Letters to Lillian: collection of tidbits of wisdom from Momma

Dear Lillian, 
Leave it to parents to capture all those embarrassing pictures that one day make first dates, well, awkward. I just cannot help but take pictures of you non stop. I am so happy to live in an age where I can take tons of photos, because if not, I would be spending way too much money on film. 
I have to be honest with you: you are the most adorable, sweet, charismatic little person I have ever known! Your silliness is just downright contagious. I am happy that you like when I do weird dances and sing songs that make most people want to bang their head against the wall. 
Your Dad and I do some really ridiculous things to make you laugh. We screech and squeal and tickle you and make funny faces, all in the hopes that you will show us one of those toothless-squinty-eyed-grins that melt our heart. 
Here are a collection of photos I have taken recently that make me smile and remind me of your fun loving, goofy, and joyful heart. I hope one day I can show these to the man you love and we can all laugh about it together! 

You adore your baths. Splashing, kicking, exploring, and trying to stand up are your faves. I hope you will always love water like you do now… running around in the sprinklers when you are young and dancing in the rain when you are old. Unafraid to let your hair get wet or your makeup undone, laughing, spinning, and soaking the fun in. 

Your morning face. Is there anything more cute?! Always remember, you are beautiful in the mornings. Be yourself, and embrace that funny bed head. 

This is your first attempt to feed yourself rice. You had a blast! You love food. I pray you will always enjoy food as a gracious gift and blessing from God. Remember, it is meant to be enjoyed and goes well with friends and family. Don’t be consumed with worry over food. Everything in moderation is good for the heart and mind! 

I love this smile. Keep smiling. Smile when life gets hard, and smile at those who appear to be mean or sad. A smile can change someone’s day, or maybe even their life. Your smile stops hurried people in the grocery store to stop and laugh, and you bring delight to many a lonely persons face. The joy beaming from your heart is meant to be shared with this hard world. Your tender soul and laugh can change the world one person at a time. 

Me and you kiddo, making your first gingerbread house! Even as an adult, make crafts and have fun with the holidays. Your little hands can make beautiful and lasting works of art. Making something with your hands is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable things to do- especially if it is for others! 

Here you are going on a walk in the COLD! You are so bundled up- but you were a trooper. You love to be outdoors, you love to see trees and touch grass and hike! Remember as you get older- go out in the snow. Go on adventures outdoors, explore, and have fun in the beauty of God’s nature. It might be annoying to prep and plan, and sometimes the weather might be uncomfortable, but remember the memories and excitement you can have exploring the world! 

Be yourself. Authentic, real, genuine. There is no other person in the whole world like you. You are unique and beautiful and have the ability to make a real difference in this world. You have purpose beyond your wildest imagination. Don’t cover your flaws or worry about your imperfections. They tell your story. Your story is like a beautiful symphony being constructed by each day of your life- one note at a time- that one day will be beautiful music and will fit together in a way you would have never known. Love the challenges you will face and the people you are blessed with in your life. And above all else, be grounded and rooted in the love of Jesus. He sees you as a precious and beloved child, perfectly constructed to reflect the beauty and splendor of God, with a unique heart that will bring light to a hurting world. 
You are so loved:). Every little thing about you- the quirky and cool and fun Lillian you are! 
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. 
Maya Angelou

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
Marianne Williamson

Your Mom

A holiday meal worth remembering

Ok, so this post is late. Like, really late. It is our meal from Thanksgiving! But I thought, you know what, it is a great holiday meal either way- so I am going to post this gosh darn it! 
Wanting to spice up your Christmas meal this year, or throwing some awesome party? How about a little Mexican flare? 
Brian decided to go all out and do a little taste of the south and do a homemade Mole. It was PHENOMENAL. 
Babies first Thanksgiving. Cute! 
I’ll have my pacifier back, thank you very much. (Notice Brian is letting her sniff the wine?!)
My finished plate. It was so good. 
From top, left to right: Turkey Mole, Ginger Carrots, Corn Bread and Green Chile Stuffing, Braised  Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes. 
I cannot claim any of this food, because I did not make one dish! Thanks to friends and family for their amazing cooking skills. So sorry, I cannot give any recipes this time. 
However, keep in mind that when planning meals for Christmas this year, think outside the box and throw in some new flavors! 

10 tips for flying with a baby

I have traveled with Lillian quite a bit in her wee 7 months. Some of it has been smooth sailing, and some has been miserable. I leave for a trip soon again, and while doing research for myself I decided to share this info with other parents who plan to travel with little ones:).

I am a worry freak when it comes to traveling on long road trips or flying with Lillian. I have had to brave it alone doing both. I have done lots of talking to other moms and flight attendants, and have done internet research while compiling my own personal observations on how to make flying with a baby easier. I even have one friend who gave me tips from a child educator on this very topic!

