Holiday Season and Toddler Travels

Oh the weather outside is frightful...because it's been so darn hot. I hope that you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Our holidays are never the norm because we are a clergy family. That being said, we are creating our own traditions and putting our own style on the holidays.

One day, I was sitting at the computer looking at Groupon deals, as I so often do and I saw a deal for the indoor water park and resort. I clicked on it and realized that this amazing deal was only for one specific night, Thanksgiving. I told Nate, and he says, "Book it!" The past several years that we have been in McAllen, we have been blessed to be invited to be a part of our friends' Thanksgiving celebrations. This year we decided to lay low and take Zoe out to South Padre Island to splash around in the water. We took her to the Schlitterbahn water park and stayed overnight in their resort. It was only $69! You can't ever get a night on the island for that price, let alone three passes to the indoor water park included. We had a great time. It was a nice little one night getaway for our little family.

Minnie Mouse in the House - Toddler Halloween

Happy All Saints Day! Halloween is over. Enjoy eating your kids' candy and watching football. St. Paul had their annual (except for last year, but we won't mention that) Fall Festival.

Now, in true mom of a toddler and my husband was out of town all week mode, I had Zoe's costume ordered months ago and started and finished Nate's and mine today. Now, to be fair, most of Nate's and my costumes were things that we already owned. I needed to however find a Minnie Mouse Skirt. I did the thing that we all do when we all do in an emergency, I went to the internet. I searched Pinterest tirelessly. I read tutorials but everything seemed too hard or too short. I was going to wear leggings but the skirt still needed to cover my behind. So, I turned to "Everything for Dummies" also known as YouTube. This is where I found the perfect tutorial. You can find it here. I decided to sew it instead of glue it, like the girl did in the video. I do better when I don't have to wait for things to dry. I also needed to wear it about two hours later. I dusted off my sewing machine and it turned out great. Don't get too excited, it was two straight lines of stitching. I do feel pretty good that I made a skirt in less than 20 minutes.

Toddler Life: Cheese and Elmo

Toddlerhood is crazy. Zoe was a great baby. She slept through the night most of her younger months, she was quiet in public and smiled at everyone she saw. She was the picture perfect baby. Toddlerhood I imagine is difficult for most. Zoe is a crazy toddler. She is amazingly adorable, but crazy. It probably comes from her being so outgoing. She wants to know what is going on in every place at every moment. However I am doing my best to savor every moment of her toddler time because it is still so cute and wonderful.

Sometimes it amazes me what things Zoe enjoys and doesn't enjoy. She LOVES cheese. She is obsessed with cheese, She will stand at the fridge and say, "cheese, cheese, cheese, " like she will die if she doesn't get some. She loves mac and cheese, grilled cheese, Annie's cheddar bunnies, string cheese, cheese slices, quesadillas, and more. If I ever ran out Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, it would be bad. Those bunnies keep the peace. I could hear it now, "bubbies, bubbies." It would be so so sad. Nate and I both love cheese, so this is no surprise that she loves cheese. She however isn't big on meat. That is not normal for us. We love meat. However, I recently discovered that she will eat almost any meat with some ranch dressing or ketchup. Yay!

Zoe is 18 Months!!

Zoe is 18 Months. I can't believe it. I can't believe how she is turning into a kid and not just a baby. She still has her moments where she acts like a baby, but with all of the words she is saying and all of things she understands. She is quickly becoming a big girl. She has added the word "no" to her vocabulary. She doesn't just say "no", she says, "no" with this little head shake. It is very cute which makes it that much harder to get her to do something she doesn't want to do. Zoe gets cuter by the minute and we couldn't be happier to be the ones watching it all happen.

Mommy Went Back To Work

Many of you know that I have been staying at home with Zoe for 17 months. It has been the best 17 months of my life. Although, it probably has been longer because I loved pregnancy, too. Anyway, I was filling in at St. Paul in the office one day and Nate came in and told me that they needed a librarian. School started in a week, so they didn't have a ton of time to figure this out. I decided to think about maybe taking on the position.

