Moving into Temporary Housing with Kids

Our house is still not done (we're thinking middle to end of October) but our lease is up soon and Avery starts school TODAY so we decided to move into temporary housing in the suburbs. This will save me a horrible commute three times a week with both kids and is actually a better commute for Pat into the office because of the express train. To secure this apartment, we had to book it when it was available so while timing isn't perfect, it's nice to be out of our house and away from all the moving boxes and the daunting to do list. Another bonus is I can drive by the new house and breathe down everyone's neck EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Yay!

After scouring the web and moving websites on how to pack for a temporary move, I started packing for part one of our four part move.

Part one: Move into temporary housing
Part two: Move out of apartment and into storage
Part three: Move out of temporary housing
Part four: Move into new house

They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can ever do, so of course we are going to do it FOUR times in the next six weeks (or so). Fun.

While my brother and Emily watched the kids, Pat and I checked into the apartment. This allowed us to check out what additional items we would need to bring from home. It's a two bed, two bath fully furnished/stocked apartment, BUT, it obviously doesn't have everything we use on a daily/weekly basis so in addition to what they provided we packed:

-crockpot (fall is almost here!)
-measuring cups and spoons
-magic bullet
-casserole dish
-shower caddy
-over the door towel hook
-hand soap
-and obviously tons more

After a night of bad sleep and waking up at 3:45 am, I am also going to be bringing our new 800 thread count bad boys from home. Even Pat, who up until last night didn't think we needed these new sheets, is now crying for them. Think Fievel singing "Somewhere Out There".

In addition to the the daily use stuff, I also packed two big tupperware bins of toys and books for the kids, their water table and craft table. It was the cutest thing when we brought the kids to the apartment and they both went straight to the bins, as if they had never seen these toys before. Emerson of course spotted the craft table right away (she loves climbing up and sitting in the chairs) and I found them both sitting at it dumping out craft supplies within two minutes. I was surprised they didn't care to check out the whole apartment first. All they cared about was the bins of toys.

Emerson's bedroom/guest bathroom:

Suburb living so far feels SO easy!

Part two of our move comes this weekend when my aunt Bev (Bizoo as Avery calls her) comes to help with the kids. Pat and I are planning to spend the whole day packing up our other place while she stays at the apartment with the kids. Then the movers come the following week and we move into storage. Funny story--when I was checking out storage units with Avery and Emerson, we walked into a 10x30 unit and Avery went all the way to the back, looked at me seriously and said "Do you think all my dresses will fit in here?". Oh Avery.

Once we get that taken care of, hopefully our stress levels will go back to normal levels and we can treat our temporary housing situation like a vacation (which is what we have been telling Avery it is). I just better not be hosting Thanksgiving here...


Surviving a Road trip Solo with Two Toddlers

With the start of Avery's school year just around the corner, we decided to take a ROAD TRIP to Cedar Rapids Iowa to visit my little sister, Aisling (or Ling Ling as Avery calls her). I figured if I can do Ikea with the kids solo (one hour drive) then I can totally do CR (four hours). Now that the trip is over, I can say that is true...unless of course the four hour drive becomes six plus hours due to crazy rain. I digress.

We started off the trip a little later than I had hoped because Emerson had her last physical therapy appointment. I originally had hoped to drive for forty five minutes, stop for lunch lunch, then let them fall asleep for their afternoon nap in the car.

FAIL! The first stop wasn't for an hour and a half, so they didn't eat lunch until 1:30 pm, usually their nap time. I was very glad I had packed PBJs because they were not in the mood for anything else. I picked up some subway for myself and gave them some veggies from my salad--all in all, a somewhat balanced meal. My plan at rest stops was to eat first, then do bathroom breaks, otherwise we would be doing bathroom twice (once when we got out of car, then again to wash up after lunch). Even doing this, lunch still took about an hour. I blame this on Emerson's HUGE appetite.

