Summer Adventures

The summer is finally winding down and I’m hoping *fingers crossed* that we’ve had our last week of 90-plus degree weather. We managed to skip out on the last scorcher by going to our favorite beach with some friends, which ended up being a pretty fabulous day.

I thought I’d share some of our recent adventures with you via some slightly terrible iPhone photos. We’ve been lucky to have had some visits from family over the summer, so it’s given us a great excuse to continue exploring our new state and showing off the sites. Despite the drought we’ve been having, I gotta say, Oregon is beautiful in the summer.

We went to the beach and Silver Falls with Kyle’s parents, and as part of our anniversary, Kyle and I decided to do five little things to celebrate five years. Honestly, most of them are favored around Judah, but Kyle and I will getaway someday 🙂 One of our five things for five years included a family trip to Newport beach where we stayed overnight at a resort to swim, be lazy, and visit the aquarium. Judah had a BLAST.  And…photos:

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR. My mother-in-law is braving the massive sand dune. She was the only one willing to climb it that day. Her reward was $1.50 and a high five 😉

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR. This is one of my favorite photos. One, my husband looks gooood. Two, he looks extra handsome whenever he’s exploring the great outdoors. Three, there is little better than a daddy carrying his child…hello! Four, Judah looks tiny in this photo, almost like a baby 🙂

Silver Falls, OR. Shoulder rides with Grandpa.

Silver Falls, OR. Shoulder rides with Grandpa.

Silver Falls, OR

Silver Falls, OR

Silver Falls, OR. Strawberry face.

Silver Falls, OR. Strawberry face.

Silver Falls, OR. He's always such a great helper.

Silver Falls, OR. He’s always such a great helper.

Silver Falls, OR. Hiking buddies for life.

Silver Falls, OR. Hiking buddies for life.

Newport Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium. Looking at the seals.

Newport Aquarium. Looking at the seals.

Newport Aquarium. Surrounded by fish.

Newport Aquarium. Surrounded by fish.

Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium. He loves his sea lion.

Newport Aquarium. He loves his sea lion.

Tomorrow my Oregon adventures continue on a hike with some amazing women. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those days that completely refreshes my soul. Hope you all have a fantastic Labor Day weekend!

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Spring Trips

Okay, I know I’ve been doing primarily photo heavy blogs lately, which isn’t my usual, but we’re still just so in awe of the beautiful area that we live, how can I not share it? Kyle and I have had many discussions about hoping to never take this landscape for granted. I grew up close to hills and pretty outstanding views of nature, but I think there is little that compares to the sites around here in Oregon. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the color green quite like I have here. Every shade of green imaginable, and so rich! Also, the water is pristine, I mean pristine. You know those old bottled water commercials they used to run with that water so perfect you were sure it must be some type of photoshopped magic? It’s definitely not photoshopped, and it’s right in my backyard.

Spring here is pretty magnificent. Yes, we have days where it rains, but usually it’s pretty sporadic and only lasts a half hour or so before clearing away to some blue skies and sun rays. And, it seems like for every four rainy days we have, we get four gorgeous clear skied beauties. We’ve been taking advantage of such days as much as we can.

Recently, we went to explore Silver Falls, a natural waterfall paradise about 35 minutes away. The photos below don’t do it justice, but it’ll give you at least a little glimpse. And these were all taken by my husband. Sometimes I just don’t want to bother with pictures, you know? I just want to soak it in. Lucky for me, Kyle snapped some great memories for us.

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We were actually able to walk behind two of the waterfalls at the park. This is looking through to the other side of the falls.

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Family waterfall “selfie.” Judah didn’t get the memo. Also, the Ergo Baby carrier is excellent for our hikes with a toddler. SO comfortable.

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Next up is a hike we took with some friends. We were meaning to head to a location called Jawbone Flats, but it was a bit further than we anticipated, and with five kids in tow, a four mile hike was good enough. Luckily, the hike itself offered plenty to explore, including a great spot to play in the creek below before heading back home.

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photo 5 photoThe other day, it was one of those exceptionally warm days, so we snuck away to the beach. It was about 80 there, and just gorgeous. We had been to this beach previously when we visited Oregon before moving last summer. The day we went, a cloud got stuck in the cliffs and just never rose. Despite the overcast and foggy appearance, this beach still took our breath away. Imagine our reaction when we were able to enjoy it on a clear day.

Judah loved it, which makes this mama happy. He has really enjoyed all of our excursions.

