda and I were super excited about frozen pizza. Amanda, who is from here, said “This tastes just like my childhood!” And it’s totally true. Ellio’s Pizza is a Northeast tradition, founded on Long Island in 1963 and one of the things parents have been feeding their kids as a quick dinner or after-school snack for the last 5 decades. Available in six different flavors and made with 100% real cheese and zero artificial flavoring, it’s super fast, super delicious, and super kid- (and parent) approved.





Along with a plate of veggies, it was a balanced meal everyone enjoyed and I didn’t waste any precious card-playing energy to make. That’s probably why Amanda and I TROUNCED the guys in the first round (we won’t talk about the second round). I’m stocking my freezer with more Ellio’s Pepperoni Pizza (our favorite) for the back-to-school craziness combined with the end-of-summer laziness and the having-a-fourth-baby insanity that is all about to hit us at once. Frozen pizza is exactly what those situations call for. Get in on the goodness yourself and check out the store locator at the top of the Ellio’s homepage to see where Ellio’s Pizza is sold near you.









You can follow Ellio’s on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

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One Big Happy Hello

Monday, September 12th, 2016

A big happy thank you to Gymboree for sponsoring this post! They’ve been delightful to work with and we’re all thrilled with the new fall clothes. Be sure to check out their giveaway for an amazing baby bundle here


After we came home from the hospital the first time, we didn’t really have a chance to adjust to our new 4-kid family before poor Baby Finnegan had to go back to the hospital for his light therapy. When we finally did make it home, school had started and the big kids were gone all the time. It’s made our first two weeks home feel sort of disjointed and hectic, not the calm, cuddly, peaceful time I had imagined in my head. It hasn’t helped that along with school, it was the first week of soccer, E had to go back to work and the toddler has been trying to give up napping, so even WITHOUT a brand new baby things would have been a little crazy. Still, we are so excited about our one big happy hello moment – completing our family with baby #4.

One thing that HAS been just as good (or better!) than I could have hoped is how Evan, Caroline, and Lincoln have all fallen in love with their new baby brother. They adore him completely. It’s such a joy to see and makes my heart want to burst every time I find one of them patting his head or singing Twinkle Twinkle to calm him down or saying “I just LOVE Baby Finn!” Obviously, this isn’t my first new-sibling rodeo and I’ve learned a few things over the past 3 kids. I think applying them all has really made this transition easier. Here are some of the things that have worked for us:

  1. Don’t change anything you don’t have to in the days before the baby comes. Linc is 2 now and probably getting close to potty learning, but we didn’t even consider trying right now. That’s a big change for a small person and adjusting to sharing Mommy with a baby is hard enough. I couldn’t avoid sending the big kids to school the same week the baby came home, but we kept our routine as normal and typical as possible. No new expectations or demands, no new charts or schedules, and I cut back on this year’s fall enrichment activities so they have more time at home in the evening to relax.
  2. Bring the kids to the hospital to meet the new baby. The kids visited us twice before we got to come home, which gave them a chance to interact with Finnegan without having him immediately in “their” space. It also helped them build up excitement for the moment when he (and I) would be released  and back under the same roof with the rest of the family. We let them all hold and cuddle the baby as much as they wanted in the hospital and made a Big Deal about how proud we were when they were loving and gentle.
  3. Put them to work! “Helping” with the baby is a favorite chore around here, especially for Lincoln. He loves bringing diapers and burp cloths for Finn or snacks and drinks for Mommy. Caroline and Evan are expected to do the same stuff, as well as contribute to general household well-being by feeding the dog, picking up after themselves, and helping Linc with things that are slightly above his abilities. Everyone likes to feel useful and important, and they all love their Big Kid Helper status.
  4. Do your best to give everyone some one-on-one attention. I know that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re adding a 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc etc child to the family. Just do your best. I’ve taken Caroline alone with me to do errands or pick up food, E took Linc with him to Home Depot and watched a movie with Evan, my mother reads endless books patiently to anyone who asks. Even if I am holding or feeding Finnegan, I try to make room next to me for whoever needs a snuggle.  It’s easy to get touched out, exhausted and want nothing more than 10 minutes of quiet, but try to remind yourself it’s not forever and some day you’ll kids who don’t even want to be seen with you, let alone sit in your lap. This too shall pass, and probably way faster than you want it to when you look back.
  5. Accept help. The more time you can spend with the kids – or the more people around who can also spend time with the kids – the less likely they’ll see the baby as an attention-stealing monster. It can be tempting to try to prove you can do everything on your own (and you probably can, Supermom) but you don’t HAVE to turn down help. Try saying yes. A freezer meal means you could spend that time snuggling instead of cooking. Someone whisking away older kids for a playdate means you can take a nap while the baby does. Someone who wants to come over and just hold your baby for an hour means you can take a shower. I am one of those people who says “No, really, I’m fine! We’re good! I don’t need anything!” but when people ignore me – and I’m so lucky to have people in my life who ignore me – and help anyway it’s amazing. The less stressed you are, the easier it is to make a smooth transition to +1 more kids without major meltdowns.

