A surprising (to me, at least) little something about SoBe:
It is a great place for the little ones!
Parks (great parks) all along the coastline and one conveniently located in our front yard There is a canopy over the playground. oh Florida, you so sunny.
Al fresco dining. BEST THING EVER when eating with kids. There is something magical about outdoor tables that makes ANY restaurant kid friendly!
Beach Bring a bucket. $4 well-spent.
Another worth-it investment: renting those bedlike beach chairs (and an umbrella) for your family. I am convinced it extended the duration of our beach day by hours. It’s nice to have comfortable place for the little ones to snack and rest and find reprieve from the sand.
Pools! Prenap. Postnap. Before Dinner. After dark. I took Hazel on a nighttime swim. She thought it was very cool. You could tell.
Bring that umbrella stroller. Walk the city! (here is the part where you can squeeze in a bit of shopping).
And don’t forget to treat yo’self too. It’s easy to get overly focused on keeping the nuggets engaged… but you have earned that pina colada. Enjoy it!
There you have it - how we did a beach vacation with the kiddos.
Yup, I really just suggested playing, swimming, eating and walking while on holiday with your children. Groundbreaking stuff, I know. :)
I share this post because from time to time I get emails from readers asking for tips on traveling with toddlers and decided to share more broadly in case anyone was interested.
My daughters’ world got a little bigger last week
While swinging, Hazel kept reaching her little hand up to touch the top of the palm trees. That’s just not something she gets to do in Chicago.
I love the beach….like, love it-love it. I don’t know if it is the light (golden), smell (salty) or the way time somehow moves slower when at the water’s edge. However, I always figured once having kids, we would be relegated to the pool. Sand and tots seem like a challenging mix.
But the gods of sun (and high SPF sunscreen), have smiled on me and blessed me with two beach loving babies!
We spent much of our vacation right here, at the Beach. Playing. (and drinking totally over-priced but oh-so-worth-it pina coladas)
Hazel must have collected ten thousand seashells and spent hours looking for Nemo While Felix liked having her toes splashed in the water and grabbing at my blue scarf as it blew in the ocean breeze.
“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.” – Robert Henri
(these suits, and likely any others you see in vacation photos, are from Target.)
South Beach has been the place for lounging around the Delano pool and Stilettos at the Satai For Prime 112. 17 Mile Runs. 2 Lost Purses. And sunglasses at night.
But our trips to Miami are a little more low key these days. And unforgettable in a totally different way.
The past week was for being together. (And for 13 episodes of Homeland!) ((So good!)) What a wonderful thing to have the chance for a 5 day sleep-over with grandma A. & the greats. You can only imagine how much lovin’ my two kiddos got!
Our time together was both needed and appreciated. And I felt sort of ridiculous when I got choked up as we said goodbye But uninterrupted time together is such a luxury.
In 80 degree weather no less.
And these days, that is why South Beach is dear to me.
(All of these photos were taken by my mother. I think they are beautiful)
thoughts the night before my flight with two kids:
I go back and forth as to whether having twice the kids is twice the work or if your work load increases exponentially with each nugget you add to the pile.
What I can say with absolute certainty is that traveling with two kids (under two, no less) is like a kabillion times more involved than traveling with just one.
I am flying to Miami in the morning with my mama & gp’s (Simon will be joining us on Friday) It will be my first time flying with both girls and to maximize our odds of success, I opted for the hyper-organized approach to parenting (just like I did over Christmas).
Hazel in the umbrella stroller Felix strapped to my chest. I am going to check our luggage (I need the free hands) As well as Fee’s Car Seat (Once in Miami, I booked a car with a toddler seat for Haze) And have a masterfully packed diaper bag fastened my back.
It is worth noting, I spent the better part of the day prepping & packing our diaper bag carry-on. I know exactly where everything is - I will find needed things on my first try. That was a lot of pocket-content to memorize.
I packed enough activities for a new diversion every 20 minutes of the flight. Think: washable crayons, sticker books, a tiny thing of play-doh, some ipad action (a special treat) and of course, a stack of her favorite books.
We practiced with the noise cancelling headphone - Hazel loved them (and did that classic “talk too loud when my headphones are on” bit. I laughed.)
The girls will wear matching dresses. I have those ironed and they are laid out with the corresponding bloomers, tights and bows. I am definitely wearing my flat ankle boots (they zip off easily) And a pony tail.
I sat down with Haze yesterday morning and gave her a full run-down of our travel plans. We went through everything from the security line to the sound the plane makes when the engine starts to the little round windows that will let her watch the clouds to the fact that when the doors open in Miami, we will not need a coat! We googled pics of Midway Airport. And the beach. She pressed her nose to the screen.
If you can’t tell by all the rambling above, I am really excited for this whole thing. What a great adventure for my two little explorers. And me, I suppose. (motherhood is the ultimate adventure, no?)
This is sort of our last wahoo! before I return to work in a few weeks. I am going to make it count.
Jennifer Garner might be the prettiest woman in Hollywood.
Oooh, or Eva Mendes.
Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz are probably my favorite couple. ever.
There was a shot of Hugh Jackman and Zooey Deschanel talking. That made sense to me. They seem like two very nice people.
Who is Quentin Tarantino’s Girlfriend (she was driving me nuts)
When did Claire Danes have her baby (holy crap - 1 month ago?! Homegirl looks smashing!)
How much is Showtime per month (I really want to watch Homeland)
If I were casting an actor to play my husband in a movie (or mini-series), it would be either Paul Rudd or Jason Bateman.
Kristen Wiig’s black cut-out dress she wore while presenting with Will Ferrell was so smokin’ hot. Loved the wavy hair with it.
Why did the put that chick from GIRLS way in the back? It took her like 4 1/2 minutes to make her way to stage in those heels. Twice.
The “I’d like to thank my fellow nominee” portion of these speeches seemed to escalate from winner to winner. By the end of the night, we were getting anecdotes about each of nominees from the person holding the trophy.
I am looking forward to Fashion Police this week.
I can’t believe I am still watching this show….and enjoying it. But I thought I was going to see more Amy & Tina.
She hung out with the kiddos for a bit and helped with their dinner/bath/book/bed routine. You can only imagine how OBSESSED they are with their Aunt Ellen. (Rightfully so, my sister is a freaking riot!)
The girls went down easily (fist pump for sleep training) Then Simon cooked us dinner (Turkey burgers on the grill) We drained 1.5 bottles of wine (Kimmy C. or bust!)
And we talked. And talked. And talked. We barely came up for air.
We talked about childhood friends (Hi Rachel! Hi Aarti! Hi Akemi!) and grown-up responsibilities (El is in Anesthesia School and started clinicals 2 weeks ago. Intense) We talked about the Black Crows and Curtis Duffy And how good my butt looks (sorta good) in the PJ pants she gave me for Christmas…which then inspired us to change into soft clothes.
El was going to leave around 10, but then we decided that was a terrible idea - So she stayed a few more hours And we talked a little more.
Have I ever told you how Ellie and I shared a bed well into high school? I mean, we had beds of our own, obviously - but it was just more fun sleeping together - it gave us more time to talk. In fact, we would chat until our mom would come in and make us roll over and face opposite walls (as if that could stop us from talking!)
Funny how some things never change. Sisters for Life Best Friends Forever.
Friday, December 28, 2012 was one of the best nights of my life.
Top 5, to be sure.
It was our New Years Eve. New Years Eve (Observed)
Simon and I went on a double date with my sis El and her Husband to NEXT to catch the final week of the Kaiseki Menu. I know you have heard my NEXT stories before, but this one is something else:
We brought beer for the kitchen and in the box of treats, we put some party hats and noise makers - tonight is a night for CELEBRATION we informed the staff. No one argued.
I’ve got to admit, I was a little nervous before the meal. I wanted my sister to LOVE NEXT. But more than that, I wanted her to understand why we love it there as much as we do. (Not unlike our days in high school, I suppose….where I would get us 2 front row seats to every musical and drag her to countless stage doors just so I could share my excitement.)
I had no cause for concern because the next 6 hours 19 courses Were filled with magic moments (so cheesy, I know! But it’s true)
And there was one…one moment that I will forever point to as the anecdote that captures the JOY of fine dining for us, That embodies why NEXT is my favorite restaurant in the country.
Chef Dave and his team outdid themselves.
We ate duck heart out of a 250 year old lacquered duck serving dish We ate crunchy shrimp heads off of skewers and abalone with sea grapes. We got a preview of dessert from the upcoming HUNT menu - syrup poured in snow, rolled into taffy on a tree stick. (wow!)
At one point, a cage of crickets was placed on our table - a nod to the Japanese tradition of paying homage to seasons past. These were the last crickets of summer. (Once we were informed that we would not be eating the little critters, we lovingly named them: Fast Eddie and Flo.)
El and Dan were all in. As the sake pairings flowed, our 4 top just kept getting more and more excited. More in love with everything that was unfolding around us
and then, when things couldn’t get any better:
11:58 Which was a surprise to us. We had long since lost track of time. Manager, John Schafer, approached our table with 4 champagne glasses He popped and poured from a bottle of 2000 Dom Bubbles for Midnight, he explained. (I couldn’t make this up if I tried.) 11:59 Manager, Bradley Gene Smith held up his iphone and on it, a countdown to midnight. We counted along as the seconds ticked by:
10…9….8…. Happy New Year!!!!
There were cheers and kisses. The chefs came out of the kitchen and everyone was hugging everyone. The energy was infectious - and in that moment, at that restaurant, it WAS the start of the new year with all of the hope and joy and newness that comes with it. You could just feel it.
As I squeezed my husband, sister, brother and friends I was positively overwhelmed with gratitude. Thankful that I have this passion and that I get to share it with the people I love most.
NEXT suspended reality and gave us a holiday together… Pretty incredible, right?
