Tuesday, January 1, 2013

12 months. 1 year. Holy Guacamole!

Kellen Ross,
   As I begin to write this, it is 3 minutes until midnight of the day of your birth. One year ago at this time I was in the middle of labor, begging for an epidural I am sure. :) I know, I know, every parent around the world says this, but I truly cannot believe how fast this year has gone. I cannot believe that I am the parent of a ONE YEAR OLD -- not a baby but a toddler. You have changed my life baby boy- completely and entirely. I cannot imagine a life without you in it. We have had an incredible year full of wonderful blessings. You have grown by leaps and bounds, amazed your daddy and I daily, and we have been able to have some amazing experiences. In your first year of life, you - learned to roll, crawl, and walk, got four stamps in your passport (you world traveler you!), improved your love of food, developed your personality, become your own little person, changed the lives of people around you, and so much more. I look around me to photos of you all over the walls, your toys set out on the floor, your books stacked in the corner, your stocking still hanging on the doorknob... you are all around us. You continue to have just an awesome disposition. In fact, I was in Meijer two days ago (and locked the keys in the car-- but that's a whole other story!) -- it was packed because it was New Years Eve day -- I've never been in there with it that busy. We were probably there for almost 2 hours and at least 25 of it was spent just waiting in line. You never fussed. Just sat in the cart, looked around, ate your graham crackers, and talked to the people around us. The lady behind us in line said she couldn't believe how good you are. I said the response that always comes out of my mouth when someone comments on this- "I know. We're so lucky." And that's the truth-- we are so lucky to have you in our lives! You are not a big crier so we know that when you do cry, it's usually because something is really wrong. Your sleep is still very good. Of course you have your moments and we have our rough nights here and there but overall, you are a great sleeper. You are a totally snuggler and I love it. We have a great morning routine where I get you up and feed you and then you and I just sit in the big leather chair under a big blanket snuggled for a little while. You are also a lover. You LOVE giving kisses. In my opinion it's probably the cutest thing you do (not that everything you do isn't cute :)). You will spit out or take out your pacifier and open mouth smooch. The funniest time is when you are playing with your walker toy-- you'll do drive by kisses. If daddy or I are sitting on the floor- you'll cruise down the hall, come back- lean in and smooch us, then keep going. :) You like to kiss on the girls at daycare too. Daycare is something new since I wrote last (5 months ago--oops!). We have been so blessed to have you go to Miss Kim's for daycare. She is amazing and you love it there. It makes mommy and daddy's days go better knowing you're being taken care of so well. You are there usually from 7:15 to 4:30 Monday-Friday. You love to laugh and also scrunch up your nose and breath fast/snort. It's so cute! You also LOVE to talk. You babble and make lots of noise throughout the day. You do say mama but I'm still not sure it's with any real meaning (although you most often say it over and over again when you're upset or need something so maybe...) I also swear I have heard you say "cat" a couple of times but I can't get you to say it in front of daddy so I may just be hearing things. :)

Stats: You don't have your one year appointment until January 22nd so I'm not real sure on your stats. I weighed you at Grandpa Maurer's over Christmas and his scale said you weighed 23 lbs but I'm not sure how accurate that is. I may try to measure your height tomorrow just to have a general idea!

Sizes: You are still in size 3 diapers.They still fit you pretty well. Over break you have had a couple leaks though so I think we will be moving you up to 4s when this box is done. A few people have commented  that you are a "big boy" but I actually feel you're pretty average in size. You're wearing almost all 9-12 or 12 month things. I have put you in some 12-18 month things which are big though. You're still wearing your 12 month sleepers but I have noticed they're getting a bit short (especially in the foot area-- you are destined to have big feet between your dad and I! :)).