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Can’t wait to see what adventures the summer has in store for us! To keep up with all of our family excursions, follow me on Instagram (@bethanyruthalcock). And, if you like my blog and think others will too, give a click to the “Top Mommy” and “Top Baby” blog icons to your right. Thanks!!

 

Day Trip :: Oregon Coast

About two weeks ago, my parents came out to visit us during their Spring Break. It was probably the rainiest week we’ve had here in Oregon so far, and Judah was getting over his ten thousandth sickness of the winter. But for a few hours one day, we were able to make it over to the coast, and the sun poked its face through the clouds for the short time we were there.

I usually don’t do photo-heavy posts, but I figured the pictures would do the best job of telling you all about our day (minus the part where we shoved our faces with Mo’s clam chowder). That being said, I apologize in advance…my camera and I have not been together as much as we should be and my photog skills are a bit rusty.

This is the first picture Judah has legitimately smiled for, on cue. Pops has that affect on him.

This is the first picture Judah has legitimately smiled for, on cue. Pops has that affect on him.

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This boy LOVES boots (like his mommy). He was over the moon to wear these suckers. But..unfortunately a huge wave came and took one of boots with it.

This boy LOVES boots (like his mommy). He was over the moon to wear these suckers. But..unfortunately a huge wave came and took one of those boots with it. May she rest in peace in the great Pacific.

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This was his post boot-loss face. Every time he looked at the ocean for the rest of the day, it was with this face.

This was his post boot-loss face. Every time he looked at the ocean for the rest of the day, it was with this face.

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These two.

These two. Love them so.

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Still totally ticked about that boot.

Still totally ticked about that boot.

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It was a good day, and an even better visit. We love you Neena and Pops!

British Mick.

We’ve been here in Oregon for two months now, almost two and a half. Truth be told, my husband Kyle is no closer to finding a job now than he was the day we decided to make the trek here. Oddly enough, I’m not discouraged. We’re not discouraged.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have remembered a status I posted sometime in December about getting a flat tire up in the mountains and receiving a great rescue from a British man. I’d like to share more of that story with you today along with the reason it has made such an impact on both Kyle and I.

Lets back up a bit. Kyle has wanted to get into student development at a college ever since I met him. The time he was in college and the people in residence life at that time were so influential to who he is today, it’s no wonder he has a desire to spread that type of influence to others. He is so passionate about this area and I truly believe God has given him the talents, patience, and heart needed for this work. So, every year for the last four years, I have stood by him while he has applied for job, after job, after job, at college, upon college, upon college. I supported him while he received his master’s in hopes of increasing his chances of selection. I’ve stood by while he has been interviewed countless times over the phone or on various campuses. But he always gets this answer: “You are a great candidate, and we would have chosen you, but we went in a different direction,” or “we went with someone with more experience,” or my favorite…and WORST, “you were our second choice, please try again in the future.”

After years of this, after years of seeing my husband beaten down from no, after no, I got pretty angry. Why would God place the passion for something like this in Kyle’s heart, provide him with the talents, and the desires to do this if He wasn’t providing an opportunity? Even worse is when people pass it off like it’s an easy job to get. Like he’d just be hanging out playing frisbee on campus all day, getting a free place to live. To those who feel this way: you try going to grad school full time while working a full time job, then spending hours each day after work filling out applications, going through rounds of interviews, traveling to different campuses, and discussing the issues like racism, homosexuality, future careers, academics, spirituality, and all the other issues 18-23 year olds wrestle with as they define who they are. You tell me how much you’d be willing to give up buying a house for your family to live in a tiny apartment attached to a dorm so you are accessible 24/7 to meet the needs of those you serve. You tell me how easy it would be to live on a small salary while working around the clock. You tell me how easy it would be disciple hundreds of students at one of their most formative times in life. You tell me then how it’s all frisbee and free t-shirts, and some easy gig.

Luckily, through it all, Kyle was working. He was developing his skill base, gaining world experience outside of the college bubble, and all the while continuing to dream about how this experience would further aid him to be better at his dream job. I watched as my husband struggled through working with children and adolescents with mental illness, navigating his way through helping them succeed in school, at home, and through their time on probation. We are so thankful for these jobs, they allowed me to stay home with our son, but it was hard. I watched as day after day, he would come home, emotionally exhausted from seeing and hearing devastating things, and drained because he wasn’t doing what he should be.

