Flying With a Toddler

May 26, 2017

(This was one of Maya’s first flights when she was only about 3 months old!) 

I’ve had a few friends ask me lately how we keep Maya occupied on airplanes. And do we ever have experience in that category! I figured someone else might benefit from me sharing what’s worked for us on 20+ flights in her 19 months of life.

First, a disclaimer. Maya is pretty small for her age, so keeping her contained isn’t as difficult as, say, my nephew, who was much (MUCH) bigger and stronger at her age. She is pretty wiry, though, and strong willed, so keep that in mind as you’re reading through this.

(First flight home to Maine with Maya girl, happy mama much?) 

We haven’t yet had to buy a seat just for Maya. We’ll have to starting in October, but for now she’s a lap child and FYI – we always call and add her as a lap child prior to the flight.

Now, let’s start with gear. Here’s what we always bring.

  • Stroller with car seat – our infant car seat attached to our stroller, so for as long as Maya fit in the infant car seat (until 18 months!) we brought both of those things. We gate check stroller and car seat. Now that Maya has a convertible car seat, we’ll be getting one of these roller thingies that the car seat sits on. We’re hoping we don’t have to upgrade our car seat bag (see below) to accommodate the larger seat but we haven’t tested that out yet.
  • Car seat bag – this was a great suggestion a friend made before our first flight. It’s kept our car seat in great condition but it’s also great for stashing a package of diapers or even giant ziploc bags of formula when we were traveling with two babies last summer. Definitely invest in a carseat bag. It’s incredible how quickly the thing has gotten dinged up from bopping around under the plane – it takes a beating so the car seat doesn’t have to!
  • Baby carrier – I was hand me downed an Ergo 360 and it has been amazing on every flight. Maya is very agreeable when it comes to the Ergo, which does help. When we (or I – I’ve flown on my own with her successfully several times!) get ready to board, we take her out of the stroller and load her into the Ergo. That way when we walk down to the plane, we have both hands to carry the diaper bag or
  • Diaper bag – I have a bag with a bunch of pockets, and I fill them all. More on that below!

(On the floor of the plane back from Maine after Christmas – and the last time with her paci!) 

For the entertainment of the toddler:

  • All the snacks. Many, many more snacks than you think you’ll need, and lots of new-to-Maya snacks along with some must-haves. While Maya’s never run out of toys, we have run out of snacks. When Maya was younger, I made sure to pack several of those squeezy baby food pouches that I refuse to buy otherwise because they’re terrible for the environment but are perfect for the plane. Most flights I’d pack blueberries, frozen peas (they thaw, obviously), animal crackers, fig bars, anything that doesn’t make a monstrous mess and might hold her attention for a little while. Blueberries were saved for the most disastrous moment because they are Maya’s all-time favorite. She would choose blueberries over her parents any day. Obviously, if they pass out snacks I try to get an extra few just for the novelty of opening them and taking out each and every pretzel.
  • Small toys in bags. For instance:
  • Animal finger puppets – we’ve gotten so much mileage out of these puppets my mom sent at Christmastime. Maya loves taking them out of the little drawstring bag and putting them on her own fingers or mine, then putting them back in the bag.
  • My mom also sent little zipper pouches – they’re about 2 inches across and sparkly (these would work). I put tiny plastic animals in them and again, we unzip, explore, re-zip, repeat.
  • Cups and ice – this one sometimes makes an annoying mess, but Maya’s obsessed with ice and moving it from cup to cup. So if the flight attendants are nice, I ask for an extra few cups and we play with ice or pretzels in cups for a while.
  • I stock up on a few tiny new toys from the dollar section in Target or from the dollar store, things that she hasn’t seen before and that will capture her attention for just a little while. For our last road trip, I found one of those Water Wow books that has a little water-filled brush and reusable pages that dry off after just a little while. I think that might come on our next long flight since it’s fairly compact.
  • I always bring a few small board books, a baby doll and its little bottle, and maybe a new stuffed animal. I used to bring cotton balls and feathers as well – Maya is one tactile kiddo!
  • If she wants to pull out the safety manual from the back of the seat and look at it 17 times, so be it. We also “read” the in flight magazine and mostly look for puppies or babies in all of the pictures.