The crazy part is that Ellen & I have celebrated NYE together our whole life - from scavenger hunts in the north woods to bartops on top of mountains to boats sailing the carribean to sketchy ass clubs somewhere in cancun. We adore NYE, but this was, unlike anything we have ever done together. (Even if our overhang the next day was all too familiar)
It was the best possible start to a new year. By the best possible team.
The thing that I didn’t know before becoming a food enthusiast is that NEXT is not just in the business of serving the finest meals, they are in the business of blowing minds.
You can read Phill Vetel’s 4 star review of Kyoto here And look through Ulterior Epicure’s photos of the meal here.
ZZZZZZZ's for Fee (or....How We Sleep Trained our Daughter)
Guess what we did this week?
Oh, just taught our youngest daughter how to put herself to sleep. Booyah.
Yup, Fee is 4 months old which means it was time for sleep training. Prior to this week, she has been put to sleep by being rocked and has woken up most nights for a 3am feeding.
(Note: Before having kids, I had absolutely no idea that self-soothing was something that had to be taught. Turns out - this is like the most important lesson of them all!)
We used the Ferber Method (affectionately called: Cry It Out) for Hazel and since she remains a champion sleeper to this day - we figured that was our best bet for Fee.
We have spent the past month or so establishing a rock-solid bedtime routine (bath, book, bottle), which is essential before attempting any sort of sleep training. The gist* of the method we used is to put the baby down to bed while she is drowsy but still awake. If she cries, let her cry. Check on her once every ten minutes or so (so she knows you have not abandoned her), but do NOT pick her up - homegirl has to learn how to fall asleep without parental intervention.
It is AWFUL listening to your baby cry, but if things go according to plan, each night should get progressively easier. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed that first night!
The first night of training Felix cried for about 38 minutes before falling asleep The next night 12 minutes Tonight she cried for less than 3 minutes before dozing off.
She has continued to wake up a couple of times throughout the night, but she seems to have gotten the memo that we aren’t coming to feed her - so she has gone back to sleep each time in under 10 minutes.
I am BY FAR the most well rested I have been since the day before she was born.
I know every baby is totally different and every parent has their own process for getting their kiddos to sleep - but I’ve got to tell you this deliberate Sleep Training has been a life-saver for me with both of my children.
I would emphatically recommend Ferber’s Method to any parent with the disclaimer:
The first night is torture (for both mom and baby, I suppose) but after that - it is OH SO WORTH IT!
(*There is obviously more to the method than described above. I encourage you to read up on sleep training options before implementing one for your child)
I used to run a lot. I guess you could say I was a runner. 4 marathons, dozens of halfs, regular training runs, Cute outfits Proper running socks.
Then I got pregnant and had a baby and got pregnant again and had one more And now I don’t run so often, or ever, really. I walk with the stroller quite a bit, but it’s not the same I sort of feel like ought to update my bio on the side of my blog to read: “I smile. I [think about] running. I love….” But that would be admitting defeat.
With the new year upon us and 3 pounds of baby weight left to shed, I’ve been craving a good long run lately. So this morning I laced up my sneaks(for only the second time in as many months) and hit the road.
Holy shit. It was hard. Just like that I went from someone who could crank out 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours to someone who struggled to keep my legs moving for 3 songs in a row. My nose was running. My cheeks were red. "On your Left" repeated over and over by my fellow lakefront joggers
I am feeling sort of despondent about how tough that run just was But I guess I should be excited about all the GROWING I’ve got ahead of me. I mean, it’s like I am back at square one…let the learning begin.
I am flirting with the idea of another marathon #RunChi2013 But first I have got to get back to a place where a mile or two doesn’t kick my ass as hard as it did today.
My point in sharing all of this is… I can’t be the only one who fell off the wagon, So if anyone is looking to get back in their shoes - now is as good of a time as any. And maybe we can get through this sucky part together.
My mantra, for now: Put one foot in front of the other Who’s with me?
We are sitting in bed watching the Notre Dame Pep Rally on Simon’s computer.
The countdown to the big game has been a blast. There has been so much Irish coverage…my husband is in heaven!
He is also a nervous wreck.
The National Championship Game is tomorrow night. ND shirts/onesies are ready to go and the Te’o Leis are hanging on the candlesticks.
Hazel clearly knows her Irish chants. This makes me prouder than it should. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get Felix to join in…she is ND’s lucky charm, after all. We Cheer. Fee Smiles. The Irish Win. Bam.
We are hosting our family for a pre kick-off Guinness toast (and prayer). The party ends before game time though because… Game time is all business!
Simon and his dad will stand for the second half. Stand and sway. Arms folded. My husband & I will kiss after Irish touchdowns And decorum will be abandoned as we do what is necessary to help our team win.
I want to win tomorrow. (If not for me, then for Simon and his Dad)
but regardless of the outcome, it has been a true pleasure being a Notre Dame Football fan this season. A sports fan’s dream.
This sort of season is why you watch college Football.
91. U.S. News and World Report’s best-college rankings 82. Maria Kutchera’s “My Favorite Things” (The Sound Of Music) 81. Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” 63. Associated Press Top 25 Football Poll 1. The Periodic Table of Elements