I did like they suggest on planes and took care of myself first. While wearing Emerson and repeating constantly to Avery "don't touch anything don't touch anything" I used the bathroom, then Avery's turn (which I then repeated to Emerson "don't touch anything don't touch anything"), then changed Emerson's diaper.  Why don't more rest stops have those little baby seats in the bathrooms so you can strap a kid in while you use the bathroom? Ikea has them and they are wonderful! Family bathrooms are even better, and thankfully we were able to use those at most of our stops.

Back into the car, I made sure to set the kids up with everything they would need for their naps. Put Emerson in her sleep sack. Gave each kid their lovey. Turned on the white noise. Sang my bedtime song to them. I thought, okay, this is it. I can now listen to podcasts for the next two hours.


I think they were just overtired by this point so they played tug of war with Avery's lovey for an HOUR before they both finally fell asleep at 3 PM. EEK. This is usually when they wake from their nap. Oh well. During the whole tug-o-war game, they dropped the bunny multiple times where they couldn't reach it. Thankfully, I had packed a claw pincher toy so I could reach back from the front seat and grab it for them. Sometimes I am smart.

Naps weren't the best and neither was the weather. I had to pull off the road three times because the rain was so heavy I couldn't see the road or the cars in front of me. The third time was the scariest as I could no longer see the white lines on the road, and I couldn't even see if I was pulling off onto the shoulder or just blocking another car. I was shaking I was so scared. We waited about fifteen minutes until the rain let up and we could see again.

We stopped at a rest stop about thirty minutes from Ling's house because Avery told me she had to "poop like a dog" whatever that means. There was a little playground set at the rest stop so I let the kids play for about fifteen minutes. We finally arrived to Ling Ling's after six and a half hours (should have been four hours) and the kids were SO EXCITED to be free!

I scrambled to semi baby proof the house while Ash and her friend played with the kids. When we were blacking out Emerson's windows (with foil, DUH), we turned around to see Emerson climbing up a ladder that was in the bedroom. This girl is crazy!

I shared a room and bed with Avery. She moves and likes to cuddle in her sleep so I didn't sleep well at all. Snapped this picture of my little cutie in the middle of the night, hogging the whole bed.

Aisling is buying our dining room table from us when we move, so until then, we improvised and did every meal with the kids picnic style. They (and Newman the dog) enjoyed it.

On the trip home, I planned much better. On the road at 10:30, drove for an hour, did lunch at 11:30 (their normal time), then into the car for naps. They fell asleep quickly (after only a few games of tug-o-war with Avery's lovey), and slept for two hours straight. It was glorious. I kept thinking about all the other road trips I could do with the kids.

To sum it up, my tips for surviving a road trip alone with two kids would be:
  1. Keep their regular schedule for meals and naps
  2. Do part of the drive before lunch. Plan it so they reach their max time in the car before you stop. My kids can do about an hour in the car before they are over their books and snacks.
  3. Pack a claw pincher to grab anything in back seat while driving (this sounds dangerous but on a road trip to Iowa, there are long stretches with no other cars and just open fields)
  4. Simulate their nap time environment with loveys, blankets, white noise, sleep sacks, whatever you do at home.
  5. Have kid snacks and drinks handy in front seat so you can easily hand them back.
  6. Pack PBJs for kids for lunch, so they can start eating that while you order any other food
  7. Do lunch first when you stop, then bathroom breaks.
  8. Have podcasts downloaded on your phone and headphones so you can listen and "relax" while the kids sleep.
  9. Get this holder for your iPad (no car sickness for Avery with this thing)
  10. Situate toys/books/snacks every time you stop. Make sure everything you have is ready (snack cups filled, water cups nearby, book stash by kids, iPad on, etc) so everything is easy to do while you are driving. Pulling off the freeway to hand a kid a dropped toy or shoe is very annoying
We are so glad we made the trip to see Ling Ling. The girls were obsessed with her puppy Newman and loved being in the suburbs with all the grass and big yards. Made us even more excited for our new home!


Avery is THREE!

Our little Avery bug turned three last month, and we are still burning off the sugar from her month of celebrations.