This was a painstaking decision. I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom. I have never been happier. I love my freedom. I love that if Zoe and I want to stay in pajamas all morning, we can. I was worried that she would notice that mommy wasn't around as much. I was worrying that I was putting work before her. I was worried that we would lose something. I wasn't sure what that something was, but I was scared. All of these things that I knew probably weren't a problem. Those darn mommy hormones. They are so fierce. They get you so worked up over almost nothing. I was just THINKING about offering to do it. I wasn't offered the job yet and I certainly had not made up my mind. Those hormones will hit you when you least expect it. I saw a Quaker Oats YouTube video about a girl and her dad the other day and started crying. What the heck? I mean I am emotional, but I don't even eat oatmeal.

So I thought about it and talked to Nate about it until his ears fell off. I agreed to work 12 hours a week, which translates to three half days. Nate stays home and hangs out with Zoe on Fridays, but she attends our friend Lety's in-home daycare the other 8 hours a week.  Lety has a very small group and Zoe was around her all the time anyway because she is a good family friend. I wasn't ready to send her to big day care at St. Paul just yet.  In fact, started to fill out all of the paperwork and I was getting chest pains and shortness of breath. I need more time. I know that when it comes time for preschool, I am going to need an oxygen tank and anti-anxiety pills for the registration process.

I have been doing the Library gig for two weeks now. So far, I am liking it a lot. I get to help out our school by working 12 hours a week and still feel like a stay-at-home mom. I don't feel like I have lost all of my precious time with my little girl. We still spend so much time playing and running errands.

Friday Finds: Nuk Active Cup

It’s Friday. This means many great things, but I know what you have been looking forward to the most is Friday Finds! Try to contain your excitement. Today’s Friday Find is the Nuk Active Cup.

One of the many transitions that moms face in the life of their baby is the transition from bottles to sippy cups. In the case of Zoe, she took a bottle from birth (after much effort and failure with breastfeeding). I started her on a sippy cup around 6 months old. She only would drink water from the cup because she was still drinking formula from a bottle as the bulk of her nutrition. Just after she turned a year old I started her on whole milk. With this change, I wanted to transition her off of the bottle completely. Before, Zoe had no problem with drinking her water in any sippy cup: short/tall, straw/no straw, handles/no handles, Disney princess or even Mickey Mouse. Not so much with the milk. When I put milk in her cups she was like, “Are you kidding me mom? I wasn’t born yesterday, more like a year ago, catch the memo.”

I remembered that another mom had mentioned that the Nuk Active Cup was a great transitional cup, so I headed out to the store and picked up the turtle design.

These cups made the transition seamless. One day we were using bottles and the next day we had packed up all of the bottles and we were only using these cups. I am so glad that these cups were recommended to me and I would recommend them to anyone.

We started with the tall cups. When I got tired of washing one or two cups over and over, I ended up buying another cup, but one that was shorter and had handles. She used all of them for a while, now she will only use the ones with the handles. Toddlers. Always changing their minds.

Here’s my little nugget.

That’s all for now. God is good.

End of the Summer Days

After a very busy summer we have settled back into life in McAllen for a little while. Between trips to Missouri, Connecticut, and short trips within Texas, one or all of us were gone most of the summer. I was on and off of a plane every two weeks from May 1 to July 16. Needless to say, we are glad to be home for a while. We don't have another trip until the end of August and that is just to San Antonio. 

In these days, Zoe and I have been settling into a routine. Over the summer, we lost her morning nap. I am still mourning the loss of two naps. This week Zoe has been napping like a champ, which is fabulous, because that means I have been given the gift of productivity. I try to make sure we have some kind of morning outing every day to make up for the time she used to spend napping. We go grocery shopping, visit Target, go to story time at the library, or her newest and most favorite adventure, the splash park. 

There are a couple of splash parks in the city of McAllen. I was worried that she wouldn't like the water. She hasn't always been the biggest fan of going swimming. She also has a love-hate relationship with taking a bath. There was no need to worry. She would splash all the time if she had the chance. The only things that get in the way are an abundance of bigger kids, or when she spots the playground and decides to run over there. Otherwise, she is the queen of the splash park. It is terribly cute. I don't know what it is about babies in little swimsuits and those cute little sun hats. If she had the vocabulary to request more than just food and water from me, I would be in trouble because I am putty on her sun screened hands when she is in that cute little get up.

I just want to squeeze her.


My favorite.

This right here. Putty in her hands. Do you see that hat?

Story time at the library is another story. Zoe must be the most active toddler ever because like all of the other kids at story time, she will not sit in my lap. She MUST get up and see what is going on. She MUST roam around the room while we sing the song after the story. Everyone says, "She's so social." I'm glad that they don't mind her getting in their space. 