The basics: We obviously bring diapers (about 6 per flight, which is what she’ll go through in about 2 days, so it’s like packing for a major emergency), a sippy cup we can fill with water, a whole package of wipes and one change of clothes for her. If we’re going through security, I take out the pouches of baby food and any water I have along for her and they check it separately but that doesn’t usually take much time.

 (This was our red-eye flight to Ireland last fall, all she wanted to do was play with my hair! But she eventually fell asleep.)

Some rules we try to enforce:

  • She’s not allowed to slam that darn tray in front of us up and down, up and down. I can’t think of a more annoying thing if you’re sitting right in front of her. Ha! She’s allowed to play with toys on it, but she’s not allowed to move it, no matter how tempting that little latch is.
  • No getting down and walking around. I always thought that once Maya started to walk we’d inevitably have to be walking her up and down the aisles. But then we didn’t and now I’m trying not to let her ever know that walking around is an option. We’ll see how long it lasts! So far, 22 flights and only on one flight when we had a seat between us did we let her get down on the floor.
  • She has to be in the carrier when we get on and off the plane. Thank goodness she still fits into it, because that thing is a lifesaver.
  • No screens. That’s just our preference, so we try not to rely on ipads or our phones to keep her occupied or calm on the plane. We may get to that point, but I’d really prefer not to until she’s at least 2. She almost never watches screens at home unless we’re FaceTiming with grandparents, so that’s her normal for now.

Traveling with her has gotten a little more exhausting as she’s gotten older, but it isn’t yet as hard as I thought it would be at this stage, thankfully! Once she turns 2 in October I think it might get a little more difficult to keep her sitting in her seat, but we’ll just try to stock up on little age-appropriate toys to bring with us and hope that keeps her attention until she falls asleep! (With our Baby J on the flight we took with 2 babies, 8 and 6 months old. We dominated!) (Before our first international flight with Maya! Will never fly United again, but we survived!) (Heading to Maine, I think, for Christmas? Getting a head start on the packing 😉 And that suitcase has been with me since I moved to Ireland. It was one of the two I brought when I moved there, and one of the two we brought when we moved to Houston. Samsonite for the WIN!)


Around Here

May 5, 2017

This week… illustrated with some (mostly unedited) photos from my phone at the bottom. That’s always my favorite part of this type of post, so for those as nosy as I…

Maya woke up at 4:30am one morning (2 year molars, we think) and only wanted to be held in your lap sitting up. No cuddles, but she insisted on falling asleep sitting up.

The AHCA and Jordan Edwards broke my heart this week. When will it end?

Daycare called to say they thought Maya had a spider bite and “she needs to go to the doctor to make sure it isn’t going to eat the flesh from the inside, lay eggs, and hatch.” Cue me freaking out for six hours before I could take her to the pediatrician, who decided it looked more like one of her enormous swollen mosquito bites and prescribed some steroid cream. Ugh.

I’ve been proctoring make-up state standardized tests all week, and I’m still so torn as to standardized tests. These kids need to pass English I, English II, History, Biology and Algebra before graduating. And I can report that much time has gone in to training them to pass. Wasted time drilling facts? It’s a tough one.

I’ve been tutoring an 11th grader who is really struggling to read, which has broken my heart for how isolated he must and likely will feel for the rest of his life. What a gift – a gift I often take for granted – that I can read and enjoy it with all my heart. Also, how do you make it to 11th grade unable to read more than single syllables? Ugh.

I went walking with a friend one evening this week and along the bayou there’s a field of wildflowers – black-eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s lace, the latter was my Grandma Catharine’s favorite flower. I’ve been missing her quite a lot lately.

We’ve been watching (I use we loosely here) the NBA playoffs. Michael’s Celtics and our collective Rockets are both in the playoffs still, meaning my television has been monopolized every evening lately. When I can squeeze in an hour, I’ve been watching the newest two seasons of Call the MidwifeDid you know it had new seasons? That was such a fun treat that resulted from this post! We also watched the latest season of Catastrophewhich we loved before but didn’t love so much this round. It was a tad depressing and six episodes is not very many!