As time passed, I grew increasingly upset and impatient as to why he couldn’t get his foot in the door. I would watch as friends and acquaintances received jobs at colleges with absolutely no prior experience, or simply working there because it was there–not because it was something they were passionate about. All these things are fine, and a job is a job, but it’s hard to see when someone you love would give his right arm to be sitting where they were.

Time continued to pass, jobs continued to be filled, and we decided a change was necessary. We had always planned to move, we just thought a college would take us there. But, God had other plans, so we finally came around to the pushes He was giving us, and we made our way out to Oregon. And it has been so good.

We knew coming here and getting a fresh start would be great, but I was still feeling seeds of doubt regarding jobs, and let me tell you, I’ve had some harsh words with God about it. However, just as those seeds started to grow, our family decided to take a drive up into the mountains. It was in the 40’s that day, and being from Indiana, we thought this was a pretty awesomely warm winter day. So, off we went to explore.

No, it was not this beautiful the day we went up...but this is the destination we had in mind.

No, it was not this beautiful the day we went up…but this is the mountain we were in.

We quickly realized no one goes into the mountains in December. Once we began the climb, we were the only car for miles. We passed a few houses here and there, but eventually it was just us and the beautiful Oregon nature. Obviously, it was getting colder the higher we climbed. Eventually we pulled over and walked for a bit, I snapped some photos, and then we decided we better go, since no trails were open and we couldn’t go any further due to the massive amounts of fallen rock in the road.

We had Judah with us, obviously, and normally we’re pretty well-prepared for outings with our toddler. But that day, we weren’t…and I don’t know why. I somehow didn’t pack any diapers, something that is always a first to travel with us. I also failed to grab an extra blanket for him, or anything to drink. Again, I have no idea why.

We began our decent down to head home and we hit one of those fallen rocks. Then we saw a light on our dashboard reading, “low tire pressure.” Kyle pulled over and listened and heard that pssssssssssssst sound of the air steadily leaving and our tire going flat. At the time, we were on a gravel road, so we decided to try and at least reach the pavement. And we did. I think we made it about five feet onto the pavement before we were forced to stop due to hearing our hubcap scraping the earth.

Well, crap.

Kyle had never changed a tire before and I had no idea what to do, so I was of no help. There we were, halfway down a mountain, flat tire, cold winter day quickly turning to night, and a very underprepared family. Kyle got out the spare and jack and began working. He couldn’t quite get the jack in place, and the car thudded down. At that moment, we knew we needed help. We had no cell service, so I agreed to jog ahead with Judah in the stroller to try and knock on one of the doors of the houses we had passed a few miles earlier (I use the term jog loosely. I don’t think I’ve jogged for two years). I started on our trek, and then heard Kyle calling after me. He decided to come too because he wasn’t comfortable sending his wife and son away in the mountains alone. Understandable. As the sun steadily lowered, we began to stress more and more.

Then, out of the blue, we heard a car. Coming down from somewhere way up in the mountain was this jeep. We flagged it down and asked for help. And that’s how we met Mick. He happily agreed to help us, in his charming British accent, and said he just happened to be coming down that way to visit a friend, so he was in no hurry. Mick had our tire changed and pointed us in the direction of the nearest repair place within 20 minutes.

Kyle and I just looked at each other, baffled at how a situation that could have been seriously devastating, turned out to be a quick fix. We went through all the what-ifs together on our drive back into town. What if we didn’t make it to the pavement? What if we had stayed by the car for even just a minute longer? What if Mick hadn’t come?

It was clear. God was there. And we needed to see it. I needed to see it. I needed that flat tire more than anything, I just didn’t know it. Through our talk on the drive back, we realized that God has his hand in our lives. He knows where we need to be, He knows what jobs we’ll hold, He knows. Our job is to follow His direction, take His lead, and let Him intervene when our tires get flat.

So, Kyle is still searching, and his passion for college work is still stirring. And he’s going to keep trying. And you bet I’m still going to be proudly standing next to him the whole time.

 

From Indiana to Oregeon

Well, we’ve officially been Oregonians for a week now, and so far we are loving it! This area is beautiful, it’s pretty awesome when you run down the street to Target (yes, Target is 5 minutes from our apartment…freaking out!!) and you see this when you pull into the parking lot:

So...this isn't the actual view from Target, but it's pretty similar, I just haven't take a photo of it yet.

So…this isn’t the actual view from Target, but it’s pretty similar, I just haven’t take a photo of it yet.