First, she thought Emerson's birthday cupcakes and presents were all for her. Second, we had family here for Fourth of July weekend and she thought that was her birthday because of course, everyone brought presents for the girls and Avery stayed up late to watch fireworks and have a dance party (which she now requests a few times a week). Third, because her best friend, Bubby Nanny, came to visit at the end of July and she assumed that whole weekend was her birthday. Fourth, because we took Avery and her two besties (Bubby Nanny and Kiley) to a sweet treat decorating class at world famous bakery Sweet Mandy B's where the girls made cupcakes, cookies, banana pudding, brownies, and cookie sandwiches. So fun. Then, we even celebrated her birthday on her actual birthday. It was A LOT and I certainly hope by next year Avery doesn't remember the month long celebration (and month of cupcakes). Even a month later, Avery will still tell me it's her birthday.

At three years old, Avery is really turning into a little lady. Well, she has been girly and obsessed with dresses, shoes, and accessories for a very long time now, but she won't wear pants or shorts ever. Every night before bed she likes to pick out her outfit for the following day and hang it on her closet door. Then she likes to get dressed as soon as she wakes up in the morning. She'll always negotiate and say "this dress is very long so I don't need to wear pants".  She picks out shoes and necklaces to match, and her current favorite shoes are a pink pair with big jewels on them (about two sizes too big) and then a red and blue pair with bows on them (about two sizes too big). I think this girl is all about comfort-nothing can be tight or constricting on her busy little body. Funnily enough, she doesn't care at all about her hair being brushed, although if I do something fancy with it she will run to the mirror and say "OOOOOOOH, NIIIIIIICE".

It's interesting to see the traits she had as a baby turn into parts of her personality as a toddler. For example, she hated messy play when she was a baby, didn't like sand or dirt, and was a pretty clean eater once she started feeding herself (never touched her hair). As a three year old, she is meticulous. She likes her food to be nicely arranged on her plate. Her clothes can't be twisted or folded in any way. She never deviates from routine and will call you out if you forget something or try to change it up. As for her OCD cleanliness, she runs to the bathroom to wash her hands after meals. She also has started putting her shoes in the sink to wash them as well (the joys of her being able to reach the sink handles now) and she'll say "these are too dirty. I need to wash them". If the floors are dirty she will say "I need to mop" and will pull out the broom and start pushing it around. When Emerson is smearing food all over herself at meal times, Avery will say "EmeR-sin, you a naughty baby, you crazy, you need to calm down". If Avery's outfits get dirty, she instantly needs to change. On the flip side of all of this, when it comes to bath time, she again is the master negotiator and will say "We no wash my hair tonight. My hair is not dirty". So now we only wash her hair every other night (which in Pat's world is nowhere near enough, and in my world is WAY too much).

I could go on and on so I will try to sum this up. She is very independent when we go out. She asks people their names, plays on her own at the park, and tells kids she is not ready to share her toys or doesn't want to play if an argument comes up. I am prepping her for school when I can't be there for her, so teaching her to speak for herself rather than ask me for help is one of my focuses right now. She can get dressed and put her shoes on by herself. She can clean herself in the tub. Brush her own teeth. We're working on her helping with little chores around the house (putting dishes in sink, getting clean diapers for Emerson, putting clothes in hamper) and next up I'm going to try to get her to make her bed. In fact the other night I heard her talking to Emerson about how something was dirty and she "needs to wipe this up cuz it's too dirty". Oh, the joy I feel from listening to their little conversations.

As for food, she is becoming a picky toddler wanting only the basic toddler staples, with mac and cheese being her favorite. I think because she didn't eat dairy until nineteen months, she is making up for lost time with cheese. She still loves hummus, steamed broccoli, carrots, berries, watermelon, and everything sweet.

Personality wise she is very kind, empathetic, and loving. She is always concerned about everyone and how they are feeling. She will tell me a few times a day, out of nowhere, "I really love you mom". She wants to know if people are still sick, or why they are sad, or what their mommies names are. I feel like I have done something right as a parent when she asks her little friends if they are feeling better (if she knew they were sick) and asks me and Emerson if we are okay after she bumps into us. I hurt my back at the gym the other day so was hobbling around and all day Avery kept asking if my back was better, did I need medicine, did I need a bandaid. Super cute.