I’ve written some passionate articles for Romper lately – like this one about helping foster kids, about things you don’t think about until you’re an adoptive parent, and tricks I actually use to get my kid to sit nicely at a restaurant.

I think I’ve developed either carpal tunnel or really bad tennis elbow that stretches down to my wrist? Lifting all 20 pounds of Maya isn’t the easiest at the moment. Thank goodness she’s so tiny! Any carpal tunnel fixing tricks?

We’re heading to Dallas this weekend for a two-year-old birthday party. Fingers crossed Maya stays chill for the whole ride!

Maya requisitioned my popsicle when I got one out for both of us. A cute little video on my Instagram as well… Sometimes we need the big guns to leave the park. Maya using an old pan to make soup? She took baby out and said, “Hot, hot!” Apparently a modern take on this house. Love our neighborhood architecture. Love when I catch magnolias at nose-level. It’s rare! 


Where I Get My News

May 4, 2017

(Maya gets her news from the pamphlet in the seat back pocket, but she takes it terribly seriously. Unrelated: Michael can sleep through being pummeled by Maya on a flight. I cannot.)

One of the things that actually kept me from blogging for all that time the last few months (basically since Christmas) was the internet. It was giving me major anxiety to spend so much time on it every day reading about the next apocalyptic thing going on in the world…or mostly in or caused by Washington. What’s happening in this country on an almost-hourly basis overwhelms me and terrifies me and it almost always seems like anything I do won’t make enough difference.

Around February I pinpointed my exhausting anxiety to looking at Facebook and Twitter much too often looking for the next apocalyptic thing going on. So I took Facebook and Twitter off my phone. I still peeked at them for a few minutes every few days on my computer, but I spent much less time on those apps overall. Shocking absolutely no one, it made a big difference to my general level of agitation. Not hearing about the hourly apocalypse lessened that stress and I decided to replace that time with learning. I want to be informed without being enraged 100% of the time. I think some people can maintain that level of outrage, but I was realizing I didn’t have it in me – and also realizing it was affecting the people who had to spend all their time with me.

To that end, I thought I’d share the sources I look at daily or weekly to stay up to date on what’s going on around the country, without having to see so many outraged (although very well-meaning) posts from friends. I’d love to hear where you get your news and also how you manage to stay at a reasonable level of outrage without going totally bananas.

The Mash-Up Americans: Weekly newsletter (and website) about all things racial. Last weekend alone, I read these three articles they linked and they stuck with me all week: Why Poverty Is Like A Disease, Ludacris Rapping Llama Llama Red Pajama (just try to get that out of your head within 3 days and also when are they coming out with a rapping children’s book album to replace the painful options I refuse to play now), and The NFL’s Racial Divide. As a wife to a bi-racial man and a mama to a mixed race daughter, I try to learn as much as possible on this topic constantly. (Oh, also this article about Rachel Dolezal and a short list that explains cultural appropriation.)

The Skimm: Daily news at about 6am in simple, sometimes punny, digestible fashion. I usually open this one first as I wake up. It’s easy to read and makes me feel like I’ve done/learned something from the get-go.

Quartz Daily: Sort of more markets-based with an international focus. I definitely get more Asian news from this than I do anywhere else. It’s a great round-up with quirky stories from around the world at the bottom.

The New York Times Morning Briefing and Weekend Briefing: All the news that’s fit to print, except condensed into a single email where you can click on stories for more in-depth reading.

News & Guts: Dan Rather is 85. Can you believe that? But he’s fired up and ready to question everything Trump does, as well as analyze a lot of what’s going on in politics and science at the moment. There’s something reassuring and grounding about Rather, perhaps because he draws from decades of experience as a journalist.

Vox Media: Vox Media is great for explaining things you think you already understand just because you hear about it constantly. Turns out, most of those things need more detailed explainers.

And one last thing. This video of Senator Elizabeth Warren (of “…and still we persisted” fame, lest you forget) speaking at the NAACP in Detroit last month, it is incredibly moving and will make you wonder if she’s positioning herself for a presidential run and also wish she definitely would.