Our trip out was smooth. We know a lot of you were praying for us along the way, and those prayers were felt. We had no issues with weather, and Judah was amazing in the car. And I’m definitely going to brag about it because we only used the iPad twice in a week long, 32 hour journey. Also, we do not have DVD capabilities in our car. Let that speak to how great our kiddo was (at least until we arrived…).

We mapped out our trip according to play places and malls. And, luckily the weather was good enough to enjoy a park one afternoon. photo 3

Typically, we lounged at the hotel and let Judah burn off some morning energy and then took off  after lunch, just in time for his afternoon nap. Then, we’d stop somewhere for dinner, and try to burn some more steam for a few hours until bedtime, when we’d hop back in the car and drive for a longer period of time. Repeat schedule for the next 7 days. photo 1 copy photo 3 copy photo 4 photo 5

Once we reached Colorado, we stopped for a day to visit some of Kyle’s friends from his time living in Loveland. They were gracious enough to let us stay the night and stretch our legs for a while before hitting the road again. From that point on, our drive was pretty beautiful. Our favorite part, by far, was Utah. With sights like this, spending hours in the car wasn’t so bad. photo 1 copy 2 photo 2 copy 2 photo 3 copy 2

And…a week later, we ended up in Oregon! We’re still getting settled in, but luckily we didn’t have to wait terribly long for our stuff to arrive in the moving truck. Since we got rid of a lot of things, setting up our new place didn’t take very long. And, our butts will be pleased, we will have a couch this Wednesday. I’ll post a few photos from some favorite corners of our new place soon.

Thanks again for all the prayers and thoughts as we made the move. For now, we’re exploring our new hometown and getting to know all the fun things that are here for us. photo 2

 

Farewell, Indiana.

Well, the time has come. This Friday, Kyle, Judah, and I are moving to the west coast.

I grew up in Western New York, in a middle-of-nowhere college town, but I “grew up” in Indiana. I came here for college, and am so glad I did. I made some amazing life-long friends and met my husband. 

Fun and slightly embarrassing fact: I applied to the school I eventually attended because there was no essay accompanying the application. Meet high school Bethany–lazy much? 

My parents encouraged both my sister and I to go wherever we felt was best when it came time to choose a college. Of course I know they would have loved for us to attend the college in our town, but they were so supportive of our choices to leave. I know both of us are happy to have spread our wings and left our comfort zones. Because I chose to go away to school, I wasn’t known as “so-in-so’s daughter,” “so-in-so’s sister,” or “so-in-so’s friend.” It was just me. And I know Kyle and I will encourage Judah, and his future siblings to do the same.

I did some really great things, and some really stupid things in college. Let’s be honest, mostly stupid. But, in between all that immaturity, I figured out what my faith meant to me. I was challenged by people from different walks of life, and my eyes were opened to many new things. Because of that, I will always consider Indiana as the place that helped to define me.

It was also here that I held my first “real world” job. Additional fun and slightly embarrassing fact: I had no idea what I was interviewing for. Seriously. My then boss told me the position using the acronym for it, and I just smiled and nodded like I knew exactly what she was saying. It had to have been God that intervened on that one, because the answers I gave, well…they came straight outta my behind. But I firmly believe that job opened my eyes to a world I was totally intimidated by. It opened my heart, and prepared me for my future. So, thanks for that, Indiana.

We had our son here. He’s a midwestern baby. He may grow up and go to school in Oregon, but he was born in good ol’ Fort Wayne. Indiana will forever have a piece of my heart because of that.

Of course we’ll be back for visits. Our family is here, and that is such a huge priority. Some may question why we would leave if that is the case, especially to go to such a far distance, but we’re just spreading our wings a bit. That doesn’t mean family is not just as important as it always was, just means we have to be a bit more creative in our efforts. And in my eyes, that’s the kind of stuff that helps keep families strong.

We are driving….all 32.5 hours….with a sixteen month old. So, send some positive thoughts or prayers our way if you will. I’ll be documenting our epic road trip via Instagram. You can click that little button on the right of your screen to follow me, or simply look me up (bethanyruthalcock).

Thanks for the memories Indiana. Keep it classy.

With love, The Alcocks.

Photo courtesy of Furore Photography.

Photo courtesy of Furore Photography.

Anniversary post…and another move.

I got an email last week letting me know it’s been one year since my first blog post. Holy moly. One year already? As I sat and reflected on where I was at the time of that post, to where I am now, it’s been a crazy, wonderful, beautiful, trying, exciting, stressful, and fantastic ride.