Food: You LOVE food. You are an awesome eater. You are on pretty much all table food. We do use some of the puree pouches just as supplementary fruits/veggies or food on the go. Otherwise, you eat everything we eat. Sometimes I think you eat more than daddy and I do! Some foods you love are grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, chicken, pasta, crackers (especially ritz), peas, carrots, apples, pears, pancakes, waffles, eggs, sausage, rice, oranges, toast, beans, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries/blackberries/raspberries... pretty much everything! You still are not a huge fan of avocado (but will eat guacamole or it mixed in with things). You are usually willing to try anything. I would say that right now your favorite things to eat are yogurt (still), macaroni and cheese, and snacky things. You devour multigrain cheerios all day long (and mommy and daddy find them everywhere :)),  get giggly with excitement when I offer you graham crackers, and would eat an entire container of the gerber little cruncher mild cheddar puffs or yogurt bites if we let you. You are funny too because you know right where we keep your food/snacks. You will go into the kitchen, stand and open the cupboard, pull out the shelf and take out what you want. Often you will then crawl to me with it like- feed me this now! It's hilarious :) We have also begun transitioning you to whole milk. You have not been a big fan of it just by itself so I have been mixing it with formula. You are taking three bottles a day (one when you first wake up, one in the afternoon, and one before bed) for a total of anywhere from 15-20oz. Soon you will just be on all whole milk. We may begin dropping the afternoon bottle in the next couple of weeks, then we'll transition away from the morning bottle. Your bedtime one will be the last one we transition from I'm sure.

Routine/Sleep: Since I wrote last, the big change has been that you are sleeping in your own crib in your own room. We did this at about 9 months and you have done great with it. You are usually ready for bed between 8 and 830.Often we will read a couple of books (you LOVE LOVE LOVE books) and then we snuggle in the rocking chair with your blanket and lovey. I give you your bottle and then sing you to sleep (Sweet Baby James or Godspeed usually). I then end up just holding you for awhile before putting you in your crib. :) Like I said above, you do pretty well with sleep. If you do wake up, it's usually when we're still awake (for example you woke at 11 tonight) and it does not take much to get you back to sleep (you usually just need a little snuggle/rocking). You have been getting up like clockwork at 7 over Christmas break but this will have to change once I go back to work. You take a nap around 10 until 11-1130 and then will take another nap around 2:30-4.

Milestones: You have four teeth-- your middle bottom two and middle top two (which came in over break :)). You are two more coming in on the top which I think will be popping through in the next two weeks or so. You crawl like a pro, pull to stand on everything you can, cruise around anything and everything, climb underneath things, open cupboards, pull out shelves, practically run behind your push walker toy, and love to push your toys around (you'll go on your knees and push things like your laundry basket around). Over Christmas break, you took your first steps! You are doing so well with walking already and are so proud of yourself when you do it. You can take 6-7 steps before falling down (or sitting down). You can stand on your own for a good length of time too. You love it when I just take one of your hands and we walk side by side (you laugh and laugh). It will not be long until you are walking independently all the time.  You are cautious which is totally okay with me! :)

Loves: You love life. Seriously- you are such a happy baby (I can still call you that, right? :)). You are curious and interested in all things around you. You love talking-- you will talk and make noises for quite awhile-- I think once you get a grasp of language we'll have a little chatter box on our hands! You LOVE walking with your push toys and dancing (bouncing your knees). You love Chauncey and always want to touch him/look at him. You love opening the cupboards/drawers in the kitchen and bathroom and taking out everything you can. You've also started pulling open mommy's drawers and pulling out all her clothes. You also have discovered the garbage can and love playing with lid (gross!). You love laughing and do it often. You LOVE the bath. I swear you would stay in there forever if I let you. We usually do about 30 minutes but you have been known to stay in as long as an hour. You love being in the water, splashing (just learning how to do this!) playing with all your toys, dropping your toys out of the tub, standing up in the tub (and leaning over for a kiss), looking at yourself in the faucet handle, etc. You love my iphone and can play games on it. You have two games I let you do on there and you know how to swipe to get to the next item (Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Presents). You will pick my phone and bring it to me to turn it on sometimes. You love balls and toys that you can bang together. You love toys with buttons you can push over and over again that make noise/light up. You love brushing your teeth. You love being outside.You love taking things out of a container or off of a table and then putting them back (this will keep you occupied for some time!), you love your momma-- you are a momma's boy for sure. You love pacifiers and will often walk/crawl around with one in your mouth and one (or two) in your hand. In terms of "toys" I would say your favorite is books right now. You will pick one out and crawl to me with it in your hands and give it to me to read to you. However, you only have certain books you like right now. These books include Cats, the Sesame Street Beginnings books (Nighty-Night & At the Zoo),  the Llama, Llama books, Curious George and the Snowy Day, the Sesame Street foam board books (especially the Cookie Monster one) and books with flaps you can lift up. Your absolute favorite book right now though is Little Blue Truck. I have it memorized we have read it so many times. I read it to you at least two times a day (and some days it's like 6). We bought you the second Little Blue Truck book (I think it's Into the City?) for Christmas but so far you're not very interested in it. Oh yea, you also love pickles :)