Where do you get your news? I’d love to have more suggestions.

Austin, Texas / A Trip to the Capitol

May 1, 2017

My parents were in town a few weeks ago so we thought we’d do a little Texas exploring, despite the fact that we really wouldn’t have to leave our Houston neighborhood to stay busy for days. My parents haven’t spent as much time in Texas as we have, so we thought we’d show them Austin. This trip to Austin, the weather wasn’t quite good enough for Barton Springs, which we loved last year when we visited. But we managed to walk along the river, visit the capitol (we’ve enjoyed the free tour twice now!), and see the bats coming out from under the bridge. It’s the largest urban bat colony in North America! And it’s smelly. Two little known facts for you right there.

These photos are from a wander around the grounds of the capitol building, a reward to Maya who mostly sat quietly in her stroller for the whole thirty minutes. And thirty minutes is her max for being cooped up in the stroller, high chair or car seat. So, we wiggled and chased birds for a little while!

These two. 1000% too sweet together.

We stayed in a cute Airbnb in a cute neighborhood near a cute street full of shops and restaurants. Sort of the epitome of Austin, even down to the massive hill it was set on. That, to me, is the main difference between Houston and Austin: Houston is FLAT and Austin is hilly. And quirkier. With more food trucks than could possibly be sustainable.

Maya likes to bring you tiny pieces of dirt and twigs she finds. It’s very generous and sometimes exhausting.


A Texas Beach Day!

April 28, 2017

A few weeks ago, during spring break from school, we took Maya to the beach for the first time. We drove an hour-ish south of Houston down to Surfside Beach. We’d been to Surfside before, but when the weather was stormy a few weeks before Maya arrived. It was so different with the sun shining!

To the left, you can drive your car onto the beach, and the right is a pedestrian beach. For spring break, it was pretty calm and wasn’t that crowded. The water was still pretty chilly for us to get in, but we enjoyed playing in the sand – some of us more than others! Maya was a little nervous about the sand touching her feet and at first only wanted to wear her sandals. But she got used to it and was soon flinging it over her head and into her hair. She never warmed up to the water, although did understand what it was, saying “ma,” while pointing at it. “Ma” is, of course, her word for any liquid. I think she was wary of the waves and couldn’t figure that part out. The temperature didn’t help, either. She loves pools, so I’m thinking a few more visits she might be more interested. We joined friends for the afternoon and they brought bocce, which I had never played before. I liked it, and I’m not much of a game person. Plus, it was a serious workout to do it with Maya on my hip, because at that point she was all sanded out. The drive to Surfside is just about the perfect length for Maya’s nap, so I assume we’ll be spending more Saturdays here as the weather gets even sweatier!

Very Real Family Photos

April 21, 2017

A few months ago, I connected with the loveliest photographers, Cindy and David, who as a team compose Henkl Photography. They’re based in Houston not far from where we live, and I jumped at the opportunity to have them photograph our little family of three. The one thing I had really missed in Maya’s first year was that we never had proper photos taken of the three of us. Michael’s sister captured some photos when Maya was born and occasionally throughout the year, but not a proper session like I imagined we’d eventually do.

We cancelled once with Cindy and David because it was like 94 degrees out and I just knew that I would be dripping with sweat. And we nearly cancelled the morning of these photos because Maya had been so sick for what felt like months. Honestly, it was months. She was sick 3 weeks of every month from October to maybe last month, with thick goo running out her nose, hacking cough and very, very grumpy disposition. Looking back on it, it was actually quite a hard time for us as a family. It was stressful to have her ill and not know what was wrong (pediatrician says “babies get sick” but my intuition now says allergies). When she went to her 15 month appointment with the doctor, she had actually lost weight because she had no appetite when she was sick and snotty.

Looking back at these photos is funny because she’s by far the skinniest we remember her, but it’s also a testament to Cindy and David. Maya was miserable and barely cracked a smile at the park. She only started to perk when we saw Ratt the Cat (our neighbor’s cat) on the way back. Ironically, that day was the turning point and she actually started getting progressively better that day. By the evening, we returned to the park and I caught a few photos of her grinning.