I love being the mother to the most amazing little boy I’ve ever known. He gave Kyle and I a run for our money straight out of the gate, but to look at who he is today, how he has shaped us as parents–I’m so grateful for those initial struggles. Judah is the best thing to ever happen to Kyle and I, and you’d never know he was such a challenge if you knew him today. He’s sweet, mischievous, adventurous, friendly, and so loving. He has my heart.

Our little family has been through a lot since that first blog post. And, we’re about to go through yet another transition. This one is our craziest yet, but goodness, it’s going to be amazing.

Since we’ve known each other, Kyle and I have dreamed of a life out west. Well, more Kyle at first, until I took my first trip to Colorado. Once there, I was sold on the dream too. However, we decided to stay in Indiana after getting married instead of making the move right after saying our “I do’s.” But, the mountains, the hiking, the adventures, they’ve been tugging at us every year we’ve been here.

We don’t regret making the decision to stay. Because we stayed in Indiana, we were able to figure one another out in our early married life in a familiar area with friends and family close by. Kyle was able to get his master’s degree, and I was able to have the privilege of working with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, in a job I’d never have imagined myself doing. I was also able to support my husband as he got his master’s, and I’m sure proud of that. In turn, with my husband’s support, I was able to be a stay-at-home mom for most of the first year of Judah’s life. In fact, I still am. But now, I get to write and be apart of a wonderful company full of individuals who genuinely care for each other and their customers. If we had moved away early on, these things wouldn’t have happened.

But, it’s time for us to go now. Those of you who know Kyle and I, know that we’ve moved…..a lot…over the last four years. It’s not because we enjoy packing and unpacking our things, trust me. We’ve kept moving because deep down, we’ve known this place isn’t for us anymore. Sure, we’d try out a different place, a different town, in hopes of finding our happiness, our niche, our place to spread our roots. But we’ve never found it. Not here anyway.

It’s a difficult conclusion to come to, and we haven’t done it lightly. We are leaving our families and going farther from them than we ever have before. We have received support from some, and not so much from others, and when you’re making a big life changing decision like this, it’s hard without that support. But we know this is right. We know it deep down, to our bones.

Next month, Kyle, Judah, and I are packing up for hopefully the second to last time for quite a while (last time being if we ever buy a house), and moving to Oregon. We will be an hour from the ocean (my soul’s sanctuary) and 30 minutes from the mountains (Kyle’s sanctuary).

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Since moving to our current location, Judah has made one friend here (yay Remmington!!), and not for lack of trying for more. But everywhere we go, we are alone. And let me tell you, this little boy has so much to offer and he deserves tons of friends.

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Typical, not one other kid at the playground. This is the third one we’ve tried in our town.

Same goes for my husband. He loves adventure and the great outdoors and he wants to share that with his son. He wants to teach Judah how to map out hikes, he wants to jump with him in clear pools of water way up in the mountains. He wants to explore, and go camping with his son. He wants to show Judah that there’s more out there than flat land and corn (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And he deserves to do that. He deserves to be the father he has always wanted to be to his son. He deserves to have those experiences.

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I want to splash with my little boy in the ocean waves. I want to build sand castles and watch the boats come in. I want to wade with him in the tide pools and look for “sea creatures” up on the shore. I deserve that. I deserve to explore and adventure with my son. I deserve to be the mom I’ve always wanted to be for my son. I deserve to have those experiences.

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Judah loves to explore. He loves to be outside. He loves to splash in the water. He loves to see and discover new things. He loves to be around other kids when he can. He deserves to play and discover. He deserves to make friends. He deserves to have those experiences.

Crazy, yes. Unexpected, maybe. But, if you really know us, it’s not. Challenging and scary, of course. But we’re doing it. We’re taking the risk. The time has come, and we’re making the move.

I recently saw this quote posted by Sevenly and I think it fits perfectly for our current situation:

“Sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream no one can see but you.”

So, if you’re ever on the west coast, or ever want to go, you’ve always got a free place to stay, adventures to be had, and if I really like you, I’ll even throw in a couple meals. 🙂

On to the next adventure we go!

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New York, New York

Last weekend, our little family traveled to New York to honor my dad. He has had a pretty impressive career as a soccer coach (you can read about it and here), and was inducted into Houghton College’s Hall of Honor. It was definitely a proud moment for our family.

Anyone who knows my dad understands he’s one of a kind. Not only is he successful on the soccer field, but he is one of those men that is living evidence of the love of Christ.  And, even if he wasn’t my dad, I would still say that he is one of the best human beings I know.