Dislikes: Still pretty much nothing here. You dislike getting your diaper changed and this is often a battle. You dislike having to get clothes on or changed. You're happiest just hanging in your diaper I swear. You still do not really like avocado and sometimes going to sleep at night is a bit of a battle because you just want to stay up and play! You have learned the word no and dislike being told it. You can be shy in busy environments but warm up to people pretty quickly. This is all I can think of right now! You really have the sweetest, kindest, easy-going personality and overall disposition.

Kellen Ross, I simply cannot put into words how much I love you. I just can't. It's unlike any other kind of love-- the love a mother has for her child-- and a love I don't think can be explained in words-- it just has to be felt. You have brought so much joy and inspiration to my life, and have taught me even more so to be grateful and count my blessings each day. I feel as though my life is complete with you in it. I am sad to see the "baby" stage pass-- it is certainly bittersweet-- but I am excited for toddlerhood and I truly believe that life has some incredible plans for you-- and I cannot wait to see what those plans are. Happy first birthday my blue eyed, sweet, beautiful baby boy. I love you so much.

Some pictures from January 1, 2012

Loving your tubby- you love it when I pour the water over your head!
Eating your toes- you think it's so funny!
You were ready for your nap after the tubby :)
I cannot even tell you how much I love this sweet face
Happy Birthday sweet, precious Kellen Ross!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On being 6 months...

Dear Kellen Ross,
   You are six months old. Six months. How did that happen? How has a half a year gone by already?  It seems like just yesterday we were heading to the hospital and yet it also seems like you've always been a part of our lives. It makes me a little sad to see some of the itty bitty baby things going away but I am excited for the new things ahead! 
    You are an incredible baby. I think I tell you at least ten times a day how lucky we are. You have the most calm disposition I have ever seen a baby have (and I'm not just saying that because you're mine! :)) Even friends who have worked in daycares say they have never seen a baby quite like you. Daddy sometimes jokingly tells you to stop making noise and to calm down (because you hardly ever cry :)). Someone told me they wanted to pinch you just to see if you actually would cry! (Don't worry- I didn't let them!) You are almost always happy. You smile at everyone and will let pretty much anyone hold you (as long as mama isn't around-- if you see me and someone else is holding you you usually want me).  You are a fantastic sleeper. We have been blessed in this area. You have been sleeping through the night since you were about 8 weeks old (and prior to that you were only up 1-2 times a night).

Stats: You had your 6 month appointment two weeks ago. You weighed 18.4lbs (70th percentile) and your height was 26.5 inches (60th percentile). Your noggin sits comfortably in the 97th percentile :) I say it's because it's so full of brains!

Sizes: We just moved you up to size 3 diapers. They're a bit big on you yet but I'm sure it won't take long for you grow into them. :) You're mostly in 3-6 month clothing and some 6-9. Your footed sleepers were getting too short though so we moved you up to 6-9 in most of those last week. With it being summer, most of your onesies and shorts continue to fit you. Some of your rompers/one piece items are getting small though so we'll have to retire those too before long.

Food: We have started you on solids! Woohoo! You were fed pumped breastmilk (we had difficulties breastfeeding) for 6 months. When we went on our trip, mom weaned you from the breastmilk and you are now taking only formula. We started the solids when you turned 6 months and so far so good. I have been making your food which has been fun too! So far you've had avacado (didn't like it), sweet potato (so-so), peas (didn't like), carrots (yum!), apples (yum!), pears (yum!), plums (yum!)  banana (yum!) spinach (yum!) blueberries (yum!) peaches (yum!) and parsnips (yum!). The consensus is that you obviously love fruit and are so-so on your veggies so far. :)  I would have to say at this stage your favorite food would have to be yogurt though. You cannot get enough of it! You have also had eggo waffles (which you love-- mom cuts them in strips and you love to feed yourself), pancakes, and ice cream (okay, maybe ice cream is your favorite? haha :)). You are also crazy about mum-mums and puffs. I have been trying to give you some more table food-- you want to eat everything that we are eating-- but it still makes me nervous. We'll get there baby boy, I know! :)