But while we didn’t get a whole lot of big smiling Maya photos like I enjoy the most, Cindy and David perfectly captured what this season was for us, which is so important. It wasn’t shiny and it wasn’t perfect. It was a little fragile and subdued, and that’s how I’ll remember this time whenever I look at these photos. I’m so glad to have a little snapshot of this time in our Houston home before we move on. This is the place we brought Maya home to our family for the first time, and it’s the place we’ve really grown into a family of three. It’s where she first crawled and then walked. It’s where we had two Baby J’s and a Baby Little Bird.

Maya asking if she can have some of her dad’s coffee.

We love our little park. It’s only a few blocks from our house and we spend so much time there. We even had Maya’s adoption day party there. Fond, fond memories at that little park.

Big fan of those rocks, Maya is. I love these big trees, and I love that they’re barren and spooky looking because this was January. This was the season we were in, for sure. Despite being so thin, she was munching on crunchy things constantly. I had brought cookies along with me to bribe her into cooperating but all she wanted to do was grab big handfuls of them. It kinda backfired.  And then Ratt the Cat came on the scene and Maya’s mood started to lift. Ratt is the neighbor’s cat and when she (or he?) is lying down on the driveway taking a nap, she looks as flat as a pancake. I think she’s about 15 years old and Maya is obsessed with her. When we turn onto our street, Maya says “meow! meow!” based solely on the trees across from the house where Ratt lives. We stop to pet Ratt just about every day and it’s a highlight of Maya’s day. Favourite photo of me and my girl. A smile with only those 4 teeth on top and bottom and the 1 year molars poking through. She’s got a whole mouthful now!

Such big thanks to Cindy and David. They are Houston based and so, so chill to have in your home or with you on a run to the park. Even their cameras are small an unobtrusive so you don’t feel like a jerk at the park on a Saturday at 10am!

And Here We Are

April 20, 2017

It’s been so very long, and I’d rather not belabor that point at the moment. Instead, how about a little update?

1. I’ve been working full time and loving it. I’ve never been so tired and I’ll be relieved to hit summer vacation, but I’m really enjoying both jobs. I’m in Michael’s school as an English tutor most days each week, working with kids who are primarily English language learners (meaning they do not speak English at home. It’s been so eye opening because the school primarily serves kids who have gotten passed through grades without necessarily learning necessary knowledge. One of my seniors recently revealed she never knew there was a rule dictating when to use a rather than an. I nearly cried except she was so excited to have a rule to look to now!

Then three days a week I write for about being a mom, which is oddly therapeutic. I’m tasked with only writing about what I’ve experienced, which makes it quite fun.

2. I’ve begun writing for the Daily Mail on Sunday back in Ireland. My long-time blog friend Kim was ready to go full-time with her screen printing business (Damn Fine Print) and asked me to take over. It’s been so fun to be writing about interiors again, and fun to be writing about Ireland again. At the moment, the pieces are only in the print edition, which you can obviously only find in Ireland. I’m hoping to be able to start sharing some of the content online here.

3. Maya has been doing really well in daycare. She loves her teacher, Miss Angie, who calls her “my baby,” which is possibly the most comforting thing this working mom could hear. She was sick for quite a while over the winter, which we now think might be down to the excess of pollen here in Houston, but she seems to be coming out of that and really trucking along. She knows so many words and is adorably silly. She’s also becoming increasingly independent, and doesn’t love spending much time in the car seat or stroller, which is exhausting!

4. I spend much more time each day cleaning up after Maya than I ever imagined possible. I thought two babies was a lot, but toddlers are no joke. She can cover the floor of our 750 square foot apartment with toys and books and anything else she can get her hands on in about 20 minutes. She does not seem interested in putting anything back, although she really enjoys sweeping.

5. It’s already into the 80’s most days in Houston, although this spring has been much cooler than last spring. It’s nice to not already be too sweaty!

6. One of the reasons I didn’t write here in so long was because the track pad on my very old Mac found a life of its own and wouldn’t respond to my command. And the external mouse I use when that happens had had a battery acid leak. With so little brain space I couldn’t quite get over the hump of figuring either of those problems out. Luckily, the tech guy at the school helped me fix the battery acid leak and I’m back with my wonky Mac and external mouse. I have so many photos on my camera to upload from the last few months.