I won’t lie, I used to get jealous of the time that my dad spent with his soccer girls, and sometimes I still do. I think they are able to see a side of him that my family doesn’t always get to. Not only that, but it was hard to grow up with a dad who coached. Basically, we didn’t see him much from the end of July through December.

I do think this says something about my mom though.  She does a lot to support my dad’s career, one of the biggest things being taking care of my sister and I solo for a large chunk of the year. And somehow, she made it to every sporting event for both my sister and I, and also to every game for my dad, as long as it was at home, and she tried her best to get to every away game that she could. Pretty impressive if you ask me. The way those two have worked together over the years to support one another, raise my sister and I, and show love to so many players that have come through our home, is truly inspiring.

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All that being said, though I would envy the time my dad spent with his team, there was never a moment that I haven’t been proud of him. When we’d watch him coach, I was always, and still am, so impressed. When he’d preach at church, I’d sit and listen and think, “wow, that’s my dad up there.”

With some alumni (some of my favs too!)

With some alumni (some of my favs too! Sorry about the photo mom…don’t be too mad;))

My dad has impacted so many lives for the Kingdom. He’s gracious, gentle, loving, compassionate, and hard working. He has set such a wonderful example for my sister and I.

I realized something last weekend as I watched him accept his award. As I noticed all the alumni who came back to support him, and looked on while he received a standing ovation, I realized how proud I am of my dad.  I might have wished time after time, that I could joke with my dad the way his players could, or that I could play soccer as well as some of those he coached, but I realized I’ve got one thing that trumps it all–he’s my dad.  My dad. And what a great one.

Congratulations, “bad dude.” It was wonderful to see you get the recognition you deserve. We love you.

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As for the rest of the trip, of course it’s always nice to go back home, especially in the Fall. I love Western New York during this season and have so many great memories from that area. It’s even better that we were able to be there as an entire family and that my sister and I got to share some of our favorite childhood experiences over again with our babes. I’ll leave the rest of the post to share some photos from our time with you.

Happy weekend!

The cousins, heading out to the pumpkin patch!

The cousins, heading out to the pumpkin patch!

Judah's first wagon ride, at Pumpkinville!

Judah’s first wagon ride, at Pumpkinville!

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checking out all the apples with Pops (a.k.a. "bad dude")

checking out all the apples with Pops (a.k.a. “bad dude”)

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So typical, so adorable. Love this lil' bug oh so much!

So typical, so adorable. Love this lil’ bug oh so much!

chattin' with the goats.

chattin’ with the goats.

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Lily enjoying the game.

Lily enjoying the game.

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the alumni and current players worshipping together after the game

the alumni and current players worshipping together after the game

My dad receiving his award

My dad receiving his award

Massachusetts Take Two!

We went to Massachusetts this past weekend to meet our newest family member, my niece, Lily. What a beauty she is.

DSC_9768-2It was one of those weekends that is a bit of an out of body experience. We were surrounded by the beautiful New England scenery and breathing in that salty ocean air. That smell is like a drug; it’s instant relaxation for me.

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My sister and brother-in-law are amazing parents. They didn’t have the easiest ride into parenthood by any means, but I strongly believe the harder the journey, the greater the testament to a person’s character. They’re good ones, those two.

Seriously, this wasn't posed, just pure baby lovin'

Seriously, this wasn’t posed, just pure baby lovin’

My sister is a beautiful mama. She was born to be one, one of those women that is strong, independent, and so compassionate and loving in the best ways a mother should be. She was destined for this role, and it was nothing short of remarkable to finally see it being fulfilled. My brother-in-law is the business when it comes to being a new dad. He is patient, and just dripping with love for his little Lily bug. He’s got that tender, new daddy touch, and such a deep love and pride for his two girls. Watching my sister and brother-in-law this weekend, watching them as parents, just made my heart melt.

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Judah was amazing on our flights. He had everyone on our plane laughing and tossing aside their business-like demeanor for quick games of peek-a-boo and paddy-cake. It’s awesome to watch the affect this little boy already has on people. He’s going to do great things, this one.

watching the planes

watching the planes

I’ll leave the rest of the post for pictures. Lots of pictures. I think it’s the best way to sum up the beautiful, relaxing (minus Chicago traffic on the way home. Who booked the flight that got in at 4:30 during rush hour…woops!), family weekend we had. If this weekend was any foreshadowing into our summer, I think it’s safe to say, this will be our best one yet.