Routine/Sleep: As I said above, you are an amazing sleeper. I don't know how we got so lucky! When we are home, you go to sleep about 830. I usually feed you and then we rock or just sit with your blanket. I pat your butt :) and sing you the magic song I have sung to you since you were an itty baby (Godspeed by the Dixie Chicks) this almost automatically puts you to sleep. We usually snuggle a little before I take you to the pack 'n play where you will sleep until 630-7. I get up and get you a bottle and then you will go back to sleep until 9-930. I have to say that this early morning time is my absolute favorite time of the day right now. You are sleeping in your pack 'n play in our room but when you are done with this morning bottle I usually bring you in bed with me. Lately you've just been in your diaper when you do this because I change you at this time too. I lay there with you head resting on my arm, snuggled close to me, and just breath you in. I kiss your sweet head and feel your soft skin against mine and feel like the luckiest person in the world to have you. Sometimes you go right to sleep and sometimes you lay there and stare at me or play with my shirt/earrings for a little while before drifting back to sleep. It is our own special quiet time and it is sacred to me. I will be so sad when the time comes where this does not happen.

Nap wise we're hit and miss. You take naps during the day but often they're short catnaps (30-45min). These usually happen around 12, 3, and 6. I really do not mind this because you are sleeping so well at night and you do not seem fussy/unhappy during the day so I think you're getting enough sleep. Yesterday and today you have taken 2.5 hr naps though so you must be going through a growth spurt! Oh and you almost always fall asleep in the car and you have fully become a tummy or side sleeper. :)  You're also really good and going with the flow with bedtime. On the occasions where we have been out and about past your bedtime (and sometimes WAY past your bedtime) you do so well. Sometimes you'll fall asleep where we are and sometimes you just stay up but again, you're rarely upset by this. Have a mentioned how lucky we are to have such a good natured baby?

Milestones: You are doing so well and getting so big (too fast!). You started sitting up on your own at about 5.5months (it really clicked on our trip to Italy). You do so well with it. At your 6month apt. the pediatrician was really impressed with how strong you are with this. He said most 6mo olds if they're even sitting up yet, are wobbly. You can sit up for as long as you want to pretty much. The only time you really fall is if you are reaching for something far away and it is out of your reach. It usually happens when you try to reach forward and you end up doing a bit of a header :). When on your stomach you can push your torso off the ground but you haven't pushed up onto your knees yet. Sometimes though when you're sitting up and you reach forward, you rock on your knees a little. I have a feeling crawling is not too far off (not sure mama is ready for this! :)). You are also pulling yourself up on me and when people hold your hands. You LOVE to do this and LOVE to stand. You are so proud of yourself when you pull up (as you should be-- it's hard work! :)). You have not pulled up on furniture yet or cruised while holding on to furniture. You have been rolling back to belly for about 2 months but you still are not really rolling belly to back. I have seen you do it-- I think twice. I asked the pediatrician about it at your apt. and he said it was no big deal so that made me feel okay about it. I think you can do it (after all you have before) you just chose not to. :) You love to make lots of noise and have really discovered sticking out your tongue and making raspberries. You have also started babbling consonants (and I love when you say ma-ma even if you're not really meaning to :))

Loves: You love sitting up, playing independently with your toys, pulling to stand, snuggling with mama, dancing, being held, taking walks, looking out the window, laughing with daddy, your baths, the water in general, Chauncey (and any other animals too), and eating. :) Your favorite toys right now are toys you have loved for quite awhile-- Sophie the giraffe, the ring stacker, books, and your activity center. I would have to say that your absolutely favorite toys though are what we lovingly refer to as "Mr. Crab and Mr. Turtle" (Mommy and Daddy weren't too creative :)). They are actually meant to be bath toys (they're little plastic squirters) but you LOVE them. They go everywhere with us (including to Italy :)). You love to chew on them and stare at them. You also really like paper, spoons, and pulling your toys out of your toy basket. You have a couple electronic toys that you are semi-interested in but not a lot. You also have a Johnny Jump-up (thanks Gigi! :)) that we've tried a couple times but it's not been a big hit. I anticipate though once you get the hang of it you'll love it. :)
You almost always start laughing when mom sings the MSU fight song with you-- you love it! You always smile when I sing you the silly songs I made up (like- Kellen Ross, Kellen Ross, I love you, I love you. You are my baby, you are my baby, and I love you, and I love you). :) You also love all things electronic-- including mommy and daddy's iphones and the remote control.