7. I’ve been posting rather regular updates (mainly Maya related) on my Instagram account, in case you need a cute toddler fix.

8. I’m in the market for a new television show, preferably Neflix or HBO Go or Amazon. Michael and I just watched Big Little Lies in record time and I thought Nicole Kidman did an incredible job. The counseling scenes were fascinating to me.

9. We had a lovely Easter, and Maya wore her biggest bow yet along with ruffle socks and little white shoes.

10. I’d like to start blogging regularly again, but I’d like also to not put myself under too much pressure about it. Life is busy at the moment, and I’m trying to enjoy Maya when she’s little as much as possible, and trying to enjoy life as our little family of three.

It’s getting late now, and in the name of getting this up and into the internets, I’ll say goodnight. I hope to be back again soon. Xx

A Snowy Maine Walk

January 13, 2017

Before the Christmas plague arrived and took nearly all of us down, we tried to get outside with Maya for at least a few minutes every day. Clearly we’ve been away from Maine too long because that sentence shows exactly how wimpy we are. Ha!

One day we bundled and took a walk out in the field behind my parents’ house. I really wanted to walk in the woods, but it was so cold we just walked to the tree line and back again. Maya lost a mitten somewhere along the way, but we retraced our steps and found it on our return.  family-of-three-walk-maine Thanks to various family members for letting us cobble together warm outfits from your belongings! Michael robbed my mom’s Patriot’s hat (and almost didn’t give it back), and I had to borrow a warm coat and gloves.

Maya was in the beginning stages of the Christmas green goo, so she had her lovie and pacifier tucked into the Ergo just in case. She’s also got a piece of cereal in the hand that lost the mitten, probably the reason for the mitten shirking to begin with!  mom-and-maya maya-and-mom snowy-field-entrance maya-hat-eyes Poor Maya, I couldn’t always see when her hat had fallen over her eyes.  field-behind-house-china snowballs Pretty sure Maya and I got pelted with both of those snowballs!  maine-snowy-field trees-china-village blurry-family-three

Little blurry but two out of three happy to be out in the fresh air! (Thanks, Dad, for the pics of the three of us and Michael for the ones of Maya and I!)

The real winter weather was nice for a few weeks, but boy are we glad to be back in the Houston winter heat! Getting outside is tough when it’s so cold and cabin fever with a 15 month old is real!

2017 / Goals for the New Year

January 10, 2017

2017-goals Happy New Year, friends! 2017 is getting a slow start around these parts since Maya and I only returned to Houston at the end of last week. Michael had to come back earlier to start school, but it was cheaper for us to fly back a little later and take advantage of a few more days with Maya’s grandparents, with whom she is 1000% obsessed.

She would be even more obsessed if they had been around this weekend to save her from the pacifier weaning we embarked upon Saturday night. I realized a month or so ago that the pacifier Maya was fully attached to for sleep and sick/sad moments was made for a 0-3 month old baby. Very much not made for a baby with 12 teeth and very much already affecting those teeth. I felt guilty every time I let her have it once I realized what it was doing to her gums and mouth, but I knew we couldn’t put my parents through the misery of taking it away from her. We tried snipping the end of the paci first – the idea being that you cut bits off until there’s nothing left to suck and by that point they’re over it – and she took one look at it and basically said oh, hell no. She kept holding it out and looking at it like she was wondering what the heck we did to break her most cherished possession. Then we offered a different pacifier that’s made for older babies and that only made her more mad.

In the end, we cold turkey-ed it. She screamed for a while last night going to bed, and then promptly slept 11 hours. She screamed her way through most of both her naps today, except when she was chewing on the side of her crib (while I ate my weight in Hershey kisses). And then tonight we added a stuffed goose and a teddy bear to her crib and lo and behold, a nearly peaceful bedtime. Thank goodness!