Shopping these days isn't super easy. She obviously doesn't want to sit in the cart for a long time. When we are at the grocery store she says, "Mmmmm", almost the entire time. Everything looks delicious I guess. I have figured out how to buy myself enough time to enjoy my Target trips. Two words: Cheddar Bunnies. Annie's brand has Cheddar Bunnies, that are basically Goldfish Crackers, but they are easier for her to chew. They have made my life much easier in the shopping department. They are also a yummy snack for Mommy, if she is famished.

I hate to burst everyone's bubble, Zoe watches TV. I know. I know. Parent grade decreases to B-. I should be teaching her Latin when she is not having play dates. When we aren't out and about or just playing we really enjoy Sesame Street. When I saw "we", I mean we. Mommy may like Sesame Street more than little Zo. I'm not kidding. "The Letter of the Day' song is my jam. It is really catchy. If you haven't heard it, go here, or watch below.

I am enjoying these summer days with my bug. We are having so much fun. 

Turtle girl.

How can you not just collapse from the cuteness of her in that jumper?

That's all for now. God is good.

Friday Finds!

Hello Everyone! I decided that I wanted to start something new with my blog. I am going to try to have a weekly post called Friday Finds. I tend to find things on a weekly basis that make my life easier. Some of these things may be for moms and some might just be for anyone. Some of you may be more experienced parents, but could pass the tips along to a new parent. You can also read this and say, “We never had these things in my day. These kids have everything!”

My first “Find” is the “Table Topper”. As a pastor’s family we are invited to go out to eat on a regular basis. We also travel a great deal. One day, I was at Chick Fil-A and I went to get Zoe a high chair. Hanging on the back, was what I thought seemed to be a plastic bib. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Chick Fil-A provides disposable placemats that stick to the table. I stuck it to the table and Zoe was able to eat without the table germs getting all over her food. This was amazing to me. When we had gone out to eat in the past, she would have to eat off of a napkin which would result in her throwing the napkin and the food on the floor or eating a part of the napkin. We are still working on eating from plates, as she likes to throw those on the ground too.

After I found this wonder at Chick Fil-A, I thought that there must be someone who sells these magical placemats. Naturally, because all of my short term memory capabilities left when I had Zoe, I forgot about it. Until one day, I was in the aisle at HEB (grocery store) and I saw this package.

Table Toppers! The magical placemats! I quickly snatched them up and I have been using them ever since. They are available at my grocery store and I have also seen them at Target and on Amazon. Don’t worry, they make them in all kinds of designs. We have used Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse so far! Zoe gets very excited when she sees Elmo or Mickey Mouse.

Of course there has to be a cute Zoe picture.

That’s all for now. God is good.

Toddler Time

There are lots of ways to define the word 'toddler'. Some books say that your child is an infant until six months, a baby from six months to two years and a toddler after he or she turns two years old. Some books say that a toddler is when they begin walking, or "toddling" around. I side more with the latter. Toddlers have a reputation of developing a personality and walking (running) around. Zoe started walking a few days after her first birthday. I still would have called her a baby at that time. Let's be real though, she will forever be my little baby.

I would say that Zoe is for sure a toddler now. She is starting to show that little personality. She is beginning to say more words. She builds on her vocabulary every day. Some words include: Mama, Dada, uh oh, hello, bye, og (dog), here you go and ffle (waffle). There are more words, I'm sure. Nate and other people hear her say more words than I do. For some reason, I can't detect them as well as others. It may be that we are just together the most.

One of the other reasons that I would say Zoe is a toddler now, is that she is developing an attitude. She knows what she wants. Like most toddlers, she can't express what she wants very clearly to Mommy. This makes for frustration on both of our parts. She gets upset about people leaving out any door or closing any door. Ironically enough, her favorite game is to open and shut doors. I think she feels the need to be in control. I wonder where she gets that trait? Oops. I haven't seen her do this in a few days, but when she gets upset, sometimes she will throw down on the ground whatever is in her hands in frustration, then smile and say "Uh oh". Personality.

So much personality.

"You want me to take a nap? HAHAHAHA!"