Dislikes: Um...nothing? Seriously I cannot really think of anything you don't like. Okay-- you don't like being licked in the face by grandpa's dog (but I can't blame you on that!) but you crack up when he licks your hands. Let's see..I'm racking my brain... you are sort of starting to go through that I want my mom all the time phase (which is okay with me). So sometimes especially if you're tired, you get a little fussy/whiney if I leave the room. Oh you hate sleeping on your back. If I put you down on your side and you accidentally roll to your back you wake up crying.

Baby boy, I love you so much. It's so cliche but you'll never really know just how much I love you. It is an all encompassing -- I want to smother you with kisses and squeeze you and never let you go kind of love. :) I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to be your mama and I just hope I can be everything you need. I feel so connected to you already and I hope that our bond stays forever and you'll always be a mama's boy :) Thank you for being the incredibly blessing you have been in my life. You have given me a new perspective and outlook on life-- taught me to value what I have more, to hold tight and cherish real friendships, to see the world in new eyes (as I see you experience things for the first time), to take the time to love,snuggle, and share, and know that I can do the dishes or the laundry some other time. I am so proud of the person you are already becoming and I cannot wait to see what our future holds.

I love you Kellen Ross!


ps. As of now-- all of these pictures are sideways-- I don't know how to fix this...trying to figure it out! :) Sorry!

My little Tiger

My pretty blue eyed boy

Playing with his spoon

Special snuggle time

Happy boy :)



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Italian Adventure part 2

Kellen was such a trooper through this whole trip. I guess it shouldn't surprise me given the extremely good-natured baby that he is. Most people swear he must never cry (he does-- but not often!). He is so smiley and happy the majority of the time. One thing that did happen on this trip-- all the time-- was blowouts. I think this was partly because I was weaning him to formula but mostly it was his body's response to the stress and heat. The worst of these happened when we began the next leg of our trip...
Lake Como
We were supposed to leave Naples for Lake Como around 11am, however the day before we were told there was going to be a bus and train strike the day we were leaving from 8am to 2. Luckily, this did not include the high speed train we were taking but it did include the bus and train we would need to take from Nerano to Sorrento to Naples. So, in order to avoid this we woke up early to catch the 6am bus and then 7am train. We arrived in Naples around 830 and hung out in the train station for 3 hours until our train left. We could have tried to get on an earlier train but we had assigned seats on the 1130 train and there was no guarantee we could get seats on an earlier train (and I didn't want to risk not having a seat with K for the 5 hr train ride). When we got on the train, right away we realized the air conditioning wasn't working in our car. It was miserable. It was so hot and stuffy an the little man was so uncomfortable. I attempted a diaper change in the puny bathroom without any changing space and then decided to just change him on the table at our seats. He was doing pretty good given the fact that he was tired and sweaty. I was holding him in my lap and I could feel him poop. The next thing I know, I feel something running down leg. I look down and there is poop on the seat, on me, and of course on him. Poor guy! And of course everyone is watching us. We cleaned it up as best we could and I quickly carried him to the bathroom. But in my haste, I accidentally hit his head on the door to the bathroom. So now, I'm hot, sweating, standing in the smallest bathroom on a moving train holding a screaming baby over a sink and trying to quickly change his diaper and clothes. It was horrible. After that I fed him which calmed him down and then we walked a bit from car to car. A really nice lady in the next car over was standing talking on her phone in between the cars and she offered me her seat in the air conditioning. Once we got seated in there he was out like a light until we reached Milan. When we got to the train station in Milan we went to the car rental. Bri and I walked to check out where it was and then walked back to the train station to get everyone and all our luggage. We got settled into the cars and set off. Milan is a big city and driving in Italy leaves a lot to be desired. I have always said I could not drive there because you have to be extremely assertive and aggressive. They do not abide by traffic signs like we do, even if they have two "lanes" on each side, there's always more than two cars across, scooters weave in and out all over (including along the center line), roads are not marked well, etc. It's can be crazy stressful. So- we're in two cars-- my mom, Ben, Geaneen, and I in one and then Brian, Dave, Britany, and Kristin in the other. We start out following each other but pretty quickly get separated. Of course our cell phones don't work in Italy so we have to basically hope and pray that the other car has their directions (my mom had hers in our car) and that we end up at the same place. The house we were staying at was a bit outside of the town of Lake Como way up high on switchback roads. Anyway-- we got lost a  little, went the wrong way on a one way, had to pull over because my poor guy had another blowout all over the carseat... but finally we found ourselves at our beautiful little villa-- and the other car had made it as well! By this time it was probably around 7 and we were all starving. Brian, Ben, and I said we would go to the next town over and get some groceries quick. Well... we didn't take into account that it was Sunday-- and everything was closed. We drove all around to several different towns in the Lake Como area... no luck anyway. After about 2.5 hrs, we finally stopped at this little rinkydink bar that was open and they had prepackaged sandwiches. We bought those, some bags of chips they had in the back, a container of some sandwich sauce they had, and some cokes. Of course again, our phones didn't work so we couldn't call to say why it was taking us so long...but we finally made it back to the house. We all quickly ate our (disgusting) sandwiches and went to bed exhausted. The rest of the time in Lake Como was pretty much spent relaxing. The house had a pool which we hung around and did some reading. We explored the little towns nearby as well (and also found a proper grocery store! Let me tell you- grocery shopping in a big shopping center was a whole other experience). The area was absolutely beautiful. I would have liked to have had a couple more days there to just explore and take in the views. One crazy thing that did happen was one afternoon we went to visit the town of Menagio which was about 20 minutes from where our house was. When we were driving there we saw they were setting up for a festival of some sort in a town along the way. We got to Menagio, explored and enjoyed our time there, and then got ready to head back. We had purchased stuff for burgers (getting a little tired of pasta and pizza at this time) and were excited to go back and grill out. We got part way down the road and we were stopped by police. They inquired as to where we were going. We told them and they said okay-- that the town of Como was closed for fireworks but because our house was not all the way into Como, we could go ahead. We then went a little further and were stopped again. This time they told us we could not go at all. They told us all the roads were closed down until midnight for this festival. I tried to play the "I have a baby" card and said I wasn't prepared for him to be out and about until midnight (this wasn't true-- I had a fully stocked diaper bag :)) but they still wouldn't let us through. This was about 7. So we said, well what else can we do besides hang out until midnight? They told us we would have to go up the mountain and back down the other side. We decided to do this (and told us it would take about 1.5 hours). It actually was a nice experience! The drive was really pretty and we got an unexpected addition to our trip-- a drive into Switzerland. We went into a very pretty town in Switzerland and ended up eating at McDonalds there haha (we were starving and had had our hearts set on burgers!). I really enjoyed our time in this place. The house was amazing and like I said before, the area was absolutely gorgeous. Here are a couple pictures from this leg of the trip!