Anyway, beyond that drama we’ve been easing into the new year. The end of 2016 was hard for me as it was for so many. The election felt like a kick in the teeth to an already emotional and trying rollercoaster year. I think I might have been running on adrenaline for most of the year as we went through such high highs and quite low lows. Between Maya’s adoption day and then babies in and babies out, babies maybe happening and babies not happening anymore, I ran out of adrenaline when we returned from Ireland and I’m only now starting to feel like myself again. Even though we spent most of the holidays sick with various bugs between us, it was a break and I returned feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Michael and my parents picked up my slack big time in the last few weeks. I read two books in three weeks, enjoyed a glass of wine with my mom every night, and started watching This Is Uswhich is watchably light and thought-provokingly deep at the same time.

While 2017 is slowly getting rolling, it’s already looking like it will be a very different sort of year than last year. I’ve picked up a new writing gig as well as some hours as a teaching assistant at Michael’s school, and it looks like Maya will be starting daycare at least a few days a week soon. She’s so social and loves being around other kids, so I think it will be good for her even though it will be a huge adjustment for both of us. But 15 months is a pretty long time to get to spend every day together, and I’m grateful we’ve had so much time.

I have a few goals for the new year, loose ones without trying to put much pressure on myself after the stress of the last year. Just a little more fun and a little more exploring.

More Houston exploring

I have a running list of Houston spots to explore, so we’ll try to check those off maybe one per weekend. We want to visit Brazos State Park in the daylight, finally get to the MFAH, go back to the cosy wine bar we visited a few weeks before Maya was born.

More date nights

I can count on one hand the number of times Michael and I got to spend time just the two of us last year. This year, at least monthly date nights.

Meal plans maybe?

Meh, maybe not. It always seems like a great idea in theory, but I can barely plan a day ahead let alone a week. We’ll see what happens when things get a little crazier around here.

Get a house plant

It seems that’s what our tiny apartment is missing – something green. Although we’ll need to find a place where Maya can’t get into the dirt. She’s a sucker for dirt.

More books

I’ve got a stack next to my bed and a Kindle that hasn’t gotten nearly enough use in the last year. I just finished The Trespasser by Tana French, which I enjoyed but wasn’t my favorite of hers. I read The Magnolia Story last week and predictably enjoyed it.

Fight for the least of these

Because it’s gonna be important this year, more than ever. Last year, I felt our giving back role was with the tiny people who shared our home. This year we might not be taking on those situations as I try to get back to work a little, so I need to find the way we can fight for those who need back up in this scary time. I’m open to suggestions.

I hope you’re feeling glimmers of hope in the new year, despite the scary times ahead. I hope we are all able to enjoy abundant peace and happiness in 2017.

Stoic Sledding

December 28, 2016

maya-sledding-china-village-2 Once a day, we’ve been getting in some Maine action – cutting down Christmas trees, tonight a sunset walk in the woods, and a little sledding down the tiny hill in front of my parents’ house. Maya’s general reaction to cold is fairly stoic. For such an expressive kid, the cold just sucks it out of her. We got a few smiles out of her when she first got a ride in her red sled going to get our Christmas tree, but sledding didn’t result in half as much excitement. You know what did? When she finally tried eating the snow halfway through our ten minute sledding excursion. She thought that was a great time! And Michael got such a kick out of pushing her down the tiny hill, even if she wasn’t so impressed.  maya-and-mike-sledding maya-sledding-china-village china-village-sledding Very excited Michael, very sceptical Maya.  maya-falling-sledding It’s like she knew that hill was too steep and she’d topple onto her head. Oops! Absolute parent fail. She was strapped into that sled with a little seatbelt and the snow was about a foot deep. My dad scooped her up and she just stared at him blankly. Ha!  china-village-sledding-2 Once we tried the new track, she wasn’t any more impressed.  maya-eating-snow-3 maya-trying-snow But eating the snow. That’s when things got really good. maya-eating-snow maya-eating-snow-2 If there ever was a Maya face, this would be it. Utter and sheer excitement while exclaiming ooh-ooh-ooh! usually followed by a very serious wow.  maya-sledding-maine maya-sledding-maine-2 By next year, she’ll be bombing down that hill and we’re going to have to construct a fence to keep her out of the road!