She's just yummy

She’s just yummy

:)

🙂

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First time touching the sand!

First time touching the sand!

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Judah’s First Flight

Two weeks ago, Judah and I embarked on a trip to Massachusetts for my sister’s baby shower. This was Judah’s first flight, and despite my best intentions, I had limited pictures taken of our great adventure. I’m kicking myself now for not getting at least one shot of him on the plane, but at the time, it was just not a priority. I was happy to have made it to Massachusetts and back in one piece. And hopefully, with this account of our travels, you’ll understand why I was unable to whip my phone out and snag a shot.

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My close friends and family know that I’m a bit of a spaz, especially in stressful situations. The more nervous I get, the more airheaded and flighty I become. My good friend Kaylan has witnessed this one too many times when I’ve been driving in traffic of any kind. It’s a wonder to me how I have never been in an accident considering the number of times I’ve freaked out and changed lanes without glancing in any of my mirrors or over my shoulder for oncoming cars. I’m also convinced that some day, when I’m picking Judah up from school and we are hurrying to get somewhere, I will undoubtedly pack his lunch box, backpack, and homework into the car and pull away with him still standing at the curb. My mind just skips a few steps when I’m flustered.

Taking in these fun facts about me, imagine me, nervous and stressed, getting ready to board a plane by myself with two overly stuffed bags and a baby strapped to my chest.

As mentioned in my previous post one of the things I was most nervous about in flying alone with Judah was getting all of our crap through security. Obviously, it takes a while on your own to take off all your outer layers of clothing, remove any liquids and electronics, empty your pockets, and hope that your not one of the randomly selected tickets to be felt up by a security guard. Now, I had to do all of these things with a 17-pound baby attached to me. Oddly enough, this step of the flying process went very smoothly. Judah was distracted by all the people around us, and wasn’t bored yet of being cooped up in the front carrier. I was able to use my newly developed mommy muscles to easily lift our bags onto the conveyer belt and was pleased with how quickly we were able to get everything necessary out and presented to security.

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At this point, I was able to locate our gate, which, bonus was right in front of the security checkpoint. We had arrived at the airport with about 15 minutes to spare before our flight began boarding, so I was happy that as soon as we got through security, we could just get right on the plane and Judah wouldn’t have to wait around in the airport for too long. I noticed, however, that people were just getting off the plane that we were taking, so I knew we still had a bit until we could board. I walked a little with Judah to keep him occupied, but quickly realized that I couldn’t do this for very long. My shoulders were killing me, and dragging bags around plus the weight on my front comparable to when I was in my final days of pregnancy was not very fun. We went back to our gate and I decided to gate check one of our bags to shake some pounds. Here comes the spaz…

I got up to the counter and offered to gate check my bag. The attendant gave me a tag for my bag and told me to attach it to my luggage. At this point, all of the chairs in the gate area were full, so I found a space against a wall and out of the walking areas to get our bag ready. I crouched down to attach the ticket. Immediately Judah began to whine because his legs were crammed into mine and his mommy’s face was now a little too close for comfort. I attached the tag as quickly as I could and started to stand up. Well, the amount of weight from Judah hanging on my front and the added bonus of the diaper bag on my shoulder caused me to tip backwards. Awesome. So, there I was, flat on my butt with a baby who was now full out crying. My leg muscles were burning and I had no idea how I was going to get up. I grabbed onto the heat vent above my head along the wall and pulled myself up, and in the process started to sweat. I had my coat on and just left it on because I didn’t have room to carry it with everything else in my hands. This was probably not the smartest decision. I got my spastic self under control and tried to ignore the stares.

Finally we were able to board the plane. I’m sure that I hit so many passengers in the arms and head with my diaper bag while walking through the narrow plane isle, but that was the least of my worries. At this point, it was well past Judah’s bedtime and he was tiredly rubbing his eyes like crazy. All I wanted to do was sit down and get him unhooked and more comfortable and get to Boston as fast as possible. Thankfully, I sat next to a man who informed me he had a four month old at home and understood the unpredictability of traveling with an infant. Also, the man who sat behind us entertained Judah whenever he would look in that direction. God was definitely looking out for me by surrounding Judah and I with very patient individuals on both our flights there and back.