Let me say just say this… there is no amount of preparation that can prevent a meltdown or temper tantrum. These things just happen sometimes. People are more compassionate for the traveling parent than I gave them credit for. I have had many people lend a hand.

I decided early on that the joy of seeing friends and family and keeping my life far outweighed the discomforts of traveling. So I chose not to let distance stop me from living my life. I am so thankful now that I have taken these trips! Lillian and I have bonded and grown in confidence, together. Believe me, traveling might be stressful. There have been times I sweated like crazy just trying to get to my destination.But it is worth it. 

Which leads me to this: I still wanted to come up with some sort of a plan so I wouldn’t kick myself at the airport. Anything to make it easier on myself, Lillian, and all those around us would help! So here are the tips I have found useful for flying with a baby. Hope it helps!

1. Remember to check in online.
This seems simple, but I always forget. If you don’t have assigned seats or check in on time, ask when family boarding is and be prepared for it.

2. Bring baby shot records or birth certificate.
I definitely missed this step the first time I took Lillian on a trip. Check with your airline for rules but most do need to see one of these forms of identification.

3. Check your bag(s).
Try to have the least amount of baggage as possible with you walking through security and the terminal. Checking bags helps lighten your load.

4. Have someone walk you in.
This seems simple but gets overlooked. If you can have your ride help you get checked in you can focus on getting your bag properly tagged, your boarding pass tucked away in a good spot, and take care of any last minute baggage shuffling.

5. Dress for the security check.
With a baby it can be difficult to get everything in order at the security line. Put your liquids in a bag easy to access, wear slip off shoes, avoid belts and heavy jewelry, and have baby ready to be pulled out of carrier. This is my least favorite part of traveling. Bah. 

6. Eat before you arrive at the airport.
This sounds silly, but I love eating at the airport. I always get a Starbucks or sandwich and enjoy it before the flight. This has proved impossible for me with Lillian. Last time I tried to eat with baby I ended up with a Sprite spilled all over the seat and a half eaten salad on my lap! Awful. But brings snacks to munch on if your sweet little one falls asleep and gives you a second to eat:). 

7. Pack as little as possible for carry-on bags and be hands free through the terminal.
I have learned to pack lean. Don’t bring anything that is not a necessity in your diaper bag.
Also, make sure to pack your diaper bag strategically. I put snacks on one side, easy to reach. I put toys in another compartment. Then I put diapers, wipes, feeding supplies, and changing mat in another area. It is extremely difficult to manage tons of bags in the teeny tiny seat you pay hundreds of dollars for. I have had to look for Sophie the Giraffe under the seat a couple times and it was no bueno. 

Next, consider taking a stroller and car seat with you to the gate. Most airlines will allow you to take an fill an empty seat on the airplane with your car seat if the flight is NOT full. Check before your flight with the gate attendant for your specific airline policies. I have been lucky several times and it has been awesome not having her on my lap. I feel like she is safer and the extra room is heavenly. If the flight is full then the attendant will check your car seat. *When you arrive to the gate they will tag your stroller for you to be checked, and you can stroll your baby straight to the airplane and leave it right before you board. This has worked wonders for me, and allowed me to check extra equipment for FREE! (If you prefer not to take this equipment, use a hands free baby carrier like a baby Bjorn.)

8. Distractions.
Toys, toys, toys! Apparently hand puppets work well on airplanes as a good distraction. I bring a hand puppet, light up musical toy, homemade rattle (Cheerios in a small Tupperware), teething toy, and my i-phone which has a few episodes of Yo gabba gabba (the sleep episode works wonders!). Just remember to keep the volume low!

9. Find a cozy spot.
I try to find a spot near the back of the plane. I seek out family friendly people that will understand if baby is a bit moody. I say a friendly “hello” to the flight attendant if possible, as they will be my helper during the flight. I like to sit near the restroom. I have often had rows to myself by sitting in the back, especially if the flight is not full.

10. Feed during takeoff and landing, and consider giving baby pain reliever if they are teething or in pain from elevation.
I feed my baby a bottle during takeoff and landing to relieve ear pressure. I also bring snacks such as baby crackers and puréed fruit packs to keep her little mouth moving.

One more thing to keep in mind: timing. If your baby is happier during the morning, consider a flight then. I usually fly at night because I can bank on Lillian sleeping. Just a thought. 

I hope these tips help you as you prepare your travels! Good luck to you. Be a brave and relentless parent as you travel and live your adventure! 

**Updated 12/11/2012:
Hi All! I just wanted to add a few tidbits POST baby travel adventure. 
-Remember to change your babies diaper before you get on the plane. I know, simple, right? I almost forgot! 
-You can actually check two bags in and take your stroller and car seat with you to the gate and they will check it there. That saves you some serious money. Just make sure to have help to and from the airport. 
-I found another lady with a baby and sat with her. It was fun and awesome, and like a play-date! 

Hope this update helps! 

Please leave any ideas you have below:).