Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013

It was really hard to narrow down 2013's thousands of pictures, hundreds of fun events and activities, and major life highlights into one picture per month. For Joe and I, 2013 will always be remembered as the year we met Ezzy and therefore the best year of our lives, so far. I really wanted this collage of 2013's highlights to capture all the great family moments we've shared this year.
  1. January - Ezzy's 26 week ultrasound
  2. February - Snorkeling in Kauai
  3. March - Gratuitous James pic - I'll never stop missing him.
  4. April - 3 baby showers in one month
  5. May - Ezzy is here!
  6. June - Joe's first Father's Day
  7. July - 4 generations together on the 4th of July
  8. August - Auntie Serena comes to town
  9. September - Auntie Daniela comes to town
  10. October - Gangy, Grampa, and a lil raccoon
  11. November - Thanksgiving
  12. December - Ezzy's first Christmas
Happy New Year!

Weekend Recap in Photos: Lunch with Grandma & Great Grandma + Rose Parade Floats

4 generations.
Goofing off for Great Grandma.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Disneyland Part 2: Tips for Taking a Baby to Disneyland

Nursing on the Disneyland train.
LOVE love love Disneyland at Christmas.
Santa requested a picture alone with the cute baby.
"What's in this basket here?"
"Wait. Who the heck are you??!?"
He got his dad's half smile.

It's almost 2014! So I figured I'd better finish up any blog posts pertaining to 2013 so I can start the new year with a clean blogging slate. As promised, here's the rest of our Disneyland pictures (see Part 1 here) and a few tips I learned about taking a baby to Disneyland.

Pre-kids, I thought it was crazy to take a baby to Disneyland. It's expensive, they won't remember it, and they probably won't enjoy it anymore than watching cartoons in the living room at home. That said, one of my favorite things about Disneyland is that people travel from all over to visit the happiest place on Earth, which means I get a chance to visit with my out-of-town friends and family. So when Gangy and Grampa made their yearly b-day visit to Disneyland (Grampa's bday), and they gifted Joe and I with some Disneyland tickets, of course we were going to go and hang out. Before we went I did tons of Googling on tips for taking a baby to Disneyland, what kind of supplies I should bring with me, and what rides I would be able to take Ezzy on. Honestly, I didn't find a ton of helpful stuff on Google, so here's what I found out through my own trial and error from three days at Disneyland with a six month old.
  1. Travel with at least two other adults, but three is better. That way there's always someone to watch the baby while the other two ride the big kid rides. And it's better with four because you can pair off and nobody gets left alone for too long. Also, four pairs of arms are helpful if you have a baby that's not too thrilled about the whole stroller thing.
  2. Bring a stroller. At first I was hesitant about bringing a stroller for a few reasons: 1 - I usually carry Ezzy around in the Bjorn carrier, and he's never ridden in the stroller without having a meltdown, and 2 - it seemed like a hassle to push a stroller through the crazy crowds. However, nap time would have been impossible without the stroller, and a napless baby is a bad thing for everyone involved. Also, when we were carrying Ezzy, the stroller was a handy way to cart around all the extra baby goods that are involved in our lives now. Which brings me to #3.
  3. Pack like you're moving to Disneyland, and store all the extras in a locker. I brought two backpacks, one for carting around with me and one for the locker. In the one I carried with me, I had two packs of baby food, about five diapers, half a package of wipes, a changing table liner, a hoodie (for Ezzy), a cardigan (for me), a blanket, a scarf (for me), toys, my wallet, and mittens for both of us. The other backpack had: more diapers, two extra outfits (including hoodie and socks), more food, and another blanket. The first backpack was plenty, and other than my coat which was stored in the locker, I didn't really need anything else. However, if I hadn't brought it with me, I'm sure Ezzy would have had a diaper blowout and needed a change of clothes, or some other minor catastrophe would have happened, so I'm glad I brought everything I did.
  4. Rides: I really thought I'd be able to bring Ezzy on some of the rides and he'd be fine. I was wrong. In case you're wondering, babies can go on any of the rides without a height requirement. So that's most of the ones in Fantasyland, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh, It's a Small World, the train, Little Mermaid, several of the ones in Bugs Land, plus a few others that I know I'm forgetting. The problem is that, with the exception of It's a Small World and the caterpillar train in Bugs world, all of these rides are loud, dark, and scary for a baby/small child. Ezzy screamed on Winnie the Pooh and Little Mermaid, and he slept on the train (though I think the dinosaur part would have scared him). So yeah, it turns out Disneyland is more dark and scary than the happiest place on Earth if you're under 3. Which brings me to #5.
  5. Lower your expectations regarding what you'll get to do in a day at Disneyland if you're bringing a baby. Ezzy and I spent three days at Disneyland, so I thought I'd get to ride a decent amount of rides. At first I had grand plans of wanting to go on: Pirates, Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, Toy Story, and Buzz Lightyear. And I thought those were lowered expectations compared to how many rides I'd usually knock out in a three day period. Wrong. I rode six rides while I was there (aka - an average of two per day). So, my advice would be to pick two favorites per day, and anything on top of that is icing on the cake.
  6. Broaden your horizons. Of all the times I've gone to Disneyland, I may have watched a parade from start to finish once or twice. It's not normally my thing to stake out a prime spot 90 minutes before the parade starts, but when we had a sleeping baby and time to kill, that's exactly what we did. Ezzy woke up just as the parade was about to begin, and he LOVED it. His face lit up while watching the dancers and hearing the music and seeing the giant floats drive by us. I'm sure he would have loved watching the World of Color too, if that wasn't past his bedtime. Also, I almost never ride the train at Disneyland, but it turned out to be a great place to nurse Ezzy and bypass the crowds.
So, while this was a different Disneyland experience than what I'm used to, I loved it all the same. We got some great pictures with Santa, we got some quality time with Gangy and Grampa, Joe and I had a mini-date on the Haunted Mansion where we spent a whole 45 minutes without Ezzy (a first for us!), and we got to enjoy all the Christmas decor, because nobody does it up for Christmas like Disneyland. Thank you Gangy and Grampa! I'm already looking forward to our next Disneyland adventure.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ezzy's First Christmas

Ezzy's first Christmas passed by in the blink of an eye. There's only a few more "first holidays" for Ez before he turns one. I know. I may be exagerating. But it really feels like his first year is flying by so fast. 