The neighbors had donkeys

View from our deck

Beautiful Lake Como

Kellen with his grammys

Kristin and I

Our cozy kitchen

Looking down at the living room

Baby laundry on the line

Our house

Italian Adventure part 3

The last part of our trip brought us to Venice. I fell in love with this city the first time I visited it, loved it all over again the second time I visited it, and was excited for the rest of my family to experience this place unlike any other place in the world. I was also really ready to have a break from traffic and driving.

We drove back into Milan -- which was much easier than our initial trip. We dropped the cars off (and prayed they didn't notice any little...scratches... :)) We then hung at the train station for a bit before catching our train to Venice. This train ride was MUCH better-- air conditioning, less crowded, shorter trip). When we got to Venice we had to call the owner of the apartment we were staying in to arrange a place to meet. We jumped on a water taxi and got off at the Accademia Bridge stop. He met us there and helped us make the rest of the trip to our place on foot. This began the workout part of our trip. :) If you didn't know- Venice is not the most kid friendly place. We had Kellen in the stroller most of the time because it was so hot. I had the Ergo too and he didn't seem to mind it ever but both of us got hot and sweaty pretty quickly. So we got real good at lifting the stroller up and down all the bridges (or taking him out of the stroller and carrying him and the stroller). The apartment we stayed in was the owner's childhood home. It was right on the canal and a really neat place. We got in and got our stuff settled and then set off to explore. While in Venice we walked around, visited the basilica and San Marco square, admired the boats and gondolas, and just did a lot of exploring (and eating!). :) We also took a boat tour the day before we left and visited three small islands near Venice. I feel like I don't have a lot to tell about Venice but that's not really true-- we just really spent a lot of time just in the city walking. It was great (although a bit tiring with the stroller).