*this was my favorite picture from this photo session, because it captures our relationships with the girls. Emerson is obsessed with Pat, and Avery usually only wants me

She still has the HUGE toddler tantrums, usually this is when she isn't getting attention. She will yell "Mom. Dad. Stop talking." so we are working on saying "Excuse me". Her tantrums usually occur when she doesn't get her way but almost always happen when she is tired. Usually I try to alleviate the tantrum by showing her empathy (I know you really wanted that fill-in-the-blank, and that would have been so fun to keep playing with it, etc) and then trying to get her to laugh it off. She is still taking a nap every day (about two hours long) and then going to bed around 8 pm and waking around 6:30 am.

Her favorite stuff to do around the house: stickers and coloring, playing with water (the sink and her water table), painting, helping me cook, riding her bike, watching her shows (Sesame Street and Paw Patrol). When we can't figure something out she will say, "We need the Paw Patrol!" and start laughing. She is also ALWAYS SINGING. Whether it's an actual song or her very own mash up, this girl is always belting out a tune. Future singer and track star we think.

She is sweet with Emerson for the most part and will look at her and say "Oh, EmeR-sin, you look so cute and so little" or she'll say "Look at your tiny baby hands". We wouldn't describe Emerson as little these days since she weighs as much as Avery did at two years, but apparently Avery thinks Emerson has teeny tiny baby hands and teeny tiny baby feet. She will help feed her (dangerous!), and will sing to her when she is crying to calm her down. She hands her things in the car to keep her busy and it is so cute looking back and seeing Emerson's "teeny tiny baby hand" reaching out to Avery, and Avery handing Emerson a cracker or a book.

School starts in two weeks so we have been talking a lot about her teacher and what it will be like. Her school does two weeks of transitional days, first week I am there with Avery, second week is shorter days. Then by the third week it is full speed ahead. There is so much more to Avery than this post. She is really transforming into her own little lady and we just love her, tantrums, bossiness, and all.


House Update

Based on the listing, we should already be moved into our new home. NOPE. Original close date was July 31, 2015. Then it was bumped to August 31st. Now our builder is saying middle of September but we know better and are starting to think we won't be in until middle of October. Here's the fun part: our lease is up in less than five weeks so we have to store our stuff and find somewhere to live while our house is being finished. Good thing I'm not an anxious person...ha.

In the last two weeks, the only upside to all the stress of knowing our house keeps getting delayed is seeing the interior progress. They started installing the cabinets, the tile floors, and the crown molding. It is so cool to see the house start to take shape, and I am glad we still love the selections we made so long ago.

Front door went on a week or two ago and we love it!

Basement window was installed.

When all the cabinetry was delivered, we were SO excited, but then it sat in boxes for a week or two.

Builder forgot to add the pocket door to our upstairs guest room so that was added after they already did drywall. Thankfully it wasn't a total miss and they had already moved the electric so it was just a framing change.

Emerson's bedroom window--trying to figure out how to shade it while working with that arch.

The kitchen cabinets will have molding at the top to bring them to the ceiling.

Guest bathroom tile:

Girls' bathroom tile:

I've been meeting with the builder once a week and walking the house so hopefully we start to see a lot more progress. If not, it looks like the kids and I will be living in a hotel near Avery's preschool and Pat will be staying downtown close to work. Upside: daily maid service at a hotel! Downside: too many to list.

Current things happening with the house:

-exterior siding and shingles are being finished
-exterior stonework is being finished
-interior crown molding is being installed
-cabinetry is being installed on first and second floors
-master closets are being measured so we can customize those
-fence ordered
-lights & cabinet hardware should be on order

The following things were supposed to have already happened, but have not:

-bathroom tile installed in showers
-yard cleared out
-skylight installed in girls' bathroom
-interior staircase started
-windows framed so I can have blinds company measure and give me a quote
-basement drywall primed

Some people are saying six weeks seems doable, others are saying three months seems reasonable. The fear of checking into a hotel is what if it keeps getting delayed and then we are in a hotel for two weeks, then four weeks, then two months. But, for now I will just focus on starting the packing process and getting quotes for movers/storage. I know it will all be worth it the minute we get our keys and the wait is over.

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