Ezzy's first Christmas was pretty low key, with just the three of us on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, followed by dinner at Joe's mom's house. This was my first Christmas away from my mom. I really missed holidays in Modesto, but Ezzy and I were fortunate enough to have two separate visits with Gangy and Grampa this month. It probably worked out just as well, since Joe wound up getting sick on Christmas Eve and after an hour at work he came back home before Ezzy or I had even gotten up for the day. 

Thankfully Joe was feeling better by Christmas, and the day was absolutely perfect. Joe and Ezzy were up really early while I got an extra hour of sleep (Santa must have known just what this mom needed!) Once I woke up around 8:30 we dove right into present opening. Ezzy had already had a little bit of practice in that department, so he was a seasoned expert at ripping the paper, waving the paper in the air while screaming at it, then trying to eat the paper. You can watch a video of him enjoying the paper and some of his toys here:

Santa brought Ezzy exactly what every little boy wants: his very own remote control. As far as actual gifts go, I'd say that one tops the list. Close seconds are: wrapping paper, tags, a bottle of vitamins from Joe's stocking, and an Amazon box. Babies are so easy to shop for. I have a feeling it only gets harder/more expensive from here. Here's a video of Ezzy enjoying his remote.

Santa was pretty good to me as well this year. Not only do I have this amazing family (which is the best present), I also got a ring AND the laptop that I'm writing this blog post on. I love both. I'm one lucky girl. After presents we had a lazy morning eating breakfast and baking cinnamon rolls. Then we were off to Grandma's for more presents and yummy food. Food + family = what Christmas is all about.

Since it's possible one day we'll look back on Christmas Eve 2013 and laugh, I'll recount just what a mess the day really was. Joe spent pretty much the whole day in bed or in the bathroom feeling awful. Since it didn't make sense to cook dinner for just myself, I decided to satisfy a nacho craving and hit up the El Pollo Loco drive thru for dinner. That was a big mistake. There were only two cars in front of me, but I was stuck in the drive thru for 20 minutes. It turns out those two cars were basically ordering a catered feast in the drive thru. Seriously, the amount of food that was passed through the window was enough to feed a 50 person party, times two! Very considerate, people. Oh, and did I mention that Ezzy was very vocally unhappy with the drive thru situation? He started wailing after about two minutes of waiting. 18 minutes in an enclosed space listening to your child cry will pretty much kill anyone's appetite. So 18 minutes later, when I finally got to the window, I was so annoyed/distraught that I didn't even stop or roll down my window or anything. I just kept driving right past the El Pollo Loco employee hanging out the window and got the two of us home and out of the car as fast as possible. I know I said I'd write some good online reviews of my favorite businesses for my 25 Days of Giving, but does it also count to NOT write a bad review of that El Pollo Loco? Anyway, water under the bridge. So, to sum up Ezzy's first Christmas Eve: we had one screaming baby, one sick "gurgly" dad, and one frazzled mom. As my mom pointed out, it isn't Christmas unless someone gets sick, so it looks like we managed to keep that tradition going this year. The very end of the day was somewhat salvaged though. After Joe's long day spent napping, he felt better by the time we got back from our nacho fiasco. And after Ezzy had some food and snuggles, he was back to his smiley self. A glass of wine, half a box of cookies, and the movie Hook cheered me up. So Christmas Eve ended with our lil family of three snuggled on the couch watching Hook (which, by the way, IS a Christmas movie) - exactly the way I'd envisioned our evening.

I hope everyone else had a great Christmas filled with family and food.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I already shared the other photos from our JCP shoot here, but now that our Christmas cards have hopefully reached their destinations I wanted to share our Christmas photos on the blog too. That photo of Ez in the Santa hat is one of my favorite photos of all time. It was also one of the two photos that he actually smiled for at the shoot. But hey, one great shot is all you need, right?

I'll be back with more photos of Ezzy's first Christmas, but in the meantime, I'd just like you all to know that we are so blessed and grateful to have you in our lives. I hope you're having a cozy, merry Christmas spent relaxing with loved ones. Love you guys!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

One of My Favorite Traditions - Christmas Lights!

Every year one of my favorite traditions is driving around to check out all the Christmas lights. This will be mine and Joe's third year checking out Pasadena's hotspots, and we were so excited to see Ezzy's reaction to the bright lights and decorations. He loves staring at our Christmas tree, so we thought this would be right up his alley. The only house Ezzy actually stayed awake for was the Balian House, and once he stopped looking at all the cars driving by and actually noticed the lights, he loved them. It's crazy to think that by this time next year he'll be walking around and pointing out which decorations he likes the best. But anyway, it's Christmas eve, so it's time to get to sleep or Santa won't come! (That's what I told Ezzy, anyway. It finally worked...on the third try.)  

PS - For a trip down memory lane, here we are checking out the lights last year.