Thursday morning we got up early and started on our way. We boarded a water taxi to the airport at 8am. The boat ride took about an hour and a half. When we got to the airport stop, we then had a "7 minute" walk with all our luggage (nine bags plus baby, stroller, car seat bag, and purses/carry-ons). Once at the airport, we got in line at Delta. We had a paper ticket for Kellen (his lap ticket) and it said Delta. So we wait in line and finally get to the front and the guy says, you're not on Delta, you're on KLM. (Luckily we hadn't waited super long). We go over to KLM and there is NO ONE working the desks at all. There is also no organized line (you know with the rope things). Instead, there is just a huge blob of people waiting (such a cluster!) and already you could hear the "I was here first, no I was here first" discussion. We positioned ourselves behind some people who had carts with their luggage figuring they could plow a path for us haha. So we wait here for a little while only to have another lady come up and tell everyone that first they must go to the kiosk and print boarding passes. By this time, we're hot, tired, annoyed, etc as was everyone else. Thankfully, traveling with a baby sometimes proves beneficial in these situations and the lady allowed us to not use the kiosk and sent us up to the front to a special family line (funny thing-- Kellen was in his stroller and the girl working the counter was like- you have a child? I said yes and pointed at him and she goes- he is younger than 3? I wanted to say, really? You even have to ask?). Anyway-- this ticket counter we again were faced with issues with Kellen and Geaneen's seats. The girl told us she could only book them on our first flight (Venice to Amsterdam) and that when we got to Amsterdam we would just have to go to the gate and get their seat assignments. We arrived in Amsterdam and of course we only had about an hour, had to go through customs, and landed in C and were flying out of F. Funny story too-- when we were at the passport check, the guy asked me where we were coming from. When I said Italy he said, where is your stamp? I told him that they hadn't stamped our passports (in fact they had not even opened mine or Kellen's-- just waved us through). The guy made some comment about "those Italians"-- hah. Thankfully a couple of us had gotten them stamped so we were able to show this. Once we got through that Geaneen, Kellen and I booked it to our gate. We arrived, went through security again, and got the checkpoint (they were already starting to board the plane). The lady said, where are your boarding passes? I said-we were told to come here and print them. She looked at me and said- sorry- it's too late. I almost flipped. I was like- no- no way am I not getting my baby and mother-in-law on this flight. Thankfully, they were accommodating and got us squared away. We boarded the plane which was WAY WAY better than the plane we flew out of Toronto on. We got settled in and then ended up being stuck on the runway for an hour and a half. A woman had tried to get on the plane who had an expired visa-- they wouldn't let her and then had to find her luggage. After they took all the luggage off and found it, they then had to refuel. The flight from there was super smooth. Kellen did SO well. I don't think he cried once. He just chilled, flirted with anyone and everyone, slept well, talked, etc. We flew into Montreal and by this time had missed our connecting flight to Toronto. Luckily, there was another one going out an hour later and we were able to get on that. Finally after 18 hours of traveling we arrived in Toronto. We spent the night and got up Friday morning and drove the long drive back home. We had an amazing, unbelievable trip but we were ready to get home too.

Kellen did so unbelievably well on this trip. I really cannot get over it. Except, if you know my child, it probably doesn't surprise you. He is the most calm, happy, good-natured kid ever. Dave and I sort of felt like we were traveling with a celebrity. We got stopped ALL the time-- people wanted to talk to him, tell us how beautiful he was, admire his smile, kiss his feet and hands, etc. And he just smiled and rolled with it all. I really feel so blessed to have a child with his disposition. I tell people that all the time. I am so proud of how well he did on this trip. While I'm sad he'll not remember it-- we have thousands of pictures to show him when he gets older to remind him of his journey (and for the record, he ended traveling to 4 different countries-- Canada, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands!)

We lit a couple candles for Glammy in a church on one of the islands off Venice. I thought of her often on this trip and how much she would have enjoyed being there but also how much she would have loved knowing we had taken this trip together in her memory. I am so thankful to my mom for this opportunity and for the memories we made that I will cherish forever!

Here are some pictures of Venice...

Christmas card next year?? :)

The girls getting appropriately dressed for the church :)

Loving his mum mum crackers


Taking a short break

Modern day Gondeliers-- all 3 were on their cell phones

He really mastered sitting up unassisted on this trip

Proud of himself

Wish my hair wasn't in my face!