Another way to get ready for baby is to shop for newborn essentials like onesies, socks, bibs, blankets and hats. Gymboree has all that and more covered with 100% combed cotton baby items, which are crazy soft and incredibly cute too. The newborn styles are easy to mix-and-match (who has time to hunt for the ONE pair of matching leggings on 3 hours of sleep?) and reversible bibs and blankets mean you can get twice the use out of them.

One of my favorite things about Gymboree is their kid clothes LOOK like kid clothes, whether you’re just looking for comfy play outfits or dressier looks for family photos. I also love matchy-sibling stuff and they are super great at carrying a theme/styles through their baby, toddler and kid’s collections each season. I had so much fun putting together looks for each of the kids and then surprising them with these fun orange boxes.









After everyone tried on their new clothes, they helped Baby Finnegan open his box and see what his new outfit looked like.







They are DELIGHTED with the outdoors/wolf theme, and I think it’s so cute that I have a whole “pack” of kids.
















You can expect to see these clothes in our weekly photos a LOT this fall – soft, comfy, and stylish (plus easy care) check all the boxes for the things that become instant favorites. Linc’s outfit comes from the Mountain Trail collection for toddlers, and Evan’s is from the matching boy’s stuff. Caroline’s owl dress and leggings are part of the mix & match collection.

And now for a GIVEAWAY!

Did you know September is one of the most popular birth months? To celebrate, Gymboree teamed up with 6 popular brands to bring parents the ultimate bundle for baby. They’re giving away over $2,000 in prizes from Gymboree, Land of Nod, Seventh Generation, 4moms, Baby Bjorn, and munchkin. You can enter to win this AMAZING prize pack by clicking here. It’s an AMAZING bundle, don’t miss out!

I will also surprise and delight one person who comments on this post with a $50 Gymboree gift card. (I apologize for taking down the Rafflecopter, I misunderstood some directions in my new-baby exhaustion fog and it’s totally my fault. I’ll still choose someone at random who comments on this post between yesterday and Monday Sept 19th with a $50 gift card.)

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First Day of School 2016

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The day the kids actually started first and second grade, I was in the hospital with baby #4, having given birth almost exactly 24 hours earlier. Luckily, before I went into the hospital, I forced them into school uniforms to take these pictures, because I figured faking it by 2 days is something they would forget pretty soon but if someday I put together a book of First Day photos and this year was missing they would notice. But because I faked them just a little, I only have a few and I didn’t get the shot of Linc crying because he didn’t get on the bus that I was sure I would end up with. Although from what the adults here at home reported, Linc slept through the whole thing and didn’t care in the slightest.

It’s a good thing I did have a baby this week, because THESE kids are clearly no longer babies and I need a baby fix. For comparison, here’s 2014 and 2015, where my children are much more appropriately sized and not these big kids who seem to have taken their place.









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Finnegan’s Fresh 48

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Fresh 48 sessions are my favorite kind of photo sessions, whether it’s my own baby or someone else’s. These are the rest of my pictures of Baby Finn from our time in the hospital. Well, our first time in the hospital. We had to go back to spend some time under the lights for his bilirubin levels, which wasn’t fun for anyone. But now we are home and can finally start settling in.

I would apologize for the number of photos in this post, but I’ve been writing this blog for 8 years now. I’m pretty sure I’ve already scared away everyone on the internet who DOESN’T want to see 60 photos of babies.

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