As soon as the captain announced our take off, I got Judah’s bottle out. He was exhausted and I just hoped that this bottle be exactly what he needed to drift off to sleep. Oh no, that was not the case at all. Another thing I was nervous about was Judah’s ears hurting and him crying the entire flight. His ears were fine, and he hardly cried at all, minus about 15 minutes right before he eventually fell asleep. However, we had other problems. With the need in our society for constant and continual entertainment, there are now individual screens on the back of every chair on the plane so that passengers have the opportunity to pay $100 to watch reruns of their favorite TV shows. Judah has always been fascinated with the blue florescent light coming from the TV when it’s dimly lit in a room. He will NOT go to sleep if there is any light present. I thought, “oh great, what am I going to do now?” Luckily I was able to figure out how to turn our TV screen off, but that didn’t really do much considering everyone else’s was glowing throughout the flight.

Between the flashing of the TV screens and the stimulation of all the people around and the new sounds, there was little hope of Judah sleeping. Instead, he did what he does best when he’s overly tired and trying to stay awake. He moves…constantly. This is a trait, along with many others, that he gets entirely from his father. My son does not like to be held still for long periods of time in general, let alone the fact that he has just reached the mobility phase in life, increasing his desire to be rolling around independently all the more.  This, combined with trying to stay awake, meant that I was stuck trying to contain this little ball of sleepy energy that was twisting and turning and spinning in every direction like a torpedo for almost two hours.

My son is also very curious and observant. He will notice even the minutest detail and of course, being a baby, he wants to touch it and put it in his mouth. So, lets recap the scenario. We have a nervous mom, who has a spinning baby, a blanket, a small coat, a bottle, and a toy on her lap while crammed in those ever-spacious economy plane seats, while wearing a winter jacket. AKA, mom was sweating profusely at this point. Judah is rolling and twisting, flailing, and picking out all the magazines in the front pocket. I’m trying not to drop him, and appease his need to move, all the while trying to keep him from pelting the man sitting next to us in the face with the latest copy of SkyMall. I’m sure we were quite a sight. But, Judah did not cry, so for that, I am so thankful and very proud of him.

Finally, with about a half hour left to go in our flight, Judah gave in and drifted off to sleep. I was relieved and also stiff as a board so as not to wake him. It was nice to revel in my little man asleep in my arms, as he hasn’t done that in months. The sounds of the captain stating we were ready to land were some of the best I had heard all week. I was exhausted, very hot, and so ready to be off the plane and reunited with family that could help ease the load of bags and baby.

Judah woke up as soon as we landed. I was able to console his sleepy whines with some rocking and the ever-trusty paci. I was able to get him strapped back into the front carrier and the man seated behind me had graciously let me know he would assist me in getting the diaper bag off the plane for me. Judah was back in a sleepy stupor and I thought it was smooth sailing from here on out.

Then, spastic me reared it’s ugly head. I stood up when the isle was clear for us to exit our seats, only to be immediately stunted and slammed back down into the seat. Judah started to scream immediately. I had trapped half of the seatbelt into the front carrier under Judah’s butt. There was no way to get it out except to undo the carrier completely and lift Judah back out. We were seated in the middle of the plane, so half of the passengers were still waiting to exit. I was apparently the only one who understood what was going on. The man behind us who was waiting to help with our bags blocked the isle to make sure Judah and I could still exit. I looked back at him and said that we were going to be a while, however he couldn’t hear me over Judah’s crying. I repeated myself again, telling him that he could just go ahead and let everyone else out. It took him and the gentleman sitting beside me a moment to notice what I was doing and why, while everyone behind us was growing a little impatient. Finally the man next to us saw the buckle trapped under Judah and relayed the message to the man in the isle.  I swear everyone gave me the stink eye as they left the plane.

I apologized for holding up the two travelers beside me, as we were the last ones to exit. They were so wonderful and understanding with everything and told me to take my time. Finally, we were able to leave, sans seat buckle. I dug around in the diaper bag to find my phone and call my parents who were waiting to pick us up.

Judah fussed off and on the rest of the way to the baggage claim area, he was as tired of this airport thing and as ready for a bed and good night’s sleep as I was. We finally met up with my mom and dad and were able to get loaded into the car. They asked me how it went, and I began to recount our story, all the while laughing. We must have looked ridiculous, entirely because of my spastic nature.

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We made it nonetheless, and Judah did fantastically. He loved the excitement we met in Massachusetts and hardly slept the entire weekend. Our flight home was a breeze and I was so proud of my son.

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Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes for this nervous mama and her energetic son. Each and every one was felt. Flying conquered.