Some people know that I am not a very pleasant person when I am hungry. I truly believe that those Snickers commercials are written about me. "Hanger" is real. Sadly, Zoe has also developed hanger. It's real and apparently hereditary. Poor Nate and his hungry, angry women.

Mac and Cheese girl. She may look like her daddy, but she is clearly my child.

Zoe is very busy and does not like to sit still. We don't mind her walking around. Someone joked with us that we should put a pedometer on her and see how many steps she is taking. She loves to walk around. This also means that she HATES sitting. Zoe especially loathes sitting in church. Lionel Richie clearly did not attend church on Sundays, especially with children. Sunday mornings for us are  about as "Easy" as the Cubs winning the World Series. As soon as Daddy starts talking, Zoe must find him. Church consists of me chasing her around the church for an hour. I'm sweating and exhausted by the end. We are working on getting some more appealing church toys to occupy her. Of course, when she is sitting with Daddy in church on vacation, she is a perfect angel.

Despite the toddler challenges, Zoe is still so much fun! Her new words and her smile make me laugh so much! She is so sweet. She loves to give kisses over video chat with family. She loves to entertain Mommy and Daddy. She loves to play hide and go seek and share with Mommy and Daddy. She is just the sweetest. All of the night time cuddles and the smiles more than make up for her toddler moments. I can't wait to see how she continues to grow and make us shake our heads, want to pull out our hair, and smile so big.

"The only difference between us and the animals is our ability to accessorize."

This face.

My girl.

Silly pants.

She likes to climb in things.

Our friend Sherri got her these awesome Minnie Mouse ears from Disney World.

We are currently on vacation. I will write about our summer travels soon. Hopefully.

That's all for now. God is good.

Easter and Mommy's First Night Away

Easter is a rather busy time for our family. That whole pastor's family thing makes things a little crazy. About three weeks before Easter, Zoe started walking. This makes church a bit of a challenge. She wants to walk everywhere. She's not too ornery and she doesn't get into things at church, but she must walk around.  I wanted to let her just walk around in church on Easter Sunday, but she would surely knock over all the Easter Lilies and then wipe her dirty hands all over Daddy's white stole. Needless to say, we walk around outside of the church. She loves walking. She's getting more stable every day.

After church, I took Zoe home for a nap. She had been up for a while and needed a good snooze. I may or may not have caught a few winks myself. In the afternoon, we went over to Pastor and Stephanie Lorenz's home for a meal. We had a great time there with our friends. We even had an Easter egg hunt!

Here is a video of her walking on Good Friday.

Easter family picture.

With her Easter Basket

Happy to see a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD

Done with the basket. Is that a camera you have, Daddy?

Lemme see, please!



My girl.

Walking around...

Looking for eggs!

Thanks for holding my eggs, Daddy!

Titus found most of them.

Plastic. Yum.

This past weekend and the first part of this week I was invited to a lovely women's retreat by one of our members. We went to Margie's family's ranch. It was huge! I had no idea how big Texas family ranches are. It was so beautiful outside. That is the understatement of the year. The sky was a clear blue and there were huge white clouds. There is a huge porch on the ranch with big rocking chairs. One of my goals in life is to have a house with a porch so I can rock, sip wine and watch thunder storms. I met some fantastic women and got better acquainted with the women I already knew. It was a great time of Bible Study, fellowship, laughing, silliness, relaxation and cooking. It was possibly the best retreat I have ever been on. 

One of the things that I loved about this retreat was that the ages of women ranged from 28-84. I find it so refreshing to learn from women with far more life experience. Also, more often then not, they are hilarious people. The women with the most life experience were up until 1AM giggling because they were trying to take selfies. These women were simply fantastic. I want to be them. I am so thankful that I was invited to participate in this experience.


Love these so much!

Gorgeous Sunset

This was also the first time I had spent a night away from Zoe. I was nervous in the days leading up to my departure. I made all kinds of lists for Nate and the others who watched her. Every time she was scheduled to leave home, there was a packing list. I was ridiculous. Being out of control is just not my style. I knew she would be fine. She had a great time with the Ruiz family who helped watch her while I was gone. She also had a fun time with Daddy. I did get a chance to do a Google Hangout (Skype) with them while I was gone. It looked like they were having a great time. Technology is a wonderful thing for a mom away from her baby. My wonderful husband also washed his clothes and cleaned the floors. He is fantastic. They did well and I didn't go crazy. 


That's all for now. God is good.